New Tool : PrintRbot

As a new technology necessary tool , the 3D printers come quite handy in the toolbox of the interactive designer .
The process to create a plastic piece , is quite simple and can be quite easy :

First you design the needed piece on your favorite 3D software , you can use open source software such as Blender or Sketchup , or in fact any software you want , then export to a standard 3d format : the .stl , if your software can t export directly to stl , you can for exemple export as .obj then use blender to convert to .stl (take care sometimes you ll have to adjust the size of your object because of the different scales from different software)

Second , you import you .stl file into your 3D printing software (mine is Pronterface) , this software is generally made of 2 part , Slic3r and the your machine control . Here my machine control is Pronterface , and Slic3r is here to convert -this will take few minutes- from a 3D shape to a series of layers that ll be filled printed one after the other -this can take up to few hours- (the biggest pre – work on 3d printers , is to configure Slic3r to the specifications of your particular 3d printer ). Once Slic3r has “sliced” your 3d object , you can go on your next step :

Third , heating up your machine -can take up to 15mn- , and click “Print” , depending on the size of your 3d object , it can take from 15mn to 5hours , and the process is quite addictive to watch , so you might find yourself stuck quite many times in front of a printing process !

Here i choose the PrintRbot , because it was quite a nice deal , also you need to assemble it yourself , it is kinda of a plus , as you will be able to understand all the mechanics of the machine , so , when it ll be time to modify and customize something , you will immediately know what to do , because of your perfect knowledge of the machine !
The small problem i have confronted with, is that the laser cut version of the printer has a lot of adjustments to be made on to fit everything together , adjustment such as using a Dremel on a hole because 2 pieces doesnt fit together , or the screw is constraining you to adjust the size of a piece that would go through a stack of other pieces …
As the primary material of the printer is Plywood , you can find irregularities lengthwise width-wise thick-wise .
Also , as i live in EU , the Imperial screw set of the PrintRbot is a nightmare if you find yourself missing anything …

Here is few of the modifications i have made on the PrinRbot
Y Tension Belt System
Belt Lock