Jan 7, 2018 | By David

Here’s another round-up of some of the best 3D printing projects that have come out of the ever-growing hobbyist community in recent weeks. We’ve got five DIY 3D printing efforts for you, including an ergonomic keyboard and a programmable coffee grinder.

1. 3D printed ergonomic keyboard

Repetitive strain injury is a real problem for a growing number of office-bound computer monkeys, as the unnatural positions their hands are contorted into at their keyboards eventually cause stress and injuries to the wrists and hands. There are a broad range of ergonomic keyboards currently commercially available, but none of them had all the features that 3D printing enthusiast Fabio Pugliese Ornellas was looking for. So he set out on a courageous five-year quest to create the perfect ergonomic keyboard, using 3D printing technology.

Ornellas managed to salvage a PCB from another keyboard, one that was less ergonomically designed. One of the main limitations of commercial offerings was their use of the standard QWERTY layout as opposed to the custom DVORAK setup that, he finds, improves his typing speed. From there, he then programmed everything on a Teensy microcontroller, added an OLED screen, and soldered it all together (including a set of Cherry MX switches).

3D printing was used to put together the case, housing all these components safely and securely. The case was designed from scratch to maximize physical comfort for keyboard frequent flyers, and Ornellas has made the CAD files, drawn up in browser-based software OnShape, available for other users to take and print their own version. He printed with a Prusa i3 MK2S 3D printer in PLA, after the CAD model was sliced with Slic3r Prusa Edition.

2. 3D printed sound wave Christmas gift

There’s nothing more important at Christmas than sending out a Christmas card to friends, relatives, neighbours and colleagues, making sure they know you’re aware of them and are wishing them well. The only problem is the boring two-dimensional images these cards tend to feature, such as a robin, a snowman, or jolly ol’ Saint Nick. One tech-minded 3D printing hobbyist decided to shake up this tradition by replacing the card entirely, replacing it with a 3D model. The twist is that the model is that of a soundwave, representing his daughter giving a Christmas greeting. Festive and futuristic? You bet!

Chris Wolsey made a recording of his daughter saying the words “Happy Christmas From the Wolsey Family” with sound software Audacity, and then took a screenshot of the resulting waveform. This screenshot was then brought into Adobe Illustrator and exported to SVG, before being imported into CAD design software Fusion 360. He scaled the image and rotated it to produce the final virtual three-dimensional object. He then printed a mold from this model, which he would use to cast resin into the soundwave sculptures that he would be sending out. The design was a little tricky for his Anet A8 or Prusa i3 MK2 FDM machines to handle, so he eventually made the switch to stereolithography. The final mold was printed using a Form 2 SLA machine, by online 3D printing service 3D Hubs.

3. 3D printed erosion simulation

Erosion is, like repetitive strain injury, a long-term, slow moving phenomenon that can bring about significant changes to a physical body. Teaching students about such a concept can be tricky, however. A Michigan-based 3D printing hobbyist decided to use his skills to help them understand, by creating a physical representation of erosion in action.

Robert Hemlich’s 3D printed object shows how erosion from rivers led to the formation of the Grand Canyon. It consists of a topographic map of the Grand Canyon as we know it today, 3D printed in rigid PLA, and an insert 3D printed from water-soluble PVA in the shape of a river valley. As water passes through the valley, it dissolves the PVA, leaving behind a canyon much in the same way that natural erosion created the Grand Canyon over many millennia.

Hemlich was the winner Pinshape’s Create to Educate Lesson Plan Contest as  a result of this innovative project. He has made the design files available for free download on Thingiverse, along with a lesson plan that conforms to Michigan’s Common Core Science Standard.

4. 3D printed programmable coffee grinder

Coffee is an enjoyable and even necessary part of life for many people around the world, but getting a nice cup of quality coffee isn’t easy. If you want to brew your own caffeinated beverage starting from fresh coffee beans, you have to put up with the noise and physical effort involved with a grinder, which isn’t ideal first thing in the morning. A 3D printing enthusiast called Christine Sunu has set out to make this whole process much easier and more efficient.

Sunu used a motor, some wires and a few 3D printed add-ons to create a modified, automatic coffee grinder that’s almost silent as well as being programmable. She took parts from her ordinary coffee grinder and wired them up to a specially designed circuit. The result is a grinder that works without noise and can be set up to grind in advance using an easy-to-use algorithm. You can even decide exactly how much coffee you want it to make for you, in case you’re looking to cut down on your caffeine intake. The design files for the 3D printed parts that house the whole system are available online for free.

5. 3D printed electro-mechanical Christmas decorations

One 3D printing hobbyist named Gavan Fantom wanted to create a decoration for his Christmas party that was a little bit special, at the end of a remarkable year. He was interested in LEDs and different ways of displaying images, and wanted to put together something with a retro feel to it. He made use of 3D printing to put together an impressive, yet somewhat impractical, electro-mechanical ‘pixel’ grid. Each part of the grid rotated in time in order to create an interesting pattern with some unique sounds.

Each pixel consists of seven 3D printed components, one servo motor and two nails. That meant there was a total of 448 3D printed components, 64 servo motors and 128 nails when scaled up to an 8x8 grid. An Original Prusa i3 MK2S was used to print the larger parts, and the four small components (motor bracket, servo arm adapter, and the two parts of the nail mechanism) were made using a Creality CR-10 3D printer. Total printing time was around two weeks, not counting mistakes.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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