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Digital Fabrication

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


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.


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.



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


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).


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


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.


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.


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


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:


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


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.


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.


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


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)


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)


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.


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



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


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...


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


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.


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


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:


[Images via Prolly is Not Probably]


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


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.


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:


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


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.


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


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.



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


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


Posted by Kat Bauman  |   4 Feb 2014  |  Comments (1)


To broaden your newly Google-supported Lego fantasies, check out this tool to take designs from your computer into the real world. The recent project out of the Hasso Plattner Institute offers a fun and arguably obvious workaround to make rapid prototyping more, y'know, rapid. Their "FaBrickation" program lets you save the 3D printing for only the most vital high-res parts and convert the rest of your design to Legos from the get-go.

2-legofy-880.jpgHey Presto!


Posted by Ray  |  31 Jan 2014  |  Comments (2)


We've been fans of Richard Clarkson's work since he was a dewy-eyed student at Victoria University of Wellington's School of Design—which admittedly was not all that long ago—where he developed projects from the steampunk smartphone to a heady algorithmic chair. Now in his final term at SVA in New York City, Clarkson is a world away from his native New Zealand, yet he is more committed to his craft than ever as he looks forward to completing his MFA amongst the very first graduating class of the Products of Design program.


May 2014 will also mark the two-year anniversary of a project from his Victoria days, which was only recently cleared for publication (more on that below). Working with supervisor Tim Miller, Clarkson took the class on "Creative Digital Manufacturing" as an opportunity to experiment with revolutionary new 3D printing technology—and even though he completed the project over a year and a half ago, he notes that "Blossom" may well be "the world's first inflatable 3D print."


The heart of the design is a mixed material—thanks to a breakthrough in "simultaneous deposition of different build materials in a single print"—that can be rigid and flexible in different regions across its form. "[As in] nature, materials can be distributed seamlessly within objects for structural and functional advantage... The variation offers an opportunity to generate complex forms and dynamic structures that are impossible to make by any other means."

While the video above nicely illustrates the final results, Clarkson shared more about the process—including why he's just gotten around to publishing—and more details about just how he achieved his breakthrough.


Posted by Ray  |  24 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)


Baby steps, as the saying goes. This week saw one of the wackier 3D-printing news items in recent memory: Expecting parents now have the option to celebrate gestation with a life-size model of their progeny in utero. 3D Babies uses ultrasound data to generate a fetus figurine, a kind of memento partum: "Your 3D Baby will be a treasured family remembrance of your pregnancy and new baby."


If we're a decade out from the first generation of Facebook babies—a generation that has had its entire life documented, from delivery to present-day, in digital media—just give it a few more years for kids to be embarrassed by that weird ABS curio next to the baby pictures on the mantle... or stranger yet, a sculpture of a certain enfant célèbre (pardon my French), North West herself. If the availability of Kanye & Kim's kid is where it gets into possible hoax territory, let's just say it was kind of a stillborn idea from the start, elevating helicopter parenthood into something rather creepier.


Posted by Christie Nicholson  |  22 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)


We've explored 3D printing from lasercused bike porn to the new domain of litigators to the surge in cheap consumer-level printers. But here's an area about to be changed by 3D printing that you might not have considered: Brain surgery.


Scientists from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur recently created a realistic 3D-printed skull that matches the dense grey matter texture of our brain, including the layers of connective tissue. So maybe no more cutting into cadavers, med students can practice on 3D models, that are more realistic than anything previously produced (see photo at top for a sample of a previous model.)

You can watch a student cutting into the more realistic model in this video, but be forewarned, it's quite realistic:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)


Core77 2013 Year in Review: Top Ten Posts · Furniture, Pt. 1 · Furniture, Pt. 2
Digital Fabrication, Pt. 1 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 2 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 3 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 4
Insights from the Core77 Questionnaire · Maker Culture: The Good, the Bad and the Future · Food & Drink
Materials, Pt. 1: Wood · Materials, Pt. 2: Creative Repurposing · Materials, Pt. 3: The New Stuff
True I.D. Stories · High-Tech Headlines · The Year in Photos

When it comes to boundary-pushing research, MIT Media Lab is no slouch. This year their Mediated Matter Group stunned with their Silk Pavilion, which harnessed architecture, design and biomimicry with digital fabrication in an unusual way: The two-part structure was begun using CNC-deposited silk fibers laid out by an algorithm, then actual silkworms themselves were used to fill in the gaps with their own material, behaving as "biological printers."


Across MIT's campus, meanwhile, Skylar Tibbits and his Self-Assembly Lab are themselves adding a new dimension to 3D printing: Time. Tibbits and his team's research into how 3D-printed objects can be induced into changing their form over time has yielded what they're calling 4D printing. One of their goals, as the organization's name suggests, will be to create self-assembling objects and structures.


