COVID19 Face Shields

TL;DR: I’ve been busy making supplies for COVID. You can help!

Throughout this lockdown, I’ve dedicated nearly all my spare time to helping out where I can with COVID19 (not even really taking time to doodle! T_T). I doubt I need to educate anybody on the crucial need for PPE in the US. Accordingly, the two main projects I’ve undertaken are:

  • N95 respirator design
  • Face shield manufacturing

While there’s a bigger shortage of N95 masks and respirators, designing one that actually works well is tricky, and it’s a topic for a future post. On the other hand, there are plenty of easy to make open-source face shield designs out there, and hospitals around the globe are accepting them. In conjunction with other PPE, face shields keep healthcare workers safe by preventing droplets from sneezes and coughs from reaching their faces.

The face shields are comprised of three main components:

  1. 3D Printed Frame, ideally PETG, but PLA will work in a pinch
  2. Shield, made from transparent PET, PVC, or Acetate sheets
  3. Straps, optional for some designs
Prototypes

After searching around for a while, I’ve become heavily involved in a dedicated group of local Orange County makers. While we’ve just really started ramping up in the past week, we have collectively already delivered over 318 face shields to hospitals in Santa Ana, Long Beach, Norwalk, and Riverside, and we have orders pending from 24 facilities for over 1700 shields… This includes repeat commitments of 780 units per week.

First batch of face shields ready for delivery!

Personally, I’ve delivered a small batch of initial units to local healthcare friends on the front lines, while I’m working out the kinks in the manufacturing process. This week, I’m on the hook to deliver 55 face shields to local clinics. I’ve just published improvements to two popular designs to thingiverse. The improvements allow parts to be printed in stacks, giving makers more downtime between needing to fuss with printers, and allows for more fully utilized overnight printing. I fully admit that this idea was shamelessly stolen from other members of the OC makers group:

With my current capacity, I’m able to do between 10 and 15 frames per day. However, to keep up with the increasing demand, I ordered another printer, so hopefully I’ll be able to boost my production to nearly frames 30 daily this week. Tiff has pitched in to help with hole punching shields, and she’s been a trooper in allowing this to take over tons of my time (and a lot of the space in the living room), so I wanted to give her a special shout out <3.

Manufacturing

If you’d like to help, there’s a few ways you can pitch in:

  1. Find a local open source makers group and see if you can volunteer, especially if you have access to a 3D printer, laser cutter, or have sewing skills. There’s also lots of organizing and logistics support that honestly is just best done at the grassroots level. Here’s a roster of some local groups on Facebook:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JH5uL3WW6PwvwFRe4wqXkheK0-jcGYqaPmb9J3Dr6Ac/edit#gid=179139280
  2. Alternatively, if you want to donate to help me with material costs, I’d greatly appreciate it. Venmo @iampip is easy, and anything you can afford to give would be fantastic and will go directly to covering costs. For transparency, here’s what my outlays have been so far (not counting my N95 project, capital investments, and operational costs):
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17J_YbjUwo13Z-j28TjhQLMCv-tRQZK2QEVbqOquLPa4/edit?usp=sharing

ButterBot Spotlight Lamp

TL;DR: I made a robot whose only purpose is to hold up a spotlight… At least it’s a step up from passing butter :D. I am extremely pleased with how this guy turned out. The light is adjustable both in leaf rotation and tilt angle.

A few weeks ago, I desperately wanted a lamp for my nightstand to keep me from needing to stumble around in the dark trying to find the bed while avoiding squishing the dog after turning off the lights at night. Thus, I decided to do the most practical thing, and began designing my own.

I began my design around the idea of creating something in a modular manner. I knew I wanted to have some sort of character holding up the light source, but was unsure about the specifics of what was going to be feasible, and what would be accepted by my landlord to have around the house. I landed on the idea of building around a spotlight—I like the simple shape and general aesthetics and the character-neutral nature.

Over the next few weekends, I kicked around a few ideas and asked some friends for inspiration when I had my eureka moment—THE BUTTER BOT FROM RICK AND MORTY IS PERFECT FOR THIS!!! I am a huge fan of the show, wanted to use up my silk silver plastic filament, and thought I could give this little guy a better purpose than just passing butter. Really, it was a win/win/win scenario.

I don’t have any photos detailing the electronics, but I’ve got a simple ATmega32U4-based Arduino board with a micro-USB interface. I found this awesome inline DC jack power switch and paired it with an even cooler DC jack to micro-USB cable to provide power and add the ability to turn the light on/off.

