@SciShow gives a great intro to 3D Printing

Since starting this project, people have been sending me lots of websites, articles and videos about 3D printing. It’s nearly been a full-time job just going through all this information!

I’m putting this great introduction to 3D printing from SciShow. It’s a great youtube channel with lots of content from a number of different hosts. I dip in from time to time to hear what they’re talking about. This is a great episode where they give you a nice intro to 3D printing and then talk about the potential of this technology (including printing humans!). Check it out 🙂

And please keep sending in those articles/videos/websites, they’re great 🙂


3D Printing Professionals

3D printing has had a boom of interest as prices have come down in terms of the printers themselves and the printing materials. This has seen an increase in the number of people who can afford desktop printers, hobbyists, if you will.

The small printers are all well and good if you want to print a figure or Yoda or other such items, but what do you want to do if you’ve constructed a to scale model of the Wright Brother’s glider. Do you scale down the 3D printed construction to be about 8 inches across?

1902_Wright_glider_turnsOf course you wouldn’t want to go to that trouble, only to have the finished object be so small. It would lose something important if you had constructed it for teaching purposes.

So what do you do?

While desktop printers do print out things cheaply and can cost under $1000, you don’t necessarily want to get a printer that costs into the $10,000 range! Thankfully new companies are being formed so that you can send the digital file to be printed, nominate the materials for construction and then pick it up or have it delivered. Remember in the past, when you wanted that report printed out on a laser printer and not your pokey dot-matrix printer (showing my age), you needed to take it to a professional. Well, this is simply an extension of that process.

So when you want to print out something of a larger scale, check out these professionals. Perfect for a scale model of the Wright Brother’s glider, although I make no guarantee how well it will fly.

Here is one in Australia, which inspired this post.

[Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_brothers#mediaviewer/File:1902_Wright_glider_turns.jpeg ]

FREE 3D Printing Event in Melbourne

3D printing is something I have a great passion for, and something that I think will change the way we design and manufacture things into the future. This is why I’m passionate about putting it into primary schools and getting teachers to get experience this technology, so that youngsters today can be familiar with it and in years to come, it will be these students who take up this technology and use it in a way we never thought was possible.

To help people come to terms with this technology I’m holding a FREE public event in Melbourne, so that people can hear presentations about this technology, how it is being used in education, medicine and industry. This event will be a great introduction to 3D printing for practitioners, parents, teachers or anyone interested in finding out more about 3D printing. 

Please join myself and others:

Dr George Aranda – A Research Fellow interested in 3D printing from Deakin University. He is trying to get 3D printers into Australian schools through his Pozible: http://www.pozible.com/3dthefuture and his blog: 3D Printing the Future
Dr Cathal O’Connell -Associate Research Fellow in 3D Bioprinting based at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne. He will talk about the new ebook 3D Bioprinting: Printing Parts for Bodieshe co-authored with colleagues at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science.
Joe Farr – General Manager from ThingLab will bring a 3D printer and talk about their future role in society and education.

Where: Embiggen Books,197-203 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne, 3000, http://www.embiggenbooks.com
When: Tuesday 25th of November, 6:30pm
Cost: FREE!

Please RSVP on Eventbrite for catering purposes

3D Printing Healthier Food #3dprintingED

3D printing food has been an aspiration of 3D printing technologists. But the cost, with articles telling us that 3D printing meat costs thousands of dollars per kilo, it doesn’t seem likely in our future. I’ve written about printing chocolate, which seems like a very simple comparison. So what’s in between these two extremes?

In the following TEDx presentation, Lynette Kucsma talks about her company that is trying to print out healthy food using 3D printers. Can we print out tasty and healthy foods? Lynette says the answer is yes, and she talks about making such delicious meals, ranging from 3D printed ravioli to dinosaurs. Check it out 🙂

Book: Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing #3DprintingED

fabricatedFabricated came out last year, detailing the rise of 3D printing and the possibilities it has for the future.

Aimed at people who enjoy books on business strategy, popular science and novel technology, Fabricated will provide readers with practical and imaginative insights to the question ‘how will this technology change my life?’ Based on hundreds of hours of research and dozens of interviews with experts from a broad range of industries, Fabricated offers readers an informative, engaging and fast-paced introduction to 3D printing now and in the future.

Synopsis: Fabricated tells the story of 3D printers, humble manufacturing machines that are bursting out of the factory and into schools, kitchens, hospitals, even onto the fashion catwalk. Fabricated describes our emerging world of printable products, where people design and 3D print their own creations as easily as they edit an online document.

