How to Turn Your 2D Logo Into a 3D Print Using Rhino

Everyday we see logos wherever we go. Whether it’s a billboard, flyer, or even a blimp, there’s a good chance it has a logo. One place logos are appearing even more is on 3D prints. 3D printing makes it possible to design and print a variety of objects with a logo stamped right on it. Although it sounds complicated to turn a logo into a 3D print, the process is easy!

You may have seen our previous tutorial on turning a logo into a 3D print, but over the years we’ve come up with even more tips to help your logo shine. In this updated tutorial, you’ll learn how to take a logo from an image to a 3D print.  In this demonstration we’re going to use Rhinoceros 3D, but there many tools including SolidWorksTinkercadFusion 360, or Onshape that could achieve a similar result.

Before you begin, you will need a vector file of your logo (usually in .ai, .dxf, .svg, or .eps format). If you don’t have a vector file, you can convert your raster file (.jpg, .png, .bmp) using an editor like Adobe Illustrator or Super Vectorizer. Online converters exist as well that automatically take your raster image and turn it into a vector image. In the tips and tricks section later, we will show you a third way to convert a raster file directly in Rhinoceros 3D!

How to Make a 3D Logo

Once you have your vector file, start Rhino 3D (or your CAD software of choice) and import your vector file. If your logo is flipped or upside down, you can use a simple mirror command to reorient the logo. Sometimes a vector file will leave a border when imported. Be sure to delete these border lines too! What you should be left with is the logo design you want to use.

Next, choose a shape you want your logo to live in. This can be whatever you want, so don’t be afraid to get creative! In our example, we are housing our re:3D logo inside a circle. Once you have your shape finalized, extrude it outward. The extrusion length should be around half to two-thirds the height of your logo. We will use this shape later to make a platform for our logo.

With your shape extruded, you now want to make your logo pop! You have a choice here, you can either extrude your logo outward or cut your logo inward. In our example, we extruded the re:3D logo out of the cylinder’s face. Be sure you don’t cut or extrude too far, or your logo will be hard to see on the final model. The example we have is a good distance for most logos if you’re unsure.

You now need to make your model solid. Although your logo may appear solid on screen, 3D slicing software will get confused if we don’t join together and solidify all the parts of our model. To join everything together, we perform either a boolean union or boolean difference to remove all the overlapping borders and make our model solid. This is important: if you extruded your logo from your shape, perform a boolean union. If you cut your logo into your shape, perform a boolean difference. Mixing these up could ruin the work you’ve put in so far!

Next, you need to rotate our shape how you want it to sit on a table. Rotate the model so the logo is facing slightly upward. Not only does this make it easier to see your logo, it also helps eliminate overhangs once you print it. Once you’ve positioned your logo how you would like it, look at your logo from the side and draw a horizontal line. Use Rhino’s trim command to cut through your shape and the cap command to seal the hole. For some CAD software, this step may look different.

You now have the basic shape of your tabletop logo! From this point, you can get creative and slice more off your model using the same trim and cap method. Depending on the design of your logo, you can use design features to support your model. For example, we use the shape of the re:3D hexagon to support our final model. Once you’re satisfied with your logo design, export it as a .stl file, slice it in your slicing software, and print it!

Here are a few tips and tricks we found when designing a logo print:

  • If you don’t have a vector file, you can use your CAD software to fix this! In Rhinoceros, import your logo by going to View → Background Bitmap → Place. This inserts your image on the plane and lets you trace out your logo using a sketch!
  • If you want your logo to sit up straight like a sign, extrude or cut your logo at an angle to eliminate any overhang issues.

A video of the process is also available below:

Still unsure about making your own 3D printed logo or looking for a more complicated design? Don’t worry, we can design and print your logo for you!

Happy Printing!

~Brian and Mike 🙂

Innovating in The Time of Corona(virus)

The exponential spread of the novel coronavirus across the globe led to overwhelming demand on supply chains and disruptions to traditional manufacturing and distribution systems. Because of societal lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, a dire need quickly arose for locally fabricated, specifically focused and creatively sourced solutions to equipment shortages and emergency supplies. At home and across the globe, designers and engineers quickly mobilized into online, open-source prototyping groups to solve the challenge of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and medical device accessories. 3D printing and additive manufacturing was an obvious go-to, with the ability to rapidly prototype and iterate on the fly, teams could utilize 3D printers to supply healthcare providers with equipment now, as soon as there were designs to print. The intention and needs were obvious and clear – to aid humanity and fill the gaps in supply chains – however, organizing volunteers and streamlining the process to avoid duplicate efforts was a daunting task.

As a company with a wealth of R&D project experience and long used to working as a distributed team, re:3D put out the call that we would prototype – for free – any life-saving devices or PPE in order to expedite review by medical professionals. We are conscientious contributors to the open source design community for COVID-19 response. We take a First, Do No Harm approach to any design work we do for this effort, meaning that it needs to be designed with input from, and in partnership with, the individuals who will utilize any equipment we prototype. We will not create anything that gives a false sense of security, but is ineffective or harmful. Our medical providers on the front lines are in need, and we are honored to take on the challenge.

Face Shields

In two overlapping efforts, we prototyped a design for a 3D printed face shield with full visor coverage and an adjustable zip tie style latching mechanism. The inquiry started in Puerto Rico. Vicente Gascó, our friend and colleague from Tredé and Engine-4 shared he had a supply of 4000 clear plastic lenses for face shields, but no visor to which they would attach to the head. Armed with only the measurements of the lenses and aided by an idea from assembly guru and NASA technician Andrew Jica in Houston, Brian Duhaime, our mechanical engineer in Austin, and Alessandra Montano, our graphics designer in Puerto Rico, pumped out five different iterations of a face shield in only 48 hours.

Vicente and Luis Torres, co-founder of Engine-4, pulled our Puerto Rico Gigabot out of Parallel-18 and added it to the existing Gigabot at Engine-4. Gigabots in Austin and in Puerto Rico printed out iterations of the designs for testing.

In Houston at the same time, CTO Matthew Fiedler, mechanical engineer Helen Little and community liaison Charlotte Craff were meeting with doctors from a local hospital to discuss their needs for a face shield. Knowing that vetted, open source face shield designs were already available, the group reviewed designs by Prusa, Lazarus3D, Budmen and Professional Plastics. The Houston team 3D printed existing options for the doctors to test, but the designs didn’t meet all of the doctors’ needs:

  • Lightweight, fully closed top
  • Reducing the air gap between lens and chin
  • 180 degree lens coverage
  • Limit number of parts to reduce need to source materials in short supply

Knowing that supply chains were disrupted and very little raw materials were available in a timely manner, re:3D conferred with Professional Plastics and determined that plastic sheeting supplies were well behind schedule, but that there were excess pre-cut face shield lenses available. Again, re:3D opted to prototype to existing, local supplies, keeping stress off of traditional supply chains and getting creative with what was available.

Over the next week, Helen built on the work done for the Puerto Rico design, integrated the needs of the doctors and iterated ten different versions of the face shield while working from home and rarely getting to hold a print in her hands. The result is a single print, face shield with an adjustable latching mechanism. It’s designed for 180 degrees of protection and comfort without the addition of foam padding.  It has the approval of the hospital’s Infection Control and  is currently available at the National Institutes of Health 3D Print exchange for COVID-19 Response. https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013504

Hands-Free Door Pulls

Eliminating unnecessary shared contact surfaces is imperative, especially in buildings where essential workers are operating to continue necessary services. Our team includes multiple military service members. One of our reservists was activated when she sent out a call back to our team to make some hands-free door pulls to use on the base. Aided by Matthew Fiedler, Mike Battaglia, our designer in Austin, and Brian Duhaime went to work prototyping hands-free door pulls for lever-style and bar-style door handles.

These designs were drafted before we had dimensions for either of the door styles, so had to be modeled in such a way to enable incremental dimensional adjustments while preserving the models’ shapes. During her free time, the service member sent feedback on the first versions via pictures and notes, and Brian and Mike iterated the changes remotely, melding organic shaped and attachment options into single print solutions.

