Home Made Mini-Me

While scanned, 3D printed models of people aren’t new, Microsoft has recently shaken up the market.  According to Dezeen, “Microsoft Kinect users can now scan their bodies with the motion capture device and order a 3D printed miniature model of themselves without leaving the house.”  This new innovation was developed by 3D scanning company Artec Group.  “Shapify.me offers a printing and delivery service for ‘3D Mini-Me’ figurines.”  The fun begins when users download an app to their computer or Xbox 360.  Next, “the Kinect must be positioned at chest height on the edge of a surface.  The subject stands in front of the device, just over a meter away.”  Once they choose a pose, the user scans themselves and turns 45 degrees before scanning again.  “This is repeated until a full rotation has been made and the same pose has to be held throughout…By pressing the 3D print button, the model one twentieth of the real height is ordered and delivered in the post in a matter of days.” 

Video, Photos, and Quotes Courtesy of Dezeen  


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3D Printed Education


The company GADGETS3D is launching its “3D Printer in Every School” initiative next month.  Forbes reports that the Poland and Hong Kong based company “has introduced the small-sized, low-cost RepRap G3D, especially designed for schools, small businesses, and individual customers.”  RepRap is one of the leaders in the Maker community, a completely open source 3D printer.  GADGETS3D’s project will allow any school to “buy a RepRap G3D for $245 as part of an educational kit.  GADGETS3D also plans to supply more than 500 schools around the world with a free printer.”  Students will even be able to access their school’s 3D printer from home using a smart phone. 

Elsewhere, “Gerhard de Clercq and Pieter Sholtz – two 15 year-old South Africans working from a home-built RepRap 3D printer – recently wrote a Windows mobile phone app to let users print from a mobile phone.”  De Clercq and Sholtz used their new app to print a phone case.  However, “the intention of this project wasn’t just to print off a cell phone case and collect a class grade.  Instead, de Clercq and Sholtz hope to bring the app to the consumer market and ultimately make 3D printing more affordable and accessible to South Africans through mobile tech.”  

Meanwhile, in the U.S., NVbots, an MIT startup, plans “to make 3D printing part of shop classes, and part of STEM programs across the U.S., NVbots has created an easy-to-use cloud interface and tiered safety training curricula enabling students to safely 3D print 24-7 on an NVprinter from any device…NVbots’ specialized 3D printing software allows printers to hold a queue of print jobs and then automatically remove parts after they have been printed.  It then begins the next print job without any human interaction required.”  As with many of these educational 3D printing programs, NVbots has a goal to spread this technology into even more classrooms.  They aim to “engage 50,000 schools globally to improve STEM education and to inspire the next generation of inventors.”

Photo Courtesy of RepRap

Quotes Courtesy of Forbes        

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3D Printing: Faster than Ever

At the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, researchers have “developed a faster 3D printing process and are now using it to model and fabricate heterogeneous objects, which comprise multiple materials.”  This, according to Phys.org.  Before this innovation, the fabrication time for printing such objects could take hours.  Now, however, “USC Viterbi professor Yong Chen and his team have shaved the fabrication time down to minutes.”  Yong Chen, Ph.D., professor in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the study’s lead researcher added, “digital material design and fabrication enables controlled material distributions of multiple base materials in a product component for significantly improved design performance.  Such fabrication capability opens up exciting new options that were previously impossible.”  This revolutionary breakthrough comes a year after “Chen and another team of USC Viterbi researchers improved an AM-related process called mask-image-projection-based stereolithography (MIP-SL) to drastically speed up the fabrication of homogeneous 3D objects.”  (Or objects of just one material)  In the future, however, Dr. Chen and his team aim to “investigate how to develop an automatic design approach for heterogeneous material distribution according to user-specified physical properties and how to improve the fabrication speed.”

Watch USC Vitberbi’s video about the project here!

Video, Photo, and Quotes Courtesy of Phys.org        


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3D Printing App for Microsoft

In a previous issue, Replicator World discussed Microsoft’s first foray into the 3D printing world.  When the computing giant released the latest version of their operating system, Windows 8.1, they included native 3D printing support.  Additionally, as Personalize has reported, Windows has released “developer codes for the use of the Kinect [on an Xbox] as a 3D scanner” while partnering up with MakerBot stores.  Now Microsoft has announced the 3D Builder.  This “free app is aimed at newcomers to 3D printing and is a way to customize pre-set or imported designs.  The modifications abilities are relatively limited but this does serve as a foolproof entry to 3D printing for any[one] looking to use their printer for the first time.”  For now, 3D Builder is only available for devices running Windows 8.1, with the built-in 3D printing support software.  “The app is essentially a library of STL files that are easily manipulated within the software; it is not a complex CAD software package…[and an] easy visualization for showing newcomers the technology with a variety of objects that will…print.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Personalize      

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On the [3D Printed] Road

Jim Kor, of Stratasys, announced the trip at the Manufacturing the Future Summit in November.  Popular Mechanics was on hand during the announcement: “about two years from now, Cody and Tyler Kor, now 20 and 22 years old, respectively, will drive coast-to-coast in the lozenge-shaped Urbee 2, a car made mostly by 3D printing…they will spend just 10 gallons of fuel to complete the trip from New York to San Francisco.  Then they will refuel, turn around, [and go back the other way].” 

