Posts Tagged ‘3d printing’

3D Printing Tissues and Organs with MakerBot

Let’s face it. The human body is an imperfect machine working in an imperfect world. For example, damaged heart tissue cannot repair itself. So anyone with a serious enough heart issue must wait for a transplant. Over 4,000 Americans are on the waiting list today.

Adam Feinberg, Professor at Carnegie Mellon and his colleagues are paving the way for a new breakthrough treatment using MakerBot’s 3D printers: custom-made tissues and organs for your body.

As their findings in the Journal of Science Advances demonstrate, Feinberg and his colleagues have cleared the first hurdle to this treatment. Before you can grow living cells into a tissue or organ, you first need a scaffold in the shape of an artery, organ, or tissue onto which to grow living cells. The problem is, collagen, alginate, and other proteins that might work won’t hold their shape if you just 3D print them. Read the rest of this entry »

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MakerBot 3D Printers Now Print 30% Faster

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.17.09 PM

At MakerBot we continuously improve our products to provide our customers with the best possible 3D printing experience. The latest example is MakerBot Desktop 3.8 where you can now 3D print designs 30% faster and with stronger structural support.

Upgrade Now!

“MakerBot’s latest software update allows our customers to turn their ideas into physical objects even faster, combining faster print speed with one click 3D printing,” said Nadav Goshen, president of MakerBot. “MakerBot’s leading 3D printing Ecosystem connects hardware with software and apps to provide a seamless 3D printing experience that is unmatched in the industry.”

Better, Faster Printing

MakerBot Desktop offers several different infill patterns that you can use to optimize your prints for strength or speed. In MakerBot Desktop 3.8, we’ve added the diamond infill pattern. In our testing with this pattern, most designs, like this Brilliant Cut Diamond by Cymon, will print stronger and 30% faster than on MakerBot Desktop 3.6.*

MakerBot has an in-house team dedicated to continuously improving print speed and quality by developing new slicing algorithms. Slicing is the process of turning a 3D design into a 3D printable file. The result of this team’s work is the new diamond infill pattern, which allows the extruder to move faster during turns. Diamond infill is also extruded more consistently than other infill patterns, making it structurally stronger.

The new speed improvements are a result of the diamond infill pattern in conjunction with the variable layer height feature introduced in MakerBot Desktop 3.7. With variable layer height printing, the inside of a 3D print, or the infill, can be 3D printed at a thicker layer height than the outer layers, or the shell. The more your object is printed at that higher layer height, the faster the print will be overall.

Better Print Time Estimates

Want to know when your print will finish? MakerBot Desktop 3.8 features a new and improved algorithm for print time estimation, so your print will be finished when you expect it to be finished.

One Click 3D Printing

MakerBot Desktop 3.8 streamlines the print flow to give you one-click 3D printing. You no longer have to wait for slicing to complete before being prompted to start your print. Your print will start immediately after your model is sliced. This release is all about getting you from the design to a 3D print faster.

Update Details

Make sure to upgrade to the latest version of MakerBot Desktop today if you have a MakerBot Replicator, Replicator 2, MakerBot Replicator 2X, or any Fifth Generation MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer.

Upgrade Now!

Thing-O-Matic Users: you’ll want to stay with MakerBot Desktop 3.7 or earlier.

After installing MakerBot Desktop 3.8, you should also upgrade your 3D printer to Firmware 1.8. Taking advantage of the fact that MakerBot 3D Printers are Wi-Fi connected, Firmware 1.8 allows you to update to future firmware versions right from your 3D printer.

About MakerBot Desktop 3.8 and Firmware 1.8

MakerBot Desktop provides a complete, free 3D printing solution for discovering, managing, and sharing your 3D prints. From MakerBot Desktop, you can access more than a million free designs in MakerBot Thingiverse, the world’s largest 3D design community.
MakerBot’s Firmware allows you to take advantage of the latest features and improvements for your MakerBot 3D printer.


*Only applies to 3D prints with infill.

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Celebrating a Maker Milestone: 1 Million Uploads on MakerBot’s Thingiverse

Thingiverse 1 Million Designs Uploaded

Thingiverse, the world’s largest 3D design community, just reached a landmark one million uploads and 200 million downloads! What began in 2008 as a website exclusively for the burgeoning maker community has grown into a robust gateway to 3D printing and 3D design for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Educators, professional engineers, designers, and 3D printing enthusiasts are all taking part.

