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Digital Fabrication

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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.)




Posted by Ray  |  12 Nov 2013  |  Comments (5)

Pensa-DIWireBender.jpgL: Original DIWire Bender process photos; R: Production version of the device

Update: Our own Don Lehman chatted with Marco Perry and Mark Prommel in today's episode of the Afterschool podcast.

If 2012 was a big year for Pensa, 2013 has been even bigger: Both Street Charge and the Core77 Design Awards Runner Up DIWire Bender, both of which they introduced about 18 months ago, have come to fruition this year. We would have been impressed if they'd brought just one of them to market, especially since the two projects could not be more different—besides, of course, the fact that they're both novel, useful products.

Which is a long way of saying that today sees the official Kickstarter launch of the consumer-ready DIWire Bender. Seeing as it's already at $40,000, we imagine they'd tipped off the interested parties who were duly impressed by the production version, which Pensa! has exhibited at Maker Faires in San Mateo and New York City and most recently at Engadget Expand over the weekend.

Pensa-DIWireBender-FaireCOMP.jpgClockwise from top left: One of their booths at World Maker Faire; rocking the glasses in San Mateo; and in NYC; a model of the Brooklyn Bridge

Besides the plug-and-play device itself—which has the matte black box aesthetic of MakerBot's Replicator 2—Pensa! has developed an ecosystem for hobbyist and practitioner alike: The custom software is intended to be straightforward enough for users of any skill level and they've even devised a system of plastic clips to facilitate assembly of multi-part projects. If one were inclined to make bad puns, one might say that the lowest radius of the DIWire Bender is its learning curve.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Nov 2013  |  Comments (2)


That's the hook gear for a Singer 111w155, an industrial sewing machine much-beloved by (and cloned for) those who produce upholstery and heavy-duty sewn goods. It was originally produced in the 1950s and virtually built to last forever, so a well-tuned machine like this will run you over $500. I bought mine for $5, because that hook gear was worn out; the owner deemed it junk and was planning to give it to a scrap metal guy.

That a useful 100-lb. machine could be rendered worthless for want of a part that weighs 0.875 ounces is an absurd but common reality. And never mind sewing machines: How many vintage motorcycles, vehicles, power tools and industrial machines suffer the same fate from stripped or worn parts that are no longer produced? To 3D print that hook gear, which must mate precisely with another gear on the shaft, would require a complicated 3D file. But GE's emerging "cold spray" technology can offer a second lease on life for machines by digitally repairing worn parts rather than fabricating them whole.

Developed at the GE Research Center's Coating and Surface Technologies Lab, cold spraying, an additive technology, is more akin to painting than 3D printing. Metal powders are sprayed onto a worn part at high speeds to build elements of that part back up. GE is mum on the formula, the surface prep required and the precision with which the material can be deposited, but they refer to the nascent technology as "a potential 'fountain of youth' for metal."

They've also mentioned that cold spray can be used to create parts from scratch, but again, have not elaborated on how that can be done. And the technology's killer app is thought to be large structures, where it is more practical to repair on-site rather than disassemble and replace.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Nov 2013  |  Comments (2)


While "We Are Makers" was the first documentary looking at the burgeoning Maker Movement, it certainly won't be the last. As of this week, we know what the next one will be: The team behind 2011's Design & Thinking doc are gearing up for their next effort, Maker, whose successful Kickstarting period ends today.

The paltry $15,000 budget belies what we're hoping will be a meaty flick on the movement, this one feature-length and interviewing more than two dozen folks ranging from Chris Anderson to Autodesk CEO Carl Bass to Local Motors designer Jacob Ferguson.

"Maker" delves deep into [the] ecosystem of design and manufacturing in the Internet era. The film explores the ideas, tools, and personalities that are driving the Maker Movement - and returns with a timely snapshot of one of the transforming influences of the current age.

Due to budget constraints the doc will only examine the Maker Movement in America, though the finished film will screen in over 40 countries worldwide. And while most of the shooting has already been completed, postproduction is expected to be time-consuming, with a projected launch of sometime "before May of 2014." In the meantime, you'll have to sate yourself with the trailer:

Hit the jump for the rather impressive list of subjects they've already managed to lense:


Posted by erika rae  |   1 Nov 2013  |  Comments (0)


The jersey T is classic, but a bit boring. The T-Shirt Issue has once again upped the traditional T's drama with a touch of 3D rendering and design. We chatted with the T-Shirt Issue back in 2011 when they were looking to fund a Kickstarter campaign to launch a line of clothing basics that broke all rules when it came to seams. Following the successfully-funded crowdfunding campaign, the group has a series titled "Muybridge Pt_2," on view now at "Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital" exhibition in NYC, alongside some 120 other pieces that illustrate the role of digital fabrication in contemporary art, architecture and design.


