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MakerBot Wins Red Dot for Industrial Design

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The Red Dot recognizes outstanding product design, from the iPhone and Apple Wireless Keyboard, to the BMW i8 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Now the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer (Fifth Generation Model) joins this pantheon of product design, with a 2015 Red Dot award for product design. An international jury recognized the MakerBot Replicator for its sleek yet functional form that maximizes accessibility in the workspace, and that sets it apart from other 3D printers.

“Not many companies have applied proper design process to 3D printers before,” says Mark Palmer, MakerBot’s director of industrial design. With most 3D printers, he says, “after the mechanical and electrical design is done, they just put a box around it.”

Palmer joined MakerBot in May 2014, after work on the Fifth Generation was completed. He is delighted that the industrial designers on his team, Jackson Seidenberg and Vishnu Anantha, have been praised by the same organization that has honored Dieter Rams, Bill Moggridge, and Jony Ive.

“Many people don’t realize that most of the objects and products they interact with in the world are shaped by industrial designers,” says Palmer. The goal of industrial design, he says, is “to close the gap between technology and people.”

The MakerBot Replicator improves on previous 3D printers with a level of refinement, openness, and accessibility not seen before in the industry. It has an intuititve interface, a 3.5″ display and a software platform, a mobile app, and integration with MakerBot Thingiverse. And the revolutionary MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder minimizes print downtime by enabling users to swap out a worn extruder in minutes.
“There are strong cues in the printer itself that tell you how to interact with it,” says Palmer. “The knob becomes the focal point.”

As Palmer and his team start to think beyond the Fifth Generation, they focus on easy use and immediate printing access, which will allow both professional teams and education users to evolve their ideas faster than ever.

“If our team is successful, it will be hard to discern the industrial design qualities of the product from the mechanical and electrical design,” he says. “The physical and experiential qualities of our products will be taken to a whole new level.”

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To Understand the Future of 3D Printing, Talk to a Student

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When you first see a 3D printer, it’s mesmerizing. You make something (a physical object) out of nothing (a digital file).

After a while, you learn 3D printing isn’t a magic trick. I’ve worked in the industry for more than a decade, so I’m used to seeing engineers and designers make prototypes and develop products for the market, and I get the disruptive potential of additive manufacturing.

But the other day, my mind was blown like it hasn’t been in years. I visited The Whitby School, where Leslie Perry uses MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printers in her middle-school design technology classes. When I took over as CEO of MakerBot two months ago, I learned that more than 5,000 schools have MakerBot Replicators. Still, it was a shock to see sixth graders moving through a professional product-development process: research, design, make, iterate, repeat.

I expressed surprise, and a 12-year-old named Eric seemed confused. “I don’t see using Tinkercad and then MakerBot to design something as exceptional. I find it sort of normal.”

Over the past ten days, as I embarked on a 10-week, 22-state tour to meet more than 60 MakerBot customers around the United States, I keep encountering this new normal. I’ve listened to tales of success as well as grumbles at companies from Stanley Black & Decker to Adafruit. At every school I’ve visited, I see a new educational paradigm: students teaching their elders about technology.

The world hasn’t turned entirely upside down; it’s more of an intergenerational knowledge exchange. At the State University of New York at New Paltz, for example, 18-year-old interns at the MakerBot Innovation Center help seasoned local entrepreneurs use 3D modeling software and 3D printers to test and refine their ideas. New Paltz students learn about engineering and design by working on real-world problems as they teach these fortysomethings, who bring their experience and ideas.

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The University of Maryland Clark School of Engineering, which integrated MakerBot Replicators into its hands-on design course for all first-year engineers, included two undergraduates on their evaluation team. The students put several brands of desktop 3D printers through their paces and made recommendations about which model the school should buy. “You can’t expect someone like me to know about this technology,” quips Dean Darryll Pines, who remembers colleagues who pooh-poohed desktop computers and didn’t expect the Internet wouldn’t amount to much. These two UMD students just delivered a paper at the annual American Society for Engineering Education conference, which talked about integrating 3D printing in the first-year engineering course.

And at Brooklyn Tech, the largest American high school focused on STEAM subjects, I saw a civil engineering class build a 3D printed turbine, and the many pieces made by the robotics club to help their creation throw a frisbee or load a crate.

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There may not be a 3D printer in every home yet, but more and more households have young people in them who see a 3D printer as just another tool, like a hammer or a Web browser. These children know how to have an idea, give it a physical form, and keep making it better. One generation’s magic trick is the next generation’s normal.

As I was leaving Brooklyn Tech, a student chased me out of the building because he wanted an internship at MakerBot.

The truth is, I should have been running after him.

And if you want to understand how things will be made in the future, you should be running after students like that, too.

