Feb 28, 2016

Google Calendar 3D Printed Logo

It has been quite a while since I've modeled a Google product icon (Expeditions), and much longer since I did my first (Google Docs!) - so I thought it was time to catch up with some others that are deserving. Google Calendar is one of my most used products, so here it is.

Design Goals

The Google Calendar icon is unique in that it attempts to represent a perspective look - that is a 3Dimensional look - in a 2D design. So with this one, I wanted to try to achieve the look of the icon with an actual 3D model. You can see the result of the 3D Model - viewed at the right perspective - looks pretty well like the 2D version.

Design Process

Revolve tool created perspective
To get the dimensions right, I used the Google Drawings trick - where I trace the image. I could have easily just measured the dimensions - since the foundation of this design is just a few rectangles.

In the end, I had three rectangles - One for the base (which has the two holes at the top), one for the top part of the calendar numbers and one for the lower part. Both of those calendar parts sit on top of the base.

To get the perspective angles on the top and bottom of the rectangles, I used the "revolve" extrusion tool in Autodesk 123D Design. The bottom part, I revolved 15 degrees, and the top part, 30 degrees. Then I used the "Filet" tool to round the corners.

To get the numbers embossed into the two halves, I actually created the numbers using the "Text" tool, and then cut the numbers in half. Then I aligned each half to be flush with the top surface of each of the respective calendar halves and pushed them into the surface by 2mm. Then, of course, I "Subtract"ed them from each half - and voila! I had the look of a real paper flipping calendar!

The Model

Since this is one of the Google Product icons, I've added it to my Product Icons page, which you can find right here on my blog (the tab at the top takes you there) along with many other product icons.

Feb 14, 2016

Twisted Heart Box - Last Minute 3D Print for Valentines Day

There's no saying when inspiration will hit - but somehow it always seems to be too late or just in time.

This time it was late on the night before Valentines Day and I suddenly realized it would be cool to create a not-so-ordinary heart-shaped box to hold chocolates or paperclips (the heart-shaped kind, of course) - which had a twist - literally.

Design Goal

I wanted something heart-shaped, but more unique and somewhat artistic looking. It occurred to me that I could take a heart shape and twist it while lofting it. I figured if I made the box big enough, it could even be practical to hold things - and so I also figured I would create a top for it.

Design Method

I tried a couple of different methods in Autodesk 123D Design - experimenting first with extrusion tools. I finally settled on the Loft tool - using the heart sketch on the bottom and the top at 90 degree twist from each other. The loft worked quite well.

Then I used the "Shell" tool to make it hollow, with a 2.1mm shell thickness. This seemed perfect, but had some sharp edges on the inside and the part where the two bulbs of the heart came together had a bit too much material.

I fixed this by using the "Filet" tool on the edge along that inside seam where the bulbs came together (shown in the picture).

The top was much easier - I basically created two hearts on top of each other, and reduced the perimeter of the upper heart by 2-3mm so that it would fit inside the top of the box. This presented a problem given the extreme slope of the top of the box - since that inset of the top would not fit in straight against the sloped sides of the inside of the box.

To fix this, I fixed the box itself, not the box top. I added a 3mm high STRAIGHT top to the box, to give it a perfect place for the box top to fit.

There's a small trick to doing this, as simply pulling the face on the top of the box would continue it's slope. I used the shell tool on another same-sized heart and removed the bottom face, making it an outline only. That's what I pasted to the top of the box.

The Model

You can find the Twisted Heart Box model here - and hurry up if you want to print it before the end of Valentines Day!

Feb 12, 2016

CodeBug Gets a 3D Printed Box with Personality

If you've never seen CodeBug - let me introduce you.
CodeBug is "a cute, programmable and wearable device designed to introduce simple programming and electronic concepts to anyone". I first saw it at the BETT Educational Technology conference in London, where I met one of the founders, Tom Macpherson-Pope. As soon as I saw CodeBug, I new I must create a 3D Printed enclosure for it.

Design Goals

When I met CodeBug, I had just finished making my Raspberry Pi box, and brought some to the conference to show the Pi people. Now I had a similar target in the CodegBug - but what really excited me was the small size! I knew I could experiment and make variations without waiting 6 hours for the thing to print, as was the case with the Pi box.

What I really wanted in this first attempt, was just something that maintained some of the "cute" character of the CodeBug microprocessor board, but also made it easy to access the connectors (plugs and conductive "legs").

