If you’ve been following my work, you’re seen me go from a very small CNC router to a more reasonable sized 3′ x 2′ model from Romaxx. Up until now I’ve stuck with older PCs for control, great because they can be purchased very cheaply, and contain the all-important parallel port. These ports have been ancient technology for quite some time, and after my PC started restarting every time I opened Mach3, it seemed time for an upgrade. What I went with was the following:
If you check out those links, one thing you’ll likely notice is that the USB to Parallel port is close to the same price as the PC itself at around $100. The thing here is that while its billed as a USB to parallel port converter, it’s actually a machine controller. I’m not sure of the details of how it runs, but after installing its companion software, it is actually able to run your CNC router via USB, a job a normal converter just can’t pull off.
As for the PC itself, I’ve been impressed with it so far. Seems to do the job, and compared to the very old device it was replacing it’s a huge upgrade. Hopefully it’ll function well for years to come, and it’s so small it can fit on the back of my monitor. Also, it includes a VGA port, which is nice as the monitor I have there doesn’t have an HDMI connector
Once I tool the leap to buy this new hardware, there was the matter of getting my control software up to speed, including the new parallel port adapter. Mach3 loaded up with no problem, and after I put my key into the proper directory, it worked as expected. Setup for my Romaxx router was a matter of replacing the Mach3 XML configuration file with Romaxx’s custom settings per the instructions/downloads found here. I also modified the acceleration/deceleration and max speeds of the different axes, which you may want to do in the motor tuning interface.
Setup of the UC100 on Windows 10 was also simple, a matter of running the auto installation program found here. This worked without a hitch, and when I loaded up Mach3, it asked me if I wanted to use the UC100 controller. Naturally I did, and instructed it to not ask me about this again.
With this done, I was able to jog the machine, and run GCode generated with Autodesk Fusion360 to produce a usable part. Interestingly, I did have to restore the device select screen and reselect the UC100 again (per instructions in the UC100 user manual) after stopping the cycle slightly before it was finished via a button on the router. I’m not sure if this will be an issue going forward, but it jogs correctly after that.
This was my first time using Fusion as a CAM program outside of 3D printing, and while it took a bit of yak shaving to get things to behave properly, I’m looking forward to using it more in the future. Really the whole experience upgrading to this new PC was excellent, and it only took a few hours of setup (if that) to go from receiving my tiny PC to jogging my router around. I’m looking forward to using this more in the future, and it’s great to be working with a modern system.
One other cool thing about the tiny PC that I bough is that you can actually stick it to the back of your monitor. I used Velcro with mine, and initially used the kind without tape on the back, opting for hot glue. This soon fell off, however, which between vibration and the heat makes sense. I now am using this type (Amazon), which comes with an adhesive already attached. Admittedly, I haven’t run the router since putting the new Velcro on, but I’m hoping it will stay put!
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If you read our blog you may know it: 3D printing for c […]
If you want to mark things over and over again what’s better than a stencil? Very little, except for the pesky problem of how to connect otherwise isolated sections to the rest of your drawing. In this video I go over how to make a logo stencil using a 3D-printer to construct raised connectors so the paint goes right underneath.
Spray paint was what I intended this build for, and it works well for that. I also tried it with bleach and a polo shirt, which works out quite poorly. The demo/destruction starts around 3:20 but don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m just glad it wasn’t a new shirt!
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At Sculpteo, we always want to offer the best 3D printi […]
Whether you’re a total gearhead or not, cycling is fun, environmentally friendly and all-round awesome. And with 3D printing, these designers are making their rides even cooler! Pimp your own bicycle with their creative designs or get inspired to make your own custom bicycle gadgets.
Designer Michael Müller says, “I really like the straight, clean style of fixie bikes. No unnecessary gimmicks… just the minimum. This spartan equipment does pose problems when you want to transport stuff on a bike. So I thought about using the volume inside the handlebars!”
Michael’s “Handlebar Pocket” allows the cyclist to stow small things such as medication, plasters, paper money, batteries or even bicycle repair supplies. The handlebar pocket is 3D-printed in Polyamide (SLS), making it durable and available in many colors. Keep an eye out on Michael’s shop – the product will be launched soon in different sizes!
Designer Alen Zubic says, “City commuters who use their bikes regularly will instantly notice unprecedented differences from what they’ve seen and used so far. The strap is made from beautiful leather combined with top quality elastic material and metal buckle. MOA is here to stay – it’s durable, fashionable and functional.”
