Another great use of 3dprinting

I had the great pleasure of interviewing leading educator, James Novak to learn more about his 3dprinted bike he designed. James is a lecturer at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia and has gained world wide recognition for his bicycle he developed.

The great thing about this designs is it shows how far 3dprinting can be pushed with a creative mind. To read the blog please click here.DSCF6909.JPG

Learn how to low poly model with these easy steps.

Ever wondered how to create amazing low poly models? The answer is simple, you can easily create low poly designs using Autodesk meshmixer. I have written a tutorial on how to do it and posted it here.This is a great hack for altering models quickly and requires almost no CAD modelling experience.

Low poly modelling tutorial by 3dfilemarket.com

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3d print your own open source toy robot by Cannybots.

Remember Scalectrix as a young child? Hours of fun were had racing toy cars around race tracks as fast as possible. The game never seemed to get old. Now you can take it to the next step with Cannybots open source toy robots. The idea is simple, download and 3d print the designs for the robot, then you can programme the electronics through the use of simple programming interfaces such as – Arduino, Blockly, Python, mbed and Scratch. The robot is controlled by a powerful single board controller called the ‘Bluebrain’. 05_Cannybots-46This ‘Bluebrain’ incorporates an ARM processor, Bluetooth (4.0) and motor controllers that when programmed allow the robot to follow a line or track (usually in the format of a racetrack design). The great feature about Cannybots is you can control it from your smartphone, tablet, PC or even raspberry pi and you can even 3d print the designs yourself. In an age where programming and the study of 3dprinting is taking precedent in education, Cannybots can really help drive the teaching and learning of new technologies within our schools. Currently in the UK, there is a national drive for teaching children how to 3d print, programme computer chips and how to study new and emerging technologies. Educators are always looking at new innovative ways to capture the imagination of students and this seems a great project to work on with classes. Cannybots creator Anish Mampetta explains how “The openness of the platform lets secondary students delve deeper — peeking behind their visual programming to see the Arduino code that actually runs on the robots — and physically taking apart and reassembling their Cannybots to see how the components fit together and communicate. Schools with 3D printers can 3d print their own cannybots as well as develop custom designs for the bots using free design software like AutoDesk Fusion or Google SketchUp.”06_Cannybots-59

Even if you don’t have a 3d printer you can easily purchase a kit from their website so this is truly open to everyone. Along with this a forum on the Cannybots website where users can discuss new ideas and collaborate and share how they are working with Cannybots. There is even a discussion thread about how a programmble hovercraft has been developed. With a kickstarter campaign planned for mid june, Cannybots is really helping to drive the 3d print world forward. To see the Robots in action click the image above.  To download the files you click here and to visit the website click on the link below;

http://cannybots.com/

3dprinting really does Rock!

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Want to start 3dprinting but not sure where to begin? First place for many is thingiverse for a free download, however what about when you want to design something yourself? There’s only one real option, spend hours learning a CAD package and try to attempt your design. Keep it simple and you might succeed, but anything more complex than a book mark and it could take up hours of your time. Imagine having a Ferrari and needing someone else drive it for you? This would get frustrating after a while. One of my first blogs was about project shapeshifter by Autodesk. This allowed anyone with no design experience to create complex designs in seconds ready for 3dprinting. Then there was Makersempire 3dprinting modelling app for tablets aimed at younger children allowing models to be created by finger commands. Now one of thingiverses’ top designers Mark Durbin has developed a programme called 3dp.rocks/lithothane. The aim of the programme is to easily create 3dprintable models that are high quality and image based. Got a favourite holiday snap or a precious memory? Then you can immortalise it in 3dprint with this great programme in seconds.

