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Crafty Curios

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3D printed with plastic and conductive silver on the Voxel8 Development Kit

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Designed with Blender

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.26.32 AM

For a while now, Harry has been trying to get me to 3D print a light up Ralph, the mascot of Thoughtbot. While folks have 3D printed Ralph before, they didn’t have access to printers that can print conductive traces. Luckily, I work for Voxel8, a company the makes 3D printers that specializes in printing electronic devices.

I used the Voxel8 Development Kit to print Ralph.

For modeling, I turned an SVG of Ralph into a 3D model via Blender. Then I used Curves to create the traces. That’s it! It’s really awesome that Voxel8’s slicer, Euclid, is smart enough at path planning that I didn’t have to manually create tracks for the silver to sit in.

Design and printing took about an hour each. Once Ralph came off the printer, all I needed was an LED and a battery, and viola!

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This Ralph was printed in a single try. If I spent a little more time, I could’ve improved the design and print quality, but I’m kinda lazy.

Anyhoo, there you have it, a light up Ralph!

Lab tape usually comes in sharp neon colors but I’d wanted something more personal, subtle, and fun. So, I got some lovely washi tape from uguisu.

Pros:

  • They are a tad less sticky than regular lab tape, but still adhere well to everything from glassware to cardboard boxes.
  • VMR lab markers write very well on them, as do Sharpies.
  • They leave no residue when peeled off, just like regular lap tape.
  • They can survive in the -4C freezer as well as 37C warm shakers. Though, if they become a little bit harder to peel if left in the warm room (still won’t leave residue). I haven’t tested the tape in -80C freezers.
  • They have beautiful patterns.

Cons:

  • Washi tapes are a bit sheer. It’s harder to cover up text in the background.

Overall, I think it’s delightful to use washi tape in lab. It’s a small, neat combination of science and crafts. One look at the oxalis design, and you’ll know those plates are mine.

Here’s my approach for how to turn 2D images into 3D models.

There are web apps that will do this for you, but my approach gives you a lot more control and may produce higher quality models.

Also, it only uses free and open source software. 😀

Requirements:

Steps:

First we start with an image. I have here the logo of Julia, obtained from Wikipedia.

Julia logo

Open the image in Inkscape

Inkscape

Select the image and navigate to Path > Trace Bitmap

Trace Bitmap

Adjust the Trace Bitmap settings. Trace Bitmap will turn your image into a vector. Update will show what the final output will look like. Hit OK to confirm changes.

settings

Save the newly traced image as an SVG file.

Julia vectorized

Open Blender. Import the SVG using File > Import.

Import

Your SVG will imported as a very small Curve object, so you’ll need to zoom in to see it.

Imported SVG

Navigate to the Curve settings.

Curve

Adjust Extrude to be 0.005 to make the object 3D.

Extrude

Tada! A 3D object!

Julia 3D

Changing the object color to white might help you see it better.

Julia white

With this 3D object, you can save it in a popular 3D format or do more manipulations on it.

This method is pretty straightforward and allows you to adjust a lot of individual parameters, like bitmap tracing.

Hope it helps!