Typographic cufflink progress… beefing-up the structure
The thing about 3D printing is… the materials affect the design specs. This might seem obvious, it does to me when I write it down, but coming from a graphic design background you’re seldom ask to make design choices based on physical limits. Okay, if your into print design or fabrics, you’re aware of a degree of physical limits, but never to the point whereby you need to rethink the choice of font - and that’s the difference when you’re working at the limits of what a 3D printer can handle.
Last week, the nice people at Shapeways.com checked over my initial prototypes and let me know the supporting struts for my letters were too thin. Even the ones that weren’t theoretically too thin (but at the limit of how thin they could be) they wouldn’t stand the post-print process of polishing, which naturally reduces thicknesses down by a few fractions of a millimetre.
So it was back to the drawing board. Actually, it was a good chance to work with dimensions in Blender a bit more precisely (up to now I’ve been using SVGs created in Illustrator and then resizing in blender by eye). So I rebuilt the whole cufflink from scratch. This time, I ensured none of my struts were less that 1.2mm - which, in theory, means even if I lose 0.2 - 0.4mm in the post-print finishing process on some of the materials, they’ll still retain enough tensile strength. Here’s the new design…
Of course there’s a few ugly join angles on the structure, but I’m hoping it will be printable. Otherwise, I’ll need to have another rethink… on that front I had to rethink the font. Fatter characters are best, so I’ve worked with my favourite fat font FS Lola Bold Oblique from Fontsmith. It’s good… next I’ll be trying out heavy cuts of Helvetica, Gill and a great Fontsmith Serif called FS Clerkenwell.
I guess this is the whole point of prototyping… it also enabled me to fine tune the thickness of the whole structure, experiment with an embossed UP logo on the button end, and generally get to grips with the organic modelling UX of Blender, which remains awesome - the new 2.65 release is working very well on my tiny little MacBook Air 11” - although I’m using a second big screen monitor and a Logitech 3 Button mouse with wheel to give me the fine control needed to rotate and slide stuff around.