Demonstration of SpaceX's experimental rocket design tools melding gestural interfaces, 3D design, virtual reality, and 3D printing.
Dylan sez, "The hyper-designed world of architectural model building is facing a new threat - the advent of 3D printing. Dylan Reibling's new short film MODEL is a playful look at the battle for supremacy between man and machine. The film pits old school card stock against new wave plastic filament in a smart and charming portrait of an art form at a crossroads. As an added bonus, you can watch the video as an animated GIF!"
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As I mentioned last month, the 3D printed dolls from Makies are now on sale at the British department store Selfridges, marking the first time that a 3D printed object has passed all the toy-safety tests and been sold to the public. Makies have created four limited-edition premade characters for the Selfridges collection (Tesla, Ada, Curie and Hopper) and they're also selling in-store custom-designed dolls. It's very exciting stuff for us -- my wife Alice founded Makies, and I'm agog at how awesome they've come out.
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Martin Galese's Thingiverse account is full of amazing 3D objects modeled on 19th-century patent drawings. Galese, a patent attorney, has launched his project -- and an accompanying Tumblr of lovely patent drawings -- to help people understand the value he perceives in the patent system.
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Fred Kahl, a Coney Island performer and magician, is kickstarting a project to put a 3D scanning/printing studio and a 3D printed miniature Coney Island at Coney Island's Luna Park. He's developed a cheap 3D scanner based on a Kinekt, and will release the full plans to Thingiverse once he's fully funded. He's looking for $15K (he's already crested $10K), and $25 gets you scanned in his NY studio ($60 gets you scanned and printed).
A team from Oxford University has launched a $75,000 Kickstarter to go into production on a point-and-shoot 3D scanner called Fuel3D that will retail for about $1000 (though there are a limited number of $750 beta-run devices). The scanner uses a calibrated pair of cameras and some on-board software to produce 3D images suitable for post-processing, animation and 3D printing. The team started off developing this for medical imaging, and has some experience in this sort of manufacturing, but as with all Kickstarters, there are no guarantees that you'll ever get anything if you stump up for a pre-order -- caveat emptor.
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Life-cycle economic analysis of distributed manufacturing with open-source 3-D printers (paywall link), a new paper published in Mechatronics, examines the cost of common household objects and calculates the projected return-on-investment for a household that buys a 3D printer and makes their own everyday objects, using open design files from sites like Thingiverse, rather than buying them in shops. The researchers concluded that a family could quickly -- in less than "a few years" -- recoup the cost of the printer if they printed their everyday objects. I suspect that the real value of 3D printers isn't simply replacing household objects, but rather, in ushering in new ways of relating to objects -- the same way that email and VoIP don't simple substitute for phone calls, but rather enable entirely different kinds of communications.
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Justin Engler and Paul Vines will demo a robot called the Robotic Reconfigurable Button Basher (R2B2) at Defcon; it can work its way through every numeric screen-lock Android password in 19 hours. They built for for less than $200, including the 3D printed parts. It doesn't work on screen-patterns (they're working on that) nor on Ios devices (which exponentially increase the lockout times between unsuccessful password attempts). They're also whomping up new versions that can simulate screen-taps with electrodes, which will run much faster. They're also working on versions that can work against hotel-room safes, ATMs, and other PIN-pad devices. It's a good argument for a longer PIN (six-digit PINs take 80 days to crack), and for using robust and random PINs (26% of users use one of 20 PINs).
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Londoners: Some amazing news from Makies, the east London 3D printed custom toy company ("Toys from the future!"). They've just announced a deal with Selfridges to sell a limited-edition run called "Makies Fashion Mavens" with four characters called Tesla, Curie, Ada and Hopper. The toys are hand-finished and come with hand-tailored clothes and go on sale on August 5 and will only be sold until Christmas.
(Disclosure: I am married to Alice Taylor, who founded MakieLab and is its CEO)
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The 3-Bee printing project was a collaboration between a bee-keeper and an artist who created sculptural hives designed to encourage bees to deposit their wax in a specific way, producing a gorgeous "print." It was sponsored by a booze company, and the video makes you wait until the very end to see the cool thing, but that's what the little timeline slider on the bottom is for. Skip to 2:55 for the awesome.
Thingiverse has announced the winners in its Birdhouse Challenge, which asked makers to come up with designs for 3D printable birdhouses. First place went to ErikJDurwoodII's American Craftsman Bungalow, which is so cool it made my eyes water. The other two runners-up are definitely worth a look in as well (see after the jump for a preview).
