Boing Boing 

Toronto's reference library gets a makerspace


Toronto's Metro Reference Library has unveiled its new makerspace, which sports 3D printer and scanners, Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits, and digital AV production gear. They've also lured the Toronto Mini-Maker Faire into relocating to their space. The library's makerspace will over classes and workshops on programming, hardware hacking, and repairing your electronics. It's a great all-ages/all-comers complement to Toronto's existing makerspaces, including Hacklab, Site3, and Makerkids.

The location couldn't be any better, either. I love Metro Ref. When I was 14, I dropped out of high-school without telling my parents and started taking the subway down to Yonge and Bloor every day, spending all day at the reference library, spelunking in the shelves, subject indices and (especially) the newspaper microfilm, which was amazing. And I've always loved the idea of makerspaces in libraries: as I wrote during last year's Freedom to Read week, "We need to master computers — to master the systems of information, so that we can master information itself. That's where makers come in."

In a brief interview with Torontist, Toronto City Librarian Jane Pyper explains why the library's opened a makerspace:

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Key 3D printing patent expired yesterday


Yesterday marked the expiry of US Patent 5597589, "Apparatus for producing parts by selective sintering." This is one of the core patents in the 3D printing world -- the patent that allows 3D printer companies to charge more for fine nylon powder than Michelin-starred restaurants charge for filet mignon. The high cost of consumables in 3D printing has been a major barrier to innovation in the field -- selective laser sintering produces a fine finish that the patent-free fused deposition modeling technique used in Reprap-style printers can't match -- and now the brakes are coming off.

However, there are still lots of patents (including some genuinely terrible ones) in the 3D printing world, so the expiry of 5597589 doesn't necessarily mean that we'll see a flood of cheap printers and cheaper feedstock -- given the murkiness of the overlapping patent claims and the expense of litigating each one of them, radical new entrants into the field are still facing a lot of risk that has nothing to do with making great products at a fair price.

In a good piece on 3D Print, Eddie Krassenstein speculates about the scary supplementary laser-sintering patents lurking in the wings, pointing out that Stratasys (the major competitor of 3D Systems, who owned 5597589) didn't design their entry-lever printers to use SLS, even though they knew that the patent would be expiring in early 2014. Krassenstein suggests that this means that Stratasys knows about some other gnarly and deadly patent that would torpedo them if they went SLS.

But I'm a lot less convinced than Krassenstein is about the potential of a competitor taking the risky step of making a SLS printer that sticks to the claims in 5597589. Virtually every technical idea is covered by a stupid, overbroad patent, and yet people start businesses every day that open them to legal liability from a troll or an entrenched incumbent. If the potential for a patent suit was, in itself, a sufficient deterrent to raising capital and starting a business, we wouldn't see any startups. And a company that sticks to the claims in 5597589 has a powerful weapon in any patent suit: the USPTO granted 5597589 20 years ago, and so if they granted overlapping patents since, they were manifestly in error, a matter that is relatively (in patent terms, anyway) easy to prove.

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3D printed fingernails

NYC-based artist duo The Laser Girls produced a set of 3D printed artificial fingernails they call Sour Razz. They're made of dyed nylon.

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Building a fully open, transparent laptop


Bunnie Huang is a virtuoso in hardware engineering, and a hero of the open source hardware movement. In this Make post, he documents how he and Sean "xobs" Cross prototyped a laptop that was open and transparent to a very great degree, secure against all attacks short of dopant-level hardware trojans. The post -- and the photos of the gloriously fuggly laptop, which they dubbed "the Novena Project" -- is part requirements document, part philosophical statement, and part engineering text. I love Bunnie's reasoning for wanting an amazing, open laptop: he spends the majority of his waking hours with it, so he wants it to be as amazing as possible, and it's worth him spending the time and money to get there. I also love the requirements he sets out for genuine "openness" (I put some of these after the jump, below). Most of all, I love how this thing looks: rough-hewn, gloriously unfinished with its 3D printed panels, and as bursting with potential as the Colossus.

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Medical makers: 3D printed prostheses, junkbot operating theaters, and networked mutual aid


In Paging Dr. MacGyver, Julian Smith profiles a wide range of medical makers, from patients to carers to doctors, each of whom has homebrewed some important piece of medical or therapeutic equipment. From DIY prosthetic limbs to the wonderful Dr Oluyombo Awojobi, whose rural Nigerian clinic is graced with a collection of his brilliant improvised devices built from scrap, Smith makes the case for a networked world where medical needs, ingenuity, and a spirit of mutual aid and collaboration are offering new opportunities for making each other healthy.

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Wearable planters: 3D printed translucent jewelry, with plants!


Etsy seller Wearableplanter has a wide range of 3D printed planters: rings, jewelry -- even bicycle vases! They're intended for use with succulents, small flowers, and sprouts. They're watertight and translucent, and you can see the roots through the material.

