by General Fabb
One of the first big-time winners in 3D printing Kickstarter campaigns was the Printrbot, which raised a then-record USD$830,827 (with an original goal of USD$25,000). We suspect it was Printrbot's success that led to the explosion of subsequent 3D printer launches on the crowdfunding site.
We chatted with Brook Drumm of Printrbot at the London 2013 3D Printshow and found an entirely new Printrbot in the works. The "Plus" model is not only larger but includes two extruders. While the original Printrbot was pretty basic, the Plus significantly improves reliability and capability by using more robust parts.
For example, milled metal extruders and other parts are coming. The Plus includes upgraded rods to handle the weight of the dual extruders. A cast aluminum bed, milled for flatness should make prints more reliable.
The Printrbot's heritage is its classic wooden frame, but that may be changing. We understand work is underway to develop a laser-cut, powder coated, folded steel frame that should make the Plus a very attractive piece. This could be announced within the next few weeks.
The Plus should sell for approximately USD$1000 for a kit and USD$1300 for a ready-to-go assembled version. But it has not yet shipped.
But is the Printrbot still popular, given the avalanche of similar competing machines? According to Drumm, they doubled their production volume in October alone to keep up with orders. They also sell on Amazon, where entire shipments are sold within a day of availability.
So, yes, it's still very popular.
In retrospect, we hadn't realized what we were looking at, when, at the 3D Printshow we stumbled into the covertly-located 3D print gallery. The large area held many examples of 3D printed art, some already famous and some about to be famous.
We met some of the artists who had produced the work, as well as the services that often assisted in the actual production.
But counting over eighty different works in one gallery means something. It was, no doubt, the world's greatest single collection of 3D printed art. At no time in history were more amazing 3D prints together in a single room.
It won't be the last time that happens.
Forbes published more information on the 3D printed reef produced by concrete 3D printer D-Shape, whom we met with earlier this year.
Why 3D print a reef when you can simply drop concrete blocks or sink redundant ships at the correct locations? The answer lies in the shape of the reef.
Evidently artificial reefs function much better when the shape approaches "natural design", because the more complex shapes encourage diversity of the reef ecology.
However, such complex shapes cannot easily be produced in concrete using conventional manufacturing approaches. Enter D-Shape, who provide a large-scale concrete 3D printer. The D-Shape device created numerous reef shapes that were submerged last fall in the Arabian Sea.
Does it really work? It appears they're still studying the effects, but at least the artificial reef looks more realistic.
According to a recent study, the market for 3D printers could be worth nearly $8.5 billion by 2020.
The study, conducted by Indian research firm MarketsandMarkets, forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 23% for 3D printing technology over the next seven years. According to MarketsandMarkets, one of the motivations for this growth is the adoption of the technology for end use applications.
The study highlighted high tech industries that require a low volume of parts with very complex geometries. An example of this is the aerospace industry, which has already proven to be an early adopter of advanced additive manufacturing techniques such as direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).
Read more at ENGINEERING.com
You might recall the Urbee, the world's first 3D printed car (or at least 3D printed body), unveiled in 2011. Now the folks behind the project are looking to build interest and funding to proceed to Urbee-2, a more advanced vehicle.
The new vehicle will have not only a 3D printed body, but also a 3D printed interior
They've launched a Kickstarter campaign where you can support the project by acquiring "Driving for Our Lives", a book being written by Jim Kor, the man behind the project.
If the project receives sufficient funding to proceed with the full development of Urbee-2 (expected to be in the USD$3M range), they'll attempt to set a record in 2015 by driving from New York City to San Francisco using only 10 US gallons of bio-fuel.
During 3D Printshow 2013 we spent some time with Cosmo Wenman, the fellow who has captured 3D scans of numerous famous sculptures over the past year. But it's what he does with the scans afterwards that is so much more interesting.
Wenman 3D prints the sculptures on his aging yet still reliable MakerBot Replicator 1 in PLA plastic. He carefully segments the sculpture into printable sections to avoid overhangs and unsightly join lines. The printed pieces are glued together into truly sculpture-sized items.
Then the magic begins. Wenman has been developing techniques for painting the assembled sculpture to make them appear to be produced in classic bronze and other highly realistic finishes.
Wenman's new company, Alternate Reality Patinas, is still developing these metal infused acrylic paint paints, which can contain considerable amounts of metal. In some tests, the finish includes so much metal that you can actually polish the painted print to a shine.
