Thursday, August 1, 2013

3D Printed Vertical Ball Launcher

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Featured  Favorite video 3D Printed Vertical Ball LauncherThis video shows a prototype 3D printed "vertical ball launcher" printed in ABS plastic on an UP! 3D printer. It is designed such that when you push down on one side of a lever, a piston on the other side moves up and comes into contact with a ping pong ball, which is then launched into the air.

This was designed with the intention of working 3D printing, CAD and engineering design into a middle school science unit on force and motion with a very introduction-level, qualitative approach to topics like position, velocity, acceleration, gravity etc. At the basic level, the device provides a fun introduction to 3D printing for students and a cool way to launch a ball into the air (and then track its trajectory using a camera), instead of just throwing or dropping the ball. At a more advanced level, students who have been introduced to CAD can modify the source files to try and improve performance - for example, changing the lengths of the levers or the geometry of the piston section. Students can also experiment with different methods for driving the lever - for example, a rubber band or a solenoid connected to one end, or a motor driving the central shaft.

Note how using "puzzle piece" style connectors allows you to print much larger objects than would fit on the print tray in a single run (the UP! has a print volume of roughly 12x12x12cm). The design could be modified to laser-cut and snap/glue together the majority of the structure instead of 3D printing, especially the truss-like supports. With a little ingenuity you could probably laser cut the entire thing, although this would be more difficult for the round parts.

STL files can be downloaded from Thingiverse:

Tips for 3D printing: Cylindrical surfaces will generally come out the highest quality if they are printed with their axis oriented vertically. Some of the larger parts take a while to print on the UP (8+ hours) so it may be easier to start a print job before you to go bed and let it run overnight. You can put more than one part on a print tray at a time, just make sure they aren't overlapping. Note that you will need two of the "pin.stl" part, two "side.stl" parts and one of everything else. I can't guarantee that the tolerances for the snap-together parts will be perfect - this could vary on different printers. If your parts are too big to fit together, you can sand them down or shave off some plastic with a hobby knife. If they're too small and wiggle a bit, you can use glue to secure connections. I printed this on an UP! since I had access to one, but it should work on other similar consumer-grade printers like the Makerbot or Cube (no guarantees though).
This is more of an open-ended design challenge than a step-by-step Instructable. If you're used to 3D printing singular solid objects, this could be a good introduction to printing functional devices with interlocking, moving parts. If you're just looking for a fun physics or engineering challenge (for yourself, your kids or your students), then there is plenty of room for improvement in this design. Either way, have fun - and if you wind up making your own, be sure to post links to pictures and/or videos in the comments section!

Credits: this ball launcher was designed at the Cornell Creative Machines Lab in collaboration with the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.
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Jun 3, 2013


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Everlamp Lamp Base - CNC Mold Manufacturing

This Instructable focuses on the manufacturing of a mold for the Everlamp - a highly customizable, eco-friendly lamp designed to last a lifetime. Like it on Facebook to receive updates on when it goes for sale.

The Everlamp is not just an open-source lamp, it will also be an open-source company - these plans will give anybody the opportunity to duplicate the business model I am using. While this Instructable focuses on only one part, the instructions can easily be used to manufacture any other part.

I'm assuming you've already decided on a design for your lamp, and are now looking to manufacture it.
It took me about 4 weeks to complete the project with no prior machining experience.

The CAD files used for the part are open-source, and can be accessed below, although it's suggested that you modify them or create new ones to fit your specific needs.

A basic overview follows of how to use mold design and CAM software to control your CNC machinery for this part. A Techshop membership is a relatively inexpensive way to gain access to the machinery and software.

Expect to do a few rounds of iterating between each step, as you'll find that some future steps won't cooperate with your old plans.
1. Part and Lampshade Design (covered in the previous instructable)
2. Mold Design  (this makes your part)
3. Buying Endmills (cutters) and Material
4. Toolpaths for your CNC Machinery (telling the machine where to cut)
5. Actual Machining

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How to tie a 320 facet globe knot using a 3D printed model

final.jpgA globe knot is a form of Turk's head knot that can be tied to cover a sphere. The standard way to tie a globe knot is to tie the knot around a cylindrical mandrel, then transfer the knot to a ball that you want to cover. In this instructable I'll show you how to tie a 320 facet globe knot by 3D printing a model of one and directly tying the knot around it.

For great instructions on how to tie many different globe knots using a mandrel I recommend The Globe Knot Cookbook, by Don Burrhus:

ball.jpgThe model of the globe knot can be ordered from my Shapeways shop:
I recommend getting it in the white, strong and flexible material as we'll be sticking pins in it. When I received mine, there was a  lot of white powder still in the middle, so I recommend rinsing it in water to get it out. Then let it dry before you begin tying.

Or, if you have a 3D printer you can print the attached stl file.

You'll also want some T-pins and some kind of small diameter cord. I'll be using lacrosse crosslace which can be ordered online in many different colors:

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