14 tips for designing prototypes for 3D printing

Matt Donley 3D Printing, News, Tips & Tricks 1 Comment

3D printing is an excellent technology for creating prototypes. In this article, I’ll share my tips for creating a 3D printed clip for my audio recorder. These tips will help you design your own objects that interact with your phone, remote, camera, or any other object you’d like to design an accessory for.
Designing 3D printed Clip

When you own a 3D printer, you start thinking about all the awesome things you can design for the various gadgets you own. In my most recent project, I wanted to design a clip that would allow me to mount my audio recorder to my belt, or to a tripod.

As I finished up the model, I thought it would be helpful to share a list of tips I use in my workflow that you can apply to your own 3D printing project. Most of these tips can be used with any 3D modeling software, not just SketchUp. They will help you save time, model more accurately, create a stronger model, and reduce warping. Let me know if you have any additional tips in the comments below.

QUBD extruder jam fix

Matt Donley 3D Printing 3 Comments

I love my MendelMax 1.5 3D printer, but the one thing I kept having problems with was the QUBD extruder. My filament would keep jamming! After doing some research, I realized the barrel was getting too hot, causing the filament to melt inside the barrel to he point where it would make it impossible to extrude. I machined a new …

8 Tips for 3D Printing with Sketchup

Guest Author 3D Printing, Fabrication, News, Tips & Tricks 26 Comments

I am new to the world of 3D printing. So in this guest article, you’ll hear from expert 3D printer/designer Marcus Ritland from Denali 3D Design. He shares some tips to help you create amazing 3D printed models by designing them in Sketchup.

3D Printing

3D printing is awesome – we can all agree on that. You send a 3D computer model to a machine and out comes a finished part, ready to use as an end product or as a prototype before mass manufacturing. With the rise of personal 3D printers like the Makerbot Replicator 2, and 3D print services like Shapeways and Ponoko, nearly everyone has access to this technology.

But how does one get started making awesome models for 3D printing? Its one thing to make a model look good on the screen, but quite another to make a model that looks good and actually works in real life. The process of modeling for 3D printing is much the same as 3D modeling anything else, but with a few specific requirements. Here are some common problems that I see beginners struggling with and how to address them.

Tips for modeling in Sketchup

  1. Make your model “Solid” in Sketchup to be 3D Printable
  2. Models must be “Solid” to be 3D printable. This is by far the most common problem beginners have when modeling for 3D printing. Here are some examples of Solid Sketchup models.

    Solid, sometimes called “watertight” or “manifold” simply means the model is a complete enclosure. If you were to fill it with water, none would drain out, and the model must not have any extra lines or faces. If you make your object into a group or component, Sketchup will indicate when its solid in the Entity Info dialog box (Window > Entity Info).

    Another way to define solid: Every edge in your model must be bordered by exactly two faces. If an edge has less than two faces bordering it, there is an adjacent hole, and if there are more than two faces touching an edge, there is an extra face that needs to be deleted.

    The most common errors (and the corresponding solutions) are:

    • Stray edges (just delete them)
    • Holes (trace an edge to fill them)
    • Internal faces (delete them)

Sketchup Tutorial – Create a Custom Bracket for 3D Printing

Matt Donley Fabrication, News, Sketchup Tutorials 1 Comment

After coming back from the Maker Faire in NY, one thing that really surprised me was how popular 3D printing is becoming. These days, you can purchase a 3D printer for under a thousand dollars and actually print out a real object from your digital model. I’ve been learning a little bit about 3D printing at the AS220 labs, but I have yet to purchase my own 3D printer. Regardless, I wanted to show you how easy it is to use Sketchup to create a simple bracket that you can print out on a 3D printer.

Rapid Desktop Prototyping

While at the Maker Faire, I had the honor of meeting many of the Trimble team members who develop Sketchup. They had a few 3D printers set up at their tent so they could show people how you could model something in Sketchup, then print it out instantly on the 3D printer. At one point they were presented with an engineering challenge.

The man in charge of connecting everybody with Wifi at the faire had a problem. He was looking to mount a piece of hardware to a round pole and looked to the Sketchup guys to come up with a solution. They were able to model something quickly in Sketchup, and print it out for him so he could mount the gear to the pole. The first prototype actually snapped during a stress test, so they just made some modifications to the design and printed out another one. How cool is that?

Creating a simple bracket in Sketchup is easy. In this tutorial, we’ll model a base plate with two arms. Now, unfortunately, I don’t have a 3D printer so I won’t be printing this out. I know, that’s lame. But you can use the same concepts in the design of this bracket to make any custom bracket for your needs.

Sketchup Tutorial – Custom Bracket

  1. Draw the Base

    Starting with the Rectangle Tool (R), Click once to start the rectangle, then move the mouse out and click again to finish the rectangle. To specify a precise dimension, type in 2",2" then press ENTER.

    Remember, you can also type in your dimensions right after your first click when you start the rectangle. It’s your choice. I like to do it after because sometimes I’ll accidentally move my mouse as I’m typing in a number and it will clear whatever I just typed in.

  2. Extrude the Base

    Using the Push/Pull Tool (P), extrude the rectangle into a 3D object. Click once on the surface of the rectangle to start, then pull up. Click again to finish. Type in 1/4" then ENTER to specify the height at 1/4″.