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Digital Fabrication

The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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These are exciting times for those looking to get into digital fabrication, as the technology really is starting to trickle down. With MakerBot the go-to for desktop 3D printing and ShopBot cornering the shop-based prototyping and production market, Inventables reckons there's room for something in-between: A machine it's calling Carvey, designed by Scott Wilson and MNML.

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Billed as a "3D carving machine," what Carvey has in common with MakerBot's Replicator line is the fully-enclosed, desktop form factor; these are machines that could be placed in the office portion of a design firm, as opposed to the heavy-duty machines in the modelmaking shop area.

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Where it differs from the MakerBot is in what it has in common with the ShopBot line: Carvey is subtractive, not additive. It's essentially a CNC mill, albeit it a miniature one. With a work area of just 12" x 8" and a Z-axis of under three inches, it's no competitor for a ShopBot (whose entry-level Desktop roughly doubles the work area in all axes), but it's not meant to be; while you won't be using Carvey to produce furniture, it's meant to be good enough to produce smaller items like sunglasses, jewelry, small signage, electronics enclosures, et cetera, out of wood, plastic or metal.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Prior to learning how to use a desktop CNC mill, I was very curious as to how to set the machine up, and I figured I couldn't be alone--if you're thinking about getting one for your own shop, you're probably wondering what kind of downtime it would create. But at the time I was doing my research, I couldn't find a concise video showing the process. So we've made one for you, below, showing you exactly what you need to do once you get it out of the crate.

The ShopBot Desktop we're using comes pre-assembled, so setting it up was a lot easier than I thought it'd be. Now remember that this thing is essentially a router on steroids, and like any router you'll need a method to contain the dust. Hooking up a shop vacuum is pretty straightforward, but here I'll show you a crucial mistake I made, and how you can easily avoid it.

Previously:
» Introducing the Core77 ShopBot Series
» An Overview of the ShopBot Desktop

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Oct 2014  |  Comments (3)

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This unnamed German gent loves paper airplanes so much that he started a website, Papierfliegerei ("paper aviation"), dedicated to spreading awareness of their history, manufacturing techniques, competitions and more. He also designed and built a machinegun that not only fires paper airplanes—but actually makes them. Which is to say, you load it up with unfolded sheets of A6 paper, the gun turns them into airplanes and then continuously fires them out of the business end:

Interestingly, a minority of the gun's contents are off-the-shelf parts; the rest of it he had 3D printed by Fabberhouse, a Germany-based output house. If that guy in Texas was disseminating designs for 3D-printed guns like this, the news coverage would be considerably different.

Via Pop Sci

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This series is meant to show you the ins and outs of entry-level CNC milling—the type of thing Regular Joes like you and I could do in our own shops or garages, no NASA experience required. To show you this we've got a ShopBot Desktop on loan from North-Carolina-based ShopBot tools, and this is no mere carving machine or toy; it's a powerful, very capable piece of production machinery. But despite that, we've found it's actually pretty simple to use.

One way to demystify CNC milling is to first take a close look at the machine itself. Which we do in the video below, while tackling the questions you might have:

- What's this thing made out of?
- How is it different from competitors' machines?
- What does it come with, right out of the box?
- How much space does it actually take up?
- What parts of it do I actually interface with?
- How does this machine handle dust collection?
- What's the difference between the router-based model and the spindle-based model?

This series is aimed at those of you with little to no power tool experience. But we realize some of you are shop veterans that might already have an assortment of valued bits, in which case you might wonder:

- Can I use the conventional router bits I already own with a ShopBot?

Let's take a look:

Next episode, we'll show you how to set the machine up, right out of the box.

» See also: Five Reasons to Go With a ShopBot Desktop

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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To the uninitiated, a CNC mill might sound like a complicated, intimidating and excessively expensive machine to own and operate. And that might have been true twenty years ago. But now we live in an age where the prices are coming down and the interfaces are becoming ever-easier to use—something like what the original Mac did for desktop publishing. So if you're an independent designer or small business owner looking to prototype or produce your own stuff, now is the time to look into a CNC mill. And we're excited to bring you this new series on how to use one.

With regular video updates, we'll walk you through a basic but powerful 3-axis machine and show you everything you need to know in order to operate one, starting with a group of introductory videos and then diving into a step-by-step project. And in order to be as inclusive as possible, we've opted to take a "...For Dummies" approach—so whether you're a traditional shop vet or have never used a power tool in your life, we believe that you, too can use a CNC mill by understanding certain principles and systematically learning to use some basic software.