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Edible sugar 3D printer at CES

3D Systems' display at this year's CES included the ChefJet 3D printer, whose output medium is flavored (chocolate, vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry and watermelon) sugar (it's softened with water and set with alcohol). The monochrome version is less than $5,000, and a full-color version will ship later this year at less than $10K. It's marketed at the food industry, and comes with simple modelling software. The technology's come a long way since the Evil Mad Scientists came up with the CandyFab five years ago. (via Singlarity Hub)

Complain about overpriced plastic dingus and a stranger will model a free 3D printable version


Back in April, a redditor complained that a simple plastic cable-comb (used to bundle cables) was too expensive at $45. Later that day, WillySF modelled a printable cable comb and linked to the shape files (1, 2). It's a bit of a futuristic moment, no?

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3D printer that draws pictures in jello shooters

Jeroen Domburg's friend was having a 25th birthday party at which jello shooters were to be served. Jeroen decided to liven these up by creating a 3D printer that inserted a needle into each shot and injected an ink made from banana liquor, food colouring and corn starch in 3D patterns like cubes and spirals. Even cooler: the main body of the electronics in the printer were harvested from superannuated DVD and CD drives, and the firmware for the printer is free software (TGZ) for your pleasure.

Jello 3d printer

3D-printable holiday fun-stuff in Thingiverse


Makerbot is celebrating Christmas with a set of printable Thingiverse objects of great delightfulness, including today's treat: a 3D printed snowball maker.

Countdown

3D printer in Minecraft

Derryl Murphy sez, "My son is home sick and found this video showing a 3D printer ItsJustJumby created for working inside the world of Minecraft. The engineering is way beyond the two of us, but we both still find it amazing and fascinating."

I could watch this all day. The description's actually very clear, and extremely clever. Great engineering smarts on display.

3D Printer With 16 Colors - Minecraft Invention (Thanks, Derryl!)

Dan Hillier piece as a 3D print


We're big fans of Dan Hillier's work around here -- the iconic, instantly recognizable grotesque Victorian collages. Now he's branched out into 3D printing. He writes: "I recently collaborated with a 3D printing design consultancy called Modla, for The Other Art Fair. Having met with their Creative Director, Jon Fidler, we worked on the creation of a 3D version of my work, 'Nothing Matters'. The piece is now available in a limited edition of 20." (Thanks, Dan!)

Kinematics: 4D printing for foldable, flexible forms

Jessica sez, "Kinematics is a system for 4D printing that creates complex, foldable forms composed of articulated modules. The system provides a way to turn any three-dimensional shape into a flexible structure using 3D printing. Kinematics combines computational geometry techniques with rigid body physics and customization. Practically, Kinematics allows us to take large objects and compress them down for 3D printing through simulation. It also enables the production of intricately patterned wearables that conform flexibly to the body."

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Scientists study fossils without having to remove them from rock

Here you can see a lump of rock with embedded fossils of bird bones trapped in the matrix. Below the rock are 3D printed models of those same fossils, created by paleontologist Brett Nachman. Other scientists captured the fossils inside the rock using CT scans that can see through the stone with the help of x-rays.

Last year, journalist Charles Choi wrote about the massive backlog of fossils in storage at most museums and suggested the possibility of using this kind of technology to study fossils that might not otherwise ever be removed from the hard matrix. Now, Charles is writing about people like Nachman who are doing just that — using technology to get at fossils that are too labor intensive to study.

Price-drop for Makies, design-it-yourself 3D-printed dolls


Makies, the 3D-printed toy company that lets you design your own poseable action doll, has just announced a major price-drop, to £69 (down from £99), just in time for the hols! Makies is based in east London, and ships worldwide.

(Disclosure: I'm extremely proud to be married to Alice Taylor, the founder and CEO of MakieLab)

3D printed, trainable robot arm with Arduino controller

Joly sez, "Maker navic09 demos a prototype trainable robotic arm, made from 3d printed parts, an Arduino, and Adafruit analog feedback servos. Inspired by the Baxter robot, this arm can be trained to move with your own hands. Once the train button is pressed, you move the arm and gripper as needed while the Arduino stores the positions in EEPROM. After that the arm will replay the motion as needed."

The gripper and arm are on Thingiverse.

Trainable Robotic Arm 1 (Thanks, Joly!)

Glowing 3D printed squid filled with bioluminescent soup


Rebecca Klee and Siouxsie Wiles's "Living Light" is a 3D printed hollow squid filled with bioluminescent bacteria. They've thoroughly documented their build-process, and the project is really shaping up to be gorgeous.

From the lab to the park (via O'Reilly Radar)

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Give your doll a makeup-friendly finish with PVA glue

The folks at Makielab have created a sweet series of stop motion animations featuring their 3D printed, custom Makie dolls in a variety of adventures, and giving advice on modding, improving and tweaking your doll. The latest installment demonstrates a technique for coating a doll's face with PVA glue to create a washable finish that will stably hold makeup until you wash it away, allowing for multiple facepaints.

Makies How To: Easy Doll Makeup!

(Disclosure: My wife Alice is the founder and CEO of Makies)

3D printed ukulele!

Lung X Lung printed out a Makerlele form Thingiverse, and in this video, demonstrates the beauty of a 3D printed uke!

