Math prints!

Makerbot has announced it’s intention bring 3d printers in the schools through it’s Makerbot academy program, and launched the visual maths challenge. One of the first really interesting designs (that got featured immediately!) is as always from Gyrobot. He made a Seesaw Maths to teach addition, subtraction, division and multiplication by means of small weights added on a beam.

We printed it right away and it also gave us the possibility to check the settings of our ultimaker that has been printing really awfully recently.

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The printer is really unreliable and frequently gives a spongy finish to the object. We tried changing manually the temperature and speed of the printer while making the small weights to check the effect, and it really is interesting to see how much these 2 variables change the finished object.

Changing just the temperature

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Changing the speed while keeping the temperature at 220°CIMG 5095

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Fiera del Radioamatore, Pordenone

Next weekend (16-17 november) we will be in Pordenone at the Radiohams faire with a booth on 3D printing for science and education. If you happen to be in the area pass by and greet us :)

Sunday afternoon there will be a meeting on “Work and open source” and Carlo will talk about Open source for science research.


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Back to Italy and lots of news!

So yesterday we came back to Italy after the great 3dprint show we attended to in London. I still have to show you a ton of pictures (from the art exhibition, the catwalk, the various stands, scans…) but as soon as I reached home I started to empty my mailbox and there are so many interesting things I have to share that I will postpone all the rest and dig right in.

  1. MAKE has released it’s new Guide to 3D printing!! We will have to wait a bit to have our hands on a paper copy but we will certainly buy the digital version. And you can go right now and check their 3D printer testing results. The PrintrBot Simple got Best value (and as it’s one of the printers we use and recommend it’s a big satisfaction) and The solidoodle has been rated “Buyer Beware”. Again we can vouch in, we never managed to get much out of it!
  2. Makerbot Academy Math Manipulative Challenge: a new Challenge by makerbot that aims to gain math manipulatives suitable for teaching visual math to kids K-12. As we are always looking into 3d printing and education we are sooo looking forward to the results of this challenge. Hope to see some good stuff coming up!
  3. African fossils has a new website from which you can download 3d models to print out on your 3d printer! More to come on this topic as we are proud to be “partners” in this effort to take prehistoric fossils in all the schoolsAfrican Fossils
  4. We got our hands on the book “Getting Started with MakerBot” and will talk about it soon and we are looking forward to two new books on 3D printing that will be released shortly (unfortunately only in german at least at the beginning).
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3D printed bike accessories

My favorite 3d printed object s are the adapters, small incredibly useful objects that lets us use stuff we alrteady have in new and improved ways. And on Carlo’s bike now is fully fitted with 3d printed stuff :)

Tail light (ABS on CB printer)

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Adapter for a powerful torch as a front light (Nylon on CB pinter)

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And a place to carry the bluetooth speaker (!) (Nylon on CB pinter)

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Brian Oknyansky: 3D printing in shoe design (3d printshow talk)

Last talk of the day for me, the speaker Brian Oknyansky is a really nice guy who takes us through his career beginning. As an architect assistant in 5 years he made less money than in the few weeks after winning a shoe design competition. So he decided to merge the 2 expertise and work on architecture applied to shoes. In a way making buildings and shoes is similar, in both cases you have to be careful to people's safety!

With 3d printing it's possible to make shoes that are not only for display and are nice to look at. But designing footware is a challenge. High heel shoes have plastic parts inside that require plastic injection moulding. To do it you have to invest a huge amount of money for a mould that is good only for a few sizes of shoes, with a 3d printer you can make any size. Low end 3d printers need a certain design to achieve the correct structure. The shoes on the right hand side are right for mass costumization.

While using high end printers and DLS technology and titanium the shapes can be more creative while keeping the object made in 1 piece

3d printed with DLS but connecting the pieces together after the print.

SLS technology

Mass costumization example: NikeiD started giving the costumer the possibility to costumize the final product but the shipping times are too long and this is overcome only by our faith in the brand name.

Split heels was then Brian's first mass costumization project born with a participation to a fashion competition, but the first prototype broke at a weak point at the heel. Though 3d printing is fast it wasn't fast enough to make new shoes in time for the catwalk (and for the purpose of the competition milled heels were then used) but it was possible to use this experience to correct the design and come out with a whole collection of shoes. is a costumization platform (in html5 so working on tablets and phones while nikeiD does not) that gives the user the opportunity to choose all the colors of the parts of the shoe and if the color combination is particularly strange you get it named after you.

The different types of 3d printer are better for different results

In Brian's vision it's just a matter of approaching the different machines and design for those particular limits and strength points.

A short and really interesting talk that did not leave the audience (in my opinion!) disappointed by the mistake in the program that mixed the description of this talk with the one of the 3h long workshop.


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Girls and 3d printers

The 3d print show in London has given me the opportunity to see many interesting things but also to get to know a lot of really really great guys…and girls! Today we asked around to some of the ladies that were in the various booths to get together for a quick group picture, we did not manage to collect all of them because obviously some were busy at their stands and could not come but anyhow we were a nice group of ladies :)

Thanks to all of the 3d printing ladies that showed up, hope to be even more next time!!!



