When you look at the accomplishments of 3D printing you might think that while this technology is amazing and what not, it is not really helpful for me in my home. Well, you couldn’t be thinking any wrong. The reasons why 3D printers have become so popular are actually the versatility, quick and easy manufacturing and this can help you out in your home as well. Say hello to Whitney Potter who has recently created a tutorial on Instructables that would help you in creating customized climbing holds using a 3D printer. Now you can print your very own molds in thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and fill them up with polyurethane resin and create your own 3D printed hold.
Climbing is actually quite a fun way to exercise while having a good time. Adults and kids, both, enjoy the thrill of climbing whether it is on natural rock, gym climbing walls or – thanks to the 3D printing – in their backyard. A homemade climbing wall can provide you and your family hours of fun while helping the family adapt to healthier lifestyle. Using Potter’s guide, users can even create their own unique and ingeniously designed holds thanks to a 3D printer and some easy-to-get materials.
Potter isn’t new to 3D printing and has been creating various tutorials pertaining to this technology. His latest focus of expertise, however, is a project that is aimed at his kids. He wanted to build his kids and himself a unique and fun climbing wall and didn’t want to use any equipment from store like any other proud geeky DIY-er wouldn’t. So, he set on about coming up with the most appropriate construction method.
His initial plan involved 3D printing a set of climbing holds but he had to rule out that plan. He says, “3D printed parts can be weak, especially when stressed across the layer lines. They can be made stronger by making them denser up to the point that they are 100% solid, but this adds dramatically to the cost and print time. A fist sized climbing hold printed at 100% infill would take between 12 and 24 hours to print.”
This hurdle didn’t dishearten the determined Potter who decided to adjust his footing and reach for the final product using a different approach. He carried out some research about how climbing holds are manufactured professionally and learned that they are usually created from a polyurethane resin, cast in a mold of silicone rubber, given its shape by making use of a CNC-milled master or hand-carving.
He then thought about using 3D printing technology for the creation of a master, however, soon realized that this step could be skipped and proceeded to 3D print a mold using thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). TPU is a very highly flexible 3D printing filament. It is a bit less easy to use and less durable when compared with silicone but it has multiple other advantages. Potter said, “In a couple of hours I can print a mold that will produce dozens of copies of a hold. The cost of the TPU mold is maybe a dollar which is much better than $10-$20 for a silicone mold.”
All makers must be familiar with the design process for the hold mold. Potter suggests that you use Blender, Meshmixer or dedicated sculpting program 3dCoat for creating a 3D design of every hold. Users can design the hold however they wish to design it and once the design is complete, some handiwork is required for shelling out the 3D solid shape. Once you’ve accomplished that; add a small socket for the bold into the mix and the 3D mold is all set for 3D printer.
Potter suggests the following when it comes to 3D printer settings, “Print as few shells and as little infill as you can while still having a decent print as this will make it easier to unmold. All of my molds leak a little, but that’s okay. The resin seeps into the mold and seals it the first time you use it.”
Instead of making use of high-strength grout of industrial grade, Potter suggests going with polyurethane resin. You can buy it in a 2-part formula that starts to set after a minute of mixing of two parts. To prevent the resin from sticking to the mold and creating any difficulty, you can spray it with urethane mold release before casting. Once you’ve removed the hold from the mold, all you have to do is a bit of sanding and you’re good to go.
These holds are sturdy and cost less than the ready-made alternatives, all thanks to 3D printing. So, how many of you are going to try this amazing tutorial?