The hands-free door pulls are now successfully in use on base, protecting our military personnel as they work to respond and aid COVID-19 efforts. These models are available for download here https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013825 and here: https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013822

From Intubation Box to Drape Stands

As a 3D printer manufacturer, we are understandably advocates of 3D printing use in manufacturing. However, we recognize that not all innovations require, or are best served by, an exclusively 3D printed solution. As we do much of our manufacturing in-house, including machining parts on our CNCs, we can apply rapid prototyping principals to traditional manufacturing methods. Take the example of an aerosol or intubation box:

We were contacted by an anesthesiologist based in Austin about modifying such a box, used to protect doctors and nurses from aerosols released when intubating a patient. The doctor’s main concerns were ability to clean and the need for a “helper” hole. This equipment needed a curved, clear surface rather than sharp corners where germs could hide. We offered to prototype using polycarbonate sheeting and an aluminum framework available in our machine shop.  In this case, the request for aid evolved before we produced a prototype. The anesthesiologist reported that the existing boxes were unwieldy and took up too much space, so instead requested a solution for supporting clear plastic drapes to achieve the same purpose and be easy to store. Matthew Fiedler proposed a combined 3d printed base and a bent aluminum frame for the project. Design work is ongoing and we will update this post as the prototype develops.

Are you a healthcare professional needing a COVID-19 related equipment solution? Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org to begin coordination. Should you wish to purchase any of our COVID-19 designs. They’re available in our online store: https://shop.re3d.org/collections/covid-19

Interested in supporting existing efforts to fight COVID-19? See below for how to help in Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico.

There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here.
 
Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 
Drop off boxes can be found at:
 
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
 
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
TXRX and the amazing maker-community continue to organize face shield collection around Houston.  We are donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  To date, over 1600 face shields have been donated from the Clear Lake area –  keep it up!
More information and the design file is available here.
 
The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D, Inc.
1100 Hercules
STE 220
Houston, TX 77058
The maker community, including a few Gigabots have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunities to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon and additional efforts. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shields to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
The Mayaguez drop off box can be found at:

Maker Chris’ house at:
76 Calle Santiago R Palmer E, Mayaguez PR 00680


If you live outside of these areas and/or are seeking ways to contribute, A Form to Volunteer is Available Here. We will be responding to inquiries this weekend and doing our best to facilitate introductions:)

Global Gigabot Community Rises to the Challenge of COVID-19

As we all face our new normal and adjust to the realities of life during a pandemic, our 3D printing friends and colleagues around the world have stepped up to provide much needed personal protective equipment, filling the supply gap for everyone on the front lines. This isn’t just for doctors and nurses, it’s also for the police, EMTs, grocers, gas station attendants, and every other essential worker who suit up to keep our societies’ services going during this crisis.

More close to home, we couldn’t be more honored to count many of these selfless volunteers as our customers. re:3D’s social mission to democratize manufacturing and 3D print with purpose tends to attract like minded individuals and businesses whose first instincts are to be the problem solvers for their communities.  Featured below are our friends’ efforts in their own words.

Engine-4, Tredé, Parallel18 & Daniel Varela

Bayamón, Puerto Rico

Tell us about the design you are printing.

After learning about a need for PPE, we started printing a derivative of the 3DVerkstan visor design for face shields that could accept pre-cut shields that had been donated. We chose that design because it was the fastest to print. It was nice to see along the way that it got NIH endorsement. Our expanding print farm of Gigabots & Prusa printers is located at Engine-4, and includes local Gigabots that Parallel 18, Daniel Varela, and Atlantic University (once it clears customs!) loaned to help bolster production.
Design Inspiration: https://3dverkstan.se/protective-visor/

PR Variant: Link to .stl file direct download

What material are you printing with?

We are currently printing with PLA.

Who are you printing this design for? 
We are donating face shields to health professionals across PR. So far we have donated 1400. We’re also helping a doctor with 3D printed splitters. Just today we got a tightly fitted design and are doing further testing.

This fabulous group of makers who combined forces can be found online:

@engine4cws @tredeprinting @p18startups

https://engine-4.com/

http://tredeprinting.com/

https://parallel18.com/

Bill Albertini

New York City, New York, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.

When I heard about a potential shortfall in PPE supplies at New York area hospitals, my first reaction was to research mask/respirator models but soon realized they were not an ideal candidate for FDM printing. Face shields are also in short supply and there were a couple of designs that looked promising. I downloaded and tested several candidates before I found a design on March 26th by Swedish 3DVerkstan which they had just released in the wild, I soon I discovered that Weill Cornell and several other institutions had adopted this model because of its simplicity and ease of assembly. It consists of two components, a 3D printed head strap and a clear plastic shield which can be easily fabricated using letter size acetate sheet .005 or thicker and a standard 3 hole punch.

Download Site: https://www.youmagine.com/designs/protective-visor-by-3dverkstan
Design Site:https://3dverkstan.se/protective-visor/

What material are you printing with?
I am currently printing with PLA but I am going to switch over to PETG as soon as I can set up better ventilation. This is an old fashioned New York loft work/live situation.

Who are you printing this design for? 
Most of this first batch was donated to DIY Shield Project through connections with nycmakesppe.com, and they have been pretty much distributing to (public) hospitals with severe shortages like Elmhurst and Lincoln. I am also giving 50 kits directly to someone I know at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. I have also been in contact with Jenny Sabin who is running a site for Weill Cornell https://www.sabinlab.com/operation-ppe

Bill Albertini can be found online:

@bill_albertini

billalbertini.com

Efes Bronze | Serdar Erol

Yalova City, Turkey

Tell us about the design you are printing.
It is a simple face shield design that can save lives. The design came from 3BOYUTLUDESTEK.ORG platform. There are thousands of volunteers in this platform with 3D printers. “Sizi seviyoruz” is located on the shield and means that we love and thank you to all struggling with COVID-19.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
All sanitarians, policemen, and some other officials that have to contact each other everyday.

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
WWW.3BOYUTLUDESTEK.ORG

Efes Bronze can be found online:

@efesbronze

Metabolic Foundation | Christie Mettes & Tony Sevold

Aruba

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We started working with the design from Prusa, which looked like it was carefully researched and tested and approved and it worked well, so we printed about 400 of those in total. We’ve recently moved on to the 3DVerkstan design, which takes half the time to print so it helps us increase our production. In addition to these, we’ve also designed a copy of some safety glasses they use at the hospital, which print even quicker and use less material. The different designs and files are linked on our wiki page here: http://wiki.brenchies.com/index.php?title=3D_printing_face_shields

What material are you printing with?
We’re printing mainly with PLA because that’s what we have, and it’s easy to work with. We’ve also used a bit of PETG and some ABS because that’s what we had, and it should work fine according to the Prusa and 3DVerkstan websites.

Who are you printing this design for?
We’re printing for the two main hospitals on the island, Horacio Oduber Hospital, and ImSan (Instituto Medico San Nicolas), as well as the department of health who are doing the testing (DVG, Directie Volksgezondheid), the psychiatric hospital organization (Respaldo), the union of family doctors and dentists, as well as individual health workers including nurses and family doctors who ask us specifically.

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
If you’re in Aruba, and have a 3D printer or can sew, you should sign up. Best way is to email us at lab@brenchies.com, or WhatsApp us at +297 630 2475

Metabolic Foundation can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/brenchieslab/

https://www.instagram.com/brenchies/

Plodes® Studio | John Paul Plauché & Roya Plauché  

Baytown, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We are printing a head banding component of a protective face shield. It is based on a design by Prusa, and had been approved by the Czech Ministry of Health for use to help fill the void of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The version we are printing is a redesign by TXRX Labs and part of a volunteer effort that they had organized to help with our own local need for PPE during this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. We are excited to see local additive manufacturing step up to a shared worldwide call, where intellectual property and design ego take a back seat to provide real time evolving, useful, and needed objects for humanity.

What material are you printing with?
We are printing with PLA from re:3D, always our first choice for on hand reliable material. We are printing 24×7 on our original (but upgraded a little) Gigabot #21! Each part is around 1hr and we are doing at least 6 units at a time.