A 3D printer transforms digital information into a physical object by carrying out instructions from an electronic design file, or ‘blueprint.’ Guided by a design file, a 3D printer lays down layer after layer of a raw material to ‘print’ out an object. That’s not the whole story, however. The magic happens when you plug a 3D printer into today’s mind-boggling digital technologies. Add to that the Internet, tiny, low cost electronic circuitry, radical advances in materials science and biotech and voila! The result is an explosion of technological and social innovation.

Fabricated takes the reader onto a rich and fulfilling journey that explores how 3D printing is poised to impact nearly every part of our lives.

I featured this book on my other blog, Science Book a Day, so check out the reviews. Here is also the trailer for the book.

Voxeljet: Industrial 3D printing Boom or Bust?

It’s easy to be swept away in the hype of 3D printers and I thought twice about writing this article. I’m someone who is interested in getting 3D printers into primary/elementary schools so students can learn about the future of the wonderful 3D industry.

But, as someone who communicates science as well, I know that you can’t shy away from the difficulties of any technology or finding. Voxeljet are a company that seeks to deal with the high end of 3D printing. Their aim was to get their 3D printers into industrial processes such as car and airline manufacturing and spare parts. They successfully got people in their company when it went on the stock exchange and promised a big bold future. But as this video indicates, everything isn’t going so well. Check it out.

But what does this mean? Should we abandon our printers and prepare for the zombie apocalypse? No, of course it doesn’t. But while you and I might subscribe to the idea that 3D printers will be a blessing in the future, it means that there is a lot of competition in the industry that players need to take into account, or perhaps it means that 3D printers will never be used at an industrial level. Whatever the case, there will be successes and failures and we learn from each.

3D Printed Chain Lifts Car #3dprinting #3dprintingED http://bit.ly/1nxguhQ

3D printing technology is to a large degree about small devices and work by ‘hobbyists’. But work is being done in other more industrial areas, such as the automotive and aviation industries where the quality of the 3D fabricated component is essential. I’m personally interested in hearing about the first ‘3D printed plane’, although i might wait a little while before I’d be happy to fly in it 🙂

HP have entered the market with their 3D Mulit Jet Fusion which has 10,000 nozzles and is touted to print 10 times faster than current technologies. Some in the media have called this a game changing piece of technology, although we will have to wait until 2015-2016 to see it on the market. HP are aiming to have their printers used in industry, aiming their price point at around $150,000.

So while you and I probably won’t be getting our hands on one anytime soon, the boffins have thought to demonstrate the strength of their 3D printed items by lifting a car. Yes, a car. As you do.

3D Printing Design with an Haptic Stylus #3DprintingED http://bit.ly/1nxguhQ

One of the problems I can forsee for 3D printing is the interface. Just like the uptake of desktop publishing and design years ago, you have to be able to design using tools such as InDesign or Photoshop or any of the others. This might fit well for some people, but it doesn’t work so well for others. Drawing with a mouse is far less intuitive and fulfilling than when drawing with a pencil or working with a paintbrush. But now these things have been incorporated into our interactions with computers. Products like Intuos allow us to draw on a pad which is connected to the program, styluses allow us to draw on tablets and even digital paintbrushes like the Sensubrush allow us to paint on tablets, taking into account things like pressure and brushstroke.

But what about 3D printers? While I am quite happy to design using a computer interface, this isn’t for everyone. How would a sculptor, who has worked his/her whole life in very physical materials going to work with 3D programs? While they could learn how to do the desktop version, it is limiting, so designing a tool that allows a more visceral process of design is as important as developing a stylus that works with your iPad.

2014_Sculpt_banner_640x440This is the gap that a Haptic Stylus fills. Haptic technology is simply technology that is designed to give you a sense of touch. This could be as simple as your your xbox controller vibrating during a driving game or anything more sophisticated.

Offering ‘precise positioning input and instant force feedback that mimics the sense of physical sculpting,’ the Touch 3D stylus gives you more control, and a sense of feeling what you are designing. The user employs the haptic stylus, or arm, gaining the ability to ‘harness the power of virtual clay.’

I think this would be great for people coming to 3D printing who aren’t that tech savvy and perfect for young children coming to this technology for the first time. What is more satisfying for a young kid to smash through clay or being able to sculpt clay like on a spinning wheel? It also allows for a more delicate touch, allowing for more nuanced design.

