Introduction: 3D Printed Cookie Cutter

Great for any holiday or special occasion!  I made this at TechShop Detroit, they have excellent classes to show you how to use their 3D printers and software.  In this Instructable I am making a 25% larger angel cookie cutter from an existing design.  This Instructable could be used for making any other shape you like, just use a flatbed scanner or import a JPG and you're good to go.

Learn more about TechShop at http://techshop.ws/ 

WARNING:  PLA filament has a low melting temperature so DO NOT put your new cookie cutter into the dishwasher!  Hand wash only!

Step 1: Project Checklist

Here is what I used for this project:
___ an existing cookie cutter to model
___ flatbed scanner
___ run of the mill computer
___ Autodesk Inventor to model the part
___ MakerBot software to convert the STL to an X3G file for the printer
___ SD card (optional) - can also print direct to 3D printer via connected PC
___ MakerBot Replicator 2 with PLA filament - both available at TechShop

Step 2: Getting an Image to Create a Model From

For my project I had a cookie cutter already but my idea was to make a 25% larger cutter. I put the cookie cutter directly on my flatbed scanner then covered it with a piece of blank paper. Here you can see how my scan turned out... it is excellent that there are nice crisp edges showing that I'll be able to "trace" from in Autodesk Inventor.


Step 3: Create the 3D Model

I've only used Autodesk Inventor a short time so this may or may not be the best way to do this step. In any case I took my image file in step two and went to create a 2D sketch in Inventor. You can import the image using Inventor, first click "Create 2D sketch", select a plane, then go up to the icon menu ribbon at the top and find the Insert section and choose Image.

Your image will now be part of the sketch and you can trace it. I would recommend to NOT use the Spline tool to trace. I tried that several times in the past and for a closed loop trace like we are making here, the ability to sweep along a closed spline seems to be impossible. Instead, in this case with a symmetrical object try to trace using arcs and lines. You only need to trace 1/2 the angel then you can mirror it to complete the trace.

After completing the trace click Finish Sketch. Now you can click the Extrude icon and extrude the object about 20mm. Once that is done, the next thing to do is use the Shell command. I make the shell only 0.5mm thick which will be only a single pass by the MakerBot Replicator 2 when it is printing. Be sure to choose both faces so we have a hollowed out object when the shell command finishes. Then what I like to do is to add a flange-like feature to the cutter, about 5mm x 3 mm will do. I Sweep this flange around the shell we already created. You can see this in the screen shots.

If you use the Scale command at this point you can increase everything by 25% or any percentage you like.




Step 4: Prepare the Model for 3D Printing

This hopefully is the easy part. In Autodesk Inventor 2014, choose the Export menu item from the upper left corner and choose export as CAD data. Under "Save as type" choose STL file. Then click the Options button. Format should be Binary and in millimeters, this is what the Replicator 2 is expecting. If you want a high resolution file (I recommend it) make sure the High resolution radio button is selected and the other check boxes at the bottom can be left unchecked. A screen shot of my export screen is shown here.


Step 5: Bring STL File Into MakerBot Software

MakerBot provides the software (called "MakerWare") needed for the Replicator 2 free of charge on their web site. The reason I'm going to take these next steps is because it's better / faster for me to do these steps at home and put the finalized file on an SD card. Then when I get to TechShop, I only need to setup the 3D printer and put the SD card directly into the printer. There is no fussing with any computers at TechShop using this method.

Go ahead and launch the MakerWare software on your computer. The first thing you want to do is click the "Add [+]" icon at the top middle part of that screen. Now find your STL file you created / exported from Autodesk Inventor and click Open. You may get a prompt like "Put Object on Platform"? If so choose yes. Even if this is done for you, you still must inspect the model and see if it is sitting on the platform the correct way. The correct way is a way in which the printer is set for the greatest chance of success. That means the part has the large flat part on the bottom, directly on the platform, and the rest facing up. You'll learn more about model placement in MakerWare if you take the 3D class at TechShop.

In my screen shot here you can see how a proper placement looks like for this particular model.



Step 6: Export to SD Card (optional)

Now that our model is rotated and sitting in the right place, we can export the finalized X3G file to an SD card. This file is the one that MUST be in the root directory of your SD card. When we insert the card later into the Replicator 2, we will be able to load the file without any computer.

Choose the "Make" icon at the top center of the MakerWare screen. Take a look at my screen shot here for the options I used then click the "Export" button. Be sure you have an SD card in you computer. For this particular model, the slicing and writing to a file took about 1 minute.

Note that this step is optional. You can also print directly from a PC to the Replicator 2. I'm writing to SD card so that no computer is needed (it saves me valuable time at TechShop).




Step 7: Printer Setup

I could write an instructable just about setting up the Replicator 2 but the folks at TechShop can teach you this if you don't already know how. After your platform is level and your filament loaded, you are nearly ready to print.

Put your SD card into the Replicator and find the menu item by scrolling up and down to read from the SD card. Again, your X3G file MUST be in the root folder or the Replicator will not find it. Once found click on the file.

Step 8: Time to Print!

As you can see here, I'm printing on the Replicator 2 with some 3M blue painter's tape on the bed. Depending on the room temp, humidity, phase of the moon, your zodiac sign, etc you may or may not need to use this trick. You'll know right away if you need to use the tape trick if you're not getting the first layer to stick to the stock Replicator 2 platform. Even if the first layer does not fully go down with the tape on the platform, let it run at least for a few layers to see if you are successful. If not, cancel the job and try to level the platform again.

Step 9: Remove Your New Cookie Cutter

Success! The green cutter is our original and the red is our new 25% larger cookie cutter. You can remove the part by carefully wedging a putty knife between the part and the build platform.

WARNING: PLA filament has a low melting temperature so DO NOT put your new cookie cutter into the dishwasher! Hand wash only!

I hope this Instructable was helpful and inspires you to create this or other similar 3D printer projects!

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