Who are you printing this design for?
These prints are for our Houston area doctors, nurses, and staff on the front lines of the COVD-19 pandemic in hospitals and stations that are in need of PPE or anticipate a need in the coming days/weeks. Our parts are delivered to TXRX labs in Houston and are assembled with laser cut shields and elastic bands to complete the product and are distributed from there.

Where are you located? 
We are located in Baytown, TX in our home office. My wife (Roya Plauché) and I (John Plauché) make up plodes® studio. We are a Texas based multidisciplinary design firm that draws from a coalescence of art, product, and architectural design. Our products are varied, authentic, minimal, and distilled with rigorous process to a balanced purity. Currently our best sellers are fire pits, so check them out and make a backyard escape for yourself while we are in this ‘Great Stay’. Help flatten the curve and please stay home as much as possible! 

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
We could use local area volunteers to pickup parts from us and drop to TxRX labs when we get 50-100 units at a time. Please email info@plodes.com with subject “TXRX pickup”. And please everyone visit TXRx’s go fund me at https://www.gofundme.com/f/txrx-manufactures-protective-medical-equipment and give what you can!

plodes® studio can be found online:

http://www.plodes.com/shop

@plodesstudio

CM Welding & Machine | Corey Mays

Midland, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We were printing a prototype ventilator splitter designed by Texas Tech and UT Permian Basin to allow up to 4 patients to use one ventilator. The first run has been sent for testing and we are waiting to hear back on that part. In the meantime we started reaching out to local medical personnel and some of the rural areas to see what needs they might have. We found the biggest need was for face shields. We chose a simple open source design and have been printing these 24/7 to fill these needs.

What material are you printing with?
For the ventilator splitter I chose PETG material and we are printing the face shield headgear out of PLA.

Who are you printing this design for?
Any medical personnel in need of face shields. 

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
I encourage anyone with a 3D printer to contact your local medical personnel or local universities of schools to help fill immediate needs there. Also, go to www.matterhackers.com and sign up for the COVID-19 response team. They will send out requests and files.

What has it been like for you working on this project?
It’s been exciting to be able to work on this project. As a manufacturer and mechanical designer I’m a problem solver by nature so being able to have the capability to help has been really fun and exciting! The Gigabot has been absolutely rock solid through this project. The larger print bed allows us more freedom to run different part arrangements so that we do not have to have someone here 24/7 to watch the machine. With the face shield head gear, we start a run of 6 in the morning and that run is ready to be pulled off by 5 pm. We then start a run of 8 that is ready when we come back in the following morning. I don’t think it has been off in almost 2 weeks and still going strong!

CM Welding & Machine can be found online:

Facebook: CM Welding & Machine

@cmayswelding

Pamton 3D | Pamela Szmara

Youngstown, OH, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
The headband design is PRUSA stl file. It is an existing design.

What material are you printing with?
We are using PETG from Village Plastics in Barberton, Ohio.

Who are you printing this design for?
We have supplied masks to Hospice of NY, the Ravenna Fire Dept in Ohio, and doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. 

Pamton 3D can be found online:

http://www.pamton3d.com/

The Kinkaid School | Jeff Diedrich

Houston, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
The design is from TX/RX, a non-profit makerspace here in Houston. My first prints were based on a single design where I could fit 9 on the bed. Then Patrick Ferrell @PBFerrell told me about a stacked design with 9 high which meant I could do 81 at a time. This was a 110 hour print.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
These are being printed for TX/RX

What has working on this project been like for you?
I am fortunate to work at a school with a Gigabot, and our head of school, Dr. Ed Trusty, was more than happy to allow me to use the school’s equipment and material to give back to the community.

Jeff Diedrich can be found online:

@misterdiedrich

Qrint Studio | Qumar Mirza

Toronto, Canada

Tell us about the design you are printing.

 The designs we printed are our own design for non-medical grade face shields for local business and restaurants. Due to this reason, we made it so it could have a minimal cost.

What material are you printing with?
We printed with PETG.

Who are you printing this design for?
 A local community non-profit.

What has working on this project been like for you?
We started just to help the community, but we end up applying for a health certificate so we could produce medical grade face shields.

Qrint Studio can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/qrinting/

@qrintstudio

Doug Mockett & Co | Paul de Leon

Manhattan Beach, CA, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We started printing designs a friend of mine sent to me – all from Thingiverse. After printing for a few days, I realized our two Gigabots weren’t going to be able to catch up with the demand, so Carlos and I played with the settings and got the print time down to 28 mins per visor for open visors, 35 mins for closed top visors (some hospitals preferred closed visors) which still wasn’t enough. I saw a post by a company from another country which did in house casting. That was clever so I thought we should do the same. I contacted our local silicon and plastic supplier for molding instructions and to buy materials to make silicon molds. I designed a closed visor that could work with molding and casting. I printed a few versions using our Gigabot 3+  and used that print to create a silicon mold.

We are also printing ear savers (mask extenders). These seem to be quite popular.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
Local hospitals and nursing homes:

  • Torrance Memorial Hospital, CEDARS SINAI & Providence Little Company of Mary (earsavers), Long Beach Memorial Rehab, and other local clinics.
  • Delano Hospital, VA Palo Alto and other smaller clinics in other states

What has working on this project been like for you?
It has been a privilege and an amazing team experience to be able to create something to help in this time of need. It means a lot to our team to be a part of this project and donate to healthcare providers.

Doug Mockett & Co can be found online:

@dougmockett

https://www.facebook.com/dougmockett/

https://www.youtube.com/user/dougmockett

https://twitter.com/dougmockett

https://www.pinterest.cl/dougmockett/

Compendium Federal Technology LLC | Stuart Langford

Lexington Park, MD, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
Originally, we were going to make frames and donate them to Makers Unite in Baltimore, MD. At the time, they were asking us to use the Prusa v.RC2 face shield design.  In the meantime our CEO was communicating with local first responders, and Medstar Saint Mary’s communicated that they were running low on face shields. We used the Prusa v.RC2 face shield, but we made some minor changes so they would print faster. The straps are our design. We tried several designs including the strapless, but we received the best feedback from the modified Prusa v.RC2.

What material are you printing with?
PLA for the frame. NinjaFlex TPU 85 for the straps. The clear screens are made from clear acetate or PVC sheets.

Who are you printing this design for?
Medstar Saint Mary’s Hospital, Charlotte Hall VA Clinic, several nursing homes and private practices.

What has working on this project been like for you?
It has been busy, but rewarding. I wasn’t the only person contributing. My CEO John OConnell did the leg work, and my coworker Cedrick La Marca assisted with the CAD designs and resin printing. In addition to the face shields, we also printed spare ventilator parts for Saint Mary’s Hospital. Everything was donated free of charge.

Our story was featured on WJLA-TV Washington DC ABC affiliate.

Compendium Federal Technology LLC can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/compendiumfederaltechnology.llc/

Are you a re:3D Gigabot customer working on COVID-19 efforts? We’d be happy to add your work to this blog. Email us: info@re3d.org 

COVID-19 Update: Operations, Serving Educators & Joining the Fight

Update May 29, 2020

It’s been a month since our last update, and our COVID-19 response is still going strong! On May 12, we were honored to receive an honorable mention in the America Makes Fit to Face – Mask Design Challenge.  Designer Mike Battaglia and Engineer Samantha Reeve submitted a mask in two sizes designed to be printed with NinjaTek Cheetah. We continue to collaborate with projects for supplying PPE and consulting on new solutions for face shields to ventilators.

Our Houston factory is still closed to the public, but our team remains committed to building your Gigabots and filling your supply orders and service needs.

Gigabot customers around the world are tirelessly supporting their communities and we are honored to share their stories. If you have been doing COVID-19 work, we’d love to hear from you!

AUSTIN UPDATE
Thanks to the efforts of so many groups in the city, the PPE needs for healthcare workers there have been met and we have wound down our collection boxes for 3D printed PPE.

