Complexity is free.

The spools of ABS that I purchased when I bought my Replicator are finally about to run out, so I went online to get some new ones.

I ended up getting some green ABS and blue PLA from Amazon reseller jet_jet2004, who was nice enough to throw in an extra kg of PLA as a courtesy. Thanks, Jet!

I got the box open and discovered that the spools don’t fit on the back of the Makerbot. The spool bores are way too small. Opportunity!

I opened up the Tinkeriffic Gear Set, did a little vertex slice and dice, and printed a pair of spindles that fit snugly in the holes. Five minutes of Tinkertoying later and I have a functional spool setup for 40mm plastic spools.

Last week I was listening to Science Friday: Can 3D Printers Reshape the World? when Ira Flatow was interviewing Bre Pettis, Hod Lipson, and Terry Wohlers.

Wohlers said something that stuck with me: “With these printers, complexity is free.”

Complexity of design is no longer a barrier to (small scale) manufacturing. The complexity of a design is baked into the process; there’s not much difference from the human perspective between manufacturing baroque and mundane objects.

Press a button, get an object. Let the robot do the work.

There’s no reason for the wavy spokes on the spindle except to adhere to the Rule of Cool. But they exist, and it doesn’t take any more human effort to have them than it would have taken to omit them.

There are many. other. fine. spindles. on Thingiverse, but think this one is the first that’s designed with Tinkertoy compatibility in mind.

Download it here.

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