The creator Mark Durbin explained how he first found out about 3dprinting after watching tomorrows world (BBC) in 1994 and later on in 2010 he bought a makerbot first generation ‘thingomatic’ after seeing Bre Petis on the cover of Make magazine. Mark actually purchased the 44th thingomatic ever made. A true founding father of 3dprinting! He explained the inspiration behind 3drocks/lithothane was to ‘help with the process of converting two dimensional images into three dimensional shapes for 3dprinting’. In line with the open source community that helped grow 3dprinting, Mark said he wanted to ‘make the tools as accessible as possible and make the source code available for modification by others’.2015-02-11_20.47.26_preview_featured

After asking Mark his views on the direction of 3dprinting he explained, ‘I think it’s stalled a bit, the RepRap movement has had and still has lots of ideas, but there doesn’t appear to be any real weight behind it.  Lots of small (and some large) companies are coming in to try and claim some of the ideas as their own and protect them commercially, which has tended to close down some of the collaboration and openness that I’ve seen in the past.  That’s not to say that it’s stopped, but it seems that every company that can claim “3D printing” is in some way associated with their product jumps on the band waggon which tends to ‘cheapen’ the general concept. There are still lots of ‘good guys’ out there who acknowledge the open source roots of their business and try to keep their commercial activities from damaging that.  I’m not against commercial activity in this space, I’m all for it, but a lot of it tends to be profit focussed and therefore aimed at the people with deeper pockets. I still think cheap/reliable home/school 3D printers are a great way to allow developing minds to express their ideas in an accessible way that plays to the ‘I want it now’ philosophy that seems to prevail’.SophieMusic_preview_featured

As an educator of 3dprinting this is totally in line with the reality. In the classroom one of the main stumbling blocks to the adoption of this by high school students is cost. Many can’t afford the $1000 – $2000 for the main branded machines and taking a risk on a cheaper unknown relatively new manufacturer is one that many parents of these students can’t do. Also the ‘I want it now’ philosophy resonates with high school students in most aspects of their digital dominated lives.

With such a great programme available for free and with such ease of use 3drocks/lithothane has great potential to help grow 3dprinting and allow easy access for users to create unique designs personalised to themselves. Mark said he has many ideas planned that can ‘extend’ on this and they will allow users ‘to be creative without a huge investment in learning’. Sounds like a great plan and one I will follow carefully. The images shown are some examples of the designs created from 3drock/lithothane. The sketch above is an image drawn by Mark’s daughter that he then turned into a 3dprinted light feature using the programme.

To check out 3drocks/lithothane click the link below and start creating! Thanks for this great programme Mark!

http://3dp.rocks/lithophane/

 

 

A breath of fresh air in a crowded 3dprinting market

I first saw this printer at the 2013 3dprintshow in London and it caught my eye immediately. This was different from other printers. This actually had good design as the core feature. Many times when looking at 3dprinters you see a strange attempt at a cross between a microwave and some space age structure. But in this case you simply see good design. All printers essentially do the same thing, print objects, but many neglect the product design aspect as this is usually an after thought, and in my opinion is a contributing factor to why the mainstream consumer are not yet embracing the technology. Many 3dprinters you just would not contemplate them in your homes. Some are even an eye sore. The beethefirst printer is different. Design is what sets it apart, this printer looks like it is right out of Apple’s design studio. Jonny Ive once said his aim was to ‘Design out the design’. The design has to be so good that it blends seamlessly with the user and is almost an afterthought. Here we have a 3dprinter that fits this ethos. It looks stunning and is timeless in its appearance. This printer has won many awards including best ‘Prosumer printer’ and best ‘consumer printer’ at the 3dprintshow 2014 and is gaining a reputation as one of the top players in the industry by being awarded the ‘Rookie of the year’ in Make Magazine. There’s a reason for this as well. This printer is by far the most user friendly 3dprinter that I have used and also the most consistent and reliable. From opening the box to 3dprinting the first part was 20 minutes. The user flow of setting this up, calibrating, loading the filament and printing the first part was flawless. A major issue with printers is the calibration of the bed, in this case it was as easy as clicking a mouse button. Everything about this printer has been designed with the user as the focus. Even down to the packaging of the product. When you open the box you are met with a message from beethefirst and the excitement of the unboxing process is like being a child at Christmas again. Every step of the experience brings happiness.

