I 3D Printed A Puzzle Bicycle Using a MakerBot Replicator+ & Made a Snowman in Blender

This past weekend I got to use a 3D Printer and revisited 3D modeling. Here’s a look at the Makerbot Replicator+:

MakerBot Replicator+

Here it is in action:

I printed out a card-sized “puzzle” that assembles into a small bicycle (the 3D model is Touring Bike Business Card by CyberCyclist from Thingiverse):

What would I do differently the next time I print something like this?

  1. See the lift (slight upwards curl ) on one side of the raft? That’s no good, it should be flat. To prevent lifting I would keep the raft but pause the print after the raft portion is done and then tape down its edges. I’m uncertain whether skipping the raft and just taping down the tabs along the outer frame of the model would work; I’d need the tabs to be done before taping, but with the whole model being about the same height throughout and with how the 3D printer goes back and forth to lay down material, I don’t think the tabs would be finished sooner than the bike’s parts in the middle
  2. The base/raft makes up over 50% of the print, so to save some filament and time (total print time for this one was 25 minutes) I would try skipping the raft and instead print the model directly. The potential caveat in doing could be risking more lift.

Unfortunately the particular MakerBot I used had some existing extruder and heat (?) issues that came up during the printing process and the final product came out rather ragged, but I still managed to break out the bike’s parts and put it together:

Fake scenery time! The bike is really just set on top of the back cover of a spiral notebook and the background is an orange canvas in MS paint opened up on my laptop screen. The “sun” is the reflection of my lamp’s light which is why the shadow appears to be pointing in the wrong direction. Did you notice?

I want to make my own models and it has been a long while since I have done 3D modeling, so this was a good opportunity to brush up on Blender, which I’ve used before. This beginner tutorial on YouTube by BornCG was a super helpful crash course on Blender’s features and creating a basic 3D model. Look, I made a snowman!

I’ve just updated to Blender version 2.82
Unable To Run From The Sun (2020)

I put a light source behind him and wanted to sculpt him so that it would look like he was drooping and melting a bit, but I couldn’t get the sculpting brush to do anything at all 🤷‍♀️ and I’m still troubleshooting that.

3D models like this snowman can be saved as .stl files and loaded into a 3D printer’s software (e.g. MakerBot Print) where you can configure your print settings. So far I’ve been using software such as that — they generate G-Code (instructions for printers on what to do and how) out of your .stl file and your print settings. Knowing how to edit and write your own G-Code can make the printing process more efficient by reducing the amount of redundant/wasteful movements.

I’m pretty happy that I have access to 3D printing now. In addition to the MakerBot Replicator+ I got to learn how to use a couple of other printers with a variety of capabilities (Formlabs Form2 SLA printer, Stratasys uPrint, and Stratasys F170). And, last weekend I learned how to use a CNC mill (Roland Modela MDX-50) which, unlike a 3D printer, is subtractive (removes material) rather than additive (adds material). CNC mills also accept .stl files and operate off G-Code, which is great! I’d like to take a peek at it at some point to get a better understanding of what’s happening behind the scenes for machines like these.

Thanks for reading!

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