by General Fabb
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.
Earlier this week our design of the week featured Icarus Had a Sister, by Masters & Munn. While we're certain you'll agree the work is astonishing, we also must tell the incredible story of how it came to be, as revealed during a long conversation at the close of the 2013 3D Printshow.
The work may have been recently completed, but in fact it germinated some nine years ago, while André Masters made a critical life transition.
You see, Masters was a traditional model-maker, one who made expert models with his bare hands, skill and plenty of workshop tools. But there was a problem. The model-making industry was, at the time, shifting to a computer-graphics mode, leaving traditional makers like Masters behind.
With much courage, determination and effort, Masters began to re-engineer his skills to make the digital shift. At that time the Icarus project was conceived - but not completed because the 3D technology of the day was simply insufficient to do the job - and far too expensive.
But he learned. He spent considerable time developing knowledge of the new 3D print space emerging in the mid-2000's. Teaming up with the IPF print service provided valuable knowledge, connections and access to current 3D print tech (and eventually the final 3D prints), with which Masters & Munn began to experiment. They 3D printed test components for the Icarus project in different materials, different 3D printers with different processes. They tested uncountable numbers of prototype feathers in different conditions of heat, humidity and water, from "Feather 1" to "Feather of Ultimate Despair". They learned exactly how to build the Icarus.
Masters says this transformational experience was difficult but afterwards the pair's new skills felt like "waking up with new superpowers", as they gained the freedom to do many more things using 3D print technology.
But this isn't just a story about their analog-to-digital transformation. There's a series of incredible coincidences that seem to provide portent that Icarus was somehow meant to happen. Consider the following:
- While working on Icarus, Masters would continually listen to a Hans Zimmer piece from the pyramid scene in the movie, "The Da Vinci Code". Somehow, he says, it made him get the work done
- The Icarus project was not intended to be religious, yet somehow it conveys a very spiritual feeling
- The final appearance of the Icarus involves two opposing triangle shapes (wings and torso vs. crossed feet), in a manner very similar to the Da Vinci Code scene at the Louvre Pyramid
- They required additional funding to complete the work in time for the 3D Printshow in London, but were unsuccessful raising it via Arts grants. Instead, they quickly put together a last-minute Kickstarter campaign
- Munn had a dream the night before Kickstarter launch that the campaign would be funded - by a single backer
- The morning of the Kickstarter launch, it met its funding goals - with a single backer. A guardian angel, you might say, saved the project
- The Icarus sister appears to be ready to jump off the ledge to make its first flight, just as 3D printing technology is about to do. Positioned at the far end of the 3D Printshow gallery, it is as if that is 3D printing's launch point
- That very location in the 3D print gallery is the same place Masters met his partner, Munn, eleven years ago
After the conversation concluded, we exited the show venue and proceeded to the London Tube station across the street.
Which station was it?
Yet another 3D print making-sharing-selling site has launched, Let'sMakeStuff.
The site provides an ability for designers to sign up and submit 3D models for sale on the site, and for consumers to browse the site and select 3D models for purchase. The service also will 3D print items on request.
It's a basic marketplace that currently contains only eight models, so clearly they have a long way to go.
Interesting observation: the site accepts not only Paypal as payment, but also BitCoins.
We feel it will be quite difficult for this service and the numerous others providing similar services to catch up to the likes of Shapeways and Thingiverse. But we wish them well.
Unaccustomed to attending any fashion show, let alone a 3D printed show, we were surprised and perhaps even shocked to see startling works displayed on the runway by professional models.
The works ranged from simple accessories, such as bangles or necklaces, to highly complex headdresses and apparel that defied description. We noted audience members wearing 3D printed adornments. Even the live band (above) got into the 3D printed spirit.
There were highlights, such as the radical work above. It is believed to be the very first color 3D printed item to appear in a 3D print fashion show. The work, entitled "Mech-ganical Prosthetic Life Form" by designer Steven Ascensão, was printed on the MCOR Technologies color 3D printer, the same unit being used by Staples 3D print service. Ascensão says:
I was really intrigued about paper 3D printing and its capabilities. I have used another technology for colour 3D prints but was not able to achieve a great resolution of the coloration. With such a detailed model both concerning its geometry and poly-paint, I was intrigued by how Mcor Technologies could achieve this. I was also fascinated by the ability to change the properties of an Mcor paper 3D printed model depending on the finishings used. For example, one can achieve a glossy, hardened look mimicking the appearance of marble, or make the model soft and flexible, like silicon. I am quite pleased with the result.
Another highlight was Joshua Harker's incredibly complex and delicate headpiece, Quixotic Divinity. Harker says:
This headdress is meant to present the wearer as a grand vehicle for the spirit. Inspired by Native American Indian, Latin and African headdresses and masks, this piece is intended to celebrate the symbolism and ceremony of human adornment.
Numerous other works were presented. We've prepared a selection of images to show some of the pieces below.
Michael Overstreet has written his thoughts on the future of robotics as affected by 3D printing on i.Materialise. He believes that 3D printing should encourage rapid creation of new forms of robotics over the next few years.
Clearly, the first and most obvious point is that robotic models and associated ideas are accessible via internet and free to print and build robots from. Many models can be used as a starting point for future innovative variants.
Iteration with 3d printing is becoming a very powerful development tool in the field of robotics. People should not underestimate how powerful iteration is in the creation, prototyping and development of a robotics platform. It all comes down to the time savings you get from the printing step of a new part or an upgrade to an existing part.
