Recently I was asked to put together a Meshmixer tutorial for students studying additive manufacturing at Deakin University. The result: a 20min demo project to show you how to turn a pretty standard brake lever into something really cool for 3D printing. If you scroll through the tutorial section of this blog you will find many other demos of how to use Meshmixer, it really is one of my regular go-to tools.
Even if you’re not interested in the brake lever, through the tutorial you will learn to divide a single part into multiple segments, modify mesh quality, convert a part into a lattice structure, and join multiple parts together into a single part ready for 3D printing. You can apply any of these tools to your own project.
Now that I have my Cocoon Create 3D printer I can’t help but find new things to print for my bike! Since the bike is from 2007 the licence plate is a little bit shabby, so it seemed like a good chance to print a surround to tidy the edges up and also tie in with the other 3D prints I’ve done using this green PET+ material from MadeSolid. As you can see above, I chose to split the surround into 2 halves for printing, making it both easier to print (less chance for warping) and also easier to install. If you look at the Sketchfab 3D model below, you can see I designed a few hooks and details to secure around the licence plate, so being able to install it in 2 pieces made sense. There are 2 bolts used to secure the surround in place using existing holes on the licence plate, and the bottom split area was glued after being fitted for a seamless look.
While the final design works well, this one wasn’t all smooth sailing. The first print on the left in the image below didn’t quite fit onto the licence plate, so a few details needed to be changed in the Solidworks CAD model. The second partial print I tried printing vertically, rather than lying down, with the hope that it would require less support material. Unfortunately I had to stop this print as the surface details seemed to be getting worse as it printed, probably because of the height and inherent flexibility of the thin part the higher it got (a bit like a skyscraper swaying in the wind).
The third part pictured is the final successful part, printed lying down and using support material automatically generated in Cura (my slicing tool to generate the G-code for the printer) for the overhangs. While the visible surfaces look great, the detail picture on the right shows the messy underside surfaces which I’m not too happy about. This must be a setting in Cura that I’m missing and haven’t noticed in my previous prints on the Cocoon Create which have rarely required much, if any, support material. I’ll have to have a close look next time I print something requiring a lot of support like this – anyone have any ideas?
An issue with owning an older (well 2007 isn’t really that old!) motorcycle is that finding parts gets harder and harder. The previous 3D prints for my bike (such as rear peg plugs, key guard and mirror plugs) have really just been cosmetic, but after buying some sleek little LED indicators to replace the huge stock ones, I came across a problem – the fitting point for the rear indicators is specific to the shape of the stock ones, which is a really large cut-out and has nowhere to install the standard indicators designed to fit most bikes. There was also nothing online I could find ready to buy. One option would be to simply drill a new hole through the plastic mud guard, but this would leave the previous holes on show and mean that if for some reason someone ever wanted to put the stock indicators back on, they would now have these new holes to deal with.
No, not on my watch! My first idea started with trying to fit something from the inside of the mud guard, plugging the hole and providing a new point to mount the LED indicators inside of this. The problem was measuring this area, with other wires and complex shapes, it became quite challenging to get any accurate measurements. Since I’ve already used the green PET+ filament on the bike, I may as well make this indicator adapter a feature, and use the flat outside face of the mud guard to easily create a paper template as shown in the top left image. This was scanned, traced in Adobe Illustrator, exported as a .dxf file, and then imported into Solidworks to create the final 3D form. This might seem like a lot of processes, but is a really accurate method of getting a starting point for 3D modeling when dealing with flat surfaces using basic equipment at home.
The final 3D print pictured was done on my new Cocoon Create using 0.2mm layer thickness and took about 55 minutes to print. While the final design looks flat, there are a few tricky details on the back used to lock it in place with only 1 screw (thankfully the mud guard had a useful threaded hole for mounting). I will now be interested to see how well the PET+ plastic holds up out on the road – it seems quite secure, and the indicators are very lightweight, but who knows what can happen out on the road.
– Posted by James Novak
UPDATE: I am now trialing the use of Sketchfab so you can easily view 3D models of my work – check it out below!
My collection of 3D prints off the new Cocoon Create 3D printer is growing, and the quality is excellent! On the top left you can see the parts I’ve printed so far (SUP Paddle Clip, Motorcycle Key Guard, Motorcycle Rear Pegs Plug). Top right shows a comparison between the Up! Plus 2 and Cocoon Create for the same part, with not noticeable differences at all – a really great result considering the Cocoon Create printer is nearly a quarter of the price!
PET+ is meant to be as strong as ABS, but more flexible which is particularly great for the Motorcycle Key Guard shown just above which must flex and snap around the top of some handlebars. The PET+ material prints at the same temperature as ABS, and results in a slightly more glossy finish. I also noticed there was no smell during printing, which of course is very noticeable when printing with ABS plastic – I wonder if this results in better air quality? There is of course a growing interest in the VOC’s associated with melting plastics for 3D printing. The quality of this part is actually better than my previous prints from the Up! Plus 2, and printed with almost no support material as shown in the image just above, whereas the orange print on the Up! Plus 2 was full of support and a nightmare to clean up with pliers. And did I mention the the Cocoon Create is only a quarter of the price? So far a real win.
