Thursday, September 17, 2015

Using Tinkerplay app for 3D printing action figures

In just 15 minutes (besides the fight I had with our laptops not having a .zip file extractor) I was able to create a 3D action figure using AutoCad's Tinkerplay app for the iPad. That's the easiest part.

Tinkerplay, from the makers of Tinkercad, comes with already made parts that anyone can select to build a customized action figure in minutes. Although the options are a bit limited, tinkerplay could be a jumping off point for kids interested in designing their own toys with connectable parts.

Once the app is opened,you are brought to a blank plane. The top right corner allows you to select each part. The outer line of the wheel are the available options, while the wheel before displays the location of the part (head, chest, feet, hands).
Once the grey part is selected merely drag it with your finger onto the plane.
A simple tap of your finger on the part will bring up deleting or moving options.

Once you have built your figure, press the bright green button on the bottom to turn it into parts that can be printed.
From here, you can downscale your print with the plus and minus buttons. By adding your printer to the blue gear on the left, it will estimate your total print time (incorrectly in our case) and show presets for downloading files. We have a library Dropbox account, so we allowed tinkerplay to work with our Dropbox and it deposited the file in .zip format. Press the green button again to download it. Once the .stl files were extracted from our desktop computer, we put them into Cura (our Ultimaker software) as two large print jobs for the first try. One print job with half of the pieces (including torso parts which were the most intricate) would take 10 hours to print with supports, longer than we're allowed to print since we'd have to leave it on overnight. I know there must be some advanced settings in Cura that I'm missing which might have shortened the time. Email me if so! 

So we broke up the jobs, it took over 10 hours to print the 15 separate pieces for an overall height of 6.5 inches (160 mm). I also tried doing much smaller parts shown in red (.75 in /20mm tall for each legs) as opposed to 1.5 in/40 mm tall and without supports the job didn't finish properly for a total of 3 hours for half of the robot to complete. The parts were really hard to put together due to size and I began to break pieces trying to attach them.

If you had a class of 4 or 5 kids using Tinkerplay instead of previously mentioned Tinkercad, they could easily be finished in 10-15 minutes, with limited design learning, and you are spending 40 hours printing parts. So in a class setting, I wouldn't recommend using Tinkerplay although the end product is pretty neat I have to admit. Perhaps it would be more efficient to print out a multitude of torsos, legs, and arms beforehand and have the kids design the heads in tinkercad? Or maybe only print 2 arms and leg pieces instead of 4?  Our next project is trying to use the X-Box Kinect to scan our heads and we'd have mini mes! 

head 52 minutes
torso (2 parts) 4 hrs 10 minutes
small arms (4) 21 minutes each
legs (4) 38 minutes each
hands (2) 23 minutes each
feet (2) 30 minutes

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