Jake Evill isn't from MIT, but rather Victoria University of Wellington, and the freshly-minted ID grad has been experimenting with 3D-Printed Exoskeletal Casts. Protective, lightweight, breathable, and fully customizable to the user, Evill's concept makes itchy plaster casts look as primitive as leeching people for blood.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)



Core77 2013 Year in Review: Top Ten Posts · Furniture, Pt. 1 · Furniture, Pt. 2
Digital Fabrication, Pt. 1 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 2 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 3 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 4
Insights from the Core77 Questionnaire · Maker Culture: The Good, the Bad and the Future · Food & Drink
Materials, Pt. 1: Wood · Materials, Pt. 2: Creative Repurposing · Materials, Pt. 3: The New Stuff
True I.D. Stories · High-Tech Headlines · The Year in Photos

There was plenty of eye candy and food for design thought in this year's crop of digitally fabricated projects. The monster draw was, hands-down, this straight-up piece of bike porn: industrial designer Ralf Holleis' VRZ 2 Track Bike. This trickily-made fixie boasts lugs that one might think are laser sintered; instead, they're laserCUSED, which is the name of a proprietary process so complicated to explain it will get its own entry in future.


A very different type of bicycle also drew many mouseclicks: the "Draisienne" by Samuel Bernier and Andreas Bhend. But like Holleis' creation, you won't be able to buy this one in stores; it was hacked together from an IKEA Frosta stool and bespoke parts produced in a Makerbot Replicator 2, in a collaboration between Bernier and Bhend that (exhaling on fingernails) we believe we inspired.


We all know vinyl doesn't grow on trees, but maple sure does. Instructables editor Amanda Ghassaei blew our minds by turning the stuff into records, after coaxing an Epilog laser cutter into etching the strains of Radiohead and The Velvet Underground into the material's surface.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)


Core77 2013 Year in Review: Top Ten Posts · Furniture, Pt. 1 · Furniture, Pt. 2
Digital Fabrication, Pt. 1 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 2 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 3 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 4
Insights from the Core77 Questionnaire · Maker Culture: The Good, the Bad and the Future · Food & Drink
Materials, Pt. 1: Wood · Materials, Pt. 2: Creative Repurposing · Materials, Pt. 3: The New Stuff
True I.D. Stories · High-Tech Headlines · The Year in Photos

For the story of digital fabrication in 2013, it hasn't just been the rise of the machines; we've also seen developments in materials, processes and business.

Materialise's TPU-92A-1

For starters, Belgian digital fabrication company Materialise released TPU 92A-1, a new material for laser sintering. Durable yet elastic, the new stuff is a counterintuitive blend of flexible, durable, abrasion- and tear-resistant, and when sintered into a matrix-like form, has impressive shape memory. A certain fashion designer has taken to the material with a vengeance, but we'll get around to actual applications in the next entry.


Shapeways' Brass and Gold

On a more conventional front, Materialise competitor Shapeways brings two classic elements into their materials stable: gold and brass, now available through a combination of 3D printing, casting and old-fashioned hand polishing (and electroplating, in the case of gold). And unlike TPU 92A-1, which seems to be available only to industrial customers, anyone using Shapeways' services can order the stuff.


LAYWOO-D3 Wooden 3D Printing Filament

From Germany came LAYWOO-D3, a 3D-printing filament made from 40% recycled wood bound together by polymer. Advertised as "cherry," the stuff reportedly looks like wood, smells like wood, and can be sanded, worked and painted like wood once it's out of the printer.


Modern Meadow 3D Printed Meat

A material for 3D printing that none of you may be clamoring for is... meat. Andras Forgacs and his Modern Meadow company are seeking to produce meat-based protein for human consumption by bioengineering the stuff and having it spit out of a printer; for the sake of—I dunno, authenticity?—they'll reportedly keep the meat animal-specific, "Pig stays pig. Cow stays cow. Etc." to "ensure purity." Mmmmmmm. [retch]


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)


Core77 2013 Year in Review: Top Ten Posts · Furniture, Pt. 1 · Furniture, Pt. 2
Digital Fabrication, Pt. 1 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 2 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 3 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 4
Insights from the Core77 Questionnaire · Maker Culture: The Good, the Bad and the Future · Food & Drink
Materials, Pt. 1: Wood · Materials, Pt. 2: Creative Repurposing · Materials, Pt. 3: The New Stuff
True I.D. Stories · High-Tech Headlines · The Year in Photos

Unsurprisingly, 2013 was a big year for digital fabrication, as the technology continues to trickle down into the affordable consumer category. So before we even get into what designers have done with the new technologies available to us, let's take a look at what the companies responsible for those technologies have gifted us with this year.

ShopBot Tools Handibot

The runaway Kickstarter digital fabrication success of the year was the HandiBot. North-Carolina-based ShopBot Tools' unusual concept—a portable CNC mill whose man-handle-ability gives it an infinite work area footprint--was a smashing success, hitting and more than doubling its funding target within days of going live (the first 150 units have since been delivered). "We really love the idea of a highly portable and affordable little CNC," says ShopBot founder Ted Hall. "The fact that you 'take the tool to the material' creates all sorts of new options for CNC... but the real aspiration for Handibot is to break the ease-of-use barrier for CNC-style, subtractive, digital fabrication." To that end, Hall and team are working on creating an app environment for the Handibot; in the company's vision of the Handibot's future, users will download apps for specific operations they want to perform, call them up on a paired smartphone, tablet or computer, then "click 'Start' and have the tool get to work right in front of you."