The name of the collection, of course, refers to the seminal photographer; Hande Akcayli, Creative Director at the T-Shirt Issue elaborates:

We were fascinated by the idea of translating movements into garments. The study leans on Eadweard Muybdridge's photography work in the late 1800s, with which he pioneered in the field of capturing animal and human motion. The Muybridge series is a digital approach to transporting classic dynamics onto standalone jersey garments and capturing temporal change in 3D.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Oct 2013  |  Comments (7)


Back in June, we wondered how Apple's then-forthcoming tube-shaped Mac Pro was manufactured. Following a tip from Don Lehman, we learned it was the process known as impact extrusion, and we assembled a bunch of clips to show you the process.

Well, turns out Apple has put together their own video showing the actual Mac Pro as it goes from an aluminum puck into the Ive-envisioned final cylinder. Attendees of Apple's media event earlier this week were the first members of the public to see it, but thankfully it's now been posted to YouTube. Have a watch:

As you saw, the video also treats us to a rare look inside Apple's actual production facility. (Is it me, or has it become weird to see a factory filled with American workers?) And speaking of that factory: For the true production methods geeks among you, Oregon-based product designer Greg Koenig has gone and listed what he believes are the actual machines Apple's using.

Posted by core jr  |  22 Oct 2013  |  Comments (5)


We've seen plenty of projects from DIYer & digital fabricator Samuel Bernier before, from his Core77 Design Award honored Project RE_ to collaborative IKEA-hacking. He's also very lucky to have his interests intersect with his day job at Le FabShop, where he is the Directeur Créatif. Here he shares their latest project, 3D Printer + Electric Car.

Last February, Bertier [Luyt], founder of le FabShop, was stuck in a traffic jam in Paris. He was driving an Autolib, one of these small electric cars you can rent directly from an automated station on the street (similar to bicycle-sharing). Since le FabShop is a booming company, Bertier is always traveling. Looking at "cigarette plug" inside the car, he realized that he could optimize his time on the road to be more productive (phone excluded).

People had already plugged in a objects such as TV, espresso machines, game consoles... why not a 3D printer? Bertier could build prototypes and samples for our clients while driving and save some trips to the office—he often stops by our studio just to pick some of my printed models.

The idea was on our very long To-Do list until we met some very nice people from Renault's Creative lab who told us about their brand new electric car, Zoe. We made some tests with our own company car. It worked perfectly.



It went very fast from there. When the team came back from the NY MakerFaire, we moved our material close to Château de Versaille and filmed a little story while experimenting 3D printing in an electric car.

Our intern Tatiana created a number of storyboards—a plumber missing a "not so standard part"; a young man printing a gift for his girlfriend on the way home; a dad building sand tools for his children at the beach—but the architect and the last-minute model stood out.


Posted by core jr  |  21 Oct 2013  |  Comments (1)

Inventables-Shapeoko2-1.jpgImages courtesy of Inventables

Last week saw the opening of Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital, the first major museum show of digitally-fabricated art, architecture and design; Rome hosted the first Maker Faire in Europe a few weeks prior; today sees the launch of the second generation of the Shapeoko.

The first version of the open-source CNC kit was Kickstarted in July 2011 and we took note when it was subsequently picked up by Inventables in the spring of the following year; the 'Designer's Hardware Store' launched the Shapeoko 2 this morning.

Designer Edward Ford worked for four years to design a machine that anyone could build in order to turn their ideas into physical objects with precision. The Shapeoko 1 was used to fabricate machine parts, carve works of art, and start businesses by a worldwide community of users.
Shapeoko 2 is Edward's response to the enthusiasm and bold experiments of the open-source community. Numerous design changes and improvements have been implemented to improve the user experience, but the cost remains the same. Dead simple. No frills. Supported by a community. Powerful enough for real work.


