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Finally made the jump to 3D-Printing.......

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brino

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#1
I saved up and wanted to buy a 3D Printer earlier this year. The problem was there were too many options! In March I gave up looking, overwhelmed by too much information.

I probably could have started building one but the amount of work for that would have been even bigger than researching to buy one.

Why do I want one?
Many reasons really (but some may just be me justify the purchase;)) here they are:
  1. Both of my kids are currently in post-secondary education, and both are using 3D printers on campus. For one it's an integral part of his program (Industrial Design) for the other (Math & Computer Science) it's out of interest at the campus "Maker space". Greater access to a 3D printing machine should be good for them.
  2. I always want to add new capabilities to what I can build. Is plastic strong enough for some things I want to build......I guess we'll see.
  3. It would finally force me to learn a 3D CAD tool. I installed AutoDesk Fusion 360 a long time ago (yes it's free for home use! ; see here and here). It would be very useful to have complete prints when I'm standing at my 1916 milling machine or 1937 lathe. I love the juxtaposition.
  4. As an intro to "CNC". It may be a stretch for some, but I see 3D printing squarely in the CNC camp....you draw the part and you hit "print" and a computer moves the head around and extrudes plastic. Sure it's "additive" rather than "subtractive" but it's still CNC. I could see a distant future where I build a CNC router or plasma table.....and this counts as research......right?

Maybe it was the kids getting back to school that gave me the kick in the pants I needed.
I dove in and purchased a 3D printer. It arrived last Thursday.

This is getting a little long already.
Stay tuned for more.

-brino
 

mikey

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#2
Cool, Brino. Please keep us posted on your progress. It would be neat if you could print in metal and then heat treat it to toughen it into a useful tool.
 

brino

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What features did I want in a 3D printer?
-decent size print bed (my son likes to make various models from video game weapons to masks, etc. I wanted to support his creativity)
-easy to repair with no (or few) custom parts
-one I could fully "own", ie. ability to tweak (hardware or software) short-comings and not dependant on custom software or controller
-easy to upgrade and expandability; can I use new types of filaments with higher required nozzle and bed temperatures

A home-made one would be right up my alley.......but time is too short.

I found it strange that the printer was actually cheaper on amazon.ca than directly from the supplier.
I also added a few small spools of different colour filament to the shopping cart.
I chose PLA filament, expecting the ABS to smell too bad for use in the house.

So I am now one week in with a 3D printer in my basement.

first impressions....
  • I waited 'til after the kids were home to even open the box (I want them to feel some ownership too)
  • it went together very quickly with no extra tools
  • there were also a number of tools supplied in a tool kit (exacto-knife, a decent set of tweezers, larger "prying" knife, etc.)
  • we were printing in minutes from the models on the supplied SD card.
first projects...
we first printed a few items from the SD card; a key chain, some little trinkets, etc.

what shocked me was the fish skeleton
I just figured that it was a standard flat print......but no!
When I went to pry it off the print bed with the included knife I thought I broke it, only the y-shaped tail popped off.
I went along the "bones" popping them off the bed and realized that this model was actually printed with joints in it.
The fish was articulated!!! Holy Crap!

You can find the fish skeleton .stl model here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1276095
and a decent free stl viewer here: https://www.3d-tool.com/en_update.htm
(look for the title "Free STL and 3D-Tool DDD Viewer", I have already uploaded it to VirusTotal to prove it's safe, see here)

Here's a couple screen shots from the viewer:

upload_2017-10-5_22-42-46.png


....and just one vertabrae
upload_2017-10-5_22-43-47.png


This whole fish prints as ONE object!
This is NOT printing multiple things and snapping them together.
It is printed as one object with joints.

Still more to come............

-brino
 

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brino

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#4
Okay, so how about a couple more neat objects from "the web".......

Once I learned it was possible, I wanted to explore what was possible in terms of "bridging", that is, jumping the gap over top of a previous layers without having the extruded material droop into the void.

