We’re glad to offer this integration for some of our long-time customers, who have contributed significantly to the MakerBot community.
by General Fabb
MakerBot sold thousands of CupCakes and Thing-O-Matics long before they moved to the Replicator and Replicator 2 models. The new machines were (and are) driven by some pretty slick software called MakerWare, which enables you to scale and position models before printing and control the print operation.
Unfortunately for those with models earlier than the Replicators, MakerWare didn't work for them. Until now.
MakerWare release 2.1.0 now supports the Thing-O-Matic! MakerBot says:
We're very glad to see this development, because there's a gap between startup 3D printer manufacturers like MakerBot racing as fast as they can to develop the very best devices with breakneck releases and updates, and customers who just can't upgrade that fast.
Personal 3D printing is racing ahead so quickly now that it's often beyond the capacity of individuals to keep up. Hats off to MakerBot for recognizing those left behind.
The prestigious MIT Technology Review has named General Electric's work on 3D printing as one of its "10 Breakthrough Technologies 2013".
Specifically, GE is developing a metal nozzle for its LEAP jet engine. They will use 3D metal printers to produce the nozzles, which will be lighter in weight due to an advanced design producible only on 3D printers.
Wait, we've heard this story many times before. A company improves their business process by involving 3D printing. What's the big deal?
The big deal here is the volume. GE is MASS PRODUCING these nozzles with 3D printing. They are not producing mere prototypes. Even more importantly, this is a critical piece of the engine of an aircraft, something you don't fool around with. This indicates the serious capability of 3D metal printing technology.
While we say it's mass produced, there is a caveat: Each engine requires some 10 to 20 nozzles, and there only so many engines on order. In total GE will require some 25,000 nozzles. That sounds like a lot, but it's far fewer pieces than say a one million piece mass production order. So yes, they are mass produced for an industry that requires "small run" mass production.
A 3D printing milestone nevertheless.
Correction: Organovo printed human liver TISSUE - but that's a major step along the way to printing an entire functioning liver. Organovo has been developing 3D bioprinting technology for some time now, focusing on producing functional tissue for experimentation. Keith Murphy, Chairman and CEO of Organovo said:
We have achieved excellent function in a fully cellular 3D human liver tissue. With Organovo's 3D bioprinted liver tissues, we have demonstrated the power of bioprinting to create functional human tissue that replicates human biology better than what has come before. Not only can these tissues be a first step towards larger 3D liver, laboratory tests with these samples have the potential to be game changing for medical research. We believe these models will prove superior in their ability to provide predictive data for drug discovery and development, better than animal models or current cell models.
The new result is startling: they managed to produce tissue composed of "multiple cell types" with 3D features as small as 0.5mm. The tissue is approximately 20 cell layers thick and require no scaffolding, something commonly used in other approaches. Apparently they "actually look and feel like living tissues".
Not only was structure successful, but function too. These cellular bioprints were able to deliver "critical liver functions", such as:
albumin production, fibrinogen and transferrin production, and inducible cytochrome P450 enzymatic activities, including CYP 1A2 and CYP 3A4.
And you know what that means.
Via Organovo (Hat tip to James)
Mcor Technologies, Ltd. announced that its IRIS full-color 3D printers will be used exclusively in Staples’ first “Experience Centre” that has just opened at the Staples Office Center in Almere, The Netherlands.
The Staples Experience Centre provides a hands-on 3D printing experience where consumers can learn all about 3D printing. Visitors will be able to interact with Mcor 3D printers, examine full-color, paper 3D printed models, as well as attend 3D printing presentations and workshops. The Experience Centre is an important first step in the complete 3D printing service that the global office retail giant will offer using Mcor 3D printing technology, including Staples online 3D printing service, “Easy 3D,” announced late last year.
Read More at ENGINEERING.com
Truly spectacular news today: Staples, one of the leading office supply retailers in the USA announced it would begin selling 3D Systems' entry level personal 3D printer, The Cube. This is quite simply the single largest 3D printer retail move to date by any 3D printer manufacturer.
The printer will be priced at USD$1299, the same price as sold directly by 3D Systems. While The Cube will be available only at an unspecified limited number of Staples locations by the "end of June", it will be available for order "immediately" on Staples web site.
This follows another breakthrough announcement by Staples when they launched a 3D print service in Europe based on MCOR 3D paper printing technology. It appears that Staples wishes to provide the cutting edge of technology in more ways than one.
Only a few years ago the notion of finding a 3D printer in your local office supply store would have been ludicrous. But today, it really happened. What was particularly striking was finding listings for various Cube supplies at Staples' website. It's real, folks.
More than likely this will generate a massive boost in sales of The Cube for 3D Systems in a way no other personal 3D printer manufacturer could follow. Even MakerBot, with its now 200 staff, does not have the manufacturing capability to keep up with the volume of orders that could come from a Staples-like reseller deal.