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I met with Diogo Quental at the 3dprintshow and the whole team have to be the most friendly bunch of people I have met in 3dprinting. At their stand was free hugs and ‘beescuits’, what more can you ask for! Friendliness and trust goes along way in the world of business. Diogo outlined some of the plans for the future of Beethefirst that includes expansion into the education market with a partnership with Nautilus and also myself as a Beta tester of their printer. I have put this printer through its paces for the past few weeks and it has delivered exceptional results. There used to be a time with 3dprinting when it was hit or miss if a print would be successful. Since printing on the Beethefirst I have not had one print failure and I have printed over 200 parts without needing to calibrate the bed.

As an educator myself, the area of 3dprinting in schools is still an uptapped market with no one clear printer taking the lead. The reason for this I believe is reliability and usability. I think Beethefirst could be a contender to lead in this market. Teachers and students need a 3dprinter that will work time and time again and not have to worry about if a print will be successful. Then there is the fact that this printer is a great case study for good design. When I teach Design and Technology/Product Design lessons, the design of a product is just as important as the functionality side of it. I inform the students that if a product doesn’t look good then it probably won’t sell. If users aren’t attracted to it then the likelihood is it won’t succeed. This looks good and you would be proud to have it on your desk.

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With more models planned for the future the direction of Beethefirst is extremely exciting and is one to watch closely. At the 2013 3dprintshow they had one small desk with a 3dprinter exhibiting. At the 2014 3dprintshow they dominated the show floor with the biggest stand. What will 2015 bring?

For more information visit their website https://beeverycreative.com/

Makers Empire – A revolution in 3dprinting education

3dprinting with no experience?  No cad modelling skills required? Anyone can create a 3dprintable design in under 5 minutes? Sounds like a dream come true and that is now reality with the release of Makers Empire 3dprinting software. One of the biggest barriers to elementary/primary school children learning how to 3dprint is the cad element. Teaching children how to 3d CAD model is not as easy as paint by numbers. Having taught CAD lessons to groups of 20 plus teenagers they can be tough lessons that are long and drawn out, with lots of challenges from differing groups of students. The thought of embarking upon this topic with even younger children is a daunting idea. I have always thought to myself there must be an easier way to start students off with 3d design at a younger age. Makers Empire allows users with no experience of 3d design, to create models from scratch in a matter of minutes. The software is based around an app that uses finger commands through touch screen to draw and manipulate shapes into 3d that can be exported for 3dprinting. The process is simple, you draw a shape, extrude the shape, then resize and alter the design through the easily usable interface that anyone of any age can use. No mouse or computer desktop is needed, as this has been optimised for tablet use and is available on both Apple App store and Google Play. In the time of more and more schools turning to personalised tablet based learning, this is a perfect time to release the app. After speaking to Co-founder Lap Leung, he explained how, “Makers Empire have spent a lot of time testing and developing the 3d design app and learning program in classrooms with teachers to make sure it achieves learning outcomes.” As a teacher, this is music to my ears, many times organisations or companies want to promote their 3dprinting technology, but have never actually considered teachers or students views. If you want something to succeed in the classroom then the first point of call is the teacher and students for testing and development. Children don’t lie and as we have all probably experienced in our time and teachers can be brutally honest.
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Easy to follow lesson plans.’
Another great feature of Makers Empire is the international appeal of the app. The teaching resources have been written to meet both the UK and Australian national curriculum with clear and concise lesson plans that are easy to understand and have easily achievable learning outcomes. This is the most important feature of all, it’s clear what the students will learn and it’s clear how they will learn it! The activities are pitched correctly to the relevant age range and there is minimal preparation needed by the teacher. Also, this app is fun! It has its own personality and gives users instant feedback when you have successfully achieved something new. So many times my students have battled with CAD packages and hit the CAD modelling wall. This app puts an end to those frustrations and it firmly puts children in control.

