As I’ve mentioned before, I do all of my 3D modeling in Sketchup. It’s not open source, but it is free.
Well, I’ve been monitoring the Capolight Electronics Blog lately – and it’s a good thing too. Besides having some seriously amazing information about the thermal properties of plastic, he’s just posted about some useful importing/exporting plugins for Sketchup. As easy as Sketchup is to use, it’s just not very good at exporting to STL. I haven’t tried these plugins out – but I’m hopeful they will do the job.
If you try them out, please let me know how it goes!
Ricardo Santos managed to create PLA in his home. My Portuguese is pretty rusty. Well, to be exact, non-existent. However, that’s what Google is for! Thanks Ricardo!
I’m a big fan of Google Sketchup. I know it’s not open source, but damn it sure is easy to use. The other day I noticed this blog post about a new Sketchup STL Importer plugin. Earlier I had posted about other useful Sketchup plugins, and this one will probably make my list too. I’ve installed it, but not tried it out yet, so caveat emptor.
…or Minimum Wage Rights for Robots!
MakerBot posted a screenshot of a RepRap Printed Mendel Parts auction that sold for 420 pounds – roughly $630.84. Others have been posting RepRap Mendel auctions as well. One just sold for roughly $453, another for about $270, with two more auctions around $450 each with at least 3 more hours to go.
Using Spacexula’s Mendel production files, 24 STL sheets of parts, averaging 2-3 hours a print, we’re talking roughly 60 MakerBot print hours. Assuming I only have the patience to print up one STL sheet a weekday and two sheets on the weekends, starting on a sunny Sunday like today, I could finish in 19 days.
Assuming very little human intervention, $600 for 60 hours of MakerBot operation is a pretty good deal. It’s like having a fussy gnome who eats electricity and plastic living in your home and earning just above minimum wage for you.
I’ve always been a PC kinda guy ever since my IBM 286. PC’s are inherently more modular and hackable than Macs – I can buy any off the shelf no-name brand part and fix something myself.
That said, Zaggo’s software is making me wish I had a Mac. His Pleasant3D v2.0 software is crazy awesome. I use Google Sketchup to design and a combination of Netfabb and Blender to convert formats. But nothing I have lets me view models in the way Zaggo wrote.
Have you read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy? Of course you have.
You remember that bit where they put Zaphod in the machine designed to drive people insane by showing them the entire universe all at once? Well, that’s how Google Wave feels to me. There’s a LOT of freaking information there. I made the mistake of looking directly at the MakerBot wave. It was like falling into the gaping maw of eternity. I’ll stick to RSS feeds, MakerBot Operators group, and Twitter, thankyouverymuch.
DO NOT USE THIS extruder unclogger setup
UPDATE: DO NOT USE TILES!!! THEY WILL SHATTER! READ LATEST POST!
The bad news is this is my first clogged extruder. The good news is I have all the spare parts to whip up a new extruder, no problem. That means I can experiment with wild abandon! My backup plan is to slice and dice the PTFE insulator into washers.
Having drilled out most of the plastic clog from the barrel, it’s mostly empty. The PTFE is in pretty good shape with the threads intact, if a little worse for wear. My plan to get the remaining plastic out of the nozzle is to put the nozzle/barrel assembly into the large washer upside down and prop it up on some ceramic tiles.
My hope is that by applying a heat source to the nozzle the plastic will just drip/fall out. The suggestion for using a blow torch to clear out the barrel and nozzle comes from Rick Pollack / MakerGear. Thanks again Rick!
By the way, wicked Google Sketchup skillz, no?
Did I ever mention I have already printed up a MakerBot version of a Stargate SG-1 “Replicator” cell? Well, I did. I basically “borrowed” someone’s Sketchup file from the google 3D warehouse, saved to STL, and printed it up!
In any case, it made me think of a cool T-shirt idea. The back side of the shirt would have a Stargate Replicator with a red circle slash over it, labeled “Bad Replicator.” The front could have a picture of a ‘bot saying “Good Replicator.”
I’d wear it.
I cannot take credit for these fantastic plugins. Since posting this originally I have heavily edited it to include all the great Google Sketchup plugins I’m using. Without further ado they are:
- skp_to_dxf.zip – This script will allow you to import STL and DXF. I haven’t used this one as much as the other two. I think this script was written by someone named Guitar-list.
