Home » 2012 » November

Monthly Archives: November 2012

New bed and waste bin

Last week I popped into BfB HQ for a chat with the guys there and noticed that the 3D Touch machines they are starting to ship had a few different parts to mine…. These updates are cool, I just had to have them!

So Friday evening saw me with Allen keys (hex key) and spanner in hand, fitting the new goodies.

The first thing I fitted was the new waste bin … It has a new spring mounted wiper blade, it fits around the mounting bars front and back, and if you wondered why the new firmware causes the hot ends to dance around when they wipe, then here’s the answer… There is a new “flicker” that removes the balls of filament that sometimes form and stick behind the blade. Fitting this update has made a real difference to printing with support material… The occasional bit of support material that inadvertently got dragged into the main part just doesn’t happen!

And the other goodie I took home… The new bed! There has been some talk on the BfB forum that this is “dibond” (thin aluminium sheets on both sides with a non aluminium core). I can assure you it’s NOT DIBOND! There are two layers… The bottom one is aluminium and the top is a black plastic similar, but harder than the surface on previous models…. It is absolutely flat and looks like it will stay that way! ABS and PLA both stick well and as the surface seems to be a bit harder it doesn’t scratch or show marks from the raft as much as the previous ones did. I did a couple of quite large raftless PLA prints, they stuck well and came out really smooth (If you try it you do so at your own risk) I found that getting them off the bed when still warm was perhaps a little easier.

Anyway, both of these new parts are a great addition to the 3D Touch. It looks like new machines will start to ship with these soon and I think they will appear in the BfB store shortly.

VEX robotics and 3D printing … And new goodies!


At my school I have a group of year 9 students building a VEX robot… An extra curricular after school club.

In a fit of madness we decided to not build the standard “protobot” and do a hybrid “clawbot/protobot”. All very well but part way into the build someone noticed that we don’t have the claw in our kit… Beginners mistake!

So, being a bit brave about it I said to the students that I would search the web and see if I can download the 3D CAD files so that we could print the necessary files…. And I found them!

Talk about a steep learning curve… I fired up Autodesk Inventor (I usually use Creo!) opened the .step file and exported the parts as .stl (then discovered that I could have used Creo anyway!…. Dohh)

So now they were printable files. Most of them are a bit challenging as they need support material, but with Axon 3 (alpha) the support generation looks to be superb, so I was up for the challenge…. And the photos show the results.

Having so much fun I printed most of the parts… I’ll have to leave a few for the students to do in school. I don’t think the PLA plates will be strong enough, maybe a bit of a redesign for these, but that’s an extra project for the students to do 🙂

There can’t be many clawbots out there with printed claws, maybe this is a first … If it works! I’ll post some more photos later (if we are successful of course).

Oh, nearly forgot about the new goodies mentioned in the title of this post…. I have just received (and fitted) a new bed and waste bin (commonly known at BfB as a snot box) and a new wiper (snot flicker?) to my 3D Touch…. Wonderful!…. I’ll post some more info about these later.

3D printing at university

Some wonderful new 3D printing developments have been happening over the last few weeks that I couldn’t omit from my blog…

Early in November Ian Major from 3DS / Bits from Bytes presented a 3D Touch printer to the University of Bristol for use by their students. See the attached photos.

On the BfB forum the university also posted the following …. “The 3DTouch in the atrium of the Merchant Venturer’s Building in the University of Bristol has been available to the students for just over a week now and has been in almost continuous use. So far the student have mostly been using it to print cases for their Raspberry Pis, though there has also been a Rubics Cube and I did a Venus de Milo to decorate my desk”.

In another development the University of Warwick has just erased some information about some amazing new composite material that they are using for 3DP. The material that they are calling “Carbomorph” is conductive and is being used in some really interesting ways… Flex sensors, capacitive interfaces, and more. Check out this web page for more information http://www.3ders.org/articles/20121122-printing-electronic-sensors-using-low-… . This new material looks like it could have some real impact on 3DP projects made by students in schools if/when it becomes available.

Geelong, Clevedon and 3D printing


From time to time I get requests to explain about 3D printing in schools for different publications. Well this happened a couple of weeks ago from someone in Geelong. Having never heard of Geelong I had to do a quick bit of Internet research…. It’s near Melbourne, Australia!

So I jotted down a few of my thoughts, observations and experiences and emailed them off to the guys at Barwon Copying Solutions (BCS)… And then promptly forgot everything about it. It was a very pleasant surprise when I received an email this week with a copy of the page from the Geelong Business News magazine.

And what a brilliant article they have produced, background information and lots of in depth explanations about the use of 3D printing in schools… And some great quotes from me too! It feels “really cool” that what we are doing with 3D printing using our Bits from Bytes machines here in Clevedon School is potentially having an influence on students in Oz.

With the kind permission of the BCS I have posted a copy here. Many thanks to the “guys from Geelong” Paul and Sue.


123D Design

At last a free 3D design app for the iPad that can be used for 3D printing!

Autodesk have just released the 123D app for the iPad and at first sight it appears to be quite useable. Designs can be created from simple primitives and modified by stretching, rotating, shelling, chamfering, rounding etc. The design can be saved to the iPad for further editing or exported to the cloud. The designed object can be downloaded to a PC (or mac?) using the 123D design program…and saved as an stl file for printing!

The iPad app is truly intuitive to use… I was creating printable objects within minutes. Best of all it’s not necessary to be a CAD expert in fact anyone with a little experience using Trimble (Google) Sketchup will in their element with this app.

I’m pretty certain that this will open up new possibilities for students to be designing and making with iPads and 3D printers. I can’t wait to try it out with students to see what they produce… iPads paired with our RapMan, BfB3000/3D Touch printers look like being a fantastic combination for student creativity.


3D printing showcase @ Clevedon School


D&T students here at Clevedon School can hardly have missed that we are a leading school when it comes to 3D printing. Our Bits from Bytes machines are used by most students in year 9 and some of our GCSE and A’Level students have also designed and made their exam projects using them.

But we were wondering how many parents and visitors to our school know about 3D Printing and how “World Class” we are in using this technology in our school…. So we have set up a “Showcase” in our reception area with a RapMan machine in action, a display board that explains everything and examples of projects and student work in a display cabinet.

Here is a short video clip and pictures for anyone who can’t visit us in school to see the “Showcase”.



Wind tunnel project for 3D printing

A new Teaching and Learning resource for 3D printing on the BfB wiki…

Design and make a Wind Tunnel… This resource suggests ways to make a small wind tunnel using 3D printed parts and a few other odds and ends to test the aerodynamic forces on different models. Different models can be 3D printed and tested to compare their efficiency. This project will be suitable for Design and Technology, Science and maybe Mathematics.



%d bloggers like this: