Airbus designed and 3D printed a motorbike inspired by a skeleton

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Aerospace corporation Airbus's Light Rider concept motorbike looks a bit like something HR Giger would draw (although his, of course, would be much cooler). In reality, the 3D-printed frame was inspired by skeletal structures that enable its bare-metal frame to weigh just 13 pounds but support a 220 pound rider. From the BBC News:

To design the bike's frame and swingarm rear section, (Airbus's) APWorks team collaborated with Altair Engineering, a US-based consulting company whose structural-design software works through the principle of "morphogenesis" — which in biology refers to process of environmental forces defining a natural organism's form and structure. Morphorgenetic software is written to create forms that achieve maximum strength with minimal mass, and Altair's system has contributed to the designs of such boundary-pushing machines as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Volvo Ocean 70 racing yacht, and the jet-powered Bloodhound SSC, which next year will attempt to break the land speed record...

The 3D-printing process employed to produce the Light Rider's frame is a marvel unto itself. The system uses a laser to melt powdered aluminium alloy in thousands of layers, each only 60 microns thick — about the width of a human hair. Airbus Group Innovations, the company’s research arm, developed the frame's aircraft-grade alloy, called Scalmalloy, which it claims matches the specific strength of titanium. The fabrication process — and the strength of the material — allows the morphogenetic software to specify finer and thinner structures than traditional tooling or moulding methods of manufacturing can produce. In fact, notes Gruenewald, the Light Rider’s frame even features hollow branches that hide cables and other components.

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11,373,076-to-1 gear reduction

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Oskar van Deventer made a colorful gearing system with a reduction factor of 11,373,076-to-1. "The application of this type of extreme reduction gears is unclear," says van Deventer. "A patient person could use it to move a heavy train locomotive with a dental drill." Read the rest

Claude Shannon, MOOCs, and nanoassembly: what 3D printing is really about

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Neal Gershenfeld, founder of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, has been talking about making digital things physical and physical things digital longer than almost anyone, and his books -- notably FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop -- are visionary and inspirational ways to think about how information technology has changed our species' relationship with the universe; while the Fab Labs he helped invent represent the best and most thoughtful way that a makerspace can be built to suit local community needs. Read the rest

Watch this mesmerizing and magical zoetrope

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Akinori Goto designed and 3D printed this magnificent zoetrope where it won awards at the recent Spiral Independent Creators Festival in Tokyo.

(via This Is Colossal) Read the rest

3D printable, fully articulated Lion Force Voltron

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Holy cow! This is one of the most complex, and amazing, 3D printed objects I've seen: Lion Force Voltron! Swedish designer Juri designed and printed this fabulous model of the first Voltron.

The lions all merge to form Voltron, just like you remember!

More photos, and the files so you can build it yourself (ha! ha! ha!) are available free at My Mini Factory!

Are you ready to form Voltron?

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This tiny camera can be injected with a syringe

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University of Stuttgart researchers used 3D printing to fabricate a tiny three-lens camera that fits on the end of an optical fiber no wider than two human hairs. Eventually, the technology could lead to a new kind of very thin endoscope for looking inside the human body. According to the researchers, the camera delivered "high optical performances and tremendous compactness." From Phys.org:

(The camera) can focus on images from a distance of 3.0 mm, and relay them over the length of a 1.7-metre (5.6-foot) optical fibre to which it is attached.

The "imaging system" fits comfortably inside a standard syringe needle, said the team, allowing for delivery into a human organ, or even the brain.

"Endoscopic applications will allow for non-invasive and non-destructive examination of small objects in the medical as well as the industrial sector," they wrote (in their scientific paper).

Below, the lens (blue) was fabricated directly on the optical fiber (red). The fiber and camera are emerging from a hollow, 27 gauge syringe needle:

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This man is building the business of DIY assault rifles

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Remember Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed who caused chaos last year with his design for a 3D printed gun, The Liberator? Now, Wilson and engineer John Sullivan have developed a $1500 desktop CNC mill, called the Ghost Gunner, that cranks out the key component in assault rifles. Now you can make your own AR-15! There's a waiting list to buy one and the money is going to Wilson's lawsuit against the State Department. From Rob Walker's excellent feature in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Most people can purchase a pretty good factory-built gun for $1,000. Even so, Wilson got 10 orders on Day One and started raising the price, soon cutting off pre-orders at 500. Sullivan submitted redesigned specs to suppliers by mid-December, with Wilson, Sullivan, and Denio building the earliest units themselves. They started shipping in April 2015.

Gradually, Wilson put together an assembly team—contacts from his network, random supporters who reached out via Twitter, and so on. “It’s torture man, getting going,” he says. “But here we are. It’s been a full year of Ghost Gunner shipping.” The enterprise just surpassed 2,000 units shipped. (An upgraded Ghost Gunner 2 debuted on June 21 at $1,500; you can get on a waiting list for $250.)

