Recently, Digilent was entrusted with a Bits From Bytes 3D printer to use as we wish, with the stipulation that we take good care of it. A number of people here are versed in proper operation and maintenance of 3D printers, so the offer was gladly accepted.
3D printers work based on an additive process where different objects are created from, more or less literally, the ground up. Because of this different tactic than the historical building technique of taking a material and “shaving off” the parts you don’t want until you get your final product, it is possible to create a huge variety of things that are extremely difficult or impossible to make, like the quarter in the cube or many of the hollow “solid” objects. The gallery of 3D prints in the office right now are by macetech.
The way that the printer knows how to print a particular object is through a type of file created on a CAD (computer aided design) program. Through this, you could theoretically design and print almost anything. However, we are still limited by forces of nature, like gravity. This means we can’t print a vertical arch from one side to the other without having it fall over.
One of the first things that were printed on our printer are the pink ducts that you can see in the printer to help redirect the air flow from the fan to the extruder head. We have also gotten to print some fun things as well such as the nose of Susan the Line Following Pig, a trebuchet, and a Squirtle.