Sunday, January 12, 2014

3D printing an adapter piece

Tonight I finally got around to printing the part I needed to provide airflow to the NUC's power converter.

I own SolidWorks (Academic) 2013 and despite going thru many wonderful tutorials on, I could not create the piece to my satisfaction.

Here's the plan:  Take an old CPU cooling fan from an old Pentium Pro server and create an adapter piece so it can sit on top of the power converter enclosure.

It sounds simple!  The fan is a 50mm square and the enclosure is 43mm wide.  I had several ideas on how to do this and I settled on one where two tabs would extend out from below the piece, so it could straddle the enclosure and be attached from outside.  I'd leave the outside tabs intact, without a mounting hole, since I was not sure the best place for it to rest.

Several of my Ultimaker printer friends mentioned how quickly and easily they create things in SketchUp 2013.  After viewing the video tutorials on (a fantastic resource!), I started working on my drawing...

The biggest complaint I have with SketchUp is when creating circles, you can key in the distance you want.  The small holes are 4mm each, however the software, for whatever reason, enters in radius.  Also, resizing an existing object is a bit less intuitive, requiring you to "rescale" it, and if the object has been extruded (thickness added), you have to make sure both sides of the hole are selected.

In short, I struggled to make my simple part despite the "easy" interface.  In both SolidWorks and SketchUp.  Why?  I think while watching the tutorials, I had my mindset on what I needed to make versus learning the principals well.  In short, the impatient learner.

Once I had the part made, I had to Export it into a format the printer's slicing program, CURA, could use.  The only modification I had to do was flip the part upside down.

Just over an hour later, I have the part completed.

Next up is to see how the fan fits on it.  It fits perfectly.

Now I can drill and mount this piece as needed!  

The Ultimaker 3D printer is proving to be a very useful tool in droid building.