Last night I gave a free presentation about 3D printing for the public at my favourite bookshop, Embiggen Books in Melbourne. I thought it was a great night with good turnout of people who were interested in 3D printing, some who were teachers looking at what I was wanting to do with Education, others from Scienceworks, interested in discussing how 3D printers could be uniquely used compared to other technology.
There were three presenters last night.
Joe Farr the general manager from Thinglab started the conversation about 3D printing by laying down the groundwork.
George Aranda (me) talked about the theoretical background I have come from with wanting to use 3D printing to work with representations that students can develop in the classroom. I also gave examples of programs using 3D printing that I have blogged about before and also some examples of classrooms in Australia already using 3D printing.
Cathal O’Connell from University of Melbourne talked about the book 3D Bioprinting: Printing Parts of Bodies he was co-author on. He gave some great insights into how 3D printing can be used by surgeons to help wounds heal faster and how they can be used in reconstructive techniques.
During the night we also had a 3D printer printing out an ear which prompted some discussion during a break in the night. Overall, a great night.
It’s an easy thing to understand how 3D printing plastics works. A term known as additive manufacturing, it’s as simple as understanding that a layer of plastic is laid on top of another layer of plastic over time. Of course initially the plastic is going to be hot, to allow it be flexible and as it is printed it cools and solidifies – which leaves us with our 3D printed object.
As you will remember from your science days, metals are molten at a particular temperature, but that temperature is quite high, making this an untenable proposition in terms of safety or creating nozzles that could withstand this temperature. The process of 3D printing metal involves using powdered metals, which use a laser to either sinter or melt the power. Here’s a good definition from Wikipedia:
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser as the power source to sinter powdered material (typically metal), aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by a 3D model, binding the material together to create a solid structure.
There are various differences in technology, outcomes and techniques, but this gives you a good idea of how 3D printing metal might work. 3D printing materials in this way has been of interest to automotive and aviation industries, to develop new designs and for spare parts. The question has been whether the quality of these parts can stand up to the high specifications required for the aviation industry – would you be the first person in a fully 3D manufactured plane?
But the technology and the quality of the products have been developing to the point where Monash University have manufactured a small jet engine using 3D printed parts! Amazing, check out the video below
I will age myself by telling you that I remember when the Rubik’s Cube came out. It was an amazing Christmas gift and I, like many people in the world, had no real idea how to solve it. I remember getting frustrated with it probably sometime in the early new year, and then figured out how to take it apart and ‘fix’ it, rather than solving it 🙂
But now, with 3D printing, boffin Matthew Bahner has recreated the Rubik’s cube, the best selling toy of all time, into large versions (the V-cube) and the smallest cube puzzle in the world at 3.4cm.
Bahner’s V Cube, the original Rubik’s Cube and World’s smallest cube.
While creating earlier versions closer to Rubik’s original, manufacturing issues meant that altering it slightly would make it work. Stickers were created by Olivier’s stickers.
I think this is a great application of 3D printing technology, allowing the revisioning of objects that we have had a particular relationship with. How many times have you thought “If only it could do x, then it would be awesome.” Well, get out there, get access to a 3D printer and see what you can do 🙂
One of the first things that got me into 3D printing was the idea that it could be used to teach higher education students. In particular, I thought that the idea that it could be used to teach medical students of the utmost importance. My own undergraduate degree involved a lot of physiology, particularly the nervous system. Of course, like any student, you see diagrams of body parts and systems, but the 2D nature of it all can be hard to translate to the real world.
After studying the brain for some time, I was quite confronted when I first cut into a real sheep’s brain. The textbooks quite specifically differentiate between structures by using colours and thick lines, but when I cut into that sheep’s brain, it was all GREY with tracts of white. So trying to locate one specific part of the brain seemed near impossible 🙂
So the idea that we can print out 3D body parts, with high scale resolution was an amazing proposition. Now we have such high resolution scanning devices such as MRIs, it is possible to produce anatomically correct body parts that can be used by medical students anywhere around the world! This added third dimension will help with the learning process and not just transposing the knowledge from the 2D to the 3D. Check out this interview with Monash University Professor, Paul McMenamin.
Premier Napthine campaining for re-election in Victoria, Australia
3D printers have come down in price significantly in the last 5 years, which now puts them into the range of being available to schools and teachers as part of the learning process. Last year, the US President Obama said in his “State of the Union” Address
Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.
Similarly, in Victoria, Australia, where we will go to the polls at the end of the month, Premier Napthine has promised to put 3D printers into every secondary school will receive $3000 to buy a 3D printer. The secondary schools will also receive $750 each in “consumables” to go with the printers. The Premier said,
This means nearly 400 schools across the state will be able to have these 3D printers
This impetus to put 3D printers into schools has achieved more and more attention with both small and larger 3D printer companies like Makerbot coming to this space. Makerbot founder and Chief Executive Bre Prettis is keen on getting his printers into every school in the US as a stimulus for creativity.
Instead of waiting for someone to create a product for you, you can create your own…It can change the whole paradigm of how our children will see innovation and manufacturing in America.
Combined with lowering the prices of his printers, crowd-funding and business support it seems that this might actually happen. This critical mass of industry, government and education might be enough to get more and more printers into schools.
Has your school got a 3D printer?
3D Printing is one of those technologies that some people LOVE and some people who for whatever reason don’t really care about having this new technology in their lives. But how do we get people to be more familiar with this new technology? One way was taken by a German company who put 3D scanners and printers into a mall, so that you can have a 3D printed version of yourself. I tweeted a link to the article yesterday.
Would this make you a bit more familiar with 3D technology? Other options might include highlighting the ways we use 3D technology.
– 3D ultrasounds – http://www.4dbonding.com.au/
– 3D scanning in plastic surgery and reconstruction – http://3dprintingindustry.com/2014/10/29/jaw-cancer-3d-printing/
– 3D Augmented Reality – http://augmentedev.com/
Augmented Reality allows us to incorporate 3D data into our lives, via drawing lines on maps, allowing us to put 3D models of furniture into our homes to see how they would fit, or even allowing clothes to be superimposed onto ourselves to see if they would suit us. More about Augmented Reality.
My project is about putting 3D printers in schools, which is essentially another avenue that can be used to introduce students and teachers to this new technology. Introducing them to 3D printers in primary school will mean when they start working with them in high school, they will be tools that they worked with earlier in their lives. My hope is that they will be engaging tools, that will allow students to construct, design, and modify objects within a 3D space. Imagine what they will be able to do when using 3D technology is no different to using tools on the internet. I am looking forward to what they can do.
What made you interested in 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 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?
Of 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 ]
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
Please RSVP on Eventbrite for catering purposes
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 🙂