I printed a crocodile: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:941177
Here's the model:
upload_2017-10-5_23-15-2.png


That squiggly base material is known as a support structure or "raft".
Since the crocodile feet stick out from the body it needs support under the head and tail to print properly.
The support material is meant to be break-away, and come off easily without damaging the model.
I found it not quite so.....

The top side looked great:
croc_up-side.jpg


But the bottom side was pretty rough after pulling away the "raft":
croc_down-side.jpg

There are holes in the side of the face under the eye and in the tail.

However, the designer supplied a few versions.
One has the feet embedded into the body of the croc:
upload_2017-10-5_23-42-26.png


This version printed flat on the bed with no need for support material , and NO defects.
I guess the support material is something I need to learn more about.
It appears to be part of the .stl (stereo-lithography) file, yet I can still turn it on or off in the printer software.

This model is one piece, but the upper jaw and head are attached to the feet via a thin neck thru a square hole in the lower jaws.
upload_2017-10-5_23-46-51.png

The mouth springs open when you pinch from belly to back.
Most people I showed it to describe it as a "clothes pin".

I also printed a "minisaur": https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2476792
Here's the model:
upload_2017-10-5_23-10-33.png


This thing is also one piece. The mouth opens, but it is "sprung".
The back legs act as a lever to the lower jaw, and that is attached inside the tail somewhere.....
You pinch the back legs to the tail to open the mouth.

Since it is one piece the stl viewer cannot show the different parts.
Right now the printer is busy, but tomorrow I'll try to load that model into the "slicer" software and grab some screen shots of the internal layers.

Good night!
-brino
 
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tweinke

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#5
I think 3D printing would be a good way to learn CNC/ and the drawing side of the game so like you I have considered to try to find a printer and do a bit of learning
 

brino

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#6
I am still learning tool flow, file types, print features, material differences, etc. and will be for a long time.

These .stl files can be directly loaded into the free "Cura" software that has a profile for the specific printer.
You can rotate, scale, and use "ghost", "x-ray" and "layer" views of the model.

Here's layer 1 of that "minisaur":
upload_2017-10-6_7-10-45.png


and layer 9:
upload_2017-10-6_7-11-47.png


In that last one you can see the lower jaw connected thru the body to the tail.
Note also the semi-circle about midway that is the hip that connects it to the back leg as a kind of lever for moving the lower jaw.

Within this software you can select the print quality, trading off detail vs. print speed.
I need to do a couple prints at different ends of the spectrum for comparison......

-brino
 

Shepherd

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#7
I bought one two years ago for my son, but he lost interest pretty quickly....just got it up and running again. It's 50% science, and 50% art...be prepared for a lot of experimentation with settings, and a lot of wasted prints. Just started figuring out ABS, which is much trickier than PLA, but far tougher in the final product.

And warning: Browsing Thingiverse is a huge time suck from which countless hours of productivity is lost....:)
 

brino

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#8
A little trouble:

I wanted an object printed in another colour so I followed the instructions to change filaments (turn the nozzle temp up, loosen the feed clamp, pull out the old, insert the new, re-clamp)

I tried a print but it turned out a MESS!

I left the printer for a few minutes and came back to a model stuck to the head and the bed moving around underneath it.
The nozzle kept spewing molten plastic as a string of gnarly "rope" as it dragged the model around the table.

Hmmmmm.....what I did I change?
I thought that I had only changed the filament colour.
When I bought filament I searched on "PLA" , so it should all be the same material just different colours, right?

NOT so right........this package says it's "co-polymer". Wait, that's different than the previous "PLA" filament!
Looking up the vendor specs on that filament showed it was very different.

The PLA material wants a nozzle temperature of 205 deg. C. and a bed temperature of 60 deg. C.
This "co-poly" stuff want a nozzle temperature of 230 deg. C and a bed temperature around 85 deg. C.

That made a huge difference.
But there are also other tricks......

