3D Printed Tripod

posted Sep 27, 2017, 5:45 PM by Nick DiGiorgio
Student: TJ P.

    Brendan Paul and I wish to build a Tripod model for his camera in order to prototype and bring to life a fully functional project. It may not contain all of the bells and whistles or be as complicated as a commercial grade model, however our goal is to make it work as a stable and unwavering stand for his camera. It will involve a heightening technique to change the angle vertically of the picture or video and be not only adjustable, but portable as well. I want to create this project because it would be exciting to see and use an actual project that can be used in photography, etc. This will be a challenge in that it is not only large, but also has to be able to bend and move to adjust the camera angle from two and a half feet to around seven feet tall. I am intrigued and determined to bring this project to life and am eager to finalize the design in collaboration with Brendan.


    This is a model that was designed online in creating a ball and socket joint that Brendan and I will create. We are going to use Tinkercad to create our own 3D design of a ball and socket joint to create a full functional and flexible tripod. Instead of focusing on a large, traditional tripod, we are going to recreate a smaller version that is portable and much easier to travel with. Additionally, it is capable of wrapping around poles and standing upon all surfaces without moving or collapsing.

    The bottom left two objects (sphere atop a cylinder/dark green half circle) we are both going to 3D print next class. We made these two models today along with a few other beginning works (three objects in the back) to get a jump start on our process as the most import part is to prototype something to further edit and refine. We took a 22 millimeter diameter circle and placed it atop a 16 millimeter diameter cylinder to 'group' the two and make it a connected one-piece model. Then, as part of the beginning of the process, we took a sphere at set the diameter to 25 mm, thus assuming that the thickness of the material is 3 mm. Next, we took a box (rectangular prism) and covered a little less than the bottom half of the sphere at exactly 11 mm (if it were to be exactly half then the ball would slip out of the socket and the whole model wouldn't work) and set the box as a 'hole', so that when we 'grouped' the two, the bottom part became invisible, as shown in the bottom center of the photo above (dark green). However, this object still wasn't hallow. To make it only 3 mm thick along edge, we placed it atop the sphere/cylinder model and making the sphere a 'hole', in order to create the hallowed inside. Finally, we took the top off of the sphere and placed it on the ground right after making the sphere 'solid' once again. For now, the two pieces are separated to see how the top fits on the ball and if it needs to be a tighter or looser fit. Eventually we will place the sphere and cylinder combo atop the covering and 'group' it all together to great one final piece and product.


    Today we were able to finally create our first prototype using Simplify3D to print out a design using the Makerbot. Here are the steps to 3D print this exported .stl file from Tinkercad:
    - Go to settings on the right
        - Click 'connect' to connect the computer to the \\.\com4 printer
        - Once connected, click 'on' to warm up the extruder and heated bed
    - Once done with settings, click 'add' on the bottom left to add a process
        - There you can configure the 'infill percentage' (for us 10% to start), print quality (for us medium to start), and whether or not to                       include a raft (we did not to start)
        - Lastly click 'prepare to print' and check to make sure that everything is in place (on ground, etc.)



    After adjusting the height to 19 mm and the width to 29 mm I printed the object along with another with a width of 30 mm (in the bottom left) with the semicircle attached to the bottom of the shaft in the ball and socket joint. Together the fit together such that the solid sphere was able to find inside the semicircle, however the ball failed to stay put inside of the joint. This is a better step that before when the ball wouldn't fit at all.



    With the same dimensions as previously recorded (19 mm x 29 mm), I attempted to 3D print the figure in the foreground (middle/center). To get it the ball and socket joint to function properly, I decided to print it where the semicircle is already on the sphere. Through Simplifier 3D, I created a support for the sides of the semicircle so that the machine wouldn't print on air. The final product was a little too loose and the ball still came out of the socket, so next time I am going to adjust the cap so that it covers the ball a few millimeters more and have the diameter of the semicircle a little smaller as well.


    This (3rd) prototype that came out functions almost perfectly and does basically what I want it to: the ball is already inside of the semicircle (able to break off a seal inside to the get it moving) and moves around well, however, maybe too well. The ball is so flexible that it has the ability to pop out of the covering. The covering was printed so that it covered the sphere more, which was successful in itself. So, still when printing for next time, the height and diameter of the semicircle needs to shrink. Finding the perfect match is difficult, so it is simply just trial and error.

    This model definitively came out smaller - and too small. It took a wrench to get break the seal from the ball to the covering and thus, ruined the figure it became too warped. I think that since the prototype got printed so exact that the semicircle and the top (ball) in the ball and socket joint were printed together. As said before, I have to adjust the height especially and make the diameter maybe a little wider to get the perfect fit.


    In an attempt to print the model upside down, thus without a support, but with a raft. The machine really didn't like printing the sphere upside down as it took five tries to print out these two figures. The overall sphere (ball) was squished too much, so the ball didn't fit in by any means.


    Through the advanced settings that Mr. DiGiorgio showed us, we were able to configure and print our very first workable model! We printed the two pieces separate to start. The ball moves inside the socket perfectly - neither too tight of a gap, nor too loose - and seems very sturdy.


    Our next attempt was to use our first fully functional model and connect the two pieces together, so that it would model more of what the final version will look like. We printed two of the figures and they too fit together very well like the first run, last class.


    This time we took Mr. DiGiorgio's suggestion to make the sides of the socket thicker and stronger in this prototype. We attempted to take a large scale of the socket and group it together with the actual figure to create a thicker and denser wall (so that it would be less likely to break off). In trying to fit the ball into one of the sides part of the socket broke off as seen above. To prevent this from happening, next time we are going to go back to our original model and simply put the input settings in 3D Simplifier to where it prints the wall of the socket with more layers (3 or 4). Additionally, the shaft that connects the ball and the socket in one piece, we will also increase the layers in that wall to make it not warp or bend and disfigure in any way (basically make it stronger and thicker as well).


    Still experimenting with 25% infill, a raft for support, high quality for printing, and we also have taken the model from Tinkercad and lowered it two millimeters down because the curve of the socket wasn't coming out well in the prints. These settings (except for maybe the infill) is final and now we are going to print out around 30 of these individual prints, so that each leg of the tripod will have 10 sections. From experimenting with the two different 3D printing machines, we have realized that it is important to stick to one machine, use the same color of material, etc. to keep our models consistent (so that some of the models aren't significantly looser or tighter that the others). We are going to start printing out these models which take about two and a half hours to do (to make two at one time) and being forming and piecing our final product.
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