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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 323 - Printing huge with a Mini: Modular origami Electra

Today we continue our series of posts investigating how we can get the most out of a MakerBot Replicator Mini. As its name implies, it's not a large printer and isn't made for printing large things. Which of course makes me want to print giant things with it. I guess I'm sort of a jerk. Probably if I had a giant 3D printer I'd insist on using it to print really tiny things.

So how you print something large with a small printer? One way is to print it in pieces, so today we printed AuntDaisy's stunning modular origami-inspired Electra model from Thingiverse. Here it is next to a tiny, tiny Penny Trap:

Thingiverse link: http://www.thingiverse.com/make:88585

Settings: Printed on a MakerBot Replicator Mini with standard settings and .3mm layer height. It worked perfectly. I mean no support, popped off the raft, and most importantly the pieces fit together with a capital P, and that rhymes with P and stands for Perfectly. For the tolerance to work that well in a model right off the download is really amazing. The pieces click together and don't come apart unless you pull them apart on purpose. The assembled model is sturdy enough to toss in the air. This kind of perfection doesn't happen by accident, it happens because someone took the time to design it, fail, and re-design it until it works. That someone is AuntDaisy and I'm very happy to say that he has agreed to do a guest post about his perfect Electra design, which will appear later this week.

Technical notes, design flavor:
AuntDaisy's design is made up of 30 identical pieces that snap together. It's based on David Mitchell's "Electra" model, with 3D-printed pieces taking the place of the folded paper modules. Here is what the pieces look like on the surface of the moon my desk:

The model prints 6-up in pretty much exactly the area of the Mini's build plate. You print five copies of this and click the pieces together:

Stay tuned for AuntDaisy's post about how she designed this fantastic model!

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