Autodesk makes huge trove of docs, training materials and 3D asset files available under Creative Commons
Rama from Autodesk sez, "Autodesk, the design software company you probably know from AutoCAD also makes entertainment software used to make movies, TV shows and video games -- stuff like the Iron Man movies, Man of Steel, Game of Thrones and The Last of Us made a big announcement this morning. The group adopted the Creative Commons licensing which means 20,000 pages of documentation, 70 videos and 140 downloadable 3D asset files are now ready to be modified, remixed and shared globally. On the YouTube learning channels for their Maya and 3ds Max software, their iTunes podcasts, and their help pages, youâ€™ll see the Creative Commons tag for easy identification. And itâ€™s just the beginning, Autodesk said soon all Autodesk online help, learning channel movies, podcasts, support articles and downloadable materials will be placed under the Creative Commons model -- even their Autodesk University training content past and future. It's a bold move to open up their intellectual property for digital artists everywhere"
Autodesk takes great pride in offering high-quality resources that support the pursuit of lifelong learning, supplement classroom materials, and contribute to digital community development. Many of these great resources are now licensed to you under Creative Commons because we believe that learning should be free, open, and shared widely around the world! Look for the Creative Commons tags in our online help, learning channel movies, podcasts, support articles and downloadable materials. More content to come soon…
The Distributed Flight Array is an experimental project from ETH Zurich; it's a set of 3D-printed hexagonal rotors with magnets on their edges; they automatically join up with one another, sense and compute the aerodynamic properties of their current configuration, and cooperate to fly together.
The system is designed around a central propeller which provides thrust for the structure. Surrounding it are three omni-directional wheels that let the bots get into position with each other on the ground while magnets embedded in the frame provide a connection. A gyroscope provides positional information to an on-board microprocessor while an infrared sensor feeds information about altitude to the system. Pins allow the collected bots to communicate this real-time data between each other and adjust their individual thrusts to keep the combined unit stable. Despite the sensitive nature of the electronics, when a flight is over, the bots disengage midair and fall safely to the ground where the process can begin anew.
Individual units can only propel themselves spastically around a room, but when joined the DFA modules can create traditional quadcopters, more advanced decacopters, and their most impressive applications are atypical and asymmetrical arrays that defy traditional aeronautic aesthetics. These odd combos often produce interesting flight patterns — in one configuration where the bots are aligned linearly, the construct appears to flap as the opposite ends try to reach equilibrium.
...Next steps for the project will be removing the last vestiges of human control—currently a motion-capture system or an operator using a joystick has to provide a small amount of feedback to keep the system from drifting away. The hope is that the DFA becomes completely autonomous and increasingly versatile. “What I would love to see is in-flight reconfiguration,” says Oung. “Which I think is certainly possible with the current system.”
Watch: Autonomous Robots Self-Assemble and Take Flight as One [Joseph Flaherty/Wired]
The key patents covering a 3D printing technique called "laser sintering" are set to expire in the next year or two -- there are a bunch of them, so they'll trickle out -- and this will radically reduce the price of printing and printers. Laser sintering involves melting a fine powder (usually plastic) in order to fuse it with the powder below and around it, and it's a technique that produces a very smooth, even finish. The big 3D printer manufacturers, who control the laser sintering patents, have used patent law to lock up the market for devices, and to prevent device-owners from sourcing their powder from third parties. As a result, simple, cheap plastic powder can cost more than filet mignon by weight, which means that the cost of 3D printed objects is very high -- especially when you factor in the extremely high cost (and high profit margins!) on the printers themselves.
As these patents expire, it will mean that mass-manufactured printers from China and elsewhere will be able to integrate laser-sintering, setting aside the extruded plastic wire technique that is presently standard. With wire-extrusion, a wire filament is melted inside a print-head, and then forced out of a fine nozzle, like icing coming out of an icing bag. This produces a rougher finish and is prone to delamination during the print-process.
Patent expiry will also open new horizons to the world of hacker/maker printers, like the RepRap and its derivatives. These open-source hardware printers will likewise be able to integrate laser sintering, and to take advantage of a coming explosion in plastic powder suppliers.
All told, it's an exciting moment to be in. 3D printing is a minefield of stupid patents -- there's a patent on putting see-through plastic windows on the sides of a 3D printer! -- but thankfully, they're mostly old and starting to expire. Give it a couple of years and there will be a very robust, open marketplace of cheap, innovative, and open printers flooding the market.
Within just a few years of the patents on FDM expiring, the price of the cheapest FDM printers fell from many thousands of dollars to as little as $300. This led to a massive democratization of hobbyist-level 3D printers and injected a huge amount of excitement into the nascent movement of “Makers,” who manufacture at home on the scale of one object at a time.