The first question you would-be CNC millers might have is, which machine should I look at? There are several different affordable desktop CNC mills on the market, and we decided to go with ShopBot, for a variety of important reasons:

Next up we'll give you an overview of the machine, then show you how to set it up.

Posted by Christie Nicholson  |  13 Aug 2014  |  Comments (2)

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With text becoming digital we'd think that libraries are suffering, if not dead already. But libraries—long known as reference and research centers—are reinventing themselves as places of 3D creativity. Libraries in Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Denver, Detroit and other cities across the US have purchased or are acquiring 3D printers and other maker tools for public use. In fact, one in six libraries in the US dedicate space to maker and DIY activity and learning, according the American Library Association.

Libraries had always served as a place for learning, research and discovery. And recently, since the financial crash in 2008, their reference materials have increasingly served as a way for people to figure out how to plan a new career or research new professional options. This then led to a rebirth of libraries as locations for entrepreneurship and business creativity. Librarians see this recent transformation as a natural extension of their historical 3000-year mission: to deliver and share information with the public.

About a third of the Chattanooga Public Library's reference material was sold to allow for a new maker lab. And apparently other libraries are going through similar renewal. The library of the University of Nevada cleared out more than 18,000 square feet of space for maker tools. And the star tool of choice is the 3D printer. Of course, they aren't cheap but the Institute of Museum and Library Services has granted $2.6 mil in printers and other tools.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Every once in a while, a star shows up on Jimmy Kimmel Live and you find that their mother is sitting in the audience. On the show last night something similar happened, albeit with an unusual guest—a bipedal 14-foot monster named "Bodock." Watching proudly from the crowd was Stratasys manager Leslie Frost, tweeting pics and updates.

That's because key parts of the creature, like the chest armor, shoulders, arms and fingers, were enormous ABS parts that came out of a Stratasys 3D printer. "Everything about the giant creature project was ambitious, including size, weight, delivery schedule and performance requirements," says designer Matt Winston. Without large-scale 3D printing and specifically, access to a Fortus 900mc, which has an insane build envelope of 36”×24”×36”, "none of it would have been possible."

Designed by FX house the Stan Winston School and engineered by technical firm Legacy Effects, "Bodock" was created for San Diego Comic-Con, which opens tomorrow. (Kimmel watchers were given a sneak peek a two days early, as the host gleefully revealed to a crowd of unsuspecting kids that Bodock contains the internal plumbing to spray liquid sneezes.) Leading up to the launch, Wired's been tagging along and shooting the development process:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In 1918 Marcel Duchamp, an avid chess player, designed a one-off set and had it hand-carved in Buenos Aires. Depending on whom you listen to, that set has either been lost or is sitting in someone's private collection; either way you're not getting your grubby little mitts on it.

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But now, thanks to artists and makers Scott Kildall and Bryan Cera, anyone with a 3D printer can crank out something very close. That's because Kildall, on a mission to recreate lost objects, tracked down some archival photos and contacted Cera, who then took the few images of Duchamp's set and painstakingly CAD'ded over the pieces one by one.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |   7 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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More steps forward, and upward, for our robotic overlords: architectural 3D printing gets practical with a little teamwork. A group at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia has developed a 3-robot skeleton crew capable of laying down architecturally relevant shapes and material. Using the most basic tools (off-the-shelf electronics and Erector Set parts), their team based design solves the key problem of large scale additive printing: size of the printer. To date, most "printed" architecture requires a massive external framework, supporting the large single printer in an absurdly scaled-up version of desktop machines. In order for the technology to become more than a gimmicky gesture—that architecture is, in fact, paying attention to trends—that needs to change.

