Saturday, October 22, 2016

Experiments in 3D printing

I've been experimenting with 3D printing recently after initially having similar opinions to Scott Hanselman on the subject:

The first 3D printed thing I ever saw was a florescent green Yoda head. First you're like "HOW DID YOU DO THIS?" but quickly you're more like "OK, how many brightly colored plastic pieces of crap do I really need in my life?" - Scott Hanselman

My previous impression was that the majority of things people printed were replacement parts for the printer itself.

But... then I got access to a printer to use for a few days and printed a few bits and pieces. I think the first thing I printed was a micro quadcopter frame to carry an equally small FPV camera.

Once I realized I could print things that could fly it sort of snowballed from there.

And fly they do...


At the Chicago MVP Summit event and Midwest Dreamin' conference I'd taken along a handful of Deployment Fish to hand out to people. They were well received, which left me wondering if I could refine the idea for Dreamforce.

At first I thought I could do a 3D version of the Salesforce logo with a flash drive or Raspberry PI embedded.

The idea kind of worked, but I wasn't sure I wanted something that was the company's logo. Plus, I could never figure out how to correctly fill the middle of the cloud between all the defined spheres so it looked right.

I then tried some variations of the deployment fish concept. I really liked the idea of a punch out deployment fish, but the printer didn't have the resolution to do text for a business card. The other idea was a fish that would clip over a conventional business card.

In the end, keeping it simple seemed like the best idea. So I got some basic stickers printed with my details and put them on the back of the original designs. For good measure I did some Trailhead logos as well.

I also really wanted to get my Twitter handle on my conference badge. I had a number of people recognize me first by my handle. The fish was supposed to slot into the sharks mouth, but I didn't have time to refine it the day before departing for the conference.


Shortly before Dreamforce the Einstein announcements started coming out. Putting Einstein in a plane just seemed like the thing to do.

I also played around with having the cloud be Einstein's brain.

Apex Hammer Test

Rumor has it that if you can catch one of each of the Seven Dwarf's they'll forge you a might Apex Test Hammer™ like the one that is used to check every orgs test cases during a seasonal release.

It may or may not bear a striking resemblance to Mjolnir with custom rune plates.

Quadcopter travel frame

I wanted to travel with my quadcopter but didn't want to draw attention to it strapped on the outside of a backpack. I made a basic case for it to slide into with the props removed. This was as much to protect the contents of the bag from it as it was to protect the quad.

Stuff for the kids

There is no end of things to print for the kids. I like the simplicity and usefulness of printing new train track connectors.

Sometimes things don't always go to plan

Sometimes the model isn't correct and you try and print a surface with no depth.

Sometimes the filament feed jams mid print.

Sometimes the entire print bed moves mid print.

If nothing else, 3D printing helps teach you perseverance. Happy printing!