Blog entries from December, 2014

SUP ornament

Posted on Saturday December 20, 2014 in 3D Printing

One of our traditions is that every year I make Shannon an ornament for the Christmas tree. Last year we spent a lot of time floating off the beach in a 6ft inflatable, so I made an ornament of that. This year I designed and 3D printed a stand up paddleboard for her as she spent a lot of our summer on hers. (I found I don’t have the balance for it so I’ll stick to my kayak and leave the paddle boarding to my awesome surfer fiance).

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Dinosaur skull sparkle ornament

Posted on Thursday December 18, 2014 in 3D Printing

Because sometimes you just look at your christmas tree and think, gosh, why isn’t there a sparkling dinosaur skull hanging on it... 

Or maybe you don’t. But I did, so I 3D printed myself a dinosaur skull in high resolution in resin, sprayed glue all over it, and then rolled it in a pile of silver sparkles.
I made ornaments as a kid, and I still make them now. I just upgraded my toolset a tad.

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TIP: How to create a 3D printed solder stencil!

Posted on Sunday December 07, 2014 in 3D Printing, Electronics

Save time, save money and save your sanity. Solder stencils are invaluable if you’re making a printed circuit board with tiny SMD (surface mount parts). The low tech way to deal with SMD PCB’s is a syringe, and dabbing each spot with a tiny blob of solder paste by hand.
The better way is to use a solder stencil, which only allows solder to flow where you want it to. The concept is very similar to creating a silkscreen for a t-shirt actually. It’s amazing how skills bleed across disciplines.

Solder stencils are usually expensive, although there are services that do them cheaper. I recently found one that will print them for $5, but I haven’t used them yet so I can’t recommend them. Nevermind the price though, what I’m talking about here is being in a bind. You need a solder stencil, and for whatever reason (lack of planning, quick turn around) you don’t have one, and ordering one could take weeks.

Another method would be to use kapton film and a laser engraver. My laser is currently on loan to a friend though, so it was time to experiment!

The process is actually pretty simple:
-If you’re using Eagle to design your pcb’s, create a cam job, select the tCream layer (that’s the top paste layer) and choose to save it as an eps.
-Click ‘process job’. This will create the eps vector file.
-Open in adobe illustrator (or another vector program) if your cad software can’t import an eps. I used 3ds max so I needed to convert it to an AI file first.
-After import, convert the outline to an editable polygon and extrude it to desired thickness. 0.3mm seems to be perfect.
-Print at the highest resolution possible, ( e.g. 0.1mm layer height).
You should end up with something paper thin. In fact, it’ll feel a lot like paper. It may be a little rough around some of the holes depending on your printer, but it’ll do the job. You can clean it up or fill any areas it misses with a syringe. I’d much rather fix 10 pads with a syringe than 300.

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Updated prototype. Now with Magnetic locking!

Posted on Thursday December 04, 2014 in 3D Printing, Prototype

In my original prototype the kickstand wasn’t functional yet. I needed something to convey the look and feel and make sure all were happy before really digging in deeper on the design. To make the kickstand function correctly on this prototype I’ve added magnets. This helps the spring pull it into position after sliding the release clip, but also locks it in position strongly enough that the unit can stand on its own without issues. At first I imagined making the kickstand lock through plastic parts inside that would allow it to click into place, but after seeing the magnetic version in action it just feels so much better and works faster. I’m really happy with this change.

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Posted on Tuesday December 02, 2014 in 3D Printing, Prototype, Electronics

A mere 13 days after I sketched this in a coffee shop with a team member sitting next to me, a pair of these prototypes are here on my desk in real life. Aluminum, plastic, professionally printed circuit boards from my design files, magnets, springs. etc. I love how fast I can go now from concept to reality - manufacturing really is a changing landscape. I have some tweaks to make and I have to redesign and print a few small parts today, but hey, I'm happy with the super fast progress so far and how clean it’s looking already.

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