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Speed and Performance for Automotive Engineers

“Moving faster is everything to us,” says Jeremy Godin, vice president of product for Mishimoto Automotive. The products they make — radiators, racing thermostats, intercoolers — enhance the performance of car engines, so their customers move faster. For car and racing enthusiasts, Mishimoto is almost like a pit crew, replacing their stock parts with better, higher performing products.

But, like a pit crew, the leading manufacturer in aftermarket performance cooling products is always pushing to make their process faster and more efficient. “It’s all about speed to market,” says Godin, who compares the market to a “pie that nobody’s had a slice of yet. First person there gets the whole pie.”

When Godin joined Mishimoto four years ago, some products took as much as two years to come to market. Now the development timeline is “a fraction of that,” he says. “A lot of that is through the tools that we’ve brought on site,” from coordinate measuring machines to 3D printers.

Mishimoto first acquired a Stratasys Dimension uPrint, which allowed the company to rely less on cardboard and sheet metal for prototypes. “A lot of the times that fell short, because you can’t simulate complex geometry with basic sheet metal parts,” says product engineer Steve Wiley. He also saves time, because he can work on other projects while the 3D printer is making a model.

However, the materials were costly — more than $700 for five spools of ABS — such that the engineering team had to consider carefully whether it made sense to 3D print.

Then, earlier this year, Mishimoto bought a MakerBot Replicator Z18. Its massive build volume means that Mishimoto can 3D print larger parts in a single piece, and MakerBot PLA Filament, which costs only a few cents per gram, meant that they could prototype more freely. Given how much Mishimoto relies on 3D printing, “the machine will pay for itself,” says engineering manager Kevin McCardle.

When MakerBot visited Mishimoto’s offices in New Castle, DE, Mishimoto engineers talked through the development of Mishimoto’s Ford Mustang Ecoboost Intercooler; which tests showed that Mishimoto’s Ecoboost intercooler lowers air intake temperature by 35°F (19°C) more than to the Mustang’s stock intercooler.

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Once Mishimoto gets its hands on a new Mustang, it removes the part in question and creates a more efficient part that has the same shape. For the intercooler prototype, Mishimoto made 3D printed end tanks and attached them to a core made from wooden two-by-fours. Once Mishimoto confirmed the fit of the intercooler with a 3D printed prototype, it went straight into production of the end tanks without having to wait to review a sample part.

This process saves Mishimoto about six weeks of development time. That’s six weeks of getting the whole pie on a $475 intercooler. And Mishimoto makes about 150 new products a year, 30% of which involve 3D printing. That’s a lot of pies — and hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales each year that could never have happened without tightening their process.

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“At Mishimoto, five years from now I could see us having a wall of 3D printers,” Godin says. “It will continue to allow us to get to market faster.”

Interested in learning how your company can benefit from a MakerBot Replicator Z18?

LEARN MORE

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3D Print ThinkFun Maker Studio Construction Sets for Free

ThinkFun-kit

With ThinkFun’s Maker Studio Construction Sets, children (and grownups) can transform household items into things like race cars and motorcycles. These sets come with suggested projects but you’re limited only by the boundaries of your imagination.

ThinkFun usually sells its construction sets online and in stores but now, the three Maker Studio Construction Sets are available to 3D print for free on MakerBot Thingiverse, the world’s largest 3D design community. Anyone can download files from the Gears, Winches, and Propellers Sets (including connectors, hubcaps, and hole punches) and create them on a 3D printer, at home or in a classroom, to explore basic engineering and design.

ThinkFun is also sponsoring a Kids Make It Challenge, with a chance at ThinkFun- and MakerBot-branded prizes and at the title of Master Maker. To enter, post a picture of something you made with Maker Studio on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #KidsMakeIt. Entries will be accepted until July 14, 2015, and winners will be announced on the MakerBot blog. Read ThinkFun’s official contest rules, and download the Gears, Winches, and Propellers sets from Thingiverse.

Start Building

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Food Share Wins GE FirstBuild Hack-a-Thon

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The maker community at GE FirstBuild joined forces with MakerBot Thingiverse for the Third Annual Hack-A-Thon at MakerBot’s Brooklyn, NY, headquarters. Inventors, educators, and 3D printing enthusiasts worked over the weekend to “think inside the icebox” — that is, to design features and 3D print prototypes for GE’s USB- and WiFi-enabled refrigerator, ChillHub, using the MakerBot 3D Ecoystem and Raspberry Pi computers provided by Seeed Studio. Six teams of innovators experimented with ChillHub to imagine new features and new possibilities.

On the line? A MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer and two rolls of filament for each member of the winning team. No small potatoes.

The winning team, headed by Bryan Berger of NY Hackathons, was Food Share, a way to display and share food from your refrigerator with neighbors. Food Share can detect freshness — so no pawning off overripe fruit, unless that’s your neighbor’s thing. Food Share would lead to less food waste and maybe more community potlucks.

