by General Fabb
Virtually all 3D printers today use a layered approach, where the object being printed is "sliced" into layers, or horizontal planes, which are printed using whichever technology is at hand. But a project by researchers from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and Joris Laarman Lab proves there is another way.
The Mataerial device is basically a conventional robot arm equipped with a very special extruder. Instead of melting plastic and hoping it cools quickly when extruded, Mataerial uses a polymer that instantly solidifies by chemical reaction when extruded. This means they can do "impossible" feats, such as extruding horizontally in mid-air without any support material.
As you can see in this video, Mataerial can indeed print in this way. But we foresee some interesting challenges if this method becomes popular.
First, the traditional layered 3D printing approach vastly simplifies the process of building, because you don't need to worry about bumping into any previously printed material - it's always all below the current print layer. Not so with Mataerial's approach; complex software must somehow guide the robot arm carefully around all previously printed material, lest disaster strike.
Secondly, the video shows extrusions of independent strands only. There doesn't seem to be extrusions on top of extrusions. We're not sure if this is a limitation of the extruded material or simply the designs chosen to print. If the former, the printing of more "solid" objects could be tricky. We imagine software would have to be developed to carefully build items from the inside to the outside. Perhaps the complexity of that software prevented the team from building that kind of object in the demonstration?
You may recall the mysterious launch of the ProDesk30 from BotObjects the other week? It was said to be an amazing Full Color personal 3D plastic extrusion printer. Many observers were highly skeptical of this claim, particularly because little evidence or even specifications had been released by BotObjects.
Now that's changed. A bit.
BotObjects has released more information, including pricing (USD$2,849-$3,749) and specifications for the ProDesk30 models:
- Full color FDM-based printing system
- 5-color PLA cartridge system
- PVA support material cartridge
- ABS supported with additional cartridges (not included in standard package)
- PLA/PVA/ABS filament diameter 1.75mm
- Exterior case dimensions 475mm, 365mm, 365mm (H,W,D)
- Build platform dimensions 300mm, 275mm, 275mm (H,W,D)
- 175mm/s max printing speed
- 25 micron printing accuracy in z direction
- Fully automatic system set up - plug and play
- Auto levelling heated build platform
- Dual extruder head
- Tri-fan air system
Looks pretty good, doesn't it? But is it real? How can they actually print full color at such tiny resolutions? On their site they now show a few example prints.
A Robot in several pieces, assembled together.
A musical recorder.
Do you notice anything about these color prints? We did. All of them simply change color on layers. The vase in particular exhibits this most clearly. It appears (and we're saying this because we've done it on other extrusion 3D printers) that an orange filament was swapped out for a white filament in mid-vase. The same effect is seen on the other objects.
That's NOT color 3D printing.
That's been done before many times and is not particularly useful, unless you're looking for rainbow-ish objects.
We are now becoming a lot more skeptical of BotObject's claims and it seems we're not the only ones. SolidSmack has a very critical writeup, and they propose there are reasons why BotObjects has not shown up on Kickstarter.
BotObjects, if you're listening, now is the time to reveal some more convincing evidence.
Oakland-based Emerging Objects isn’t your normal design firm. Rather than designing homes, interiors, furniture or products from common materials, the four-person group is trying to create materials for tomorrow’s 3D printed objects.
Self-described as a “a pioneering design and research company that specializes in designing and 3D printing objects for the built environment using custom materials and processes,” Emerging Objects is interested in creating sustainable, inexpensive 3D printed buildings, building components and interior accessories.
Currently the group has six materials, acrylic, wood, nylon, salt, paper and cement polymer. Of all of the materials that the company employs, the one that’s most obviously beneficial is, of course, its cement polymer.
Read more at ENGINEERING.com
Zortrax is launching their new M200 personal 3D printer on Kickstarter, with a focus on ease of use and aesthetics. They say they "want 3D printing to be a great experience."
Unlike typical filament-based 3D printers that use ABS and PLA plastic, the M200 is specifically designed to print ABS, PC-ABS and Nylon.
The M200 has multiple ease of use features, including: pre-assembly, factory calibration, dedicated and simplified software and very robust components made from "aluminum, POM, DryLin, FR4, stainless steel and brass". The specially designed software, ZSuite, includes an ability to generate "easy to remove" support structures, which is extremely important as the M200 seems to have only one extruder: your model and its support must come out of the same extruder!
For aesthetics the M200 includes a smooth-looking aluminum case with a bright control display that "fits the room". The M200 is designed to operate very quietly, although we do not know the decibel level statistics. This is definitely not a laser-cut wood machine kit.