Designing and implementing my idea was relatively straightforward after deciding what to build. The trickiest part was designing the parts in such a way so they could be broken up and printed in different jobs—the overall size is roughly 7” x 8” x 18” (although the 7” width can change depending on how the spotlight leaves are oriented, and the height can change depending on the tilt angle). I am particularly proud of my insight of creating a domed peg to enable the printing of the main body without the need for supports.

The only thing missing from the completely finished design are a red wire, a yellow wire, and a red led bulb. Anyway, here’s a gallery of my design and build process:

Laundry Basket Divider

TL;DR: I made a divider for our new laundry bin using material from our old bin and printing some threaded pins to hold it in place.

We used to have a stiff cloth laundry basket, but there were two main problems with it. Whenever I tossed my clothes on it inaccurately (this happened all the time, let’s be real), the walls would buckle a bit under the weight. Secondly, there’s just a single compartment, and I’m allergic to the laundry detergent Tiff likes to use.

To fix the first problem, we actually used the ubiquitous 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond and bought a new hard plastic hamper. To address the second, I got a bit more creative. Since our old laundry basket was cloth-based, I was able to fold it up using binder clips. The divider fit very tightly near the bottom, so I only needed a way to hold it in place closer to the top. I created a pocket on each side by adding two binder clips around where I wanted to place the holder.

The custom design I went with was very simple—it’s a simple threaded pin and retaining nut. I measured the hole I needed to fill, extruded a few cylinders, and added threads, ezpz. About two hours on the printer later, I installed two pins with nuts on the basket and put the divider into place.

I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t my sexiest design ever, but it’s quite utilitarian.

Here’s a few build photos:

EL Headbands done!

TL;DR: I finished the EL headbands I’ve been working on :D.

I finished up the electroluminescent headbands I described in my post a few weeks ago here. Since my prototype was close to the final product, completing the production was fast after I received the custom fabric components.

As in the prototype, EL wire was passed through the printed channels and connected to a DC to AC inverter for power. I found nifty coin battery sized inverters, which fit directly on the bands without too much interference. The most time consuming portion of the build was attachment of the plastic to the fabric, since I’m bad at hand sewing.

Here’s the build gallery:

Here’s a bonus gif, with a little preview of a flag project I’ve been working on as well…

Thanks Sara and Vi for demo’ing 😀

Lithophane Lamp Shade

TL;DR: I made a lithophane lamp shade for my sister’s birthday. I used an online tool that combined multiple images with specific measurements to create a part that fit around my particular desk lamp. This was probably my longest single part print to date—about 60 hours, but the results were well worth the wait!

I continued playing around with lithophanes and made my sister a birthday present—a litphophane lamp shade! I found another online tool at: https://www.lithophanemaker.com/Lamp%20Lithophane.html. This one lets you enter various parameters to create an entire ready-to-print part very quickly. While I would design this part a bit differently if I were to do it from scratch, the speed of use was pretty undeniable.

I only had a two small hiccups—the size of the lamp retaining lip didn’t quite match what I expected. That is—the cylinder turned out undersized for what I needed. Luckily, I had the foresight to first print only the inner cylinder for a fit check. After I started the print the first time, I realized that I forgot to add supports for the cylinder retaining lip to come out properly, so I had to restart the print after a few hours >.<.

Once I started the print for real, I had the full lamp shade in hand after about 60 hours. This was my longest single part print to date, and I think it turned out incredibly well 😀

The gallery with descriptions below shows the process:

Lithophane

TL;DR: For Valentines Day, I made a lithophane—a 3D object which reveals an image when light is shined through it. The operating principle is basic—different “pixels” are created since thicker areas block more light.

Lithophanes are really cool. Essentially, they’re 3D photos that physically encode pixels of an image by varying the amount of material. Thinner sections of the lithophane allow more light to pass through. I discovered a simple to use, yet highly customizable online lithophane generator at http://3dp.rocks/lithophane/. Upon making this discovery, my mind immediately went to the perler project I worked on last year… I saw I could reuse most of the components (back plate, switch, LED backlight), only making a new front plate. Since I designed the perler project housing in Onshape using top-down design principles, all the modifications only took a few minutes to complete and export for printing.

It took me three tries to finetune my print settings. In the first print, I inadvertently made the image inverted:

My first attempt resulted in a scary looking inverted image… oops!

For the second print, I ended with a lot of blobs on our faces. Clearly this was because the nozzle dwelled a bit too long on the top surfaces since I printed this part flat on the bed:

My second attempt turned out nicer looking with the proper color inversion… but the blobs all over the place were less than ideal.

