Have you ever thought that nixie tubes are cool but too difficult to control with modern electronics? And that they are just too expensive? [david.reid] apparently he thought so and decided to create his own version of a nixie tube and it doesn’t get much cheaper than this one.
PETG Nixie Tube
While he was working on a 3D printed locomotive with his son, [david.reid] used clear PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) 3D printer filament to move light from LEDs to different parts of the locomotive. He found this to be a success but rubbed the outside of the filament to see what would happen. Lo and behold, a warm glow appeared on the surface of the tube! Like any good hacker, his next thought was Nixie tubes, as you’ve seen in many clocks.
Its main idea is that with a little heat you can bend the filament into any shape you like ([david.reid] uses custom shapes). You then use some sandpaper to roughen the outside wherever you want to show light and add an LED at the bottom to light it up!
[david.reid] isn’t the first person to modernize Nixie Tubes. Over the years we’ve seen them paired up with Wi-Fi cards, individual LED segments, or even laser cutters and WS2812!
Now is a good time to get started on a Hackaday Prize project! If you’re looking for a place to start, we’d love to see at least your own take on a watch!
On the last day of the MRRF, the guys at Lulzbot printed a vase with a clear Taulman T-glass on their TAZ 6 prototype. It was probably the third or fourth they printed, but I was forced to go there because they painted the filament with a blue sharpie just before it entered the extruder.
I immediately thought of this video that hit our tips last fall and fell through the cracks – a short one from [Angus] at Maker’s Muse on creating your own colored filament by spraying clear PLA with cheap spray paint. This is a good alternative to painting a finished print because the paint won’t rub off. The pigment fuses with the PLA at the hot end and ensures an even color.
Disclaimer time: [Angus] ran its spray-painted PLA through a WANHAO i3, which is a cheap, modified Prusa that actually has pretty good reviews. The point is, he doesn’t care if the nozzle is clogged. But the nozzle didn’t clog. Nothing bad happened at all and the prints were great. As you can see in the video after the break, he tried silver and blue separately on short lengths of filament and then switched colors to get the striped Marvin in the main image. [Angus]The main concern is that the color is likely to affect the strength of the print.
Have you tried spraying filament? How did it go? Let us know in the comments. If you long to print cheaply in any color but don’t seriously want to risk clogging your hot end, there’s always the bored Sharpie method.
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