HOUSTON UPDATE
As the city begins to open back up we have teamed up with Impact Hub Houston on PPE for the People, an effort to provide PPE to workers in minority and under-served communities who are at greater risk of critical illness from COVID-19. Please support this project by sharing, donating and letting local businesses know about the opportunity.

PUERTO RICO UPDATE
The PPE support work in Puerto Rico continues and the Gigabot collaboration at Engine-4 keeps churning out supplies for the island.

If you’d like to be connected to any local effort we would be happy to make introductions and provide resources. Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org.

Update: April 25, 2020

It’s hard to believe that two more weeks have past since our last post! We continue to aggregate and collect your PPE donations in Austin, Houston and PR. We also (just met the deadline for the America Makes Mask Fit Challenge). The final design will be posted to our NIH 3D print exchange tomorrow:)

We continue to be inspired by YOU, and welcome your pics and videos for future stories!

For those of you looking to help with PPE shortages near Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico, details can be found below:

AUSTIN
There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew, Capital Factory and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here. Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 

Drop off boxes can be found at:
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
Capital Factory
 701 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701
(located in the parking garage, next to the loading dock:)
 
HOUSTON
TXRX is winding down its collection of its 3d printed face shield as they have been able to move to injection molding; a move we fully support! We are keeping our drop box open for community PPE donations and will make sure they get donated to those in need. Currently we can accept: assembled face shields, ear savers and Montana Masks. As we get more requests we will post opportunities here.

The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D Inc
1100 Hercules STE 220 Houston TX 77058
 
PUERTO RICO
The maker community, including a few Gigabots, have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunties to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon, or other groups mobilizing. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shield to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
 
San Juan face shield coordination:
Engine 4 Co-working Space: donation3dprinting@outlook.com
 
Mayaguez Drop-off: 
UPRM Transit and Security, Tránsito y Vigilancia:
Enter UPRM Campus through main gate, and guard will direct you

Update: April 10, 2020

What a week! You all have done an amazing job helping our neighbors & the community at large!

While we continue to iterate this face shield design for the Texas Children’s Hospital (you can view the design on the NIH 3D Print Exchange), as well as hands-free door pulls, we have been blown away by the many Gigabots around the world who are helping with the fight. We’ve started collecting some stories. If you would like to be added, please feel free to share your pictures, details and video with info@re3d.org!


Some of you have also asked how you can use Gigabot and/or other printers to support the local movements near our offices. For those of you looking to help with PPE shortages near Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico, details can be found below:

AUSTIN
There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here. Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 

Drop off boxes can be found at:
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
 
 
 
HOUSTON
TXRX and the amazing maker-community continue to organize face shield collection around Houston.  We are donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  We’ve received up to 300 donations in 6 hours- keep it up!
More information and the design file is available here.
 

The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D Inc
1100 Hercules STE 220 Houston TX 77058
 
 
 
PUERTO RICO
The maker community, including a few Gigabots, have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunties to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon, or other groups mobilizing. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shield to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
 
San Juan face shield coordination:
Engine 4 Co-working Space: donation3dprinting@outlook.com
 
Mayaguez Drop-off: 
UPRM Transit and Security, Tránsito y Vigilancia:
Enter UPRM Campus through main gate, and guard will direct you

 

If you live outside of these areas and/or are seeking ways to contribute:

A Form to Volunteer is Available Here. We will be responding to inquiries this weekend and doing our best to facilitate introductions:)

Update: April 3, 2020

re:3D is working on a number of different projects related to 3D printing and COVID response.  Our Houston factory is helping to support two efforts.  The first is supporting the efforts of TXRX and the amazing maker-community organizing taking place around Houston.  re:3D is donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  Second, the re:3D design team is prototyping a custom face shield design, in conjunction with doctors from Texas Children’s Hospital.  The new design incorporates a pre-cut clear plastic face shield with a 3D printed holder/headband.

In Austin, re:3D is rallying the local maker community.  While there are a number of people working on the 3D printed PPE issue in the Austin area, re:3D is hoping to help organize these efforts.  The Austin team is designing hands-free door pulls and intubation boxes, and we will be releasing all of the 3D printable open-source designs that we have created, including face shields, door pulls and anything else we develop, free of charge. We are opening Austin community drop boxes at multiple locations where anyone who 3D prints can donate their COVID-19 parts. location information will be released as soon as it’s finalized.

In Puerto Rico, re:3D is supporting efforts led by Engine-4 on 3d printing face masks and ventilator splitters. Thanks to efforts by Parallel18, our Gigabot has been relocated to Engine-4 to print for this effort and we are hosting weekly calls for healthcare professionals, designers and makers to organize the community to support creating PPE unique to the needs on the island. We are connecting with every available Gigabot owner on the island to help them join the cause.

For anyone who wants to volunteer to help, please fill out this form.

Updated: March 25, 2020

To our Global Gigabot Family and Supporters,

We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. The 3D printing community is a talented, diverse and compassionate arm of the creative tech ecosystem. We are energized and inspired by the mass mobilization of 3D printing to tackle COVID-19 head-on by providing protective gear to medical personnel, medical equipment to aid victims and filling gaps in supply chains. Every day, you are proving that this technology changes the world for the better. Keep at it!

re:3D IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

We have been closely following COVID-19 developments in our areas and listening to the recommendations from local and federal authorities. The small yet mighty re:3D team has always been mobile and adaptable, and we are continuing our regular operations while keeping the health and safety of our team at the forefront of all considerations. Here’s how:

    • Your Gigabots® are being built and shipped on their regular schedule.
    • Your supply orders are being fulfilled with minimal delay.
    • Your 3D printing, design and 3D scanning services are moving forward as planned.
    • As an essential business, the Houston factory is open and fully operational. In-person visits are restricted to deliveries and pickups only to respect guidance on social distancing.
    • Meetups, walk-in tours and in-person classes are suspended until further notice.
    • Classes will move to online-only as format and demand allows.

$100 SERVICE CREDITS FOR EDUCATORSThe education landscape has dramatically changed in the last few weeks and as many educators gamely adapt to new methods of teaching, you have awed us with your adaptability, tenacity, and positivity. In recognition of your herculean efforts, now through April 10th we are offering to educators a $100 credit, with no minimum purchase required, for re:3D printing, designing and scanning services.

For all those schooling from home, we are extending a 20% off discount on all services (scanning, design, printing, materials testing) for any effort supporting distance learning.

Service quotes can be requested at re3d.org/services

HELPING THE EFFORT TO FIGHT COVID-19

re:3D’s Houston factory is equipped with a printer farm of large-format industrial Gigabot® 3D FFF and FGF printers, a metrology-grade 3D scanner, a full machine shop that includes two CNCs, manual lathe, drill press and cutting tools. This equipment and our team of 25 engineers, designers and technicians is available to fabricate equipment for healthcare providers that has been reviewed for viability and safety by medical professionals. Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org to begin coordination. We are happy to prototype any life-savings device for free in order to expedite review by medical professionals.

For those looking for ways to put your 3D printing know-how to work in the effort to fight COVID-19, we are collecting contact information to share further developments and opportunities to 3D print for those in need.

 A Form to Volunteer is Available Here 

Additionally, a great list of other projects has been curated by our friends at the non-profit Women In 3D Printing.

Stay Healthy and Keep Printing!

  ~Gigabot & The re:3D Team

High-Voltage Innovation: Creating Tools and Training Models with a Utility Company

Here’s a question: when was the last time you thought about what happens when you flip on a light switch?

We take for granted this everyday miracle without much thought to what goes on behind the scenes to make the lights turn on. Only once the power goes out do people suddenly take notice of this invisible luxury that our daily lives rely on. Lighting our homes, charging our devices, refrigerating our food, powering hospitals and public transportation and the nation’s economy – life as we know it hinges on the seamless, invisible flow of electrons we call electricity.

But, perhaps, everyone once in a while, you have taken note – maybe while driving on the highway past towering transmission lines stretching as far as the eye can see – of the massive system around us that goes mostly unnoticed on a daily basis, and how little you know about how that system functions.

Today’s story may change that for you.

