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Digital Fabrication

The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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What a five-axis CNC mill can do fascinates me as much as what a craftsman from Brescia can. And at their production facility in Gardone Val Trompia, firearms manufacturer Beretta has both, working in tandem to create their high-quality firearms. To show this to the world—with characteristic Italian flair—the company hired commercial firm Studio Ancarani to produce this eye-opening film, which is nothing short of glorious manufacturing porn:

The Gardone Val Trompia factory, by the way, is humungous—110,000 square meters (1.2 million square feet)—and cranks out some 1,500 weapons per day. Says Beretta:

The production departments feature fully automated work centres and highly qualified craftsmen, a prerequisite for achieving the degree of precision and high quality contemplated by its design projects. The design department has advanced systems for calculating pressure by using the finite elements method. The laboratories are equipped for research in impulsive-dynamics applied to the weapon-ammunition system, for metallographic analyses and fatigue tests.

Even more staggering is how long Beretta has been there: They began working in Gardone Val Trompia in the 1500s.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Derby the dog could be considered unlucky, born as he was with stunted, non-functioning front legs that lack paws. But one piece of luck is that Derby was temporarily fostered by Tara Anderson, who just happens to be the Director of Product Management at 3D Systems, the South-Carolina-based 3D printing company. By working with company designers Kevin Atkins and Dave DiPinto and animal orthotist Derrick Campana, Anderson was able to harness 3DS' resources to create prosthetics for Derby. Check out the results:

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Posted by core jr  |   9 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

AU2014_3D_Car.jpgLocal Motors' Strati, the world's first 3D printed car.

Last week, Las Vegas played host to Autodesk University, Autodesk's annual gathering—part conference, part continuing education—for 9,000 professional designers, engineers and animators. Below is a summary of some of the big ideas and themes that will be shaping the conversation around making in 2015.

It's alive!
Design is a living process that lives past the moment of creation—a key theme for this year's Autodesk University. From featured speakers and workshop presenters to the company's CTO and CEO, the message was clear: we are moving swiftly past the Internet of Things, where devices interact with us, toward a broader, more complex and, ultimately, more valuable Community of Things, where products interact with each other and respond collaboratively to the environments in which they exist.

AU2014_Jeff_Kowalski_Autodesk.jpg Jeff Kowalski, Chief Technology Officer and SVP, Autodesk

Hardware is hot, hot, hot.
Three elements in the design process and manufacturing are supporting the innovation that will drive this evolution—an evolution that's not just on the way, it's already here. First, the advancement of 3D printing, micro-molding, capital and funding options means that production is more flexible and robust than ever before. Second, demand is continuing to grow from "a few sizes fit all" to individual customization (see Normal's custom-fit ear buds after the jump). And finally, our attitudes towards products are changing. For a variety of reasons—sustainability, cost, our own hyper-individualized mentalities and even our desire to create better communities—we are starting to expect that products will be responsive, change and get better over time.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |   9 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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News in the UK is that national postal service the Royal Mail (no longer in fact 'Her Majesty's' following a quite scandalous privatization earlier this year) are investing their new found (dirty) money in a scheme to bring 3D printers to local stores in collaboration with 3D printing specialist iMakr.

Initially set to pilot in London's central New Cavendish Street delivery office, the service is intended to make the technology more accessible for consumers and small business. Although we have to welcome efforts to make 3D printing more available to the public, it seems unclear whether the service will allow for printing original designs. Already front and center on the Royal Mail's homepage, there only appears to be 'a selection of gifts created by designers exclusively for 3D printing' available, some which show signs of customization options.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Appleboxes are simple, sturdy plywood boxes that are mainstays of the photography and film production industries. And because they are durable and come in a variety of very specific sizes, I've found they can also come in quite handy in a small-shop setting:

Appleboxes are typically made the old-school way—with a table saw and router table rather than a CNC mill—but by walking you through how to make a full set of them on the ShopBot, it will give you an idea of how to execute a basic, practical project via CNC. We'll dive in next week!

