Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Shapeways Part!

I got a delivery from Shapeways today - a nice box shipped all the way from the Netherlands to California and containing only the tiny screen door latch. The metal parts must still be in process.
The new part is coated in a matte black finish and feels very light; with the rough finish, it feels almost like dense foam. It's a bit lighter than the original injection-molded piece and Makerbot-made piece. I worried a bit about the part's strength (I printed it in Shapeways's "black, strong, flexible" plastic), but it seems robust enough to be handled when locking the screen door. The bit of white visible on the part shows the underlying plastic color; I used a countersink to cut the depression for the flathead screw attaching it to the door.

The great news is that the Shapeways part exactly matches the original, broken latch in overall dimensions. Although a bit pricey at $6.88, it required none of the sanding and finishing I've done for my Makerbot-printed parts.

The three-latch picture shows how the part compares to the original latch and to my Makerbot-printed part. One surprising difference is in wall thickness. I'd designed the original model to print on the Makerbot, and to simplify printing, I sized all the walls 0.74 mm (or the thickness of two extrusions.) By doing so, the Makerbot didn't try filling between the extrusions and fouling on extra plastic. The Makerbot-printed walls end up at about 1.4 mm, close to the thickness of the original parts. By contrast, the Shapeways part walls came out exactly 0.7 mm thick - half as thick as the original. It looks strong enough, but the part seems surprisingly thin.

Now, I just need to wait for the metal parts to arrive!

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