The community, of course, "is the reason for the Shapeoko 2." Ford expresses his gratitude and debt to his fellow CNC enthusiasts:

The Shapeoko community has grown from an email list (with four people), to a google group (with 50 people), to a full blown forum (with 1,000+ members!) in under two years... The design of the machine is a collection of community-suggested improvements that were designed, tested, debated, and iterated throughout the course of the last two years. If it weren't for the community, there wouldn't be a Shapeoko 2.



Posted by core jr  |  21 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)


Last week, we took a look at the story behind the bespoke baton that Glasgow's 4c Design, Ltd., created for the XX Commonwealth Games in 2014. The baton was unveiled at a special ceremony on October 9, the occasion for remarks from Prince Imran of Malaysia (President of the CGF), Lord Smith of Kelvin (Chair of the 2014 Games) and of course Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself.

The BBC's Mark Beaumont filed his latest report, from Sri Lanka, yesterday afternoon; the Baton is about halfway through it's tour of Southeast Asia and will be in Australia by Halloween (view the full 70-country, 288-day route here).


We're pleased to present a series of exclusive photos documenting the making-of the baton, courtesy of 4c Design.



4cDesign-QBR-2-HandleTest.jpgTesting ithe durability of the handle.

5.jpgThe "Birdmouthing" join comes from 1,000+ years of shipbuilding tradition


4cDesign-QBR-4-Prepolish-inHand.jpgThe form was 3D-printed with Direct Metal Laser Sintering, but the rough titanium requires quite a bit of manual polishing...


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  16 Oct 2013  |  Comments (9)


Selective Laser Pilfering?

Everyone knows that widespread 3D printing is supposed to enable hordes of designers, DIYers and manufacturers. But if IT research and advisory company Gartner, Inc. is correct, there's another batch of folks it will benefit: Lawyers.

At last weeks' Gartner Symposium/ITxpo conference in Florida, the company released their "Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2014 and Beyond." The report contained this ugly, probably inevitable prediction:

By 2018, 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion per year in intellectual property globally.
Near Term Flag: At least one major western manufacturer will claim to have had intellectual property (IP) stolen for a mainstream product by thieves using 3D printers who will likely reside in those same western markets rather than in Asia by 2015.
The plummeting costs of 3D printers, scanners and 3D modeling technology, combined with improving capabilities, makes the technology for IP theft more accessible to would-be criminals. Importantly, 3D printers do not have to produce a finished good in order to enable IP theft. The ability to make a wax mold from a scanned object, for instance, can enable the thief to produce large quantities of items that exactly replicate the original.

In other words, get ready to lawyer up.

The entire report, available at the link above, is well worth a read. And it's not all about 3D printing: Another depressing prediction they're making concerns "the labor reduction effect of digitization" and how that will blow back on our lovely little society, perhaps as early as next year. "A larger scale version of an 'Occupy Wall Street'-type movement," the report states, "will begin by the end of 2014, indicating that social unrest will start to foster political debate." With any luck the demonstrations will remain peacefully absent of 3D-printed guns...

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Oct 2013  |  Comments (1)


The 3D-printing community is abuzz with news of an interesting development for the 4D printing movement: The U.S. Army Research Office has taken a keen interest in the possibilities of 4D printing. How keen? US $855,000 worth. That's the size of the grant the USARO has awarded to researchers at three schools—Harvard's School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, the University of Illinois, and the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering—to further their research into 3D-printed objects that can transform themselves over time.

The selected grantee universities will not be working completely independently, but are instead expected to collaborate. And the research isn't pie-in-the-sky, but intended to produce fairly focused results:

"Rather than construct a static material or one that simply changes its shape, we're proposing the development of adaptive, biomimetic composites that reprogram their shape, properties or functionality on demand, based upon external stimuli," says Anna C. Balazs, a professor of Chemical Engineering at UPSSE. "By integrating our abilities to print precise, three-dimensional, hierarchically-structured materials, synthesize stimuli-responsive components, and predict the temporal behavior of the system, we expect to build the foundation for the new field of 4D printing."

Due to the source of the funding, initial applications will presumably be military in nature; a press release teases the notion of vehicle coatings that change structure in response to the immediate environment and soldiers' uniforms that visually adjust their camouflage or physically adjust their protective measures against projectiles.