The electrical grid in this country is over a century old. The first commercial central power plant in the US – Pearl Street Station in Manhattan – opened in 1882 and served 82 customers.¹ Today, the US electrical grid is made up of over 7,300 power plants and 160,000 miles of high-voltage power lines, serving over 145 million customers.²

The focus of our story today is one of the largest of the roughly 3,000 utility companies keeping the lights on in the US. (Due to company policy they cannot disclose their name in external-company features and thus will remain nameless in this article).

Making safety a priority with hands-on training

Jim Patchen is a high voltage work methods specialist for said utility company. His job is to develop procedures on how to work safely around high voltage. His office is a veritable mini-museum of utility relics from a bygone era.

As equipment from the field has been retired over the years, he’s rescued treasures from a certain fate as scrap metal. Artifacts like ammeters, voltmeters, control switches, and molten and re-hardened piles of metal from errant tool mishaps start at the floor and line shelves up to the ceiling.

As for his collector’s habit, Patchen explains his motivation behind this essential preservation of history. “It is important to understand the legacy of this industry,” he says. “Early on, work methods and tools were quite primitive, but over time they have evolved. It’s good to know where you came from so that you know where you’re going.”

The job of every utility company is to generate electricity and transport it to customers. This is, of course, a highly simplified explanation, but the general flow is as such: electricity is created at a generator – taking the form of power plants, hydroelectric dams, solar panel arrays, or wind turbines – transported along transmission lines, and distributed to communities for end use.

Along the way are substations – the large, somewhat hectic-looking clusters of wires and electrical equipment you may notice while driving on the highway – which transform the electricity into high voltage for fast transport along transmission lines and into lower voltage for its final use in homes and businesses. Far from the chaos that they can appear to be to the untrained eye, substations are meticulously-organized, well-oiled machines that are crucial components of the electrical grid. And while designed for maximum safety of workers, they are also extremely high-voltage environments, which inherently pose a unique set of dangers to those in the vicinity.

“Working in a substation is difficult,” explains Patchen, “because it’s many, many circuits coming into one small location, so the high voltage environment is really concentrated. We have to work really [safely] around that to prevent injuries and incidents that could affect the grid.”

This particular utility company has over 1,000 substations in its service territory. As a work methods specialist, Patchen’s current role revolves around creating procedures to ensure the safety of workers in addition to the integrity of the grid and the power they’re providing to consumers. “If you make a mistake in a substation, you can impact thousands of customers,” he explains. “If I drop a screwdriver in a substation, I can take out 90,000 customers. So, everything we do is critical.”

Workers at the company go through a roughly three-year apprenticeship of rigorous training on how to work safely in such an environment. “Traditional training involves PowerPoints and lecturing,” explains Patchen. Unfortunately, he continues, the retention rate of knowledge taught in these sorts of settings tends to be abysmal. Their goal is to incorporate more tactile learning to keep students engaged throughout lessons.

There is always hands-on training out in the field for all students in the apprenticeship program, but the company wanted the ability to bring this type of learning into classrooms on a daily basis. They saw the value of using scale models of real-world equipment on which students could practice skills like protective grounding in a safe, unenergized environment. The models give students the opportunity to test their proficiency, and teachers the ability to confirm that their lessons are getting through and sticking. “They’re able to practice and prove their understanding of what they’re being taught,” explains Patchen, “and then you’re able to validate knowledge that way.”

Patchen began by building these training models by hand. He estimates that he created his first substation model in 1999, using components that he found at the hardware store. Cardboard tubes and spark plugs come together to form a miniature substation on which students can practice, with no danger of a deadly misstep.

When Patchen caught wind of the powers of 3D printing, its potential to be applied to his work was immediately apparent. “When 3D printing came into the picture, we thought, ‘Oh man, we could really make these models much more realistic.’” He also saw the opportunity to start reproducing models for other locations at a pace that just wasn’t feasible when he was building each one by hand.

“If I was gonna buy a printer, I wanted one with a big print platform,” Patchen recounts. Their size requirements are varied, he explains. Sometimes their prototyping needs are small-scale, but other times they want the ability to create large objects that would dwarf the average desktop printer. “We wanted…a single purchase that would best fit both those kinds of parameters,” he says.

He did his research and found re:3D. “The Gigabot was amazing because of its large platform and the ability to print small and large, no matter what our needs might be.” Patchen is now in the process of 3D modeling his original substation in CAD and printing out its 21st century cousin.

Patchen explains that the company recently invested in a state-of-the-art training facility, where he sees abundant opportunities to use their Gigabot for educational purposes. “Our goal as a utility is to be a leader in our industry,” he says. “In order for us to do that, we have to lead in safety, innovation, and technology. We believe that 3D printing is gonna help us get there.” 

Tool creation from then to now

One challenge of the work is that, between different eras of design and the wide range of equipment manufacturers, a single type of equipment may have several different designs out in the field.

Because of this, there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all tool for every job and every company. This can leave utilities to do their own tool creation when needed, to make the job safer and more efficient for workers and keep power flowing to their customers. Oftentimes, workers see areas for improvement, opportunities for a new tool that doesn’t exist that would make their jobs easier.

“When I first hired on, I was a high-voltage substation electrician. I worked in the field for many years,” explains Patchen. “If you had an idea for a tool that you wanted to create, you would have to draw it on a piece of paper or a napkin and bring it down to a local machine shop, and then they would do their best to build it.” That process, Patchen recounts, could take weeks to months – and that was just to get an initial prototype.

Anyone who’s been through the development of a product knows that the back and forth of the process – when not done in-house – can be quite costly in both time and capital. The first iteration comes back – often after a lengthy lead time – and design flaws become apparent. Revisions are made and submitted, and the process is repeated. More waiting, more money.

“Today with 3D printing, you can take your ideas and concepts and prove them out,” Patchen explains. “The average person can change the industry.”

3D printing cuts down on the tool design process in both the time and cost departments. A design can be printed and reworked on repeat until all the kinks are ironed out. “Then,” Patchen explains, “I could go spend the money at the mill or the machine shop, and it’s actually effective spending at that point.”

It goes without saying that this also slashes a massive amount of time from the process. They can internally turn around dozens of 3D printed iterations and settle on a final design in less time than a machine shop could get a first version back to them. “It’s a very cost-efficient way to change the industry using the field employees’ input.”

The challenges of tool development

Nowadays, Patchen’s tool creation process typically involves a manufacturer, so that when a design is finalized it can be mass-produced and made available on the market to any utility company who may also have a need for it.

There are several challenges that Patchen is confronted with when he’s approached with a tool idea from a field employee.

The first is the broad range of equipment designs that they’re making these tools to service. “In these substations, there’s stuff that was built in 1920, there’s stuff that was built last month,” he explains. This means that the same device with the same function can take different forms depending on what era it’s from. “When we have to build something, we want to make it fit all of those,” he says. “We want to be able to make one product, one time, and do it right.”

The second challenge is their partner in tool creation: the manufacturers. Patchen starts the process by approaching a manufacturer with a tool concept, they come back with an initial design, and the utility workers trial it out in the field. This, Patchen explains, can be tricky with manufacturers who aren’t in their line of work. “A lot of times, when the manufacturer’s trying to understand what your needs are, they’re not in the field, they don’t work in your environment,” he says. “They make tools, [but] they don’t understand how you’re using them.”

This can result in tools that are inconvenient or awkward to use and therefore difficult to actually put into practice, defeating the purpose of creating them in the first place.

With 3D printing, Patchen found a solution to this flaw in their design process. “When you get an end-user involved in creating prototypes, you’re really closing the gap on the amount of time and the cost it takes to create useful tools.”

Now, he and his team handle the early stages of the process, modeling CAD files and printing initial prototypes in-house. By the time they approach a manufacturer with a tool concept, they have a 3D printed prototype that’s already been put through the ringer out in the field. This allows them to leapfrog several steps ahead in the production process. “3D printing has enabled us to improve our innovation when it comes to creating new tools or specialized tools across a very diverse line of equipment,” he explains. “We’re able to come up with concepts, print the prototypes, and trial them out in the field, so when we communicate back to our manufacturer, the data is more accurate.”