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3Doodler (3d print show talk)

The 3doodler booth had a lot of success with kids and adults stopping and trying out the pen, so being really curious about it (is it just a toy or is it really useful?) I hopped in to listen to the talk by two of the owners

Starting out with the story on how 3doodler came about, they were looking into robots for children that could walk. After this experience 2 of the ideators decided to start a company by themselves for toys, and used a lot 3d printing.

When using a 3d printer and having an error in the output they were discussing that it would be nice to just pick up the extruder and fix the object. So they started working on this idea and had a prototype that looked awful and was heavy but it worked, so they moved to China to find a manufacturer. (Speaking mandarine they had more ease in the choice of a suitable partner). Passing from a product made from various elements to an assembly line product was a challenge and everything had to be re-thought.

Then on kickstarter they had a huge success raising 2,344,000$ and had to produce an incredible amount of pens. 20-25,000 units should be shipped by the end of the year.

Demo time: 2 buttons for 2 different speeds, if pressed together they retract the plastic so colours can be changed easily. Works with PLA and ABS sticks of filament, the ones sold by the firm are made in USA and UK. the demo maybe is not that impressive (the legs of the little man tend to detach) but the following pictures made by artist and normal users are really great and can be structured in a way they can move.

Another interesting idea is to use structures as moulds to doodle on it (and doodling the names on glasses at dinner parties!)

Another artist used the hot tip of the pen to carve the plastic

On the website there are hundreds of stencils available to download and can be used to create many things that can be also joined to make 3d objects.

Future? They had contacts by engineers who wanted to use this product to sketch an idea as a base for discussion before starting out with CAD projects and spending money on 3d printing.

Visually impared were immediately interested. With this object they can make braille. They can sign and then feel their signature. There already is graph paper that has bumped lines but with this you could write braille and add lines and feel the different positions on the paper.

Jewelly: can be used to make sketches even though it's very simple it's perfect for the first stage, the same idea has been picked up by stage designers and stop motion animators to convey the first idea of their project.

Lab scientist have thought to use it to sketch lab ideas and equipment projects.

Question time, and much of the interest is also on how to make a successful kickstarter campaign. Many useful hints on planning really well your campaign before going on kickstarter, making a really good video that catches the attention in the first 10 sec.


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Makerbot: innovation, invention & prototyping (3d printshow talk)

Erin Arden from Makerbot takes us through the various possible uses of the makerbot with some case studies.

Obviously it starts with a short promotional part on the digitizer and the replicator 2, pointing out this time how already having 3d printers was useful also to create their new products. The importance of 3d printing is to prototype projects and be certain they work as intended before spending money on injection moulds. Then it's time for other case studies.

The robo hand: not the first time we see it but the smiling boy with the 3d printed hand is always a happy sight.

Peeko monitor: sleep apnea device for infants that attaches to shirts. The nice thing is that the print can be stopped, electronics can be added and then the print restarted so the electronics are inclosed in the printed object. It's a new way of thinking.

Architects: the inside and outside of the houses can be printed in detail, and more and more designers are using it for this purpose saving money. Erin tells us that before leaving for the show she printed 500 snowflakes on 5 printers for the kids that participated to the talk of the morning regarding these subjects.

Chris Milnes instead does not stop at prototyping but manufactures his final product on the makerbot. It's a small object that easily helps out when using the Square on various phones without spending money on injection mould for a small amount of objects.

Cosmo Wenman shows you are not limited to plastic using the makerbot to prototype and then cast in bronze his replicas of the statues of the major museums.


Ford uses makerbots to prototype parts of his engines, and finally the Verlan dress, downloadable on thingiverse and printed in flexible filament.

Question time: some curiosities on dual extrusion and how to avoid messing up the object with the other extruder's color, how to change the temperature of both extruders to cope with different materials and to close up the speech Erin shows how to level the printer's plate as the object printing during the conference had not stuck appropriately and stopped midprint.


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Hypercask: material arts

The talk starts with a bang (various pops to be more specific) when the 2 speakers start giving out german beers. And the audience is won over!

Stephan Weiss starts explaining that the talk will be on the various filaments that can be used for FDM printers, so finally it's all about our low cost 3d printers.

Changing the setup you can use 3d printers to print various pastes like cookies and chocolate, but if you don't want to change the printer you are stuck with termoplastics. So on to the various plastics.

The most common plastics are ABS and PLA so he obviously starts with these materials summarizing the pros and cons.
ABS: soluble in acetone, very resistant but oil based so it's polluting and gives off fumes while printing.

PLA: plant based, little warping and not toxic but it's brittle and can be used till 90*C. Can then be spray painted like the cute little frog. Another possibility to improve the final quality also for PLA and hide the layers is to use glue and stick something on it like fake grass. I have to try!

But there is more and the point of the talk is to show how many more materials are available and what could be the uses of all of these.