Inventables Shapeoko 2

On the open-source front, Inventables launched their Shapeoko 2 CNC mill, a small-footprint (12×12×2.5) desktop machine going for $650–685 depending on configuration. Some five years in the making, the Shapeoko 2 can also be ordered in a $300 kit form for those tinkerers willing to supply the electronics, belts, pulleys, etc. and assemble it themselves.


MATAERIAL Anti-Gravity Object Modeling 3D Printer

If there's a 3D-printing version of the Handibot—which is to say, a machine independent of a build platform—it's the MATAERIAL Anti-Gravity Object Modeling 3D Printer. The machine's articulating, robotic arm extrudes material in 3D space, rather than depositing it layer-by-layer, and the thing is so radical we expect it will take a little time for designers' imagination can catch up to what the machine is capable of.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   5 Dec 2013  |  Comments (2)


Another piece of software we got a good look at at this year's Autodesk University is Autodesk 360. The company has created a Facebook-like interface for projects and design teams; collaborators log on to a cleanly-designed dashboard page containing "all of the data, projects, people, tasks, discussions, activities, issues and alerts that are associated with design or architecture projects that they are working on."

Clicking on a project, for instance, is like clicking on someone's Facebook wall; you get a linear view of all developments concerning that project, with your fellow collaborators' updates taking the place of comments. People can upload relevant files as updates, and anyone with access can view any file, regardless of whether it's an Autodesk format or not. (This includes non-design data, like spreadsheets and such.) And yes, Autodesk 360 can also be used from your phone or tablet, just as with Facebook.

While we were treated to an on-stage, well-explained visual presentation of how it all works, we realize text is not the best way to drive home how this software would impact your workflow. Thankfully, Autodesk has made available the videos they used for their presentation. These are hot off the presses so they haven't added the voiceover yet, but we'll provide the relevant text:

Projects at the Center

In Autodesk 360 users can see all the projects they are working on in one place. Because customers work on lots of projects, they can pin or unpin them, to indicate which ones are most important.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)


So you've designed your product, run simulations on the model, figured out the PLM and rendered countless iterations. Now it's time to actually machine the thing. Autodesk is now addressing this final step, taking advantage of Autodesk University's packed attendance (10,000-plus people this year!) to announce their new CAM 360 software, which they're billing as the world's first cloud-based CAM solution.

CAM 360 is seen as the final puzzle piece in their cloud-based digital manufacturing software suite, following on the heels of PLM 360 (product lifecycle management), Sim 360 (analysis) and Fusion 360 (design). By finally integrating the thing that actually generates the toolpaths for CNC, the company reckons manufacturers will enjoy a huge time savings. And the cloud-based approach confers three distinct benefits: 1) Customers no longer need worry which version of the software they and their collaborators are on; 2) Files can be accessed anywhere, anytime; and 3) they've got virtually limitless cloud-based computing power available to quickly crunch those monster files.

The CAM 360 release date is pegged for next year.

Posted by Ray  |   1 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)


In the context of design, fabrication is essentially a fancy term for making, and insofar as the term is refers to the process of producing a physical thing, the word transcends its alternate meaning: to contrive or devise, without justification—in short, to lie. Negative connotation aside, it's loosely synonymous with invention, such that 'digital fabrication'—term of art notwithstanding—might also refer to algorithmically generated designs. If the concept is the frontier of new media art (Phillips de Pury's recent "Paddles On!" auction made art-world headlines for unprecedented sales of GIFs and Tumblogs), it is at once more and less apropos design. On one hand, there is a sense in which design is intrinsically algorithmic, where function serves as an overarching constraint—to say nothing of manufacturing considerations—yet there is also a sense in which the premise of creating a bit of code to dictate an aesthetic seems more like art than design.

Which is a long way of introducing Zhang Zhoujie's current project on Indiegogo, his first—and the first international crowdfunding campaign by a bona fide Chinese designer. Over the past few years, we've encountered Zhang's work at various design festivals around the world, starting in 2011 at London Design Festival (he studied with Ben Hughes at Central St. Martins) to the Salone and Shanghai last year (he's based in the latter city). Between the design concept and the fact that he's turned to Indiegogo, there are a lot of angles to the Digital Vessel (pun intended). He notes that "I believe that Indiegogo is the right platform to find the support needed to launch an entire digital revolution, a generation of backers that understand and can identify with my vision."

As he says in the pitch video above, that vision "is not about designing something... it's about finding something." And while Zhang only mentions it in passing in, his ultimate goal is to approximate nature itself—arguably the original designer—with algorithms for objects that grow or evolve of their own accord. (I struggled to grasp the concept when he explained it to me during Beijing Design Week, but he elaborated at length about his ongoing research and is clearly fixated on emulating nature through software.)