Rather than discovering a design flaw after something has been expensively injection-molded, Patchen and his team can work out the kinks on their end and ensure the design they send to a manufacturer is accurate from the get-go. All that’s left to do at that point is create the tooling to mass produce it. Says Patchen, “It saves [the manufacturer] money, it saves us money in the long run, and lots and lots of time.”

At the 2019 ICUEE conference in Louisville, Kentucky – the largest utility and construction trade show in North America – four tools Patchen and his team helped design were on display. It’s a big honor at such a lauded industry event, but his focus remains on safety and sharing innovation so that other utilities across the nation can benefit. “I’m not trying to make money,” says Patchen. “I’m just trying to make it better for the employees in the field.”

Sparking industry innovation through new tool creation

Where taking a tool from concept to a purchasable physical product used to be a months- to years-long process, Patchen explains that 3D printing has given them the ability to slash that development time down into the weeks. “That’s huge when it comes to our type of work where we’re in such a high-voltage, dangerous environment.”

Much of the challenge and danger of the job stems from the simple fact that a utility company’s singular focus is keeping the lights on.

When equipment needs maintenance, they do what they can to keep the power flowing. This means that workers are almost always working near energized, high-voltage equipment – hence the necessity of Patchen’s job. And although there is always an inherent level of risk to a job which necessitates working in close proximity to high voltage, Patchen’s aim is to protect workers through the development of new tools, training, and work methods.

“Technology is changing our industry,” says Patchen. “Every six months, there is something new.” The blistering pace of innovation lifts the industry as a whole, but the challenge, Patchen explains, is staying on the forefront of that.

“We don’t want to sit back and just watch that happen. We want to be a leader in that,” he explains. “3D printing gives us the ability to be part of that process – to lead innovation.”

One ubiquitous tool used in the field is a live line stick, commonly known in the business as a hot stick. The lengthy, fiberglass poles allow utility workers to perform a variety of tasks on energized equipment, insulating them from the electricity and keeping them at a distance from machinery in the case of a malfunction or electrical arcing. The end of the stick operates as a mount for a variety of different accessories that serve a wide range of purposes, like pulling fuse and operating switches. 

One hot stick variation that Patchen’s team uses is a switch lubricator. Workers were struggling to open sticky switches, often having to use a stick to forcibly hit at a switch five or six times. They remedied this with a hot stick that dispenses lubricant onto a switch so that it can be opened easily with one knock.

Part of the design is a control unit, mounted on the opposite end of the hot stick, with a button for the user to dispense the lubricant. The unit the manufacturer sent was large and clunky: a worker had to remove a hand from the stick in order to get to the button, sacrificing dexterity.

Patchen designed a new mount with a slim profile – probably a quarter of the size of the original unit – enabling the stick operator to keep both hands on the pole and simply move a thumb to hit the button. “We were able to use our 3D printer to create this new prototype that’s much more ergonomic and gives the end user more control when working in an energized, high-voltage environment.” Printed on their Gigabot and mounted to the pole with velcro straps, the new unit Patchen created is being adopted by the manufacturer as an option on new purchases.

Gigabot has opened a door for Patchen and his team, and the tool requests are streaming in.

There was the gas cap to attach a generator to an extended time fuel tank, out of stock when they desperately needed it during a widespread emergency and power outage. Patchen 3D printed it.

There was the camera mount hot stick used to inspect energized equipment that carried a price tag of nearly $500. Patchen printed it. Their 3D printed version of the mount attaches to other sticks they already have, at a grand total of $1.67 apiece.

The list goes on.

“We were recently approached by several field crews to create a special plastic cover that would protect them in high voltage environments,” Patchen says. There was no product on the market that fit the bill, so he got to work on a design with a manufacturer.

The equipment that needed to be covered took a wide range of forms in the field, complicating the product development process. Patchen gave the manufacturer drawings of the equipment and their product idea. Eight months later they still didn’t have a workable prototype.

Patchen stepped in. “I used my 3D printer, made a prototype, and got the product finished within three weeks. Now it’s actually purchasable on the market.”

But perhaps Patchen’s most impressive project of all is a small, unassuming plastic hook.

He and his team were confronted with a scenario in which they needed to perform maintenance on a 500 kV substation. “In our system, the highest voltage that we have – and one of our most critical circuits – is the 500 kV,” he explains. “To clear that equipment or take it out of service, we’d have to de-energize the whole grid, which can be quite costly – tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

A teammate came to him with an idea to circumvent the clearance with the help of a specially-designed plastic barrier which would allow them to safely perform maintenance without shutting down the system.

The solution came in the form of a rectangular-shaped, high-voltage plastic cover, which would enclose each of the 13.8 kV circuits that connect to the main 500 kV bank. The covers would be mounted from below and secured in place with rubber rope and plastic hooks. The hooks that the manufacturer sent with the covers, however, posed a problem.

Maneuvering from the ground at the end of a 14 foot hot stick, a worker had to insert one end of the hook into the eyelet of the plastic cover in order to fasten it. Workers were finding the hook’s design difficult to navigate into place at such an angle.

Patchen took the feedback from the field employees, reworked the hook’s design, and printed out a new version on their Gigabot. The slight tweaks to the hook’s form were a game-changer. Where workers previously had to fight the old hook into the eyelet at an awkward angle, the new design naturally wants to snap into place.

“This small, plastic hook took about three hours to print, and it cost around five dollars.” Patchen can’t underscore its value enough. “We were able to take that [3D printed] hook and share it with other crews, and we avoided many, many 500 kV clearances because of it. This small, five dollar device saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

He smiles and gestures towards their Gigabot. “That’s paid for the printer quite a few times.”

CES 2020: The Return of Gigabot X!

In October 2019, re:3D was honored to win the Startup of The Year competition at the SOTY Summit in Memphis, TN. The Startup of the Year team has been incredibly supportive since our win, and one of the great opportunities they provided us was to showcase Gigabot X, our 3D printer which prints with pellets, regrind and shredded plastic waste, last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas, NV.

You may remember the epic road trip that we took to get our team to CES last year (there were aliens involved!), and though this year we traveled in a slightly more conventional way, there were still plenty of laughs, mind-blowing tech and of course chats with new friends about #3DPrintingWithPurpose.

The re:3D Team at our CES booth. Samantha Snabes is sitting in a 3D printed chair designed by Mike Battaglia.

We exhibited in the 3D Printing row in Eureka Park at the Sands Expo, sandwiched between fellow 3D printing innovators, Plasmics and coffee gurus, Spinn. No, Spinn doesn’t 3D print their coffee, but it was, as the kids would say, dank!!

All week our booth was packed with visitors from around the world, initially drawn in by Gigabot X’s huge build volume and staying to learn more when we told them we were printing rockets with 100% Recycled PET pellets. Recycling and reusing plastics in 3D printers drew companies interested in sustainability, and we were thrilled to share that because of our partnership with Habitat for Humanity, our 3D printed chair was using 100% reclaimed materials: the rPET sides were supported by wooden slats made from unused scrap wood donated to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

The Startup of the Year trophy was our constant companion as we traipsed around Las Vegas, providing treats from its gilded cup to curious onlookers like some sort of bountiful cornucopia. Above, it graces our booth, an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, AFWERX Vegas and the Hackster.io party.

Samantha pitches at NASA iTech.

We joined an innovative group of technology startups to pitch at the NASA iTech Ignite the Night competition. co-Founder and Catalyst, Samantha Snabes shared our goals to put a Gigabot X in space as a means to recycle plastics into new tools for astronauts. We are thrilled for winner Otolith Labs who has created a wearable to reduce vertigo in astronauts. Many thanks to NASA iTech for the amazing opportunity which led to great conversations and potential collaborations to come!

