Posts Tagged ‘3d printing’

MakerBot Stories | Engineers of Smart Toys Hack Hardware

Posted by on Thursday, April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

Five years ago, Ian Bernstein was working at a robotics company and dreaming of controlling robots with his smartphone. “Back in 2009, nobody was doing it,” says Bernstein, a cofounder and CTO of Orbotix, a Boulder, CO, company that makes connected toys. The Sphero is a versatile robotic ball that can be used as anything from a tool to teach children programming to a ball in a game of miniature golf.

“When we started Orbotix, I was building all the Sphero prototypes with paper clips and brass and stuff like that, and you can only go so far,” Bernstein said. “Having the MakerBot and being able to make more advanced parts, we’re doing bigger and better things now.”

The next big thing from Orbotix is a cylinder with wheels that’s a Sphero crossbred with a remote control car. Originally known as the Sphero 2B, it’s now called Ollie.

Bernstein made the breakthrough prototype of an Ollie on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. He printed the wheels in green PLA and other parts in purple, so he dubbed his prototype The Joker. Late one night at the Orbotix office, The Joker hit a jump and flew through the air, clearing four stacked Sphero boxes. The moment was captured on video, and that’s when everyone knew that they had something special in Ollie, Bernstein says.

“We're doing bigger and better things now.” – Ian Bernstein, cofounder, Orbotix

Hacking is essential to Orbotix’s company culture, and having 3D printers (back to a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic) allows employees to play around with hardware too. “Hack Fridays” are reserved for experimenting with new ideas. Also, Bernstein says, “Meetings have gone from a lot of arguing to, ‘OK, cool idea. Make it!’” Orbotix now has two MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers in Boulder and another at their outpost in China.

If you can’t wait for Ollie to launch this fall, watch the video for a preview. And Orbotix offers a free ramp for your Sphero on Thingiverse.

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MakerBot Events | THIS TUESDAY 4/15! Francis Bitonti at the MakerBot Retail Store, Greenwich, CT

Posted by on Thursday, April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized


Meet the Designer
Come by the MakerBot Retail Store in Greenwich, CT this Tuesday, April 15thth from 6:30-8:30pm to meet acclaimed designer, Francis Bitonti. He will be speaking about his studio’s new 3D printed Bristle Dress, and discuss their expansion into cloud manufacturing with the Cloud Collection. The Bristle Dress will be on display along with 3D printed pieces from the Cloud Collection.

The MakerBot Retail Store is located at 72 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT. Click here to register. Space will be limited!


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MakerBot Stories | Designing Innovative Products in a Tiny Space

Posted by on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Bill Phelps has a home office in Tarrytown, NY, a 35-minute train ride from midtown Manhattan. It occupies 100 square feet between the ground floor pantry and a playroom. There are bookshelves, a swivel chair, and a desk with a computer and a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.

“What you’re looking at here — this tiny space — is a product innovation hub,” says Phelps. And from this space, Phelps brought more than a dozen products to market in a year for an $80 million consumer-product-goods company. When the MakerBot Replicator 2 launched, “one of the best things was it was completely affordable, so I went and purchased one on my credit card, and I later asked to expense it,” says Phelps. In two weeks, he printed 50 to 100 parts for prototypes — “and that alone paid for the printer.”

Before MakerBot, Phelps says, one of his new products would have a prototype budget of $10,000 to $20,000, which was enough to pay for two or three mockups. Rapid prototyping allowed him to be more nimble while spending less. Moreover, he said, “it took away a lot of the arguments.” If a designer makes something one way and the boss thinks it should look different, they can print both options and compare.


A few months ago, Phelps co-founded Ringblingz, a startup that makes rings that allow teenagers to put their phones away yet know when they have an important message: a text from mom, a Snapchat from their best friend. During a three-month residency at the R/GA Connected Devices Accelerator, Phelps and Ringblingz had access to an array of six MakerBot Replicator 2s and a MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer, and Phelps was able to try hundreds of ideas on his way to launching Ringblingz. Phelps and his team launched Ringblingz at SXSW last month, and Wearables Week named them Best Newcomer.

Phelps says there’s no difference between the difference between the set of Ringblingz prototypes made on a MakerBot and “what I used to spend thousands of dollars on” for each prototype. For a product designer today, he says, “you literally don’t need more than a MakerBot and a computer.”