The filament vendors web site also suggested another aid to getting better bed adhesion.
They suggest using a simple Elmers rub-on type glue stick, like kids use for paper crafts.
So I found an old one that wasn't hardened and gave the print area a coating.
Yeah that helps too, but is a little messy as it leaves a crusty film on the bed that needs to be scraped off.

My son suggested another option he had seen used at school; masking tape.
I first tried plain old green painters tape.
You stick it down to the printer bed, and the extruded plastic sticks to the back-side of the tape.
Experimentation showed that it did help, but often the edges of the tape were lifting too.

So we tried a better "Pro" blue masking tape. That worked even better.

Lessons:
-you gotta know your material, don't assume anything
-there are a host of tricks available to help workaround problems.

Still lots to learn!

-brino
 
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f350ca

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#9
Welcome to the 21st century Brino. I can see where having one would open up a lot of possibilities. We need a picture of the machine though, or it never happened.
Could have used one this past week to make a control cam for the totally plastic transaxle in my Sears riding mower. You could print me a new rear end for it.

Greg
 
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#10
Anything to do with learning along side your children is great. Once they grow you'll miss those special days. Thanks for sharing your experiences and like Greg wrote, post up some photos of your printer.
 

dlane

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#11
Yes brino pics , price
Thanks
 

brino

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#12
Alright guys, I was trying to be humble and not a braggart about the machine and price tag, but this write-up wouldn't be complete without that kinda info.

The machine that I found that best fit my wish list above was the LulzBot Taz 6.
Here a link to their page with full pricing and specs:
https://www.lulzbot.com/store/printers/lulzbot-taz-6

It is open source hardware and software.
It is upgradeable with a dual extruder (for printing two colours at once), and other special heads for flex material, etc.

The maximum print envelope is about 11 x 11 x 10 inches.
The nozzle diameter is 0.5 mm.

It currently sells for USD $2500.
I was going to get it direct from Lulzbot as they offered free shipping in Canada (almost unheard of!) from their "Canadian Fullfillment Centre".
However, I actually found it slightly cheaper (also with free shipping) on amazon.ca.
After dollar conversion, taxes and with 6 spools of different colour filament (o.5 kg each), it was CAD $3800.

Also, I knew if I didn't buy one soon then that saved money would be spent on something frivolous like new windows for the house ;).

With this machine a large number of the components are themselves 3D printed. In fact, the SD memory card that came with it has the models for all the printed parts.
I figured this would give me an instant 3D printer setup, and offer the ability to duplicate the machine in the future.

Here's a video showing their "fleet" of 109 printers making parts for more printers:

I don't have pictures of my printer yet, but will get some........

-brino
 

brino

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#13
real-world applications:

okay, enough of making Toys for "Happy Meals".
Is there anything actually useful you can do with a 3D printer?

Here's my first real project.

The keyboard I am using right now had a broken foot.
It's one of those little flip-down deals that allow you to prop the keyboard up at a better angle for typing.
It broke years ago and I've had a sharpie marker stuck under one corner as a "work around".

I decided to tackle that.

Here's the broken foot beside the good one.....
good_and_bad2.jpg
good_and_bad.jpg


You can see that I tried fixing it........first with CA glue, then later with a UV-cured glue.
Neither one held.

I really only have a few hours using Fusion 360 but have watched a couple online videos, so I wasn't sure how well I could do up a drawing for the replacement part.
I sat down at Fusion 360 with the good part and my digital calipers.
After only a little trouble finding the right tools, I had made this model:

fusion_model_bottom.jpg
fusion_model_top.jpg


The recess is required to go over a feature on the keyboard and the spring latch keeps it from flopping around.

I was able to set up Fusion 360 to output a 3D print directly to the Cura printer controller software.

Here's the printed part:
printed_bottom.jpg
printed_top.jpg


It sure looks like it should work!

Here it is installed:
installed1.jpg
installed2.jpg


No one will ever be able to tell the difference!!! ;)

I call that a success.