A similar sequence involving the lifting of intellectual property barriers, a rise in competition, and a huge drop in price is likely to play out again in laser deposition 3D printers, says Shapeways’ Scott. “This is what happened with FDM,” he says. “As soon as the patents expired, everything exploded and went open-source, and now there are hundreds of FDM machines on the market. An FDM machine was $14,000 five years ago and now it’s $300.”
3D printing will explode in 2014, thanks to the expiration of key patents [Christopher Mims/Quartz]
Eric Robbins has been down to his local library to play with their Replicator 2 3D printer; he whipped up this gorgeous 3D model of our mascot, the magnificent Jackhammer Jill. He's provided a link to the STL file, and says, "Anyone is free to use or modify it." Bravo, Eric!
Thingiverse's Cookie Cutter Customizer is a tool for taking doodles and sketches and turning them into 3D-printable cookie-cutters.
The Hy-Rel 3D is a 3D printer with four extruder heads that prints with play-doh, Sugru, plasticine, and other pasty substances. Here's a demo of the printer running four different colors of Sugru -- a great, fast-drying, dishwasher safe fix-everything putty -- to print out a (fairly low-rez) semi-sphere. The Hy-Rel was funded through a successful Kickstarter, and now sports "emulsifying extruders" that are the basis for this demo.
Bozardeux, a recent French graduate and Instructables user, has undertaken a project to make an open, 3D printed
DSLR camera. All the parts and designs are licensed CC Attibution-ShareAlike.
3D Printed Camera : OpenReflex by Bozardeux (Thanks, Gregory)
The OpenReflex is an Open-Source analog camera with a mirror Viewfinder and an awesome finger activated mechanic shutter (running ~ 1/60°s). What's more, it's compatible with any photographic lens with custom mount ring.
All the pieces easily printable on any recent RepRap-like ABS 3D-printer without using support material ! Everything should print in less than 15h and anyone should be able to assemble it within 1h.
All parts are separate ( Film receiver, Shutter and Viewfinder ) to simplify builds and modifications. The source files are available under the CreativeCommon By-Sa license, fell free to modify them if you want a new feature, and don't forget to share your improvements on the web ;)
John sez, "Pirate3D have a Kickstarter project for The Buccaneer. It's a 3D printer, designed to be used as an appliance. Print from an open library of objects on Pirate3D's servers, submit your own designs, or print .stl files from your computer. There is a smartphone app for manipulating and printing the objects from the cloud librabry. The Kickstarter closes in 4 days."
The founders have a mixed set of biographical info, but a couple sound like they have real manufacturing experience. Still, crowdfunding caveats apply: they may never make anything. You may never get anything. They use proprietary cartridges, but it sounds like you can use standard feedstock on spools, as well, which should hedge against gouging on consumables.
Digital Grotesque is an ambitious architectural project using 3D printers and game-of-life-style algorithms to produce a room whose walls, baseboards, ceiling and moldings are all a-crawl with the most astonishing array of forms and complexities. They've completed a 1:3 prototype, which is presently on exhibit in Basel, and are proceeding to print out the full-scale item.
the prototypes show a regard for both material sensitivity and the limits of technologically manipulated form-- millions of grains of sand bind together to create a new typology of sandstone and subsequently treated to be glazed and gilded. drawing from the algorithmic confines of the game of life and cell division, a set of simple geometries met with minimal parameters begets a highly involved form. the result is rich, shimmering composition ridden with impossible undercuts and a transcendental sense of the limits of technology. the term grotesque is derived from the unplanned complexities of a water-shaped grotto, itself a naturally occurring architecture long regarded for the uncanny presence of human-sized spaces in various landscapes.
(Images: Digital Grotesque)
Michael from Public Knowledge sez, "Members of the New York City Council seem to have read a few articles about 3D printed guns and decided to hop on the bandwagon. Their new bill got them some attention because it has the words "3D printing" in it. But it also betrayed a near total ignorance of what 3D printing is, and fails to explain why it is regulating 3D printed guns specifically (besides the fact that it got them in the news). Lawmakers who introduce bills like this should be publicly shamed for rushing to regulate something before making any effort to understand it."
Why does this definition betray shameless headline chasing on behalf of Council Members Fidler, James, Chin, Recchia, Comrie, Weprin, Palma, Foster, Brewer, Del Carmen Arroyo, Dickens, Jackson, King, Koo, Koppell, Lander, Mendez, Rose, and Vann? A 3D printer is “a computer-driven machine capable of producing a three-dimensional object from a digital model,” isn’t it?
Sure. But so is every other modern manufacturing machine. A CNC mill fits that definition. As do laser cutters. So do industrial arms that build cars on assembly lines. And robots. And, for that matter, automated crochet knitting machines.
