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When NASA recently released the STLs for the Mars Curiosity Rover I couldn't wait to print it out. Of course, I always have trepidations because my print bed is only 100mmx100mm, and so often I find that something is too large to print. However, if one want's something bad enough, you look for workarounds. My workaround is Blender, with blender and the skill set I've been working on ever since I got my Printrbot the .stl can be modified to fit my bed size... some of the times. Sometimes it takes some ingenuity. Fortunately, this time wasn't one of them.

Taking the original body, I divided it in half along external detailing, and made some pins to hold the two pieces together. Not too hard, but always easier said than done. The original image also included flat disks to make the print stick better; only in our case, the bottom is flat, and it's not really needed. So, taking care to keep the .stl file a manifold structure, also easier said than done, I removed the feet.

If you have a large printer and don't need to break yours down into smaller pieces you'll need to be able to print 161mm x 59mm x 108mm. If you have a small print bed, happy days, except for the body, every other part that needs to be printed will fit on the small Printrbot bed.

So, everyone will need the .stl files located at this NASA site: http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/mars-rover-curio...

So if you've got a large print bed... everything you need is there. You're done here. Happy Printing!

Step 1: Download 3 Part Body

First, there is a correct way to place all the .stl images on the bed, such that no support structure is needed. It's simple, There are 5 sides which are not flat. Use the flat side. You may have to experiment with some of the angles that the part lays on the bed. And, you may only be able to print one at a time. But, every part can be printed.

I do recommend a raft! Some of the pieces are pretty small (6mm), and that's the long side. No, I'm kidding, that's the width. I found that a raft greatly improves the prints of the individual pieces. It's still your decision; but, I used one for everything, except the body.

NOTE: The Left half of the main body can be printed with a raft, but, only IF it is only as wide as the actual print. The right side is more flexible. I divided the body where I did because it merges well with the detail on the top and sides of the Rover. The bottom... not so much.

Further details to come:

Although only the two halves and pins to hold it together are here to download. You can download and print from the NASA site if you don't want to wait. I will be adding stl groups of the small parts needed to minimize the number of jobs, and to take advantage of the whole print bed. Stay Tuned.

Step 2: Everybody Has a Bad Side.

I saved the worst for last. The pieces are only as good as your printer. If you look at the previous image, up close the split between the halves is not really noticeable; on the bottom however.... yeah. I could have chosen to make the bottom look good too; however I would have had to compromise on the sides of the Rover where it wouldn't have aligned so well. So, there you have it. The good, bad and the ugly. All in all it came out really nice, and it is a beautiful piece of work from NASA and when people see it, they've said... "You printed that on that! Yes indeed, I did.

Leave your comment, or question, and I will respond. Thank you, and enjoy!

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Bio: I am a Bohmian Mechanics theorist, with theory variants, so I call it Phase Theory instead. It's easier to list what I don't ... More »
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