Dremel Enters 3D Printing Arena

According to Extreme Tech, “one of the biggest names in power tools is trying its hand at the future of manufacturing with a new 3D printer.”

Dremel has recently announced the Idea Builder, which “is intended to be the first truly mass-market 3D printer with a competitive price, compact design, and a name people know.  The price is quite attractive – the Idea Builder will be on sale soon for $1000.”

The printer will only have a single-extruder, “meaning you can only load a single color of plastic filament at a time.  The printing platform is non-heated, so this printer is intended for use with PLA plastics only.”

However, the size of the Idea Builder’s build area is favorable to that of its more expensive competitors.  “The build area is 230mm X 150mm X 140mm (9 inches X 5.9 inches X 5.5 inches)…Printing resolution goes as low as 0.1mm, the same as [The MakerBot Replicator 2].”

“The device was developed in partnership with Chinese manufacturer Flashforge and is based on that company’s Dreamer 3D printer…Internally, the Idea Builder is based on the same ARM Cortex-M4, a low-power chip ideal for signal processing.”

“Dremel’s 3D software was developed with AutoDesk.  It works on both Mac and Windows allowing you to see a 3D rendering of the build file before it’s printed.  You can move, rotate, and scale parts as well.  Dremel says it intentionally left out some more advanced features like manual temperature control, rafts, and infill percentages.  This makes the printer less intimidating to use, but Dremel may add some of these features for advanced users later.”

“The Dremel Idea Builder will be available in Home Depot stores and on Amazon starting November 3.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Extreme Tech

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Microsoft Extends 3D Builder App to Cloud

PC World reports that Microsoft has extended their 3D Builder application to the cloud. 

This will give users the ability “to create and print 3D objects with unconventional materials such as metals and ceramics.”  Microsoft has joined forces with 3D Systems’ cloud-based 3D printing service Cubify.

As 3D Systems adds, “from the designing process, users are directly and seamlessly linked to Cubify where they can order their design to be shipped to their doorstep within 2 weeks…Microsoft’s 3D Builder R5 gives you access to expanded material options beyond what is typically offered by consumer 3D printers.  Materials range from opaque and frosted plastics, to metallic and mixed plastics, to full-color ‘Colorstone’ and even ceramics.”  

Image and Quotes Courtesy of PC World and 3D Systems

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Stratasys and Strakka Team Up

Euronews was on hand at the recent 3D Print Show in London in September. 

Among the exhibitions was Strakka’s.  Strakka Racing is a British motor-racing industry leader.  In partnership with 3D printing industry titan Stratasys, they have developed a prototype-racing car. 

The Strakka Dome S103 was created using 5% 3D printed components.  These included the brake ducts, air intake, dive planes, and dash panel.  Until now, these sorts of components were only used in models. 

Dan Walmsley, an engineer at Strakka Racing, explains: “It’s not uncommon to use 3D printing for rapid prototyping, which helps a very short development cycle, but what we’ve moved into now is actual production parts on a race car, which is quite a new direction for us to go.  We found that the material properties have recently moved forward to a point where they’re stiff enough and strong enough and light enough to function as a fully finished production component on a race car.”   

Photo Courtesy of Strakka Racing

Quotes Courtesy of Euronews

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3D Printers as Bombs?

io9 obtained this report  from the National Institute of Standard and Technology.

The report raises concerns about 3D printers and their ever-growing vulnerability.  These devices “are often connected to organizational networks, have central processing units that run common commercial operating systems, store information internally on nonvolatile storage media, and may even have internal servers or routers.”

These circumstances could lead to hackers taking advantage of data, interfering with operations of 3D printers, and “committing various types of sabotage – some of which could be lethal.”  

The danger of 3D printers being turned into bombs is very real.  As Michael Chipley, a specialist in cyber-security for building control systems explains, “the issue with powders is – because they are so fine – they could become volatile depending on the chemical composition.  You probably don’t want to have a whole lot of free particulates in the air that can undergo spontaneous combustions [at a production plant.]”

Chipley believes hackers “could change the composition and proportions of the powdered metal used to print parts…Like all interconnected systems and devices, once a foothold has been established, then all nodes and other systems are at risk.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of io9

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Georgia Tech Students 3D Print Miss Georgia’s Shoes

CNET reports that 3D printed shoes were shown off at “the traditional ‘Show Us Your Shoes’ procession – where Miss America hopefuls wear fancy footwear honoring their home state.” 

Specifically, Maggie Bridges, Miss Georgia, “sported a pair of custom-engineered wedges inspired by the ‘Ramblin’ Wreck’, the 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe that serves as student body mascot at Georgia Tech, where Bridges is a senior.”

