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    3D Printing your own custom rigging/support gear
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    I know a lot of filmmakers are designing and printing/CNCing their own gear. I have a clear picture in my head of some bits and bobs that I would like to have fabricated but no knowledge of what program to use, how to use it (probably able to pick this up by watching videos on YouTube), or where to send these files for fabrication. Where does one even begin?

    Also, I've heard that SmallRig will CNC single instances of your designs through their "DreamRig" site. Is this a good value?

    Really starting from zero here.


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    #2
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    For the I-don't-know-anything crowd, you can have people do the whole thing from your sketch, but of course, the less you do, the more it costs.

    The first thing I would do is google '3D parts printing' to get to know the services available out there. There are a lot of places that will print the part for you from your 3D drawing. But there are probably some that will do the whole thing for you from your sketch.

    Next I would learn about CAD systems. CAD is 3D drawing software. Consider Google's Sketch. I'm pretty stale on what's current with CAD systems, so maybe someone else can tell you more about what CAD systems are in vogue and make suggestions. If you are not familiar with 3D drawing, it can be a bit of a challenge to get going.

    I currently make drawings using an old version of Alibre Design and I make parts on a CNC Bridgeport mill. I've never made plastic parts on a printer, but it's exactly the same process.

    Here is one example of CAD software https://www.alibre.com/atom3d/
    Last edited by Paul F; 02-22-2021 at 04:21 PM.
    Awarded Best Clear Com Chatter, 2001, PBS Television


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    #3
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    Thanks, Paul, for sharing some of your knowledge on this topic. I've looked into having someone else do the design to my specifications but so far it's been prohibitively expensive. And I could be wrong but it seems like knowing my way around Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects would mean that I'd be flexing some of the same muscles, if only I could spend a little time with the programs.

    I am watching the demos for Alibre and it looks good. How hard is it to input common video production "shapes", like 1/4 and 3/8 screw threads, rosettes, NATO rails, etc? Is there a program that has those built in as "presets"?


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    #4
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    Regarding common parts, there are libraries of parts that are already drawn that may be useful to you, such as screws and nato rails. Just search for "3d printed 3/8 bolt" or '3D printed nato rail", or try "3D printed camera accessories".

    Here's a site with some parts you may want - https://www.yeggi.com/q/3+8+unc/

    Here's another example - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3744931

    Regarding Alibre, I use Alibre Design, which from a quick look at a Youtube video of Alibre 3D Atom, they are very similar, if not identical. 3D atom may be a lighter version. The tutorial videos make it look easy, but once your in front of the screen trying to make your own parts, you will find it is a lot more difficult than they make it look, because you don't have their knowledge of the software. I find myself asking 'how do I do this' and 'why did it do that' all the time. There is definitely a big learning curve. I don't have a 3D drawing package recommendation. I'm too stale on the topic.

    I just remembered ... Check with your local library. Many of them have 3D printers. Mine does, but I've not yet tried it. Very cool, especially to learn on a few prototypes.
    Last edited by Paul F; 02-22-2021 at 09:18 PM.
    Awarded Best Clear Com Chatter, 2001, PBS Television


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    FUsion 360 is 'free' and a brother to Autocad the industry leader.

    The free version is getting more clamped down all the time pushing you towards subscription though. You can also pull in bits from Master McCarr.

    Designing parts you need a basic concept of manufacturing process and material properties. For example a bridgport mill cannot make a hollow part while a 3d printer can. A bridgeport mill can work steel and aluminium which are far stronger than 3d plastic.

    Parts get more expensive if they need to be flipped during manufacture or milled with small tools.

    You also need a concept of sizing for example '15mm' rods probably wont fit into a '15mm' hole;15.05 more like but maybe when you spec a 15.05 hole you may get anything from 15 to 15.1. So the 15mm rod still wont fit into 50% of the produced parts even though you specced the larger hole.

    PM if you want somthing drawn - it wont be 'prohibitive'

    ===

    Ive only made on 3d print part, a top guide for my Movi. Im ust getting a camera case made in 3d print for a pi timelapse camera. Ive done loads of aluminium.


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    #6
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    Pi camera box, atomos plate, the gearing in my moco tilt arm, and the top of my 'dana' dolly and my auto cue. Much use of aluminium laser cut which (if you can face cleaning it up) is cheaper than milling. The auto cue is anodized which add production value.

    dollyTop.jpg

    mirror_box1.jpg

    pi_cam.jpg

    atmos1.jpg

    box.jpg

    Gearbox_01_2018-Aug-05_08-41-57PM-000_CustomizedView14752726529.jpg
    Last edited by morgan_moore; 02-22-2021 at 09:40 PM.


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    Thanks, @morgan_moore. You seem to have the ins and outs of this down and I may very well take you up on your offer. I have purchased something from you before and it's a quality piece of gear. I need to take some measurements and flesh out my ideas a little more but it's good to know that you're open to doing some custom work.


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    I used OpenSCAD for 3D printing lens focus gears, which aren't as good as machined ones, but averaged only $5 apiece. I didn't find OpenSCAD's scripting intuitive, but I was using a template and only had to enter a few dimensions.

    I think I used 3dhubs.com to print my designs, as my library doesn't have a 3D printer.

    Choose a good material like ABS, and make sure the printer supports the appropriate resolution for your design.


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    #9
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    I had a buddy 3D print some focus gears. Perfectly functional.


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    #10
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    I'm thinking of buying a 3d resin printer, guys are mixing resins to produce functional parts that are strong but not brittle (finally). And the price is coming down on both printers and resins. If you want to spend the money, you can get things printed from fused metal too. But when I looked into this for something I was looking to sell, the cost was way too high and would be cheaper by machining and welding. That was 5 years ago though, might be some change now.

    Fusion 360 would be worth learning, even with the new limits. The gears it generates are pretty good, I used it for all my focus gears and printed on my old FDM printer.


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