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Fab@home printers overview

The Cube 3D Printer: Use Case from a Mechanical Engineer

Meet Tom Meeks. A teacher, writer, video documentary and news producer, animator, video software designer, consumer software designer, video game marketer, photographer, blogger, avid fan of 3D Printing technology, struggling fish-out-of-water 3D designer, a firm believer in community building and a true Cubify fan.

Cubify Fans Blog

His Cubify Fans Blog is a great source for every Cubify / Cube user. It has the latest news, tips, tricks and guest posts from other Cube users. The latest guest post is from mechanical engineer Chris Crowley, owner of Table Mountain Innovation, a Mechanical Engineering consultancy specializing in medical equipment design.

Crowley describes how his Cube has changed his daily workflow, saying:

“All of my clients are extremely impressed by the fact that they get “free access” to a 3D printer when they hire me for mechanical engineering. You see… I don’t charge any additional fees to 3D print parts from my Cube. I am not acting as a “service bureau” for my clients. Just as I might make a prototype with a rough cardboard cutout, with my milling machine, or with my silicone casting process…. I can now simply print prototype designs on my Cube and test them with my clients.

I offer this service because the material cost is so low. Of course, I charge professional hourly fees for the concept, design, and CAD work, but now the printing comes “free”.

The results are simple…. my product designs are better. My design cycle is much shorter. The costs to the client are lower. We do more prototyping in less time.”

Use Case

Crowley also describes a few use cases. The first one is about a replacement spindle for a vinyl printer. Crowley:

“A client needed a “thumb-sized” spindle to replace a worn part on a very expensive production vinyl printer. The OEM spindle was so worn that it would occasionally DROP a 100+ pound spool of vinyl on the floor during a print job. They wrapped it in masking tape and rubber cement. When that didn’t work, the client used an old piece of sprinkler pipe, which caused the spool to jam. HP wants $900 for this part – it is only purchasable with a larger assembly. I reverse engineered the spindle and printed 3 replacements all in an afternoon. Client VERY happy!”


Example #1a: Vinyl Printer Needing Replacement Part


Example #1b: Part Location


Example #1c: Cube Printed Part next to old


Example #1d: Cube Printed Part in Place


Example #1e: Old Part for Comparison


Example #1f: New Cube Part for Comparison


We’ve received an email from Chris Crowley as an addition to the story above. He says:

“The change for engineers will be tremendous in the next few years… instead of waiting until “near the end” of a project to request an expensive stereolith from a service bureau, I can now print several prototypes at the beginning of a project just to test different ideas.

 Usually the stereolith is used as a “final check” before committing to an expensive injection mold, but this can be a problem also, because you are able to make features in a 3D Printed / Stereolith part that cannot be replicated in an injection mold.”

All images are courtesy of Tom Meeks.
Check out his Cubify Fans Blog at:
Chris Crowley’s company:

Design 3d printed eyewear with Tinkercad – Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about the 3D Printshow in London and how a seminar by Pekka from Tinkercad inspired me to start with 3D modeling. I decided to try to create my own eyewear and this is part two of my adventure.


Based on his eyewear 3D model (which everyone can grab and modify in Tinkercad) and with the help of an optician who provided me with the right measurements I managed to create a prototype. The next step was to get the prototype printed.
From within Tinkercad you get to choose by which 3d printing service you’d like your model to be printed. You get to choose from Sculpteo, Shapeways, Ponoko or i.materialise. Of course it is also possible to download your model in for instance .STL and print it out yourself but I chose to give the honour to i.materialise.


Very soon after I ordered my prototype a customer support engineer from i.materialise emailed me to clarify a few things. She told me that the model I ordered was a grouped model and not a connected assembly and that therefore they could not accept it for production. You can read everything about grouped models (and why they won’t print them as such) here.

So keep in mind that when you order this model, and you want it to be functional, than you have to place an order for three separate files (glasses + two handles). I decided that it wasn’t really necessary to have a functional prototype so mine was printed as one piece. That was a mistake and I’ll explain why later.


I Received my prototype exactly two weeks after I placed my order at i.materialise. I was pretty surprised because I initially thought it would going to take at least three weeks. I put it on and it fit perfectly.

A few days later I hopped on my bike to show it to my optician. He was pretty impressed with the result and gave me a few tips for improvement. As such, he suggested that I lengthen the handles a bit.


So the prototype was printed in a material called Multicolor and because it was printed in one piece I should have chosen a material that was a bit more bendable. For me it was no problem because the prototype was made for my measurements, but when my colleague put them on it snapped like a twig.

Pekka already warned me in the comments:

”..Only thing I’m concerned is the Multicolor material in this case, because
It doesn’t bend. Design is made for Nylon as you mentioned, which is flexible material.
So be really, really careful when try them out!”

Final phase

The next thing I’m going to do is make some changes and then print it out in Nylon. I’ll keep you posted.