Georgia Tech industrial design students Maren Sonne, Jordan Thomas, and Julia Brooks designed the shoes.  The shoes “feature a finely detailed laser-cut grille with 3D-printed headlights; a laser-cut black and gold pattern on the heels; and little 3D printed wheels, complete with tread details, along the sides.”

It took Sonne, Thomas, and Brooks “about four weeks and $400 to transform the $60 Moda wedges into wearable retro sports cars.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of CNET


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Stratasys’ New Thermoplastic 3D Printing Material

Manufacturing.net reports that a new material option for Stratasys users is now available. 

ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate) is available for FDM-based production 3D printers.  This new material “is ideal for manufacturers in the construction, automotive, electronics, and sporting goods industries….[it’s] an all-purpose material used for the production of prototypes, manufacturing tools, and finished goods.”

“Manufacturers in the automotive, electronics, commercial, sporting goods, and construction industries can benefit from ASA’s UV stability, strength, and durability.  Applications include jigs and fixtures, electrical boxes, recreational vehicles, and outdoor tools.” 

Stratasys has made ASA available in black and ivory and “compatible with existing Stratasys SR-30 support material and priced similar to ABS.”  ASA is “compatible with the Fortus 360mc, 400mc, and 900mc 3D Production Systems.“

As opposed to ABS plastic, ASA thermoplastic offers “UV resistance, so parts will resist fading and remain durable with long term exposure to direct sunlight…Compared to ABS, details such as printed text and other features are greatly improved by ASA’s matte finish.”

Brendan Dillon, product manager for Stratasys explains: “as 3D printing becomes a more mainstream production process, and parts are used for a longer period of time and in diverse environments, UV resistance becomes a must-have feature.  Once customers use ASA, they may not go back to ABS.”

Quotes Courtesy of Manufacturing.net

Image Courtesy of Stratasys  

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Open-Source Syringe Pump Library

Gizmodo wrote about a recent paper called Open-Source Syringe Pump Library in PLOS One.  The paper suggests, “Doctors and scientist could simply [3D] print their own tools from an open library of designs.”

The Michigan Tech researchers who wrote the article believe that “a scientist could simply go to an open-source library of tools, select the one he or she needed, and [3D] print it out within a few hours.”

To prove their hypothesis, the researchers performed a test case.  “The team created a whole library of open-source syringe pumps – the devices used to give patients a dose of a medication or fluid – that can be downloaded, customized, and printed by anyone, for just the cost of the materials.  They also hooked the 3D printed pump (created on a RepRap) up to a Raspberry Pi so they could control it remotely.”

One of the researchers, Joshua Pearce, explained: “That way, you can link the syringe pump to the network, sit on a beach in Hawaii and control your lab.  Plenty of people can have access, and you can run multiple experiments at the same time.  Our entire single-pump system costs only $50 and can replace pumps that run between $250 and $2,500.”

”Even greater cost reductions for science, however, can be found with the application of open-source hardware.  The development of open-source hardware has the potential to radically reduce the cost of performing experimental science and put high-quality scientific tools in the hands of everyone from the most prestigious labs to rural clinics in the developing world.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Gizmodo

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3D Printing and Digital Zooarchaeology

The last Passenger Pigeon, a member of a species of birds that once littered the sky in their thousands, died on September 1st, 1914, more than one hundred years ago. 

However, now, according to 3DPrint.com, researchers are bringing them back to a kind of life.  The Virtual Curation Library was created in 2011 “as part of a Department of Defense funded project titled ‘Virtual Artifact Curation: Three-Dimensional Digital Data Collection for Artifact Analysis and Interpretation’, [whose goal was to] investigate the range of the NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner by using it on a wide variety of subject matter.”  

The Virginia Museum of Natural History provided the post-cranial bones of the Passenger Pigeon, through the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth Moore.  “Brian Schmidt, Director of the Division of Birds at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was able to provide two skulls for the project.  Marianna Zechini…a graduate student at the University of West Florida, began scanning the bones of passenger pigeons as part of her undergraduate research [at Virginia Commonwealth University].”

The models Ms. Zechini created are now being shared with researchers around the world.  “Those researchers are able to closely examine the 3D models created from every possible angle…the existence of these 3D models allows for accurate measurements by researchers as they compare elements.”

More importantly, these models can now be 3D printed.  “This allows researchers to have access to specimens they can hold in their hands.  It also means that museums and educators can help people make connections with these disappeared animals and help them feel the reality of their absence.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint.com 

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Print the Legend

Netflix recently produced and released Print the Legend, a documentary primarily featuring startups in the 3D printing industry. 