“We believe that the impact Thingiverse has had on 3D printing and 3D design in its seven years is tremendous,” said Nadav Goshen, president of MakerBot. “Thingiverse has helped popularize 3D printing by creating a vibrant community and making it easy to discover, make and share 3D designs.  It has become the go-to place on the Internet for anyone interested in 3D design and 3D printing. We are excited to see what people come up with next.”

MakerBot founded Thingiverse in a Brooklyn-based hacker space so there was a place on the Internet where people could share designs for physical objects. At the time, such a site didn’t exist. Most of Thingiverse’s first users were small-scale manufacturers, engineers, or people who owned a 3D printer. During its first six months, the site averaged between 30 and 40 uploads per week. Today, Thingiverse boasts more than 2 million active monthly users and 1.7 million downloads per month. It is also the home to a number of competitions like the Assistive Technology and Fall STEAM Challenges, which invite community members to collaborate and create across the globe.

MakerBot Thingiverse has evolved from a community geared around simply sharing 3D designs on the web into a broad community of collaborators. One of many milestones in the site’s history was the 2013 introduction of Thingiverse Customizer, which allows Thingiverse users to easily customize existing 3D designs. Customizer not only made 3D design more accessible for those who aren’t familiar with professional 3D design software but also opened the door for more collaboration among its users.

One example of the collaborations on Thingiverse is the creation of the Robohand. Through Thingiverse, a woodworker from Johannesburg, South Africa, and a theatrical prop designer from Seattle, Washington, were able to work together across 10,000 miles to create a prosthetic hand that has been used to better the lives of hundreds of people across the globe. Now, a larger community of doctors, hobbyists, educators and engineers on Thingiverse continue to improve upon the original Robohand design, with the goal of enabling low cost prosthetics for people who otherwise wouldn’t get them.

Thingiverse also offers a glimpse into the use of 3D printing today. Popular Thingiverse categories include Ikea hacks, fashion items, toys and games, and art. Some of the most popular uploads of all time are the Low Poly Mask, the Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears! and practical items like the fully assembled 3D printable wrench and an earbud holder. To celebrate one million uploads, MakerBot is giving away 10 large popular prints from Thingiverse. To enter the giveaway, simply fill out this form.

Educators across the country are using Thingiverse to teach their students problem solving and collaboration to encourage them to apply ideas and designs to real-world problems. According to MakerBot’s market research, 79 percent of teachers who use MakerBot 3D printers use Thingiverse in the classroom*.  MakerBot also offers dedicated resources for educators on Thingiverse, such as design challenges and Jumpstart, which serves as an introduction to a number of free design programs that can help people bring their ideas to the physical world.  

Find more information about Thingiverse.


* Online surveys were conducted over a period of four months with 1300+ respondents using MakerBot 3D printers in an educational institution.

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MakerBot 3D Printed Products with Voodoo Manufacturing


Ever need 150 custom napkin holders, or 5,000 keychains for your corporate event? How about a few hundred snowflakes for your retail display? Wedding favors, custom widgets, company swag? MakerBot can help.

We partner with a network of vendors who rapidly 3D print products, logos, models, or parts to your specification.

Voodoo Manufacturing, one of our top vendors, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how your projects come to 3D printed life.

Who is Voodoo?
Voodoo was founded this year by a team of former MakerBot engineers. With more than 100 MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers, they use the MakerBot Innovation Center Management Platform to manage their workflow, and they can help us help you with just about any project you dream up.

How does it work?
First, check out the MakerBot 3D Printed Products page. Then, gather your details and request a quote for anything between 50 and 10,000 units. We will forward your request to a partner like Voodoo.

They will then set up an introductory phone call with you to determine the scope of your project and answer questions. If needed, they have designers who can help turn your concept into a ready-to-print design. Based on your specifications, they’ll put together a comprehensive quote. Most projects are completed within one week, while large orders of 10,000 parts can take up to three weeks.

So, what are you waiting for?
To get the filament spool rolling, request a quote now.

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Making a Difference for Assistive Technology

Kim was born without arms and legs, and needed to pick things up with her mouth. Zebreda needed a way to feed herself after her assisted living facility would no longer cover the expense of a helper, while Shari needed a way to transfer herself from a wheelchair.

Every person with a disability has a unique experience, and no solution fits all. That’s where TOM comes in.

Tikkun Olam Makers is an Israel-based nonprofit whose name means “repairing the world.” TOM brings together “need-knowers” like Kim or Zebreda with experts like mechanical engineers or exoskeleton scientists. Over the course of 72 hours, the teams solve real problems that the need-knowers experience in their daily lives.

