There has been a lot said about the MakerBot Smart Extruder recently. Some people love it while others are less fond of it. Regardless though, MakerBot is making a lot of progress in turning what originally was a less-than-spectacular launch of the product into something that really does make the 3D printing process much easier.
For those of you who are absolutely in love with the Smart Extruder, today we have some great news for you, thanks to a man named Murray Clark of New Zealand. He has unveiled the “Ink Extruder,” themed entirely after the MakerBot Smart Extruder. Before you get too excited, however, we must inform you that an “Ink Extruder” is simply a fancy name for a ballpoint pen.
“Since I started designing things to 3D print, I’m constantly looking for something new to create and challenge my capabilities,” Clark tells 3DPrint.com. “This is the way to keep learning and have some fun along the way. With specific regard to the ‘Ink Extruder’ the idea really came about because I hadn’t done anything like it before. It was taking something that is a common everyday practical product (a Bic Click Pen) and turning it into a practical novelty related to 3D printing. The internal working of the Bic pens is simple but very clever so the design needed to be right to make it function correctly.”
So far Clark tells us that the feedback on his design has been very positive. After a search on Thingiverse for clickable, retractable pens, he couldn’t find very many available to 3D print, so he decided to create one himself. To model it, he used Rhino3D, and started his endeavor by breaking a Bic Click pen open, and then removing all of the internals in order to get an understanding for how it worked.
“Next, as a regular length pen was far too long and thin to represent a Smart Extruder, I decided what the maximum length (height) would be based on the width and depth that would comfortably fit in someone’s hand,” Clark tells us. “Obviously it could not be to exact scale/proportion, so it just needed to be close enough to represent a Smart Extruder.”
Looking at the pen itself, anyone with a Smart Extruder will certainly be able to tell exactly what it was modeled after. This is because Clark spent a lot of time sketching out the design he wanted, drawing up basic outlines, and ensuring that all the dimensions of the pen body and mechanics would match up perfectly.
After drawing everything out in Rhino3D, Clark printed out several prototypes on his MakerBot Replicator 2 and MakeBot 5th Generation Replicator 3D printers. And yes he actually used the Smart Extruder to print out his design–which in the end came out just perfect.
“I am aware that people had Smart Extruder issues when the machines were very new, however, to date I haven’t had any serious issues myself,” he tells us. “I’ve had mine just over 6 months now and it has just kept getting better with every firmware/software update. It’s working really well now.”
Clark has made the design files for his Smart “Ink” Extruder available to download free of charge on Thingiverse. Let us know what you think of his design in the 3D Printed Ink Extruder forum thread on 3DPB.com.