- su2stl.zip – This script will allow you to import/export STL files. I’ve had pretty good success exporting STL files, but the importing is very hit or miss. This Ruby script appears to be encrypted, so I don’t know who wrote it and I don’t know enough Ruby to decode it. This is the best link I could find to it.
- polyreduce.zip – This script will reduce the number of polygons and faces in a Sketchup model. With really complex models (or an underpowered computer) it can take a LONG time to work. Fair warning. This great script was written by someone named Whaat.
- Update 7/11/2010: drawhelix13.zip – Script for generating a helix. Super awesome for creating screw threads. This script was written by someone named Peter Brown, but I cannot find any link to his site or contact information. Sorry Peter. I did find some instructions on how to use this plugin.
- Update 7/27/2010: manifold.zip – Script for making a Sketchup object manifold. I’ve tried it a few times and found that it works slowly on my super under powered machine. I’ve gotten bored and stopped it before it has completed. That said, I’m quite confident a more patient person could get it to work no problem. :) Manifold was written by someone named TIG who is a prolific creator of Sketchup plugins/Ruby scripts on the Sketchucation forums. I found this plugin thanks to the Capolight blog – there’s some amazing stuff over there – check it out.
- Update 11/25/2010: jf_stl_importer.zip – Script for importing STL files by Jim of Jim’s Sketchup Plugins.
- Update 11/25/2010: RoundCorner-2.1c.zip – Script for adding rounded or beveled corners to objects. This plugin by Fredo6 has some detailed installation and usage instructions on the Sketchup Forums pages. He’s also included instructions as a PDF – Quickcard-RoundCorner-English-v2.1.pdf. This plugin requires Fredo6′s shared code library called LibFredo6-3.4c.zip with it’s ownLibFredo6-User-Manual-English-v3.4-14-Sep-09.pdf.
- Update 11/25/2010: FredoScale-2.0i.zip – Script for manipulating objects, also by Fredo6 with detailed instructions on the Sketchup Forums. Also with detailed instructions as a PDF – FredoScale-User-Manual-English-v2.0-28-Mar-09.pdf. There are also tutorial videos here and here. This plugin requires Fredo6′s shared code library called LibFredo6-3.4c.zip with it’s own LibFredo6-User-Manual-English-v3.4-14-Sep-09.pdf.
- Update 11/25/2010: Curviloft-1.0c-and-LibFredo6-3.5c.zip – Script for creating curved surfaces or skins from contours or paths, also by Fredo6 with detailed instructions on the Sketchup Forums. Although there isn’t any documentation, there are two tutorial videos here and here with an additional tutorial here. This plugin requires Fredo6′s shared code library called LibFredo6-3.4c.zip with it’s own LibFredo6-User-Manual-English-v3.4-14-Sep-09.pdf.
- Update 11/25/2010: tt_solid_inspector.zip - Script for detecting problems with solid forms by Thomas Thomassen.
- Update 12/27/2010: wafer.rb – Script for converting a Sketchup file into Gcode for cutting 2D shapes using a CNC machine. I can’t find the name of the author, but this is his website with instructions for how to use his plugin.
Google Sketchup Model of Broken Window Latch
This summer I discovered that one of the window latches in my home was broken. Since the windows are so old, I didn’t even bother checking for replacement parts at the hardware store. My repair consisted of wrapping duct tape over the broken part and fitting back inside the latch mechanism.
It worked, but was a less than ideal fix. The part had snapped in two places, making the entire part slightly unstable even when reinforced with duct tape. Additionally, the extra thickness of the duct tape prevented the latch from sliding smoothly and eventually started to bunch up the duct tape.
Several months ago, figuring that it was only a matter of time before I bought a MakerBot CupCake CNC, I modeled the part in Google Sketchup.
After getting my MakerBot operational yesterday, this was my second print. It was also my fourth print – another window was missing a latch entirely. A little light sanding and a slight use of a hacksaw blade to separate the small divide underneath the part, and it was ready for installation. Both latches installed without fuss and work far better than the duct tape version.
Window latches, top view
Window latches, underside
Unlike the duct tape fix, this repair permanently replaces the broken part with a functionally identical part that is also far more cosmetically appealing. Best of all, I now live in a house that is partially built by a robot I made. :)