The MOA leg strap protects the cyclist’s trousers from getting tangled in the bicycle chain (which often results in grease marks that are hard to clean, and even torn clothing). The design is durable, using 3D-printed steel, and aesthetically appealing. Keep an eye out on Alen’s website for the launch of the MOA K1 model!
As you might expect, the i.materialise team is filled with 3D printing enthusiasts. Staf Wuyts, our CAD Manager for Stereolithography, is crazy about Enduro mountain bikes and has designed a series of 3D-printed accessories in Polyamide (SLS) which protect his bike from mud and stones.
If you’re also into mountain biking, check out his designs here to give your bicycle a nifty 3D-printed upgrade!
Nothing is more frustrating than constantly having to stop and check your phone to see where you’re going. Designer Jodok Weixler decided to solve the problem by designing a lovely red phone holder in Polyamide (SLS), which clips onto the head tube of your bicycle!
Follow your progress on a map, check your stats – or even Facebook – without ever having to dismount your bike. Just don’t forget to look where you’re going! Jodok’s phone holder is available for purchase in his i.materialise shop.
Cycling is hard work. Sometimes, you just need a little something to cool down, which was exactly what designer Nils Faber had in mind when he designed the Cheetah Bike Stem for himself. The jaws of this elegant aluminum Cheetah bottle opener, which attaches to the bike stem, allows the cyclist to uncap their bottle on the go.
We hope these fantastic bicycle gadgets inspired you – and that they might make your life easier! Cycling isn’t the only hobby where 3D printing can make a difference.
Upload your designs to our online platform and choose from over 100 different materials and finishes to get an instant price quote. Spread the love about the gadgets you’re designing with us by posting on our forum, or tagging us with #imaterialise on social media.
It was more by chance, than planning, that I ended up in Jeff Stewart’s session at Autodesk University 2017 (AU2017) last November. I was talking to some Microsoft representatives in the exhibit hall and they mentioned it was on the following day. Somehow, I had overlooked it while setting up my schedule but that was soon rectified. Jeff started his career as an electrical engineer, in avionics, and is now the Senior Director, Product Line Manager for Surface Book at Microsoft. The chance to learn more about the Surface line was not to be missed!
At work I use a Surface Pro 3 (for mobile/meetings) alongside an HP CAD desktop workstation. I had also recently tested the, mostly impressive, Surface Studio for a week. I had seriously considered buying an earlier Surface Book for home use as it got close to being “My perfect PC”.
I was curious to evaluate the Surface Studio for CAD use as had mostly seen it demonstrated by graphic artists. The screen is gorgeous, both the stunning resolution and the way it glides, at the touch of a finger, between ‘drawing board and upright’ modes.
Surface Studio Photo from Microsoft
However I found even the top spec was a bit underpowered for CAD. It was interesting that it struggled more with AutoCAD (with models, not 2D) more than Revit. I suspect that was down to the comparatively modest, for a desktop, GeForce GTX 980M 4GB graphics. The Surface Studio shared a similar hardware specification to the first-generation Surface book, itself recently subject to a significant update, and really needs a hardware refresh to give it the power to match the stunning display and form factor.
Before AU2017 I stopped by the Las Vegas Microsoft Store, in nearby Fashion Show Mall, to check out the (then) recently released Surface Book 2. It was only just available in the larger 15-inch form factor in the US, a size not released in New Zealand until early 2018.
The Surface Book 2 doesn't look very different from previous versions, retaining the distinctive hinge and detachable clipboard tablet, but is all new. Both the mechanical and digital spec have been greatly refined. The i7 versions have 8th Gen quad-core processors, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (13.5”)/1060(15”) graphics, a more rigid hinge and screen lock (for the larger screen) and still offer all-day battery life. I seriously considered getting one to take home but concerns about international warranty support and modest, if any with sales tax + duty, cost saving from home meant I didn't bother. A nice machine though!
Surface Book Photo from Microsoft
Although the Surface team make technology Jeff Stewart’s talk was more about how they built the Surface team and design philosophy. Surface has a mandate ‘to innovate [within] or create product categories’ and ‘showcase the best of Microsoft’.
He spoke of the team culture of empathy and trust and how it fostered exploration of design. That results in innovative solutions from the multiple mode interaction (keyboard, touch screen/pad, voice, dial and pen) to hardware configurations like the transforming Surface Studio (desktop to drawing ‘board’) and Surface Pro/Book hybrid devices.
They also explore new materials and manufacturing techniques, like applying the Alcantara® fabric (often used in vehicle interiors) to the keyboard of the Surface Laptop and, recently launched, baby Surface Go keyboard cover.
I was interested to hear the Surface Book form factor was inspired by a paper folio spotted in Japan (photo below) and five years later it became a truly powerful digital folio.
