3D printing. More on lobsters.

the printer
This is Pete’s 3D printer with the finished policeman object on the platen. The black filament spool is on the left.

Our friend Pete Petersen recently bought a 3D printer and this last week he has been bringing samples of the output to the pool to show the gang. He has made several little policeman dolls, a whistle, and other items. His printer is a MP Select Mini 3D Printer and it can handle objects up to about four inches. Many people are confused by the term “3D printer”, since it does not actually do any printing as we normally think of printing. Instead, it forms three-dimensional objects using, in most cases, colored plastic filament.

starting the object
Starting the 3D printing process, you can see the small black object being built up by the printer nozzle.
policeman
Here’s the finished object – a policeman with his hand up. You can see the fingers on that hand as well as on the one by his side.

Pete asked me over this morning to see the printer in operation, and he had it make a simple little policeman toy that shows the versatility of the process in a simple way. It took about 40 minutes to form this simple object; it can take several hours to print other larger or more complex objects.

The process works by feeding a strand of plastic material 1.75 millimeters in diameter through a heated printer head and out a nozzle. Computer software in the printer translates the object design information into movements of the printer head and nozzle to trace out a pattern that will form the object. The nozzle reduces the filament size to a very fine thread so very delicate shapes can be formed. The printer starts by laying down some filament on the printer base platen and then works its way up the object forming the shape as it goes.

There are several different types of plastic filament, each with its own characteristics and suitable for different types of objects and uses. You can make toys and tools. While checking out a web site Pete sent me to I even saw a 35% scale model Toyota 4-cylinder engine that actually works as well as a 5-speed transmission that connects to the engine!

I recently reported (last Thursday) that we had Atlantic lobster tails at Black Angus, and distinguished these from “Maine lobsters“. Cousin Rod Violette, who hails from New Brunswick though he lives in California now, took exception to calling them “Maine” lobsters since they are caught all over the northeast. Quoting from his email: “The so-called Maine lobster is fished in the Gulf of Maine, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. [Prince Edward Island] and New Brunswick. It is known as the American lobster. In Canada we don’t call it Maine lobster, but name it from where it is caught. i.e. New Brunswick lobster or Nova Scotia lobster etc. The Maritimes harvested 74,686 tonnes for $680.5 million dollars. Maine harvested 58,060 tons for $503 million.”

Rod further pointed out that Rock Lobsters, whose tails are often served in restaurants where the description does not include the word Maine, are called by various other names, such as langouste in French. I found they are also called Spiny Lobsters and other names. These lobsters do not have the large claws of the true lobsters and are found in warmer waters, especially in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Bahamas.

Since Black Angus called those Atlantic lobsters, that could refer to the North Atlantic, where the “Maine” lobsters grow, or could refer to the part of the Atlantic where the rock lobsters grow. Because they only offer the tails, I have to assume they are serving rock lobsters – the ones without the large claws.

There’s your lobster lesson for the day!

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