Making Color Prints in Shapeways

DSCN2340Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working on some canisters I designed and 3D printed for spices. I made the canisters at the end of August and have been using them since then. My printer is incapable of making food-safe items, therefore my design intent was to keep my spices in the plastic bags in which I bought them. My love for the canisters has increased over the last couple of months. I like how they fit neatly in my cabinet, taking up a minimal amount of space.

I know this is not the best design for everyone because I showed them to my daughter and she said she does not want spices to be stacked on top of each other. Keeping this in mind, as I used the canisters, I wanted to take mental notes of any irritation I experienced by having to remove top canisters to reach canisters below them. It turned out that the only annoyances I experienced were due to not labeling some of the canisters properly. I labeled the canisters as part of the model before printing. I prefer the way this looks, but I can easily remedy my annoyance by placing a paper label on the canister.Elephant

Some years ago, I bought a small elephant for my daughter from Shapeways. I thought she would like it and she did. I began to wonder how the canisters would look if I designed them to be printed by Shapeways in color, similar to the elephant. I closed a Shapeways shop I opened around 2014, last year or so, but reopened the shop this year with a new name (that name may change in the future). Wonder led to action, and voilà, I adjusted my design. What I needed to do next was learn how to add color. Canisters

I found a video that demonstrated how to add color to a Shapeways print. I followed the instructions given in the video, but was not able to achieve desirable results. One of the frustrating things about Blender tutorials is obsolesces. The tutorial was made using an earlier version of Blender. I needed to find out what works with the latest version. Through trial and error, I found a method that worked and made a video (see below). Shapeways is running a trial now for printing more of the materials it offers in multi-colors with plans to fully launch multi-material printing in 2019. Sandstone is the only material it offers for color printing now. Since discontinuing porcelain, not any of its materials are food-safe. I will need to address this in another way, such as coating the interior of the canister, if I want to remove the spices from bags.

If you happen to visit my shop now, you will find canisters with no colors and simple cups with colors. What I have learned is that choosing a design for canisters from anything you can imagine is more difficult than choosing a design for a simple cup.

Hamper Stool, A Year Later

It has been over a year since I finished the hamper stool. The photograph above shows its current condition. The front has not changed much since I finished it. Only a couple of the spiral inserts have popped out on occasion. I cannot say the same for the inserts on the sides. I did not want to glue inserts into place in order to change colors whenever I change my shower curtain. I was tempted to glue them after months of trying different tapes to hold them in place. Instead, I came up with the idea of using wire to hold them in place. It is a haphazard solution, but they rarely fall out now.

DSCN2327The inserts were not falling out when I sat down, I could hear them falling when I was in another room. They would fall also, when I moved the stool, but not all the time. As I write this, I realize now what was causing them to fall; vibrations from trains. I live close to freight train tracks and the ground vibrates when trains travel by. I never connected the two events before now.

One other aspect about the stool was troublesome until I figured out a solution. I used plastic bumpers on the dowel tops under the lid. The two in the front were always coming off. I finally cut rings from small round cork pieces and attached them with wood glue. That has been working very well.

Would I make another one?

DSCN2330My answer to that is a resounding yes! I would be working on making one as a sewing stool this very minute if my 3d printer had not lost the ability to make prints wider than 3 inches. I would be finished with at least one cabinet too, if the printer was capable. Instead of trying to stress myself with replacing and configuring parts, I have decided to just get another printer next year. Plus, I would like one with a larger bed in order to make shoe soles.

Would I change anything?

Another resounding yes! I would reduce the number of screws, washers, and bolts by using wire to connect the casings and spiral inserts vertically.  Instead of regular nuts, I would use nylon nuts to prevent nuts from falling loose. I would make the length of the 2″ dowels 16″.

Overall, I love my hamper stool. It has been a useful asset and I still really like the spiral inserts.