Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Everything is a remix and you can be the disc jockey

Lately I've been thinking about the power of an idea. By the idea I don't mean the mental representational image of an object constructed in the mind, neither I mean the context the idea is given into. The idea represents a pattern of thinking and association, the link between the mental reflection and the seen. Can ideas be patented? Whether you are free to think or your freedom can be taken?  Can someone own your thoughts?

Patere, "to lay open", the origin of word patent from Latin crystallizes the initial character of patents. The patents were initially introduced to bring ideas to public and support the maestros behind the useful Arts, but were later colonized for maximum profit. Today when millions if not billions of SLOC are written daily, for example code.org have existed since 2013 and on 9th of February 2015 the students using the website had written 5,094,434,631 lines of code, the concept of intellectual property starts to play a major role. At least in court... From "You wouldn't download a car." to the printed one and so on. I think its time to clarify; the consumer 3D printing is here to stay the real debate lays in the moment we start to sketch the borders for the technology and decide what we are allowed to 3D print at home.

I'm willing to admit that the desktop 3D printing at it's current state is more art than exact science but opens bunch of new possibilities and views such as revolutionization of logistics. As an example we have a big automotive corporation which produces cars in China. The journey of the car starts in Sweden as iron ore which is refined and sold to China, for your information Chinese traders are buying Detroit piece by piece as scrap metal to take back to home and build their economy. Then the car is produced out of the metal and shipped back to Sweden for some happy family, just because Sweden doesn't have the facilities of the corporation. We could have alternative chain of events involving only the Swedish metal, 3D printer in Sweden and only the information of what and how to build sent from the corporation and paid for. They've done it between space and earth, can't we do it just here on earth?

Intensifying the usefulness

As I'm finally untetherining my Mendel an apparatus is needed to provide me sight and ability to moderate the activities of my tireless friend. I had old N900 lying in my drawer with the notorious broken USB, a problem fixed by using the debugging ports on the back of the phone to connect it to PC and use as a webcam. The remaining problem was to find proper and adjustable dock for the phones outdated silhouette, after it's twenty twenties soon and everything has to be fast, slim big at all costs. As with the spool holder so with the phone dock nothing universal were there to be stumbled on; once again I had to make it.

The task ended up being a feedback loop of 3 iteration:  After the first revision I realized the force affected the plugs is far too great for such a small piece of PLA and eventually after breaking bunch of them I decided to use 10mm pieces of 3mm diameter rod taken from old optical drive. The second revision gave me insight that the so called buttons must have enough contact surface on the side to hold the tension provided by the springs. And the final version also hatched with the caterpillar extension. 

To produce the final product the white parts were printed in natural ABS and the blue parts consist of extruded PLA. The rod from optical drive can be replaced with any M3 screw if secured properly to prevent unwanted friction. To be honest the Mainmount needed few if not several scrubs after peeling the support out of the cavities. Also the holes in the ABS parts had to be tweaked as ABS tends to shrink after it is designed for injection moulding.





Sunday, January 4, 2015


Reflecting the Past


 Since the beginning of my printing journey I've made few mistakes; choosing cheaper, lower grade,
PLA supplier and constantly wandering in a sea of different ideas without choosing any goal. After the pile of unfinished projects accumulated into size of inevitable irritation I got a grip on myself.

I decided to tweak the mendel as some of the parts had started to show wearing and in the process I also dug into settings of marlin firmware.

After I had printed new set of gears for the extruder the emerging presence of blobs and underextrusion vanished. The main problem, insufficient quality of ABS prints, which caused me to tweak the mendel also brought up one of the defects of supply industry of home 3D printing in practice. As I tried to insert new spool of ABS I realized that my spool holder was not universal enough which causes problems as there is no filament spool standard.  On a quest of finding new spool holder and some time spent in 3D model repositories I realized there were not simple spool holders with linear approach to the problem. I designed my own.

While rising the maximum bed temperature, preheat temperatures and lowering acceleration of Z-axes I stumbled on quantity called jerk. When testing the effect of change in the quantity I had to make a conclusion that the term jerk used in Marlin-firmware doesn't equate the jerk in physics. Also known as jolt surge and lurch, jerk represents the rate of change in acceleration. While changing the value of the firmware's I observed the speeds of different axes and realized that it had something to do with the minimum speed of axis from which the printer is allowed to change the direction. Lowering jerk left me with much more silent prints and  little if existing impact on corners. Also some of the resonance I had experienced due the wobbly structure of the printer dropped by order of magnitude.

And the darkness has not overcome it


When the curtains of the darkness closed and the light got low in Finland, allthough I don't live in Helsinki the residents experienced only 13 hours of sunshine in November,  I found myself pondering. I dove into the relationship of light and human health. During my research I ascertained relation between blue light and the quality of sleep; started using program called F.lux and also became aware of the insufficient illumination of my room.

I had this fluorescent clamp-on desk task lamp since my childhood. A buzzing sound produced by the power supply started to irritate me a while ago but the provocation came from light color temperature of the fluorescent. I decided to upgrade the lamp from 3500K to 6500K; simultaneously replacing the power supply and experimenting with the power LEDs for the first time.

I ordered bunch of 10W power LEDs from ebay; 0.6€/each. The power supply for this application was already present from old laptop and eventually powers two LEDs in series with 20V. The current is limited to 0.25A with 1Ω power resistor and the red button switch is reused from the old lamp. I based shape of the lamp around a heat sink and the button. In the end the shape sculpted itself. The heat sink is from old server the model number I can't recall.

After printing both sides I sanded and smoothed them with acetone vapor. The smoothing was based on the acetone vapor bath method. Before smoothing the bottom I attached a light diffuser, made from 85mm x 55mm acrylic sheet, with ABS-glue; a mixture of acetone and ABS. The support structure was used as the ABS in the ABS-glue; that's some recycling for you. Before attachment the sheet was slightly curved with heat gun. Temperature of the heat gun should be maintained relatively low as poly(methyl methacrylate) can be shaped at low temperature as 100 °C. After wiring and attaching the heat sink to top both sides were glued with the ABS-glue. Seams were softly sanded and whole thing was bathed once again. Before assembly the heat sink reached 43 °C and still touchable as finished. In general I was pleased to the result even if the natural ABS didn't behave as I supposed with the bath; it became rather transparent than just shiny white. Also optical properties of the natural ABS took me aback as I didn't plan for such a illumination of the whole structure.

The beauty of the snowflake lies in the pattern at every scale


Pocketful of new experience and ideas after the lamp and especially working with the ABS I awoke to the growing presence of the approaching holidays. In need of something unique I had to return to the roots, nature, the almighty system of endless creation and generation of glaring beauty and structure from the chaos. For while I explored the science behind biomimicry, the algorithms involved with fractals and after all the pure beauty of snowflakes.
All the influences submerged in my mind I started to play with the Circular Sketch Pattern -tool of the Solidworks and generated pattern using circles. Afterwards I added insert holes for the pin and cropped the frame of the hairpin from the pattern. Being familiar with the limits of my printer I decided to use PLA and curve the hairpin using boiling water and wine bottle to form the shape. As the natural ABS was the only filament I had besides blue PLA I decided to print the inner flower from it and assemble the structure. Softly removing all strings and acetone vapor bathing the hairpin left me with only the inner flower shining as acetone doesn't smooth PLA. During the bath the ABS also glued itself to the PLA forming rigid structure.

There is no need to always reinvent things if the design has proven worthy. For the holidays I wanted to give people something to change their perspective, educate or amaze them. 

                                                               Happy New Year!