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FlexMesh 1.0 -- Flexible Chainmail Mesh

by neobobkrause, published

FlexMesh 1.0 -- Flexible Chainmail Mesh by neobobkrause Aug 12, 2014

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Summary

Update: Now check out FlexMesh 2.0 which takes FlexMesh to the next level.

FlexMesh suggests a few interesting ways to think outside the box when designing for today's 3D printers.

  • Plastic is fairly rigid, but with the proper geometry some objects printed with plastic can be flexible, durable and strong.
  • Flat shapes can be folded to form tall objects, and tall shapes can be flattened to great lengths.
  • The build area of your printer is 2D, but the build volume is 3D.
  • Your printer's build volume only confines the size of your print jobs, not the full size of your project.
    Suggest other ways we can overcome the limits of 3D printing today.

Updates...

  • Makerbot slicers are now supported for single-layer meshes.

  • TriSphere is another flexible mesh pattern worth exploring.

Instructions

Makerbot and Simplify3D slicers has been successfully used to print these shapes. All prints have only been done using ABS on FlashForge printers with a layer height of 0.2mm, 2 shells and a 10% infill. The longest length mesh printed so far is about 8.5 feet. (This 147mm tall print consumed almost 2kg of filament and took a FlashForge Creator X 200 hours to complete.) Filaments used to produce flexible and durable joints include Octave and Zen Toolworks.

Simple dimensional drawings have been uploaded that show the individual shapes of the mesh as well as the dimensions of various useful shape combinations. The mesh was intentionally designed for easy manipulation. All the flat shapes are 6.75mm tall. Both the large and small shapes (which are called 'main' and 'sub', respectively) repeat every 25mm in both the X and Y dimensions. Successive vertical layers of fabric are always 7mm above the layer below. The 'short sub' shape (which is 14mm tall) is used to connect Main objects of adjacent layers.

Single layer meshes are printed without a raft or supports. However multi-layer jobs require that big supports be manually added below every Short Sub part using Simplify3D's super-handy manual-supports feature of Simplify3D. Support for multi-layer prints using Makerbot slicers is still being worked on.

Joints should rotate immediately after printing, though unusually stiff joints should be allowed to cool in order to reduce the chance of a peg shearing. A small tool head wiggled and wedged in between the corners of a main should all that's necessary to separate vertical layers of mesh.

Larger meshes are constructed by using pegs to join a Main to a Sub. Note that the last few millimeters of one end of a peg has a slightly larger diameter in order to keep the peg seated in the Main. Snips can be used to trim the length of a peg if it sticks out further than desired.

Have fun and please take the time to submit remixes for the benefit of all.

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Nice concept ! :)

I've just printed the 3x3 in a FoldaRap using Slic3r + Pronterface.

3x3x3 seems to be sliced well with the same settings, with no manual nor automatic support added. I'll try it in the next days :)

Glad to hear that your print came out well. Still working on a version that the Makerbot slicer can handle.

Just finished my 3x3 with 2 shells and 10% infill. Came out really clean. I had anticipated some slight purposeful snapping of the joints during the first bending to loosen them up, however they were so clean and flexible with no cleanup required!

Great job. Metallic silver hits the spot as well. Digging in to start printing some more.

Thanks,
Steve

Good to know others are thinking outside the box too! Good example of an alternating element structure! I have a 10 x 10 grid refined spheremail mesh compiling slowly at this moment.

Hey Steve. I've been printing with 2 shells and 10% infill. Let me know if you have any problems printing.

I see that you printed yours with .2mm. Did you use infill? How many shells?

I have a Flashforge Creator X and Simplify 3D, and will be using ABS (metallic silver).

Printing the 3x3 now but would like to ensure that I use the same settings as you before going further.

Thanks, Steve

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