I also wanted the 5 x 5 led array to be exposed in a way which made it more fun to program - something like the mouth of a creature or a face of a robot or something similar.

Of course, I also wanted to have it stand up so it could be proudly displayed once it had a program loaded up.

Design Details

I decided that keeping with the original design meant that the buttons would be modeled to look like eyes and the 5 x 5 LED array to look like a mouth. While the CodeBug is called a bug, I saw more of a frog, so I called this first design the "CodeFrog".

I used a two-part design and gave it a clear shape to match the original board, but without every detail on each conductive leg. I also gave it clear eye-shaped sockets and gave it feet which both added to it's ability to stand up and helped to hold the two-part design together with the CodeBug board sandwiched in-between.

For design effect, I used parts of my prior 3D BitBot robot design to add a flexible arm - using the sockets attached to the body and then just using previously printed arms and hands to make it look cool.

Design Process

The most important thing was to make sure the face plate fit over the 5 x 5 LED array and the protruding buttons really well so that there was little movement and a strong connection. I measured and experimented with probably 5 or 6 prints before getting that right.

The base was also important to have a strong fit, and while the CodeBug board doesn't have screw holes to match, there is a battery protrusion on the back that was critical to fit into the base. I again played with that design until getting it just right, starting with a simple square base, and eventually shaping the base to match the face plate once I had the general position of the battery receptacle right.

I added a slit in the top of the feet to accept the bottom of the face plate and added small nubs inside the eye sockets to allow the face plate to click in and lock into the base. I only needed slight adjustments to make the face plate, CodeBug board and base work as a snap-together set.

Design Results

While this is really just a first attempt, I'm overall very satisfied with the result! My measure, of course, is whether this design inspires kids to want to code things on CodeBug which make this 3D Printed CodeFrog come to life. So far, I've gotten great reactions from my own kids, and I'll post follow ups once we have some programs to show beyond my own "mouth which opens and closes" program ;)

The Model

Look back here soon for the model - as I'll post it as soon as I do a bit of clean up on it.

Feb 11, 2016

Creeper Paper Clips (3D Printed)

After my daughter decided that the Heart-Shaped paperclips were a great gift for her friends for Valentines day, she realized that maybe the boys in the class should have a non-heart option.

We 3D printed a few of the Superbowl football paperclips as an option, but then came up with another idea - Creeper Clips! These have the face of the popular Minecraft (tm) creature called the Creeper. It's a simple pixelated creepy face with a paperclip base.

Design Approach

There was one interesting thing about this model that's worth sharing (besides the paperclip part which I've already over-used). To get the multi-color pixelated look, I created different thickness areas on the face of the model.

original with tiny 2.5mm pixel size
To do this, I simply made 2.5mm by 2.5mm square tiles that were 0.4mm thick, and randomly (but evenly) pasted them on the base model in depths of one or two tiles. That resulted in a model which had 3 depths, each of which lets through a different amount of light and therefore gives the appearance of multiple shades of green - giving the Creeper quite an authentic look!

Adjusting the Model

Turns out the tiny 2.5mm blocks don't print that well at speed or when printing many copies at the same time. I adjusted by doubling the size of the "pixels" to 5mm squares, and got a much better result without sacrificing the look of the final print.

different height pixels colored for visibility
I also created a larger size by simply scaling up, which also increased the size of the original pixels to 3.25mm, which also worked pretty well.

The final adjustment was to give more space between the inner shape and the clip. I started with 1.5mm, which tended to crease or cut the paper that it was clipped onto - so I increased it to 2.6mm for a much better result.

The Model

Here is the Creeper Clip paperclip model. Print a few dozen to give away to your Minecraft fan friends!

Feb 10, 2016

For Valentines Day: 3D Printed Heart Paperclips

Why Paperclips?

I know - paperclips are not particularly romantic, or special, or even interesting - not even a little bit. In fact, some might say they foster the use of paper - which we would never want to do.

BUT - When shaped like hearts, paperclips become about 0.001% more interesting than when they are shaped like paperclips. And when you can say you made them yourself - on your 3D Printer - they become even more interesting (I'll say 1.7% more interesting).

More importantly - when one of these little, boring, uninteresting heart-shaped paperclips can be printed in 2 minutes on your 3D Printer - well - NOW I think think they just got 400% more interesting!

Anything that prints in 2 minutes on my 3D printer and has even the slightest utility, is a winner in my book.

