3D Printing the Gyrocube
One of the best ways to showcase 3D printing’s plus points is to demonstrate a working object with multiple parts printed as one, we tried this with the UP! Plus back in June when we, quite successfully, printed the Spinning Gyroscope.
Six months on and we have a Formlabs Form 1 in the office and, so far, we’ve only printed smaller parts and the obligatory Eiffel Tower, time to give the machine a real test.
Formlabs famed Kickstarter campaign – in which they achieved funding just shy of $3 million when they were only asking for $100,000 – featured one such working model very prominently.
For $39 Formlabs would print a Gyrocube and ship it out to you, the 425 available went like hot cakes and Formlabs were left with the unenviable task of printing, checking and shipping them all by January 2013, which granted there were some delays on but are now all in the hands of the backers.
Formlabs say they can't release the design for their Gyrocubes, which were adapted from Virtox’s original design, but if you head over to the helpful Formlabs community support forums there’s a fantastic thread on the spinning print.
One poster, Jason A has attached working photos of a Gyrocube and his .form file to the post. This file is opened directly by the software and uses the same supports and orientation as Jason used for his working print, this seemed the logical Gyrocube to try and print.
There was room on the print bed to add a couple more files that needed printing, (including the top of the Eiffel Tower, which I snapped and seem to have a fetish for destroying), printing in the lowest resolution (0.1mm) the three models including the Gyrocube took 4 hours 51 mins to print and at first sight all looked well.
One slight problem we’d with the Form 1 so far is prints remaining sticky after the cleaning process, Googling seemed to suggest a couple of possible issues; firstly that the Alcohol needed cleaning and that darkened rooms could cause trouble.
The Gyrocube could not be sticky or it would not function, we ordered in a fresh batch of Isopropyl Alcohol and cured the print in the tub in direct sunlight. This seemed to do the trick.
The Gyrocube prints slightly off-kilter and then requires you to snap each cube into two points on the previous cube in order for it to spin. This proved tricky at first but after some gentle loosening and more cleaning it now works.
If I was to print it again I'd print on a higher resolution and I’d find a model with higher tips on the connecting points as they seem to slip loose occasionally, but when they stay put the result is quite the marvel even spinning by the power of desk fan.