3D Objects, Creative, Engineering, Redesigning Something That Exists

Infinitely Remoldable Substance

When I was working on Mobility devices for the Elderly project, my team and I had to do design research on why/how the seniors in the greater New York area used assistive devices for ambulation. While we uncovered many different insights, one of the thing that struck out was the ergonomic nature of the device itself.

Seniors used walkers, canes, rollators, shopping carts and also other make-shift devices to support themselves when they moved from place to place. No matter what device they used, it had to be comfortable to use. Comfort here doesn’t equate to the psychological feeling of stigmatization, rather, it is the congenial ease in using the device itself– hence the ergonomic nature.

When working on the ‘Adaptacane‘, we came across many materials to use it for the grip of the cane, such as memory foam. However, the best material that one could possibly use while making the grip of the cane is polycaprolactone (try saying that a few times). This material, sometimes shortened as PCL, can be molded by applying heat from, say hot water, and shaped into anything, including the shape of the inside of a gripping hand. It is also biodegradable!

Let’s look at an example:

The best part of using this material was that it could be remolded any number of times. The handle (white) of the adaptacane prototype below was made using PCL.

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Pretty cool stuff!

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3D Objects, Creative, Interactive Design

Virtual Landscapes

So I had a conversation with a man working on his startup of making lives of architects and interior designers easy (in Layman’s terms). This led me to checking out Unreal game engine. Although I had used Unity engine before, this would be the first time I’d be using Unreal. No, I’m not counting the countless games I’ve played , like Mass Effect and others.

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It might be Dunning and Kruger speaking, but I think creating textures and materials seems fairly easy to me. Who am I kidding? I’ve only grazed the surface, and so far I’m really excited to see what more I can uncover with this.

Check this simple game level I created because of curiosity. Use WASD to move around, space to jump, and mouse to orient. Going beyond the edge of the level will make you fall down because I did not add invisible walls. Also, Alt+F4 exits the game. Heads up, there is music in the level, because I was bored.

3D Objects, CNC and Machining, Creative, Engineering, Redesigning Something That Exists

Fidget

The 2010s can be divided into two eras — the time before and after fidget spinners came to existence. The weird part is that they came out of nowhere, and now they don’t seem to exist at all!

In fancy MakerSpaces, it is quite common to make these using 4 cylindrical ball bearings, and printing the shell. However, where’s the fun in boring old 3D printing? Besides, it takes quite a while to print. And not to mention, there is always going to be tolerance issues, because low fidelity printers are not supposed to be accurate.

Truth be told, using a thick piece of acrylic and laser cutting is perhaps the fastest way to do this. But a laser cutter is limited to cutting at most an eighth to a  quarter of an inch, beyond which one will have to repeat the trace on the piece of acrylic. And this would cost, surprise, surprise… the tolerance.

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Regardless of the backstory, I was thinking of using multiple machines to make something. The plan was to use my trusty desktop CNC milling machine along with the water jet. I used delrin to make the case or the shell, and the caps. Then, I cut a thick piece of steel slab into circles, to give the spinner some weight.  All in all, it worked exceptionally well!

P.S. I’m not making another one, not in this way… ever. Also, I don’t think fidget spinners make good Christmas presents.

3D Objects, CNC and Machining, Engineering

Delrin

Although, it sounds like someone’s name, Delrin is actually the name of a plastic brand. The plastic itself is called polyoxymethylene, which happens to be a thermoplastic. It is relatively soft when you compare with metals and wood, however, tougher than ABS, making it an excellent machining material. Ever seen a  white colored gear? It is made of delrin. The plastic can also be used to make other objects like handles, guitar plectrums, toys, machine parts etc.

I was working on a CNC based project, and has to mill parts for the final product. In this post, there are only two milled caps. I will make another post on the giant flower-shaped hole in the middle, and the completed project in the future. So, for now, there is this video with royalty free YouTube music and some background noise. The video below shows the milling of delrin, using the circular milling method.

3D Objects, Creative

The Earth, Reversed

So, sometime in the Summer of 2017 in New York, ultimaker did a workshop at the NYU MakerSpace. They showed their new Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker mini 3D printers.

The Ultimaker 3 is a dual extrusion printer. This means that it has two different nozzles through which model filament can be extruded. Ergo, it can print in more than one colour at the same time. It also means that one of the extruder can print non-toxic support materials such as PolyVinyl Aclcohol (PVA), which can dissolve in water!

I used the Ultimaker 3 to print a model of the Earth found online. The idea was to use blue PLA (PolyLactic Acid) for water and green for the landmass. Things did not turn out the way I wanted…

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Clumsily, I loaded the wrong colour on the wrong extruder. So the land became blue and the water green. It’s a good visualisation of how it would be if the labd and water on the Earth was switched. I had seen graphic images online, and now there is a 3D printed model.

3D Objects, Creative

3D Printing Springs

Springs are elastic objects made of metals, most times, spring steel. A project that my team was working on needed a spring to create a compression and extension action. 

Unfortunately, when a cylindrical part meant to be used with the spring was designed, it had dimensions larger than the standard spring sizes available. We had already begun printing the cylindrical part, so there was no going back (as we were using a high-end 3D printer). So we decided to print a spring!

The spring design was made using Rhino, as it has a simple function that can make helical shapes and make them into solid pipes. And, if you think about it, a spring, is actually a solid helix shaped pipe.

Printing a spring would mean taking into account for its flexibility. Using regular materials like PLA or ABS will make the spring rigid. So we used a non-standard material which was flexible and strong: Thermoplastic Polyurethane, commonly known as TPU. A completely solid infill print on TPU with support structure will make the spring looks like this when it has finished printing:

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The only annoying thing about using this is the removal of the support material. Otherwise, the print comes out pretty good. It might look a bit messy, but it is good enough to be a low fidelity spring for rapid prototyping. The final prototype kind of reminds me of a slinky 🙂

The black one was a test and the transparent one was the improved version.