The reason why the Kors chose a New York to San Francisco route is to echo the route taken by Horatio Nelson Jackson and Sewall K. Crocker in 1903, the first road trip in an automobile.  Instead of 10 gallons, however, Jackson and Crocker used 800! 

It was important for the Kors to use so little gas because the original concept of the Urbee 2 was a “vehicle intended for urban use, powered by electric motors and a small, ethanol-fueled combustion engine.  Those key words – urban, electric, ethanol – gave the Urbee its name.”  Jim Kor says that the Google time estimate for the trip is 44 hours, but it will probably take his sons just a little bit longer. 

While discussing the years-long development of the Urbee 2, Korr says, “there were two of us that knew the aerodynamics really well, and two industrial designers, the industrial designers kept saying, ‘It can’t look like a jellybean.’  But I was adamant that the design must be efficient first, and then we would design for the look.  Most cars are done the other way around – they start with how they want the car to look, and then they try to find ways to make it efficient.”

Photos and Quotes Courtesy of Popular Mechanics      

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Heart Makers

At the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, an ambitious 3D printed heart project is underway.  As reported by Livescience, “the project aims to make a natural organ replacement for patients possible within a decade.” 

Stuart Williams, executive and scientific director at the Institute, developed “the idea of a 3D printed heart grown from a patient’s own fat stem cells…his lab has already begun developing the next generation of custom-build 3D [bio] printers aimed at printing out a complete heart with all its parts – heart muscle, blood vessels, heart valves, and electrical tissue.” 

The Institute refers to this potential 3D printed organ as the “bioficial heart.”   Each component of the heart will be printed separately.  As Williams explains, “I took a step back and looked at my colleagues, and said, ‘Why don’t we build it like a large airplane?’…Separate the organ into separate components, figure out the best way to make the components, and then put them together.”  However, there are certain obstacles to the project.  One of the main ones is the fact that certain blood vessels in a human heart are only a few microns wide.  Even the most powerful current 3D printers can only print in millimeters.  (“1 millimeter is equal to 1,000 microns.”)  Despite this setback, however, Williams believes he has a possible solution: “we will be printing things in the order of tens of microns, or more like hundreds of microns, and then cells will undergo their biological developmental response in order to self-organize correctly.”  In other words, they will knit together naturally. 

Many experts believe this sort of 3D printing technology is more than ten years away, but the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute is working tirelessly to make that ten-year goal possible.  “Williams expects the next generation of ‘bioprinters’ to begin rolling out in December [2013].”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Livescience

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The New Face of 3D Printing

Consultant head and neck surgeon Adrian Sugar is leading the team at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales.  As reported by the Express, the patient’s “head was crushed in a motorbike crash.”  The surgeons “will use [3D printing and CAD software] to create a template of the victim’s face and titanium implants to restore his appearance.”  Half of the patient’s face was severely damaged, while the other side was unaffected.  “[Surgeon] Sugar has used a CT scan of this side of the face as a template to create implants in titanium using 3D printing.  The operation will involve breaking and cutting several facial bones once again, but the 3D printing process will also produce guide devices allowing the surgeons to reposition bones with pinpoint accuracy.”  Surgeon Sugar added that the team “has a good chance of correcting 70 to 80 percent of the deformity.”  In the future, the surgeons hope to “use similar techniques to reconstruct a face following surgery for cancer or congenital facial deformities.” 

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of the Express      

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Senator Pushes Extension of Ban on ‘Undetectable Firearms’

According to the Guardian, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York, wishes to extend a “federal law that [bans]…undetectable guns.”  The law is set to expire on the 9th of December.  Senator Schumer says that “anyone with $1,000 and an internet connection can access…plastic parts that can be fitted into a gun.  [These] firearms cannot be [uncovered] by metal detectors or x-ray machines.”  Senator Schumer is not alone in his concern.  Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Bill Nelson of Florida have also announced their wish for the law to be extended.  As Senator Schumer said during the announcement: “3D printers are a miraculous technology that have the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, but we need to make sure they are not being used to make deadly, undetectable weapons.”

Quotes Courtesy of the Guardian

Photo Courtesy of Defense Distributed/EPA

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Full Metal 3D Printing

A Texas engineering firm has created the world’s first 3D printed metal gun.  Unlike the world’s first 3D printed plastic gun, the Liberator, this new metal weapon actually resembles a firearm. 

As reported by The Verge, “the metal gun functions without issue and has already fired off over 50 rounds.  Building it involved the process of laser sintering – which helped [Solid Concepts] manufacture over 30 individual components for the gun – and various powdered metals.”  This is not to say that Solid Concepts’ gun will be readily available to the public any time soon.  Scott McGowan, Solid Concepts’ VP of marketing, stated that “there are barriers to entry” that “include a prohibitively high cost for the equipment involved and the expertise required to actually pull off the printing.”  Kent Firestone, Solid Concepts’ VP of additive manufacturing added, “we’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D metal printing.” 

