Category Archives: 3D Printing

Posts about 3D Printing.

How To Install Third Brake Light Cover

This is a really simple install. With your rear hatch door fully open, locate your third brake light. Notice there is a gap between the light housing and the glass window. Slide the brake cover in between the glass and your light housing. You want to make sure the text reads properly if light were to shine through it. It will not fit backwards (unless you force it, it won’t fit well).

If your brake light cover does not use text, you can easily line the bottom tabs (see picture) with the tab locations in my design.

Honda Element Third Brake Light Housing
Honda Element Brake Light cover

The top portion of the cover (when looking at the illustration above) is designed to slip into your weather strip. It might be easier just to watch my video below! The red arrows signify where the cover is securely held when fully installed.

How to install the Honda Element third brake light cover

If you have not already purchased a cover (I offer many designs and even a custom option) please head over to my Etsy page:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/678381898/honda-element-third-brake-light-cover

My Legs vs the Original

I made my best efforts to replicate the original accessory that takes the spare tire cover and turns it into a camping or tailgating table.  The accessory Honda offered has been discontinued.  This makes it very difficult to locate a set of legs.  Sometimes you will spot them for sale second hand.  Usually the person offering this item knows how rare it is, and the price reflects this.  I really liked the idea of creating a set of legs for myself, because I didn’t buy my first Element until late 2016.  I was too late to buy any of these accessories new.

I researched the legs, and read a post somewhere that a set of Coleman legs were really similar.  They supported the table, but didn’t connect.  I hoped if they were close enough I could develop an adapter to solve this issue and at least have a similar set for my own adventures.

You can see the original set of legs, they have a socket where a plastic adapter inserts to secure to the top.  The Coleman legs were designed to connect to a pole, similar to a Lego hand.  I was pleased to see that the Coleman legs did the movement.  3D printing something designed to go through stress to function is not ideal.  My final design accounts for the slight offset as well as allows the legs to connect no matter the direction the ‘Lego’ hand approaches it.  I also had to account for a limited height so the adapter would not impede with the final resting place of the table top (covering the spare).

I went through several changes to reach my final product.  Each of them solved a new problem I faced.
Recreation of the OEM clips in Nylon – Aftermarket Adapters in Nylon – Recreation of the OEM clips in ABS

In the picture above, comparing the original clips to the aftermarket adapters I designed you can see how my design does not allow for movement or flex.  That is because it is not needed.  its a stationary socket that the legs are designed to grip.  Because of this, the aftermarket design is superior.

The Coleman legs have a wider footprint.  This makes them more stable.  They are also constructed with steel.  One of the best parts is that they have a pin in place to stop the sliding mechanism when they are fully extended.  With the original legs you just have to guess as you line it up.  The Coleman legs open so easily too.  The original legs are pretty difficult to spread open.  You could easily open the Coleman legs with one hand.

So at the end of the day, both legs accomplish the same thing.  However, I feel I am selling a superior product.  

  • Steel vs Aluminum
  • Adapter is not prone to snap off
  • Reasonable cost (~60 depending on Coleman’ cost)
  • Wider stance – Table will be more stable and less capable of buckling under stress.
  • Still in production

If you would like to purchase my adapter I sell it on my Etsy store here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/618863326/honda-element-aftermarket-table-kit

To purchase the accompanying legs go here: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-Compact-Folding-Table/20594119

Because a few of you asked, I also recreated the OEM clips.  Those can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/650451190/replacement-oem-element-table-clips

Honda Element Cup Holder Insert

I developed a replaceable cup holder insert that fits certain later models of the Honda Element as well as the 1st generation Honda Pilot.  If you have a Honda Element SC model or a 2009+ model, it will fit in your vehicle.  The reason I created this product is because I could not fit my Nalgene style water bottle into my original cup holder.  So I would have it laying down in the passenger seat.  Sometimes I would not have the lid completely on, and that would result in a wet seat.

So I created this for myself and was very pleased with the results.  It worked, and it was simple.  I shared this on a Facebook group for Element owners, and it was quite popular.  Many people asked it they could also have one, but i was just not setup for that sort of thing.  Enough people started to ask, and someone in a similar situation suggested I start an Etsy page.  So this is the product that started my Etsy store.

