Old dog, new trick.

I’m back after a blogging break, life got busy for a bit.

So what’s new? 3D printing. My wife broke one of her favourite plastic cookie cutters and you can no longer buy them. I said “we can print one!” I first asked a friend who has three printers, he said “send me an STL file and I’ll print one” … what the? And so began the journey into a new dimension.

I then asked him about his printers and what he recommended, next thing, I’m the proud and slightly confused owner of an Elegoo Neptune 2S 3D printer, had for the modest sum of $299 AU – much cheaper now than when I considered one 8 years ago – would have been very handy building drones with!

Unboxing and assembly was reasonably straight forward with good drawings and instructions in the small manual – much like Lego or model kits from my childhood, it took me about 90 minutes. Next came levelling the build platform – that took some time, but I got there after first setting up a permanent level platform for it to sit on so as I don’t have to re-level it too often.

Then I downloaded a Gingerbread Man from Thingiverse to test – I “sliced” it in a program called Cura to prepare it for the printer and all good! The printer worked as described pretty much out of the box – with 2+ hours of first assembling and nutting it out.

Then the “fun” began – how to create 3D .STL files? Google … I first tried an open-source (free) program called Blender. Appropriately named, it completely scrambled my ageing brain!! This thing is a great and very powerful program – way advanced of what I need – capable of full-on Pixar style animation and more. Even after years as a graphic designer, I was in way too deep and YouTube tutorials were not helping my needs.

I tried another open-source program called FreeCAD, ah, simple, but still, following beginner YouTube tutorials left me confused at every turn, when my program would not do what theirs had just done and I was continually nutting out why. ARGH … I asked my friend.

Gingerbread men – tasgingerbread.com

He put me onto Autodesk Fusion 360 – the free version. After a few tutorials, it behaved and I found my Goldylocks – well, kind of. For someone (me) who has never done any 3D work save for pencil drawings way too long ago in high-school Tech class, there’s a lot to learn. It’s nothing like Illustrator or InDesign – new icons, terms and ways of doing things. I took notes and eventually produced my first cutter!

After a few prints in PLA+ (a type of food safe plastic) and tweaks to get it right, I could see some problems with my workflow and set about designing a second cutter, this time a bear – which went much better.

Cookie cutters for our shop.

I’ve done a few other things also since my last post … knee exercises … every day, it’s come along great. Fallen of my bike … more than once … and I still have part of a stick in my hand. Went to a Midnight Oil concert – pics to come maybe. Saw an aurora – photos still to edit. Went fishing, night walking, asked to photograph another wedding. Took my 17 year old dog to the vet – somehow she’s still kicking on, but no new tricks for her.

Until next time – thanks for visiting.
Still busy, more live music this weekend πŸ™‚

23 thoughts on “Old dog, new trick.

  1. Welcome back, Tone. These printers are fascinating, you did a great job making new cookie cutters. I assume the original, broken item can’t be glued back together? A stick in the hand sounds painful!

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    1. Thanks John, the printer is quite a simple idea when you break it down, much like a normal printer with an up axis. The print quality nowdays on this relatively cheap unit has really impressed me – though I get the odd fail when the plastic doesn’t stick to the plate – some fine tuning and experimenting required.
      My wife tried to glue the old cutter but it cops a lot of use in her busy kitchen, I made the new one stronger than the original.
      I was wearing gloves and still got a decent puncture in my hand – going slow but gravity pulled me down hard. On the mend and riding again – though carefully.

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    1. Thanks Anneli, Doggo is comfortable, still likes short walks, lots of food and pats, but needs a hand up the stairs now. I did there for a while too, so I know how she feels πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alessandra, I was way out of my depth for a few days but gradually learning how to swim. Enjoying the challenge, though it’s been mildly frustrating at times, it’s satisfying watching you own creations come to life.

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    1. Thanks Gary, when I put my mind to something … I also set up an old mobile with the Alfred app so I can check remotely if it’s printing OK and when it’s finished πŸ™‚

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