There is something about the human spirit that sometimes chooses to ignore rationality in preference for the wild and crazy. This Mobile 3D Printing Experiment is one of those cases.
The day started off at 06h00 with packing suitcases and 3D printer necessities (Octoprint server, Cubicity filament. Chris had an appointment with Bobby from Craigslist.org to buy a Honda 2000i generator. At 08h00 the generator was purchased and relocation to a Home Depot was in order to properly set up the 3D printer / generator setup.
Once at Home Depot, Chris found all the bare essentials to make this experiment work. Here was the setup:
- 1x Honda 2000i (2000W) generator (1000W would also be sufficient) ~$750 from Craigslist.org
- 1x Printrbot Simple Metal ~$600 from Printrbot.com
- 4x Spools of Filament (we used scrap filament for initial testing so as not to waste our high-quality Cubicity / Voltivo filament)
- 1x Cargo Rod ~ $20 to support the 3D printer filament
- 1x Packet of Large Cotter pins ~ $5, these were necessary in order to remove and re-affix the compression pad at both ends of the Cargo Rod so that the 3D printing filament can be slid on and off. This took a little bit of work with only a LeatherMan.
- 1x Panel to increase the base size to prevent tipping of the 3D printer. A layer of cork was also applied with blue painters tape to add some friction to the Panel to prevent the 3D printer from sliding around.
- 1x tie down in order to affix the 3D printer to the Panel
- 1x Power Strip for all the 3D printer power needs: 3D Printer Power, Octoprint Server Power and the Cisco Router for a local WiFi network.
Once the 3D printer was connected w/Octoprint, Chris warmed up the 3D printer and installed the Filament. The test print? None other than the You3Dit RaverRing which is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. If you want to dramatically improve your nightlife, this is one quick and cool way to do it!!
With the generator and truck fueled up, the 3D print continued to rock on. Here’s the timelapse of the first ever 3D Printed RaverRing traveling at 65 mph.
The Printrbot Simple appeared to have no issues during the print amidst many urban legends describing how gusts of wind can throw off a successful print. This was not witnessed in this experiment. Although we failed to capture a screenshot of the temperature as a function of time, there were definitely aberrations in temperature but they didn’t appear to have a significant impact on the output quality of the print. Also NOTE: I wouldn’t recommend this experiment to anyone (actually…anyone at all period) who has not already really dialed in their 3D printer.
Now that we had built some confidence in the mobile printing, we printed our batch file (*.gcode) and started printing:
Now we’ve arrived in San Luis Obispo and boom, 3D printed RaverRings. Had trouble getting reconnected after this print so we ended the mobile 3D printing for the day.
In conclusion, 3D printing can work in mobile and erratic outdoor environments. We have yet to find a really great application for Mobile 3D printing but that is just currently in our limited mental design space…we know you, our readers, have many more ideas or where this can actually be beneficial. Let us know and don’t 3D print and drive unless you’re a pro.