There is a little thrill in watching something you designed get built, layer by layer, by a 3D printer.
But it’s a slow thrill.
3D printing, even for a small object, can take a loooooong time. If you’re just trying to make a little widget on a one-off basis, (say a piece for a board game or something), a little wait while one strip of plastic is extruded upon another is no big deal. But for professional designers, speed is, doctoral student Stefanie Mueller says, “mission critical.”
According to Mueller, designers often allow their plans to print overnight, so as to waste less time. But that limits them to “a single iteration per day.” Over a whole design process, that really gums up the works. “A typical iteration process when refining a prototype easily adds up to a week—even though the actual design work may not have taken longer than a day,” she wrote to me. The whole process gets bottlenecked at the 3D printer.
This is why Mueller built faBrickator, a program that marries 3D printing with a building material beloved around the world: Legos. Using faBrickator, designers can sub Legos into their designs, and only print small pieces.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!