3D Printing nerds that we are, we had a chance to check out what the rest of our industry friends were up to. Here’s a sample of gems from around CES:

Finally, some of us had the honor to volunteer as judges for the IEEE Entrepreneurship N3XT Stars Competition, which we won in 2018. From all the startups in Eureka Park, five finalists who most embody IEEE’s mission to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity were chosen and then narrowed down to three winners. Check out the new N3XT Stars: Longan VisionSafeware, and Waverly Labs!

Thanks to all of our customers who stopped by for a high five and to all the new friends who helped spread our #3DPrintingWithPurpose mission throughout CES and beyond. Until next time, Vegas!

Gigabot 3+ Updates for Fall 2019

re:3D’s Research and Development team never stands still, and while we’re developing the next generation of your Gigabot® and Gigabot® X 3D Printers, we’re continually looking for ways to refine the current iteration’s user experience, precision, and quality. As of October 1, 2019, all new Gigabot®3+ 3D printers ship with the below enhancements. Current Gigabot® owners can order these as replacement parts that are fully compatible with previous versions.

Major Changes

LED Light Cover

To enhance user comfort and safety, we’ve created a full length 3D printed cover that fits over the top of the front-mounted LED light strip.

Printed Extruder indicators and part numbers

Our Unibody Extruder design, which was released this past spring, as well as our Filament Detection units now features numerical hot end indicator labels for a visual aid for filament loading. Additionally, these and many other 3D printed parts now include part and revision numbers. Not sure what a part is called? Search our store using the part number or share the part number with customer support to help streamline troubleshooting communication.

FIRMWARE RELEASE VERSION 4.2.3

Our newest iteration of Gigabot®3+ firmware has been posted at wiki.re3d.org along with instructions for how to flash your firmware. This firmware update includes the following changes:

  • Increased electrical current to X and Y motors to prevent layer shifts.
  • Decreased filament feed rate during the Filament Change routine for easier purging.
  • Minor Bug Fixes

Fit and Strength Adjustments for Polycarbonate 3D Printed Parts

The following parts have had material added for improved strength and durability:

  • 10870 Extruder Tensioner Left 
  • 10871 Extruder Tensioner Right 

The below parts have had their designs modified for better fit or print quality:

  • 11157 Gigabox Magnet Bracket 1 
  • 11245 Gigabox Magnet Bracket 3
  • 11158 Gigabox Magnet Bracket 4
  • 11159 Gigabox Y Support Magnet Bracket
  • 11238 Gigabox Enclosure Corner Cap
  • 10511 XY Upright Cover
  • 11251 Filament Detection Cover Right
  • 11252 Filament Detection Cover Left
  • 10599 Filament Tube Connector

We’ve upped the durability and longevity of our head cable and added 3D printed wire separators inside the cable carrier to protect the electrical wiring as it rolls and unrolls during normal Gigabot® operation.

Under the category of non-3D printed parts, we’ve thickened our bed plates to improve strength and rigidity. The square, left and right leveling blocks attached to the bed frame have had fit adjustments. We’ve also adjusted hole spacing for Gigabox Enclosure panels and split the top panel on the Gigabox Enclosure into two pieces. This improves manufacturing quality as well as increases modularity, as one piece can now be removed for venting or other customizations.

Do you have an improvement or a design change you’d like to see for this or future versions of Gigabot®? Fill out our New Feature Request form and share your ideas with us!

Saying ‘I Do!’ To 3D Printing For A Wedding

It’s that lovely time of year again where love is all amongst us as weddings are galore! More than a handful of our teammates have utilized the power of 3D printing with Gigabot to create wedding decor that reduces costs while optimizing creative expression & personalization… so we thought we’d share their applications in hopes to inspire 3D printing for your special day.

4 Ways To Utilize 3D Printing For A Wedding (& Why You Should)

3D Printed Wall Decor Lighting Up The Dance Floor 

Jeric 3D printed and assembled an LED sign for his sister’s wedding. The printed parts took 14 hours in total to make using a combination of PLA & PETG – PETG for the front, translucent part of the sign and PLA for everything else. He used super glue and hot glue to hold everything together. He also installed LEDs throughout the inside – the LEDs are RGB and have a transmitter connected, so they can use a remote to control the color and light-up patterns. Check out the photos from the full build process in this album.

Why use 3D printing?

“3D printing gave me amazing flexibility in the design, but also let me quickly build a functional 3D design.”
Jeric Bautista

The 3D Printed Icing On Top of the Cake: 3D Printed Wedding Toppers

Alessandra designed & 3D printed ‘Mr&Mrs’ wedding cake toppers and table decorations for Samantha Snabes’ sister’s wedding. They took about 1 hour to design and model for each print and the wedding cake topper took approximately 1 hour to print while the table decoration took about 43 hours to print using silver PLA. The prints were then spraypainted with gold. Access the wedding topper designs for free here on our Sketchfab

Why use 3D printing?

"Weddings are expensive but custom wedding items are extremely expensive. With 3D printing, you can literally shape your dreams without having to go bankrupt. Time-wise, I was able to get a specific picture from the customer's Pinterest and generate a 3D model under 1 hour. Even if one of the models takes 43 hours to print, you can leave Gigabot in charge while you go home, watch series and take a nap, so you virtually save those 43 hours of possible manual work.”
Alessandra Montano
3D Printed Wedding Cake Topper

A Trove of Treasures In A 3D Printed Chest: 3D Printing Gifts

Mike B. 3D printed a Zelda treasure chest for a Zelda themed wedding. The chest had a slot at the top to drop in gift cards. He also 3D scans newlyweds when he goes to weddings and ships them print-outs of themselves a few months later. For the Zelda treasure chest, he used hinges from the hardware store, a bit of Bondo to give a wood texture, acrylic paint, and a clear coat. The design took 2 hours, and Mike kept changing it to look more authentic to the game. The portraits were printed in white PLA and scanned with a Structure Sensor. Scans were cleaned up a bit in MeshMixer.

Why use 3D printing?

"For many fabricated items, the materials inform the design but with 3D printing, you can make virtually anything if you can model it. A treasure chest would traditionally be made with wood and metal. You can mimic lots of different fabrication methods all with the same two tools, a CAD program, and a Gigabot. The Zelda treasure chest needed to look cartoony so in this case, it was actually easier to prime/paint than a metal/wood fabrication would have been. 3D printing is indispensable for prop design! For the scans, someone would have had to sculpt them; this was more of a portrait captured at the moment which I think is special.”
Mike Battaglia

3D Printed Accessories: A Life-Sized Diamond Isn’t Tough

Tammie 3D printed a diamond to be a light within a large diamond ring to further accessorize the wedding. She used natural PLA and it took 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the print using Gigabot and didn’t do any post-processing work on the prints.

Why use 3D printing?

“I would have never found a diamond this large to display for the day! Thankfully for the size of Gigabot and the versatility of 3D printing, it was made possible.”
Tammie Vargas

There you have it! Four special 3D printing applications for very special days. Don’t forget to check out the pics above and free downloads on our Sketchfab! Also, we’d love to know – what have you printed for weddings & special occasions? Don’t hesitate to share on our forum! Until then…happy printing ever after 🙂

FFF1: Our FFF1rst Polymer Derby

On April 9, 2019 re:3D hosted the first annual FFF1: Polymer Derby!  You may be wracking your brain trying to figure out what we are talking about here, so let me explain:

We challenged each other to a gravity car racing competition.  Quite similar to a Pinewood Derby (in fact we borrowed a pinewood derby track from local Cub Scout Pack 595) – each competitor designed a car, printed it on Gigabot, attached some wheels – and we were off to the races on derby day!

As a distributed team, with competitors in Houston, Austin, Puerto Rico, and New York – we established a rule from the start that you must design your own car  and if you require help with your design (since not everyone is a 3D design wizz) you had to reach out to someone in a different location from your home office.

We thought this was a great opportunity to not only get everyone designing and printing in 3D – but to also make sure that our distributed team members interacted with someone from a different office on something fun that wasn’t just work related.