To finish 2015 I have finally had a chance to 3D print another part for my motorcycle – a key guard. In a previous post I showed some 3D printed rear peg plugs and mirror plugs using this same bright orange ABS colour which perfectly matches my bike. With this being a second hand bike from 2007, the paint around the ignition has many scratches, with previous owners obviously having a key-ring and letting the extra keys bounce around to cause a mess. Nothing major, but something I see every time I get on the bike. I personally keep my bike key separate so this doesn’t happen, but something to cover the scratches seems like a nice addition, and another custom feature for the bike.
With a new tank pad, I’ve used a matching pattern for this part to create some consistency in design. As usual the design was created using some digital calipers to take measurements, and Solidworks CAD software for the 3D modelling. Another quick job less than an hour to design (my favourite)!
The challenge with it is definitely in the 3D printing – it’s quite a fragile piece, and I have broken a number of previous attempts just trying to remove support material. You can see in the top left photo that this working part was printed standing up on an Up! Plus 2, ensuring the layers run in the optimal direction for strength when flexing it over the bike handlebars (it uses a snap detail to hold in place). The downside with this orientation is that support material was added to each of the openings, requiring a slow and painful process to remove it all. A couple of minor fractures had to be super-glued along the way, but at least it’s held together OK. I will try this part again in the future (hopefully on my new Tiko when it arrives!), possibly thickening it a fraction to give it a little more strength.
I also did try using acetone to cleanup the surfaces and stress marks where support was removed, which I’ve had success with on previous prints, but found that a white residue was left on the material – apparently this can happen with some colours of ABS plastic. So instead I tried ‘brushing’ the surfaces through a hot flame, with moderate success. This removed the white residue and cleaned things up a bit, but in one area did cause a bubble to form and slight blackening of the surface. Luckily these aren’t really noticeable unless you get up really close. So all in all, another great bit of custom 3D printing for my bike!
That’s it for 2015, have a fantastic Christmas and New Year, and thanks for reading my blog and following all of my trials and errors with this great technology. See you all for another big year of 3D printing in 2016.
Many motorcycle riders will never take a passenger, yet all bikes will accommodate for those that may by including larger/extra seating, handles and rear foot pegs. While of course you can just leave these on and ride as normal, I’m someone that likes to remove anything that’s not needed, streamlining the look of the bike and of course reducing a bit of extra weight! It can also save a bit on your registration costs.
Unfortunately one issue with my Kawasaki ER-6N is that the positioning for the rear pegs is part of the rear sets, to which my rear brake, gear lever etc. are fitted, so removing them is not an option (as shown in the top right image). Many bikes will have a separate frame for the pegs so they can be completely removed without affecting the rest of the bike. So when I removed the pegs I was left with empty brackets in a very visually obvious position on both sides of the bike. Hello 3D printing!
I 3D modeled a simple plug to fill in the gap using Solidworks, a very quick process once the key measurements had been taken of the bracket. They were 3D printed on an Up! Plus 2 (as usual), and a colleague at uni tried a couple of orientations to test the surface finish as pictured above. Obviously the one on the right has the least amount of support material and the best surface finish in the areas where it will be seen so this is what I’ve used on my bike. Perfect fit the first time, and I think a nice detail on the bike to match my previously 3D printed mirror plugs.
There is another part I’m playing around with at the moment, but as yet the prints I have don’t have a good surface finish, even after playing around with acetone. You will just have to watch this space to see what it is 🙂
Yes I’m a 3D printing nerd, and yes I’ve been dying to 3D print some pieces for my motorcycle since buying it a few weeks ago!
One of the upgrades I’m doing on the bike is to change my mirrors to bar end mirrors, meaning I have no need for the mounting holes built into the controls for standard mirrors. This will normally leave a large hole (10mm diameter) on each controller in a very visually obvious location, and on my last bike I spent nearly $20 on just 2 coloured titanium screws to fill them in. But this time I knew I could do it far cheaper with 3D printing.
A few simple measurements later, and a quick Solidworks CAD model, the caps you see pictured were ready to print. It may seem a bit wanky but I thought adding my initials to them would be an interesting way to talk to people about 3D printing and the ability to customise a design, in a similar way to adding my name within the 3D printed bicycle I created last year. But what’s most enjoyable is seeing the threaded detail work perfectly (it’s an M10 x 1.25 thread for anyone playing at home!), so once again I have to give my big tick of approval to the Up! Plus 2 printers for being extremely consistent and accurate. These were printed using the 0.15mm layer thickness and fine speed settings.
Plenty more ideas for parts to come, so stay tuned.