The “Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge” is not just styling. It was created to shift the centre of mass as the top opens to better balance the screen (full of hardware and touch/pen display) in laptop mode. It combines with the “Muscle Wire Lock” to unite the tablet and base into a high-quality laptop.
The hinge/lock is best seen in the original (1 minute) launch video below which showcases some of the engineering common to all Surface Book models. I was glad to see this retained for the updated model as it is a distinctive part of the Surface Book look and function.
The Surface Book 2 built on that adding more power, refined design and USB C support (without losing the SD Card or USB port compatibility). It still charges/connects to docks via a magnetic Surface port, on both base and Clipboard, but can also charge via the USB C port if needed. Video out is from the USB C port rather than the display port other Surface products use. A sign of the future I suspect.
They had a partially dissected Surface Book 2 on display revealing how it packs the primary hardware (processor, memory, integrated graphics, storage and cooling) and about 1/3 of its ~10+ hour battery into the display clipboard/tablet portion. The keyboard base holds the second NVIDIA graphics card (with its own cooling fans) and the balance of the battery. It was interesting to see how much of the screen portion, remembering it’s a powerful i7 PC, is devoted to battery and cooling rather than hardware.
Earlier this year the SB2 15 was released in NZ and I decided it was time to upgrade my 5 year old Samsung ATIV Smart PC which was showing its age. It was a secondary device to a (then) workstation spec desktop machine which itself has had less and less use over the years. I wanted a machine to replace both; something I could use for general computing, blogging (writing & image editing), hobby photographic and design work but also capable of running CAD software if needed. The i7 15” Surface Book 2 fit the bill perfectly and price plus the ability to offload archive storage to OneDrive (1TB thanks to Office 365 Home Sub) meant the 512GB SSD option was sufficient.
I got the pen as use it quite a bit (for notes with MindManager, OneNote and some drawing) and added the Surface Dial as an experiment. The pen has strong magnets to dock it to either side of the screen. I’d like to see another added to allow it to dock up on top as like using the tablet portion in landscape mode. You can flip it ‘upside down’ and dock the pen to the base lock magnets but there is a tendency to knock the power switch (which is now on the bottom) off if you do that.
I expected to use the Dial with creative apps (Corel/Adobe apps now support it) but have found it surprisingly useful for media consumption. If there is no custom Dial function in an app the system Volume, Scroll, Zoom, Undo and Screen Brightness controls are available on the Dial. For scrolling interfaces, like Facebook and Twitter, the dial is a nice alternative to touchpad, keyboard or touch screen.
It feels like a high quality video edit jog dial from the days when I used to edit video. Sadly it lacks a finger dimple on top so you tend to turn it more like a HiFi volume control with two or more fingers.
The machine runs CAD fine (AutoCAD Architecture and Revit in the photo below) within the limitations of 16GB ram. As I would only be working with relatively modest size models, experimenting with Dynamo scripts or building content that is not really a problem. Not sure how earlier versions of CAD would get on with the stunning, but unusual, 3240x2160 3:2 format display which I run at the recommended 200% display scale but 2018+ are fine.
While I don't game much it runs those I have tried ok. I have used it with Flight Simulator X (yes the old one with a Orbix North & South Island NZ scenery pack). One advantage of running old games on such powerful hardware is you can crank all the settings up to max detail and still get good frame rates!
Quite a compliment to Windows 10 that it runs software from about a decade ago!
Even a more modern Formula 1 game (F1 2015) runs fine, the limitation being my driving skill and lack of familiarity with an Xbox controller. I guess you could connect a wheel but it seems a bit overkill for laptop gaming!
I have also tried using it with Windows Mixed Reality using a loan HP Headset and found it performed well with one caveat. You need to use the right adaptor to get video from the USB C video out to the HDMI headset and support the 90hz framerate good VR demands. The official Surface USB-C to HDMI Adapter was fine. In addition to exploring the Windows VR ‘house’, which is pretty impressive in itself, I tried a few other experiences. It was fun to explore Nefertari’s Tomb In VR and I found Google Earth VR impressive, spending over an hour revisiting the Himalayan cycle route I did for real a few years ago. It was an impressive way to relive past adventures.
The screen is lovely, sharp and bright but the best aspect is its ratio (pun intended). It’s more paper proportioned at 3:2 than the 16:9 video format of most laptops. This is far better for both working and reading as you get more vertical workspace in applications, more paper’like display for documents and graphics.
