LEO the Maker Prince teaches children (both young and old) about 3D printing by following Carla and LEO's journey through Brooklyn. LEO is a walking, talking robot who has the magical ability to to print (in plastic) any object that Carla draws. The other robots have their own special capabilities: H1-H0 prints in metal, Sinclair-10 can find and print objects from a huge catalog of designs, and the others (including AL1C3-D, IRIS-7, and NiXie) have unique talents, too. Readers can come along for the journey, too: all of the objects in the book are printable one way or another.
3D Printing Insights from Author Carla Diana
- Interesting artifacts and textures sometimes emerge as a byproduct of the 3D printing process. The cover letters for LEO were the result of a “happy accident.” A print of some standard extruded lettering was stopped halfway through, and the letterforms that emerged were more unique than what we had originally designed. People often ask us what typeface it is and we love describing how it was formed from a print that’s halfway done.
- By printing a hollow piece and then pausing the printer halfway through, you can take advantage of “throw-ins” to give an object special properties. For example, magnets or metal parts can be thrown in to make your pieces stick together. In LEO, we used rice as a throw-in to make a shaker instrument.
- The 3D modeling software Rhino has a plugin for Python scripting that allows people to use code to generate forms based on algorithms. For example, the jewelry that the character Stephanie creates is based on mathematical spirals.
- It’s fun to experiment with different polishes to change the surface of 3D-printed parts. Acetone (the same thing that’s in nail polish remover) can be brushed on the surface of an ABS or PLA print to make it smooth and shiny.
- When 3D-printing food, it’s important to design for two-and-a-half dimensions: This means a 3D object where higher layers do not hang above lower layers in the 3D print. This helps you avoid sagging.