-brino
 

francist

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#14
Sweet! Love it -- extruding plastic parts to replace broken plastic parts. Perfect!
You're having way too much fun with that already...

-frank
 

brino

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#15
Here are some of the prints that went bad.

This was meant to be a little plastic tag with my name on it...but it did not adhere properly to the heated bed.
I came back to the the main parts stuck to the hot print head and the nozzle still spewing plastic as it dragged the mess around the bed.
20171008_181947[1].jpg

Here's another "bed adhesion" problem.....

This is another puzzle one from thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:186372
The model looks like this in the free viewer (linked to above):

upload_2017-10-8_19-2-51.png


However, when it does NOT stick to the bed during printing it can look like this:
20171008_182013.jpg

However using masking tape on the bed allowed this:
20171008_182332.jpg
(note it printed fine, I just don't have the knowledge/patience to arrange all the rings and balance it for a photo.)

However we are making more "good prints" than "bad prints".

-brino
 

brino

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#16
Here's another neat puzzle from "Thingiverse".
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:186372

Here's the pyramid puzzle.

You print two identical prints of this model::
upload_2017-10-8_19-14-2.png
upload_2017-10-8_19-14-43.png



.......and they twist together to make the pyramid:
upload_2017-10-8_19-18-24.png


The pink ones my son printed on a Dremel 3D-Printer at school.
The black and green were printed here at home on our Lulzbot Taz 6.
Yet the parts can interchange:

upload_2017-10-8_19-21-2.png



Notice the rough bottom edge on that middle one above. That edge was vertical when it was printed and that rough edge comes from molten plastic not turning off immediately when the nozzle gets done a layer. Kinda a "run-out" at shut off.....the machine does actually pull the filament backwards away from the nozzle, but obviously cannot stop the flow entirely.

I'm still wondering about possible improvements for this......print quality settings, nozzle temperature adjustments, etc.

-brino
 
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Back in 2003 at SEMA in LV there was a booth showcasing a 3D printer. They had all sorts of really neat gear clusters that would rotate different directions with no assembly required. The printer would print from the bottom up adjusting for rotating clearances. I was mesmerized watching that printer do its magic. I understand they have made great advancements with plastics that are direct application vs prototyping only.
Really happy for you brino. Keep us posted on your 3D advancements.
Paco
 

xalky

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#18
Here's another neat puzzle from "Thingiverse".
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:186372

Here's the pyramid puzzle.

You print two identical prints of this model::
View attachment 243772 View attachment 243773


.......and they twist together to make the pyramid:
View attachment 243774

The pink ones my son printed on a Dremel 3D-Printer at school.
The black and green were printed here at home on our Lulzbot Taz 6.
Yet the parts can interchange:

View attachment 243775


Notice the rough bottom edge on that middle one above. That edge was vertical when it was printed and that rough edge comes from molten plastic not turning off immediately when the nozzle gets done a layer. Kinda a "run-out" at shut off.....the machine does actually pull the filament backwards away from the nozzle, but obviously cannot stop the flow entirely.

I'm still wondering about possible improvements for this......print quality settings, nozzle temperature adjustments, etc.

-brino
Which 3D printer did you end up buying? I bought an ANET A6 a few months back, and it's the most fun I've had in a long time. Although it can be frustrating at times. I only paid around $200 for mine but I've upgraded and hot rodded it quite a bit. I have a bunch of videos up on my 3d printing adventures. There's a lot of great channels on youtube for learning this stuff. If it wasn't for them Ida kicked my machine to the curb...lol
 

brino

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#19
Which 3D printer did you end up buying?
We got the LulzBot Taz 6.
It wasn't cheap, but we were making successful prints about an hour after opening the box.

I've upgraded and hot rodded it quite a bit
I'd like to know what upgrades you did.

There's a lot of great channels on youtube for learning this stuff. If it wasn't for them Ida kicked my machine to the curb...lol
Got any favourites you could mention?

