This is my first 3d printing project that required more than just downloading an STL and printing it, so thought I’d document it for anyone else learning, even though in the end it’s quite simple! I think given how much time I was spending printing these, folks in the space probably think I’ve gone into production.
Here are the final designs I ended up with:
TNG one is for me, and the Voyager one is for my partner. We might be nerds
- I was always struggling with my headset being in my way on my desk, so thought I should find a solution for it. I looked on etsy and didn’t see anything amazing, so then thought to look on thingiverse and looked through many pages. Eventually I saw the one listed in the remixes which had a bunch of different sizes. I also saw one that had a similar design but something on the top face, so that inspired putting a comm badge for a headset, as that seemed required. I found an appropriate STL for that as well.
- I started playing around with this before even being inducted on the printer. My first attempt was to use FreeCAD. I was able to sort of have both models in the same file, but I doubt it was very good. It also had a lot of extra faces on it so wasn’t very smooth to look at. I left it there until the induction.
- I briefly tried Fusion 360, but the nice feature to create solids from meshes was not in the free license, so abandoned that quickly.
- I am not sure why I chose to try Blender, but that seemed to be the winner. It looked pretty good immediately from importing the STL. It has quite the learning curve, but starting with a video that was specifically about modifying 3d print STL files in blender was helpful. Many video tutorials and googles later to be able to do some simple things needed for this project.
- The steps themselves: I imported the two STLs, resized the comm badge, manually rotated it (I couldn’t find a good way to measure the angles well enough so eyeballed everything), and then did a boolean union. I installed the 3d printer toolkit and it had a bunch of errors, and I let it fix some of them, and I tried cleaning things up, but in the end I just left a bunch of errors. The supports it generates are maybe wrong because of this, but it does seem to work. I used x-ray and grab to adjust the size for my partner’s large desk.
- I made several test prints to see how the comm badge face would look without spending the time to print the rest. I ended up changing which badge file from thingaverse, the depth to stick it out, and also for my partner’s squared up the entire thing to avoid some artefacts. (To just print the face, I made a cube and did a boolean operation on it, but that was after trying a bunch of bisect tools and failing.) I also did some test prints on the full thing with a large layer height to test the fit which required several adjustments.
- My partner wanted white to go with the legs of her desk, but it looked kind of like foam in v1. So once all the parameters were tested individually, I printed the entire thing on the “fine” preset of 0.6mm layers, and it took 6 hours.
- For my grey TNG one, I applied what I had learned and it was smoother. I also wanted to add a clip for my cable since I swap between speakers and headset a lot. I found something suitable in shape and I had no idea if it would really fit, but I also knew that it would be possible but take a long time to actually learn how to do this in CAD, so I hoped it worked. It’s not the most natural in how it’s connected, but for the same reason that I didn’t feel up to redesign it properly.
- V1 of this was pretty good, but I let it print supports “everywhere” which made it look ugly, so I decided to do a V2 using tree supports and while I was at it, move the clip down to see if it would make it hang on the table better (I don’t think it did, because physics)
- V2 looked good, but I needed pliers to put the cable in and this time it snapped it off.
- V3 was the same but I did an ugly hack to increase the size 0.5mm by just moving basically half of the points 0.5mm. This works, though if you did it any further it would be noticeable that it’s not actually proper.
I’m pretty pleased with how they both turned out. Now if you see me printing more of them, it’s for others. I also wrote up some more on 3d printing questions / feedback.