Posts Tagged ‘3d printing’

Could You Really Manufacture Your Own Electronics?

What will our electronics look like when we are each making the manufacturing decisions for our own gadgets? And when you only need to make the one that you like, not one that ten million people will like?

That’s the question posed by Peter Krige, Alexander du Preez, and Hannes Harms at the Royal College of Art in London.1  Their O.System concept is like an online mix-and-match catalog of electronic components that you manufacture individually — with 3D printing — to suit your needs.

Here’s how they see the process working:

In this system, people select their electronic products online. They can then visit their local O.Store to talk to the technician about the purchase and add personal touches. O.Products can constantly evolve through update cards in the post, while old electronic cards are sent back for re-manufacture or recycling.


Like Creative Applications writes, the idea that you just make an updated card or other component and send your old one back helps address the problem of electronics becoming obsolete. This sounds like the customized 3D-printed robots project from MIT’s CSAIL, and also like Bobby Genalo’s Art Phones project.

The world is really starting to think in terms of individual, on-demand products. Cool. But what is the role of the industrial designer? Do we all have it in us to think about user experience? Where’s the middle ground for people who really do just want products off the shelf?


  1. double checked the spelling of these names []
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3D Modeling/Printing Camp For Kids: Price Dropped!


There is still time to enroll your child in a very important learning opportunity, and good news: the price has dropped and the eligibility has expanded!

NYU Poly’s Center for K-12 STEM Education and MakerBot are combining powers to get kids introduced to 3D modeling and 3D printing. This is an excellent chance to give them a leg up with a set of skills that will become very advantageous in the near future.

Here are the details:

Where: NYU-Poly Campus
6 MetroTech Center
Brooklyn, NY
Room RH 214

When: July 9th-13th, 2012 from 9am to 3pm daily

Who: Ages 10-13

Cost:  $500 $400/student (includes a lunch voucher good in our cafeteria)

Email [email protected] to find out more.

Click here to sign up!


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Now You Can Make Your Own DIWire


Here’s a morning treat for you!

Marco from Pensa has posted a new how-to video for building your own DIWire, including a parts list and all the code (on a Google code site). Best news yet: the files for the parts you can MakerBot are all available on Thingiverse!

We posted about the DIWire a few weeks back with a lot of enthusiasm for Pensa’s goal of bringing down the costs of a CNC wire bender. It is so awesome to see that they’ve gone the extra mile and shared all the files and know how with everyone. And best yet, they’ve noted ways that people can help improve the project:

There are many ways to improve it. For instance, the wire straightener was good enough for now, but if you google wire straightener, you’ll see how its usually done. Also, the motors we “spec’ed” are the ones we found in a bin in our shop. They are pricey because they are real accurate, but not so powerful. Right now, with these motors can only bend 1/8” aluminum rod, and the 3D printed parts also would need to get stronger in order to bend more substantial material. So, if you make one and improve upon it, let us know, we’ll post your improvements for everyone else to see.

Check out the Pensa blog for more details on the project, and some other nice videos.


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This Tripod Adapter Was Made On A MakerBot

Speaking of whether or not you could MakerBot a “real” product1 , here’s a fairly thorough little case study of one company using a Thing-O-Matic to manufacture a final product. Conclusion?

3D printers can make “Real” products
As of today, people will pay for 3D printed parts and as we develop new techniques for combining it with digital manufacturing technologies, such as laser cutting and water jet machining, our products will become more complex. We believe that our only limitation is our imagination.

I Heart Robotics, who are also in Brooklyn, give a great breakdown of all the costs that go into making a TriK Tripod Adapter (for a Kinect), which sells on their store for $19.95.

They say the only complaint they’ve gotten so far was when they couldn’t make the adapter in the color a customer wanted. That’s a pretty easy fix.

It’s also cool to see these guys using their Thing-O-Matic to produce a part where they’re not quite sure of the market. You don’t have to do too much market research if you can make the product on demand, and if you only sell 20 of them, you probably don’t want to sink a bunch of money into injection molding costs. They’ve sold 56 adapters since buying their Thing-O-Matic in September, 2011, which nearly pays for the machine itself. As they note in the blog post, with 107 units sold overall, they certainly could never have profited from another method of manufacturing.


  1. okay, we were speaking about this a while ago… []
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Surgeon Finds Big Savings With MakerBot, 3D Printing

Get a load of this title: “How 3D printing built a new face.”

Wired UK posted a slideshow and brief last week as a preview to an article in the upcoming July issue about the use of 3D printing for an inspiring face transplant, including bones! This is amazing, especially since the patient was able to speak afterwards.


<Warning> Some of the links below may present some graphic pictures of surgery, but they’re not too bad, and definitely worth the read.

And then I remembered Nicholas Giovinco, DPM, a MakerBot user who has made it his business to show others how a combination of 3D printing technologies can significantly increase the knowledge a surgeon takes into  the operating room, and therefore significantly decrease the time a procedure takes.

