Instructables

Poor Man's (not so rapid) Prototyping Method for the Fabber-less

Picture of Poor Man's (not so rapid) Prototyping Method for the Fabber-less
IMG_1924.JPG
IMG_1923.JPG
Many have wished to be able to fabricate plastic models of their 3D designs, and many do not have access to rapid prototyping machines or cnc millers. And many do not want to pay 10 dollars a cubic inch of plastic prototyped.

This instructable will introduce my method of fairly rapid prototyping with sheets of abs plastic, no special machines required.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Precursor

Many people who design 3D models on their computer would probably like to fabricate them in some sorta material. Other's design solely for the purpose of creating a part and getting it casted. I am part of the later.

This instructable started from my need to create a custom case for my tablet pc. I wanted to house certain components with the tablet and thus, I could not have used any typical case made for my tablet model.

Like many people, I resorted to finding places where I can get the parts milled or printed. And like most people, I was disturbed about the high costs for materials and production. And thus, I sought out an easy way to prototype parts cheaply without the need to produce my own fabber machine.

I have came up with a slue of methods, all of which I summarize by calling it the Origami Prototyping Method.

The key points of this method is to use plastic sheets as if paper, and produce papercraft equivalents of the 3D models.

This instructable goes over the basics and certain key points about this method.

Step 2: Materials and Tools

Materials:
- ABS plastic sheets
- Acetone
- Bottle
- Clay (optional)

Tools:
- Dremel (rotary saw, miller, etc)
- Popsicle sticks (or other stick like spreading tool)
- Grinder
- A BOX (the Z.O.E box if possible)
- Plastic Heat Strip (or Poor Man's Plastic Heat Strip http://www.instructables.com/id/E6CUQ8MF2H0OWHU/)
megaskywarp4 years ago
Hello xeijix!!!

Can you recomend a 3d design software program please...I am a beginer but I dont want to learn something that doesnt have features I need in the future (just to have to learn a new program).  I have been looking into Autodesk 3ds Max Design...

I would need something that can handle future animations (such as opening a laptop and spinning 360' around the design.  I have no interest in designing for video games or anything of the sort.  Just industrial design.

Thanks so much for the tut!!!

Cant wait to try this...you have inspired me!
goto or look up 3dprinters.net or .com
xeijix (author)  megaskywarp4 years ago
 If you plan to using accurate measurements, then Autocad and/or Solidworks is the way to go. But if you're animating, you'll need to design the objects such that the motions you want is physically possible (ie. if you want something to hinge, you need to design a real hinge) If you're into industrial design, i think it's really important to create designs that are physically possible. If you are looking for something more artistic, then 3DS max is good enough. Although if you still want accurate measurements, i suggest using Autocad or Solidworks and export the image to 3DS max to animate freely
You sir are a true gentleman!!!  Thank you so much for your detailed reply!  Sounds like Autocad and/]or Solidworks will be best for me.  I will give them a try and in the (distant) future I will try pairing them with 3DS max or the similar.
If you are still interested in this topic, give autodesk's Inventor a chance, im an industrial design student, and it is very intuitive and easy to use and it even its freely distributed under a students license from the official site
Worked perfectly on an accidentally drilled hole (used lumps of thick goo for the hole, then smoothed out with a thinner mixture), thank you :)
badman115 years ago
would this method work on other types of plastic like polycarbonate?
xeijix (author)  badman115 years ago
yes and no. If you take a look at the wiki on acetone, it's a solvent on most plastics. However, abs readily dissolves in acetone and when dried, it will tend to reform its structure. I am not sure whether other plastics would do so, I would take a guess that polystyrene might work. However, let me point out the bottle I used in the instructable for the application of the glue, it's polycarbonate. It did not melt, however, I noticed a shrinkage in the plastic (like a shrinkydink) after storage for some time.
 Actually, most soft-drink bottles are PET; Polyethylene Terephthalate. It should have a "recycling arrow" somewhere with either PET, PETE, or a number 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PETE

Also, there is a great free "unfolding" plugin for the also great (and also free) SketchUp modeling program. Sorry, don't have a link handy for either...

