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’. This ‘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.”
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;
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.
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.
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/
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’. Printednest’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).
To download the files for free then click the birdfeeder below;
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.
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. 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.
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;
To download a free copy of her pens then visit the 3dfilemarket link below;
Now this is exciting, ‘Joshua Harker raising funds to complete the Research and Development of a revolutionary new 3dprinting technology’. This leaves my taste buds salivating. For the past few years consumer 3dprinting has been pretty much the same, a spool of PLA/ABS, an extruder and a build plate. Yes there may be differences in one companies claim to offer a higher print resolution or another companies statements of faster printing speeds, but really most of them produce the same outcome baring a few microns. I often think to myself what is next with the consumer 3dprinting market? We are still waiting for the killer revolution to shake the market up. The technology still has its draw backs before it can really be accessible to everyone. However, Joshua Harker’s new kickstarter campaign sounds just what we need to breath new life into the crowded printer market up. ‘A 3Dprinter being developed by one of the worlds top 3dprint artists? Now that is a campaign I would back.’
I had the privilege to meet Joshua at the 3dprintshow in London 2013. I had followed him from his first kickstarter campaign (Crania Anatomica Filigre) as his artwork is truly stunning and ground breaking. He gave a lecture at the show detailing how he progressed into 3dprinting at the very start of the technology, and from what he explains we have a lot to thank this guy for. Joshua’s artwork is progressive and pushes the boundaries of what is possible in the art world,in the ‘earlier days’ he pushed what was physically possible with 3dprinting technology and demanded more than what the technology could offer. It sounded like the 3dprinting was playing catch up to his creativity and imagination. Luckily 3dprinting has caught up and he is making the printers work hard for him with ground breaking art work. The campaign offers 3dprinted elegantly designed flowers and are stunning in aesthetics (you won’t get these down the local florists). Joshua explains on his kickstarter page, ‘Flowers are a universal gift of “thank you” & given that I’m asking for your help, I want to thank you in a meaningful way. I have created a series of 3d printed filigree flowers called “Mazzo di Fiori”. There are 12 Flowers, a Lotus/Lilypad, & the Ripple Vase. The composition celebrates the harmony & beauty of opposite & opposing forces. The water surface depicts the plane of separation between liquid & gas with the reaching flower transcending & binding both worlds… an environmental yin yang. All pieces are 3D printed in SLS polyamide (essentially a nylon powder fused together with a laser).’
My final thoughts? This one is worth a pledge! Click the image to visit his campaign.
By Philip Cotton