Down in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Giovinco, a foot and ankle surgeon, recognized the huge potential of using a MakerBot to get a good look at a bone structure before operating on it. This is hugely important in one particular kind of surgery he performs, Charcot Foot reconstruction. I’m not a doctor, so I’ll give you my best understanding of this and refer you to Nick’s own incredible documentation: basically this is a foot that has collapsed, and the patient doesn’t necessarily feel it because of neuropathy caused by other conditions like diabetes.

Sufferers of the Charcot condition don’t give the surgeon a predictable operation. Their feet are all different, and just like in the case of the face transplant, it pays big time to know what that foot looks like before you have to cut it open. Here’s the procedure, and notice how remarkably inexpensive this is.

— Take a CT scan. Doctors are going to order one of these anyway, so there’s a bunch of good data just waiting to be used.
— Run the scan through OsiriX, a free application for viewing DICOM files (DICOM is a medical imaging file standard). This allows you to turn the layers from a CT scan into a 3D model.
— Once there’s a 3D model of the bone structure, it can be manipulated in a program like Lightwave or Maya. A surgeon can basically do the surgery on the screen.
— Make the model and practice the cuts with surgical saws.

Dr. Giovinco’s specific process involves using a MakerBot to get the model just right before making the “practice” foot on another kind of 3D printer at Freeside, a hackerspace in Atlanta. In fact, the participating members at Freeside were so instrumental in the whole experiment that their names were included at the top of the paper when it was published in The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery.

The most impressive part of this may not be how incredibly inexpensive the planning process was — it cost Dr. Giovinco and his team about $40, not the $1500 that some services charge for bone models — but how much time and money the ability to plan may have saved the patient and medical team. Having an anatomically correct model of the pre-operative foot and the post-operative foot means knowing exactly how this surgery will proceed without having to tinker around at all. Also, and this is huge, it let the team pre-assemble the Ilizarov construct (a cage thing that holds everything in place afterwards) beforehand, which takes at least an hour of surgery time on its own.


Two take-home points here. This is an inspiring example of how 3D printing more generally may play a huge role in bringing down the costs and risks of medical procedures. But closer to home, this is another in a long string of examples of people in the MakerBot community helping each other to make great things happen. Check out this exchange of Google Group messages that kicked things off:

And the rest is history. Now Nick is traveling the country discussing this work — all part of being a surgical resident, he tells us — and explaining to his colleagues how efficient a work flow like this can be. When you’re working with diabetic patients, it’s all the more important that surgery time be reduced as much as possible.

Our hats are off to Nick and the whole team involved in this work. It’s an excellent example of the DIY spirit improving — and maybe even saving — lives.


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NYU Poly 3D Modeling/Printing Workshop For Middle School Students




If you’re a parent in the New York City region, take a look at this great summer workshop being organized by NYU Poly. “On the Move” is a week-long program targeted to students entering 6th, 7th, and 8th grades in the fall, and it is focused on 3D modeling and 3D printing. These are the skills that will set the next generation of creative kids apart from their peers. Get them started now!

We’re especially proud to recommend this program, since the MakerBot Education Team, Liz Arum and Jon Santiago, will be leading the instruction. Here’s some info from the website.

This workshop will focus on 3D Printing, one of the most disruptive technologies around. 3D printers allow anyone at any skill level to become producers, inventors and artists, and they are changing the way we create and learn.  During this one-week intensive workshop students will learn how to make and personalize 3D models with free, readily available software like Tinkercad, OpenSCAD and Blender. Our theme will be “On the Move,” and we will be focusing on making gears, interlocking parts and other physical mechanisms to make our creations, walk, shake, dance and fly. No prior modeling, computer or printing experience is necessary.

Where: NYU-Poly Campus
6 MetroTech Center
Brooklyn, NY
Room RH 214

When: July 9th-13th, 2012 from 9am to 3pm daily

Cost:  $500.00/student (includes a lunch voucher good in our cafeteria)

Questions? Email Susan Hermon at [email protected]


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Does 3D Printing Help Or Hurt The Art In Architecture?

Tim Moore at ArchitectureSource poses the question, “Is 3D Printing Taking the Artistry out of Architecture?”

That’s a big question, and he’s applying it to just one part of the process, model making. Tim argues that 3D printing is just like a new technology in any other field. It helps the artists do their great work more quickly, and it helps the non-artists do their not-great work more quickly.

I’m not an architect, but isn’t it also possible that having a technology that speeds up your work can also help you improve faster? The whole post kind of suggests that the model making is the entire goal in architecture, but I always imagined it as a means to an end, a way to share your ideas with others. In my opinion, the quicker someone can tell you “that sucks, try again,” the better.

PrettySmallThings discussed how she uses her MakerBot to make models in her work as a theater set designer at our most recent MUG New York meeting (and has written a fantastic series right here on this blog). She told us that she basically uses her Replicator to make the things she doesn’t have the time to make or won’t enjoy making. However, if one element of a model is easier and faster to do by hand, she makes it by hand.

