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Top 10 things to make with a 3D printer


Ags
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I see 3D printers are now in the sub 200 euro price range, which is below my pain threshold. I want one, but just need a little final convincing these are essential. What are the top 10 things to make in 3D, astro or even non astro?

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Will be an interesting thread this. I just purchased one yesterday, the Voxelab aquilla C2. Amazon had a flash deal with a 20% discount (seems to happen quite often). For a basic model i'm really impressed. Other experienced users can probably recommend alternatives and useful accessories to make.

I wanted a plate for the top of the dovetail so i can hang accessories towards the side - i'm hoping it will help with the balance of my cem26 mount as it does tend to drift and much cheaper than buying an off axis counterweight. Knocked something up in Tinkercad this morning and it's happily printing. 

Screenshot 2022-02-23 at 10.59.42.png

Edited by Dean Hale
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My first advice is that 3d-printing is another hobby, rather than an appliance that sits in the corner churning out perfect prints at your every whim. (That opinion might be a little out of date as I've heard that a lot of the better modern printers can be much more 'plug-and-play', but in my experience eventually something needs tweaking...)

In astro terms, it is easy to print custom boxes for DIY projects - for example exactly the right sized hole for the DC power connectors, the fuse holder and the gx-12 connector your project needed. This then encourages you to take on more diy projects. The print I'm most pleased with is the custom motor focuser mount I created for my AA 66-EDR - I didn't want to fiddle with the screws that attached the main focuser to the OTA, so I designed something that used zip-ties to attach it to the main tube ("Mr Heath, meet Mr Robinson" 😂). (Pic to follow) 

Amongst the other prints are DC power boxes, stepper motor mounts for my EQ5 goto project (the first thing that got me into 3d printing), Raspberry PI case for astroberry that included a 12v-5v dc step-down and a holder for an msata ssd, and a bunch more (just remembered Eq5/6 polar scope dust cover) . 

On the non-astro front, useful prints have been a 'bean hopper extension' for my coffee machine means I can fit a whole bag in, and a replacement to fix a broken steam knob that is much easier to use than the original. 

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12 minutes ago, adyj1 said:

In astro terms, it is easy to print custom boxes for DIY projects - for example exactly the right sized hole for the DC power connectors, the fuse holder and the gx-12 connector your project needed. This then encourages you to take on more diy projects.

So you mean I don't need one now, but I will need one after I buy one? 😀

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7 minutes ago, Ags said:

So you mean I don't need one now, but I will need one after I buy one? 😀

You never knew how much you needed it until you got it 😉 

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I've had one a few years and print bits and bobs in ABS. @adyj1 is correct though - it ends up being another hobby. I've replaced the hotend, the control board, the bearings, the bed, built an enclosure, run it over the network with a Raspberry Pi.... Now it's dialled in it is pretty much plug and play - I have to fiddle a bit to get dimensionally accurate pieces for push fitting bearings or pcb boards, but that's my fault for using ABS.

It's a slippery slope though...

Now I want a lathe. And a mill....

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I often keep a mental list of all the things I want to print as soon as I get one :D

- Dew shield + aperture mask (avoids star spikes) for my Samyang T1.5 85mm lens

- Motor focuser bits for Samyang lens (case for arduino and bracket for the stepper to be mounted on the rail)

- Some distancers / inserts for counter weights system I made for AZGti in EQ mode (couter weights were exceptionally cheap 0.5KG dumbbell weights from Decathlon - but they have 30mm central bore)

- Levers to put on M10 bolts holding above CWs in place

- Bits needed for auto focusers for my two other scopes: two mounting brackets and single arduino box to be shared between the two as they will have same steppers driving them.

- cases for DIY spectroscopes

- I would like to 3d print a telescope - or at least bits for diy telescope, for example, salvage lens from old binoculars and then make wide field refractors or finders out of that - aluminum tube but all other bits will be 3d printed.

- Dew shield for Mak102 with mounting system - like screw on light weight dew shield

- fully functional star tracker - that is my most ambitious project. It will use cycloidal reduction gearbox, steppers and all the bits needed to mount and point the camera. Most of it will be 3d printed with exception of screws holding it together and bearings for smooth tracking and steppers of course.

I'm sure there are others as well that I can't remember at the moment.

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3 minutes ago, cwis said:

Now I want a lathe. And a mill....

I wanted those for a long time :D

Maybe I'll go baby steps and get 3080 for PCB milling and drilling first. Would like to be able to do nice looking DIY boards without too much mess.

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As said above it is a hobby, certainly with cheap printers, and by cheap I mean under £1K to £2K.

It however is one of my hobbies and one I enjoy.

