Branching out

author's design of telephoto lens grip
This has been a while in the making, but not half as long as I’d imagined it might be. Short story: I now have a new page up with some 3D printed accessories for nature photography.

These are my own designs, except where they’re remixes of someone else’s designs, and I expect that page to be updated semi-regularly – there’s a definite benefit to creating my own accessories, and hopefully others can get some use out of them as well.

I’ve been considering getting a 3D printer for some time, but was reluctant because of both the cost, and the factor of learning even more software for designing the necessary files. But this past March, I found someone selling off a Printrbot Simple Metal printer for a much lower price than I’d figured I’d have to spend, and since that time I’ve been hashing it all out. I won’t say that this is an easy thing to get into, because decent prints can take a lot of fussing around, and I’ve been doing adjustments right from the start. However, this is the kind of problem-solving I can get into, and it’s damn cool fabricating things, even when just using someone else’s designs. Meanwhile, this basic used printer has undergone several different upgrades including improved fans, a lighting system, a larger power source, and a heated bed.

Now that I’m starting to get the hang of the 3D design software (Blender,) I’ve been finalizing my own stuff, which is what I’ve linked. I can tell you, the telephoto lens grip seen in the photo is a significant benefit, something I’ve been trying to work out how to create for years, and this wasn’t even the avenue I was considering. It’s pretty damn cool, and I’m hooked.

New designs will of course appear on that page, and will probably be posted here as well. And if you have the inclination, check out the rest of as well – it’s one of the premier websites for uploaded 3D files, and I’ve printed dozens (hundreds?) of things from there.

preserved alien fetusAs a bit of trivia, 3D printers can utilize a wide variety of materials, but the common, consumer models usually use simple plastic filaments, most often PLA (poly-lactic acid) – this is essentially corn starch, and is biodegradable. Which is good, because you go through a lot trying to get the feel for such jobs. And while it sounds like it wouldn’t be terribly durable, I can vouch that it’s as tough as many plastics, and inexpensive. You don’t want to know how many knickknacks I have on my desk, or the kind of things that I’ve made for others…