Jun 27, 2017

My First Impressions With Using ViaCAD

I had some time to play around with ViaCAD and it looks really interesting. I've downloaded the 14-day trial version and used a few simple daily tasks to see how it performs.

First steps in the program interface are very easy and you are greeted with a simple video tutorial on how to create a 3D goblet from 2D drawing in 60 seconds:

From the beginning, I wanted to focus on 3D printing tools which are a part of this CADs features.

The toolbar with 3D Printing tools can be activated in the "Window" menu.

The interface is fast and fluid.

You can define your printer settings from a list of the pre-defined machine or set it manually:

To see how other functions work, I imported the Voronoi "Broken benchy" by T-E-C from Thingiverse. It is a more complicated and harder version of the standard Benchy.

You can check the printability of your model with "3D Print Check" tool. Here is the output screen with some of the errors found, with several being my mistakes of not properly aligning the object or setting the parameters correctly (like print volume).
Very useful!

"Surface normals" tool shows, you guessed it, surface normals :-)

There are tools to show overhangs and wall thickness.

"Slices" tools will show animated slices base on several parameters, they can be saved into several formats. This is not a slicer which generates g-code for printing.

"Support structures" tool enables you to create support pieces and attach them with a mouse click.

With the "Position" tool you can place the object anywhere in selected print volume coordinate manually or with the automatic positions like "Center".

These basic tools were easy to use at this level, time will show how they perform in everyday work during a longer period. For now, I'm satisfied with this CAD software and will continue to us it.

You can get ViaCAD here and test it yourself and download a trial version from PunchCAD homepage:


There are additional 3D Printing "power packs" for ViaCAD with 70+ 3d printing tools, you can see them here:

Punch! PowerPack v10

Here is a video demo:

Maybe I'll get them also in the future. The pack seems to have many tools in one place instead of using multiple apps and sites.

In next post, I'll describe some of my experiences with actual design and learning curve.

Large Arcs Made with TrussFab 3D Printed Hubs

To learn more about TrussFab go to:


Jun 24, 2017

Printrbot Printrbelt

Printrbot just teased their Printrbelt 3D printer with the heated conveyor belt print surface or "Infinite Z" as they described it.  The belt is a steel belt covered in Kapton with adjustable bed height and tension.
It is a direct competitor to BlackBelt 3D printer (which has a bigger print surface) and knowing Printrbot, it should be low cost and open source.

Brook responded in a Tweet:
Yes, Printrbelt will be open source & affordable. I'll do larger sizes. Already have bits designed for 12"x12" window, but this first.
So we can expect larger models in the future.

Short teaser:

More detailed presentation by Brook:

Brook writes:
The Printrbot Printrbelt allows for very long prints, multiple copies of one print, or a whole project of files to be printed in one shot. It is a beta, but too fun to keep to ourselves.
We are working with Polar3D, who has already hacked a printer like this onto an existing printer frame. They are working on the firmware magic in a cloud service to make this mind-bending twist on 3d printing easy for anyone. This will be a neat partnership that takes an important step forward in desktop manufacturing.
Stay tuned for more on this wild 3d printer that brings a new superpower to your desktop at an affordable price.


Looks like we will see much more conveyor belt 3d printers coming up! Competition is great.

Jun 20, 2017

Maslow $350 Open Source CNC Cutting Machine

Maslow CNC is a novel approach to the cutting of large material sheets. It is a hanging or suspended CNC router.
It is open sourced and it comes at $350 price point.

Tech specs:
  • Work Space: 4' X 8' 
  • Encoder Resolution: 8148 steps/rev
  • Repeatability: +- 1/64th inch (.4 mm) or better
  • Max feed rate 48 inches/minute
  • AC Voltage: 110-250 volts
  • DC Voltage: 12 volts
  • Connection: USB
  • OS for Software: Mac, Windows, Linux
  • Size: H: 6' 8" W: 10' D: 1' 7"

Here is the design overview:

Video showing Maslow cutting out an OpenDesk chair:

On Tested show:

Maslow CNC homepage:


Jun 19, 2017

Desktop Metal 3D Printing with Microwave Enhanced Sintering

Here is another revolutionary step forward in 3D printing: the desktop metal 3d printer. It deposits metal "paste" made from metal powder with a polymer binder in a similar way as any common FDM machine and the parts are then sintered in a microwave enhanced furnace chamber.
The price is comparable to higher-end professional FDM machine from a few years ago. They also sell production cell that has much higher capacity for more demanding production facilities.

Tech specs:

  •  Build volume: 12 in x 8 in x 8 in (305 mm x 205 mm x 205 mm)
  •  Materials:  Steel, Titanium, Aluminum, Copper and other undisclosed materials
  •  Layer height: 50 μm (minimum)
  •  Dimensions: 60 in x 49 in x 30 in (1500 mm x 1250 mm x 750 mm)
  •  Technology: Microwave Enhanced Sintering
  •  Price: $120,000 for the desktop version, $250,000+ for manufacturing cell production system

Desktop Metal presentation video:

Here is a much more in-depth video by GoEngineer with many details about the machines, materials, and the process:

Company homepage:


Jun 18, 2017

New DIY CO2 Laser Cutter Project

Here is a new DIY CO2 laser cutter project from Instructables. It was developed by Michiel Deschout and uses relatively available materials and parts like 3030 aluminum T-slot profiles, Arduino and some 3d printed parts. The total cost was some 1900 Euro.
The presented setup uses 40W laser, but the power could probably be increased.

Very detailed step-by-step build guide with all the files can be found at:


Here is the back side with 3d printed holders for the CO2 laser tube:

The latest fashion trend for all you 3d printing geeks

If you are into 3d printing then this is THE style of jacket you should wear!

Detailed project description:

This jacket has 40 neopixels sewn to the back to display the status of the 40 3D Printers in Duke’s Innovation Co-Lab Studio. Each light corresponds to one printer and is either blue (in use), green (available), or red (offline) to show the real-time status of the printer. The printer status is retrieved via Duke’s Innovation Co-Lab’s 3D printer status API, documented here: http://apidocs.colab.duke.edu/.

Instructables page with all the steps and code:


3D Printable Parametric Slew Bearings

Christoph Laimer published  another very useful project. He developed a fully 3D printable and working parametric slew bearings. Since they are developed to be sturdy they can be used in many different project where a simpler 3D printed ball bearing would fail.
Since the design is parametric, you can adapt it to fit your needs. One version even has conical bearings.

Project description:
Ball-bearings are very popular for 3d-printing. However they often fail for real applications. Using Fusion 360 I've created a parametric design of a "Crossed Roller Slew Bearing". The result is a pretty accurate and robust bearing. The bearing including the rollers is 3d-printed in separate parts. There are a few screws needed to clamp the two halves of the inner race together.

Here is the full video:

Thingiverse page:


A360 download page:



THERO project

THERO is a privacy project developed by Román Torre and Ángeles Angulo, that uses a Raspberry Pi with TOR routing. By moving the front panel you change your connection to the external Internet and your privacy.
It uses 3d printing to make the full enclosure and mold for the concrete encased version.

Here are two videos showing how the project was developed:



Project homepage (in Spanish):