Have I spent more then £200 - yes far more. My original printer was one from Ebay at around £120 and I was impressed how good it was (for the price) but it was fiddly to set up and every so often major issues with the prints  that meant a partial strip down and rebuild, but it was useable and certainly got me into the hobby.
My next (and current) printer was an original Prusa, cost a bit more at around £700, same size and in theory capabilities as the first, but the quality was so much better and so much easier to keep printing good quality.
Does it run forever without intervention, well no but intervention is required much less but does require maintenance every now and then.

And, I think that printer would have done me, with maybe just a replacement part every now and then but as it is my hobby I have upgraded the extruder and hot end adding another £300 to the price but it prints really nice prints, pretty fast and reliably.

Have I printed anything useful - well yes, but in all honesty probably only about 10% of what I print are useful other things are just out of curiosity, full size very realistic skulls, dragons, vases, Notre Dame cathedral, Section of a jet engine, internal combustion engine, Marble runs, need I go on.

But also I have managed to make repairs on several items around the house that saved a bit of money, such as some bits for the Dyson vacuum cleaner.

So as a 3D hobbyist I would recommend one but be prepared to be constantly tweaking things to get prints right on the cheaper printers, and to waste about 50% of the filament you buy, so whilst you think it is good value getting 1Kg for £20 in reality you probably will throw half in the bin, so essentially costing £40 per Kg  (not good for environment I know that is another battle I have with my conscience 😞 ), but 1Kg does go a long way as the things you print are not solid, they will have a number of outer layers then a sort of 3D honeycomb structure inside to save plastic and printing time and are just as strong. 

By the way you ask about Astro stuff I have made quite a few bits for myself and other SGL members, Handles, brackets to hold RPi's holders for USB hubs, and my latest some very nice rollers for my planned roll-on roll-off Obsy that has saved some money on buying them and means  can make just the right size I need.

1645618943632.thumb.jpg.2470e625c90e4ed74892b6c521b730ac.jpg

I think if I were just printing files I found on websites I would be bored by now though.

What I really like is doing a 3D CAD drawing of something and then printing it and having it to touch in real life, it still amazes me.

And here's another completely useless print done recently:

Steve

 

Edited by teoria_del_big_bang
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34 minutes ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

And here's another completely useless print done recently:

That is soooo cool!

I have whole another "section" of things to add to my 3d print list.

When I was very young I had a friend that enjoyed a common hobby with me at the time - aircraft (and other military) model making. Nothing serious, just those injection molded kit models that you assemble and paint. I recently made contact with that friend again and in conversation - we did touch upon doing that - and then it occurred to me - here is nice thing to do with 3d print - both model in 3d and print / assemble such models like tanks, planes, cars and so on ...

Then, another day I had this very interesting idea. It is a bit crazy, but I think it is rather innovative and cool - it would probably be one time massive project, but I guess someone interested in that sort of thing would have really good time. It is again use of 3d printing - to make stop motion animated video.

Instead of modelling actors from clay or silly putty or whatever - one could use serious animation software to 3d print models in motion. It does not need to be single model per frame - models with moving parts can also be used to do stop motion and of course - re use of models in different poses.

Now, seeing this video - another cool "sub hobby" occurred to me. I used to love "TIM" - computer game titled The Incredible Machine.

I think that 3D printer allows TIM to be played in the real world :D as your video shows.

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I have only had my printer a few days but the things I want to print grows daily, as for upcoming astro projects these will be a screw on solar filter holder with a 77mm thread to fit my camera lenses, a screw in bat mat mask for the same lenses, wifi or maybe bluetooth controlled DSLR mount (for general photography), Tracking mount for my mobile phone....

Non astro Items include upgraded parts for my Grado headphones, case for my Fiio BTR5  plus various other thingies, however I am still in the printing printer upgrade parts mode.

Alan

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S

16 minutes ago, Alien 13 said:

I have only had my printer a few days but the things I want to print grows daily, as for upcoming astro projects these will be a screw on solar filter holder with a 77mm thread to fit my camera lenses, a screw in bat mat mask for the same lenses, wifi or maybe bluetooth controlled DSLR mount (for general photography), Tracking mount for my mobile phone....

Non astro Items include upgraded parts for my Grado headphones, case for my Fiio BTR5  plus various other thingies, however I am still in the printing printer upgrade parts mode.

Alan

Sounds like you are going to be putting your printer to more use than some of my follies 🙂 

Steve 

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29 minutes ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

S

Sounds like you are going to be putting your printer to more use than some of my follies 🙂 

Steve 

I do have several models of "Groot" I want to print as well as some Fallout 4 figures and items like the "lamps" from the game so its not all sensible.. My son rang me earlier and was talking about a "Dremil" powered table saw he made so thats opened up another bottomless pit of things I want..

Alan 

P.S. Maybe I could also use the printer to print out drilling templates for my ally project boxes or even the PCB itself mmmm.

Of course once you add skateboard bearings into the mix the list of things grows even more..

