It was with much glee that I spied a box lying on my desk when I got back from lunch one Wednesday afternoon recently. It had finally arrived on the day they advised it would – on time, delivered from the other side of the world (Netherlands I believe?) and in perfect condition!
Of course, I am talking about my brand new robot parts that I had designed on my computer and sent to Shapeways for printing.
3D printing has actually been around for a long time, but it has only recently become more accessible to the majority of people due to technical advancements and cost reductions. These days, almost everyone can get something printed quickly, easily and fairly cheaply.
The process is quite easy too.
- Come up with a cool idea
- Find a 3D program to model your object – Don’t sweat there are quite a few good free ones like Blender or Autodesk’s 123 Suite
- If learning how to make 3D models is not your thing, simply download models from the numerous supply of FREE 3D models on the net. Thingiverse or a quick Google Search for free 3D models is a good start.
- Upload your model to Shapeways or your favourite 3D printing company of choice
- Pay your money and receive your 3D prints shortly after
Yep, it’s that easy. If you’re really, really lucky, you might even be able to afford your very own 3D printer. The quality of a home 3D printing solution isn’t as good as a service provider yet, but they’re still great for prototyping and so on. Check out the MakerBot Replicator for more ideas and information. I know I’d certainly love to have one of these!
If you’d like to see how the Shapeways printing process is done, well, rather than me explain, it’s probably best to watch this video.
As for robots? Well, that’s what I decided to make. You can make anything you can imagine or design.
I built my robots in 3D studio Max 2012. I wanted them to be small, and simple. My idea was to print them out and then add and modify them with air drying clays and paint at a later stage. I also wanted them to be modular, so I can stick different pieces together to make different designs. Here’s some of the ideas I ended up with.
So let’s see what’s inside the box that was delivered to me.
I decided to print my parts in Strong White & Flexible material. There are actually quite a few types of materials you can choose from including Stainless Steel, Silver, Sandstone, Ceramics, Glass and more. They are all different prices and price is determined by the volume of materials that you require.
Whilst my robot parts are white, you can actually choose what colour you want depending on what type of materials you use.
So all up, I had a very pleasant first time experience with Shapeways and I am looking forward to using them again soon.
As for my robots, well stay tuned because they are a story for a different post.