Monday, August 05, 2019

I'm Really Getting Into this 3-D Printing Stuff!!

For those who don't know, we own an old, historic home built around 1853. We're only the 4th family to own this home and the previous owners were antique dealers who left a lot of stuff for us including a garage attic full of dust-covered treasures.

One of the things we found up there was what we thought was a caddy for fireplace tools. I cleaned it up a bit, brushing off lots of rust and realized it was actually a twin ashtray holder. The two large circles held glass ash trays. The medium sized hole held some sort of insert that held loose cigarettes, and the smallest hole held a cigarette lighter.

Annie and I wanted to use it but since neither of us smoke we knew we had to re-purpose it to hold cold drinks. Unfortunately the two larger holes are just a little bit TOO big to hold any glass or cup we own. So I figured this is the perfect job for 3-D printing!

I got out my calipers to measure the openings of the holes in the caddy, and to also measure my glasses and coffee mugs. These calipers are the first pair I've ever owned and I bought them just a few months ago when I first got into designing things for 3-D printing for the robot. I now use them all the time! What a great measuring tool!

Anyway, I measured the openings I would need to hold my glasses, estimated how deep I would want the insert to set into the caddy, and then 3-D printed one to make sure it worked. It fit great, and so I printed the other one. The image at the left of the insert is technically upside down from how it is inserted, but it prints better this way so that's how I designed it. I also created a smooth, round shape on the part of the insert that fits into the caddy, but I created the inside hole of the insert (where the glass will rest) to be more polygonal. My goal was to provide less surface area contact between the drinking glass and the printed insert so that there would be less likelihood of the glass getting wedged into the insert and sticking.

I'm still contemplating a different 3-D printed insert for coffee mugs with handles and I'm trying to figure out what I can do with the other two holes. I can easily imagine a cup-type insert for the medium sized hole, probably very similar to what originally went there to hold loose cigarettes. But I wouldn't know what I would put in it. Ice cubes? The hole is almost exactly the size of a 12 oz. soda can, which means if I made a "cup" style insert, a drink coozie would slip over it perfectly and help insulate it.

I'm trying to think in three dimensions though. I could have a cup insert hang down, but I could also have something stick UP and it's just wedged into the hole; like a snack bowl with a "peg" on the bottom that perfectly matches the smallest hole.

That's one of the great things about 3-D printing. You can create one-off things with absolute precision at a cost so ridiculously low that you can keep tweaking and creating variations for as long as your brain can invent and design them! Learning new things like this is one of the major side advantages of writing a school assembly show about maker space ideas.