Sunday, January 30, 2011

SlideTab in 3D

In January, Chris K. Palmer shared on Thingiverse specially-developed tabs to enable paper templates to be folded and joined together into 3D objects. It's also described at (I've previously featured a selection of his Sphericon models.)

Could the concept be translated into 3D models representing the same flat surfaces with slots, tabs, and hinges? At the very least, could it be made compatible with SLS?

I started my efforts by adapting the flat squares that can be assembled into a cube. It eventually worked, but only after I'd reduced the maximum wall thickness to 0.6mm. The hinged tabs required thin spots less than 0.2mm thick, too thin for reliable production by SLS.

Next I adapted the triangle models, which could be assembled into a tetrahedron (pyramid), an octahedron, or an icosahedron. But these required excessively-thin walls, like the cube, so the STLs aren't very share-able.

His "hat" models required even greater flexibility, and hence even thinner walls. It takes a lot of flexing to interlock the tabs.

Here's a partly-assembled Rabbi's Hat model.

It's not very dignified, is it?

So I didn't really meet my goal. The STL files are buildable in LOM because it can exploit the inherent strength of the unbroken source material, but the models aren't portable to other 3D printing processes. An SLS machine could build the individual parts (with careful handling) but I doubt they could be assembled.

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