Kodak, Kodak, Kodak…

Over the last few weeks Kodak has been on NPR several times.  Kodak invented digital camera technology, but never tried to push it – since it didn’t advance their core method for making money… selling film.  I’m reminded of this because I’ve finally come very very close to finally using up my 5 pound coil of black ABS that I’ve had since December of 2009.

I’m both excited and saddened at this prospect.  In the last two years I’ve run through 5 pounds of clear PLA, 5 pounds of black ABS1 , and another kilogram of clear PLA.  I’ve used a smattering of other colors, but not a whole lot yet.  Black has been my go-to color since I’ve had so damn much of it.

  1. Almost []

Ultimachine plastic

For a client I just special ordered some black PLA from UltiMachine. 1  This will be my first experience purchasing from UltiMachine, but I’ve heard good things.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

  1. I have always bought MakerBot plastic, but they don’t carry black PLA. []

Why doesn’t MakerBot carry PLA any more?

I just noticed they don’t have this any more.  It seems like it’s a popular choice and people1 are able to get it to print well.  The odd thing is that their store doesn’t say they’re out of stock, it doesn’t list this any more.

What’s up with that?

  1. who aren’t me []

MakerBlock’s MakerBot setup

I’ve posted about other people’s MakerBot work space set ups,1 but not much about my own yet.

Right now there’s a bunch of junk2 in the way so no pictures of the setup for now.  My MakerBot – “Bender,” a laptop3 , and a large long cardboard box with a wooden dowel running the length with badly cut cardboard spools holding what was once a 5 pound coil of black ABS4 , a very nearly 5 pound coil of clear PLA5 , and a full pound of white ABS I’ve never used. 678

All of this resides in our living room on an enormous former-library card catalog.  For those of you youngsters out there, a library card catalog is the kind of thing you see in the background scenes of Warehouse 13.  Imagine a huge chest about four feet tall that has lots of small, deep, drawers.  It is what libraries used to use to store information about their collections – an analog database.  Frankly, I didn’t realize the one I bought was quite so large. 9  It’s literally big enough for about six identical MakerBot/laptop/plastic coil setups to the one I have. 10  The drawers beneath the area where my Makerbot resides are devoted to tools and spare parts.  Right now the surface is covered in a number of unfinished projects and some totally finished projects.

Library card catalogs are super handy and useful ways to incorporate storage and a raised level surface for working.  The only problem is that these things are absolutely enormous and way way heavier than they look.

  1. Mattpr’s MakerBot cart , Tony Buser’s “Tea” #481 []
  2. FYI, junk = stuff waiting to be made into other, more useful or more amusing stuff. []
  3. Named Bleys, if you must know. []
  4. I would guess I’ve used about a pound over the last 8 months.  5 pounds is a LOT of plastic.  Dear faithful ABS, oh how I love thee… []
  5. Polly!!!!!!!!! []
  6. Though, I have very specific and immediate plans for it. []
  7. More on this later if you remind me.  I have a tendency to get lost in nested footnotes and parenthetical references. []
  8. Seriously, just imagine what my PHP code looks like.  Yikes! []
  9. Or far away.  Or would become so expensive.  That’s a story unto itself. []
  10. I best get printing more MakerBots, no?  Hmm…  I might have to print more laptops too… []

Thank you MakerBot!!!

Fluorescent red ABS and spare parts kit!

Fluorescent red ABS and spare parts kit!

Thanks to the generosity of my family I placed an order for a bunch of the MakerBot1 parts for which I’ve been pining away.  Ordered on August 10th, the box arrived on August 16th.  One of the things ordered was the MegaRainbow ABS plastic pack.

However, the box contained something else – fluorescent red ABS and a spare parts kit!

Thank you MakerBot Industries!!!  I have, indeed, had a happy birthday.  :) 2 I promise to only use these parts for good. 34

  1. And MakerGear! []
  2. I would have posted this a lot sooner, but it’s been a crazy busy week. []
  3. As for the black ABS that came with my Deluxe Kit I’m sorry to say that I cannot make similar promises…  that stuff just has a life of it’s own. []
  4. Is it an EVIL Rubik’s cube? []

What’s the cost of printing with a MakerBot?

