My first 3D printing piece and an iteration of a past work

We have spent three weeks learning how to use Rhino building our model, and now the time has come for the actual 3D printing! Rhino models are NURBS, so before going to a 3D printer, we need to convert the model into a Mesh and then export as a STL file. The 3D printer I’m using is Ultimaker 2+, and there’s still one step before feeding my file to it, that is, using the software Cura to slice up my model and save as a gcode file. In our class, some best practices of working with a 3D printer are taught, like:

  1. making wall thickness a multiple of printer nozzle width (for example, 0.4mm for the Ultimaker 2)
  2. keeping overhangs to a maximum of 45 degrees
  3. modeling our own supports in Rhino instead of the ones generated by Cura, so they can be removed easily later
  4. reinforcing joints by giving a slight slope
  5. paying attention to the orientation of the printed part on the print bed
  6. printing out small test pieces to test critical joints or holes
My 3D printing in progress

The image above was my 3D printing pieces in action, and they were a screw and its base. As you can see, the distance between the two objects was too close, and it produced a lot of hairs. I would need to remove them using sandpaper, or I’ll just have to give enough space between objects next time.

The whole printing process was about 25 minutes. Unfortunately, at the end of printing, the screw and the base couldn’t fit together. The possible reason I could think of was I shrank down their sizes in order to print faster, so the space I left for the screw thread, which was 1mm originally, became too small.


A couple weeks ago, I modeled a clip for Apple Pencil and showed it to my friends to get feedback. Most of them thought it was a good idea to keep the Apple Pencil safe, but my design was too bulky to fit its sleek style. Therefore, I spent some time tweaking the design of the clip, and the goal was to make it look more elegant and sophisticated.

The impression of the Apple Pencil is smooth and well-balanced, and its cap is removable for charging battery. Based on that, I came up with a new design that utilized the cap by putting the clip to it. I started the new design by carefully measuring the cap with a caliper. I felt it was somewhat difficult because the dimension was tiny, and it caused some printing issues later on.

Finally, I printed out the model by the Ultimaker 2+ printer, and the result was terrible. In Cura, I placed the sphere top of cap to the print bed, and it made the underside of sphere flat. You can also see from the image below, both the clip stick and the gouge for the charging adapter were probably too tiny and thin to form the shape, and looked like it’s melting.

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