Design 3d printed eyewear with Tinkercad – Part 1

A few weeks ago I was present at London’s first 3D Printshow. A great event that played host to some of the biggest names in 3D Printing including MakerBot, Ultimaker and 3D Systems.

Besides a wide variety of stands and workshops, a few seminars were scheduled. One of them was held by industrial designer Pekka from online 3D design tool Tinkercad. I attended this seminar which inspired me to learn the basics of 3d modeling with Tinkercad.

About Pekka

Pekka graduated in 2008 at the Lahti university of applied sciences in Finland. He has done globally recognized design objects such as jewelry, eyewear and lamps. On his website he explains that he, as a Finnish designer, has been inspired by light in particular. This is because of the polar night of the winter and the midnight sun during the summer. At Tinkercad he is an Technical Artist and makes sure that the users of Tinkercad are getting the right tools to design.

About Tinkercad

Tinkercad is a WebGL-based 3D design tool that was launched in 2011. The tool operates completely in the browser so you don’t have to download anything. Tinkercad guides its users, with the help of step-by-step lessons, through the basics of the 3D design process. We think this truly is a great approach and it has helped us to understand the basics in just a few hours.

When one has finished a lesson or created a new 3d design it is just a small step to actually print the model. Just click on ‘Print in 3D’ and you get to choose if either Shapeways, i.materialise, Ponoko or Sculpteo gets to print your design. Of course it is also possible to download your model in .stl or whatever and print it out yourself.

Printing my own 3D printed eyewear

So back to Pekka’s seminar. One of the things he explained to the crowd is that he sees eyewear as – perfect for 3D printing – because eyewear is so personal. The measurements and material have to be just right to get the desired look. That’s why he wears 3D printed glasses designed by himself, and even better, his frame can be found on Tinkercad to be modified to anyone’s needs and to be printed.

With this in mind I thought it would be fun to try this and this article is part one of my adventures. So where did I start? Well at first I googled a bit to learn more about the development of spectacles. I wondered which measurements were a necessity and which materials were suitable. I found this great page on measuring yourself for a custom frame. My first findings are, considering measurements:

- pd in millimeters (pupillary distance)
- gap between the lenses in millimeters (for you nose)
- overall width in millimeters

- Nylon

With this in mind the next thing I would have to do is find an optician that was willing to help me. At a certain point I hope there’ll be a time where I would have my own 3D printed frame in my hands, ready to get prescription lenses fitted into them. So I went to the nearest optician to my house in Amsterdam and was welcomed surprisingly warm. The optician was really interested and gave me the measurements that I needed.

The prototype

The next step for me was to take a look at Pekka’s model on Tinkercad. To then change the measurements and then print out a prototype.


I chose to use i.materialise to print out my prototype. As a material I chose Multicolor, which is the cheapest. My prototype will be printed in one piece so it’s not functional but I think that’s all right, cause it’s just a prototype. With shipping included this cost me around 24 euro’s.

So now I have to wait a few weeks till my prototype arrives. In the mean time I’ll be trying to improve my modeling skills with Tinkercad. I’ll keep you posted.

Resin-based DIY 3D printer

Junior Veloso, an Italian designer wanted a quality 3D printer in his home but did not have the money for an expensive professional machine. The current DIY printers did not match up to his standards so he desided to develop his own resin based 3D printer. Check out what his printer is capable of in this video.

Junior Veloso’s blog

During the development of his 3D printer Junior maintained a blog so that fans could keep track of his project. It has been quiet on his blog for a while, evidently many people started to fear the project was canceled. Finally Junior has news on his blog.

“We spent the past few weeks working on the price for the Complete Kit, as well resin, software and everything related to the Printer.
We found out that producing all the parts and shipping worldwide is quite expensive, which is not what most of the people expect for a DIY project. The complete Kit would probably cost over 4K USD, without shipment and in case we manage to have a big volume.

This is very cheap compared to existing High Resolution 3D Printers, but it is expensive for a DIY project. And we felt after reading lot of emails commenting on the pricing, that the community is not expecting such a high price.

Because of this, we think would make more sense to move for only a basic kit, where we would provide all documentation needed to build the Printer, as well the Resin formula and just sell the software and the controller board. The documentation would have the detail technical specification, BOM and Suppliers.

This basic kit (Document + Software + Controller Board) would be sold around $600 USD, but even for that we would need a good volume to be able to produce it.
For this reason we’re creating a Pre-order list for both Kits (full and basic), so we can decide the best way to move forward.

If you are interested in the basic one or in the full one or both, please send us an email at”


In reply to this blog within 24 hours they received over 150 emails requesting to enter the pre-order list. Some people for the basic kit but most for the full kit! Because of this unexpected success they decided to start an Indiegogo campaign as of today as pre-order for the kits. It looks like this amazing DIY 3D printer is going to make it after all!

The current prototype