To correct for this, I reoriented the part on the print bed. I was worried about the part falling over (hence my original print orientation), so I added a really large brim to keep it rooted:

The 12mm brim I added, along with copious glue, helped keep the print from falling over

The third time really did turn out to be the charm, and I was very pleased with how it turned out:

Success! Third time’s the charm 🙂

There’s a ton of ways in which the lithophane idea can be expanded and improved upon. First, I need to redesign the housing unit to incorporate the switch and battery. Others on the internet have wrapped lithophanes around objects like cylinders to make custom lamps, trophies, and other neat projects. The possibilities are endless… as you can see in the summary photo below, you can use pretty much any light source and have the images turn out well:

It was very easy to progress pretty quickly since the parts were fast to print.

I’m excited to play around more with this type of stuff!

Star Wars Joycon Holders

TL;DR: I made custom Nintendo Switch Joycon Controller holders in the shape of Star Wars Y-Wing and A-Wings.

I’ve been traveling quite a bit this year, and my Switch has been a great companion surprisingly easy to bring around. However, the biggest gripe I and everybody else has with the device is that it is no fun to use the controllers in single joy-con mode. I found and printed some neat grips that make it a bit easier to use them in this mode, but I’ll cover them in a future post.

In this project, I made some ridiculously tardy birthday presents for two of my Switch-owning friends: Y-Wing and A-Wing Joycon holders. Honestly they aren’t that practical, but they technically *are* functional, and I think they look pretty cool. I started by downloading STL files from thingiverse of various Star Wars ships and a simple dual-joycon holder.

In Fusion 360, I chopped off the joycon rails and saved the bodies as separate components so I can reuse them in multiple projects. Next, I started processing the Y-Wing by simplifying a lot of unnecessary mesh details, cutting off the engines, then making the mesh into a solid body. I inserted the joycon rails where the engines used to be and played around with the scaling of the Y-Wing body to fit well. From there, it was a simple merge bodies, slice, and print… or so I thought.

Unfortunately, I messed up some of my slicing settings in my first attempt, and part of the print fell over. Even though part of the print had failed, I was still able to do a geometry check, and I was pleased with how well the joycon and strap both fit into this model.

My slicing error was in a boneheaded misconfiguration of adaptive layer settings. Using adaptive layers in slicing software allows for faster prints since the printer is programmed to use larger z-steps if it is safe to preserve model details. The base layer height for this was 0.12mm, and by entering the deviation to 0.2mm, for some reason I thought I was setting the absolute height limit for the print to 0.2mm, but this was not the case, and my printer was trying to print with 0.32mm layers, which it just was not able to do. On my subsequent attempts, I dialed the deviation back and was able to get a really nice print.

Y-Wing gallery here:

The A-Wing model took a bit more pre-print processing. First, I noticed a small hole in the surface, so I used meshmixer to mirror the better half of the model. Second, the model I had was hollow (there was an internal surface), which would have caused issues later on in combining with joycon holders and printing. The hollow body was simple to rectify—I created a block larger than the A-Wing then used combine to cut the A-Wing from the block. This left several bodies, including one that was the ship model cavity, which was added back into the main ship model. Just as for the Y-Wing model, I imported the Joycon rails, scaled the Awing body, and moved everything in place before combining the bodies.

I’ll admit the joycons on the A-Wing are less than ideal, but I still think it looks cool. 😛

Mario Kart Princess Peach Print

TL;DR: I printed and painted Peach from Mario Kart for a friend’s birthday. The model came from the video game and I think it turned out pretty well.

Back in the ancient days of Sophomore year of undergrad, my drawmates and I spent hours playing MarioKart 64. My roommate would always grab Peach before anybody else, so I decided to make him one for his birthday. I got surface models from a Mario Kart video game then did a bit of patching work to make everything into a nice solid model. The Kart and Peach came as two separate files which I combined into a single model for printing.

During support clean-up, I had an unfortunate accident with our dear Princess, and she pulled a Marie Antoinette on us. This actually turned out to be advantageous since I’m not sure how I would have accessed a lot of the body for painting without the decapitation. The only truly custom parts I made for this project were the wheels, which were printed in black and simply hot-glued on.

I already missed the birthday of the other drawmates, and I feel bad… but I have prepared the racer models for both him and the last of the drawmates… We’ll all be getting together in June 😀

Totoro and Snorlax Ocarinas

TL;DR: I printed and painted a Totoro Ocarina for my girlfriend’s birthday. There are 4 finger holes and is actually tuned to play notes correctly. After that, I created a positive model of the cavity so I can use a Boolean subtract to make ocarinas out of custom models :D.

