Hobbyists, particularly radio-controlled vehicle hobbyists, have been among the first and most ardent adopters of 3D printing technology.
The ability to create everything from functional parts to pure design elements has captured their imaginations, and as a result, led to some cutting edge output from airplanes to drones to cars, trucks and even snowblowers.
So when it came time for Jakub Ratajczyk to take on a graduate school project, he decided to fuse his knowledge of robotics, programing, electronics and 3D printing to build an artistic and complex form which would meld those capabilities.
Ratajczyk decided to print 3D the major parts of a radio controlled car, and he used Voxelizer, a dedicated software package designed to drive ZMorph and other RepRap-compatible printers.
The software was created to extend the capabilities of open-source software, and it has also enabled the use of tools from 3D printers to CNC mills and various types of extruders.
While Voxelizer does function as traditional ‘host’ software to control a printer or CNC machine, it can also generate Gcode from three-dimensional geometry in a novel way. Rather than using the typical triangle based geometry of file formats such as .STL and .OBJ files, the software converts 3D data into voxels. Voxels, data which consists of small ‘boxes’ or ‘atoms,’ allow an entirely new way of thinking about conversions from virtual model to physical object.
Voxelizer is capable of converting models from STL files to voxel data, can process the geometry in new ways and apply various ‘filters’ to that geometry, can strengthen the weakest parts of a model, generate adaptive support structures, thicken fragile and weak parts selectively, and generate Gcodes for single- and dual-head extruders.
When used with the line of ZMorph personal fabrication devices, the printers are able to process and print objects using the voxelization technique which uses 3D pixels. The process also allows for, among other applications, direct compatibility with MRI medical scan data.
The name ZMorph itself came from the Greek word morphe, μορφή (form, signifying change; shape; form; shape; figuratively, nature), and the company says the name can be understood as “the one that creates objects in three dimensions.”
Ratajczyk, a graduade student at the Academy of Fine Arts, says his main interests lie in designing and 3D printing, but it’s a decade-long passion for modeling which led him into designing radio controllable units that drive or fly. Besides this RC car design, he’s also hard at work on his next project, a 3D print enabled RC airplane.
As for the car, the streamlined and futuristic body is printed in six parts using a Zmorph single headed 1.75 extruder.
Ratajczyk printed the parts in QH at a 0.15 mm layer height and then assembled with high-strength glue.
But, he says, what made the unique body design so successful was a very thorough series of post-production operations which included many hours of sanding and polishing with fine grain sandpaper to arrive at the incredibly smooth outer layer.
Once the outer shell was complete, Ratajczyk spray painted it with a gloss black protective varnish. After sufficient time passed for thorough drying, the body shell was mounted on the frame and attached underneath.
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