This last week at Thinline I made the front-end from a design and printed a 3D case with the Makerbot Replicator 2.
3D printing with Makerbot Replicator 2
Last week we made a 3D model in Blender for the casing of the Check-in hardware:
Luckely, I happen to know a friend with a brand new 3d printer (Makerbot Replicator 2). I could use his printer to make my case. I arrived around 20.30h and started printing. It's incredibly easy to print a 3D object. Just load the Makerware software, import your object and it will ask you if it has to be put on the (virtual) platform of the printer. You can resize, rotate or move the object onto the plate. Just press the "Make" button if your satisfied. You'll get a popup with settings, but I left those at default: at medium resolution (because at his highest resolution, it would take a massive amount of hours to make it), and use supports. By using supports, the printer will make a grid structure to support the weight of the actual object on certain places, so it won't collapse or deform while it's hot. While printing my model, I noticed the supports structure beneath the inclined side of the model and you can see them on the pictures beneath.
The printer will melt the PLA plastic cable and make tiny lines of plastic on the platform to build the case. It took me 4 hours to print the case (!) and an additional 1 hour to make the plastic plate to close the case. However, I love the simplicity of the Makerbot. It's really as easy to use as a normal (2D) printer. The material is very strong, the colors available are endless (from white, transparant, black, red, yellow, ... to glow-in-the-dark material or fluorescent colors), and on thingiverse.com you can find a huge amount of printable objects.
This is a video of the Makerbot starting to print the top plate:
In approx. 10 years or so, 3d printing will be as normal as 2d printing. Broke a piece of that toy/tool you love so much? Just download the replacement model and print it. As of today, however, it is still fairly expensive. The Makerbot Replicator 2 costs about $2199 dollar and a 1kg PLA filament costs $48. And that's just a consumer 3d printer. The professional 3d printers nowadays cost massive loads of money.
In the last days of my internship, I started making the front-end of a new website. The design was made by an external company so I had to slice and code the html5 and css3 static pages before putting them into the cms. Unfortunately I learned yet again that external designers often make their designs in Indesign (designated for "print" and not "screen"!) or Illustrator. Which means I get the design in an .indd or .eps format. This makes it unnecessary hard, because 1) the colors are in CMYK and not in RGB and 2) the units often are in millimeters and not in px, or the resolution is set to 300 dpi instead of 72 dpi. This means I mostly had to "guess" a good container size, margin/padding size and font-size for the webpages based on what I see. There's nothing wrong with Photoshop, Fireworks or even the new Sketch app to design a webpage ;-)
I also made a basic wiki to get started with the check-in application (for the team). It includes everything from installing the vendors with composer, a basic walkthrough through the Silex code and service providers, the hardware details, a list of useful commands to start the check-in python script, and a guide to deploy with capistrano.
Last but not least, I would like to say thanks to the Thinline team for giving me a great internship. I really enjoyed working at Thinline, and thus will be working there this summer (from 1 july till the end of august) :-) I learned a lot of new technologies during my internship, and I'll keep on learning to improve my workflow as a front-end developer. There are a lot of new front-end's to be made this summer and I plan on using Sass, Compass, Hammer, CodeKit, Sketch and Sublime Text 2 to make my front-ends instead of the traditional html & css. By making a small boilerplate with the Thinline reset code and basic css, a settings.scss file and the typography.scss and some Sass mixins, I'll hopefully speed up the process.