Previously: Episode 7 - Desktop CNC Milling: The Point Cutting Roundover Bit // All Core77 ShopBot Series posts →

Posted by Sam Dunne  |  25 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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It's about this time of year that you start to see stall owners gearing up for Christmas in the local high street markets in East London—every inch of wall and ceiling space weighed down with yet more shining dancing Psy action figures, Angry Bird backpacks and fluorescent loom-band kits. Although you have to admire some of the inventiveness (in design as well as IP-dodging), walking past these sellers never fails to give me a niggling feeling of waste in the depths of my stomach—what will have become of all this plastic and electronics by this time next year?

Samuel N. Bernier, Creative Director of leFabShop (and 2012 Core77 Design Award honoree and longtime DIYer/hacker extraordinaire) had the idea for Open Toys when he realized he could create toys from scraps of wood and cork he found in the workshop when combined with simple parts made on a 3D printer. Having gone on to design a small selection of pieces that could be used to make cars, planes, boats and helicopters, Samuel was later inspired whilst gardening to replace wood and cork (difficult to drill without tools) with fruits and vegetables.

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Being pronounced as some as a "Mr. Potato Head for the era of digital fabrication," it's certainly interesting to see how the bulk of disposable toys plastic can be designed out whilst perhaps also encouraging a little creativity in our digitally addicted toddlers. The question remains however—should we be playing with our food?

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Rounding edges over is a common part of many a woodworking project. But the bearing-guided roundover bits you'd use in a router are not suited to a CNC mill. Instead you'll want to use what's called a point cutting roundover bit, which we'll show you in the video below.

And in addition to the edge-rounding functionality, with a point cutting roundover bit in the ShopBot, you can achieve some cool effects with lettering, like this:

0pointcuttingroundover-002.jpgImage courtesy of Joe Crumley / Norman Sign Co.

Here's a quick look at the bit and where you can get some:

We'll show you the bit in action shortly.

Previously: Episode 06 - Desktop CNC Milling Productivity Tip: Cut a Grid Into Your Spoilboard // All Core77 ShopBot Series posts →

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

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There's no affordable space left in New York, which is why we're never getting a big-ass communal makerspace like a TechShop. The reportedly substandard 3rd Ward closed last year and no would-be makerspace launcher has since stepped up.

But there's plenty of room in cities like Columbus, Ohio. Which is how it came to be that an old, empty, 65,000-square-foot shoe factory in the Franklinton neighborhood was recently being used by a local motorcyle dealer as a storage area. Today, however, the space is occupied by something to make an ID'er drool: The Columbus Idea Foundry, fully stocked with woodworking machinery, metalworking equipment, welding rigs, CNC routers, laser cutters, 3D printers, glassworking facilities, photography studios and even an area for metal casting and blacksmithing. There's an area to learn coding, an Arduino room, a youth incubator, a leather stitchery, and equipment for making soap, for chrissakes.

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It is reckoned to be the largest makerspace in the world, which makes the monthly membership cost all the more shocking to this New Yorker: A mere $35 a month, which is literally less than two cocktails here in Gotham. The thought that one could have access to all of that machinery instead of quaffing two Dark & Stormies is enough to cause a round of sullen reflection at the bar.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Nov 2014  |  Comments (4)

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We all know what Oprah's Book Club has done for authors. Can Martha Stewart do the same for MakerBot?

Apparently that's the hope. Today MakerBot and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced that they've launched an exclusive partnership, whereby not only will there be co-branded PLA filaments available for sale—forget yellow, blue and green, shortly you'll be printing in "Lemon Drop," "Robin's Egg" and "Jadeite"—but Martha's team of designers will also be producing downloadable designs for consumer purchase.

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It's easy for the hardened ID'er to snicker, but this actually signifies a potentially massive shift, or at least the start of one, for 3D printing to go seriously mainstream. If Martha Stewart's gigantic audience can be wooed into paying 99 cents to download a design they can print as many times as they want, it's entirely possible MakerBot will start seeing some sales spikes.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Nov 2014  |  Comments (2)

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When you're mounting a workpiece to a CNC mill by screwing it into a spoilboard, that spoilboard of course becomes riddled with holes. If you keep hitting the same hole over and over again--by, say, continually mounting your piece so that its lower left corner corresponds with the lower left corner of the spoilboard—the screw no longer has enough material to bite into.