Soft PLA: prints at 230*C compared to 190*C, but slow printing is needed and it's better to avoid retraction.

XT: minimum warping, similar to PET, but oil based and hard to dye. The final finish is beatiful because it's crystal clear. Easy to print, the example passing around is a very big (50cm) sculpture. If treated with acetone it becomes cloudy but looses the layers so it's perfect for casts. In the dishwaher it becomes opaque.

It does not stick to PLA so it's good for dual extrusion. Changing the heat temperature of the printer you can have different areas more or less transparent, with nice results with LED lights.

LAYWOOD: the first composite material, PLA+40% recycled wood, again changing the temperature during the print you get slightly different colors when the wood burns a little more. On the other hand it's a brittle kind of filament and does not come easily on a spool.

Protopasta, a kickstarter project that Stephan endorses because they are making new filaments and will provide data sheets and probably material sheets with more informations on the risks of printing with each material and instructions.

Carbon fiber PLA: If dropped sounds like metal, it's a bit more stiff than PLA but it does not look like plastic anymore and has a very nice feel. This time what counts is not the characteristics of the plastic filament but the impression the finished object does to the public.

High temperature PLA: added stuff that makes it crystalizes more so it prints nicely and has similar characteristics as ABS but still being non toxic.

ABS poly Carbonate: very tough and heat resistant but warps easily. Available in 2014

Nylon: not toxic, prints at 240*C

POM polyoxymethylen. Used in labs to make gears to replace metals. Printable but releases formaldehyde if heated over 220*C so pretty scary.

Teflon: low friction, working temperature of 200*C, it is resistant to chemicals prints at 330*C but again if heated over 360*C it gives off deadly fumes that can really kill you. And the anecdote of their colleague stuck in the hospital for a day after taking a sniff was really unnerving.

And the future materials??

Perpetual plastic project shows how recycling can be really made by the people that drop by their used cups and then create new filament. And techfortrade is working on having ethical 3d printing material coming from plastic waste giving also an income to people in developing countries.

Future materials will probably also be smart materials, like Glow in the dark filament or plastics that change color at different temperatures, useful for temperature sensors and sunscreens.

To finish the talk Stephan Talks about the filastruder that really gives us the possibility to make our own filament and give it the characteristics we need, for instance conductive materials or magnetic materials. The hint of filament with conductive materials strikes a lot of interest in the public with people imagining how to use it and also someone who knows of a firm that already sells it.

A curious note on past experiences from the various shows to which Hypercask participated: a heavy material is considered more valuable, so a hand printed hollow and filled with sand during the print gives another sensation to who touches it and finds it heavier than he thought.

The talk was really interesting and the guys from the organization had to shove us out of the room while there were still questions and suggestions being made. The digital files can be downloaded here


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3d print show: Ultimaker

Nex event for today is the Ultimaker keynote. The speaker is Hank van Gils, the executive CEO and though he has not the same ease with the microphone as Bre Pettis, he makes a nice speech on the importance of 3d printing to distribute the production system.

The original RepRap project was interesting but difficult to sell, and the subsequent evolution made them more and more differentiated.

The Ultimaker remains an open source project, with the contribution of many individuals that push Ultimaker to his limits and to improve all the time: Florian Horsch with designs of objects that are incredibly accurate, Cardillac with metal-like filaments, Jordan Miller that studies how to make prints more and more detailed (in the picture on the left hand side is his finger!)

The community behind Ultimaker is important to know what is really needed, the Ultimaker is like the tools and raw materials that are needed to make an object starting from a recipe.

Iris van Herpen is another example of designers pushing the industries and not the other way around. She is a model and wants printing materials that are more comfortable to wear. The public drives the producer and not the other way around.

Another interesting note is on multimaterial printing, with the example of 3d printed glasses with incorporated lens. Not on the market yet but wait for them soon.

Obviously there is a part on 3d printing and medicine. A project with Jordan Miller to print blood vessels, kidneys are already being printed and a bionic ear based on DNA replicated cow skin that looks more natural than prosthetics. Things that are technically possible now (though the note on having to upgrade kids as soon as they are born is a bit unnerving…). This opens up a new horizon where people can really have spare parts printed for them.

The difference between digital world with 0000 and 11111 and biological world with CGGGAT is not that big maybe.

Ultimaker wants to make ideas immediately accessible and real, without having to pass through all the steps of mass production, making things costumizable and personal.

Short note on patents: patents for 20-25 years stop innovation and should be prohibited. This is why ultimaker wants open source and opened youmagine, a platform to share ideas. Cura, the slicing software, will be integrated in youmagine to make things easier and more straightforward. Though this is nice I can't avoid thinking it's still a budding copy of thingiverse….

Next a video (available on the ultimaker home page) where an architect uses an ultimaker all day long: to print a small robot for his kid, to check a house he is working on and finally to make a nice vase for the flowers he bought for his wife.

Not only Imagine it and make it, but also make it easy and make the world better


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