Almost immediately after announcing the competition, (in mid-January) we had questions, everyone wanted to know the rules, which admittedly didn’t yet exist, and our engineers were particularly interested in finding loopholes in said rules so that they could cheat the system.  I promised the team that I would write-up an entire tome of rules and got to work, we started with the basic size parameters (borrowed from the pinewood derby to fit their track), and then added layer upon layer of bureaucracy and ridiculousness on top of what should be a relatively straightforward idea (I will post rules examples at the very end of this post).

The cars had to:

  • Weigh no more than 5.00 oz
  • Length shall not exceed 7 in
  • Width shall not exceed 2.75 in
  • Car must have 5/16″ clearance underneath
  • Wheels must be unmodified (we gave everyone a standard set of wheels)

Ultimately the designs were up to each individual’s creativity.

Come derby day, there was an amazing diversity in designs.  The track was setup in the front showroom of our Houston HQ.  We had an official weigh-in and measurement period to check that all cars conformed to the rules.  We made up t-shirts to memorialize the day.  And then we started the competition.

Each competitor chose a number from a hat – to get randomly assigned a place on our competition bracket.  We then competed best out of 3 heats, with racers switching sides (there were only 2 racers at a time) after each heat. As the day went on, the biggest determining factor in the fastest cars was the weight.  Any racer that was below 5.00 oz was at a distinct disadvantage, and all of the cars in the quarter-finals and beyond were at the target weight exactly.

When all was said and done we had a winner! Technically we had two winners – the Fastest Car – won the racing piece of the competition.  The Flyest Ride – was voted as the best looking car by all of the competitors.   Congratulations to Samantha (fastest car) and Mitch (flyest ride).

Stay tuned for more Polymer Derby fun, as this will definitely become an annual event at re:3D, and perhaps across the world?!  Sign-up for our newsletter to always be up-to-date on what’s happening at re:3D.

Looking forward to next year's competition!

International Polymer Derby Congress Rules & Regulations (These are just a small sampling of the rules for this competition):

  1. Cars shall be 3D printed – in any material that is currently able to be 3D printed.
  2. The majority of the car shall be printed on an FFF/FDM style 3D printer, but does not have to be printed in one piece.
  3. The car must be free-wheeling, with no starting or propulsion devices

Inspections:

The day of the race, while style voting and race seeding is taking place, race officials will open the Inspection Zone:

  1. Cars will be Inspected individually for conformity to all rules of the IPDC and the Polymer Derby Championship Racing Series (PDCRS).
  2. Each car will be weighed (see weight requirements Sec. 1.2 A-I. above)
  3. Each car will be measured for length, width, ground clearance, and wheel clearance (Sec. 1.2B – I-IV).
  4. Each car will be thoroughly inspected for any potential safety or hazard violations
  5. Each car’s wheels will be gone over with a fine tooth comb, as modification of stock wheels is strictly prohibited (In accordance with Sec. 1.2 C – I & II)
    1. Any car found to have illegal modifications to the wheels is subject to being gleefully smashed with a hammer by a race official (viewer discretion is advised)

Failed Inspections:

  1. Any competitor’s car that is found to not pass inspection will have an opportunity to adjust/fix their vehicle and have it re-inspected. An explanation of why the car failed inspection will be given to each competitor and the racer will have 10 minutes to make the proper adjustments to bring their vehicle into conformity with the race rules.
  2. If the racer fails to bring their car into conformity within 10 minutes, fails to present their car for re-inspection before the 10 minute time period is up, OR fails the inspection for a second time – the car is no longer eligible for the Fastest or Flyest awards (Sec. 8 Subsec I-III.), but is eligible for the Junker award (Sec. 8 Subsec. IV.).
    1. Cars that fail the secondary inspection may still participate in the tournament for fun, but will not be eligible to win.
    2. If you make illegal modifications that go undetected by the judges, but manage to make your first run before judges take notice, you may continue using your illegal car without reprimand. Gamble at your own risk.

Style Voting:

While the fastest car down the track is the ultimate winner – there will be style points given out for the car that looks the best.

  1. Subjective voting will take place by each competitor at the beginning of the competition.
  2. The voters/competitors may use any method of determining the best “looking” car that they see fit.
  3. Each competitor will fill out a secret ballot to determine their favorite car.
  4. Each competitor will vote only once and can not vote for themselves
  5. Bribes for style votes, while not illegal, are harshly discouraged.

Grievances:

Official grievances may be filed.

  1. For a grievance about a particular heat/race the grievance will only be valid if:
    1. Filed within 180 seconds of the race ending, in written form, adhering to the following parameters:
      1. Printed, in landscape orientation, on standard sized paper (8.5”x11”)
      2. Comic sans font
        1. font size = 17.5pt.
      3. The grievance must follow the standard limerick format
        1. Five lines – 2 long, 2 short, 1 long,
        2. Rhyme scheme AABBA
      4. Sent via USPS standard mail, postage paid to:

International Polymer Derby Congress
Department of Rules, Grievances, and Dispute Resolution
re:3D, Inc
1100 Hercules Ave, Suite 220
Houston, TX 77058

Or hand delivered, with a bow/curtsey, directly to the Rules Czarina or Czarina designate for an immediate ruling

Awards:

  1. Fastest: Fastest car to win the final race, wins the Polymer Derby Champion Award
  2. Flyest: Top vote getting car for style wins the “Best-in-Show” – Flyest Car award
  3. Little Miss Fly-Ride Should the top style car and top speed car be one in the same – the title of “Champion of Champions” or “Little Miss Fly-Ride” will be bestowed upon the winner along with lavish praise and an award of at least one but not to exceed 100 cheap beers.
  4. Junker: The “Junker” award goes to any car that fails to make it down the track, or breaks at any point during the competition.  It is quite embarrassing.
  5. Flunker: The “Flunker” award goes to any car that fails the pre-race inspection, and is not eligible to win awards I-III of this section.

3D Printing Sustainable Energy Solutions After Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria left nearly all people in Puerto Rico without power for months, some places never to have access again and others on a minimum of a five-year timeline before reconnecting to the grid. It also exposed an even deeper problem – the lack of renewable energy alternatives fueling the island with less than 1% of all power coming from renewable sources. A particularly troubling statistic considering Puerto Rico is a place that sees sun and wind all year round. A problem that manifested itself as people waited in 18-22 hour lines at gas stations for Diesel fuel for their generators, cars, and homes to reboot their energy essentials. And for those without generators, lack of power meant lack of refrigeration for necessities like insulin, a major contributor to the 3,000 casualties of Hurricane Maria. The only silver lining is that this tragedy has motivated new renewable energy legislation in Puerto Rico announced this week.

Our team in Puerto Rico decided that Gigabot and 3D printing could get started on making a dent on this problem and set out to 3D print a portable wind turbine with the gusto to charge a cellphone. re:3D hired local maker we met through the Parallel 18 community, a 3D printing enthusiast, founder of MadEra and former Ice Blast HVAC technician, Jean-Yves Auguste Chapiteau, with the knowledge and the know-how to design and 3D print a solution to this challenge.

An Initial Drawing of the 3D Printed Wind Turbine

After 5 months, this 3D printable wind turbine takes 200 hours to print with PLA and costs $200-300 including the electrical components, a cost that is 70-80% less than similar sized turbines on the market. Not to mention, it’s designed for easy installation, it doesn’t require maintenance, and its unique vertical axis design optimizes for capturing omnidirectional wind flow and unpredictable wind patterns common to Puerto Rico. It has the power the power up things such as a tablet, cell phone, and small devices.

This 3D printed wind turbine takes 200 hours to print with PLA and costs $200-300 including the electrical components, a cost that is 70-80% less than similar sized turbines on the market.

While still portable, Gigabot’s large format, human-scale 3D printing capabilities expanded this wind turbine’s boundaries of what was possible to be created and empowered the creation of a bigger, more powerful wind turbine.

Watch the wind turbine in action!

Compared to his past experience 3D printing with desktop printers, Jean shared it was an impactful difference to print with such bigger parameters which led to bigger opportunities to 3D print not just a bigger solution, but a better solution for a difficult problem. But as Jean says, “There’s no difficult job if you have the right tools”.

“There’s no difficult job if you have the right tools”.
Jean Auguste Chapiteau