The documentary was directed and written by Luis Lopez and J. Clay Tweel.  Their primary subjects were Bre Pettis, former Co-founder and CEO of MakerBot Industries, Max Lobovsky, Co-Founder and CEO of Formlabs, and Cody Wilson, creator of Defense Distributed.

The documentary begins with the steady hum of a 3D printer and launches into an exploration of the industry, and the people who are, or have made it.  Lopez and Tweel begin in Brooklyn, New York in 2009. 

They document the rapid rise of MakerBot industries, which went from employing 3 individuals to employing 85 individuals in just two years.  Bre Pettis was just one of three co-founders of the company, but the documentary chooses to focus the story of MakerBot primarily around him.

Initially designated as the design/marketing head, Pettis modeled his company very much on that of Apple, Inc.  His fellow co-founders insisted on him being the “Steve Jobs” of MakerBot.  Which he did, with deft skill.  The documentary does well to show Pettis’ acumen for the spotlight: dealing with the media, presenting product launches that echo Apple’s throughout the years, and pushing MakerBot industries into the role of poster child for the desktop revolution within the 3D printing industry.

Print the Legend then shifts its focus to Max Lobovsky in Cambridge, MA in 2011.  Lobovsky co-founds Formlabs in his basement with an old friend, David Cranor.  They envision their Form1 3D printer as the first desktop stereolithography capable machine.  (Meaning the use of lasers instead of plastic extruders.)

MakerBot then takes center stage again, and this is where the documentary becomes even more interesting.  In late 2012, MakerBot underwent a huge shift in philosophy.  By this point they had about 260 employees, and had just launched the MakerBot Replicator 2. 

The Maker community was not happy.  Indeed, Natan Lader, one of the co-founders of Formlabs even went so far as to call it a “dark day for the open-source Maker Community.” 

Up until that point, MakerBot had stood by its philosophy of open-source technology, where everyone could share his or her different tinkerings and technologies and innovations.

But the Replicator 2 was created with proprietary control in mind.  No more open source, MakerBot aimed for the “sexy, Apple-like design” aesthetic.

Not everyone at MakerBot liked the drastic shift in philosophy as much as Pettis did.  Zack Hoeken, one of the other co-founders of MakerBot industries called Pettis’ actions “the ultimate betrayal”, as he believed in the democratization of the 3D printing industry.

Pettis replied by saying “you can’t live in a fantasy world and have a business too.”  Hoeken would quickly be herded out of MakerBot industries. 

But as a few MakerBot employees would point out, the industry was (and is) still looking for the “killer application for desktop 3D printing technology.  Something that would make people rush out and buy printers for.  Something that would make them say: this is why I have to have a 3D printer.”

Enter Cody Wilson. 

Wilson is from Austin, Texas, and according to the documentary is a “Law Student/Anarchist.”  We’ve chronicled a little bit about his escapades here at Replicator World.  He was the first person to build and shoot a 3D printed handgun, the Liberator. 

Wilson describes himself as an “information anarchist who does not subscribe to the belief that information should be public and private.  Everyone should have the ability to access all information.”

“There should be one law.  If the police can have it, if the military can have it, you can have it.”

His purpose in printing 3D guns and uploading the files online is to “confront the people in power in a very illustrative and visual way: You cannot control the future….the [barbarians] are coming.  This new generation intends for 3D printing to be a very significant technology in the future, not just a toy you can buy.”

Print the Legend does an excellent job of showing two opposing sides within the 3D printing industry.  They show what Cody Wilson is attempting to illustrate with his demonstrations, and they also show the corporate, MakerBot side of the equation as well. 

The story of Formlabs, despite their record breaking 2.9 million Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their desktop stereolithography 3D printer, becomes the least interesting when compared with the philosophical wrangling between Wilson and MakerBot Industries and other, larger, more established 3D printing companies such as Stratasys and 3D Systems. 

For example, when Cody Wilson put his 3D CAD files for his gun on MakerBot’s online Thingiverse CAD catalogue, the company very quickly struck them down.   So, Wilson decided to create his own online CAD catalogue.  And that was how DEFCAD.com was created.  He was able to freely post 3D printed gun designs online. 

Eventually, Stratasys would confiscate his 3D printers and the US State Department would order him to take down the gun files, citing firearm trade laws. 

Wilson was undeterred.  He feels that he “wasn’t invited” to the world of 3D printing, and the CEOs of the bigger companies hate that he is trying to enter it the way he is. 

