1 December 2015

My first 3D design...

I've been having a lot of fun playing with my 3D printer, downloading and printing things posted online.

This is the first object I've created from scratch, and although it's simple, I'm quite proud of the result.

What are these things anyway?
I have a small set of poker chips I use for games with friends. It's OK for 4-5 players but because it has just 200 pieces, and the highest denomination is only 5,000, we sometimes run out of chips.

It's really a very handsome set, and fits nicely in it's wooden box/tray with enough room for exactly 200 chips. There are also a couple of slots in the case intended to hold cards or dealer buttons etc.

However, decks of cards don't fit when the lid's closed for storage. And you only need one dealer button for pretty much all types of poker.

So although there's no room in the box for more chips, there's plenty of room in those slots for some plaques.

...those square-ish things on the right
The next sensible denomination for my set is 25,000 ten of those would round it out nicely (and we could all pretend to be James Bond).

A cute little afternoon project then, I'll design and print some custom poker plaques. To the batcave...

I have no previous experience with 3D modelling software and the myriad programs available are pretty daunting. I read a few tutorials online, watched some youtube videos and set about designing my plaques in Tinkercad.
Tinkercad is a free online 3D modelling program by Autodesk and is part of the 123D family. It's pretty simple in terms of features, but is easy to use for a beginner like me and has a great set of lessons covering all the basics... perfect.

I actually got the inspiration for making these plaques from the luggage-tag lesson on the Tinkercad tutorial page.

It's just a flat box with the dimensions I wanted, filleted edges and the text added on top. Simple.

Tinkercad shows it's limitations with thing like fillets, I remade this in 123D after learning the more powerful software.
drag and drop the numbers and adjust the size with sliders... easy
Et voila... export to .STL, slice with ReplicatorG at 0.2mm layer height and it was ready for a test print.

finished printing the test piece... success!
The clear PLA prototype didn't have enough contrast on the numbers and was a bit dull. But I did have a nice reel of translucent blue material on hand that would look great, and with a bit of silver paint on the lettering they were ready.

I printed these in a hurry because I had a game later that evening. With more time, I might try to print them in two colours.

My printer has dual extruders, meaning I could print in two colours if I wanted, although from what I've read you don't get the cleanest result using both extruders. There's always some oozing plastic from the nozzle that you can't avoid with FDM printers, and it shows up with bleeding colours in the prints.

If I made these again, I'd print a batch of the bases together, change filament, then print the lettering on top in a different colour by exporting the "25000" and base parts as separate STLs. This would give me nice crisp numbers without having to get the paintbrush out.

All-in-all though, I'm happy with the results. It's very satisfying going from an idea to a physical object (albeit a simple one) in an afternoon.

We might not have hoverboards or flying cars yet, but this is the sort of future technology that would have blown 10-year-old-me's mind.

Link to the Tinkercad file


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