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Home Fix-It With Polar 3D

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Home Fix-It With Polar 3D

During our Home Fix-It Challenge, we thought we'd highlight an inspiring and real world story to encourage you that using 3D Printing in the home is possible. While our focus at Polar 3D is on education, many of our customers use Polar 3D printers and software to support hobbies and projects at home. The following post is by one of our team members, Industrial Designer and Director of Product Development, David Parrott, who used a Polar 3D printer and the Polar Cloud to create a custom plumbing fixture for a bathroom remodeling project at home. 

“My house is an old Victorian, built in 1895, and I love doing home improvement work myself. As anyone with an old house will tell you, nothing in a 100+ year old home is square or standard; if you want to do it yourself, you’re often fabricating custom things by hand. One area where this is particularly problematic is plumbing. Because the home DIYer traditionally hasn’t had the ability to fabricate metal plumbing components, (s)he has to settle for what’s available from the hardware store – or spend a bundle at a specialty plumbing shop. For this project, even the specialty store didn’t have what I need. This is where 3D printing came in. Because I had access to a Polar 3D printer, I was able to design a custom plumbing component that overcame the functional challenges of my non-standard plumbing and matched the aesthetic of the new bathroom. I then printed the new piece, using the Polar Cloud."

THE PROBLEM

"I had just replaced the existing vanity sink with a new console sink from Signature Hardware. Rather than tear up the subfloor, I left the existing drain pipe in the floor, which protruded from the new tile. (It used to be hidden by the vanity.) I was planning to use a tall, chrome box flange from Home Depot to cover it, so I wasn’t worried about the height of the compression fitting. When I finally purchased and test-fit the new box flange, I discovered that it wasn’t tall enough to cover the compression fitting. Even Signature Hardware and Keidel Plumbing Supply – specialty suppliers with amazing varieties of non-standard fixtures – didn’t have a box flange that would work.
It was too late to change the plumbing without tearing up the new tile (and subfloor). Further, the new box flange was too plain, aesthetically, to match the Victorian-like ornamentation of the rest of the room."

THE SOLUTION

"When I realized that I’d have to waste a week of work and hundreds of dollars of tile to replace this simple fitting, my mind quickly turned to other solutions. I used Solidworks and my Polar3D printer to quickly model and print a custom box flange that was taller than standard and with an aesthetic that reflected the shape of the surrounding baseboard molding. The new flange design took just minutes to create in Solidworks and could have been produced in Fusion 360, Sketchup or any other free piece of CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. I used the basic profile of our new baseboards for the shape."

"Printing the new flange was easy with the Polar Cloud. I just uploaded the files from my computer and watched them build – from my computer and iPhone – using the integrated webcam. The entire print just took a few hours, and when it was done I had a real, solid plastic part that was stronger and more unique than anything I could buy on-line or locally."

"I test fit the new piece before painting it. Everything fit perfectly. The plastic was durable and already relatively smooth. 
After a very little sanding and some spray paint, the result looks like a production fitting. I used the cheapest chrome Rustoleum paint I could find, and it turned out pretty well.
I installed the new box flange and shot a couple of photos. The images below show it compared to a production box flange and the finished unit, installed in the bathroom. The entire process ofcreating, preparing and installing the new box flange took less than 6 hours – most of it unattended printing.
Additive manufacturing has the potential to change the way products are designed, manufactured, and sold. But the future in which everyone has a 3D printer at home, and the additive process replaces high volume manufacturing methods (e.g. injection molding, et al.) seems like it’s still a couple years out. In the meantime, users like me can use low cost, high reliability 3D printers like Polar 3D and others to produce professional-grade products that are quick, inexpensive and dialed for custom applications. For this and other projects, I couldn’t have done it without Polar3D.”

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3D Design Resources for Teachers and Students

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3D Design Resources for Teachers and Students

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Are there resources that you recommend to teachers and students for them to start exploring the design side of 3D printing?

Excerpt of an interview with Polar 3D Co-Founder William "Bill" Steele by design experts Tom and Tracy Hazzard, of Hazzard Design Consulting

Design is one of the biggest questions that I think any user, not just teachers or students would have, but any user of 3D printers, has. Where do I get the things I want to print or how do I create the things that I want to print? And there are many, many resources out there to do that. I'll break it down into two classes. One you can take resources that have already been created by others.

