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Happy international 3D printing day

December 3, 2015

The 3rd December was the international day of 3D printing and to celebrate/mark it we decided to the have some fun with our 3D printer!

So we decided to 3D print a ukulele and sing some songs 🙂

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So contrary to popular knowledge (or lack of), 3D printing isn’t as simple or as instant as you’d think. Sometimes during setup, you get interesting things like this that happen!!! which by the way is very annoying, because it usually means that the piece is ruined 🙁

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Due to capacity of our 3D printer, to print a full ukulele, we had to divide up the model of the ukulele and print it in sections. When we had all the parts successfully printed, we could then assemble them to complete the ukulele.

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You can see from the video, the operational speed (or lack of) of the 3D printer as it is actually printing the first part of the ukulele, is not very fast. The 3D printer creates the parts by building up multiple layers or material to achieve the final full part.

There are a number of different types of 3D printers but this one is called fused disposition modeling., because each of the layers it prints is fused to the previous layer created, therefor building up the finished model.

For our ukulele, 1275 layer of just 0.35mm thick were printed in order to get the complete size of the ukulele. The overall print time for this amounted to approx 20 hours. So not as instant as you might have thought!

But a more impressive point is that out 3D printed ukulele is completely biodegradable! as it is made from a plastic called polylactic acid or PLA which is derived from corn starch and or sugar cane.

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The successfully printed bottom half of the body of the ukulele. Even the saddle and the bridge are printed as part of the body and not separate parts requiring fitting and set up adjusting after. Even cooler is that the holes in the saddle for the strings are included in the print. approx 300 printed layers.

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Dry fitting of the parts of the body. approx 630 printed layers

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The finished ukulele, approx 1275 layers, assembled with tuners (which are purchased not printed), strung and ready to rock and roll. Unsurprisingly it actually works, and doesn’t sound too bad! for an eco-friendly, bio-degradable plastic ukulele 🙂

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