Nice instructable, thanks for posting it!
wupme5 years ago
That Pepakura software you mentioned is what i always looked for. I often do 3D Models of stuff i want to build, and sometimes need an printout for certain angles and curves... The tools like unwrap or whatever those 3D Apps got are not perfect for it, well because its usually just meant for making a texture... Also this instructable is awesome, except for the software i used the same technique a couple of times. 5 Stars and a +fav for you :)
dombeef5 years ago
Why is this in origami?
bfk6 years ago
Great job! I've used this method using sheet styrene for years to make my own prototypes. I discovered "stick" glue, the kind kids use for their school projects, works the best to hold the drawing to the plastic. It doesn't move when you're cutting small shapes, but peels off easily. It's also not as messy as spray or rubber cement. Another comment: The original commercial 3D printers were probably those used by the automotive companies about 30 years ago. Like vinyl sign cutting machines, they cut shapes out of sheets of material which the engineers would then stack on a mandrel, building their models up layer by layer. By slicing your CAD model into layers that correspond with the thickness of your sheet material, your projects don't have to be restricted by how the sheet can be folded.
ABS Glue genuinely welds ABS sheets together, so is a good bet. Use acetone and shavings if you are a purist, but standard ABS Pipe glue is the same thing, maybe just a little more friendly to the air, and your health. I had an uncle who was a commercial painter in the bay area years ago and used to wash his clothes in acetone if I remember correctly. He died of cancer of course.
I didn't remember correctly... after reflection, it was benzine, not acetone they washed their painting clothes in. Regardless, please be careful with acetone, and don't pour the excess down the shower drain, as it might melt it...
qz90906 years ago
Where can I buy ABS plastic in sheets? Does any one know? Thanks.
xeijix (author)  qz90906 years ago
qz9090 xeijix6 years ago
Thanks.
szechuan536 years ago
ingenious... btw, if you have about $3000 to blow, you can buy a personal fabber that uses anything relatively soft like silicone or cheese.
Lotus146 years ago
Very cool. A very viable method for lots of things. Years ago, I knew someone who had a small company and did just what you have shown. At that time, he had been in business for awhile and had a pretty nice setup with woodworking tools and the like, but he had started out working at his "kitchen table." He made plastic prototypes and ID models for the electronics industry; monitor housings, keyboards, and similar things. When he was done, it was hard to tell his parts from those that were injection or pressure molded.
ivanirons6 years ago
Great Instructable! Similar to a RepRap. I like how we are going into an era of making our own things. I have made a couple of CNC machines myself.
I also instruct others. I have made a number of tutorials on various CNC Projects. I like to walk people through each step during the CNC Process. I get great feedback from people just entering our cool CNC Hobby.

Here are the videos:
http://www.cncinformation.com/CNCBlog/

Then click on the link on the left.

Thanks for your contribution,
Ivan Irons
http://www.cncinformation.com
you know if you take the element of the hot wire cutter and mount it in a hacksaw balde with extension wires it becomes a very powerful tool for polystyrene based prototypes. With some care an intricate model can be made my friend and I both did architecture in art for projects and needed to make final pieces of buildings and so the polystyrene house was born also they can be plastered with mod rock (similar to cast material for broken limbs)
You can buy ABS glue at the hardware store, for cementing sewer pipes together.
xeijix (author)  discontinuuity7 years ago
I'm not sure what ABS glue is comprised of. Usually, it's not fully abs, but a compound that can stick to ABS. Here, I've decided to use acetone + ABS because the dried product is ABS, and not just another compound.
bartbrn xeijix7 years ago
Plastruct's "Bondene," for bonding like plastics (ABS to ABS, styrene to styrene, butyrate to butyrate, petg to petg. etc.) and "Plastic Weld," for bonding any of those plastics to UNlike plastics (e.g. ABS to styrene) is a great choice, and is available at most hobby and craft shops.
unjust7 years ago
a note about the suitability of papacura shareware would be appropriate. i.e. does the demo work for this (and a linky to it) or does one need to buy it.
latobada7 years ago
if you could, more images would help, and better detail the instructable, but overall useful.
Agreed. I rated this Instructable up, because the finished product is good-looking and you did it in an interesting way. However, I'd love to see more photos of the gluing process. Maybe some closeups of the glued joints you end up with would be adequate.