全台灣第一支 3d 列印烏克麗麗 3d printed ukulele (Thanks, David!)

Manchester cops trumpet seized "3D printed gun" -- turns out to be parts for a 3D printer


Police in Manchester, UK made a huge show out of having seized a "3D printed gun." Then, it turned out that they'd just seized parts for a 3D printer. But it's still very scary, as Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood copsplains: it might have been a 3D printed gun, and they had "intelligence" about a 3D printed gun, and if we search the computers we stole, we might find plans for a 3D printed gun, and also, our botched, humiliating cockup "opens up a wider debate about the emerging threat these next generation of weapons might pose."

Thanks, Officer Hypothetical, for saving us from this dire threat!

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Micro dronecopter aerobatics

Joly sez, "Experts, activists, and makers from all over the world gathered last weekend for the first ever Drone and Aerial Robotics Conference (DARC) in NYC. One theme was miniaturization. Smaller UAVs are more agile, and less dangerous, although, as of now, they still suffer from the same FAA restrictions as their larger cousins. Another popular feature was FPV (First Person View) where flyers drive their drones via remote displays. One spectacular demo that combined both was from Eirik Solheim of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation who flew a 25 gram 3D printed $169 Micro Quadcopter out the stage's backdoor and into the backstage passages of the venue, and back. (here's video of the entire first day)"

DARC22 Eirk Solheim - Micro Quadcopter (Thanks, Joly!)

6-axis 3D printer can print on irregular surfaces

Yong Chen and his team at USC Engineering have built a six-axis-of-freedom 3D printer that can rotate its build platform and heads to enable it to print on irregular, curved and slanted surfaces; shown here, a 3D print on a curved bottle.

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Send a Togolese 3D printer made out of ewaste to Mars

Afate is a Togolese hacker who uses the WoeLab makerspace in Lome, Togo (the first makerspace in west Africa). He's invented a 3D printer made out of the ewaste that is piled high in neighborhood-sized ewaste dumps in Agbogbloshie, near Accra, Ghana. He's raised money on Ulule to standardize the printer, called the W.AFATE, so that anyone can turn ewaste into a 3D printer. The W.AFATE design has already won NASA's Space App challenge with a concept for building trashbot 3D printers on distant planets.

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Blokify: simple 3D modeling software

MAKE: "Blokify's custom block-based 3D modeling software makes it easy for folks, especially kids, to build object models, which they can then send directly to a home 3D printer."

Open source prosthetics Google+ hangout this Friday with Adafruit and Makerbot

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Our friends at Adafruit are hosting a month-long program on Google+ "aimed at crowdsourcing the manufacturing and delivery of the Robohand prosthetic to people in need." The next hangout is this Friday 10/11 at 8pm ET and MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis will be joining! Details are here.

Filamaker: turn misbegotten 3D prints back into filament


Joris sez, "I interviewed Marek Senický about his Filamaker today. The device is a grinder and filament extruder that recycles waste plastic and turns old unwanted 3D prints into new ones. I think its amazing and will greatly reduce the cost of 3D printing. Effectively to zero if waste is used [Ed: that's artistic license -- I'm sure Joris is familiar with the second law of thermodynamics]. It will also make 3D printing much greener."

I wrote about Filabot, a competitor of Filamaker, last January. Joris explains the difference: "Filamaker has a grinder and extruder. So it grinds up old 3D prints and turns them into filament. It can also grind up ABS waste products and turn those into filament. So you take any old ABS item and grind it and filament pops out. The Filabot is only an extruder that takes pellets and turns them into filament."

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Blizzident: 3D printed whole-mouth-at-once toothbrush

Blizzident is a custom-made, 3D printed, whole-mouth-at-once toothbrush that claims to be able to clean your teeth in six seconds. It uses a mold of your teeth, lined with "a dense field of tailored bristles" that work with an integrated tongue-scraper and floss to conduct what appears to be a thorough scraping, brushing, and flossing of all the significant mouth-surfaces.

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Seej: a 3D printed, free real-world tower defense game


Zhreng3's Seej is a free/open 3D printable tabletop war-game, a real-world tower-defense game you print and play at home. Seej's players come up with all sorts of innovations that are integrated into a constantly updated set of free designs.

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Kickstarting a $100 open-source hardware 3D printer

The PeachyPrinter is a well-funded Kickstarter project that aims to produce a $100 kit-based 3D printer that outputs photo-cured resin. The kits are meant to be assembled in an hour, and fully assembled units start at $400. The plans are all open-source hardware licensed and the project includes a great ethical statement about safety, privacy, and freedom. The team looks like it has some good domain-experience, though, of course, as with all crowdfunded projects, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you'll get nothing for your money.

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Mark's live Interview with MakerBot's Bre Pettis on Monday, 9/16

Join me this Monday for a MAKE Special Event: a live Google Hangout with Bre Pettis, co-founder of MakerBot, the 3D printer company. We will discuss the latest technologies being developed by MakerBot, including the new digitizer and more!

Mark's live Interview with MakerBot's Bre Pettis on Monday, 9/16 at 12:30pm ET