3D Showcases World Cup 3D Prints

For the next month, Brazil will be the center of the world’s attention.  According to 3D, “FIFA believes that the 2014 World Cup will be the most watched TV event in history.  They are estimating that over 3.2 billion viewers will tune in to watch the world’s most popular sport.”

And with the world watching, 3D printing will also be part of the festivities.  3D showcases a few examples. 

“iMaterialise [released] their very own 3D printed soccer stadium board game.  The players are 3D printed and then attached to the board via tiny springs.”


Another interesting innovation is a part koozie, part Samba shaker created by Dutch company 3Dwergen: “once printed, a can of beer or a soft drink will fit snugly into its opening.  Just like a koozie, it will keep your drink cold, and your hands warm.  Once you guzzle down that beer or soft drink, you can break the pull ring of the can off, place it inside, and turn the can upside down in the holder.  Your Koozie is now a Samba shaker, which can be used to help you cheer for your favorite team.”


LeapFrog has also jumped in on the action, with this 3D Printed Finger Soccer set, resplendent in the well-known orange of the Dutch National Soccer Team:


Not wanting to be left out, Nike released a partially 3D printed sports bag. “The entire base of this bag was 3D printed, and attaches the leather upper to the straps without the need for any adhesives…the bag is actually being used by a select few players who will be participating in this year’s event.  This includes Brazil’s Neymar Jr., England’s Wayne Rooney, and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.”


Perhaps the most astonishing piece of 3D printing technology on display at the World Cup is this ExoSkeleton.  “The opening ceremony of the World Cup will feature a paraplegic individual getting up out of a wheelchair, and kicking out the first ball of the event.  They will be able to achieve this amazing feat with the help of a specially designed ExoSkeleton, which has been partially 3D printed.”


Images and Quotes Courtesy of 3D    

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3D Pioneer Launches

Market Watch ran a recent press release from 3D Pioneer Systems, Inc., which is located in London, UK.

According to 3D Pioneer, the company “is in the process of launching our website, a 3D printing service which is anticipated to beat any existing quotes for 3D printing jobs.”

As Conrad Zammit, 3D Pioneer’s Technical Advisor says,   “if customers are not happy with the price that they have been quoted, 3D Pioneer will match the price that has been quoted by one of our competitors.  In effect, ‘We’ll Beat It!’”

The Beat Any 3D Print site has a three step, user-friendly process: “first, upload and submit an existing quote; second, the 3D Pioneer team will review the quote, and either match or beat it; and third, upon acceptance of the 3D Pioneer quote, the print job will be printed and delivered to the customer…all 3D print jobs by Beat Any 3D Print will be performed using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) print technology.”

However, if the customer hasn’t been quoted for a print job yet, “the customer may upload an .STL file and the 3D Pioneer team will generate a first time quote through the Beat Any 3D Print website.”

Image Courtesy of 3D Pioneer Systems, Inc.

Quotes Courtesy of Market Watch

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LeapFrog Launches Creatr HS

LeapFrog 3D Printers, located in the Netherlands, has just recently announced the launch of a new line of their popular Creatr 3D printers.

These new Creatr HSs, or ‘High Speeds’ are capable of “printing up to 5 times faster than the regular Creatr’ lines.  The High Speed also boasts a “print volume of 14.8 liters” along with the capacity to print objects up to 30cm in length. 

These printers also feature “a 4inch full color LCD screen and the ability to print directly from USB.”  The standard model Creatr HS will also be equipped with dual extrusion.  This means that they will be able to “print with water soluble support material (PVA), [which enables] full design freedom” and also “print while using two nozzle sizes for even more speed and efficiency (larger nozzle for inner structures and/or support material.”

LeapFrog has priced the Creatr HS at 1799 Euros, or $2435.

Image and Quotes Courtesy of LeapFrog 3D Printers     

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3D Discusses the Ethics of Scanning Cultural Artifacts

Over at 3D, there is an interesting article discussing the ethics of scanning and copying in this new age of 3D printing. 

Oliver Laric, known for his “3D scanned prints of numerous works of art” has caused a controversy by creating “3D scans of seven columns from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing.”  These columns have been housed in Norway, “after having been removed from China in the 1860s.”

The fact that these columns were removed from their cultural and ancestral home is troubling in and of itself, but luckily “the decision has been made to return the columns to China where they will reside in the collection of Peking University.”

However, as 3D goes on to say, “now that the columns are destined to be returned, the existence of scanned copies of them is seen by some as yet another attempt to steal them.”

Laric argues that these scans expand “the…dialog of authenticity…the very nature of the digital world is one in which copies are continuously produced and the line between piracy, flattery, and imitation is still being defined.”

Laric’s copies are currently on display at the KODE Art Museum of Bergen “and he has elected to make the 3D scan files available as a free download from the web.”  The fact that anyone with the right know-how and software can print these columns has “led to the concern over the impact on the cultural value of the original objects.”