The most interesting aspect is that no two applications of the finish are quite the same. By altering the application technique, you can achieve very different results as you can see in these images. Wenman says, "they are real patinas."
All of them, however, make dull plastic prints far different than they came out of the 3D printer. They look quite realistic.
Wenman expects his company to offer easy-to-use finishing kits in 2014. We can't wait to try it!
The folks at ProtoParadigm have produced a terrific list of tips on how to reduce or eliminate the deadly warping effect that plagues personal 3D printers.
There's nothing worse than discovering a time-consuming mess caused by a print that lifted off the bed. The warping itself isn't such a problem; it's that the warping can often be so severe that the print detaches from the print bed, tipping over and failing the job.
ProtoParadigm's advice includes a number of mechanical suggestions, such as ensuring your print bed is perfectly level and clean or adjusting first-layer speeds and heights. But they also explore the use of hair spray as a temporary adhesive.
Use of adhesives is not just a hacker's solution; 3D Systems uses it extensively in their Cube and CubeX personal 3D printers.
Here's ProtoParadigm's take on hair spray:
Yes, hair spray works for improving adhesion. A very modest application can do wonders. An over-application can create a bond strong enough that the object may be very difficult to remove, especially if you're printing directly on your build surface without tape.
At this year's 3D Printshow, MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis expressed his unhappiness with the current US educational system, which has largely removed "making" courses from the curriculum. As a student, Pettis enjoyed "shop classes" where he no doubt picked up the making bug. But how can this happen today?
MakerBot is attempting to change the situation by creating the "MakerBot Academy", "an educational mission to put a MakerBot® Desktop 3D Printer in every school in the United States of America."
It's a bold vision and challenging, too - there are a lot of schools in the USA. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were almost 140,000 public schools, private schools and postsecondary institutions. If that many schools participate in the MakerBot Academy, it might be more MakerBots than have ever been produced.
It's not free; It's a coordinated crowdscouring program. Teachers register on DonorsChoose.org, a support site for educators. Donors contribute to each school's entry to gradually gain enough funds to buy a MakerBot.
It's an important program because students, once exposed to 3D print tech, realize that they can create almost anything they can imagine.
And they can imagine a lot.
Cubify announced the "Sense 3D Scanner" in a surprise announcement. The 3D printer manufacturer has thus far produced only 3D printers, making the Sense a completely new product line.
It's a handheld 3D scanner capable of rapidly capturing 3D shapes. We examined the specifications for the device and noted the following:
- The scan volume ranges from 20cm to 300cm-sided cubic volumes. It seems that the resolution is dependent on the volume selected; in other words, there's a fixed number of "pixels" that are spread over the scan volume, up to 400,000 triangles
- The scan unit itself is made by Primesense, the same folks who produce the scanner inside Microsoft's Kinect device. It's laser-based, but don't worry - it's classified as "eye-safe"
- File output is either STL or PLY (which contains color textures, meaning you can capture color scans with the Sense). These are universal formats, meaning you are free to use them with non-Cubify 3D printers or other software packages
- The scanner is matched to proprietary software that comes with the Sense. It's keyed, so that you must "activate" your scanner to have it work with the software
- The software converts the raw scan data into a 3D model, fills the inevitable scan holes and performs basic editing, making it capable of producing a printable 3D model
The Sense is priced at USD$399 and is available now. Note that this price is fantastically less than MakerBot's Digitizer, which is priced at USD$1550. We'll have to wait for samples to see the difference in scan quality.
However, the Sense is handheld and you can use it to scan objects much larger than you could place on MakerBot's turntable device.
We haven't yet seen the Sense in action, but it is likely sufficient for most users. If it uses the same hardware as the Kinect, the scans are probably insufficient for professional use. But the Sense will solve a major problem for Cubify and other 3D printer manufacturers: how to find great 3D models for printing. With the Sense you just make them yourself; no need for 3D modeling software.
When Victoria's Secret is putting on a fashion show, you know it's going to be interesting, especially when they asked Shapeways to help produce a "Snow Queen" costume for the event.
Shapeways asked designer Bradley Rothenberg to design the costume, which is "festooned with thousands of Swarovski crystals". You'll be able to see this incredibly intricate costume because the entire fashion show will be appear on CBS on December 10th.
Designed with Maya and Rhino3D, likely using generative approaches and 3D printed in Nylon at Shapways, the costume is one of the more complex projects we've seen.
Shapeways has detailed the entire process of producing the work. Read more at the link below.