We agree with this and suggest that it's reflective of the savings found by major industries using 3D printing. The technology vastly simplifies the development of prototypes.
Which is what robotic inventors do.
MakerBot recently issued some tips and instructions on how to best use their new Digitizer 3D scanner, with a focus on lighting. We've been fiddling with 3D scanners in the lab and have to agree: lighting is critical.
Regardless of the scanner used, be it MakerBot's, a cheap Kinect or a USD$50K scanner, lighting is perhaps more important than the choice of scanner.
One problem we've encountered many times is the need for consistent lighting in all directions. When capturing color information (say while using 123D Catch), your camera's exposure may vary as you move about the subject. Similarly, lighting effects may affect your turntable scan as surfaces are exposed to different lighting.
It is difficult to arrange the perfect lighting setup, short of effectively building a photo studio. However, there's one way to get decent lighting that's pretty easy:
Go outside on a cloudy day. The light will be bright but diffuse and from all directions.
Just make sure it's not raining.
This week’s selection is the stunning “Icarus Had a Sister” by artists Masters & Munn, a.k.a. André Masters and his partner, CJ Munn. It's the obvious selection, as this piece helped the pair win the “Rising Star” award at last week’s Global 3D Print Awards at the 2013 3D Printshow. (Note the actual award trophy sitting astride the bench).
The work is not entirely 3D printed; it's a hybrid involving steel, quartz, copper, iron, slate, resin and of course, 30 micron layers of 3D printed Objet VeroClear material.
Masters & Munn say:
A hybrid of traditional sculptural techniques and state-of-the-art digital modeling and 3D printing, she has been built with the aim of inspiring other traditional artists to adapt and embrace new technology in their work, rather than to fear it; to create objects of beauty and awe that until now were impossible to build in the real world, and to continue to learn and develop, remaining as fluid as the constantly changing world in which we live.
The work is quite large, being life size. It's composed of two pieces, the lower of which is the pair of feet shown here in explicit detail (click for larger view).
Not all of this work was 3D printed; it's a hybrid of traditional and advanced making technologies. The 3D printed part is the very numerous wing feathers, which are coated with a beautiful copper veneer patina. Interestingly, the unique "nicks" in the feathers were not 3D modeled; they were simply added manually after the 3D print.
The body (and detached feet) are made from a sparkly-quartz "life cast" of freelance model Louise Banks - taken nine years previous. Finally, the base is a stunning chunk of slate exhibiting multiple colors.
But what does the work signify? According to Masters:
It's a minimalist form showing both the fragility of the female form - but also the strength for a first flight. In a way, this symbolizes 3D printing today; It's on the precipice, ready to leap into the future.
Via Masters & Munn
We've just finished this year's London 3D Printshow, and while our feet still ache and our brains still explode, we must tell you about this astounding event.
It's only the second of this series; the first, in 2012, planned on 1,500 attendees. Four thousand showed up. This year, organizers noted the previous demand and planned on a massive 8,000 attendees.
That didn't happen. Thirteen thousand, seven hundred and twenty attended the event. Yes, 13,720. This demonstrates not only top class event organizing and management, but also the extreme interest in 3D printing around the world.
It's difficult to describe the event, as it was composed of many different components and approaches. There were 3D printers, of course, but also art, science, education, business and industry segments. These don't normally mix, but they did at the 3D Printshow, offering visitors a full 360 degree perspective on the technology and its use.
The highlights? Far too many to list extensively, but instead we've selected a few (well, perhaps more than a few) images to convey the feeling and energy emanating from those attending:
The shocking 3D print fashion show, where supermodels exhibited works of artistic clothing beyond anyone's imagination.
The seminars and training offered constantly throughout the show. In this image, attendees were learning how to design and 3D print their own robot! We delivered a talk to attendees as well.
The medical display, showing and explaining the latest incredible developments using 3D print tech to solve persistent medical issues.
The intricate figurines that so frequently appeared across the entire site.
The 3D printed art gallery, where we counted more than 80 individual works - and many more were on display scattered throughout the show.
The unusual 3D printers on display, particularly several large-scale devices.
The brilliant awards ceremony, which we believe will become the prize all 3D print participants will strive to achieve in the future.
The very unusual 3D prints appearing at the show, including this dress 3D printed in a flexible material.
The astonishing finishes developed by Cosmo Wenman, transforming plain plastic prints into ancient artifacts. Sorry, you can't have this particular item as it was purchased directly from the show floor - and it wasn't even for sale!
The appearance of many notable figures in the 3D print world, including MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis, pictured here delivering a talk (which turned out quite well considering he had just arrived moments earlier directly off a red-eye flight from North America.) Also notable: the surprising absence of 3D Systems from the event.
The spectacular collection of life-size hollywood figures provided by Legacy Effects and Jason Lopes, including this highly-recognizable (and more than life-sized) item.
The ever-present news coverage, which at times were stacked several deep, recording video of all things 3D.
The presence of many famous 3D prints, such as this 3D printed camera. We couldn't stop recognizing 3D prints we'd previously written about.
The several ways for visitors to directly participate in 3D print technology, including this portable 3D scanning station, where color scans of people were collected and 3D printed.
If you have any interest in personal 3D printing, this is the one conference you must attend. We'll be back.