Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lessons learned from printing the drain screen

I had to modify the drain screen - the arms weren't long enough to hold it securely. I lengthened the arms of the previous design, printed a new copy, and it's up on the roof - we'll see how it does.

Building these taught me a few lessons about designing parts for the Makerbot:

* SketchUp might not make it easy to add cosmetic curves, but it's really easy to grab particular edges and pull them to get smoother shapes. I extruded one of the sides out an extra 1/8 inch, then moved the top in so the whole face slanted, and got a more interesting design.

* There's a few magic numbers to know about your Makerbot. Smaller (1/16" wide) features often get fabricated with only the two extruded lines along each edge. (The Skeinforge Carve setting "Perimeter Width over Thickness" sets the thickness of the perimeter.) Pieces that are wide enough for four extruded lines will appear solid; pieces that are 4.5 lines wide will have a hollow in the center. This was a big deal when I was printing the HO model strip mall parts because I needed the face of each part to be smooth.

Building smaller features with perimiter lines only was a good thing for the drain screen; the spanning horizontal pieces were sized 1/16" wide so the extruder bridged the gap quite well. When I widened the face, the edges of the bridge were fine, but all the fill between the lines just fell out because there was no support below.

* Printed parts are stronger in the x/y direction than in the Z direction. I had problems with adhesion between layers for parts that took stress (such as the drain arms.) Printing these separately and flat might be a better idea. I also had adhesion layers in the vertical sections, probably because the horizontal strands bridging the gaps would pull on both the pieces supporting it. I don't have a good solution for this.

* I did try building a piece with unneeded solid connections between the legs to cut the amount of loose filaments. This worked well, but probably isn't good for keeping the drain clear.

1 comment:

  1. Please call me to dicuss your roof drain work...