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Experiments in 3D Printing

For the longest time I looked at 3D printing and thought “that’s cool”, more than content to watch timelapses of 3D prints for hours but never really committing to the hobby beyond watching. That changed at the start of the pandemic when I bought myself a Creality Ender 3 and set about learning a new hobby…

The Ender 3 comes flat packed, I bought mine directly from Creality, so it was shipped from China. It got here a lot faster than I expected and after a small amount of assembly I learned that all of the bells and whistles I had decided I could do without (like bed sensors) now meant I had to learn how to master those processes manually.

Before too long I had printed a collection of cubes with letters on the sides – “calibration cubes”, and set about troubleshooting the various quirks and issues of each print until I got a finished product that looked pretty good.

A collection of 3D printed “calibration cubes”

After getting it printing reliably I went off looking for a collection of things to print and stumbled upon Thingiverse – a website full of community submitted 3D models that can be easily printed on a 3D printer, most of them without any adjustment at all. From here I found a number of designs that I printed. Unexpectedly, the “primary” use for my 3D printer to date has been printing various flexible dinosaurs for my nephew. By this point he has a “large collection”, of various colours and scales, including a 25cm tall “Flexi Rex” I printed for his birthday last year.

A “flexi rex”, a 3D printed dinosaur printed in place with working hinges

After finding the flexi rex design I wondered exactly how resilient 3D printing was and how unreasonable you could get with the hinge design before it failed. I downloaded a copy of Fusion 360 and using a SVG of a butterfly I downloaded from the internet I modelled a 3D butterfly with a working hinge.

The calibration is still a bit off at this point, but the hinge works

I uploaded the design files for the butterfly to Thingiverse, you can download them here!

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