Which is fine. If these Council Members think that people using machines to make firearms is a problem, they should draft a bill that addresses that problem. Alternatively, if these Council Members think that people specifically using 3D printers to make firearms is a problem, they are free to draft a bill to address that too.
But that’s not what appears to have happened here. This bill reads like it was drafted after someone saw a bunch of stories about 3D printed guns, but before they took any time to think about 3D printed guns, let alone formulate a specific concern about 3D printed guns.
Yesterday, we posted a tech memoir by Steven Ashley about the slow rise of 3D printing — from sci-fi fantasy, to toy, to creator of real tools. Towards the end of the piece, Ashley mentions how GE is starting manufacture aircraft engine parts using 3D printers. Here's the excerpt:
Rows of industrial 3D-printing units in plants will soon be fabricating turbine engine parts—fuel nozzles—from cobalt-chromium alloy powders. Each one of GE’s new LEAP jet engine will contain nineteen of the fuel nozzles, which are up to 25 percent lighter and five-times more durable than traditionally manufactured fuel nozzles. In airplanes cutting weight saves fuel. The LEAP engine has already amassed more than 4,500 orders, so between it and the new GE9X engine, the corporation could end up making as many as 100,000 additive manufactured components by 2020.
In the picture above, you can see one of those fuel nozzles, in all its 3D-printed glory.
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When Star Trek debuted in the mid-60s, everybody geeked out about the food synthesizers. Even my mom, a reluctant but compulsory Trek viewer, recognized the utility of this amazing gadget, particularly with two ravenous boys around the house. My brother and I knew, of course, that the real magic food box was the refrigerator.
Years later, I wasn’t the only one craving the replicators of Star Trek:The Next Generation for my home workshop. TNG’s follow-on concept of a ‘universal build-box’ upped the ante way beyond a hot cup of Earl Grey. The list of things we would have made at home was endless: for the kids, replacement baseball bats, balls and window panes, game controllers and handheld electronic devices. I would have gone in for replacement car parts, repairs for broken appliances and furniture, and an endless supply of consumables like gasoline, toilet paper, kitty litter, and inevitably, a couple of cold—strictly non-syntheholic—beers for afterwards. I note in passing that Starfleet protocol prohibits civilians from replicating weapons.
With the recent rise of the Maker movement and the advent of cheaper, easier-to-use 3D-printing technology, the sci-fi concept of a household device that can manufacture functional objects seems to be gaining reality. But for those who witnessed the technology’s birth and growth, it has been a surprisingly long and winding road—one that has recently reached a significant but mostly unnoticed milestone. For me, it all began with Star Trek and the Silver Surfer. Read the rest
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Alex sez, "You recently did a blog post of a 3D printed cube with 28 gears which was 3d printed fully assembled -- which I designed. However since this post, the cube has improved greatly, lubricated with a PTFE lubricant; I have also created a motor attachment to allow the geared cube to run autonomously.
Carl Bass, president and CEO of Autodesk, has a very good post on the limits and opportunities of 3D printing. Because 3D printing is constrained by the immutable fact of cubic volume, which means that making things larger costs exponentially more, the major opportunities aren't in printing big stuff. Rather, it's in printing detailed things, complicated things, one-off things -- and in making printers that don't rely on a razor/razorblade business model and charge a fortune for new feedstock to a captive audience.
I think two important areas to watch here are printing electronics — i.e., not just objects but logic and function — and the burgeoning field of bioprinting. The latter represents some of the most exciting work employing 3-D printers. For example, Dr. Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University has pioneered work that includes the successful printing and implantation of human urethras. San Diego-based Organovo prints functional human tissue that can be used for medical research and therapeutic applications. And companies like Craig Venter’s as well as Cambrian Genomics (which I have a small personal investment in) are printing DNA — yes, DNA! — one base pair at a time.
One thing I think he misses is "slow printing" -- 3D printers that use material from the environment (maybe sand blown over a collector for a solar-powered printer on a beach) to print out, over the course of years or decades, very large numbers of small components, or even very large components.
Michael Zoellner sez,
After watching Grant Gee's documentary "Joy Division" I wanted to print the iconic cover of their first album "Unknown Pleasures" in 3D. Unfortunately I could not find a single vector graphic or 3D model anywhere. There are articles about the history of the graphics, Peter Saville's artwork and PSR B1919+21. I even tried to visualize PSR B1919+21's waveforms. But in the end I spend an evening tracing the waves by hand.
The resulting SVG file was extruded and rendered in Processing with Richard Marxer's Geomerative and my RExtrudedMesh extension. OBJ export was accomplished with OBJExport. The model was printed on Makerbot Replicator with white PLA filament. The 3D model and the SVG graphic are published under a Creative Commons license.