How this will affect the rest of the 3D printing industry is uncertain, but there will be effects. The Cube's sales could rise far above every other 3D printer, putting it in a position to set standards and expectations among the public. Spin off effects could mean advanced users may leap from The Cube to other options, driving up sales everywhere.
But when can we buy a CubeX at Staples?
New York City startup BotObjects announced what could be the first full-color plastic 3D printer, the ProDesk3D. While their stealthy launch and impressive claims have generated some buzz, they have also generated major controversy.
First, what's the ProDesk3D? It's a desktop 3D printer, suitable for consumer or office use. It prints extruded PLA or ABS plastic in a ridiculously accurate resolution of 0.025mm, far smaller than almost everything else we've seen. Two extruders are present; one for material and the other for PVA water-dissolvable support structures. Material is supplied via an unseen "5 color PLA cartridge system". The unit is provided fully assembled, has an attractive yet curious case, is self-calibrating and includes a mysterious "tri-fan" system to increase airflow.
And that's all we know. They have not specified any further statistics, pricing, shown sample models or exhibited videos of the seemingly miraculous color process.
Is this for real?
Skeptics exist among the 3D printing community. Joris Peels posted a long and detailed analysis of observations he found suspicious. Rachel Park had similar concerns and spoke directly with the folks at BotObjects, who reassured her that it was indeed "the real deal and that patience is the name of the game".
While we are truly impressed with the industrial design of the ProDesk3D, we have suspicions about the full color capability. Evidently "five colors" are somehow mixed enabling the printing of any shade of color. This is precisely how ink jet printers print photographs, and it's long been a dream of 3D printer enthusiasts to build a full color mixing plastic 3D printer.
But it's really hard to do. Current technology involves mechanically pushing plastic filaments into a hot extruder and waiting a precise time for the plastic to melt. Adding a mixing chamber for two pushed filaments would be rather complex, let alone a chamber accepting five different filaments (likely CMYK and White).
Quick color switches would require the mixing chamber to be completely purged of the previous color - in other words, the mix must include ONLY and PRECISELY the amount of plastic for a particular color extrusion. This would necessarily have to be done almost continuously if you were printing a photographic texture on an object. The mechanics, precision and software control to perform this would be daunting. If this approach worked, the resolution simply could not be as small as is claimed, unless the ProDesk3D has truly microscopic filaments and mixing chambers.
We suspect they're extruding plastic in a completely different manner. Perhaps they've invented a way to fully liquify the plastic and jet it out in a way similar to ink jet printers, which might be able to handle more precise and micro-scale mixing. If so, this could account for the 0.025mm resolution. We don't see any current patents assigned to BotObjects, but maybe they've applied to patent this type of process.
Regardless of our idle speculation, we simply won't know until BotObjects demonstrates their machine and exhibits print samples. As Carl Sagan said years ago, "Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence."
We hope to see the evidence in a few weeks when BotObjects tells more of the story.
They may be called "Pirate3D", but their new personal 3D printer, the Buccaneer, is no criminal. The Buccaneer's design seems significantly different than other personal 3D printers.
The most obvious difference is a very refined external look. The shiny case is masterfully simple - it doesn't even have a single button. We believe in simplicity as it enables more people to use 3D printers; evidently so does Pirate3D. Pirate3D's CEO, Roger Chang told us:
We aimed to produce an easy to use 3D printer that would look sleek on your desktop.
Another key differentiating feature is the method of delivering plastic filament. Instead of the usual sloppy spools of filament and associated fun changing them, Pirate3D has opted for a "revolutionary central-feeding cartridge", which is apparently "easy to handle and load/unload". It appears that it's a unique patent-pending method for much simpler loading, as you can envision in the image above.
There are few stats on the Buccaneer itself, but it does include a 150 x 100 x 120mm build volume within a 25 x 25cm footprint. We also don't know the price of the unit, although they say it will be less than USD$1000. We understand they'll release more information in "coming weeks."
We had a brief encounter with Alexander Lobovsky, P.E., who is a partner with United Materials Technologies of New Jersey. Lobovsky's company is developing a new method for smoothing 3D metal prints.
The problem with metal 3D prints is the same as plastic: printing by layer causes visible ridges on the object. These can be larger or smaller depending on the technology, but are always present. Metal parts are particularly vulnerable as people are used to seeing (and touching) smoothly casted/forged/cut pieces.
Lobovsky's technology somehow manages to smooth out these ridges successfully, as you can see in the image above.
The most common method of smoothing parts, both plastic and metal, is simply to toss them in a tumbler containing an appropriate abrasive and they'll smooth out. However, this approach doesn't work for all objects. We believe Lobovsky's technology may be able to address many more geometries.