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‘To be trialled in 20 NYC schools’

A trial is planned with 20 schools in NYC using the software, along with current many Australian schools embracing the technology. With rapid expansion on the horizon and a UK launch coming soon Makers Empire could soon be a regular in most schools. The feedback from children has been fantastic, Co Founder Lap explained, “The students are wonderful. The first time we worked with the students, they were in grade 6. We were not quite sure what to expect. We never doubted their ability but in that first pilot class, how quickly they picked up their iPads, made their first pendant/keychain design in Makers Empire 3D design app – to this day still astonishes me! Goose bump kind of stuff. Then later we also tried with a reception and grade 1 class. It was just amazing. Children come to class familiar with tablets already and when we walk them through the Makers Empire design app within moments they were ready for more advanced design suitable for older children. And that was coming from students in reception and year 1! It is a real privilege for our team to be able to help young children – providing them design tools and curriculum for 3D printing to help harness their natural talents and achieving learning outcomes.”

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‘3dprinted Maths avatar’

As well as student feedback being the most important, the teachers have embraced this software and are seeing new opportunities for using 3dprinting to enhance the learning across the curriculum. One teacher allowed their grade 2 students to create their own maths avatar designed in Makers Empire app and then 3D printed it to become their maths champion. Another teacher used it in their buddy program. Older primary school students would work together with their younger buddy in a lower grade and design their own 3D model. A great way to collaborate with different age groups!

‘Better tools, near instant creation of their designs’

When asked about plans for the future and 3dprinting in general, co-founder Lap explained he would “like Makers Empire to inspire students with the possibilities of creativity and innovation using 3D printing all around the world. They have enormous talent and by enabling them to be innovative and different they will build a world that we cannot imagine and that is exciting! 3D printing is going to be challenged by these young leaders because their imagination and possibilities are endless. They are going to demand better tools, near instant creation of their designs, select from any materials known and unknown to humankind and in various forms and properties that do not even exist today. I can’t wait, it is definitely an exciting time and I am really looking forward to seeing more creative expression from the next generation coming through. Their design skills and knowledge, communicating abstract ideas will be far more powerful than we know today that will enable them to tackle even bigger and more complicated challenges in the future.”

Overall this app, and the teachers portal that supports the app, is truly a game changer. Every child can succeed regardless of ability and they can embark upon a 3dprinting journey of a lifetime. 3D CAD modelling has just becoming exciting! For more information about Makers Empire click the logo below.

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Bring Birds back to the city with 3dprinting and ‘Printednest’.

3dprinting to help birds? We all know how 3dprinting can help people, almost every day there are more news articles explaining how 3dprinting is revolutionising the medical industry. The E-Nable group is making great strides with prosthetic hands and helping disabled people through a community of volunteer 3dprinters who print limbs for people. Now there is a growing 3dprinting community helping nature called ‘Printednest’. photoPrintednest’s aim is to bring nature back to the city with an innovative design for a bird feeder. The bird feeder being 3dprinted of course and in usual 3dprinting fashion the design is spectacular and unique. Rahim Petruska from Printednest, explains the philosophy behind printednest is ‘to show people, how 3D printing can realize any idea, creativity, and connect different professions together.’ The concept truly defines how 3dprinting can innovate and change the course of nature. With the increased urbanisation of towns and cities, the presence of nature within cities is dwindling. This project aims to reverse that by providing feeding stations to entice birds to migrate back to the city. The design, if printed from PLA will biodegrade within a year and by that time you would assume the residents would have ‘fled the nest’. In addition to this all the designs are open source and have been listed on multiple 3dprinting communities such as Thingiverse, 3dfilemarket and Shapeways. The design is also based upon nature as well, the main body of the birdfeeder resembles an egg shape and then the ‘perch’ is based upon a deer’s antlers. Truely unique design with a nice ‘biomimicry’ twist. Printednest state the ‘cornerstone of their philosophy is feedback from users who they consider part of their design team’. They describe it as ‘open cloud design’. Users can download the latest versions of the designs, 3dprint their own bird feeder and then register it on printednests global community. Currently there are 36 bird feeders in 23 cities in 6 countries and they are expanding fast. Even if you don’t have your own 3dprinter you can customise your own bird feeder through their customisation app on their website. You choose the colours and the personalised message, then order and they will 3dprint and dispatch to your address. (Just click the link below to see how it works).

http://store.printednest.com/

To download the files for free then click the birdfeeder below;

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This is a great project to give something back to our society by encouraging nature to return to the cities! You can also donate to printednest through the 3dfilemarket.com by clicking the image below.