Other inspired entries included Chiliflix, for movie recommendations based on eating habits; Fridge Pharm, for reminders to take chilled medications; Light Snack Stopper; which gates access between meals with a joystick game; and Pavlov’s Fridge, which unlocks treats when tasks  are completed.

Thanks to all the participants for bringing your A game, and congratulations to Food Share.

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MakerBot in the Classroom: A Resource for Educators

MakerBot in the Classroom: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Design

MakerBot has become an important tool in more than 5,000 schools throughout the United States, and others around the world. Many more teachers would like to introduce 3D printing to help their students learn to collaborate and solve problems, and prepare them for the jobs of the future. To teach something, however, you must first learn it yourself.

For teachers out there who may have never used a 3D printer before, MakerBot has created MakerBot in the Classroom: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Design. This handbook, which also has plenty of useful information for teachers already familiar with 3D printing, is divided into three sections: a primer on 3D printing technology; explanations of how to download, scan, and design models to print, and sample 3D printing projects. Each project introduces a different free 3D design software tool. For example, the Make Your Own Country, which casts students as surveyors of a new land, starts in Tinkercad.

You can download MakerBot in the Classroom for free if you’ve registered your MakerBot Replicator. A sample chapter and project are available free to anyone.

This handbook is part of an ongoing effort to provide better support for 3D printing in classrooms and on campus. Other materials are available at the new MakerBot Education Resource Center.

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Win a MakerBot Replicator for Yourself or Your School

Thingiverse Summer STEAM Challenges

School might be over, but the MakerBot Thingiverse will keep you learning all summer long. Thingiverse is launching five challenges, one for each STEAM subject: science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. The first challenge closes on July 19, and the last closes on August 16, so you get the summer to design, iterate, and learn. The winner of each challenge will win a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer.

Don’t know how to design for 3D printing? We think everyone can learn by using free and accessible tools like MakerBot Printshop, Tinkercad, MeshMixer, OpenSCAD, 123D Design, Sculptris, Sketchup, Morphi for iPad, and Blender.

Your School Can Win, Too

If you’re a schoolteacher or administrator who dreams about what your students could learn if only your school had a MakerBot Replicator, join the Our School Needs A 3D Printer group on Thingiverse. Each STEAM Challenge winner gets to choose a school from the group that will receive a MakerBot Replicator printer as well.

That makes ten lucky winners: five designers and five schools.The Thingiversity Summer STEAM Challenges are open to all ages and skill levels, and sometimes the simplest designs are the best ones.

Learn more >>

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MakerBot Desktop 3.7 | Faster Printing, Better Profiles

Desktop 3.7 Release Blog Header

The release of MakerBot Desktop 3.7 is full of upgrades and new features that’ll streamline and boost your next project. Make sure your download or upgrade your current version of MakerBot Desktop today.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Custom Profiles for Quicker Printing
Certain 3D prints need a little more TLC, and that can mean you‘ll want custom settings that may not apply to all your projects. That’s where the new Custom Profile Editor in MakerBot Desktop 3.7 comes into play. It allows you to edit properties of your print like infill and extruder speed, settings which can be saved as a template for future projects. Quick and Custom tabs let users of all levels create custom settings.

See More, Learn More
Looking to protect your home or business Wi-Fi network? If you’re operating on hidden Wi-Fi, you can still connect your MakerBot Replicator by entering the network name and password into MakerBot Desktop 3.7.

There’s also more data available about your MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder. Open the device preferences window to get stats like temperature, total print time, and more.

Speed It Up
Help your project along by varying the layer height within a single print. Infill, for example, doesn’t need the same polish as the exterior. When different parts of your model can have different layer heights, the result is faster 3D printing with the same high quality.

UPGRADE TODAY

Have some questions? Want to share your latest 3D print with MakerBot? Send a message to [email protected].

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Starter Lab | Design Students Prototype Souvenirs

Willy Wong is a designer and creative director who teaches at the School of Visual Arts and the Parsons School of Design. This spring, Wong taught a collaborative studio, a course in which Parsons students work with industry partners to solve real-world problems. In Wong’s studio, students developed tourism projects celebrating Paterson, NJ, once a proud center of American manufacturing.

For three consecutive sessions, MakerBot hosted Wong and his students, giving them access to a MakerBot Starter Lab to learn about 3D printing and develop their ideas.

Jumpstart 3D Printing

Wong had never before used 3D printers in teaching. “I’m really excited about it, because the design industry has been talking about light manufacturing and prototyping, and students haven’t had access to that type of environment,” he said.

“There needs to be enough equipment for all students to test and explore. It’s not enough to have one computer in a class of 20 students.”

