Oct 16, 2015

3D Printed Plaques Are Fun Personalized Gifts

This past summer, one of the products I worked on at Google hit a milestone - Google Spreadsheets turned 9 years old on June 6. More significantly for me, that exact date marked the 10th anniversary of our team joining Google.

I decided this milestone was worthy a big #3DPrinted Google Spreadsheets icon with a personalized message for the awesome people I worked with on day one and still work with at Google after all these years today.

I took the original Spreadsheets icon model and simply scaled it up - way up. It went from 4cm high to 12cm high by 9 cm wide by 2 cm deep.

Then I added extruded text - and since this would print on it's back, I didn't worry about the letters sticking pretty far out.

It stands up on the desk and that's pretty much it. The personalization is what makes this fun and relevant. Otherwise, it's just for show - just like real plaques! ;)

Oct 10, 2015

3D Printed Google Expeditions Logo is going places

I've explained a bunch of times on this blog how I like to achieve multi-color printing - with snap together parts. I did it with the Google Drive logo, and with the Gmail logo...

This time, I did it with the new product logo for Google Expeditions.

It actually didn't take too long to create a two-part design which can be printed in two different colors and then snapped together.

The Logo Design

The Google Expeditions logo is a simple base which looks a bit like a compass topped with a flag.  The base is typically in white or gray, and the flag is red. I created the two parts to be sized right for each other, and then added a simple indented mortise into the base and a matching (almost) tenon which could be snapped into the mortise. So the flag gets the tenon, and snaps into place into the base to create the finished product. This deserves a bit more explanation...

How to create the snap-togetherness

To create the mortise and tenon in a way which snaps together well is a bit challenging, but mostly just takes some experimentation - which I've already done lots of in past designs.

I found that with the typical lack of precision in printing melted plastic, you need about 0.4mm (400 microns) of clearance to get parts to snap together - give or take +/- 200 microns depending on the plastic, the printer and the resolution used.

To get a good fit - I create a small protrusion part (a rounded rectangle) and do two things with it. First, I connect it to the part which will have the tenon - so it protrudes. Then I copy it and increase the X and Y dimensions by 0.4mm and use that larger part to create the mortise (the indent) into the other connecting part.

Extending the design to BADGES!

This design gave me an idea to model something I've been tossing around with a few people - to create 3D Printed badges. I figured I could re-purpose this design to create a simple platform for badge creating - one which allows different badge bases to be combined with different badge icons.

I figured if I could make the Expeditions logo work with this more generic mortise & tenon design, I could then try it with a different object to replace the red flag - making a new badge. I used a spreadsheet logo (of course) as my first test - thinking that a spreadsheet badge would be quite useful for students or people learning how to use Google Sheets.

With the flag, it was easy to flip it over and print a tenon sticking up out of it since flag is otherwise flat... but with the sheets logo, which is non-flat on top, this would be harder (you can't have stuff sticking out of both the bottom and the top when printing on a flat bed of most 3D printers).

the bottom of the spreadsheet
logo icon now has a mortise to
snap onto the badge base.
My solution to this was to invert the connection between the base badge object and the badge icon. I made the base object have the tenon and put the indent - the mortise - on the badge icon (the spreadsheet icon in this test case. So now the spreadsheet logo would have the indented mortise.

What's next for this design

Worked (almost) like a charm. It was a bit tight, but with a little tweaking I could tell I had the start of a really good generic badge model. Look for more on this soon, and please give me more ideas for badges that you might use! In the mean time, I'll create some sample badge bases and some sample toppers to get the ball rolling and post them here soon!

Get the Expeditions (by Google) Icon model(s) on my Google Models page. It is actually two separate STL files - the Compass base and the Red Flag.