Windows Hello makes a great first impression by unlocking the machine at a glance. Although you can have password or PIN it is hardly ever needed. The keyboard is nice, good key travel and quiet. The glass ‘precision’ trackpad is said to be one of the best Windows ones, even challenging Mac. I don't know about that but it is great to use and does not pick up errant touches while typing. Then you have pen, again improved and very responsive, and Dial input which most other laptops don't support.
Considering the hardware inside the Clipboard/Tablet portion is remarkably light and useable. For reading it is comparable to holding a similar sized glossy magazine.
Given it is a consumer laptop performance is impressive. While dedicated CAD mobile workstations do that better the compromise between power, versatility, style and weight is hard to match. The screen shot below shows about 500MB of Revit and a 5GB Recap Point Cloud file loaded and this file is fine to work in.
Nice touches abound:
After a few months with the Surface Book 2 there are a few changes I would like to see:
If you want to change Graphics settings there is a panel in the Windows 10 Settings but it only offers three basic options. You can force applications to use “High Performance” mode, favouring the GTX 1060 card but that is about it. I guess this reflects the more general audience for the Surface Book.
It wasn't obvious there was more until I saw this post on the Support Forum. For more control go to the old Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > NVIDIA Control Panel. It is still stripped down compared to what I have seen on workstations but has a bit more control which applications use the external card.
Forcing applications to use the GTX card seems to help the occasional tendency for it to disappear. Running un-forced sometimes the GTX card seems to sleep, disappearing and only reappearing if you undock/redock the clipboard. It runs Intel 620 integrated graphics when undocked, itself a surprisingly powerful system and well up to tablet mode use.
Interesting that it seems AutoCAD handles this setup better, locking the tablet as it uses the GTX card. Revit is stroppier sometimes causing the GTX card to disconnect irrespective of the override settings. Seems odd but launching AutoCAD to force the card use, then starting Revit can help with this.
Update: I have found sliding the power mode slider back to “Balanced” (when running on battery) seems to make this more stable.
The clipboard tablet has a useful life of about three or four hours when not docked. That is fine, for reading etc, but the catch is it doesn't recharge from the base until you connect back to mains power. It would be better if the base could boost itself back to maximum from the battery in the base when mains power is not present. However, the system does do a good job of balancing battery use between base and clipboard reporting each capacity separately in the power monitor panel.
The other change I’d like is physical. The trackpad, one of the best I have used, has a bevelled edge on the case to help locate it. I would prefer that bevel to run the full width of the front (red) as find it more comfortable than the square edges. I’m tempted to fix it myself, with a file, but suspect that would void any warranty!
Take that lovely Surface Studio screen and sell it as:
I suspect that second part is harder to achieve but there would be a huge market for that monitor alone.
The Surface Book 2 is not inexpensive but is also good value for money. It does a remarkable job of combining the capability of a power laptop, digital sketch board and tablet in one elegant machine. I’m happy I got one and look forward to seeing what they come up with for Surface Book 3!
Understand Crowdfunding Basics So You Can Launch Your Project With Confidence
Crowdfunding: It may seem like a relatively new approach of financing business endeavors. Sure, the current internet iteration really started kickin’ when Indigogo, Kickstarter and GoFundMe came on the scene in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.
But the concept goes back, waaaaay back, to funding war bonds in the 1730s or supporting artists and philosophers in the 1800s. In fact,
Additive Manufacturing is very useful when it comes to […]
The post 3 easy steps for best STL files resolution appeared first on 3D Printing Blog: Tutorials, News, Trends and Resources | Sculpteo.
3D printing is used in a lot of different sectors. Than […]
Over the last few years, 3D printing has been playing a […]
Note: The following was excerpted from Wohlers Report 2018.
In 2017, an estimated $1.13 billion was spent on materials for all additive manufacturing (AM) systems worldwide, including both industrial systems and desktop 3D printers. This represents an increase of 25.5% over the $903.0 million spent in 2016. The market segment grew 17.5% in 2016 and 20.0% in 2015. These estimates include sales of liquid photopolymers, powders, pellets, filaments, wires, sheet materials, and all other material types used for AM.
The previous graph provides a 17-year history of material sales for AM systems worldwide. The numbers are in millions of dollars.
Details on Wohlers Report 2018 are available here.
Additive manufacturing is taking more and more space in […]
Finding the right 3D modeling software for 3D printing is tough. That’s why we want to give you a complete overview about the best and most popular free 3D modeling software in this blog post.
Classifying and benchmarking different 3D design program is a very complicated matter as everyone has different preferences and applications for 3D printing in mind. Our 3D modeling & 3D printing community here at i.materialise uses tons of different software to get the job done: from free online 3D design apps to high-end professional software.