Edited by Alien 13
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With the amount of users having 3D printers I would very much like a sub section in the Equipment section for 3D printed Astro stuff (not really just any 3D stuff as this is an Astro site).
That way would be easy for us to share STL files for astro gear and find them easily instead of searching the DIY section.

Steve

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I'm constantly printing bits and bobs. 

On an astro theme some dec knobs to replace the ones you can't adjust without removing  the polar scope cover. 

A set of mounts to fit guide scope directly to the top of rings. 

Various lens adaptors including the ring to convert finder scope to guide scope. 

Various box's for buck transformers. 

And loads more 

Dave

16456383528974677084397715920353.jpg

16456383786731807346425524572813.jpg

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7 minutes ago, dnl said:

I'm constantly printing bits and bobs. 

On an astro theme some dec knobs to replace the ones you can't adjust without removing  the polar scope cover. 

A set of mounts to fit guide scope directly to the top of rings. 

Various lens adaptors including the ring to convert finder scope to guide scope. 

Various box's for buck transformers. 

And loads more 

Dave

Both prints look great - I particularly like the dec knob adjuster. 

There is definitely a category of "things you didn't know you needed to 3d print until you realised you could 3d print them" 😉

 

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5 minutes ago, maw lod qan said:

Being old school, I'm still a little confused at how you imput some of the more complicated shapes. 

My inner voice right now!

(Wait, you don't need another toy)

If you mean how it prints them, then you are right to wonder;  it prints in layers from the bed upwards and bits that 'stick out' don't have anything to rest on during the print...

The solution is normally to add break-off supports to the print job. You have to use an intermediary app called a 'slicer' to turn a design file into the specific print instructions for your printer, and at this stage you specify things about the print, like how much 'infill' is printed, or whether supports are used - and no end of other customisations.

Like I said, a new hobby 😉

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For those with a child in eduction or know someone who has, try to get an education discount version of solidworks. It is the defacto CAD modeller for engineering, and is absolutely awesome for making 3d stuff. There's plenty learning tutorials on the internet. Once you get the basics you can design parts in no time really. It's vastly better than the free stuff.

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Designing the objects is fairly straight forward using a CAD program.
Solidworks is great and well worth using if you can get the discount .
I use Onshape which is free for personal use.

I had no idea when I started using this because although an engineer (mechanical and electrical.electronics) all my life I never had used CAD before.
But basically you draw shapes in 2D, and can be lines joined together or preset shapes, circles, triangles polygons of any amount of sides, then you extrude them into 3D shapes.
Lots of other tools too but that's the basics.
Then its just practice.

So as an example to draw a gear:

1. Draw a circle.
 image.png.9ed84177a166d6fa366ad045868941bf.png

2. Add a tooth
image.png.316f4c3970431c4d570659f8e3b907cb.png

3. Instruct CAD to do a circular pattern to repeat the tooth 30 times so no need to draw 30 of them
image.png.6902f90ec7be4608f0e925513d1deccb.png

4. Then Extrude the shape to make it 3D
image.png.60c2dd78a62e42cffb53125ff2b4d526.png

And that's basically it.
Okay you would want to add a few refinements such as chamfers and maybe make it a bit more lightweight but there just as easy.

 

image.png.5503a9b5213d8024cc06c611bd71a7f2.png

Okay not perfect it does take a bit more working out if gears are to mesh smoothly without too much backlash but that is just an example how you can knock these things up in a few minutes with only a little practice.
Honestly, If I can learn it (maybe not master it) then anyone can 🙂 

Steve

 

 

Edited by teoria_del_big_bang
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So tips:

don't buy a 3d printer to print stuff that you can buy. if it's a product - buy it - it'll be better quality injection moulded, and cheaper.

3d printers are best utilised to make stuff yourself (CAD) that doesn't exist.

that might seem obvious, but lots of folk seem tobuy one and then just print STFs from the internet out. You won't get the full benefit that way.

I've had 3d printers for 12 years now. Still got my first one, and have a second one I use too. They are awesome if you are the sort of person that wants to solve a problem. And as you say, cheap as chips now.

My latest is an anycubic mega s. works out the box, solid, reliable and prints ptu, nylon, the works. I'd recommend it

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They're useful. You'll end up printing all sorts to start off with but eventually I've found its use wanes a little. Most of the appeal is using it to solve problems, which normally ends up meaning you have to design the part if you can't find it on the internet already. I find it fulfilling overcoming an issue by making something myself.

I used to use Fusion to design as it was brilliant, Autodesk however have stopped the hobbyist licensing they used to permit.

Also you have to be patient doing large prints (FDM and SLA) not to mention all the issues you'll encounter along the way. It's all part of the fun though.

One of the most exciting things I've seen 3d printed astro related is the following Solex project spectroheliograph and well worth a look:

http://www.astrosurf.com/solex/

Edited by Elp
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