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NASA Chainmail Fabric

by ConnorMPrints Jul 16, 2017
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I remember fabric just like this back in the 1980's. It was made out of 24k gold, made into a shirt and presented to a dignitary who's daughter was in my class (not practical to wear more than maybe once or twice due to the soft gold). The blocks were tiny, probably 1or 2 mm (if memory serves me right). Not 3d printed of course and the labor was worth more than the cost of the gold back then. It was heavy and felt so good to the touch. The outside being mirror polished felt almost like rubber against the skin, can't really describe it. Her parents packed the shirt away and left us with a small block of fabric to play with for the day.

This was in South Africa by the way.

Just had a really odd print happen....did the 10x10 low res...just hit 100% and finished, was going along flawlessly...However, the rings that join all of thee branches just didn't print. All I have are the squares on the bottom and then the branches reaching upwards and intertwining to some extent, but no rings! Any thoughts anyone? Maybe my filament stopped feeding....I should have watched the last few layers..darn

Wow - just wow - I've just started to print this in Red on my Prusa !

I noticed that the prints for all but 15 x 15 super low resolution seem to be welded together.

I'm gonna try this file out, but I have a question:

This may be obvious to you or someone else reading this, but after printing, does the "flat side go up"? Or another way to phrase it should be, what benefits would this give with either side "going up"?

You friend will make the world a better place. Now maybe do a honeycomb one?

Never mind, honeycomb popped up a lot on here these days.

Absolutely incredible.....amazing....mind blowing......fantastic print.

Thank you for your efforts and hard work creating and posting this.

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I just wanted to pass on some info I learned recently that may help you with this project. I saw a video of a maker that was making great products like you're working on by inserting fabric/screen/connectors (paperclips are one I can remember) after printing the first 2-3 layers, and then finishing the print afterwards. I saw it in a video covering (I think it was) the Midwest Makers Fair (pretty confident the "Fair" part is wrong). But his finished products were VERY cool.

Truly Sweet, Just for the mental exorcise do you wanna try a Pentagonal Version,...Triangular Version?

Do you print it with the base down or standing???

The flat side needs to be the first layer. I modeled this in Fusion 360, where the Y axis is the "up" direction, but 3D printers use the z axis as the "up" direction. Sorry for the confusion!

There's an option in Fusion 360's settings to make Z axis up on new files. Doesn't do anything for existing ones, but if you're primarily using it for printing it can save some time in the future!

Curious if you ever printed on a Form 2? @CMeehanRun

An interesting modification might be to give each edge of the bed-facing surface a very slight inward scallop, I think it would come off of the bed in a more flexible state without sacrificing strength although it might be an attack on the pixel aesthetic. Really neat, thanks!

Hi CMeehanRun,

Thanks for uploading this design, it's awesome and works well with FDM. I'm planning on printing a variant of this out of copper using a DMLS machine, but I need to make some modifications to avoid the need for supports. I've tried to follow your design steps but I just can't figure out how to get from Step 2 to Step 3. Would you be able to please provide some guidance?



Thanks for the feedback! I'm about to take an exam, but when I get back I'll add another step in between 2 and 3 as well as adding more pictures for reference. I am personally interested and excited to see how a copper DMLS print of this would turn out!

Thanks! That would be awesome.

I'll be sure to share some images of the final copper piece when I eventually get it made.

Good luck with your exam!

Do you print them together? It dosent sound like they can be connect and disconnected

your assumptions are correct

The model takes way too much time to slice. I left in overnight and it was only as 60 percent. Could you find some way to speed up the 15 x 15 model?

There is a new file called "Nasa Chainmail 15x15 - Very Low Res". Hopefully this new file can slice better!

That's really interesting! What slicing software are you using? I can try and decrease the polygon count even more, but Simplify3D can slice the 15x15 in roughly three minutes!

I'm having trouble understanding your walk through on how you built this, especially steps 4 through 6. I was wondering if you could explain a little more on how you made this area, or maybe upload a STEP file of your 1x design so we can look the design process directly?


Yes! I will put a 1x1 tile STEP file under the Thing Files tab now.

Hello, the STEP file is broken when i open it with solidworks. Can u upload an other version please?

Thanks so much for the 360 walkthrough! Super excited to give this one a go.

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Hey could you put up a larger, low res version ? I am absolutly in love with this model but i am not able to make a biger one myself.

Sure! What is your printer's build plate dimensions? I'll also be providing a 10x10, 12x12, and 15x15 all low resolution.

Hey, I have a problem with the chains fusing together even when scaledup any idea on how to fix it ?

It could be an over-extrusion or a retraction problem. If you have an image of one of these failed prints, that could help even more.

Quick update: since printing the 15x15 chain mail I seemed to have similar problems with other models too so I testet the bedleveling and the bed wasn`t level so i am guessing that that was the problem. (curently printing another one)

The weird thing is that the 8x8 version works great and without any options and the 15x15 presents the problemes mentioned above. (pictures can be seen in the "made" category)

Nice !!! The dimensions are 200x200mm. Thanks

Is there a way to join multiple, separately printed pieces?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to join printed pieces. However, you can take two STL files and line them up in your slicer so that it acts like a larger piece (i.e. taking two 8x8's to make an 8x16).

Thanks! So you are saying after printing is complete, they can't be joined, but multiple pieces can be arranged and printed at once to make one larger piece?

Yes. I would recommend previewing the gcode so that the parts don't fuse together during printing.

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Looks cool, could you give me an idea on what I might use this for when printed from my regular available PLA or ABS?

This is mostly a proof of concept by NASA, and I just thought it was interesting. You could use this as a coaster for coffee mugs or glasses, it is really up to you!

I used Hatchbox PLA for the print in the picture. PLA works best for me; ABS stringed too much.