I’ve wondered for a while about the cost of operating a MakerBot.  Let’s break it down and see what happens:

  • Plastic. According to some calculations on the MakerBot Operators group, the cost of MakerBot ABS is around $0.03 – $0.04 per cubic centimeter based upon a price of $70 for 5 pounds (or 2268 grams) of ABS, a density of 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter. 1  Using the current prices of $81.36 for a 5 pound coil after shipping, I calculate the price of ABS at $0.035 per cubic centimeter.  Since we’re talking about such large numbers, let’s just round on up to $0.04/cc.
  • Time. Skeinforge has been estimating about 85 minutes to print 19 cc of plastic.  This comes to about 4.5 minutes/cc.
  • Electricity. At at $0.20/kWh, a MakerBot probably draws around $0.03 per hour.

Thus,we may estimate the cost of operating a MakerBot in terms of consumption of goods and resources (excluding computer, human, and MakerBot time and wear and tear) as follows, where V is the volume of the extruded object in cubic centimeters or “cc”:

Supposing I wanted to recoup the entire cost of my MakerBot to date and spread it across the entire life of a single 5 pound roll of ABS. 2  Let’s round the cost of the MakerBot, all repairs, and all extra MakerBot related materials up to $1,500.00.  One 5 pound coil would have 1890 cc’s of plastic.  This would come to $0.794 per cc of plastic.  So, I would suggest the cost of buying a MakerBot and printing off an entire coil of plastic would probably end up costing you about $0.85 per cubic centimeter of plastic.

Resource cost of printing a 19cc totally MakerBottable 3x2x1 Rubik’s Cube is $0.80.

Actual pro rated cost of printing a 19cc totally MakerBottable 3x2x1 Rubik’s Cube is $16.15.

Absolute cheapest MakerBot usage I’ve seen anywhere at Metrix:Create for members printing from Thingiverse is $0.30/minute, which would print the totally MakerBottable 3x2x1 Rubik’s Cube for $25.65.

  1. No one has yet quoted me a price on a pint of tears. []
  2. Printing an entire coil would take about 142 hours. []

3x2x1 Rubik’s Cube – done!

I’m so happy with the way this has turned out.

I’ve made a bunch of changes since the last revision of this printable 3x2x1 Rubik’s Cube puzzle:

  • I’ve totally redesigned the center barbell connector.  I simplified the design, removed the five support struts for each end and replaced it with a single support strut and a flat hexagon in the center of the piece.  The purpose of the hexagon is to give the barbell more contact area with the raft.  One of the earlier drafts didn’t have as many supports or this flat hexagon, and it tore off the build platform partway through the build.
  • I increased the diameter of the tube between the barbells.  This enabled it to print easier, made it a little more sturdy, and decreased the wobbliness of the barbell when everything is assembled.
  • I also shortened the entire barbell by 1mm, so that the entire puzzle is held together more closely.
  • I made the flat semi-circular tabs slightly thinner so they rotate a little more freely.
  • I significantly redesigned, thickened and simplified the two brackets that the barbell snaps into.  It’s been able to easily withstand numerous couplings/decouplings as well as numerous rotations.  With a few rotations, all parts now rotate easily.
  • All of the parts fit together SO much better than my first draft held together with a nut and bolt.
  • There is a slight bit of sideways flex that can occur with the use of the barbell.  It is really minor and it actually seems to help the puzzle be more forgiving as you manipulate it.  I see this more as a benefit than a design flaw.

The was one design choice on which I waffled.  I considered making the center cubes non-identical, with one having half a barbell stick out and with the other having the internal connector you see now.  This would have removed much of the sideways flex – since the barbell would be stationary.  I did not go with this design choice because whether the puzzle used one barbell and two connectors or male/female center cubes, there would always be some flex caused by the use of a connector rather than a static pin.  And, to be honest, I much preferred the symmetry of having everything assembled out of just three unique parts.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like the idea of a MakerBot printable toy that can be printed in one go and then assembled without tools or any additional hardware.  I also think this would make a great MakerBot print demonstration.

I’ll post some pictures of the parts a little bit later.

What’s so great about a RepRap anyhow?

When I read the RepRap blog or the RepRap builder’s blog I see people printing incredible things in PLA.  And I never hear about their troubles with PLA.  Nothing about it jamming or being fussy about temperatures.  What am I missing?  What are Darwins and Mendels doing that my little MakerBot isn’t?