So its a direct snap in replacement that comes in 3 different styles (standard 2 cup, single with phone slot, and deluxe).  The two are pretty self explanatory, but with the deluxe I tried to make something for the daily commuter.  It has a place to organize change, two pen holders, a phone holder as well as the larger cup opening.  If your thermos of choice still has a handle, you’ll be limited to the 2 cup version.  Otherwise, you are able to try out the others.  Also, they stack nicely and can fit in your glove box when they are not in use.  So just owning one is not necessary.  I have printed them in a few different colors,  Most people request black.

I print this in ABS at 50% infill.  I am trying to create a long lasting product knowing that these things will likely never be injection molded.  I have to be realistic.  I created a replacement part for a car that has not been in production for 8 years now.  Additive manufacturing is fantastic for rapid prototyping, and for a small batch of products, its a perfect solution.

To purchase, please visit my esty listing.  Honda Element & Pilot Replacement Cup Holder Insert (Fits 1000ml Nalgene and 32 oz HydroFlask Bottles + more!)

My 2nd Product

I took a shorter break from 3D printing when my original printer continued to have heat bed problems.  Having a print fail a few hours in is frustrating and deeply disappointing when you expect results.  Not having a 3D printer didn’t stop my mind from thinking about what I wanted to print.  However, it did stop me from designing anything, because I knew I wasn’t going to print it.  Once I did buy the new printer and get past the upgrades and calibration prints I started to design some of the things on my mind.  I also badly needed new batteries for my digital caliper!  So my first functional print was actually a super simple plastic part that keeps my triple monitors aligned on their mount.  Its just a little clip that has a tiny bit of friction grip.  I had an issue when I would slightly bump the monitors they would rotate out of alignment.  These clips made it super simple to keep things in perfect alignment.  Unfortunately, every monitor in the world is designed differently, so my print is extremely personal to my needs.

The next print I started working on actually has some function for others.  I designed a replacement cup holder for my 2011 Honda Element.  I shared this on a Honda Element Facebook group and many people where interested in what I had created.  Its actually the reason I created an Etsy store.  My designs purpose is to fit a larger water bottle, something the original cup holders failed to do.  The reason I believe this has some value is because the Honda Element is a popular camping vehicle.  The bottles in particular I was trying to fit are the Nalgene style 32 oz (1000 ml) bottles.  They are perfect for camping.  They have the volume measurements on the side of the bottle, and screw top lids for mixing / shaking.  They are also massive, so its no wonder the cup holders were not designed to hold it.

So I showed my design on Facebook and sold a few just through PayPal, but it was suggested I open an Etsy store.  It was a great suggestion.  Even though they take a little off the top, they provide a way to print shipping labels really easily, and handle so much more.  Its also likely that their user base will showcase my products before I advertise them on my own.  So the Element cup holder (also happens to fit the first generation Honda Pilot) was a big hit on the posts I made.  Unfortunately not as many people have bought the replacement inserts.  At this time, I have only sold 3.  I am not complaining, but I assumed I would be making more of them.  The trouble with this insert is that it only fits some of the later models of Element.  Also, I don’t believe everyone has issues with their water bottle not fitting.  They probably just have a smaller water bottle!  However, I did end up solving some other issues like designing a different place to put your mobile phone.  The element doesn’t really have any great places for sitting your phone when you are driving.

I’m Back!

After a long 3 year break I am writing another blog entry.  So much has changed from the time I stopped posting.  I am married, I bought a different car, I’ve traveled outside of the United States, I went on a trip to Las Vegas, and now I own not one but four 3D printers.  Of course way more than that has changed, I started gardening again and I have probably another 5 hobbies I shouldn’t have taken on.  I also started an Etsy store.

My kit built 3D printer eventually started to have issues with the relay that controls the heat bed.  I believe I can resolve this issue, but instead purchased a new printer suited for my preferred printing styles.  I like ABS functional parts.  That feeling of creating something that resolves a problem in your daily life, no matter how simple, is amazing.  ABS is a great plastic for that purpose, so a purpose built enclosed printer is ideal.  My Prusa i3v MakerFarm was too open, and too big.  When I fix it I plan on printing mostly low warping plastics with it.  That 12″ cubed print area is still a very appealing feature, and to think its 3 years old!