One solution is to keep mounting successive workpieces at different locations on the spoilboard, to find "fresh" MDF to screw into. But you then have to drive the spindle over to the lower left corner of your piece and indicate that as 0,0 in the X- and Y-axes, so that the machine knows where to start cutting.

A quicker solution is to simply draw a grid in your spoilboard. Now you can mount your workpiece wherever you'd like, and then use the grid to figure out where your workpiece is—for example, if you've placed it at x3, y4, then on your drawing you simply use guidelines to locate the piece at x3, y4.

Previously: Episode 05 - Making a Spoilboard for the ShopBot Desktop, Part 2, and Installing the Dust Enclosure // All Core77 ShopBot Series posts →

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   5 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In the last entry, we showed you how to cut and mount the spoilboard for a ShopBot Desktop. Here in Part 2 we'll show you how to ensure it's perfectly level, so you can achieve dead-on accuracy with your workpieces.

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Posted by Ray  |   4 Nov 2014  |  Comments (9)

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Surely some of you remember the toy called Shrinky Dinks, the polystyrene toy that allows users to turn pieces of plastic into smaller pieces of plastic. (According to Wikipedia, 90's alt-rockers Sugar Ray were originally known as 'Shrinky Dinx' until Milton Bradley threatened a lawsuit—more nostalgia than you asked for on a Tuesday morning, I know.) If it's a somewhat dated reference, I must say that I envy the children of the future, who may well grow up with the parentally supervised fun of the 3D printing thanks to iBox Printers. The Melbourne, FL-based company's flagship Nano model is available for pre-order for under $300 on Kickstarter.

We've previously seen a similarly diminutive CNC machine, but the iBox is rather more impressive, considering that 3D printing adds a veritable dimension of complexity. Moreover, the portable device is quiet, lightweight and can run on batteries, all thanks to the use of ultra-efficient LCD lamps to UV-cure the resin. Made from a series of stacked acrylic plates, the housing looks something like a tissue box, with an overhead-projector-style print head; on the UI end, the Nano is controlled primarily via mobile/web app over WiFi.

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

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We're finally ready to cut something on the ShopBot! And now that we're getting ready to cut, some of you may be wondering what the daily maintenance is like for this machine. Every morning before I run the ShopBot, I run this warmup routine to get the machine's juices going:

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Posted by core jr  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

Formlabs_HERO.jpgFormlabs-Castable.jpg

The folks at Cambridge, MA-based Formlabs recently announced the introduction of two new materials that mark their first major release since they launched on Kickstarter with the Form 1 3D printer, which made nearly 30 times its funding goal in October 2012. The first-generation SLA machine shipped starting in May 2013 and this June saw the release of the Form 1+, an all-around upgraded iteration of their flagship product, but their growing team has also been developing complementary products on both the software and materials sides. Check it out:

"Castable" is available now for $149 per 500mL; "Flexible" will be available in December.

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Speaking of 3D printing, but I've been meaning to watch Print the Legend, the full-length documentary about the rise of 3D printing, which is streaming on Netflix...

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Oct 2014  |  Comments (5)

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The ShopBot Desktop CNC mill can perform a variety of cutting tasks in a variety of materials, all depending on what kind of bit you're using. So when learning to use one, the first physical skill you'll master is how to install and remove a bit in the machine. Whether you've used power tools or not before, it's a pretty simple procedure:

Once you've got a bit installed, you'll need to "zero," or calibrate that bit, so that the machine knows exactly where that bit is in 3D space. Here's how that routine goes:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Oct 2014  |  Comments (6)

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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: Episode 01 - An Overview of hte ShopBot Desktop // All Core77 ShopBot Series posts →

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.

Previously: Five Reasons to Go With a ShopBot Desktop // All Core77 ShopBot Series posts →

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:

Core77 ShopBot Series →

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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