"You literally don't need more than a MakerBot and a computer." — Bill Phelps

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MakerBot Stories | Hospital Cable Guy Saves Money, Lives

Posted by on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

When you go to the hospital, your vital signs are monitored through three separate cables. The ER gets hectic (holiday weekend, traffic pileup, full moon), and sometimes those cables go missing. They can follow an admitted patient from the emergency room up to his floor, or a resident puts them in her pocket at the end of a long shift.

Those cables are essential, since they set off an alarm when your heart races or your blood pressure plummets. They are also expensive: $294.85 for a set of three, which adds up. If you had to replace cables once a year for each of the 315 beds at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Patchogue, NY, it would cost $92,877.75. So Brookhaven has a Cable Guy.

Steven Jaworski is a biomedical technician who does everything from outfit Brookhaven’s new cardiac health lab to replacing these cables. He had to replace so many cables that he ordered cable tethers from a medical supplier for $24.50 per cable, or $73.50 for a set of three. But surgical scissors cut through these tethers easily.

Then Jaworski asked for a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer to solve his cable problem. He designed a tamperproof cable tether. Between the dense black PLA and thick wire, it costs $7.94. It holds all three cables, and surgical scissors can’t cut through it.


Jaworski’s cable tethers saved Brookhaven Hospital $60,000 in three months. But Jaworski says the best thing about having a MakerBot Replicator 2 is its versatility. “It’s not a Phillips-head screwdriver when you need a flathead. It’s basically a solution that has paid for itself many times over.”

For example, Brookhaven has a Jackson table, which is used for spinal surgeries, where the patient lies on his belly. The Jackson table has a mirror so the doctors can see a patient’s face in the reflection. To adjust the mirror, there are two knobs. One of the knobs broke. It can take weeks to get a part like this from the manufacturer, if they’d sell it to you, and in the meantime the Jackson table was out of commission. Jaworski printed a knob from Thingiverse in three hours and the Jackson table was ready again that afternoon. He also made a spare knob for the operating room, in case it broke again.

Brookhaven does four surgeries a week on that Jackson table. So a missing knob means four patients whose suffering is prolonged, whose healing is delayed.

Then Jaworski made a bumper for the blanket-warming cabinets in the emergency room, protecting the doors from collisions with stretchers. Warm blankets mean comfortable, happy patients.

He will keep finding ways to improve care at Brookhaven with the 3D printer: “You don’t know when you’re going use it, you don’t know what you’re going to use it for, but you’re always going to need it.”

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MakerBot Stories | Francis Bitonti on the Bristle Dress

Posted by on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


Ica Paru, an accessories designer and model, is the first person to wear the Bristle Dress from Francis Bitonti Studio. Paru put it on a couple of weeks ago, at a photo shoot in Brooklyn. The dress is cloudlike, in two pieces, and as much an armature that poses the body as a garment to pose in.

The Friday evening photo session, which yielded the striking images below, was the first time designer Francis Bitonti saw anyone wearing the dress. “The computer is able to visualize everything accurately, I don’t really feel the need to do fittings.” he says. “I wasn’t surprised about how it fit, I wasn’t really surprised about anything.”

"Every tool has limits. This has far fewer limits than any other tool I've ever used." — Francis Bitonti

The Bristle Dress is Bitonti’s second work of couture developed in his New Skins computational design workshop and made on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. Like his previous effort, the Verlan Dress, the Bristle Dress uses MakerBot Flexible Filament and MakerBot Natural PLA Filament, only this time, Bitonti lined the tessellated skirt with fake rabbit fur.

With the translucent top of the dress, Bitonti “wanted to bleed the body into the atmosphere.” Its austere, wintry spirit also brought out the iciness in Paru, who’d been warm and chatty while she waited for Bitonti and the Bristle Dress to arrive.


Bitonti is not strictly a fashion designer; he’s also working on his Cloud Collection of 3D printed housewares. He trained as an architect, and he sounds like one when he talks about his designs: “You’re setting up a structure, and then people bring it to life.”

You can wear the Bristle Dress if you download the files from Thingiverse. The top takes about 160 hours to print, and the skirt another 135.

Photography by Chris Vongsawat. Hair/Makeup: Aviva Leah.

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MakerBot Stories | How Architects Can Build a City of Ideas

Posted by on Friday, February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

Buildings designed today may not open for a decade, so architects make models to help people understand the future. Before presenting ideas to the clients, governments, and communities who must buy into (and pay for) their vision of the future, architects need to envision it themselves, through sketches, computer renderings, animations, and physical models.

“The earlier you can look at a physical object, the sooner you can understand a building and also make better design decisions,” says W Scott Allen, an associate architect and designer for Perkins+Will, a global architecture firm that has seven MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers in its offices.

