Introduction: 3D Printed Nomad Space Probe

In my "Laser Cut Cardboard Nomad Space Probe" instructable, I showed how I used Autodesk Inventor to design a replica of the Nomad space probe from the Star Trek episode "The Changeling" and how to make a 3D model using 123D Make and laser cut cardboard.  That model was fun to make and is a great decoration but it's rather large.  I decided to try my hand at using a 3D printer to make a couple of smaller plastic models of Nomad.  It was straightforward and the results were pretty good.  This instructable describes the process.

The first photo shows the large (4.75") model, the second photo shows the small (2.75") model, and the third shows them together.

I made this at TechShop.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

To make the Nomad model, I used Autodesk Inventor to do the design (details here). The free open source ReplicatorG software was used to convert the output from Autodesk Inventor into the instructions used by the 3D printer.  The 3D printer I used was a "Replicator" made by MakerBot at TechShop.  The material was 1.75mm/1.8mm width True White ABS Filament.

Step 2: Print the Small Nomad Space Probe

To make the 2.75" model of Nomad:
  1. The STL file produced by Autodesk Inventor was loaded into ReplicatorG (first and second screenshots).  I resized the model to fit in the 3D printer and centered it on the printing plate.  The STL file with these changes is attached.
  2. The instructions (called GCode) were generated with the settings shown in the third screenshot.  It took several minutes to slice the model and create the GCode (fourth screenshot).
  3. The file containing the GCode was saved as a .s3g file on a SD card that would be used by the Replicator to make the model (last screenshot).
  4. The Replicator then started building the model as shown in the first 19 photos.
  5. The model was cleaned up (excess plastic and support plastic removed) and is shown in the last photo.

Step 3: Print the Large Nomad Space Probe

After making the small model, I made a larger one almost twice as large (4.75").  The STL file for the larger Nomad is attached. Because this model was larger, it was necessary to have ReplicatorG build a support structure around the lower part of the model to ensure that where narrow parts of the model expand to wide parts the hot ABS plastic would not sag.  This was done by selecting "Exterior Support" in the "Generate GCode" dialog box (first screenshot).

The competed model is shown in first and second photos.  The support structure can be seen on lower section. There is also a small amount of support material just above Nomad's head. The plastic support structure was easily removed by breaking it off by hand and using a small needle nose pliers to remove any small stubborn pieces.

The cleaned up model is shown in the last photo.

Step 4:

The two Nomad Space Probes are shown together by the Replicator that created them.  The penny gives you a sense of their size.

Nomad: "You are the creator..."
Stardate: 3451.9
Star Trek episode #32, production #37   "The Changeling"
Original Airdate: Sep 29, 1967

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