I made a dinosaur! My dad is an assistant principal at a STEM Charter School called the Western Center Academy. His school just purchased a 3-D printer. On Saturday, I helped him print a T-Rex skull! It’s not the same thing as having my own 3-D printer, but it’s the next best thing. And that has been my dream for 2 years.
Here’s what it looked like:
His school has one of the world’s best middle school robotics teams (one of their teams last year made it all the way to the world championships). We also printed this part for one of the robots.
It has been very, very difficult. He has a whole bag full of failed prints. Sometimes they don’t stick to the bed. Other times, the extruder clogs up. It took almost a week before he had his first successful print and still most of them are failing after two weeks. There are two different types of plastic that work at different temperatures. The gap between the extruder and the bed has to be perfect. The bed has to be perfectly level. You have to cover the whole bed with tape with absolutely no bubbles in it. There can’t be any breezes in the room. You have to print extra pieces on the corners so that it sticks better and doesn’t warp. This isn’t like a regular printer where you just click, File and Print.
You have to create whatever you want to print in CAD software. Then you have to use other software to slice it into layers that the printer can print. Then you use different software to convert it into gcode that the printer can understand. Then you save it on an SD Card and print it with another software. You also have to know if there are any parts of the print that don’t have any support and add artificial support to it. Wow, that’s a lot of hair pulling out (and he doesn’t have much).
One way to make it easier is to download things that other people have created in CAD and have already tested in their printer. The best site that we’ve seen (and where we got the dinosaur skull) is http://www.thingiverse.com. They have tons of great stuff.
Today, he tried to surprise me by printing a case for my Raspberry Pi . . . it failed . . . twice. It’s the thought that counts, I guess.
That’s where we are now. I can’t wait until I get my own 3-D printer!