Thanks,
-brino
 

xalky

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#20
I wish I could say the same about the Anet a6. It took 10 hrs to put it all together. Of course I took my time to make sure everything was square and parallel and straight. I'll post a link to my 3d printing play list below. Other channels include, Thomas Sanladerer , 3d maker noob, CHEP 3D printing, makers muse. There's a lot of them really. You can also do a search for your specific printer on YouTube to get people that have modded the lulzbot.
 
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xalky

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#21
Here's just one of my videos.
 

brino

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#22
Here's just one of my videos.
Thanks, Marcel.
I watched a couple of your videos.
I like your honest, laid-back style and enthusiasm.
Thanks for sharing!

-brino
 

cs900

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#23
congrats Brino, that's a great printer you have there.

I'll also say that you are absolutely right, 3d printing is a great way to get into CNC. In fact both 3d printers and traditional CNCs use the same programming language (gcode). Next time you slice your part, save the code as a text file and take a look at it. It's interesting to see how simple the language really is, and yet you can do so much with it.

Welcome to the 3d printing family!

Edit...and in case you haven't already seen this page, it's a life saver:
https://www.simplify3d.com/support/print-quality-troubleshooting/
 

brino

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#24
@xalky
Hi Marcel,

I am currently _trying_ to use Fusion 360 and outputting that to Cura (Lulzbot edition).
I find Fusion 360 a nightmare in terms of "easy of use".......nothing is where I think it should be.
Maybe just growing pains, but it feels like I'm wasting a bunch of time.
And my son notices that our "special edition" of Cura doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the version they use at school.
I guess I could find the vanilla version and produce my own printer profile for the Taz 6.

Is there any advice you could give on software?
Any part CAD, slicers, etc.
What do you use?

I read that a lot of people like "Symplify-3D" (https://www.simplify3d.com/), have you tried that one?
$150 seems a little steep (says the guy with the expensive printer ;)).

I also saw:
AutoDesk MeshMixer (http://www.meshmixer.com/), free to use!
Blender (https://www.blender.org/) open source
but that last one looks more like an animation package, I picture way too many buttons and menus.....

Anyone with good/bad experiences with their software please jump in.

Thanks,
-brino
 

xalky

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@xalky
Hi Marcel,

I am currently _trying_ to use Fusion 360 and outputting that to Cura (Lulzbot edition).
I find Fusion 360 a nightmare in terms of "easy of use".......nothing is where I think it should be.
Maybe just growing pains, but it feels like I'm wasting a bunch of time.
And my son notices that our "special edition" of Cura doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the version they use at school.
I guess I could find the vanilla version and produce my own printer profile for the Taz 6.

Is there any advice you could give on software?
Any part CAD, slicers, etc.
What do you use?

I read that a lot of people like "Symplify-3D" (https://www.simplify3d.com/), have you tried that one?
$150 seems a little steep (says the guy with the expensive printer ;)).

I also saw:
AutoDesk MeshMixer (http://www.meshmixer.com/), free to use!
Blender (https://www.blender.org/) open source
but that last one looks more like an animation package, I picture way too many buttons and menus.....

Anyone with good/bad experiences with their software please jump in.

Thanks,
-brino
I use fusion 360, and I really like it. There's another guy on YouTube, Lars Chistensen, that has a 3 or 4 part series for absolute beginners that is great. Once you get used to it, it's very powerful. Don't waste your time learning something like tinkercad, you'll quickly outgrow it.

As far as slicers, I use the latest cura 2.7, it's free and a lot of people use it, so there's lots of community support.

Meshmixer and blender are mainly for altering meshes, not so much for creating them. There's a mesh tool in fusion 360 that does the same thing.
 

cs900

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#26
hey Brino,
Cura is a bit funny. They recently overhauled their software and started naming it version 2.X.X...if you want all the goodies you'll need to download the older version of the software, version 15.04.06

Repitierhost and octoprint (web based) are other good, and free, slicers

Fusion is actually really nice for 3d printing. There is a 3d print button in the ribbon that will automatically convert your part to an STL and import it into your slicer for you. Pretty slick.
 