 Perhaps the most troubling thing of all “is that the decision to copy them and the act of dissemination was not performed by the Chinese people, but rather by a Western artist in the very location where they were so long held as loot.  It may seem an insult to return the originals while simultaneously taking their form and making it infinitely reproducible….their reproduction is a fascinating added dimension to consider in the philosophy of cultural stewardship and theories of 3D creation.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of 3D

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3D Printed Tactile Picture Books

Often, blind and visually impaired children do not start learning Braille until they are about six years old.  This means that until then, the world of reading is closed to them.

But a team of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder is doing something to change that.  According to, the team has printed a 3D version of “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown. 

“CU-Boulder computer science Assistant Professor Tom Yeh and his team [are now] using the same techniques to print several other highly popular children’s books in 3D, including ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’ and ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’.”

Yeh “directs the Sikuli Lab at CU-Boulder, where his students conduct research on how computers can see better and interact with humans more naturally.”  Speaking at the annual Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems held in May in Toronto, Yeh explained that the idea of tactile picture books isn’t new, but “what is new is making 3D printing more accessible and interactive so parents and teachers of visually impaired children can customize and print these kinds of picture books in 3D.”

The main concept of the project, according to Yeh, “is to represent 2D graphics in a 3D, tactile way on a scale appropriate for the cognitive abilities and interests of young children…the team combines this information with computational algorithms – essentially step-by-step instructions for mathematical calculations – providing an interface that allows parents, teachers, and supporters to print their own customized picture books using 3D [printers].”

Yeh goes further to explain that “the 3D technology [was already there], we had techniques we developed for image processing, you put them together and you have the means to print out 3D images from children’s books.  The goal is to have parents, teachers, and supporters of visually impaired children learn how to use software and 3D printers to make books of their own.  Since each child generally has his or her unique visual impairment issues, the idea is to customize each book for each child.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of   

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First White House Maker Faire

Techrepublic recently wrote about the first ever White House Maker Faire, which occurred on June 18th, 2014.

President Obama hosted this Maker Faire with the goal of interacting “with people who are using the newest [technological skills] and tools to learn science, technology, engineering (STEM) skills, launch businesses, and disrupt manufacturing.”

“The White House hosted over 100 makers from more than 25 US states.  There were more than 30 exhibits for attendees, and President Obama viewed a subset of the exhibits.”

“The President gave special focus to three efforts at the faire: [one] helping makers launch new businesses and create jobs, [two] dramatically expanding the number of students that have the opportunity to become makers, and [three] challenging [current] makers to tackle our most pressing problems.”

Last year, President Obama singled out the 3D printing industry in his 2013 State of the Union address.  He discussed it again at the Faire: “Today’s DIY is tomorrow’s made in America.  Your projects are examples of a revolution that’s taking place in American manufacturing.  A revolution that can help us create new jobs and industries for generations to come.”

Forrester’s Sophia Vargas “said that the White House Maker Faire, and events like it, will ultimately be beneficial for 3D printing…because they encourage content production which will, ‘continue to fuel interest, as well as adoption, across the board.  From both a consumer and an industrial perspective.’”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Techrepublic   

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Re-Growing Van Gogh’s Ear

Business Insider explains that Dutch artist Diemut Strebe uses “science basically like a type of brush.”

Strebe’s latest installation is called Sugarbabe, and involves cells gathered from van Gogh’s brother Theo’s great great grandson, Lieuwe van Gogh.  “Lieuwe shares around a sixteenth of the same genes as the Impressionist master, which includes the Y-chromosome passed down through the male lineage.”

Strebe took the cells from Lieuwe and shaped them in order “to replicate van Gogh’s [infamous] detached organ using a 3D printer and the resulting ‘ear’ is being kept alive using a nutrient solution.”

The piece is on display until July 6th at The Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, and “will be coming to New York in Spring 2015.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Business Insider

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The Economist: On ‘Additive Manufacturing’

A recent article in The Economist discusses the correct nomenclature when discussing this industry.  “The biggest engineering companies nowadays prefer to talk about ‘additive manufacturing’ rather than ‘3D printing’”.

The reason for this distinction is two fold.  First of all, “printing is not quite the right word for some of the technologies given this label.  Whereas hobbyist-scale 3D printers typically build a product by squirting out blobs of plastic, a technique called selective laser melting zaps successive layers of powder with a laser or ion beam, hardening only certain bits.” 

The second reason concerns large companies who wish to focus on the ‘manufacturing’ aspect of the industry: “the technology has moved beyond the development labs and is now being used on the factory floor to make complex metal parts.”

Although the technology “is still being perfected”, it is consistently being underestimated even by its boosters, according to Terry Wohlers, an industry analyst.  “The revenues of makers of 3D printing equipment and supplies worldwide grew by almost 40% last year, Mr. Wohlers reckons, far faster than he had expected.”

