3D Print 2010 vs. 2021

Posted: July 27, 2021 in 3D printing, Art and Design, Uncategorized

Unicycle Two was inspired by the first 3D print object I ever made in 2010 – Unicycle One, which was part of the 52 in 52 project. This first full object project and over 1000 subsequent projects since has been a massive learning experience. The following summarizes the progression that has taken place over these 11 years.

Unicycle Two (2021, foreground) vs. Unicycle One (2010, background) reflects the evolution of progress in creating finished art using 3D print technology. This includes surface finishing as well as approach to body fill and construction.

Not knowing the characteristics of the ABS plastic in 2010, I printed the first fixture solid, which consumed 115 cubic inches of material, at a cost of over $600. Ouch! Over the last 11 years, I have learned a lot about how to create objects with 3D printers, which is reflected in the latest iteration of the Unicycle design.

2010: The first 3D print object, using a Stratasys Dimension bst1200es, was printed solid and is unfinished. The design was done in Rhino CAD, and the separation of colors reflected the numerous sections required to build the fixture up. The driver and electronics are in the base. The arm and head were made from machined copper.
2010: The original Unicycle One was designed in RhinoCAD 3D
2010: The original Unicycle One was printed on a Dimension bst1200es printer in ABS+ material
2021: All current objects are designed in Solidworks Professional, which allows me far greater control over design features and part qualities.
2021: The new Unicycle Two is printed using a Stratasys F370, in ASA material.

In addition to learning the processes and materials involved, I have also developed various processes to properly finish the objects, and assemble them using appropriate adhesives to produce optimal strength. I have tested dozens of adhesives using lab processes to create a library of materials that will generate joints that are strong and long lasting.

I frequently do stress testing to verify object integrity. In the case of Unicycle Two, in a destructive test I discovered three issues that were corrected in further versions. One was a weak seam at the center of the body, another was a too-thin wall section that cased layer cracking, in the upper body, and the final a weakness in the arm detailing that allowed too much flex in the finished assembly. All of these were corrected in the final version of the design.
This is the collection of body parts for the new Unicycle Two, which took close to 50 hours to print, but used significantly less material compared to the original.
The raw printed parts are glued together into larger assemblies. Various solvent based adhesives are used, creating finished assemblies that are as strong in joinery as the components are individually.
Once the joints have cured fully, the parts go through a sanding process to eliminate the print lines and joint visibility.
Painting processes include several stages of priming and finish sanding to achieve the final desired appearance.
The finished parts, ready for assembly, are allowed to cure for at least 5 days, to avoid any damage during final object assembly and light source integration.

With a greater understanding of material properties, assembly creation, light source integration and adaptation of new hardware, the quality of finished objects has improved significantly, as has their strength and appearance.

This snapshot is a preview of the new offerings coming this summer in a collection of 16 new objects now in process. This iteration of the Unicycle not only uses less than half the material of the original, its finished quality is markedly improved as well.

3D printing was once a tool for industrial designers seeking a fast track to hands on prototypes. Today, it is possible for an artist to use the technology to capture a thought from imagination and convert it to tangible object, before the inspiration goes cold. This is an exciting and empowering capability.

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