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The first robot team member is equipped with a sensor that follows an initial marked path. It lays the first several centimeters of synthetic marble in a coiled foundation. The second robot fits onto the foundation, gripping the sides tightly with rollers. It continues squeezing out coils of marble, smoothing and shooting it with nearly 200° air. The head of the second team member is also mobile, allowing the form to take on curved surfaces as the coiled "building" advances. The third robot is my favorite: Breaking from the horizontal coil-pot method, it uses suction cups and pressurized air to crawl vertically up the structure. Its job is to reinforce the weaknesses of a structure built with all materials laid in the same direction. This is the biggest drawback to a coil-printed design, as anyone vaguely familiar with shear strength can imagine. (Just think about how easy it would be to squish in the side of that coil pot.) By letting this mountain-climbing robot squirt on reinforcing "beams" of marble, it can add rigidity as needed.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  23 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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If 3D printing had an overly attached mom, this benchmark would be going in a scrapbook. We're all admittedly used to hearing about the innumerable ways additive manufacturing is going to rock our world in the vague future, but maybe this will keep it on your radar: they're sending a 3D printer to space. The printer in question was designed by Made In Space, an aerospace manufacturing startup powered by design and engineering veterans from Autodesk, Planetary Resources, and astronauts from prior space missions. The printer needs to function in microgravity and withstand the intense pressures and jarring of a launch and flight without damage. Yesterday, after years of development and a battery of tests, the printer was cleared for use onboard the International Space Station this fall.

Due to the mentionable difference in gravitational impact, a space printer needs to be carefully adapted to avoid losing layer adhesion, resolution and part strength in a low-G environment. Accordingly, the sweet space printer isn't at the self-sufficient level yet—parts printed onboard will be sent back to earth for testing to determine structural integrity and safety. However, this type of self-contained printing can make way for unprecedented self-reliance and flexibility onboard the whirling science station.

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Posted by erika rae  |  14 May 2014  |  Comments (4)

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We've all seen commercials featuring picture-perfect slumberers slowly waking up to a casually wafting scent of a freshly brewed cup of coffee. It's something we'd all love to experience, but let's be real—it would have to be a mighty strong mug to pull most of us out of dreamland at the day's first light. Now, instant coffee giant Nescafé has found a way to integrate that visceral coffee aroma into a morning wake-up call with a twist.

Nescafé's new 3D-printed Alarm Cap design— as created by NOTCOT's physical counterpart NOTlabs—awakens caffeine enthusiasts with the sweet sounds of nature (or their take on it, at least), an alarm that can only be turned off once the cap is twisted and removed from the canister. NOTlabs worked with Nescafé's branding agency Publicis Mexico to come up with a brand new function and branding for Nescafé. The coffee brand came to Jean Aw—founder of NOTCOT and co-founder of NOTlabs with Shawn Sims—with the idea and they ran with it. "Having been covering design for the last nine years, I'd been itching for new projects to explore and we've been sharing our experiments on NOTCOT with readers as we've played with our huge laser cutter, 3D printers, wood/electronics shop, garage and more," Aw says. "So, when Publicis Mexico reached out to us with the concept of a 3D Printed Alarm Cap that would turn off when the bottle is opened, we were thrilled to collaborate with them to design and bring it all to life."

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Popular though 3D printers are with enthusiastic DIYers and makers, the technology has yet to be adopted by major brands and businesses yet. Without any real precedent to keep in mind, Aw and her team built a proof of concept and got to work. "We were faced with a short time frame, so finalizing the design/electronics and production were nearly simultaneous," she says. "The three main aspects of the design/production are Electronics, 3D Modeling/Printing and Assembly."

So too did the availability of new tools facilitate the design process. Los Angeles-based Aw and Sims worked with Leo Corrales of Publicis Mexico to 3D-model the caps, while Eric Brockmeyer—a digital fabrication designer based in Pittsburgh—joined the team to help spec design parts and code the alarm. The cap prototypes were printed in-house, enabling a nimble, iterative approach to tweaking them until they arrived at the final product.

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Posted by Christie Nicholson  |  30 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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When I think of 3D printing, I think of objects that are hard, made of plastic, metal, or some synthetic material. I imagine there will be a lot of soft products made with 3D printers, but I was curious how they might be made. Recently a new kind of printer produced by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney is printing soft things. Their printer turns woolen yarns into objects.

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The actual printer looks a lot like a sewing machine and can produce objects that look hand-knit. Scott Hudson, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, said in a press release that he sees "...this material being used for things that are held close. We're really extending the set of materials available for 3D printing..."

It doesn't take a lot to think about what these materials will be: Clothing, accessories, little bunnies and teddy bears. But Hudson also says that this printer could also make soft robots—making such robots touchable.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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While China had their Industrial Revolution rather late in the global game, their production might and speed means they'll likely advance new digital fabrication techniques before the rest of the world does. For example, it's been ten years since the American outfit Contour Crafting first proposed 3D printing houses, but aside from a brief surge of TED-Talk-inspired press in 2012, they've been mostly quiet. In that time, meanwhile, China has begun developing their 3D-printed-house-erecting capabilities in earnest.