However, right now, Solid Concepts is “the only 3D printing service provider with a federal firearms license.”  The goal in producing this gun was to “provide yet more evidence of 3D printing’s potential; that the technology is far more than making ‘trinkets and Yoda heads’.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of the Verge

Video Courtesy of Solid Concepts 

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Profile: Red Rocks

During a recent AmCon in Salt Lake City, Utah, we met with Katy Ermak, Marketing and Business Development Manager at Red Rocks Product Development.  We discussed reselling, 3D Systems, Geomagic, and the future of the 3D printing industry.


Ms. Ermak explained, “Red Rocks Product Development [based out of Denver, Colorado] is a reseller for a few different vendors.”  These vendors include LMI Technologies, which produce white light scanners, Creaform, inventors of Go!SCAN, SpaceClaim Engineer, who create Direct 3D Modeling software, and the 3D printing behemoth 3D Systems.  Reselling entails a commitment to providing “exceptional customer service and expertise in order to build lasting customer relationships.  [Red Rocks Product Development] strives to educate customers in making purchasing decisions that best fit their needs.”

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As Marketing and Business Development Manager, Ms. Ermak does “the company marketing, introduces potential customers to who Red Rocks Product Development is and what they do and provides continued support and excellent customer service to all potential and current customers.”

Ms. Ermak then went on to discuss in detail certain products that Red Rocks resells.  Products such as Creaform’s Go!SCAN, which is “an innovative LED technology that provides a large scanning area and a very fast measurement rate.  Other fascinating tools include Geomagic Wrap, which is used in conjunction with scanning.  “3D Systems acquired Geomagic and Rapidform not too long ago, making 3D Systems’ CAD software top of the line.  Geomagic Wrap is a software that enables users to transform point cloud data (which 3D scans produce), probe data, and imported 3D formats into 3D polygon meshes for use in 3D printing, manufacturing, analysis, design, entertainment, archeology, and analysis.”   


When asked about any new products coming down the pipeline, Ms. Ermak couldn’t comment on specific innovations from companies such as 3D Systems.  “As a reseller, we learn about new and upcoming things only a day or so before the public does.  Companies like 3D Systems are very good at keeping things under wraps!  I will say though, that a good time to hear about any news is at EuroMold, a world fair for mold making and tooling, design and application development held in Germany.  This year EuroMold will be from December 3-6th.”     

Interview Quotations Courtesy of Katy Ermak and Red Rocks Product Development

Pictures and Photos Courtesy of Red Rocks Product Development, LMI Technologies, Creaform, SpaceClaim Engineer, and 3D Systems


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Victoria and Albert Museum in London acquires Defense Distributed’s ‘Liberator’

First 3D Printed Gun Now A Museum Piece

Victoria and Albert Museum in London acquires Defense Distributed’s ‘Liberator’

Victoria and Albert Museum in London acquires Defense Distributed’s ‘Liberator’


Defense Distributed, the infamous Texan Anarchist group that created the first 3D printed gun, has yet again made headlines.  Dezeen reports the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, “the world’s largest museum of the decorative arts” has acquired two of Defense Distributed’s prototypes of the 3D printed Liberator gun.  Kieran Long, Victoria and Albert’s senior curator of contemporary architecture, design, and digital, defended the museum’s decision to display the Liberator in its collection: “ugly and sinister objects demand the museum’s attention just as much as beautiful and beneficial ones do…museums should be topical, responding quickly to world events when they touch our areas of expertise.”  The museum added that “the invention of this so called ‘wiki weapon’ sparked intense debate and upended discussions about the benefits of new manufacturing technologies and the unregulated sharing of designs online.”

Photo and Quotes Courtesy of Dezeen and the Victoria and Albert Museum

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MIT designers develop technique for 3D printing objects larger than 3D printers printing them

Hyperform: Expanding the Limits of 3D Printing

MIT designers develop technique for 3D printing objects larger than 3D printers printing them

MIT designers develop technique for 3D printing objects larger than 3D printers printing them


Designers Marcelo Coelho and Skylar Tibbits have tackled one of the main constraints of 3D printing.  According to PSFK, Coelho and Tibbits, in collaboration with Nathan Linder and Yoav Reches of Formlabs were funded by Ars Electronica to solve the problem of 3D printing objects that are larger than the printers printing them.  Normally “to 3D print large objects, you’ll either have to divide the object into several parts or find yourself a [larger] 3D printer.”  However, these MIT based designers developed a new way to solve this problem: Hyperform, “a method that uses material folding techniques as a computational design strategy as well as assembly strategies to enable designers to compress large objects into the bed space of any 3D printer and then lay them out and assemble them after printing.”  When objects printed using these techniques are finished they look “like a long string of chain links with multidirectional notches to allow for easy assembly.”  To demonstrate, the designers printed a 50-foot chain and a chandelier, in order to illustrate the assembly process “and show the potential of Hyperform when it comes to creating large items.  The research team intends to open up Hyperform to other designers and architects who may have other ideas on how the method can be used or developed further.”

Video, Photo, and Quotes Courtesy of PSFK

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