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#27
okay, enough of making Toys for "Happy Meals".
Is there anything actually useful you can do with a 3D printer?
Now that you are getting familiar with that, I would suggest an aluminum foundry, and beginning research on "lost-PLA casting". A good youtube channel is Makercise - he recently completed a Dave Gingery lathe, and has started on the Gingery shaper. Good and interesting information. Or, myfordboy does that. Having aluminum parts you can make without needing a mill (e.g. making your own car emblems by printing, casting, and adding enamel for colors) or to custom build anything you want is a huge win for your home shop, and actually gives you more resources than most professional shops.
 

brino

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#28
okay.........(way past) time for an update.

I've printed a few more small models/toys, but want to show that this 3D-printer is actually useful.
To me buying tools is about expanding the capabilities of me and my shop.
(Certainly a lot of learning goes along with it!)

Here's another small project to produce something useful.

I have two of these Lufkin measuring tapes:
measuring_tape.jpg

They are my current favourites (since I lost my last favourite in the blown attic insulation, I dropped it and it disappeared, tried searching and finally gave up!). I like these for two reasons: i) they have both metric and imperial measures, and ii) the size is right...long enough for most jobs, but not too bulky.

The problem is with the little "brake" mechanism the locks the tape when you push the thumb button.
The original white plastic ones wore out.
I don't want to throw these away due to that minor issue, but sometimes it's a PITA when I need to pick up my pencil, but cannot let go of the measuring tape or it'll retract in a hurry.

It annoyed me enough that months ago I attempted a repair.....by CA-gluing on a piece of flat wood from a tongue depressor, and then adding a bit of hot glue as a gripping pad on the end.
original.jpg
Ugly? Yes, but they did work........for a little while.

Okay so can I 3D-print some replacements?
I can try..........here's my first model part:
first_design.jpg
The oval is meant to give some spring to the tip.
The little "bite" out of the tip is meant to clear the rivets that attach the edge-clip to the end fo the tape.

I printed four expecting to break at least one removing it from the "raft" support material.
Here's a picture of two removed from the raft, and one cleaned up.
first_try.jpg

Unfortunately, the first ones were too short...they did NOT stop the measuring tape from retracting.
Of course, I was guessing a little on size since the ones I was measuring were worn too short too.

However, the process is quick and easy to make a tweak and try again. This one is a little longer:
Fusion-360 model:
second_design.jpg
and actual parts:
second_try.jpg
The one on top-left is still attached to the "raft", the one on top-right has been removed and cleaned-up.

Here's the inside of the measuring tape:
parts.jpg

Here's one of the old parts in the measuring tape:
parts2.jpg

parts3.jpg

....and here it is fixed and locked with the new 3D-printed brake part:

locked.jpg

Both measuring tapes are back in operation with functional thumb locks!
These small parts but would have been tough to make any other way.

-brino
 

cs900

maker of chips
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#29
looks great, and it's functional! great job
 

HBilly1022

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
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#30
These small parts but would have been tough to make any other way.

-brino
When I got my first lathe I told my wife it was a hobby and laughed about the fact that I spent thousands of $ so I could make a part that could be purchased for pennies. Then I bought a mill / drill to expand my ability to make parts cheaply, lol.

But you, Brino, have got me beat. You even bought a 3-D printer to make parts that can be bought cheaply (or the entire part can be replaced for a nominal amount). I must tell my wife that I am not alone in this journey to find ways to save money :laughing: by making things ourselves and there are people that are even more committed to saving than me. :)

Seriously though, I think this is very cool. I didn't know this technology existed (been out of touch since retirement). I hope this doesn't lead to another new hobby for me. I don't have enough time for all the ones I have now.
 
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