For the spring in action, check this video:

3D Objects, CNC and Machining, Creative

A maze of ABS

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a widely available thermoplastic. You can usually find them in legos.

While continuing my test of materials on OtherMill, this time, I decided to try ABS. The material is pretty soft, and can be milled easily. Unfortunately I could not find a block of ABS, so I printed one on a Mojo (much to the dismay of many).

I created a design for a Maze on Adobe illustrator, exported it into a DXF file, and extruded it into a 3D model, and made a GCODE file out of it.

Fixturing an object on the OtherMill can become tedious of the surfaces are not flat. Since my block of ABS was printed, it was quite flat and, only using double sided tape and a bracket with some fastners did the trick. The entire milling process took about 29 minutes (OtherPlan has a tendency to lie when it displays the milling time, because it said about 42 minutes).

I only have the video of how the milling ended (because a 30 minutes long video is what we want but not what we need)

Clearly, the machine can be very messy. But that’s why it needs to be closed while using.

Above is the final ABS maze. Below are images of the finished product.

      

3D Objects, CNC and Machining, Creative, Engineering

Jansen Linkage

Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to use a laser cutter to cut acrylic rather than using a small desktop CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machine to tediously mill it to a desired shape?

Well, the answer is not obvious to sometime who doesn’t care about having unfinished edges.

The difference becomes more obvious when using transparent acrylic. Using a laser cutter, melts the acrylic, leading to the “cut” sides to look more or less like melted plastic, and opaque. Using a CNC machine, on the other hand, gives it a smooth and nearly transparent (usually it’s translucent). Check the image below and you can see the finish.

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I decided to make a Jansen linkage model using clear acrylic, a piece of cardboard and some 3D printed parts.

I used Autodesk Fusion 360 to design the shapes and linkages, and also create a gcode file thought is CAM component. Finally, I used an OtherMill to mill them using a 1/16 inch flat end mill. The results were spectacular. The milled surfaces were smoother than any any piece of acrylic cut using a laser cutter.

The brown cardboard was etched and cut using a laser cutter. And the silver pins were 3D printed on an Ultimaker, using an STL file created using SolidWorks. The image of the final prototype is below:

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It doesn’t make sense to have a fixed Jansen Linkage model. The whole purpose of having it is to make it look like it is walking. Connecting two or more of these models can make it look like it is walking with more legs.

Here, check it out in the video:

 

3D Objects, Engineering, Interactive Design, Redesigning Something That Exists

Utility Wrist Band

While working on the term project of my product design class (Design Strategies), we were randomly grouped into teams of 3. Each student had to come up with a product, and then decide which product is the most viable, and proceed with it.

After thinking of the feasibility of product development, we decided to go with a product called walk clean.

The concept was that a wrist band is only a fashion accessory, but has potential to be more. It is worn by many people; imagine a world, where it could be used as a utility device!

Walk clean is a utility wrist band that has a hollow compartment inside it. The compartment (for now) is used to store gloves, mostly meant to be used by a person who does not want his/her hands to be contaminated.

The wrist band was made using 3D printers with the material TPU.

Two iterations were made: In the first one, the band was supposed to be two different pieces, joined in the middle. However, the flaw with this one was that it would not create a circular shape around the wrist. Here are the images rendered using Rhino.

The following images show the first 3D printed prototype of the product. The glove could be easily placed inside the band, but the shape could not be kept. Also, there was space only for one glove.

The second prototype was designed as an incomplete hollow ring. This gave the band a circular shape. The hollow inside meant not just one, but two gloves could be placed inside. A simple piece of acrylic was used to join the ends together to make a complete ring.

Clearly, the size is larger than a regular wrist band, and the outer surface looks unpolished (unlike the previous one). However, for about 80% material infill, the prototype is very sturdy. The lesson from building this prototype is that TPU is very flexible, and it is very easy to make hollow objects with it. This means, that a “human” sized wrist band can be made with a little bit more effort while 3D modelling.

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Above is the image of all the things the prototype comprises of: the wrist band, a pair of gloves, two rubber bands, and an acrylic piece.
This video shows how the  second prototype o

f the utility wrist band works.

3D Objects, Creative, Interactive Design

Shields and Weapons

This one was a real fun project. My teammate and I were given a task of designing an armour, or something that goes with armours.

We decided to build a shield. We decided to make this game in such a way that we would not have to connect the adafruit Flora to a computer. Well, it still needed power to run, so we used a battery.

The shield on its whole, was made using EVA foam. It was embedded with bend sensors on the sides and center (in the form of rectangular pieces). The blue jewels were 3D printed using a translucent PLA filament on an ultimaker 2 extended+ 3D printer. The dragon at the center was made by raster and vector cutting black foam using the epilog mini laser cutters. Other materials used are the  silver acrylic pieces, cut using the same laser cutter, and some silver duct tape. The topmost jewel has the flora, and the other four only had the neopixels. (We also made an effort to hide most of the wires)

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The game worked this way: Third is a Two player game. The player with shield has “X” amount of health, which is represented by keeping all the 5 neopixels green (including the one on the flora). The other player has to hit the shield. Each time the shield gets hit at the target (the bend sensors), the flora keeps a count of the hits. When the average of the total number of hits reaches a set threshold, all the neopixels turn red and the game ends.

Here is a simple video of how this woks, but without weapons. When the bend sensor was pressed, the green neopixels turned red. This only shows that the player can be defeated with one hit if the shield target was hit hard enough!