I came across this amazing model on Thingiverse (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1798728) while looking for inspiration of things to make for my girlfriend’s birthday. She loves Studio Ghibli films, and this is a cool application of 3d printing I had not really seen nor tried before.

In 2016, Autodesk research developed a software package called “PrinTone” which analyzes any arbitrary 3D model to add a cavity and holes so you can play tuned notes. Unfortunately, they have yet to release the software, so I couldn’t use it to transform any custom model into an ocarina. Luckily, the only customization I wanted to make was the addition of a birthday message through an extruded text cut.

The poor settings on my initial print attempt led to some underextrusion on some of the walls, and some small gaps in the head, which is no good for a wind instrument. I also tried printing a larger version at 1.5x scale, but the holes became too big for my fingers. I’m very happy with how the present came out after painting J.

After I finished this part, I still wanted a way to design and print custom ocarinas. Inspired by physical molding techniques, I was able to use CAD tools to create a digital model of the cavity, finger holes, and mouthpiece. I am now able to subtract this new “core” model from any custom model, as long as it has a similar-ish shape. The very first custom ocarina model I created was Snorlax. I admit… it looks kinda disturbing since the air inlet is basically his butthole, but I still think it’s a neat idea. Unfortunately I probably need to bring the cavity closer to the surface since this ocarina is broken as a PokéFlute.

Infinity War Masks

I waited 10 years and 18 movies for Infinity War, and as a superfan with a movie club, I obviously needed to watch it opening night. I bought 22 tickets in the center of the theater within 15 minutes of their availability, but unfortunately, Alamo Drafthouse’s site wasn’t ready when I was. Alamo is by far my favorite movie experience, and the moviegoers there are true fans. It’s pretty normal for opening night premiers to be filled with people dressed up (scroll down far enough and you might see a familiar face :P).

I managed to cajole a few members of my movie club to join in geeking out and dress up for the premiere at AMC. As somewhat expected, we were like the only group dressed up there, but whatever. We had fun and that’s all that matters.

I continue to be pleasantly surprised at the utility of my cheap little 3D printer. This was the first project I completed that involved painting post-print. I found some decent STL’s for Ironman and Black Panther on Thingiverse. While these base STLs worked, there were some changes I wanted to make but didn’t have time to do so, cause of course I procrastinated. I didn’t start making the masks for Abaho and I until 5 days before the movie.

The first part I printed was the faceplate for the Ironman MK50 (Bleeding Edge armor that debuted in Infinity War) helmet. I measured the space between my eyes and scaled everything accordingly. I tried it on and it seemed to fit well, so I continued with the rest of the helmet. It turns out that my head does not have the same proportions as that of the guy who originally designed the model, so I couldn’t get the skullcap on:

At this point, I only had 3 days to print and paint 2 masks, so I decided to cut and print only the front part of the Ironman helmet to save time and ensure wearability. It was pretty easy to make planar cuts of the mesh files using Fusion 360, which was good.

I noticed that the STL I was using was not perfectly symmetric, and the parts didn’t actually fit perfectly together. It’s definitely something I’m going to address before I make my next print.

I needed to do a decent amount of work to prepare the Black Panther mask for printing. First, the raw STL had a ton of unnecessary detail and sharp edges on the inside of the mask, which would have increased the print time and made the helmet more uncomfortable to wear, so I did lot of simplification and smoothing of the inner surfaces. Next, I needed to slice the helmet into a bunch of parts to both fit on my printer, and print in time (I only had about 36 hours cause I ended up printing TWO Ironman masks). Initially, I was worried about having visible weld lines in this mask, but luckily, I bought some BLACK GLUE STICKS a few weeks earlier at Daiso (I didn’t know these were even a thing) to hide them perfectly.

Here’s a gallery of the build process:

Painting the Ironman masks was a huge pain since I needed to cover quite a bit of surface area using three different colors of paint (gold, silver, shiny red). To make the shiny red, I needed to mix a metallic copper paint with the basic red I bought (the red was too flat and bright to match the gold). The Black Panther mask in contrast was ridiculously easy to paint… the mask was already printed in black, so only a few raised areas needed to be highlighted in silver.

I was incredibly happy with how the finished helmets turned out. I added a fabric strap to the back of the Ironman helmet with some hot glue for wearability. It turns out that Abaho’s head fit perfectly within the Black Panther helmet with no additional modifications needed.

Next up, I’m going to be printing out and attaching parts of the Black Panther mask we removed earlier. I’m also going to fix the model symmetry and adjust the dimensions to fit the proportions of my head.