So I ended up buying the Monoprice Maker Ultimate Printer.  It is a copy of the Wanhao Duplicator 6.  It has a steal frame and different movement than the Prusa.  Obviously it can also be fully enclosed with a purchased Plexiglass kit.  Printing ABS with this printer is everything I expected.  I have not attempted to print anything too tall yet, but the parts I have printed are strong and so incredibly accurate.  I also recently started printing with Nylon!  It even has infused carbon fibers.  I’m not sure of this particular brand of filament, but others claim to be as strong as aluminum.  The wear on the printer (nozzle mostly) will slightly be effected, but the results are worth it.  It does tent to ooze out way more than ABS, but somehow i don’t have stringing.  I still have the same settings I use with ABS on retraction and print speed.  Really, the only thing I changed was the printing temperature and the bed temperature.  Plus I had to start using glue stick again for first layer adhesion.

I also started using Simplify3D.  It seemed like the way to go.  I suppose its a big jump to go from free to paid software, but it seems like a great choice.  The gcode preview alone will save me on failed prints over time.

So that’s a little about what I am currently working on!  See you in 2024! (kidding, hopefully)

Extended Battery Tripod Mount

If you have ever used you phone for an extended period of time taking video or pictures, you will notice it is a huge drain on your precious battery.  My first product I designed and printed was a tripod holder for your mobile device.  It works great, but now I am left with an empty battery in minutes, especially if recording video.

So I decided to make a mount and holster for my extended battery.  Now I can record for as long as I like!  The only problem with my design is that it will likely only fit my particular tripod.  This was a simple enough design to create, so if you don’t have my exact tripod, hopefully you can create one (or modify mine).

Sorry for the potato quality pictures, since my phone is pictured as an example, I had to use my tablet.

 

With this design, it will firmly grip to the side of a tripod leg with no tools required.

The extended battery I am using can be purchased here: Jockery 12000 mAh Battery Extender

If you are interested in downloading this file, it can be seen on Thingiverse.

 

Modified_Headphone_Hanger

How to modify an STL File

There are so many creations on Thingiverse, and still you may not have that perfect model that’s an exact fit for your needs.  What you can do is grab the STL file and modify it in your 3D modeling software.  My software of choice is SketchUp.  I get by just fine using the free version.  If I were making any money with my models, I would have to upgrade to Pro.  Otherwise, I have yet to run into any real limitations.

Modifying existing drawings is a great way to get a head start on your designs or just improve existing designs for your benefit.  Please be sure to give credit where credit is due and respect the model’s license agreement.

In my example I modified a headphone hook.  This persons file was simple and perfect for my needs, except I needed to adapt it to my desks thickness.

Before you begin, I will assume you have already donloaded and installed Sketchup.  If not, do that now.  You can grab it from SketchUp.com.  It’s available for Mac OS and Windows computers.  Once you have that installed you need to get one additional plugin.  This will give you the ability to import and export STL files.  You can download that from here: https://extensions.sketchup.com/en/content/sketchup-stl.

In order to download this plugin (or extension) you will need to authenticate with your Google account.  If you don’t have a Google account you will need to create one.  Once you authenticate and download this sketchup-stl extension you can install it under Window > Preferences > Extensions> Install Extension…

Install-Extention

  1. First you need to download the STL that you are wanting to modify.
  2. Open SketchUp to an appropriate template (millimeters for me)
  3. Import your newly downloaded STL file.  File > Import…
    Change the file type to STL (STereo Lithography Files)
    Click Options, Check both boxes and Select 
    Millimeters


  4. Inspect your file for any defects, and fix problems.
  5. Stretch or modify your file.
  6. Export newly created STL and compare in Slic3r.

 

Here is the finished product:

Modified_Headphone_Hanger

Universal_Phone_Tripod_Mount_2

My First Product

I created my first 3D printed product.  It is a universal phone mount for a tripod.  I had to print it a couple times to get the design just right, but I feel like I learned a ton along the way.  I used Sketchup to design the print.  The reason I made my own design when others have STL files available is because all of them seemed to require a nut from the hardware store.  While that is probably a more universal fit for every tripod, it involved a trip to the store.  I made my design in mind of not purchasing any additional hardware (I happen to have rubber bands lying around).