The Shanghai-based WinSun Decoration Design Engineering company recently printed ten sample structures of 200 square meters each. What's amazing is that they produced the entire lot in less than 24 hours, and that the cost of each house is less than US $5,000. The concrete-like building material comes "entirely out of recycled materials [and is] a mixture of construction and industrial waste" which the company claims is environmentally friendly (although they don't provide specifics on the material).

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We've seen the concept of gizmo-joined furniture plenty of times before, most recently with Henry Wilson's A-Joint. To refresh your memory, the idea is that the end-user takes a bunch of wood of predetermined sizes, and fastens it together using prefabricated connectors, no traditional joinery required.

But it's this slightly different take on the concept that has our attention. Netherlands-based design studio Minale-Maeda has combined the concept of self-joined furniture with 3D printers and downloadable plans for the connectors, calling the resultant line of furniture Keystones, pictured here. By distributing the production of these connecting components, at least theoretically, among the MakerBot-owning households of the end-users, Minale-Maeda may have struck upon something that could challenge even the mighty IKEA.

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Actually, strike that: If Ikea's smart, they'll look into this for themselves. The company has already got the inexpensive mass manufacture of panels down to a science; it is arguably the cam-nut-and-hex-key assembly that serves as the largest barrier for mechanically-challenged consumers. If 3D printers were to see mass domestic uptake, it's not difficult to imagine Ikea shipping you a flatpack of panels, for which you would then self-print the connecting components. (An idiot-proof design for assembly would have to be an integral part of this plan, of course.) It's also conceivable that they could refresh furniture lines with a minimum of hassle, as end-users could print connections for new designs that incorporate existing panels—saving themselves, or their local deliverypersons, a trip.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Apr 2014  |  Comments (3)

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We're working on an upcoming video series about the ShopBot Desktop, and now that I've got some hands-on experience, I've discovered that I love CNC milling. I also, by the way, love whiskey. But these two things don't go together, at least not in the real world.

The real world is not the advertising world, though, so I'm enjoying Suntory's "3D Rocks" campaign. The Japanese spirits giant has enlisted the services of some company with a 5-axis CNC mill to create the world's most sophisticated whiskey-on-the-rocks orders. Up above is a shot of Kyoto's famed Kinkaku-ji temple, but for the rest they've gone with Western icons:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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3D-print-happy designer Michiel Cornelissen is at it again. To create his clever ZooM lampshade, Cornelissen has adopted the trick we first saw Sklyar Tibbits messing around with, where you print something small and made out of interlocking pieces that can then be stretched out to occupy a greater volume. In this case, gravity does the work for you.

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Created as a programmable object in generative design software, ZooM has a structure created from hundreds of repeating elements that together form a series of interlocking spirals.
3-d printing allows this pentagonal lampshade to be manufactured flat and completely assembled; folded out, it's flexible like a textile, while maintaining its form like a rigid product. The semi-transparent structure shields the bulb's glare, while transmitting light efficiently.

Cornelissen is selling them in two sizes, a 20-cm and 28-cm version. And as cool as it looks in blue, at press time it was only available in black or white.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Polypropylene is one of your go-to plastics for injection molding, and being both flexible and tough, you can do sexy things like making living hinges out of the stuff. But you are of course limited to what you can produce in a mold.

Stratasys is hoping to remove this barrier with Endur, a simulated polypropylene material that can be 3D-printed in their PolyJet machines.

Just like the name implies, Endur is tough. The polypropylene-like material offers both high impact resistance and superior elongation at break. Endur has a heat-deflection temperature up to 129°F/ 54°C, excellent dimensional stability and comes in a bright white color. It also features an excellent surface finish to make it easier to achieve a smooth look and feel.
These properties make Endur attractive for 3D printing prototypes that need the flexibility, appearance and toughness of polypropylene for a wide range of form, fit and assembly applications. This includes moving parts, snap-fit components, and small cases and containers with lids. The white tone and smooth surface finish make it ideal for consumer goods, electronics and household appliances, lab equipment and automotive parts.

Take a look at the stuff in this amusingly stilted video:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Here's one of the more interesting partnerships we've seen: Local Motors has announced that they're teaming up with consumer applicance giant General Electric "to launch a new model for the manufacturing industry."