I've written a few posts already on paperclips in a row (the Football for superbowl, the "We Hate Paper" clip) - so you can tell I'm a bit into this theme and I won't get into the details on this model. I'll just say, again, that these babies print FAST. I can print a dozen in under 25 minutes :)

I created these for my 9 yr old daughter to clip onto her Valentine Day cards that she gives to friends at school - so this model has been a winner all around.

There are just so many different designs you can create to appeal to the paper-lover in your life - get creative!

The Model

Here is the 3D Heart-Shaped Paperclip model so you can spend 2 minutes getting one for yourself.
I'm posting this model hopefully with enough time for you to get busy printing hundreds in time for Valentines Day.

Feb 8, 2016

"We Hate Paper" Paperclips are ironic

When I started designing simple, fast-printing 3D printed paper-clips, it was clear I was delving into an area I don't really support - that is, the over-use of printed paper in school. I'm not a fan of paper-based assignments in most cases - unless the paper adds to the learning objective somehow (like in art, origami, or...uh... confetti for parties ;).

I had an idea - what if I made a paper-clip which expressed my distaste for the over-use of paper? It would be fun, perhaps funny, and definitely ironic to have a paper-clip which expressed distaste for paper ;)

The "We Hate Paper" paper-clip is the result. It's possibly just a start for a whole line of "We Hate Paper" products.

I'm often looking for ways to use 3D Printing within an educational context - in school - as part of a learning objective - but I never expected that teaching "irony" would be one of the possibilities.

The Model

The "We Hate Paper" paper-clip model is posted and free on Pinshape so you can print it yourself.
If you're a teacher, print a whole load of these for your class to get a laugh from them or their parents. If you're a parent, print a bunch for your kids to clip to their paper homework to return a subtle message to the teacher ;)

Feb 7, 2016

Make a Football Paper Clip - Fast, useful 3D Printer Project

In honor of the Superbowl today, I wanted to design a really easy football-themed model which was both useful and super fast to print. Small, useful models which are fast to print are really great for school projects where many kids are often waiting for a single printer, and looking for results within on class period. This model achieves all that.

Design Goals

My main goal was to have a football theme. What better way to achieve than than by using a model of a Football! My second goal was to have the result be somewhat useful - not just a trinket.

You probably know I've done lots of trinkets, and both kids and adults really like those, but I am becoming partial designing and printing more useful things. Third - I wanted this to be a small model which could print fast and reliably.

Design Details

One of the things I dislike most about classrooms today is the continuous and heavy use of paper. There's just so much more that can go digital but hasn't yet - and paper often adds a burden in paces where it is unnecessary.

That said, I decided to design a paper clip - ah.. the irony.

I've noticed in previous flat-model printing I've done that the printed PLA in heights of 1-2mm is quite flexible. I figured I could create a paperclip-like structure quite easily on a flat surface, in practically any shape I wanted.

I tried a football shaped design. Here's the steps I used to create this:

1 - Sketched an oval with 6 points using the "Spline" tool in 123D Design - getting a Football shape pretty easily. It was about 30mm wide and 50mm long.

2 - Extruded the football to 1.4mm deep.

3 - Duplicated and reduced the size to about 75% the original.

4 - Shelled out the original to make it just an outline of about 3mm width.

5 - fit the smaller football inside the larger outlined football leaving approximately 1-2mm gap between the two (that's the space the paper will fit when it's a paper clip).

6 - create a connecting rectangle which is 3mm wide, long enough to bridge the gap between the objects and 1mm high. I place that at the tip of the football connecting the two parts.

7 - Use short rectangle pieces which are 1mm wide and 1mm tall - to create a "laces" pattern on top of the inner football (see the picture to understand what this looks like).

3D Printed Results

After a little tweaking, I ended up making the inner football slightly higher than the outer outline shape and gave it rounded edges (using the Filet tool) just to make it look better. I also did a bunch of experimenting with height to get the right balance between strength and flexibility.

The Model

In case you don't feel like starting from scratch to make this yourself, and just want the immediate satisfaction of printing a few (or a few dozen) of these now, I've posted the Football Paper Clip model on Pinshape for you to use.

If you're having people over for the superbowl today, print a few and give them out to your friends ;)

And just in case you think I've created this model because I like paper, I've also created this other paper clip design, shown here, to clarify my position...

I think I'll give these out by the dozen at my kids' schools :)

Here's that "We Hate Paper" Paperclip Model - also free on Pinshape - in case you want to inspire your school to reduce the waste and time innefficiency ;)