Tag: CAD

3D Printing, Just a passing fad?

By now, everyone has heard of 3D printing, it has been pretty difficult to avoid some mention of companies like Makerbot, but is it here to stay like many believe it is? Recently a blog started making it’s way around the internet, sharing a different point of view on the industry. 3dprintingconfidential (Note: Contains stronge language), written by someone apparently involved in a large company, goes into some of the more unpleasant side of 3D Printing. Whether this blog is being written by someone who is sick of their job (and the questionable safety aspect*) or with some valid complaints is a mystery, as is their identity (Unsurprising given some of the comments), but are they right? Is 3D printing just a passing trend? Despite it’s recent increase in accessibility for the average DIYer, will it disappear and be left to industrial users and a few niche markets? Only time will really tell, whatever happens, the road is bound to be bumpy. As mentioned in the blog, there are some designs that will cause issues, something we have already seen in the case of weapons parts, however the use of 3D printing to create toys certainly won’t be the last story we here. Personally, I’m waiting for the discussion to start about the ethics involved in 3D printing body parts (Not many, but someone will no doubt object). At the end of the day, this blog certainly raises some interesting points, worth thinking about as we start to see 3D printing become more common much like household printers did.



*The author discusses being covered in polyamide powder, something which shouldn’t happen should proper safety measures be taken such as gloves. Recommendations on this vary, but if you are finding it hard to remove, surely the logical step is to use PPE? Just a thought…


[Crossposted on element14]

Working with Foam: Tools

So you want to work with XPS foam (Typically known as blue foam, pink foam)? First of all you’ll need your tools. This is by no means a definitive list. This is based on what I use and the most common suggestions I’ve seen. If there is something you think is missing, comment!

First up, and most importantly of all, safety!

  • Face mask
    When working with XPS, a lot of dust is generated. Some processes create more than other, for example sanding. This foam, is NOT good for you. Always use a face mask, FFP2 or above should do. Failing that, a respirator.
  • Safety Glasses
    As already established, dust is bad for your lungs, so naturally, it isn’t too good for your eyes too! Any reasonable safety glasses should do, just make sure they are a good fit!
  • Gloves (Optional)
    Our favourite dust can be a bit irritating. If you get sick of brushing it off your hands, or simply don’t like getting your hands covered in PVA, paint, adhesive, get some gloves.
  • Cover alls (Optional)
    As with making anything, it can get messy. I would suggest using some cover alls, or at least some old clothing. No need to spoil your good stuff when you can cover something else in muck! Personally, I prefer cover alls, fewer gaps when the dust starts flying!

Now you have your safety gear ready, its time to start getting your tools.

  • Marker
    Pretty self explanatory. I’ve found a simple black marker is the best thing to mark up your foam. Reasonable felt tip will mark your foam without damaging it (Beyond marking it anyway)

  • Snap-off Blade Utility Knife (Multiple)
    The blade needs to be long enough to go through a single sheet of foam. This is by no means the best method for cutting large pieces from the original sheet, but it works.
  • Bread knife
    Optional, but for larger bit, a thin bladed bread knife can be a great replacement for trying to cut through sheets with a utility knife.
  • Hot Wire Cutter
    Personally, I don’t use one. If you have one, use it, you will get much cleaner cuts that you will from a blade.
  • Brush
    When it comes to it, blowing the scraps out the way is a good plan, however if you have a mask on, its not that easy (Unless you have a compressor handy of course). The solution to this is to have a brush handy. Not only can you move the foam out the way, but when you generate dust from fillers, it can be a great help!  Can’t forget of course, when you go to seal or paint your creation, a brush is always helpful.
  • Sand Paper
    A fine sand paper will do for foam. Too rough and it will just tear the foam. Foam is best sanded when it has been sealed.
  • PVA Glue
    When watered down a little bit, this can be used to seal the foam before sanding and painting.
  • Solvent Free Grab Adhesive
    Unless you are amazing, you will have create things in different parts. A solvent free grab adhesive works wonders for glueing the parts together, laminating sheets and making repairs where you have shaved off a little bit more.
  • Filler
    A general purpose filler is highly useful for filling in gaps and smoothing surfaces where sanding is just not the best option. A scrap bit of foam or some proper filling tools are needed if/when it comes to this.
  • Masking Tape
    Multitude of uses from holding a template down to holding pieces together while the grab adhesive sets.
  • CAD Software
    One thing to sketch up your item on paper, but once in a while you may want accuracy, share your designs or simply print out copies as a template you can destroy. Some basic CAD software can be a great help with that. Should you have access to the equipment, you can also run your foam through a CNC machine.

Something missing? Leave a comment! Stay tuned, there might be some more of these later.

Blogs! Science! Science Blogs!

So after this weekends MakerFaireUK and the associated Virtual Treasure Hunt, a few blogs and sites have shown up that are worthy checking out:

Any other sites you think should be on there? Comment and they may be added!

Highlights of the MakerFaire include: all of it.

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