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Bringing the museum to the classroom through 3dprinting.

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Remember those lessons in school where teachers enthusiastically described topics from a text book?  Photos were the only real way to gauge an understanding of the topic along with a vivid, wandering imagination. Well lessons are changing with schools starting to adopt 3dprinting technology in the classroom. Sometimes in lessons you just did not get the topic, you couldn’t imagine it in your mind and ultimately you did not fully learn about it, this is where 3dprinting can be most powerful. The Smithsonian museum in Washington DC has started scanning in it artefacts and making them available to download for 3dprinting. They are free and anyone can access them (click on the image below). Image the situation, you are a teacher and want to bring a lesson to life with physical replicas of artefacts that relate to your lesson.Screenshot 2014-06-28 13.42.54 Now you can just download and then 3dprint the model. Suddenly a lesson that might have been a bit on the flat side can come to life with actual physical examples for students to study and exam. Maybe you are a parent and your child has been given the homework task to create a presentation on the history of dinosaurs. How impressive would it be to 3dprint of a T-Rex at home and then present it in class?

The best thing about 3dprinting and education is that many museums and organisations are starting to scan in their exhibits and store digital copies of their artefacts. Recently, the Historic Royal Palaces scanned and 3dprinted Henry VIII’s crown and made it available for the public to download through Thingiverse. Image the lesson where elementary school students learn about the infamous royal and then actually get chance to wear his crown in class because the teacher had 3D printed out the model the night before. Learning can now really be enhanced through the integration of 3dprinting into lessons.

More recently, the Science Museum in London opened an exhibition called ‘3d Printing the Future’ with the aim of educating visitors about the benefits of 3dprinting. Museums can sometimes be frustrating places when viewing exhibitions. Everything is always out of touching distance behind glass panels, when really you want to grab hold of the object and get some tactile feedback. Now this is possible by exhibiting 3dprinted replicas of the artefacts and allowing visitors to interact with displays. What’s the worst thing that could happen? A 3dprinted replica breaks, then you can just print another one! I have heard people use the term ‘3dprinting, the future is here’. In this case we can say with ‘3dprinting, the past is here’.

‘MakersAffair’ to launch 3dprinting workshops in London

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Do you want to learn how to 3dprint, but you don’t know where to start? Do your children ask to learn about the technology but you really have no clue how to meet their demands. The answer could be here with the launch of Maker’s Affair 3dprinting workshops in London. Maker’s Affair was set up by Loh Hu, a graduate from Singapore who came to the UK to study a Masters degree in Business Innovation at Birkbeck College. Upon graduating she was endorsed by the university as Graduate Entrepreneur to set up a company in the UK, so she set up  Maker’s Affair.profile pic The idea of the company is to provide quality workshops on 3dprinting for complete beginners. Loh explains she is, ‘conducting 1-to-1 Hands-On 3D Printing Workshop for complete beginners with full attention and guidance provided. During the 3 hours workshop, the maker will learn how to design, slice and print their very own customised pen (PC, printer and all materials will be provided). I believe this is one of the most efficient ways to truly learn and understand 3D printing process. In essence, I stand by the principles of “learning by making” when designing the workshops’.  The best thing about this is at the end of the workshop you will have a usable product to take away with you. As an educator myself this seems like a great place to start and I totally agree with her statement of ‘learning by making’. Many times in the classroom I have found that students learn better and understand concepts in greater detail when they are actually making something rather than simply studying the theory.

