Yes, you, the person who is saying "this instructable is not for me. I don't have a 3D printer and probably I won't have one, because it's a very expensive and complicated technology". I have some news: 3D printing is here to stay for good. In the same way of most of the modern technologies, 3D printers will be accesible for the average person in matter of years. Remember: the first computers were very expensive, huge, with low capacity and only operated by a few scientists for solving important problems. Now you have an infinitely more powerful, less expensive and smaller computer in your own smartphone (and you are using it for shooting birds at green pigs and taking duckface photos. Shame on you!).
Who knows? Maybe one day you will find a 3D printer near the copy machine of your office (and then, you will 3D print your duckface photos. WHEN WILL YOU STOP?)
Or maybe, the future is already here and you are lucky enough to be in the Instructables new offices in Pier 9 (San Francisco, CA), where you can find World's most advanced laboratory for makers. And being on Instructables without 3D printing something is like being in the Navy and never travel in a warship: you are missing all the fun, dude!
My previous projects were focused in CAD (Computer-Aided Design). I showed step by step how to make a Transformer and a jet. I made the designs and then... HOCUS POCUS!, the prototypes were already 3D printed! A lot of persons asked "how did you 3D print it? What 3D printer and materials did you use?". So, this instructable will be more about CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) using the fantastic Objet Connex 500 3D printer. For this purpose, I designed a basic toy tank capable of launching one missile (well, technically it's a projectile, because missiles are self-propelled. But, come on! It's a toy!).
Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you this G.I.JOE inspired action vehicle, codename: "Artic C.A.T." (Cool Acronym Tank).
I will show you step by step how I used Pier 9's high technology for bringing to life this big toy and besides, you will have a quick guide of how to use the Objet Connex 500 for 3D printing a project, what are the basic materials, how to clean the Objet Connex 500 when you finish and how to clean your project.
HOW DOES THE 3D PRINTING MAGIC HAPPEN?
Ok, let's suppose the only thing you know about 3D printing is what media says: a devilish technology that uses black magic for instantly making one-bullet, nigh-undetectable, easily-exploding toylike guns for terrorists and criminals. (Because they don't know more practical, less expensive and faster ways for making evil deeds)
Then, one day, you have this Objet Connex 500 in front of your eyes, and you see you can 3D print a lot of amazing things: toys, crafts, jewelry, prototypes, prosthesis for human limbs, gears, robots, everything you can imagine. And then you realize something: is it a miraculous process? Absolutely YES! Is it quick and cheap? HA! You wish...
In simple English, a 3D printer works this way: you introduce your 3D design into the machine and then it starts to add successive thin layers of hot materials (polymers), taking the shape of your design (yes, I remember "The Fifth Element", too. No, you can't print your own Milla Jovovich... yet.). But hot materials don't levitate so, in order of keeping them in their places until they cure, the 3D printer adds a disposable support material in every layer, that fills the voids and keeps the shape of your project.
Do you want to know more about this technology? Patience, Young Grasshopper! your 16 steps journey into the basic professional printing is just beginning!
3D printing is a fun, magical and exciting process where you can create something awesome that materializes before your eyes. But, like all activities in human life, you have to keep some basic precautions for a better experience:
- Safety first. Use latex or nitrile gloves everytime you are exposed to chemical products, like when you clean the prototype (3D printed material) or the machine (alcohol). Wash your hands after manipulating 3D printed stuff. 3D printed material are not recommended for human or animal consumption. Don't try to introduce your hands in the machinery when operating. Always follow the safety indications in the workplace.
- This instructable is not an official protocol and is not intended to be replacement for the advice of the shop manager. It's only a quick reference guide. If this is your first time operating this kind of machines, follow the indications of the shop manager or the competent person in charge.
- Before 3D printing your project, check your design looking for possible failures. And then... check it again. In this moment of human history, professional 3D printing is an expensive process that takes a big amount of time (this project lasted 54 hours in the Objet) and money (don't ask). If you don't solve the issues before printing, it will be very complicated to solve them during or after 3D printing, and building an extra prototype just for an easily preventable failure in the first one, represents time, materials and money wasted.
- Objet Connex 500 price is US$250.000. So, think about it before trying something dangerous, non-standard or foolish in the machine (I can't judge you because I love to do dangerous, non-standard or foolish things, but NOT IN A QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS HI-TECH MACHINE!).
- Don't turn off the Objet Connex 500! If you have any problem, ask your shop manager first.
- This instructable applies for projects made in 123D Design. The 123D products were developed for an easy 3D printing. Conditions may vary if you use another design software. Ask your shop manager for a further advice.
I want to thank the following people, who helped me in this project:
Steve Delaire: Shop Manager in Pier 9 and an awesome teacher. He had the patience to show me all the 3D printing and cleaning processes. His advice made this instructable possible.
Ed Lewis: I had to change the missiles design (shape and color) and material (lighter, more economical and durable), so Ed helped me with the Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer (step by step process not showed on this instructable). By the way, the missiles red color was an idea from Lauren Gerber.
Audrey Love: She took the pictures of the finished tank. An awesome job as always!
Wade Wilgus: He checked some parts of this instructable and gave me advice of how to improve the content. If you don't like my "funny" comments, say thanks to Wade: could have been worse!
And finally, Instructables.com: for allowing me to put my hands in this fantastic machine!
Ok, let's get some 3D printed fun!