Called FirstBuild, the idea is to combine Local Motors' crowdsourcing and rapid prototyping experience with GE's market access (and presumably deep pockets) to develop the latter's next generation of products—quickly, using both crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing.

Focused on speeding the time from mind to market, the partnership will leverage advanced manufacturing processes and an open innovation approach to engineering—delivering benefits for consumers and enterprise alike.
The partnership will source collaborative ideas online from a community of engineers, scientists, fabricators, designers and enthusiasts who will focus on identifying market needs and solving deep engineering challenges to unlock breakthrough product innovations. As part of the partnership, a new microfactory—a specialized facility focused on prototyping and producing a small batch of products at a rapid pace—will be established where community ideas will be built, tested and sold.

I don't know what this new "microfactory" is, exactly, but I like the way it sounds.

Ramp-up's gonna be pretty snappy; though the partnership has just been announced, they plan on having actual appliances on the market this year, which seems pretty staggering for an old-guard company like GE. The inaugural project will start crowdsourcing this summer and it will be something cooking-based, with the FirstBuild community intended to submit, discuss and improve ideas for "select major kitchen appliances." And if you want to be part of that community, you can sign up here.

Posted by core jr  |  11 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Following the success of their first New Skins: Computational Design for Fashion workshop, Francis Bitonti Studio recently
partnered with Makerbot and Lagoa for a second session this winter. Hosted at the Metropolitan Exchange in Brooklyn, the New Skins Workshop: Brumal Bodies took place over ten days this January, including an introduction to computational design followed by a hands-on workshop. Using programs such as Maya and Rhino, students worked together designing garments, which were then rendered in Lagoa, a browser-based, hyper-realistic rendering software, as well as experimenting with the Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, with their efforts culminating in a collaboratively designed 3D-printed final project: the Bristle Dress.

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The 'Bristle Dress' started by exploring different ways and techniques to create volume. The workshop focused on dissolving the silhouette of the body into the atmosphere, with the aim to create a trasitional garment. The upper part of the dress was designed to be printed in the naturally colored (clear) PLA, a material selected for its translucent qualities—specifically, the way it refracted the light greatly helped us achieve our design objectives. The skirt was created using Makerbot's flexible filament material and was lined with synthetic rabbit fur. The result is a flexible yet highly structured garment: 3D printing the skirt allowed us to create an interesting interface, while the texture of the fur lining further aided in the creation of our overall silhouette, combining both artificial and natural textures. This multi-material relationship has been an emerging area of interest for the studio for some time now. The skirt portion of the dress is customizable and is available for download at Thingiverse.com.

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Posted by core jr  |   5 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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You heard it here first: "3D printing is having its 'Macintosh moment.'" So says the team behind a new full-length documentary on the subject, directors Luis Lopez and Clay Tweel and producer Steven Klein. Hollywood Reporter fills in the blank: Pettis is the Steve Jobs of the movement, a shorthand for an upstart who will bring us a product that we never knew we needed through sheer force of will. (Meanwhile, the colossal quarter that he has rendered for the website and poster features his face instead of one of our founding fathers, casting Jobs as none other than God.)

Print the Legend will premiere at SXSW Film Festival this weekend with a handful of screenings in Austin, and if the forthcoming dates are TBD, at least the press materials include a selective history of 3D printing. Between the trailer and milestones listed below, it looks like there's definitely a narrative arc to the documentary...

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Mar 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Here's some exciting news: The U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is currently working on a 3D printer "that is 200 to 500 times faster and capable of printing polymer components 10 times larger than today's common additive machines—in sizes greater than one cubic meter." To do it they're partnering with Cincinnati Inc., an Ohio-based company that produces manufacturing machines. Details are sketchy, but it seems the Oak Ridge boys are adapting a gantry-based Cincinnati laser cutter (above) for the prototype, so we're assuming it'll be SLS rather than FDM.

The move is a welcome one for American jobs, and points the way towards a possible return of U.S. manufacturing might. Said Cincinnati CEO Andrew Jamison in a press statement, "As one of the oldest U.S. machine tool manufacturers, with continuous operation since 1898, we view this exciting opportunity as starting a new chapter in our history of serving U.S. manufacturing. Out of this developmental partnership with ORNL, CINCINNATI intends to lead the world in big area additive manufacturing machinery for both prototyping and production." It is not clear whether he was shouting the word "CINCINNATI" or whether they just printed it in all caps for that one paragraph.

