Sunday, December 23, 2012

How biodegradable is PLA plastic?

PLA plastics have come up often as the more eco conscious choice for 3d printed plastics.  With plastics having such a bad rap (petroleum based, some release toxins) I had to look into it a bit more my self.  I searched reprap forums read articles.  This article is the best I found and it covers the perspective of a high volume manufacturer using PLA plastics.  The article doesn't cover any offgases released while processing PLA or when it comes in contact with an object at it's melting point.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3d printer purchase

From Dave Durant and Chopmeister

I've requested samples from Ultimaker and MakerBot to see the quality first and and feel the texture of the final print.  From my research temperature adjustments and changing the layer height can drastically improve the quality of 3d prints.  The major issue I have is being able to see lines on the print.  The end results should be as smooth as a baby's butt.  I don't want to be sanding down plastic miniture animals at 1 in the morning!

Ultimaker prompty responded and will be sending it to me free of charge.  Makerbot sent me a link to some form looked like it was just made.  Freshly made food is great!  A fresh google document form as a response to a sample request looks like they are trying to make me think they'll send me a sample.  I haven't spent any money yet, but when I do, it would be nice to know whichever 3d print support staff I choose will be there to help if I can't find answers on a forum or on my own.

I did find a blog post with some hard numbers on the layer thickness and a picture of the final 3d print, and the Ultimaker looks superb.  Several photos later I my jaw dropped at the accuracy of the Ultimaker at high speeds.

Here's the post I read.

Returning to the story

Neil Strauss, multiple ny times best seller said these words during a 2 day seminar with Tim Ferriss.
"You'll find you have a passion towards the things you were doing when you were 10 or 11."  

What was I doing at 10 years old?  It was a dark time for me.  My parents just divorced and really there was no space to stop life (school, church) and process it.  I had to keep going.  But no human can suffer loss or any life change without trying to compensate.  Without trying to regain the in-the-moment innocence and curiosity of a child.

So I played tons of video games.  Until playing was instinctual.  At the time, Tetris and Street Fighter were the two games I enjoyed mastering.

I also programmed code in a language called BASIC to draw parallel lines.  Sounds boring, but I got a thrill out of writing code to draw parallel lines.  Eventually I got to the point where I didn't have to draw each line, but could do 8 times more parabolic curves with only 12 lines of code.  This didn't come out of nowhere.  I had a friend, named Bill, who was truly gifted at anything he did and as he skimmed his attention across basketball, programming, car repairs (couldn't follow him here), my curiosity for these things ignited.

The other thing I did was play basketball.  Again immersion to the point of instinct.  Practice became rituals.

My mentor was the one who guided me through all these things.  He was an angel who stepped in my life when I could've gone down several wrong paths.  His name is Mr. Crews and he pushed me to write code that did more with less.  He pushed me to bet Tetris high scores and he recommended an excellent technique for practicing basketball after observing me play -- shoot around the basket at a fixed distance then step away from the hoop and repeat.

To top it off, Mr. Crews would take me out to lunch on Wednesday nights.  His generosity and willingness to teach and share will always be appreciated.

When thinking about these things, and the nature of negative events to slow me down until I consider quitting whatever it is I'm doing, I realized my 2013 creations/goals should line up closely with the things I did around 6th grade.  I'm not going to solely do things related to video games, basketball, and programming, but my creations will be heavily influenced by these things. I hope to exercise this sort of story creation connection the year to come.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

4 Christmas Cards left to send out.

I think I've sent a total of 30ish Christmas + Thank You cards.  It is by far the most cards I've ever sent out and each one was watercolor painted and there were no copies.  Last night I worked on another silver glitter card and painted a jeep on rocks while sitting next to my daughter, Maya, who was making watercolor hand prints and shapes on scrap paper.

She has seen me on the craft table several nights now painting these cards and loves copying me whenever she can join in.  It's wonderful to see her try new things and was glad to let hand print a few cards.  Most of her daycare teachers and a couple friends Oregon, both just had a baby girl, got a "Mayan" hand print.

The cards were painted and shipped so quickly I don't think I have many pics of them.  I did take one picture of a request from a friend to paint a squirrel handling a yo-yo.  It was a perfect request.  Taking something pretty innocent and giving it a playful spin.

This whole business of making cards and sending them out to people at the end of the year was out of guilt and gratitude.  I have been more like a recovering zombie parent in the years leading up to 2012 where I was barely able to tumble down the front steps and drive to work due to being sleep deprived.  Young kids will do that to you.  Now I feel the creative juices slowly flowing again.  Inspiration is making its way from the distant mountain top down to me and I have the power to do something with it.  All those years of getting Christmas cards and squirrel them away on the mantel without a return thank you or similar card are behind me and I took a moment and think about the good things of 2012.

All the invitations to peoples houses, visits to our house, the meals, the kind words, the laughter + time shared...  All the fellow parents who had enough cheer and sympathy to help being a parent be a little easier....  Family members who visited, but won't be seen for the holidays...  All these people will get a thank you.  The kindness shown over time really does lift my spirits and I hope to be grateful for it and give it to others in-kind.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Paper Folds to Jewelry

Here are my designs 3d printed in stainless steel.  These aren't the final product pics, but you'll get an idea how I went from the folded paper design (original set of rough drafts) to the final result.  These will all be pendants and I goofed on setting the ring in the proper orientation.  I've ordered brass split rings to deal with this since the stainless steal finish is slightly brassy.

The boxes have arrived, and I'm just waiting for the chains, and clasps before I post the final result on  The entire process felt very good.  I enjoyed folding paper for a few months to figure out what designs worked.  I also enjoy setting everything up so a future customer can open the box,wear it, and continue saving the world.

The 3d printers used for these pieces are from i.materialise in Belgium and it took around 3 weeks to go from design to doorstep.  I hope to shorten this time by either making these by hand or ordering via 3d print months in advance.