Introduction: Star Trek 3-d Printed Key Chain

By: Bren Smith & Issa Dyson

This Star Trek inspired key chain is for the fans of the series! New or longstanding fans alike can enjoy the novelty item. Its durable frame makes it ideal to be put on lanyards, necklaces, and most importantly key chains.

We made this project, because it is a perfect example of a manufacturing technology. The Standard of Technological Literacy (STL) 19 covers this subject breaking it down to different grade levels. STL 19-H is "The manufacturing process includes the designing, development, making, and servicing of products and systems."

We believe that the process of manufacturing this project will represent these listed steps. This fun 3 dimensional print is affordable and not hard to make, therefore the intended grades of 6-8 will surely be engaged.

Designing is the first step in the manufacturing process. Step 1: Plan your Key chain is the representative for this step. Design is defined as purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.

Development is the next process of manufacturing. Step 2: Model your key chain is the model of this process. In that step, as will be later explained, you develop your initial idea into a plan of action. Development is defined as a specified state of growth or advancement.

Making is the third step of manufacturing, and often the poster child to this process. Many people want to skip here without the first two. Steps 3-5 encompass this step. Making is defined as forming something by putting parts together or combining substances; construct; create.

In our project we will stop the Instructible at the making step, however we encourage our readers to follow the manufacturing process to Servicing. Service is defined as perform routine maintenance or repair work on something like a vehicle or machine. For us, the key chain is like a machine and liable to break. If your key chain breaks, you can either problem solve what went wrong, or replicate your device. Either option is fine as differing situations call for different solutions.

Step 1: Plan Your Keychain

Begin by brainstorming the important design elements of the key chain.

We decided to show off the Star Trek Science officer's insignia, as it was our favorite in the show. We sketched how we wanted it to look and why. In our brainstorming you can see us planning the size, orientation, and look of the key chain.

Figuring out what you need to design beforehand is a basic part of the engineering design process. If you do not do this early, it can cause complications later on.

Follow the specifications from the 'Key Chain Tab Design' to ensure it fits onto a key ring. We borrowed these dimensions from an instructor we are familiar with, and he agreed on letting it be posted.

Step 2: Model Your Key Chain

Once you’ve finalized your design and it’s dimensions, you’ll need to turn it into 3-dimensional model to print. We used SolidWorks here, but it is just one of the many solid modeling softwares you can use for this step.

-Tinker Cad is great for beginners and allows you to create models using pre-existing shapes.

-Blender has more advanced features and is more suited to artistic modeling.

-SketchUp is another advanced software, but it caters to more detailed, technical models.

(Plus these three programs are open source and free to use!)

Find the program that is suited for your skill level and the type of modeling you want to produce and using your sketches create a solid model of your key chain. We won’t go into the modeling process here since it varies from program to program, but there are many helpful resources that will walk you through the process in depth. (Check out the links above!)

After modeling your key chain you need to export it as an STL file for the 3-D printer to read.

Step 3: Prep Your File

Now we need to import the the STL file of your keychain into a 3D printer host software. Here we used Cura which is easy to navigate and also free to download. Once the model is displayed in the build area of the program there are a few functions you can use to edit and adjust everything before printing. Here you can: Move the model around the build area to determine where on the surface it will print Scale the model to adjust the final size it will print to be Rotate the model to adjust its orientation on the build area Mirror the model to reflect it over the X, Y, or Z axis

After you’ve made the proper adjustments it’s time to move on to set up the printer.

Step 4: Setup Printer

If you need to load the filament yourself unclip the idler and make sure the filament has a clean edge before inserting it into the feed hole in the extruder body and reclipping the idler.
If you are changing filaments you need to first bring up the printer interface and set the temperature to 210°C before switching the filaments out. After it’s heated, you need to purge the old filament out by raising the Z-axis about 50mm off the bed and clicking the “extrude 10mm” button until you see the old colored filament replaced by the new. Now you need to adjust the printer settings to the material and size of filament you will be printing with.

Next the the basic print specifications need to be adjusted to your preferences. Scrolling over the names of the features will define them for you, but we will give you average numbers that work well for general use.

Fill density- how densely filled the insides of your print will be~ 0% for empty 100% for full. 20% is generally a good number to stick to.

Layer height- height of each layer the printer creates at a time~ .25mm is good for small prints

Shell thickness- size of outer walls of the print~ 1.0mm

Print speed- mm per second it prints~ 50mm/s

Bed temperature- temperature of the surface on which there object will be printed~110°C

Printing temperature- temperature of the printer’s nozzle~ varies depending on filament

Next, go to Print Preview and check for any errors. Once any errors have been corrected, click Printer Control then click Start Job.

Step 5: Print!

We uploaded this video of our hard work being printed. The print took approximately 15 minutes. In a classroom setting, this project can be used for group work. The limits to whether or not students must recreate what we made depends on the age group. Although we intended this for 6-8 graders, anyone with the aforementioned materials is free to recreate what we did.

Note: Be unsure to wait until the bed has cooled down before removing your print. This can cause damages if you remove it too soon.

Also, in terms of copyright, we freely release this tutorial and earn no money from it's distribution.

Returning to STL 19-H, one can attest that the importance of technological literacy as this was a very technology intensive project. However, through projects like this you can carry with you, on your key ring, a better appreciation of the manufacturing process and its contributions to society.