MakerBot was inspired and honored to be part of TOM’s fourth and most recent such event in San Francisco last month, where more than 120 people came together at TechShop to form 18 teams and solve 18 problems. TOM partnered with and United Cerebral Palsy of North Bay, which identified the need-knowers, while tools and support were provided by MakerBot, TechShop, and others.

With the need-knower to test and identify pain points, and so many tools available, teams were able to iterate quickly. Many tried out several failed concepts before they landed on a viable solution.

For example, Shari is able to pull but not push, so many designs that would work for other wheelchair transfers didn’t work for her. And with Kim, one prototype for a grasping device put too much strain on her neck; another felt uncomfortable in her mouth.

If one team needed the skills of another team’s experts, TOM would connect them to collaborate. That way, the teams could arrive at as many solutions as possible by the end of 72 hours.

TOM recognizes that there is a cost to not integrating the disabled population into society. The solutions explored at the TOM Makeathon began with one person’s challenge but many will apply to others. About 15% of the world population, or one billion people, live with a disability, according to the World Health Organization. In the end, though, helping even one person to live better is a victory.

As one of the need-knowers told us, “I wake up every morning, and I can guarantee myself that I’m gonna have obstacles… it’s the little things during those days that can help make those challenges a little easier — that makes the biggest difference.”

All but one of the teams used a MakerBot Replicator during the 72-hour makeathon. The many 3D printable solutions are shared on Thingiverse and can be scaled or modified to help another person with a similar challenge somewhere else in the world.

Have great ideas about how you can make someone’s life a little easier? Check out our latest Thingiverse Challenge to design something great for a fellow human.

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Five 3D Printers for Five Schools


This summer, we asked Thingiverse users to put on their thinking caps for five Summer STEAM Challenges, which called for 3D printable designs in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. At the same time, schools across the country made their cases for why their school needed a 3D printer.

The STEAM challenge winners each received a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer of their own, plus the chance to give one to a participating school.

These five deserving schools have big plans for their 3D printers, and we’re so excited to see what they make.

1. The Make it Float challenge winner, David Choi, sent a MakerBot Replicator to Lincoln Park High School, in Chicago, IL. Lincoln Park piloted a 3D printing and physical computing program in which students train to teach others, and this year, they’re going to roll out the curriculum to 1500 students.

2. Citrus Hills Intermediate School in Corona, CA, was chosen by the Light it Up challenge winner, German mechanical engineering student Christoph Queck. The school has just welcomed technology teacher Leanne Edwards, who has a background in 3D modeling, and will use its MakerBot Replicator to supplement her curriculum in design, science, math, and history.

“This really allows students’ designs to come alive and their excitement to grow exponentially as they see their hard work come to fruition,” says Edwards.

3. Catch the Wind winner Mike Blakemore gave a MakerBot Replicator to Almaden County School in San Jose, CA. The middle school has been running successful 3D printing electives with a borrowed printer, and plans to use their new MakerBot Replicator to devote a whole 12-week period to 3D printing design and creation.

“More students will have a chance to create more than one iteration of a prototype, which is an especially important part of the design thinking model,” says Mary Beth Gay, the Director of Technology at Almaden County Schools.

4. See the World challenge winner Chris L. sent a MakerBot Replicator to the residential Illinois School for the Deaf, whose students plan to customize and 3D print cochlear implants and hearing aids with the help of their expert audiology, design, and IT staff.

5. Build a Castle winner Will Webber chose Georgia Connections Academy, a virtual charter school that wants to build a mobile 3D printing lab to travel around the Peach State and bring hands-on STEM experiences to their community of 4,000 students.

Nearly 90 schools entered for a chance to receive a 3D printer, and the recipients were chosen from this list of 10 finalists.

Thanks to all who participated, and congratulations to the winning designers and schools.

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7 Life Skills You Can Teach with a 3D Printer


Learning traditional subjects with 3D printing teaches students practical lessons, like modeling in 3D design software, but it also helps kids develop crucial life skills.

As Randy Asher, the Brooklyn Technical High School principal, says, “It’s not about teaching the tool, but about using the tool to teach.”

Brooklyn Tech, the largest high school for STEM subjects in the United States, incorporated six MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers into its curriculum in 2012. Now the school has over 20.

Asher knows that students with access to 3D printing learn how to create a 3D model, how to orient a print, and how to level the build plate. He knows this hands-on approach helps them gain a fuller, lasting grasp of science, technology, engineering, and math concepts.

He also knows that the skills a student needs to achieve success in school, work, and life go beyond the classroom, and that these skills can be gained through the use of 3D printing in the curriculum. Here’s our roundup of the top seven:

1. There are many ways to learn.
Students can learn about history, for example, from a book or a documentary, but a 3D printer transforms this topic into a tactile experience. Students can interact with 3D printed models in real time, stimulating their imagination and deepening their understanding.

