Thing 003: Fan Attachment

January 30th, 2012

Update: This is now Thing #16842 on Thingiverse!

The MakerBot works by melting plastic. Two kinds are most commonly used: one is made from corn, and reportedly smells like waffles when heated. The other is called ABS and smells like a styrofoam cup on fire. This is of course what I’m using.

In the concentrated atmosphere of my windowless subterranean lab, the smell (of the plastic) rapidly causes me headaches. So I found an old computer fan, got a length of flexible 3-inch hose, and designed a fitting in SketchUp so I could vent the smell away to the surface.

This fitting is nearly the width of the MakerBot’s build platform, and when I ran a test build, the outline of the foundation layer (known as the “raft”) was too large for the surface, and the nozzle kept hitting the platform’s outer limits. Adjusting the settings, generating new build code (known as “G-code”) and setting off another build was costing a lot of time and plastic.

That’s when I went looking for a G-code visualizer, and found ProcessingGcodeViewer, a standalone Processing app written by a MakerBot intern. It lets me check the path computed by the model slicer before I send it to the MakerBot for building.

Useful, free, *and* it looks like an Iron Man interface. And with the hose attached and the sides of the MakerBot closed up, the odor is nearly eliminated, and the mad-scientist aura of the lab is increased significantly.

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