The Oak Ridge Boys could not be reached for comment, and when pressed for a quote, their uncooperative manager hung up on me.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Feb 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Once upon a time bicycles were made from tube stock. These days it seems they may go 3D-printed. But until they get there, there are guys like California-based Brent Foes, whose Foes Racing USA company uses a hybrid of old and new technologies, like having a waterjet cut aluminum sheets into components that are then hydraulic-pressed and welded to create incredibly strong bike frames.

The Prolly is not Probably bike blog was allowed into Foes' shop, where they treated us to these shots:

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[Images via Prolly is Not Probably]

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Posted by erika rae  |  24 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Growing up, you couldn't get cooler or more stylish than wearing something you created yourself. Proof: I had a short run as a seamstress of sorts after my high school peers saw the pair of ripped denim I brought back to life with a few obnoxiously bright scraps of fabric. It fizzled quickly—self admittedly, I couldn't sew a straight line then and still can't—and so did the DIY fashion trend as we moved on from Friday night football games and prom. Suddenly hot off the runway knock-offs became choice over scrapping together a completely unique statement shirt. OpenKnit is keeping the DIY spirit alive and well, with a very design-savvy production method, of course. While the machine's finished garments may lack a certain je ne sais quoi when it compares to the ready-to-wear market, the style is all in the production method—which is the kind of thing we get excited about.

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OpenKnit is a an open-source digital fabrication machine that creates garments on-demand from a mess of yarn to finished sweater. Better yet, it's pretty quick to do so—said sweater can reportedly be completed within an hour. The machine is powered by Knitic (which we previously covered here), making it possible—and easy—for users to design their personalized pattern and feed it into the printer. More on OpenKnit from its website:

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Posted by core jr  |  20 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)

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About nine months ago, we got a first look at a freely articulating 3D printer, developed by Joris Laarman Lab in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC). By extruding a special fast-curing resin with a multi-jointed robotic arm, MATAERIAL proposed a "radically new 3D printing method," suitable for "irregular or non-horizontal surfaces." Now, the Dutch designer has unveiled his latest breakthrough in liberating digital fabrication from a build platform: As its name suggests, MX3D-Metal can print lines of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze or copper "in mid-air."

The MX3D-Metal reportedly debuted at last week's Fabricate2014 conference and will make its way to New York City's Friedman Benda gallery come May. Laarman shared some more information on his approach and what's next for the team.

Our Amsterdam-based lab is an experimental playground that tinkers with engineers and craftsmen on the many new possibilities of emerging technology in the field of art and design. We usually start working on projects based on the concept "what if...?" after which we start figuring out how we could hack or combine certain technologies to make something new. Usually, this results in a new series of design pieces with a form language; and this arises out of the new possibilities of the new technology. We believe we tackle technological challenges very differently than others by using a hands-on approach to create such design objects.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Feb 2014  |  Comments (4)

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We've seen 3D-printed bike parts before, but now two British firms have advanced into printing out the entire frame (albeit not in a single piece, presumably because no laser sintering machine yet has that kind of footprint). Additive manufacturing firm Renishaw has joined forces with Empire Cycles to create a one-off version of Empire's MX6-EVO, which typically comes in aluminum; the one-off, however, was done with titanium alloy, and the duo reckon this is the world's first to be 3D-printed.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Feb 2014  |  Comments (1)

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As an industrial designer, if you confuse extruding with embossing during a job interview or at an engineering meeting, you'll get some funny looks. But if you screw up the difference between laser sintering and laser melting, you're likely to be given a bit more slack. That's because there's a lot of confusion about the difference between Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and LaserCusing (no sexy acronym), and in fact, some vendors of these technologies themselves do not always draw clear distinctions between their capabilities. As conflicting information is being circulated, here we will attempt to explain the difference between the terms. (And hopefully those of you in our readership directly experienced with these technologies will sound off in the comments.)

First off, all four procedures follow the same basics:

1. A designer/engineer designs a part
2. Software cuts that part up into virtual slices on the horizontal plane
3. A chamber in the production machine is filled with powder
4. A laser runs over the powder, solidifying it and building up a thin layer of material
5. Layer after layer is built up from bottom to top, until the part is finished
6. The leftover powder is re-usable, leaving no waste

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