Also, model making is not the only way that 3D printing is being used in architecture. There’s also the question of building actual structures with 3D printing.


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MakerBot: Part Of The Designer’s Tool Belt

Posted by on Friday, May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve shared the video before of Toronto agency Teehan+Lax making its first thing on a MakerBot. Now they have a new video focused on a smart milk carton that alerts you when you’re running low on milk, and they prototyped it on a MakerBot.1


On one hand, having a MakerBot gives you the power to create things for yourself, and Thingiverse is filled with thousands of examples. But then you have people who use it to create things for others, especially the first-through-tenth versions of a new thing. Teehan+Lax is not just making pretty things, but also real world products, with The Replicator. Sweet!

I would say, “this is going to become a trend,” but it already has. I just saw this post from twitter: the Swedish design group People People now have a Replicator, too.

We are finally up and running with our Makerbot Replicator! It will be a great tool for us making prototypes in the various stages of the design process.


Look how they’ve marked their Left and Right extruders. Let’s hope People People will be showing us some sweet Dualstrusion sometime soon! Speaking of, I’d love to know what colors design agencies use the most when they’re MakerBotting.


  1. hat tip Shapeways Blog []
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Finding The Right 3D Modeling Tool For Your MakerBot; Bonzai 3D Pros And Cons

Posted by on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

On his blog my plastic future, Gregg Wygonik lays out why Bonzai 3D (B3D) is a good tool for modeling for your MakerBot, and maybe better than SketchUp Pro. Gregg says he wanted to find an alternative, in case SketchUp goes through some changes after Trimble takes it over from Google.

Sketch Up Pro and B3D run about the same in terms of price (just under $500 for both). However, he says his files from SketchUp occasionally have some problems when you try to slice them in ReplicatorG. No such problems in B3D:

Half the time I would have to rework parts I made in SketchUp that had holes or other simple design bits due to errors with slicing in RepG; no such issue with the many things I threw at it from B3D. Interestingly B3D has the ability to “diagnose” various potential problems when you export a STL file, but even with it reporting issues with a few of my objects, I had no problems with slicing/printing.

Here’s Gregg’s Pro/Con list for Bonzai 3D.

Things I liked:

  • ability to draw lines and primitives as walls (think: no need to draw an extruded hexagon followed by another one a little smaller and push/pull to remove the middle, just draw an extruded hexagon with a set wall size and done!);
  • some pretty sweet additions to regular booleans (slicing, object and surface splitting);
  • NURBS with some really cool blending tools, in a much more approachable interface than Blender;
  • 4-up “old school” view (top, left, right, perspective all at once);
  • helix creation (screw tops!!);
  • rounded or faceted edges with myriad settings;
  • right-click on any tool and set a keyboard shortcut;
  • and my new favorite: thicken, which takes any non-solid and turns it into a solid of a specified width

Things I didn’t like:

  • some features require the setting of custom workplanes while some don’t and you don’t know until it throws an error dialog (workplanes are all new to me, but I like overall);
  • inconsistent workplane handling (“lock workplane” sometimes doesn’t lock, and you have to use “save custom workplane”);
  • adding dimensions to a part is hit-or-miss whether or not it will measure between the points you click or the entire edge you’re touching, while “measure distance” works perfect but doesn’t leave the dimensions on screen;
  • too much reliance on hovering to open up tool groups and additional options (small gripe)

More here.

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MakerBot Your Hobby: More Ideas For Your Aquarium

Posted by on Monday, May 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Shane Graber has another fantastic post on using a MakerBot for your aquarium hobby. In case you missed it, check out his last post about making various elements necessary for coral fragging. It’s so useful, and a great example of how a person can discover a new application for a MakerBot.

This latest article from Shane is helpful especially because of the cost comparison he provides. While you could buy a brine shrimp hatchery for “anywhere from $10 to $15,” you could easily make one using his design files and a MakerBot for around $2. If you need to make multiple hatcheries, that’s over 80% savings that could really add up.

The file is on Thingiverse here and the assembly is a breeze.

Brine Shrimp Hatchery by sgraber. Download, Make, Use.


Another use for a MakerBot Shane has found is making your own sponge filters. The process for making this on your own is just as simple.

This sponge filter requires three components:

  1. 3D printed base
  2. A 8 inch length of 3/8 inch rigid airline tubing
  3. Two zip ties
  4. Porous sponge salvaged from an old powerhead or purchased from your local fish store

Download the model from Thingiverse and print it. Obtain the additional parts listed above and assemble it by pushing the rigid 3/8 inch airline tubing into the 3D printed base, wrap the sponge around the central tube, and then zip tie it into place. Now simply hook up your airline and air pump and you are done. Use it as you would any other sponge filter in your larval tanks.

Sponge Filter for aquarium by sgraber

What hobby do you use your MakerBot for? Tell me.


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