Check out more information about this at Geomagic.com

Link: http://3dprint.com/21860/3d-systems-geomagic-sculpt/

Zaniac Learning talks about Education and 3d Printing

zaniac-learningTy Peterson from Zaniac Learning took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about 3D printing and their new after-school 3D printing program.

#1 – What was the impetus for the 3D printing program?

We believe that hands-on learning is incumbent to getting kids engaged in math and technology learning in a meaningful way. A creative, hands-on learning environment is essential to our pedagogy, and when we make the classroom experience a fun one, kids walk away wanting to learn more. 3D Printing is a natural fit for this approach.

#2 – How is the program itself structured?

During the school year, all of our programs (including 3D Printing) are structured as 6-week courses, where kids attend 90 minute lessons after school once per week. Each 90 minute lesson focuses on a specific concept or concepts. After each lesson, students are given a Milestone worksheet to show their progress in learning the concepts.

The majority of the coursework focuses on the design process, and we use either 123D Design or Tinkercad depending on the age and comfort level of the student. Kids are introduced to the concept of computer-aided design and the basics behind how the actual print process works. Over the course of the program, our instructors also cover concepts like fill patterns, supports and rafts, scaling, finishing techniques, rotation and mirroring, creative and iterative design, print resolution, print time, photogrammetry, and others. This is all taught using an example heavy, project based lesson guides.

We provide the software, printer, and PLA on sight as part of the cost of the course. Students will walk away from the program with the finished print of their final design creation. No previous experience with CAD or 3D Printing is required and kids as young as 2nd grade can enroll.

#3 – What is the ultimate aim of the 3d printing program? Experience with this new technology? Boosted self-esteem? Understanding of the science of 3d printing?

The aim with 3D Printing, as with all of our programs, is to establish science, technology, engineering, and math as approachable fields, worthy of further study. We aim not only to teach kids specific skills in these areas, but to establish a love of learning that will serve them throughout their educational and professional careers, long after they have left Zaniac.

Experience with this technology first hand demystifies the concepts that are purely theoretical in kids’ normal school settings. What they experience at Zaniac will allow them to approach the concepts they are taught in school with newfound confidence and interest.

#4 – What is the feedback you’ve had from teachers, kids or education bodies?

Our 3D Printing program is very new, so we don’t have a large amount of feedback relating directly to the curriculum. That being said, part of the impetus for launching this program was an oft-voiced interest from our community of parents and students. We have already received attention from various institutions globally who are interested in this type of educational experience, an obvious example being yourself. We look forward to engaging in a dialog and sharing our findings with the educational community as a whole as we learn.

#5 – How has the program changed/evolved over time?

Our very first session of the program is currently in progress, so we are quite literally on version 1. As we collect feedback from parents, students, and instructors over the coming months we will incorporate it to create the best possible curriculum. We fully expect this program to be very popular with students and parents alike.

3D Printing Changing Your Point of View #3DprintingED http://bit.ly/1nxguhQ

I read this article today about 3D Printing Reshaping Universities. Published in 2012, it seems that some universities in the US were already moving to have 3D printers into libraries. The philosophy behind it seems to be that libraries were once a public space where people were able to interact with new technologies. However, in the past, libraries became places of quiet contemplation and books which changed much of this.

Working at a university, the libraries are much different to what they used to be. Whole floors are now dedicated to a community environment where students can come in, interact, use the wi-fi for their assignments or just surfing youtube while sipping coffee.

Opening up 3D printers in universities seems to be a way to bring students of disparate faculties together to try out their design creativity. I really like this notion of breaking down preconceptions about 3D printing and re-conceptualising them from your own perspective. It’s so easy to dismiss something as ‘too hard’ and ‘something I could never do’. I hear this a lot when it comes to science and mathematics and I really want to overcome it with my Pozible allowing teachers to come to terms with the technology of 3D printers, stopping a moment, then considering how they can apply this tool to their profession.

The article talks about students starting out with simple things such a busts of Yoda, or propellers, but further students talked about designing ways that the slowness of 3D printers could be overcome by designing new systems or new ways of printing. A science academic talks about printing molecules as a way for students understanding that molecules have a shape, something that would have greatly added to my understanding of chemistry at the time (and even now). Whatever the case, I suggest you jump into 3D printing and develop your own conception – see where it takes you 🙂


Molecule Jewelry

[Image Credit: http://media.onsugar.com/files/ons1/192/1922507/31_2009/6b04cd3024166a2f_Molecule.preview.jpg%5D