My tripod has a 41 x 41 mm (1 5/8 x 1 5/8 inch) quick release plate on top.  I researched that this is called a 3502 Quick Release Plate.  I designed it with an opening in the center so that I can change out parts and make it more universal.  It is also designed to be wider at the bottom to stop it from pulling completely out.  This same part that slides through the mount plate has a hook at the bottom to secure the rubber band tied to the cap.

The cap is designed to slide in and out of the tallest part to allow for different sized phones.  It also has a few different sizes cut into the portion that grips the phone.  I specifically designed this for my phone and my girlfriends phone (HTC DNA, LG Nexus 7).  I would imagine any of the newer iPhone’s would fit just fine.  If your phone is roughly 70 mm wide it should make a great fit.  The trouble with any fit will likely be your tripod.

 

if you would like to download this print for your own printer, check it out:
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:730489

 

 

MakerFarm_Prusa_i3v_12

My First 3D Printer

I have been dreaming of owning a 3D printer for several years now.  It was hard to justify the purchase of such an expensive hobby when I was still a slave to rent.  Well, I finally bought my first home, so now I can justify it!

I still wanted to be conservative about the price point, and I didn’t want to miss out on any features.  I decided to go with a proven printer that was also a kit.  I went with the Prusa i3v 12 inch model.  This model uses aluminum slotted rails for movement.  I am not personally familiar with the rod models, but I have read my version can print faster.  I also think it adds to the stability of the printer.  Especially since the frame consists of laser cut wood.

So I ordered my kit from MakerFarm for roughly $700 USD.  I added several rolls of PLA and ABS, so it was a little more.  I also upgraded to us RAMBo electronics and a hexagon hot end (0.4mm).

So I ordered the printer and the waiting game began.  There was a 10 business day lead time, so I had to patiently wait for my new toy to arrive.

During that time I read and researched every little upgrade I was going to do.

The printer arrived on time (maybe even a day early).  I waited until the weekend to assemble it.  I dedicated my entire weekend to assembling that printer. I read that it would take roughly 18 hours. I took a much longer time because I am a perfectionist about my assembly and wiring. I gave a lot of thought to every part assembled. I also utilized heat shrink to make every wire safe and clean looking. In the end my printer looks fantastic. Once I did finally get everything assembled and configured my first prints were so good. Makerfarm provided me with a configuration file that leaves very little room for improvement. It was extremely encouraging to see the results I achieved in the first few days.

MakerFarm_Prusa_i3v_12
This is my MakerFarm Prusa i3v 12 inch 3D printer. It was made from a laser cut wood kit.

I have made many improvements since I first assembled the printer. I am now using a 1/8th inch thick mirror glass with clipped corners for my print surface.  I researched that the thin metal surface on a mirror helps distribute the heat from the heat bed more evenly.  I am also utilizing an aero gel insulation under the heat bed.  I implemented this because heat being transferred to the wooden frame was causing issues with warping.  Now the aerogel insulation keeps virtually all heat away from the wooden surface. This means zero warping. Warping causes the y-axis to jiggle as well as distorting the print bed. The print bed is virtually impossible to get perfectly flat across all 144 square inches. I have a cure for that as well.

This problem is solved with a self leveling z-axis.  I utilized some existing plans and models that I printed to accomplish this.  A servo motor controls an arm with a sensor that detects the distance to the print surface. The servo is excellent because it allows the mechanism to pivot out of the way before a print.  This method of setting the z-axis is preferred because it can be mapped in several points on the grid.  This compensates for any warping in the print surface.

Another addition I made to this printer is a print cooling fan. This will improve both ABS and PLA prints.  In order for me to be able to install this upgrade I had to reroute the hexagon hot end always on fan.  It now sits under the larger extruding gear and pulls the air away from the print.  This not only frees up room for the additional fan but improves the airflow.  It requires an ultra tiny fan and a few custom mounting pieces.  Everything was found on Thingiverse.

Some of the more basic things I did to improve my print quality were making sure that I had a stable surface to print on as well as providing a cushion to dampen any vibration.

I have also made a small change the the universal extruder. It was designed for both 3mm and 1.75 mm filament. Using a white Teflon tube I filled the gap and removed any room for filament to jam between the hobbed bolt and the hot end.

I am also hoping to print flexible filaments with this improvement. When I first started printing I had issues with the extruder losing grip of the filament. Luckily I overcame this issue by simply tightening the spring pressure mechanism forcing the hobbed bolt to have more pressure.