On a recent morning, Allen set out more than 40 six-inch towers on a conference room table at the global architecture firm’s New York office. The towers, process models used to reimagine the space around the Bernardine Monastery in Lviv, Ukraine, ranged from thin spires to fat blocks to something resembling a stack of old Life Savers. “You might have an entire set of models that are exceptionally functional and some that are wildly impractical but just look really awesome,” said Allen, who made these models on a MakerBot Replicator 2.

Rapid prototyping “profoundly changes our own creative process,” says Allen, who will set up the 3D printer before going home for the evening, returning the next morning to analyze the models with his colleagues. Then Allen will go back to the computer and generate new designs for the next night’s print run.

“Making all of these on the MakerBot frees us up to test more ideas for clients and come at a nicer solution in the same timeframe,” says Allen. The great thing, he adds, is that “you can almost print at the same speed that you can draw.”

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MakerBot Stories | Spin Chill: Colder, Faster

Posted by on Friday, January 31, 2014 in Uncategorized


Some inventors set out to change the world. Others just want a cold drink.

Trevor Abbott and Ty Parker studied mechanical engineering at the University of Florida and lived in Gainesville’s HackerHouse. In May, they headed up to Atlanta for a hackathon. The night before, they found themselves with warm beer, and they used an old trick: If you spin a can in a bucket of ice water, a beverage will get delightfully cold in only a few minutes. (It has to do with convection. And no, it won’t explode.) So what, they wondered, if a motor could spin the can for you?

At the hackathon, Abbott and Parker put together parts from an electric drill and a plastic top from a six-pack with duct tape to present what they called the Beerouette. They didn’t win the hackathon, but they suspected they were onto something.

“When we came back to Gainesville, we knew that the part that clipped onto the beer was going to be the most crucial and difficult part to create,” Abbott told Outta the Box TV. Making injection molds would take a couple of months and thousands of dollars, but Abbott and Parker prototyped the clip on the HackerHouse’s MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer over the course of a couple of days. Each print cost a dollar or two in filament, which the HackerHouse supplied. Once they had found the shape, they 3D printed their own molds, filled them with rubber, and stuck a drill bit in the middle. They called it the Chill Bit and tested the market at local construction sites.

Encouraged by the response, they returned to the Beerouette:


And they 3D printed that prototype on the MakerBot Replicator 2:


Now calling their project Spin Chill, Abbott and Parker launched a Kickstarter campaign, asking for $10,000 to start producing their rapid beverage-chilling devices. They raised more than $40,000, and shipped their first orders this month — seven months from concept to market. And now they’re selling the Spin Chill in stores and over the Web.

“We would never be where we are without MakerBot,” says Abbott. He is also the chairman of Gator Innovators, a student agency that promotes entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, and is proud of printing a Gator head for Governor Rick Scott when he visited. Abbott is in ROTC, and his plan was to go into the Navy after graduating in the spring. Now, however, he’s building a business with Parker. “We’ve got a bunch of other ideas for products,” he says.

And maybe one of those will change the world.

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MakerBot Stories | Every Brooklyn Tech Student Is a Maker

Posted by on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Brooklyn Technical High School, as teacher Tom Curanovic says, “is a pretty amazing place.” Brooklyn Tech, which counts two Nobel Prize winners among its alumni, is the largest specialized high school for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the United States. More than half of its 5500 students are eligible for school lunch subsidies, and the junior class includes Dante De Blasio, the son of New York’s new mayor.

Brooklyn Tech students pursue majors from biomedical engineering to architecture to social science research, but first they take a course in Design and Drawing for Production. “All freshmen take it,” says assistant principal Nicole Culella. The course includes instruction in Autodesk Inventor, and beginning this year, each Design and Drawing for Production classroom is outfitted with a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer. “Every student leaves that year with one piece they make on a MakerBot,” Ms. Culella says.


3D printing has also become part of the curriculum for several advanced courses, including industrial design and studio art. In Tom Curanovic’s computer-integrated manufacturing lab, seniors began the year by making the same project in two ways: by cutting it out of a steel plate and by 3D printing it in PLA filament. “It’s more labor intensive on the drill press, four to five days,” Curanovic says. “On the MakerBot, as long as you can draw it, it’s done in 45 minutes.”

Speed is only one reason rapid prototyping is rapidly transforming how Curanovic runs his class. Students need less training to use the MakerBot Replicator 2 than heavy machinery, which, for safety reasons, requires individual supervision. The ease of 3D printing opens up the world of manufacturing to a wider range of students.