Teacher Heather Calabro of Mid-Pacific Institute of Hawaii showcased this when she asked her ninth graders to pretend they were a person involved in World War II and had them design an artifact related to that historical figure. The artifacts came together to form what Calabro calls a “biographical timeline” that gave both students and visitors a different understanding of the past.

2. Think critically to solve problems.
Identifying pain points and then iterating until you find a working solution is a process taught across schools and disciplines. At the all-boys Browning School in New York, students use 3D printing to learn engineering concepts and design basics.

Jeremy Sambuca, the former director of academic technology at Browning, says:

We’re in a society where winning and being perfect is going to get you into a good college. And with engineering, those concepts are very difficult because your product is not always going to come out perfect. Allowing the boys to troubleshoot their way through it is making them better problem-solvers.

Hands-on practice in real time helps students become invested not just in learning the design process but in making it a habit that stretches beyond class assignments.

3. Resilience builds confidence. And confidence is important to succeed.
Going through multiple iterations of a design allows kids to fail early and often. Sambuca says that using 3D printers to learn the design process is “making [the students] more resilient. So that they can build confidence in themselves knowing that, hey, it’s OK to fail.”

3D printing helps students to see failure as an opportunity to persist and succeed. Empowered to control a project themselves, students necessarily form a sense of leadership, ownership, and pride. Check out how Browning uses MakerBot to empower their students.

4. Competition can be healthy.
Eighth graders at A. MacArthur Barr Middle School in Nanuet, NY, use 3D printing as part of their yearly CO2 drag race, led by technology teacher Vinny Garrison. Students create lightweight race cars, learning the principles of engineering and design — and the principle of healthy competition. They use their 3D printers to design faster moving wheels.

It’s a project the kids look forward to all year, and one they remember, says Garrison.
Check out how 3D printing gets kids across the finish line.

5. Collaboration is necessary.
Brooklyn Technical High School’s civil engineering club designed a hydroelectric dam that harvests kinetic energy from flowing water with a 3D printed turbine, then converts that energy into electricity. To accomplish this smoothly and successfully, they distributed tasks such as project leadership, design, and photography according to each student’s strengths.

6. Communicate clearly.
North Carolina fifth grade teacher Kelly Hines says her students learned communication skills just by having a 3D printer in their classroom, because they had to explain the printer to curious classroom visitors.

7. Have empathy for others.
The 3D printer also unearthed empathy and social awareness, Hines told teacher and author Vicki Davis. When her students saw the Robohand and other prosthetics, Hines says, they saw their MakerBot Replicator as a tool for becoming more aware of the needs of others, and learning how they could help.

Any lesson plan will teach math and science concepts. But when students have access to 3D printers, they can pick up skills they will use on the job and in life.

To teach your students life skills with 3D printing, try starting here.

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The Oregon Pint Runneth Over

Posted by on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

With roots in Portland, North Drinkware founders Nic Ramirez, Matt Capozzi, and Leigh Capozzi wanted to showcase the things that they — and most Oregonians — love about their state, specifically craft beer and lush mountains. Like all great ideas, their custom-made pint glass with a replica of Mount Hood in the base now seems obvious.

The Kickstarter community thought so too: North Drinkware’s Oregon Pint reached its $15,000 target in five hours and fifteen minutes, and the campaign went on to raise more than $500,000 by the time it closed in March 2015.

Kickstarter’s project rules call for “explicit demos of a working prototype.” So the North Drinkware team combined 3D technologies with the old-school craft of glassblowing to make a physical proof of concept.

They took 3D data of Mount Hood, the state’s highest peak, from the United States Geological Survey, and mocked up a digital model of it in the base of a pint glass that they had designed themselves. Then they 3D printed the completed glass design on a MakerBot Replicator to develop the plaster molds that shaped the first glasses.

“By using a MakerBot, we were able to do five iterations for almost nothing, versus, if we had made five graphite molds, it would have cost $20,000,” said Ramirez.

With overwhelming backing in place, North Drinkware needed to go into production on a scale much larger than anticipated. “We got to the point where we imagined we would be in five years in five days,” he said.

Scaling up quickly can uncover pain points in manufacturing, and North Drinkware needed to invent some processes as they went. For example, sometimes a glass needs to be ground at the lip after it’s been flame-polished. In this instance, the team designed a 3D printed fixture to hold the bottom of the glass and keep it level as it’s ground. One more flame polish, and that glass is ready to be shipped.

The first Kickstarter backers received their Oregon Pint glasses in May.

