Friday, May 24, 2013

PLA Filament Ear Plug

I've got an ear piercing that needs a reasonably-sized plug in it, and I thought I'd use my own company's PLA 3D printer filament to make one. So I took a few samples of 3mm PLA (just hit Diamond Age up for freebies folks!), held them lined up in my fingers, and applied a small blowtorch flame to the free ends to soften them. When they went soft, I squeeze them together and they weld nicely. When you get the temperature right, it welds to itself into a glorious technicolour ribbon, not to your fingertips - practice and keep a bowl of nice, icy cold water handy!

When warmed and soft, the PLA ribbon can be cut with scissors, wrapped around paintbrush handles, squished against flat glass surfaces etc. and generally worked over. So now I can make ear plugs of whatever size I need, depending on how my piercings stretch out.

I've been wearing a cruder version for a month, and the PLA has shown no sign at all of degradation when worn against my skin, so premature biodegrading is not an issue . In fact, the PLA plug is cleaner and my ear more comfortable than the titanium plug in the other ear. I'm wondering what else I can make with it. Ⓥ

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lab Stands

Ever needed lab stands and been unable to nick them from a convenient lab? Well, I need some for propping up photography backdrops, holding hot stuff while it cools, and keeping the bits of the good ol' moonshine still in place. Plus it makes the place look more like Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory and boosts geek cred.

Anyhow, simple solution: Take a 700mm length of 12mm aluminium tube, roughen up one end with a hacksaw, and stick it in a takeaway curry tub full of concrete. It helps to wave a spirit level next to the pole to keep it straight, and if you haven't got a handy lab stand to keep the pole in place with, just tape it to the edge of a table temporarily and put the tub under it on the floor.

For the clamps, I bend 25mmx2mm (1" x 3/32" in old money) aluminium strip into a "U" around a bolt in the vise, pack the arms of the "U" with scrap wood, and drill an 8mm hole through the lot. Remove "U", slide a piece of M8 threaded rod through the holes and add 2x M8 butterfly nuts and 2x M8 washers to make an adjustable arm. Wire your favourite clamp or wooden clothes peg to the free end of it, or just use tape for non-heated jobs.

Geek away. Ⓥ

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spray Booth

Suspended spray booth
Welcome back, long time no write. I have a new workshop in Henderson, but it had no spray booth. But with a little help from my friends, we fixed that. We made a square with four 1.5m long pieces of 15mm electrical conduit held at the corners with 90 degree elbows. So we could reuse things later, we put small woodscrews into the elbows to hold them together rather than using PVC adhesive.

Two pipe saddles hold the square onto the wall by one side so that it can hinge up and down. We actually used M3 spacers to hold the saddles off a little to allow enough room for the pipe to rotate smoothly. Rather than screwing direct to the wall, we screwed into chunks of 2x4 which were then screwed to the wall, or rather a crossbeam at the bottom of an overhead partition wall.

Net result, the square can be folded up against the wall. This is a bit of a reach, so we fastened a couple of eyes waaay up the wall, put cords through them, and tied one end to each of the "free" corners of the square. By anchoring the other end to handy screws in thew wall, we can lower the square until it is horizontal and tie it off.

A few polythene drop-sheets were then secured to the square frame with clear packing tape, like a shower curtain. One split left for the entrance, of course! A diagonal piece of pipe held across the square with cable ties gives a handy thing to dangle spray victims from on long wire hooks.

The floor underneath is protected by an old duvet cover. Some 2x4 offcuts strategically placed around the edges of the drop-sheets stop them from billowing up when the spray gun is used. Seems to work just fine!