“From kindergarten to 11th grade, everything was on a piece of paper,” says Vishnu Sanigepalli, a senior from Queens, NY, who discovered the MakerBot Replicator 2 when he needed a new case for his flash drive. A couple of months later, Sanigepalli was making models for his calculus teacher and parts for the robotics team, and he was teaching the rest of his class how to print their 3D designs.

After graduation, Sanigepalli dreams of going on to college and making a quantum computer. He has studied math and computer science, but “it’s not enough to know quantum physics,” he says. “You have to make things.”

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MakerBot Stories | Helen Yentus Designs a 3D Printed Slipcase

Posted by on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

Helen Yentus, the art director of Riverhead Books, designed two covers for Chang-rae Lee’s new novel, “On Such a Full Sea,” which is being published today. The regular hardcover has a hand-lettered jacket, with the book’s title inscribed under a bob hairdo representing Lee’s iconic heroine, Fan. (The same image is used for digital copies of the novel, although it won’t protect your e-reader from hot coffee.)

A second, limited edition of the novel comes in a sleek white slipcase made on the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer that evokes the futuristic setting of the novel. In the video, Yentus shares her early pencil sketches and describes how they evolved into the 3D printed slipcase, which she designed in collaboration with the MakerBot Studio.


A limited edition like this, Yentus says, “gives people the opportunity to have something to hold onto that is not available in digital form.” Chang-rae Lee made a similar point during a recent visit to MakerBot headquarters, in Brooklyn, NY, where he saw for himself the 3D printing technology used to make the slipcase for his latest novel. “What I like about this is that it revisits the book as an object,” said Lee, who prefers to read on paper “even though I write on a screen. The pleasure I get from reading is something tactile.”

If you get pleasure from Chang-rae Lee’s fiction and are curious about 3D printing (or vice versa), Lee will be reading from “On Such a Full Sea” on January 16th at 7pm at the MakerBot Store, in New York. Space is limited, so please register in advance. You can also order a copy of the limited edition now.

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MakerBot Stories | The Gifts of the Magi

Posted by on Friday, December 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


Christmas is coming, and the girls at the Marymount School, a Catholic school in Manhattan, are getting ready for the Christmas pageant. Third graders get to play the big roles, including Mary, Joseph, and the three Magi, the kings or wise men who present gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. The third graders are also making the props, and, for the first time ever, the Gifts of the Magi at Marymount’s Christmas pageant will be 3D printed, in their new fab lab.


The Gifts of the Magi project cuts across several disciplines. First, an art teacher took the third graders across Fifth Avenue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they examined Byzantine chalices and Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Adoration of the Magi.” Then they explored the significance of the gifts with their religion teacher before moving on to the design and production of their own representations of the gifts with their science teachers, Margaret McCarthy and Kathryn Cohen. The girls made sketches on paper.


They also sculpted some ideas in clay. “There is value in play and creation, whether it’s cardboard or new technology,” McCarthy says. “It doesn’t have to be the perfect product. There’s a value in messiness.”

Then the girls worked in Tinkercad, the 3D modeling software, first in pairs and then as a class. On a recent morning, 16 girls from Class IIIA sat on the rug in the science room as Margaret McCarthy hooked up her laptop to a large flat-screen television to decide how to present gold.


Should the gold coins be printed in gold filament, or should they be painted gold? And what should be on them: Hearts? Lambs? A J for Jesus, CC for Christ Child, or maybe a cross? “They didn’t know there was going to be a cross when Jesus was born,” one wise girl pointed out. Another added, “If it’s going to be dark at the pageant, most people won’t be able to see the coins, only the people on the aisles.”

And how would the coins stay on the tray? Should they glue them on, make a lip on the tray, or design it with indentations that would hold the coins in position? It was a collaborative design process; decisions were made by consensus, or when necessary, a vote.


When the design is done, Ms. McCarthy will print the golden coins and the tray in the fab lab downstairs, on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.

With three third-grade classes, each is responsible for making one gift; Class IIIA is responsible for the gold. Class IIIC made the one for myrrh.


The Marymount fab labs are outfitted with other tools for programming, physical computing, and digital design and fabrication, including a MakerBot Digitizer 3D Scanner. Jaymes Dec, Marymount’s fab lab coordinator, says that, by teaching the girls to use these tools, “What I’m really trying to teach them is how to learn on their own in the 21st century.”

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