Aside from finding harmony between an age-old craft and emerging technologies, North Drinkware built a new kind of local operation with both handmade and manufactured elements. They also created six new jobs, giving back to the community in a way they hadn’t expected.

To get started, they say, “Kickstarter was the big accelerant. To get to the proof of concept, MakerBot was critical.”

And next? Eventually, they plan to offer glasses with a signature landmark in other states, including Washington, Vermont, California, and Colorado.

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Innovative Patients Help Themselves


A missed connecting flight in Chicago meant that the Arkansas leg of my 11-week, 22-state Listening Tour was unfortunately restricted to listening. I called in to a meeting with the EAST Initiative, which provides students with 3D printers and other technology to learn through projects that serve their communities.

And at the Innovation Hub, a makerspace in North Little Rock, I missed meeting Mike Kelley, a member who came by to use the MakerBot Replicator Z18 to take care of himself.

Kelley has a denegerative spinal disorder. He was at the Innovation Hub that morning to print a 3D model of his cervical spine, the section just below the neck. He started with a recent CT scan, which takes a lot of two-dimensional pictures, and found free software online that converts those slices into a 3D printable file. A network engineer at Cisco, Kelley had never used a 3D printer before, but he likes to make things in his shop at home, and he quickly got a handle on the MakerBot 3D Ecosystem and created a replica of his upper spine.

Kelley plans to bring the model of his spine to his next doctor’s appointment. In the meantime, friends can now see how his bones are worn down, and they seem to understand better that he’s hurting. “For a guy that will be 52 later this month, I think I’m very healthy,” says Kelley, who is a competitive weightlifter. “People don’t realize that sometimes I’m just sucking it up and getting through the day.”

The model also has helped Kelley come to grips with his own condition. He considers himself a visual person, and he had trouble deciphering the CT scan. 3D printing, he says, “brings back that mechanical approach to things.” Doctors have more practice reading CT scans, but 3D printed models are more clear, and can lead to better informed decisions.

Kelley is one of many people who have found their way to desktop 3D printing to manage their own medical problems or those of their loved ones. After 6-week-old Ari needed an emergency operation on her walnut-sized heart, her mother, Anne Garcia, started a nonprofit called OpHeart so that planning with 3D printed heart models becomes the standard for surgery on young children. When Michael Balzer’s wife needed a brain tumor removed, he printed a model of her skull and sent it to her surgeon, who was then able to perform a less invasive surgery. A Hodgkin’s patient printed out models of his tumor when it was discovered, and again after radiation and chemotherapy made it shrink. Researchers are modifying the MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer to look into custom treatments, from administering the right amount of medication to replacing sections of windpipe. And of course there is Robohand, which began as a way to help one man and has grown into a global effort to provide low-cost prosthetics.

When it comes to 3D printing, doctors can get good ideas from patients, just as teachers can learn a lot from their students. Kelley says he told some doctor friends about his spine model, and they now want to know how he made it. Desktop 3D printing can make the worrisome world of medicine more concrete and accessible, and break down barriers between doctors and patients.

The same user-centered principle is behind the Bay Area Makeathon for Assistive Technology. We are proud to be the 3D printing partner for the event, which is hosted by TOM, UCP of the North Bay, and At the Makeathon, people with skills such as product design, coding, and 3D printing will be collaborating with people who understand the needs of people with disabilities, including the people with disabilities themselves. We invited Kelley to join us at the Bay Area Makeathon, and he will use his making skills — including perhaps his newfound knowledge of 3D printing — to help others.

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Kids Make It Challenge Winners Announced

ThinkFun - Winners

This July, educational game maker ThinkFun partnered with MakerBot Thingiverse to sponsor a Kids Make It Challenge. The participants competed for the title of Master Maker as well as fun prizes.

The kids who made it have been announced: @bumbleflies, who built a toy fishing boat; @PlayEatGrow, who fashioned an alien friend with a propeller; @SkunksMonkey, who made a sweet penguin mobile; @AlissaApel, who souped up a Creativity Can; and @SalientTech, who created a working fishing pole.

Each Master Maker will receive a large spool of MakerBot PLA Filament or its equivalent in 3D printed products, plus a collection of ThinkFun games.

For the challenge, ThinkFun made its Maker Studio Construction Sets available for free on Thingiverse, so that anyone can download and 3D print the files from the Gear, Winches, and Propellers sets. Use the Maker Studio sets to build suggested projects, or to create something entirely from your imagination.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated.

Didn’t get to enter this challenge? Keep your eyes peeled for more from ThinkFun and Thingiverse.

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