July 23, 2014 | By Don Foley

This project simply came out of the idea Don had one day. He wanted to 'Steampunk' something. When he was building the CSS Hunley for 3D printing it occurred to him that the CSS Hunley actually was a steampunk design WAY ahead of its time. While the craft was hand-powered, you don't get much more 'steampunkier' than building a sub out of a boiler of a steamship, as was the Hunley. After working on the project the idea of working on a steampunk design has been in the back of his head. Thus, the steampunk picture frame was born. There are a few innovations/techniques that Don wanted to bring into this project.

1) Using Adobe Illustrator to create some of the shapes.

2) Using standard label sheet for a couple of applications.

3) Staining to parts to give them a 'steampunk' feel.

Adobe Illustrator being used to create a gear

Modeling this project was fun. There was no 'reality' to have to stick to. The only constraint was the size of the photo. To make this print work on most Replicator-sized printers, Don quickly settled on a 5″ x 7″ photo size. This is also about the size of his Duplicator 4 print bed (roughly 6″ x 8″, like a Replicator). He also decided to make this first frame Horizontal Only. After that it was simply a matter of using his imagination and having fun with it. On this project he wanted to bring in Adobe Illustrator. Although usually a 2D drawing tool, the paths in Illustrator can be saved as EPS files and imported into Lightwave 3D, his go-to 3D modeling tool. Illustrator would serve two key purposes. First he made a faux 5″ x 7″ photo using the rectangle tool. This would give him the foundation and proper ratio for the photo frame. Then he used the rectangle tool to build the exterior and interior paths for the frame. The exterior about 5/8ths" bigger than the photo, the interior about 1/4″ smaller. He brought these paths into Lightwave, gave them depth to make them solid and then boolean subtracted the interior block from the exterior block and bingo, the frame base in the proper ratio was built.

The gear was created by using the circle tool (elipse) and creating a circle. Then a cog was put at the top and duplicated. The pathfinder tool was used to 'unite' these shapes. The internal holes were built and the pathfinder tool was used to exclude the shapes, forming the path you see above. This was imported into Lightwave as an EPS file with the 'auto drill axis' setting on. It came in without any further editing needed.

First Build done

The project would be built in two parts. The first build would include almost all the parts needed. The second would be for two pipes that couldn't fit on the first build. The project was designed with all the parts in place and then reconfigured so that all the parts would lay properly on the bed for printing. The file was then exported as an STL document.

The project in Simplify3D

The STL file was imported into Simplify3D to prepare for printing. This program allows you to set up all your printer adjustments, then it slices the model so it can be printed. Don exports the final printable file as an .X3G document and writes it to an SD card. In this case, the file would be printed in PLA at 205° in silver at 3500 mm/minute. The layer height would be 0.10 mm with the first layer printing at 90% height and at 25% speed. This formula seems to work well with Don's prints.

The first print

The SD card was placed into Don's Wanhao Duplicator 4. The glass bed had three strips of Scotch brand painter's tape laid down and then the surface was wiped down with alcohol. This prep has worked perfectly for Don for half-a-year now, so he doesn't deviate from the system. With a spool of silver PLA loaded, the file was selected to print and Don went to bed for the night. The file took 8 hours to print and was waiting for him the next morning. He ran some hot water on both sides of the plate and the objects fell off without a problem. The second part of the print was waiting on the SD card, so Don just had to put down a new tape bed, wipe and down and start up the second print which didn't take long.

Building the gauge image

The frame has two gauges on it. In an earlier project (the Double Bubble) Don used water-slide decals to apply details to his model. On this project he wanted to try something new, adhesive labels. He would design the gauge, print it out and stick it on. The build the gauge he used his old friend, Adobe Illustrator. To get the right scale, he first got a screen grab of the model of his dial (top left) and brought it into illustrator and made that layer a template. Then he designed the gauge (top center) based on the model. The final result (top right) was then imported into Adobe Illustrator. With a little airbrushing and a grime map applied as a 'multiply' effect, he aged the dial a bit. The resulting file was then printed out on a standard shipping label (in this case he had a '2 up' label, or two 8.5″ x 5.5″ labels on one sheet. More than ample to print out the small image. This file will be available with the model for those who buy the model to be able to print out their own gauges.

The finished Steampunk photo frame (Foley crew hanging out at the Mia Tiki Bar at the end of the Cocoa Beach Pier)

Of course it wouldn't be a true steampunk adventure if Don left it as a grey chunk of plastic. After printing the parts were separated into four sections depending on how they would be painted, dark bronze, copper, gold and silver. The paint would be Rust-oleuum hammered metallic paints from any hardware store. After the paint dried, parts were rubbed down with min-wax walnut stain and quickly wiped off. The print was then assembled using Control Gel Superglue and then the gauges were set in place and the dial hands glued into place. The backing plate was a pain to deal with and took up more material than it was worth, so Don just taped the photo on the back.

The STL, OBJ and JPG files can be purchased at the store here.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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ptsuk wrote at 7/23/2014 7:58:11 PM:

oh yes steampunk! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFCuE5rHbPA ;)

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