Steam Powered Goggles

HTC Vive controls on carpeted floor

So this will be my first post for this blog, actually thinking about it probably my first ever blog post. Never having wrote a post before is a strange position to be in for a computer/technology geek, but I think blogs just past me by. Anyway I should get on with what I planned on writing.

Janet Russell using the HTC Vive VR setup
Janet, using the HTC Vive, pets a dog in virtual reality.
It has definitely been a fun few weeks for me, with lots of boxes and new tech to open. With the addition of the 3D printer last week, am I very excited about the new box on my desk today. It is going to be a great addition to our technology provisions here at Carleton and Academic Technology. The title of this post is a very geeky reference to this new piece of kit….

Being the computer geek that I am, I was very excited to receive the Vive. The Vive is one of the new generation of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. Started by the successful Oculus Rift Kickstarter, this next generation of VR headsets are very different to the early 1990s counterparts. Rather than very basic graphics and simple polygons, these new headsets are capable of streaming two HD images into either eye giving the impression of depth within the 3D scene.

Paula uses the HTC Vive headset and controllers
Paula takes aim at red globes
First project: a VR model of the Piper J3 Cub used to train Carleton students in the 1940-50s as part of a museum display for Sesquicentennial celebrations. Visitors will be able to view the model in a hanger setting and from the flight seat.

Come and experience VR for yourself either by visiting the Sesquicentennial museum exhibition or pop along to the ideaLab during our open house on Wednesday, September 21 from 12p-2p.

So it begins… 3D Printing in the IdeaLab

Carleton's newest 3D printer: Ultimaker2+ 3D Printer

As the students return to Carleton and campus life resumes in earnest, you may notice some changes in the IdeaLab and the AT offices in the Weitz Center for Creativity (not to mention the massive construction project just outside…). The IdeaLab has been undergoing renovations and redesigns to better serve the whole community. We’ll be writing another post about that whole process, but for this post I’ll be focusing on one of our newest tools: our 3D printer. This post will also focus primarily on our initial prints, rather than how-tos, but those will also be coming in the future.

After a lot of consideration, talking with experts, and looking at samples, we decided to go with an Ultimaker2+, one of the most highly-regarded 3D printers on the market. It’s a very dependable, well-supported machine, and looks fantastic too.

Our new 3D printer! #ifyoubuildittheywillcome #wehavethetechnology #ultimaker2 #filementaryMyDearWatson

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As part of the initial set-up, we needed to calibrate and configure the machine. This took a few hours, as the build plate (the section that the 3D printer prints onto) needs to be perfectly level. This level of specificity goes beyond the standard bubble level; we were dealing with differences in size of less than the thickness of a piece of computer paper. With our filament loaded and the plate leveled, we printed our first test print: a little robot designed by Ultimaker.

The first 3D print from our new 3D printer (an Ultimaker2+) #3dprinting #ultimaker2 #idealab

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With our 3D printer working, we decided to test another file directly from Ultimaker, a little heart keychain.

We ❤ our new 3D printer! #3dprinting #heartintherightplace #ultimaker2

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After that success, Andrew had me get a large file off of Thingiverse to print. Thingiverse is an online community where people upload 3D files for others to download, modify, and print. It can be a rabbithole for time, as there is so much incredible content available to browse and look through. I ended up choosing an owl pen holder. You can see it on Thingiverse by clicking here. This was addicting to watch the 3D printer layer up piece by piece, so we set up our timelapse camera to shoot the print. Check it out below! (For reference, this five-inch-tall owl took about 27 hours to print, as each layer is less than the width of a human hair in thickness.)

Here’s what the final product looks like. It’s surprisingly sturdy and solid.

"Who" loves 3D printing…? We do! #giveahoot #3dprinting #ultimaker2 #hoursoffun #punstoppable

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Stay tuned for more posts about the IdeaLab, our 3D printer, and more!