Therefore, Wilson proceeded to put up a YouTube video of him shooting the 3D printed Liberator.  It’s clear that he isn’t 100% sure the gun will fire, however, because just before he shoots it, he turns to the cameraman and says “if this thing blows up on me, use Google Maps.  Find a hospital for me.”  The test was a success, however, and was seen 3.7 million times in the next several days. 

Print the Legend focuses on other stories within the 3D printing industry, but this tension between open source and proprietary technology is perhaps one of the most interesting.  And probably one of the hardest questions brought up by the documentary to answer. 

David Cranor, one of the co-founders of Formlabs, summed it up best:  “The big guys in the industry [MakerBot Industries, now owned by Stratasys and 3D Systems] are crying tears of blood.  They fear their grip on this new technology is beginning to slip.”  And it is companies like Formlabs, and interesting characters like Cody Wilson who are working to loosen that vice-like grip.

The struggle between the open-source and the corporate side of the industry will largely dictate the future of 3D printing. 

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Print the Legend and Netflix

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The Apple Watch: An Opportunity for 3D Printing

Over at 3DPrint.com, there is a discussion concerning the arrival of the new Apple Watch.  “With the watch, comes all sorts of customization options, including most importantly, the watch band.”

The watch band will differentiate your watch from everyone else’s.  This is where the wonders of 3D printing can step in.  It “will allow for the total customization of individualized watch bands.”

This individualization will undoubtedly include the plethora of different 3D printing materials available.  For example, NinjaFlex and FilaFlex offer flexible filaments while ColorFabb makes bronzeFil and woodFil filaments.  MakerBot is in on the action as well, with their “Glow-in-the-Dark PLA Filament.”  All of these materials could potentially be used to make one’s Apple Watch as unique as one could desire.

Shapeways has already put their foot into the arena, providing developers and designers with opportunities to start developing 3D printing solutions for the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch.  Michael Christensen, one designer, “has already created a 3D model for the 38mm version of the Apple Watch.  The files can be downloaded and designers can begin creating 3D printable designs using these GrabCad models.”

Image Courtesy of Apple, Inc.

Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint.com

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3D Printed ‘Bump’ Keys Pick Complex Locks in Seconds

Wired spoke with Jos Weyers and Christian Holler, lockpickers who “can 3D print a slice of plastic or metal that opens even [the most] high security locks in seconds, without even seeing the original key.”

Weyers and Holler are using an old concept of a ‘bump key, “which resembles a normal key but can open millions of locks with a carefully practiced rap on its head with a hammer…the technique traditionally has involved filing a key blank into a set of teeth that rest against each of the pins in a pin and tumbler lock.”

However, Weyers and Holler are using a more modern technique when it comes to ‘bump’ keys.  “Using software they created called Photobump, the two engineers say it’s now possible to easily bump open a wide range of locks using keys based on photographs of the locks’ keyholes.  Now, “all anyone needs to open many locks previously considered ‘unbumpable’ is a bit of software, a picture of the lock’s keyhole, and the keyhole’s depth.”

Weyers and Holler are not trying to make thieves’ jobs easier.  “Instead, they want to warn lockmakers about the possibility of 3D printable bump keys so they might defend against [them].”

Weyers argues, “the sky isn’t falling, but the world changes and now people can make stuff.  Lock manufacturers know how to make a lock bum-resistant.  And they had better.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Wired 

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3DPrinterOS: Standardization for the Masses

John Dogru and Anton Vedeshin are engineers.  Their goal, according to Tech Crunch, is “to create a standardized, usable OS for all 3D printers, ensuring that any time you click a button to print a 3D model you’ll see exactly the same screens and functionality.”

Enter 3DPrinterOS.  This “standalone software system” will connect “to a number of popular printers.  It works on Mac and Windows as well as Linux and Raspberry Pi.” 

3DPrinterOS’ technology is “rooted in cloud computing and IT security. “  Dogru and Vedeshin believe that by offloading “the heavy stuff to a server…you can make 3D printing more accessible and easier to use for all…Using this software, your printer turns into a networked ‘black box’.   Users can simply send over files and print them.  The service is compatible with MakerBot, Ultimaker, and some RepRap models…and also allows you to control and submit print jobs over the Internet.”

Dogru adds, “It’s incredibly exciting how fast the 3D printing world is growing but without a platform that’s able to communicate across printers, softwares, and applications, users are unable to truly enjoy and unleash the full potential of 3D Printing.  Our goal is a platform compatible with the majority of design tools and 3D printers so dreamers, designers, and first time makers can collaborate, communicate, and create in a universal language for the first time.”

The 3DPrinterOS apps have just left beta and are available now.

Image Courtesy of 3DPrinterOS

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