12 Dec 2013

My Chemistry teacher recently unboxed her very own 3D printer. A Cube 2. It’s a bit consumer-ish for me, and I could go on for hours about how 3D System’s overpriced proprietary filament cartridges are poisoning 3D printing by trying to make it too much like regular printing, but that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to flaunt the printer’s first print. Because, really, I think it came out awesome.

Finished TARDIS

The finished product. A closer look in the full post.

So the printer came and, naturally, my teacher asked for my help in setting it up. I obliged, partly because I wanted to help, but also because I’d never actually gotten to play with a 3D printer before and so I really wanted to try my hand at printing something. She gave me the freedom to pick the first print and so, naturally, I turned to Autodesk Inventor to try to do something really cool. A quick Google of TARDIS schematic’s turned up the dimensions of the iconic Doctor Who time-travelling police box, while also proving that some people, indeed, have more time on their hands than I do. Still, I printed out the sheet, image and measurements for reference, and set to work.

A render of the finished product.

Clearly, no expense was spared.
I’ve uploaded the part files here, but for the most part it’s all self-explanatory. I tried to include all the details I could so that we could get a good sense of what kind of detail the printer would spit out, and I also printed it with the bottom detached for purposes that you’ll see within a few paragraphs. Still, aside from the Inventor parts, you can grab an .STL by clicking here.
File in hand, I maneuvered my way through 3D System’s (proprietary) slicing software, setup the print, came into school early, and set it printing. Everyone was excited to stop by and see it being built.
TARDIS printing

Printing in progress

Printing Complete

The printing completed

Though, printing wasn’t the last step of the build. After all, a Doctor’s TARDIS isn’t the same unless it’s bigger on the inside, and so I had to figure out some way of replicating that. The inspiration there came from those “infinity tunnel” toys I’d seen handed out at a Bar Mitzvah a few months prior. Essentially, a thick semi-reflective pane of glass opposite a regular mirror, separated by some LEDs, let you see IN through the glass, but the LEDs were still reflected off both pieces of glass, resulting in a mirror tunnel that you could see from the outside. That principle as the basis, I enlisted the help of a glass cutter we knew and cut up 4 pieces of glass. Three mirrors and one piece of semi-reflective glass to see in through.
The glass

The glass panes

… I glued the panes in place, one for each wall…
Glass panes in place

Glass panes in place

And stuck a cheap battery powered LED to the base of the TARDIS.

LED mounted and ready

Once in place, everything came alive.
TARDIS complete

Look at her glow

And, indeed, this TARDIS was infinite.
Infinity 2

Infinity 1


Infinity 2

Overall, it’s cooler in person, but I think the effect still translates decently well. That TARDIS is now sitting on my chemistry teacher’s desk, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to print one for myself. That’s all for now: my infinite TARDIS.