Thingiverse

There's a website called Thingiverse (Thingiverse.com.) That's a site designed to allow users to share models or things that they've designed with anybody else in the world with their permits of licensing on those.

YouMagine

YouMagine is another example. It's an online community for everyone who’s eager to explore the world of 3D printing. You can just download a file, or project, which somebody else designed and load it into your printer and print. That's a nice way of doing it.

Trimble, SketchUp, Tinkercad

The neat thing about a lot of those sites, or a lot of the users, is that they also post the source files for those. So they might have designed it in Trimble SketchUp, (sketchup.com), or Tinkercad. They can design it in those tools, and they include the source files so that you can go and modify and do whatever you want to.

Learn to Build 3D Objects

The other side of that, is again, the designing of the project themselves. SketchUp or Tinkercad, those sites are fantastic for learning how to build three-dimensional objects. We're going to start off with a simple two-dimensional object, and then we'll extrude it up into the third dimension.

Minecraft

One other fantastic resource that most of us adults don't use, but kids use it all the time is something as simple as Minecraft. Microsoft bought Minecraft recently and we've seen a huge explosion of tools built around this concept of using blocks to build objects. Now we did it as kids using Lego's, but the benefit that the kids have today with these tools is that they can size the Lego's differently, digitally, and they can zoom into a small spot and put really tiny Lego’s to make it fine detail, and then when we zoom back out, you just see a smooth surface. The neat thing about that is the printer or these tools that work like this will generate the appropriate files for 3D printing.

In addition, Minecraft has a service called Printcraft that you can actually develop something in Minecraft, and then send it to the Printcraft server, and it will email you your SDL file which you send to the printer.

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7th Graders Own the 3D Print Process

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7th Graders Own the 3D Print Process

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Doug Noxsel, Design and Modeling Teacher of the Butler Technology Career And Development Schools was kind enough to send us a great description of how he uses 3D printing in the classroom

Flipping the Process

7th-grade students are highly interested in 3d printing. In fact, they can overwhelm a teacher with print requests as they come up with new ideas. That is what was happening to me in my 7th-grade Design and Modeling classes. I was spending lots of time handling the details of every single print, and it required too much of my focus. So this semester I “flipped” the process! I ordered more Polar3d printers, and I gave the print process to the students. My students sign up to the Polar Cloud, and I send them invitations to join my classroom club. 

Wow, what a difference. I no longer prep the plate, start, monitor, remove from the plate, etc. Students are instructed to monitor their prints via live stream from their devices and to shut down the print should there be an issue. The students do it all, and they love it.

From Wiz Bang to Usable Tool

In fact, the students are beginning to see the 3d printers as a tool now versus an interesting wiz bang machine that only the teacher can operate. I have seen a threefold increase in the number of prints generated by the students. And the beauty of it all is the fact that I have only started 5 of those prints! The students are learning from their print mistakes and are modifying their designs to make improvements. Isn’t this what we want? The design to print time has decreased greatly, and students love the freedom they have to experiment. When my new order arrives, I will have 10 Polar3d units for a student to printer ratio of 14 to 1. I am hoping that that ratio will handle the demand. I would highly recommend to any teacher to stop being the 3d

The students are learning from their print mistakes and are modifying their designs to make improvements. Isn’t this what we want? The design to print time has decreased greatly, and students love the freedom they have to experiment. When my new order arrives, I will have 10 Polar3d units for a student to printer ratio of 14 to 1. I am hoping that that ratio will handle the demand. I would highly recommend to any teacher to stop being the 3d go-to person.

When my new order arrives, I will have 10 Polar3d units for a student to printer ratio of 14 to 1. I am hoping that that ratio will handle the demand.

I would highly recommend to any teacher to stop being the 3d  gate-keeper. Give your students ownership and some freedom to fail and then watch them get creative! They will not hurt the Polar3d units if you show them the basics. The attached pictures shows a typical scene for me in the morning. Student prints that started at the end of the school day are ready the next morning.

Polar3d prints greet me in the morning

Doug Noxsel Design and Modeling Teacher, Gateway To Technology, PLTW Butler Technology Career And Development Schools 3605 Hamilton-Middletown Rd, Hamilton, Ohio 

Classroom Location: Lakota Liberty Junior School 7055 Dutchland Parkway, Liberty Township, OH 45044-9720

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