More 3D Printers, More Access

A MakerBot Starter Lab comes with a half dozen 3D printers — four MakerBot Replicators, a MakerBot Replicator Mini, and a Replicator Z18 — and a MakerBot Digitizer. It also includes hardware, accessories, supplies, and training that help organizations get introduced to 3D printing. Starter Labs are fast and easy to implement, and can scale as your 3D printing demands grow.

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Wong expressed the wish that “every student had access” to a 3D printer “so they could all be creating prototypes of their ideas.”

Interested in seeing how your institution can benefit from a MakerBot Starter Lab?

LEARN MORE >>

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MakerBot Stories | A University’s Year of Innovation

When Katherine Wilson decided to apply to graduate school, she looked at what technologies she’d get to use. At the art school at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she said, “I knew there was a strong 3D printing base.”

In her last semester, New Paltz built on that base by opening a MakerBot Innovation Center in the basement of the arts building. With access to 30 MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers, Wilson could experiment as never before.

A year later, Wilson is still at New Paltz, one of three new employees 3D printing with students as well as with local entrepreneurs and companies. “I get to see people realize dreams and goals that they’ve had for years,” says Wilson, now the assistant director of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center. “I get to see students learn new techniques and develop as artists and engineers.”

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In only a year, the MakerBot Innovation Center has had a profound impact on New Paltz students and faculty. It enabled New Paltz to offer a new mechanical engineering major and a two-semester certificate in design and digital fabrication. Ten New Paltz students work in the MakerBot Innovation Center as interns, helping area entrepreneurs to develop their concepts and bring them to market.

Inspired by Snow

Take Rob Kunstadt, a patent lawyer who had an idea for a construction material that, like snow, is light and loose until it’s packed together, and then it locks up like cement. To test and prove his concept, Kunstadt needed more than a thousand hollow dodecahedra — 12-sided shapes.

Kunstadt spent two days in his own shop cutting PVC pipe with a drill press and a band saw, then spent $300 to get the pieces tumbled and smoothed. Still, he could only approximate his desired shape. “There’s no way you’re going to machine a dodecahedron,” he said. “You either need molding or 3D printing.”

The 3D print services he found quoted a price of $1 per dodecahedron — or $1,500 for 1,500 pieces. An injection mold would cost $10,000, and require a minimum run of tens of thousands of pieces. Injection molding might eventually be more economical, but Kunstadt didn’t even know if his idea would work yet, and didn’t want to waste precious capital.

“People starting businesses have very little funds,” he says. “Whatever they can save will make their resources go further. You’ve got to try a lot of things.”

Then Kunstadt saw a local newspaper story about the MakerBot Innovation Center at New Paltz, about 40 minutes south of his home in Woodstock. New Paltz gave Kunstadt a quote of 30 cents apiece, or about $400 for 1,500 pieces. Not only were the MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printers at New Paltz able to cheaply make the shape he wanted, but the dodecahedra were 35% lighter than the ones Kunstadt could make himself.

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What’s more, the ease of visiting the New Paltz campus eliminates the challenges of working with vendors in China: remote communication, expensive misunderstandings. Kunstadt, who has worked with inventors for 35 years, sees “a huge benefit” in having a MakerBot Innovation Center nearby.

Funding Yields More Funding

Initial funding for New Paltz’s MakerBot Innovation Center came quickly, in the form of two $250,000 grants, from a local foundation and an individual philanthropist. “We took those pieces, built a curriculum, got started on things,” says New Paltz President Donald Christian. “And with that momentum were able to build into a SUNY 2020 grant.” The $10 million challenge grant is paying for a new engineering building and innovation hub. New Paltz had applied unsuccessfully for SUNY 2020 funding once before, and the MakerBot Innovation Center helped put their application over the top this time.

The MakerBot Innovation Center has had a “remarkable impact on our campus, on our students, on the way we are perceived in the region and many of the ways we interact with and support the Hudson Valley in New York,” says Christian.

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Throughout the year, President Christian meets with groups of New Paltz students to ask and answer questions. He wants to know what they like best. At one of these gatherings, a young man glowed about his internship at the MakerBot Innovation Center. As Christian tells it, the student said, “‘It’s so cool for me to work on a real-world problem that industry wants us to solve, and I’m working with other students.’ And, he said, ‘I’m a first-year engineering major. I never would have guessed that I would have an experience like this in my first year.’”

The rest of New Paltz has also been pleased. “3D is new enough, exciting enough, innovative enough that that in and of itself has brought more focus to the institution beyond 3D,” Christian says.

“Businesses, academia, media, the general public, government officials — all of those folks are now being pulled into SUNY New Paltz,” adds Laurence Gottlieb, CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation. “This is exactly what we wanted to happen.”

What can a MakerBot Innovation Center do for your institution?

Learn more >>

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