There are several reasons why it’s so difficult to find ‘the best’ 3D modeling software:
But we’re going to take it step by step here. I will briefly describe the most popular free programs out there. I will also try to point out how you can progress to more sophisticated programs later.
I have tried to put them into different categories based on the style of 3D modeling that is predominant for each software. While you have to sculpt in some, you merge geometric elements in others.
If you are just starting and have never created a 3D model before, TinkerCAD is absolutely indispensable. It’s an easy beginner-friendly app with a LEGO-approach. Basically you will combine different geometrical shapes together, in order to create new objects. TinkerCAD is great if you like geometrical designs and a geometrical way of thinking. It’s very hard to create organic objects with the interface, however (like people, animals, etc.).
We have a tutorial about how to create your first 3D print in TinkerCad here. Take a look at it to get a better feel for this software.
If you reach the limits of TinkerCAD and you like the logic behind this app, you can continue to more sophisticated software like Fusion 360. Fusion 360 was also developed by Autodesk, the company behind TinkerCAD. This powerful program is now available for free for students, enthusiasts, hobbyists, and startups. It combines the professional capabilities of a high-end CAD program with an user-friendly interface and workflow. That’s why Fusion 360 is such a popular program among industrial designers.
Parametric 3D modeling software allows you to easily navigate and modify your 3D model by browsing back into the model history and changing its individual elements. Typically this software is at its most powerful if you want to focus on precision. However, you won’t have much ‘free-style’ design freedom.
FreeCAD is a free software that allows you to create precise geometric designs, such as technical parts, replacement parts, gadgets, cases, scale models etc. You can learn the basics in our beginner-friendly FreeCAD tutorial.
If you would rather like to code your 3D model, OpenSCAD might be for you. This software uses programming language to create 3D objects. If you want to learn how to code your design, take a look at our OpenSCAD tutorial.
Digital sculpting is the way to go if you want to create organic designs: people, animals or creatures. This is where your mouse movements matter the most, and mechanical precision matters the least.
Meshmixer is a powerful, free software that lets you sculpt digitally and mash different 3D models together. Mold and refine surfaces in real-time like virtual clay! Once again, we have the right tutorial for you to get started.
Sculptris provides an excellent gateway into the exciting world of 3D sculpting. Its features are easy to learn, even for someone with no experience in digital art. Yet the 3D sculpting software is robust enough to create base models that can then be refined in other, more sophisticated applications later.
In Polygon Modeling, your 3D object is basically a mesh based on vertices, edges, and faces. This allows for precisely editing parts of your object. By changing the coordinates of one or several vertices, you can change the shape of the model. That makes this way of modeling very powerful but also more difficult to start with.
The most popular free software in this section is called Blender. However, it’s also the most difficult program mentioned in this blog post. The power of design freedom comes with a steep learning curve. That’s why we published video tutorials on how to get started as well as on how to turn your Blender model into a 3D print.
A premium software that is somewhat similar to Blender is Modo, which also comes in a free 30-day trial version.
This is the process where models are based on drawing lines or curves in a 3D space. By joining these lines or curves together you will define the surface of your object. This manual way of designing allows designers to create precise objects.
SketchUp is a software that architects, interior designers, and scale modelers love. SketchUp is mainly based on lines – 3D models will be edgy as a result. The first steps are fairly easy, but making a printable model can be challenging sometimes. Take a look at our tutorials to learn how to create your first SketchUp 3D model and how to make it 3D printable.
Once you master this program, you might switch from SketchUp Make (free version) to the premium SketchUp Pro version.
For curve modeling Moment of Inspiration and Rhinoceros (Rhino 3D) are popular choices. Unlike SketchUp, you don’t focus on lines but rather on curves. This allows for great round shapes in product designs. You can check out our video tutorial to get a better understanding of Rhino. While Rhino doesn’t come for free, it offers a free 90-day trial. Enough time to test it.
Moment of Inspiration offers a 30-day trial. If you want to try a similar free software to start with, you might want to try free modeling program K-3D.
Now it’s time for you to visit the websites of these 3D modeling programs, take a look around, and download the free or trial versions. If you’re new to the world of 3D modeling, this interview about how to get started with 3D designing is probably of interest to you as well. You should also make sure to avoid these 5 common mistakes when turning a 3D model into a 3D print.
Biomimicry might seem like a strange word, but the prin […]
If you missed it when I first put this rocket launching Strandbeest, check out the video below. Of course, I don’t actually recommend you build this device, but it’s fun to watch nonetheless:
Apologies for posting this late – looks like I had it saved as a draft. You can also follow my videos by subscribing to my YouTube channel here!
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