You're undoubtedly wondering, as we were: Why was 4D printing pioneer Skylar Tibbits not among the grantees? We can only speculate that the USARO reckons Tibbits is already on track to make breakthroughs, with or without their money. Strange as it sounds, in the world of financed researched, perhaps it's a silent vote of confidence.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Oct 2013  |  Comments (2)


Architect and computer scientist Skylar Tibbits heads up MIT's Self-Assembly Lab, a sort of cross-disciplinary skunkworks that is completely re-thinking how objects are manufactured and assembled. By combining digital manufacturing techniques with the study of how particular materials react to particular types of energy, Tibbits' team seeks to create things that, well, put themselves together—whether large or small—when the appropriate energy is introduced as a catalyst.

Self-Assembly is a process by which disordered parts build an ordered structure through local interaction. We have demonstrated that this phenomenon is scale-independent and can be utilized for self-constructing and manufacturing systems at nearly every scale. We have also identified the key ingredients for self-assembly as a simple set of responsive building blocks, energy and interactions that can be designed within nearly every material and machining process available. Self-assembly promises to enable breakthroughs across every applications of biology, material science, software, robotics, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, construction, the arts, and even space exploration. The Self-Assembly Lab is working with academic, commercial, nonprofit, and government partners, collaborators, and sponsors to make our self-assembling future a reality.

The concept sounds difficult to wrap your head around, until you see the video:

Here's a TED Talk Tibbits gave earlier this year going into more detail:


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


When you think about digitally fabricating metal, you probably picture steel powder or something unusual like Alumide, which is nylon laced with aluminum dust. But now Shapeways has added a simultaneously new and old-school flavor to their mix: Brass.

They're offering the stuff in three finishes: Gold-Plated, for when bling is the thing; Polished, which has a slightly more-subdued-than-gold yellowish tint; and Raw, for that classy, rustic look. While Shapeways will actually have your Gold-Plated and Polished finishes hand-rubbed for smoothness, the Raw will be left alone, providing a rough-surfaced matte finish for those looking to create antique effects.

Unsurprisingly, this stuff doesn't come out of the machine in one go:

[Our] Brass models are fabricated using a complex five-step process. First, the model is printed in wax using a specialized high-resolution 3D Printer. It is then put in a container where liquid plaster is poured in around it. Once the plaster sets, the wax is melted out in a furnace, and the remaining plaster becomes the mold. Molten brass is poured into this mold and set to harden. The plaster is broken away, revealing your new product. Raw Brass is briefly tumbled. Polished and Gold Plated Brass are carefully cleaned and hand polished. Gold Plated Brass goes through a final electroplating process for an outside coat of 22k gold. Please be aware that polishing and plating can wear down or fill in very fine details and edges.

Thanks to this tip from, would-be brass orderers can enter the code "oc3mv" on Shapeways' site to get a 10% discount on the Polished and Raw stuff. But hurry—the offer expires at 9pm (EST) on October 2nd.

Posted by core jr  |   6 Sep 2013  |  Comments (3)


Text & images courtesy of Zach Kaplan / Inventables

This year at the IDSA International Conference, Inventables teamed up with Computer Aided Technologies, Stratasys, Models Plus and the 3D Printer Experience to hold a pinewood 3D-printed derby contest, Launch Day. Back in July, we made an open call to any designer in the world to create a car that used pinewood derby wheels, a ball bearing, and would be launched off of a ski jump style track. Entries would be judged on three criteria: best flight (farthest distance), best crash, and best looks. Each of these three winners would win an Up Mini 3D printer from Inventables.

Over 100 designers from all over the world submitted cars. It was difficult to narrow it down, but Paul Hatch, founder of TEAMS Design and conference chair, and I narrowed it down to the ten cars we thought would be most likely to win in each of these three categories. The cars were then printed by Stratasys, Computer Aided Technologies, Kalidescope and The 3D Printer Experience. Finally, Models Plus built the track that the cars would race down to their destruction.


With the ten cars printed and on display before the 1,000 designers who attended the conference, the excitement for the race was building. For those of you who missed it or attendees who want to relive the experience, we had six cameras capturing the action, including a slow motion camera to grab the crashes. Check it out:

See more on the event on the Inventables blog.