Technically the M200 offers a reasonably sized 205 x 205 x 190mm build volume, suitable for most prints. The interface between computer and machine is done via a memory card - no WiFi or LAN networking exists on the M200 yet.
Zortrax's product launch is raising funds to greenlight their manufacturing partners to start punching out the anodized black aluminum housing and various moulded parts that make up the M200.
The resolution specs for the M200 are impressive, offering four settings from 0.3mm to 0.1mm. Judging from the sample images, prints appear to be quite good, particularly considering that some of these models will have had support structures physically removed after printing. Another feature is high-quality; the prints seem to be much more well defined that the usual stringy extrusion prints you see elsewhere.
The M200 is available for pre-order on Kickstarter now, at a price of USD$1899. For that you'll get an assembled M200, the accompanying ZSuite software and 1kg of pure white ABS.
From all appearances, the Zortrax looks like a pretty decent machine. It has excellent specifications, two years of development, and the management team has focused on getting the key features right and avoided non-core features.
The recent development of 3D printed weapons has caused others to strive for more peaceful uses of the technology.Michigan Technological University, a.k.a, Michigan Tech, has launched a new competition: 3D Printers for Peace.
The contest requires you to design a 3D printable object that is peaceful. Wait, what does that mean? They explain:
We are challenging the 3D printing community to design things that advance the cause of peace. This is an open-ended contest, but if you’d like some ideas, ask yourself what Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, or Ghandi would make if they’d had access to 3D printing.
Ghandi and 3D printing. Hm.
The contest, like most, is judged based on innovation, printability, feasibility, presentation and, of course, peacefulness. It's open to "anyone in the United States or Canada", so others will unfortunately be unable to compete for the three prizes: a fully assembled Type A Machines Series 1 3D printer, a RepRap Prusa 3D printer kit and a large pile of 3D printer plastic.
If you have a peacemaking idea on your mind, you'd best prepare a design and send it to Michigan Tech before September 1, when contest entries close.
Via Michigan Tech
We were contacted by Andrew Mazzotta, who, with Adam Pirie, have created "3D Hacker", a multipurpose website serving the needs of the 3D printing community.
The website acts much like a "3D Printing Kijiji", where members can add listings in several categories, such as: parts, kits, printers, software, tools, tutorials, jobs, events, clubs and more. Some listings offer items for sale, while others are merely advertisements or announcements. Regardless, it's a useful service for the community.
The service is not exactly free, but it's close. 3D Hacker charges a whole USD$1 to perform anti-spam verification. If you happen to be able to afford the USD$1, you'll be able to post listings. For salable items, 3D Hacker facilitates contact between buyer and seller.
At the time of this writing, there are quite a few items at 3D Hacker, including a number of unusual 3D printer kits we've not seen before, for example, the "Impresora 3D Argentina" from Buenos Aires.
Via 3D Hacker
Yet another 3D model sharing site has opened: FabFabbers. Like many such repositories, FabFabbers permits members to upload models, showcase them in listings for download by visitors. But what differentiates this repository from the rest?
There are two features we found particularly interesting: uploaded models can actually be stored on GitHub, which is a very popular software repository with sophisticated versioning services. You can, for example, update your model to a new version and it would automatically be reflected at FabFabbers.
The other interesting feature is live OpenSCAD in a browser window. You can code in OpenSCAD on the left side of the screen, while your adjustments appear in a 3D rotatable window on the right.
At this point there are well over 100 items in the FabFabbers repository, but we suspect more will be arriving soon.
A collaboration of artists and technicians has created one of the most amazing 3D printed sculptures ever attempted. Polish company Platige Image required a "statement" for their headquarters in Warsaw and we believe this massive sculpture delivers. They say:
The installation was supposed to be an interactive, “living” element in the building, a phenomenon existing within the lobby space that would create new situations that engage people, visitors and employees alike.
It's a wall composed of over 800 individually designed 3D printed pieces and creatively lit to develop unique optical experiences for those fortunate to stand nearby. As a static sculpture it is seamlessly beautiful, but its real magic occurs when the complex lighting is applied to the 3D surfaces. This is best seen in their video below:
The design was created by collaborator Bridge using Grasshopper to mathematically generate each of the 800 shapes. An overview of the Grasshopper generation tree is shown above (click for larger view).
These individual pieces were then 3D printed on an array of RepRap 3D printers provided by ZMorph. Apparently, "5 machines where used 24 hours, 7 days a week for 3 months to print it."
Platige Image is a company focusing on creative endeavors. As for this endeavor, we think they nailed it.