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As well as 3dprinting workshops, Loh is providing a 3dprinting service via 3DHubs. Loh explains, ‘Anyone can upload their 3D object digital file, choose a filament to print it with and get an instant quotation before confirming the order. It is a pretty cool platform where you can get someone living near your area to print your 3D object.’  So, even after completing the workshops you can still 3D design at home and then have Maker’s Affair print out your design if you don’t have access to a 3dprinter. In addition to standard 3dprinting, she has also acquired some 3dprinting pens that children can use their creative freedom to design and make things. These pens are great as you don’t need any experience at all to use one. Also you could have all the CAD experience in the world, but that means nothing when it comes to the 3dprinting pens. Everyone is equal and there are no barriers apart from your imagination.  Maker’s Affiar is situated at the ‘Old Street roundabout’ on the boundary of the boroughs of Hackney and Islington (there seems to be a 3dprinting explosion in London at the moment with the 2013 3Dprintshow being situated at the business design centre in Islington last year) so it is ideally placed to serve the whole of central London with easy access to transport links. I really think we need more of these workshops, maybe Maker’s Affair could just be the start of a whole new business model……

For more information about MakersAffair please visit the website and check out the workshops section;

http://www.makersaffair.co.uk/workshop.html

To download a free copy of her pens then visit the 3dfilemarket link below;

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InMoov – 3Dprint your own life size humanoid robot

 

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It’s 2013 and I was at the 3dprintshow in London. There was a large crowd gathered around a stand so naturally I was intrigued to see what the excitement was about. I knew the 3dprintshow was about to impress beyond anything I had ever seen before but nothing could prepare me for this. After manoeuvring through the bodies I came face to face with a 3dprinted robot that bore a striking resemblance to the robot from the movie ‘i robot’ with Will Smith. I had to find out more, this was the stuff of science fiction right here right now. The robot was responding to voice commands given by an operator and seemed highly intelligent, the robot could even take a ball out of a child’s hand when commanded to do so. The crowd was naturally left speechless and so was I. Upon further investigation I found out through Gael Langevin, the projects creater, that the whole design is open source and the files are freely available for anyone with a 12″x12″ 3dprinter to start experimenting. Without any real robotics experience Geal has created this fully functioning 3dprinted voice activated robot, that  is free for anyone to have a go at printing their own. The fact that it is open source means you are free to adapt and improve the designs.

The project started when Gael was tasked with creating a 3dprinted modern looking prosthetic hand for a commercial photo shoot. He had acquired a ‘Bits from Bytes’ 3D touch printer (one I am extremely familiar with myself, having used one in education for the past three years) to prototype the hand on. The photoshoot ended up being cancelled but Gael still wanted to develop the limb, so he added  servos and a ‘Arduino’, an open source electronics prototyping platform and created a fully programmable electronic hand. After posting the designs online for anyone to experiment with, the feedback he received was all positive and 3dprinting enthusiasts wanted more so he developed the project further into a full scale responsive robot. The result now being the InMoov project has a legion of followers world wide and Gael’s designs have been downloaded thousands of times.

This is why 3dprinting is so powerful and is really changing how we view and access technology. This project was usually the preserve of high tech research and development teams at Blue Chip companies or university PHD students, now the everyday consumer, through 3dprinting can access this project through it’s open source origins.  When he was asked why the robot is open source he states, ‘I have no idea if they will improve our lives, robots are created by us. They will be our extensions somehow. Just like any tool they will be what we want them to become. I trust the human race even if everyday news shows mainly our negative side’. Truly inspiring words from the creator of this innovative project. This is one project I will follow to see how it develops. Fancy like having a go at 3dprinting your own InMoov robot?  Download the files here;

http://www.inmoov.fr/download/

InMoov will be at two shows in June the first being;

http://www.futur-en-seine.fr/fens2014/projet/inmoov/

The second show will be the Paris Makerfaire on the 21st and 22nd June. Click the link below;

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For more information on this ground breaking project click the robot below;

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GaGaël Langevinël Langevin