It is important to keep in mind that the industry is not just “hobbyists turning out novelty items in their kitchens” but that it is “increasingly…about giant engineering firms turning out sophisticated parts in factories.”

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Quotes Courtesy of The Economist 

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Disney’s Big Hero 6:

Here’s a fun little 3D printing cameo!

This is the teaser trailer for Disney’s Big Hero 6, based off the Marvel comic of the same name.

A form of ‘advanced’ 3D printing is heavily featured in the clip, which is very cool, but it got us thinking:

Just how far away from this sort of technology are we?  And can it be argued that we’re already there?

Young Makers are already tinkering away in labs and garages across the world…so is this really all the far fetched?

In any case, this looks like a great gateway into the possibilities of the 3D printing industry.

(Especially for kids)

Image and Video Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company



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Tinkerine Launches DittoPro ‘Prosumer’ 3D Printer

Azom reports the “DittoPro offers professional-grade print speeds and resolution of 50 to 300 microns (0.05-0.3 mm) at a retail price of just $1899 USD fully assembled.  [It] is expected to ship at the end of the month.”

“Tinkerine pioneered the 3D printing industry’s open C frame design, which the DittoPro employs to allow the build volume (the size of printed objects) to be significantly taller and deeper than the leading competitor.”  The frame of the printer also uses 43% less desktop space. 

Eugene Suyu, President and CEO of Tinkerine Studios explained: “The prosumer market is demanding a 3D printer that features quiet operation along with high speed, high resolution, and massive build volume.  DittoPro delivers on all of these, packaged in an elegant design that owners will be proud to have on display.  With its simple, one-click operation and ease-of-use software, DittoPro can be used for creating everything from engineering prototypes to educational models.”

Indeed, “Tinkerine is providing a premium machine to the consumer market, which also includes prosumers” like “educators, designers, engineers, and architects.”

Quotes Courtesy of Azom

Photo Courtesy of Tinkerine

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3D Printed Mouthpiece Combats Sleep Apnea

According to Business Insider, “Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Australian dental company Oventus have discovered a way to 3D print a mouthpiece that can” aide patients suffering from sleep apnea.

“Sleep apnea is an involuntary cessation of breathing that occurs during sleep.  There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed…if left untreated, sleep apnea can have long term health affects such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.”

So the CSIRO and Oventus researchers got to work, using a 3D scanner in order to map patients’ mouths.  They then used the results from these ‘maps’ “to print [a] titanium-built mouthpiece coated with medical-grade plastic…the device features a duckbill that extends from the wearer’s mouth like a whistle.  This creates two separate airways, which allows air to avoid obstructions in the nose, back of the mouth, and tongue by traveling through the back of the wearer’s throat.”

The mouthpiece is expected “to be available for patients next year, but it’s unclear whether or not it will come to markets outside of Australia.”

Quotes Courtesy of Business Insider

Photo Courtesy of Medical Xpress

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3D Printing and the Toy Industry

Recently, we discussed Hasbro’s decision to enter the 3D printing industry.  (At least to an extent)  And Lego’s reluctance to follow suit.

Now, however, it would seem that other players within the toy industry are jumping on the bandwagon as well. 

According to the BBC, MakerBot, whose CEO Bre Pettis was once an employee at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, “is bringing a downloadable Sesame Street figurine to its digital store, the first such file for its newly licensed brand.”

Mr. Snuffleupagus is the first in the line, but MakerBot “intends to release more in the future…At the modest size of 97mm X 92mm X 87mm (2.8in X 3.6in X 3.4in), the mini Mr. Snuffleupagus will fit in the palm of your hand.  It’s available in a number of different colors, takes three hours to print and costs $1.29…the files required to print the monster work on only two of MakerBot’s 3D printers: the Replicator 2 and the fifth generation model of the original Replicator.”

MakerBot isn’t the only crossroads of the 3D printing and toy making industries, however.   The Walt Disney Company has released a downloadable 3D printed teddy. 

Disney developed a specially designed printer “that can create three-dimensional objects out of wool and wool-blend yarn, which are ‘soft and flexible – somewhat reminiscent in character to hand-knitted materials.  This extends 3D printing from typically hard and precise forms into a new set of forms which embody a different aesthetic of soft and imprecise objects,’ explains Disney’s website.”

Despite all this, though, most toy making companies are still on the sidelines, watching the 3D printing industry with a wary eye.  Samantha Loveday, editor of ToyNews, claims, “it’s not something they’re particularly worried about.  The majority of 3D printers are currently too expensive and take too long for them to pose a significant threat to the toy market.  Some of them can offer great extensions to creative play but I don’t think they can really replace a physically and professionally made toy.”

But 3D printers are rapidly becoming cheaper and easier to use.  As Loveday admits, many industry insiders “fear that 3D printing could ‘do to the toy industry what illegal downloading did to the music industry.’”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of the BBC

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