Design Literacy

We have this #littleBits DC motor and it doesn’t come with a wheel… so I’ve wanted to make one using our 3D printer.

I read recently an article that makes a good point: in the short term future when 3D printers will be on everyone’s desk — much like the PC became a household item —there will be a new kind of literacy: design literacy i.e. can you get those machines to do something useful?

So I though I’d give it a try. It’s just a wheel… aka mostly a circle. How hard can it be? Right?

the DC motor

The shaft of the DC motor is D shaped. After googling I found the dimensions: it’s 3 mm wide. There is a cut, straight surfact — which makes it a D rather than an O. It’s 2mm wide.

I bought a calipper. 3mm — verified

My first try was using Tinkercad. It’s great, easy to use, online, simple CAD software. I was able to make the D shape. Set to 3mm.

I couldn’t get the whole to be exactly in the middle.

2nd try using TinkerCAD

Printed it. It’s too tight. The shaft doesn’t fit. IT’s also a bit de-centered.

I thought it must be due to the thickness of the perimeter wall when printed.

Take 3. 4mm

…so I tried making it wider. 4mm.

Close but no cigar.

It falls off.

It’s time to go nuclear on it.

Enter Fusion360.

As I recently found out Printrbot owner can now download this for free.

First you have to “sketch” the shape in 2D…
…then “extrude” it to give it some height.

This is more hardcore CAD. I watched training videos for a full day before I was able to use it.

It also comes with it’s own slicer program, PrintStudio.

The results are terrific!

Take 4
The back side has some flow of plastic that tightens the opening … but the front is spot on.
It fits! Yeah!

The moral of the story is not that I could make a wheel after trying 4 times.

It’s that there is a new kind of literacy: design literacy.

Remember how our parents’ generation struggled to learn to use Word and Excel, send an email or use Skype?

When there will be a sub 500$ manufacturing device in every home and office, and it will be multi-color, multi-material… some people will struggle.

Don’t let your kid be one of them!

Let your kid be the one who knows how to use these as it’s a great enabler.

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