Posted by core jr  |   5 Sep 2013  |  Comments (0)

FrancisBitonti-NewSkins-Verlan-CROP.jpgPhoto: Christrini

Core77 has had the pleasure of chronicling New Skins, a workshop led by designer Francis Bitonti, which took place from July 22 to August 8 at Pratt's Digital Arts and Humanities Research Center in Brooklyn, NY. As a pioneer in the digital fashion design space, Bitonti's practice is primarily concerned with the wearable applications of computationally-based design methodologies and cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. His efforts in the classroom are an extension of his work in the studio, a fast-paced, process-centric approach to new and emerging technologies and their potential to yield never-before-scene results.

We've previously published coverage of weeks one and two of the summer intensive, which was sponsored by the Pratt DAHRC, Makerbot and 3D NYC Lab. In addition to the report on the third week and final project, Bitonti has graciously allowed us to present the video documentation of the course as it unfolded this past summer.

By Francis Bitonti Studio

The third week of Francis Bitonti's New Skins: Computional Design for Fashion Workshop at Pratt Institute's Digital Arts and Humanities Research Center brought the students together in the creation of their final garment: the Verlan Dress. All twelve of the students worked together throughout the final week to realize a new design, which integrated different components of the two garments previously selected by the jury at the end of the second week—designer Vito Acconci, fashion designer Jona from INAISCE, and representatives from MakerBot—as chronicled in our Week Two recap.

The students created the geometry for the dress using 3D anatomical models of the human body, then abstracted hidden lines and vectors of the human body (muscles, veins and arteries) into curves that could be manipulated in a 3D modeling environment. The inspiration for turning the body inside out, projecting the interior to the exterior of the body, creating a second skin from what lies underneath led to the name Verlan dress; the French slang word refers to reversing the first and last syllables, turning the word inside out.

Throughout the design process, the students focused on developing a unique formal language that would conform to the body through a procedural algorithm; finding a voice through a new emerging manufacturing paradigm. "We do not want to be teaching technology for the sake of technology," explains Bitonti. "This isn't about training technicians or draftsmen. We are trying to teach students to think through the computer as a medium and develop sensibilities for these new virtual materials."


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)


This little 85-cent white plastic thing you see below is called an Upper Sash Slide Latch, and it has caused me no end of trouble. It holds the top part of a tilt-for-cleaning window in place, and when this chintzy little part breaks, the window can swing down like a drawbridge—as an acquaintance of mine found out the hard way (he required stitches). After two of these latches failed in my studio and I looked to replace the part, I found it nearly impossible to search for online, as there were no manufacturer's marks anywhere on the part or the window.


If I had a MakerBot, I would've broken out the calipers, created a CAD file of an unbroken example of the latch taken from another window, 3D-printed the thing and been done with it. But if the part was exceedingly complicated or organically shaped, I'd have been SOL. So MakerBot's newly-announced Digitizer, a desktop 3D scanner, is sounding pretty cool.



The sleek-looking device has a small turntable on which you place your object, which then gets hit by a laser. Provided your object isn't shiny, reflective or fuzzy, the software then spits out a "clean, watertight 3D model" ready for printing or tweaking. Here's company founder Bre Pettis pitching the thing:


Posted by Ray  |  28 Aug 2013  |  Comments (1)


The jury's still out on the growth of 3D printing this year, but recent reporting suggests that the industry will extruding, fusing and sintering way towards the proverbial tipping point yet. A new "Low-Cost Desktop Personal Fabrication Device" (LCDPFD, anyone?) strikes a nice balance between price, practicality, and sheer versatility for the maker on a budget.

It's not quite as slick as the previously-seen PopFab, but if its success thus far on Indiegogo is any indication, the FABtotum is a few steps closer to becoming a reality. Competitively priced at $1099 for the fully assembled machine, the personal fabricator was nearing its $50K funding goal as of press time, with nearly six weeks to go in its 50-day campaign (a build-it-yourself kit comes in at just under a G; a $699 conversion kit allows a savvy DIYer to convert their old 3D printer into a FABtotum).

Where the likes of FormLabs and Mike Joyce offer higher-end stereolithography machines at prosumer prices, we're also seeing several interesting new developments in low-cost 3D printers (i.e. the $300 Printrbots used in the SAIC summer intensive) to multi-functional solutions such as the FABtotum:

Finding the right conditions where you can have both decent subtractive and additive manufacturing in one small envelope is no easy task. we think we reached a good compromise between speed precision and strength thanks to unconventional movement transmission methods and structural solutions.