Make: a Rick and Morty-inspired butter-passing robot

Andre was so impressed with the existential crisis of a butter-passing robot as depicted in the cartoon Rick and Morty that he created his own, and shows you how to make one for yourself. Read the rest

3D print a baby universe at home!

Dave from Imperial College sez, "We've taken observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background from the Planck mission and turned them into a 3D printed map of the temperature of the universe when it was just a few hundred thousand years old. Download the files and print your own baby universe!" Read the rest

Beautiful 3D-printed "metamaterial" sculptures that shrink when heated

Researchers from MIT and the University of Southern California 3D printed tiny, and quite beautiful, sculptures out of two different materials that usually expand when heated. But the specific architectures of these sugarcube-sized sculptures instead enable them to shrink when heated. The effect is similar to a Hoberman sphere, the wonderful isokinetic toy sculpture that mechanically collapses to a fraction of its original size. From MIT News:

The researchers consider the structures to be “metamaterials” — composite materials whose configurations exhibit strange, often counterintuitive properties that are not normally found in nature.

In some cases, these structures’ resistance to expanding when heated — rather than their shrinking response per se — may be especially useful. Such materials could find applications in computer chips, for example, which can warp and deform when heated for long periods of time. “Printed circuit boards can heat up when there’s a CPU running, and this sudden heating could affect their performance,” (MIT mechanical engineer Nicholas X.) Fang says. “So you really have to take great care in accounting for this thermal stress or shock..."

Fang and his colleagues printed small, three-dimensional, star-shaped structures made from interconnecting beams. They fabricated each beam from one of two ingredients: a stiff, slow-to-expand copper-containing material, and a more elastic, fast-expanding polymer substance. The internal beams were made from the elastic material, while the outer trusses were composed of stiff copper.

“If we have proper placement of these beams and lattices, then even if every individual component expands, because of the way they pull each other, the overall lattice could actually shrink,” Fang says...

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Prince's ashes rest in a 3D-printed urn shaped like his home

In the entry of Prince's home-turned-museum, visitors walk past a 3D-printed ceramic replica of the building they just entered. What some may not realize is that the scale replica is in fact an urn containing Prince's cremains. Read the rest

Robots 3D-printed with shock-absorber skins

MIT researchers developed a method to 3D print robots with soft, shock-absorbing materials that can be "programmed" to desired elasticity to protect bouncing bots, drones making hard landings, and eventually phones, shoes, helmets and other materials. From MIT News:

For example, after 3-D printing a cube robot that moves by bouncing, the researchers outfitted it with shock-absorbing “skins” that use only 1/250 the amount of energy it transfers to the ground.{? “That reduction makes all the difference for preventing a rotor from breaking off of a drone or a sensor from cracking when it hits the floor,” says (MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory director Daniela) Rus, who oversaw the project and co-wrote a related paper. “These materials allow us to 3-D print robots with visco-elastic properties that can be inputted by the user at print-time as part of the fabrication process...”

“It’s hard to customize soft objects using existing fabrication methods, since you need to do injection moulding or some other industrial process,” says Lipton. “3-D printing opens up more possibilities and lets us ask the question, ‘can we make things we couldn’t make before?”

Using a standard 3-D printer, the team used a solid, a liquid, and a flexible rubber-like material called TangoBlack+ to print both the cube and its skins. The PVM process is related to (CSAIL Director Daniela) Rus’ previous 3-D printed robotics work, with an inkjet depositing droplets of different material layer-by-layer and then using UV light to solidify the non-liquids.

The cube robot includes a rigid body, two motors, a microcontroller, battery, and inertial measurement unit sensors.

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French schools use 3D printed anatomical clitoris models in sex-ed classes

The amazing internal anatomy of the clitoris is a mystery that has surfaced and vanished in history, coming into focus in 2005 (!), when Royal Melbourne Hospital urologist Helen O'Connell published her groundbreaking MRI studies. Read the rest

Polishing 3D-printed bronze coins in a rock tumbler

Barnacules Nerdgasm used 3D printing medium with 80% bronze to make some physical bitcoins. The result was cool, but it got even cooler when he threw them in a rock tumbler. Read the rest

Open licenses don't work for uncopyrightable subjects: 3D printing edition

Michael Weinberg (who has written seminal stories on 3D printing and copyright) writes, "We are seeing widespread adoption of copyright-based open licenses in 3D printing and open source hardware. This is great in that it shows that the culture of openness has really permeated the culture. It is not so great because a significant number of the things nominally licensed in these communities aren't actually protected by copyright." Read the rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 !)

[Previously] Read the rest

New 3D printing config dramatically reduces print time

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

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