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South African Maker’s New Year’s Resolution: Create a New 3D Print Every Day in 2017

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Day 1 3D Print

Do you ever make New Year’s resolutions? While I love New Year’s Eve, I’ve never been a fan of making a big resolution once midnight has come and gone; I think the last one I made was in the fourth grade, when I swore that I would write in my diary every single day that year. I found that diary recently, and except for five short entries, all of the pages were blank. Tom Van den Bon, a maker in South Africa who co-founded the BinarySpace makerspace for other makers living in the Vaal Triangle, made a resolution for 2017 while he was busily 3D printing in the New Year: create a new 3D print every day of the year 2017.

Journalist Clinton Matos, writing for South African tech site htxt.africa, wrote of Van den Bon’s plan, “Unlike most New Year’s resolutions that evaporate once most of us sober up, Van den Bon decided to stick with it.”

Day 4 3D Print: Tom Van den Bon

So far, Van den Bon has held up his New Year’s 3D printing resolution, and, starting with a pair of blue 2017 glasses, has completed nearly 125 3D prints so far…and he’s still going strong! We’ve seen ongoing 3D printing projects like this before, but normally they have a theme, whether it’s Dungeons and Dragons or cosplay, and while Van den Bon has several smaller themes within his greater project, like Nintendo and Star Wars characters, there doesn’t appear to be one, overarching theme.

“I thought this would be a good idea to print models I would never print normally,” Van den Bon told Matos. “My printers have mostly been used for prototyping projects and the odd gadget here and there. My goals were to learn from different designs so that I can apply it to my own design and to spark some inspiration for future projects. You never realise how smartly something was designed until you print and assemble it.”

Van den Bon also knows, from first hand experience with BinarySpace, that not everyone truly understands what a 3D printer actually does until they hold a 3D printed object in their hands. This knowledge helped him to keep up his 3D printing momentum once the holidays were over and he had to go back to work every day. Now, nearly 125 days in to 2017, he’ll have plenty of prints that people can pick and up touch!

So far, Van den Bon hasn’t missed a day yet, though not all of his prints have come out perfectly: his Day 26 print of Mickey Mouse failed, but he fixed it on Day 27. Another issue he’s run into is time: while most of the prints seem to be fairly small, he has printed some large objects with multiple pieces spread out over multiple days. Additionally, it takes time to document his progress and take pictures of every print. So instead of arranging artsy photo shoots for each one, some project images are just simple cell phone pictures.

Day 55 3D Print

A few of his favorite prints so far include a lovely, multi-color Hairy Lion, from Thingiverse user primoz, and a purple articulated pangolin, found on Cults 3D and posted by user Amao earlier this year to raise awareness for the critically endangered animal. While most of his prints are just for fun, he has also created some pretty functional objects as well, from pencil holders, a light switch cover plate, and a cute USB holder, to an actual functioning Toyota engine.

Another problem Van den Bon had was securing enough 3D printing filament to carry on for a full year. He was using roughly a kilogram of material each week, which was getting expensive.

Day 70 3D Print

A few private individuals, and local companies Cadhouse, BinarySpace partner SiGNL, and 3D Printing SA stepped in to sponsor filament for his project and keep things running smoothly. The sponsorships have also allowed Van den Bon to experiment a little more with various kinds of 3D printing materials.

We’re already a quarter of the way into 2017, so Van den Bon still has a lot of 3D printing to do. He has a lot of ideas planned, but is also “open to suggestions and collaborations.”

Make sure to follow his daily project updates on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, with #3dprint365. While I’m including a few of my favorites that Van den Bon has 3D printed, if you want to get a look at the project so far, in chronological order through April 25th, you can check out the gallery below the article. It’s also a great way to get a better look at Van den Bon’s filament trends, and the progress he’s made on some of the bigger projects, like the Toyota engine.

What do you think of Van den Bon’s resolution? Discuss in the 2017 forum at 3DPB.com.

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