Sullivan has since transitioned to a “consulting role.” He spoke to me, somewhere en route to Oklahoma City, from his van, which is where he and his fiancée essentially live, having sold most of their possessions. He’s opted for a low-expense, permanent-vacation lifestyle, he says, and can now pick and choose the projects that interest him.

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3D printed sundial projects digital time

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Mojoptix designed and built a sundial that displays the time in its shadow. You can download the 3D printer files on Thingiverse, or buy one on Etsy.

Fun fact about this sundial: You will most likely never see it in a supermarket or a department store. The swiss cheese inside the sundial is so intricate, that you can’t realistically use injection molding, or some other mass-production method. 3D printing seems actually to be the only practical way to build this digital sundial ! (is that really true ?? let me know what you think in the comments !)

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New 3D printing config dramatically reduces print time

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Autodesk’s Project Escher allows multiple 3D printers to manufacture the same object simultaneously via a software "conductor." Read the rest

MIT researchers 3D print synthetic hairs

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MIT Media Lab researchers developed software to design and 3D print hair-like structures in bulk. Eventually, the 3D-printed hair could be used as sensors, actuators modeled on the cilia in our own lungs, and even Velcro-like adhesives for robots and other devices.

Their innovation was actually on the software side of the 3D-printing process. From MIT News:

Instead of using conventional computer-aided design (CAD) software to draw thousands of individual hairs on a computer — a step that would take hours to compute — the team built a new software platform, called “Cilllia,” that lets users define the angle, thickness, density, and height of thousands of hairs, in just a few minutes.

Using the new software, the researchers designed arrays of hair-like structures with a resolution of 50 microns — about the width of a human hair. Playing with various dimensions, they designed and then printed arrays ranging from coarse bristles to fine fur, onto flat and also curved surfaces, using a conventional 3-D printer...

To demonstrate adhesion, the team printed arrays that act as Velcro-like bristle pads. Depending on the angle of the bristles, the pads can stick to each other with varying forces. For sensing, the researchers printed a small furry rabbit figure, equipped with LED lights that light up when a person strokes the rabbit in certain directions. And to see whether 3-D-printed hair can help actuate, or move objects, the team fabricated a weight-sorting table made from panels of printed hair with specified angles and heights.

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Why 3D scans aren't copyrightable

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Something that baffles laypeople about copyright is what is, and is not, copyrightable; US law and international treaties protect the creative part of copyright, but not the labor part of copyright: merely working hard ("the sweat of the brow") on something isn't enough to give rise to a new copyright, but even a trivial amount of creative work is. So copying out the phone book gives you no copyright, even if it takes you all year, doesn't make it copyrightable. But writing a single haiku does. Read the rest

Endangered species ads: animals being 3D printed

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A new ad campaign from the International Fund for Animal Welfare features rendered images of cross-sectioned endangered animals on the beds of 3D printers, being printed out, layer by layer. Read the rest

Technoheritage has a property problem

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"Technoheritage" is the movement to preserve vulnerable history through digitization: making detailed scans of precious places, objects and works from which they can be recovered if they are destroyed by war, climate, or other disaster. Read the rest

Artists troll Thingiverse with 3D model mashup bot

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Shiv Integer is a bot created by artists Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and Julien Deswaef; it downloads Creative Commons-licensed models from Thingiverse, mashes them up into weird and often amazing new shapes, adds machine-generated titles and descriptions to them, and posts them. Read the rest

Virus trading cards, animated and 3D-printable

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Eleanor Lutz used files from the Protein Data Bank to model the molecules comprising the viruses that are the scourge of our human race. Read the rest

Funeral parlor 3D prints new faces for disfigured corpses

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Shanghai's Longhua Funeral Parlor now offers 3D printing of faces and other body parts to improve the appearance of the deceased during viewing.

"It is difficult for relatives to see incomplete faces or bodies of their loved ones when they attend memorial services, and makeup cannot always sufficiently repair them," Liu Fengming, an official with the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Service Center, said. From the Shanghai Daily:

After the explosion at Tianjin Port in August last year, the center sent experts to help repair the faces of firefighters killed in the blast.

The 3D-printing technology can also be used to make loved ones appear younger or better looking before they are interred, said Liu, who added that partial repair costs less than 10,000 yuan.

More at the World Post: "Chinese Funeral Home 3D Prints Body Parts For Damaged Corpses" Read the rest

Studio sculpts giant coin, photographs it alongside normal objects to make them look tiny

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In 2011, the Norwegian design studio Skrekkøgl scuplted a massive 50-Euro-cent coin and shot it from above with a tilt-shift lens alongside numerous full-sized objects to make them seem to be cunning miniatures. Read the rest

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