Why 3D printers are awesome

Now that I’ve managed to entice you with the title I’m going to add the caveat that they are also a right pain in the ass. Home made ones are great in that they are comparatively cheap compared to a Makerbot but at the same time because for the most part they are hacked together from components that can be brought from Mirte 10 Mega and Trademe they can also be extremely finicky. When they are in a good mood and are working though they offer the amazing opportunity to design a 3D model on a computer and then have in your hands 20 minutes (depending on the size) later a solid copy of your design at the cost of approx $1.20.

To demonstrate their usefulness and indispensability I thought I’d post some pictures of parts that I’ve printed for the Trolley project, parts that would otherwise have been impossible to produce without a number of other and on their own more expensive pieces of machining equipment.

Firstly the LED headlights on the front,

IMG_6091 (Resized)

IMG_6098 (Resized)

These are made up of 5 separate parts, a main case and lid, a backing plate sandwiched between the LED’s and the PCB that they are soldered to and 2 clamps to attach the whole bundle to the front of the trolley. The main case would have to be the part that took the most amount of time to print out of any of the parts on this project, 3 ½ hrs >_<

Next up we have the main LCD case and mount. Three parts, a front surround which the LED bolts to, a backing plate that uses the same mounting bolts and a clamp that attached to the back of all this and then bolts onto the square frame of the original handle bars.

IMG_6092 (Resized)

IMG_6093 (Resized)

Thirdly the TPTMs (trusty printed trolley mounts) a total of 14 of these have been used thus far on the Trolley and I imagine that more will be needed before the project is up. 7 minutes to make one of these.

IMG_6094 (Resized)

Forth we have the rear lighting mounts, designed to clamp onto the trolley handle bar and provide a spaced out mounting platform for the rear brake lights and indicators.

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Based upon this basic design we then have the GSM and GPS antenna mounts, These also clamp in a similar manner to the handle bar and only differ in that the mounting platform has been modified to suit whatever is being mounted (GPS mount is the square flat one).

IMG_6096 (Resized)

IMG_6095 (Resized)

We then have three more brackets that are all based upon a similar design again. Firstly the controls for the LED headlights mounted to the front. This takes two buttons and angles them down and in toward the rider.

IMG_6103 (Resized)

Based upon this we then have a slightly beefier version to which the siren controls are mounted. This version differs in that it has more bracing between the horizontal and vertical sections and also has 2 TPTMs as opposed to one on the headlight buttons.

IMG_6101 (Resized)

IMG_6102 (Resized)

Mirrored off this and with some modifications we then have the mounting bracket for the LCD screen for the LED headlights. The screen mounts to the front casing which is then attached to a combined backing plate and mounting clamp. The connector for the LCD pokes out a port in the back of the backing plate, a TPTM attaches all this to the trolley frame.

IMG_6099 (Resized)

IMG_6100 (Resized)

I still have at least one more major part to re-print for this project, namely a cover for the stock throttle electronics. These are quite exposed on the handle bars so a case to protect these really is a must, fortunately should part of the electronics be snapped off the trolley should in theory stop automatically but still… Note I said re-print… the first print of this part demonstrated the finicky nature of 3D printers and how they just love to randomly stop printing 2 hrs through a 2 ½ hr job.

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