Archive for April 4th, 2012

Find This Sculpture, Then Print It

I’m adding a MakerBot component to this fun challenge from Daniel Russell, a Google scientist who blogs about the way people use search.

Today Mr. Russell asked people to find a particular monument in Washington, DC. This is all we know:

One of the more unusual stories I heard in the past few days was about a small(-ish) monument to a man who forever changed the way naval warfare would be conducted.

I was told I’d enjoy reading his story, if only I could find the monument.

All the information I was given, though, is that the monument to him is located in a tear-drop shaped traffic island somewhere near the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington DC.

Now, it would seem that the answer is supposed to come from searching. But if someone happens to be in the area, they could even snap a few pictures around this sculpture, digitize them into a 3D mesh with 123D Catch and print the sucker out!


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How Many Cities Have You Hacked In?

Well these are just fantastic. Adafruit has Hackerspace Passports for all those makers out there who can’t help but visit the local hackerspace in every town. But wait, there’s more! Add to this a tutorial for laser cutting a passport stamp for your space, and we’re closing in on a diplomatic framework!

Here’s Adafruit’s stamp:

How many spaces have you been to? It would be fun to know who the real jetset are among our blog readers!

UPDATE! If you’re planning a trip, why not add a hackerspace to the itinerary? There’s a very long list of great spaces at Check it out.

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Calendar Update: 3D Printing And Entreprenuers

For any budding entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, here’s a talk you might want on your radar. The MIT/Stanford Venture Lab will discuss what 3D printing means for new businesses. ore details here, but here’s the blurb from the VLAB site:

Just like computers send 2D documents to traditional printers, 3D printers receive 3D models and create real 3D objects. 3D printers deposit materials such as plastics, rubber, and metal layer-by-layer to produce unique items.Capture, Design Print! If you can snap a photo, you can 3D-print. New materials, low-cost printers, simple design tools, and new marketplaces let you make your very own jewelry, toys, shoes, and much more.With a current market size of $1.3 billion, the 3D printing industry is set to explode to $3.1 billion by 2016, according to industry consulting firm Wohlers Associates.

  • How are entrepreneurs using 3D printing to build profitable businesses?
  • Will the entrepreneurial opportunities be in designing, printing, materials, or tools?
  • Will consumers print at home or use cloud-based services?
  • Will 3D printing be a niche market or will it disrupt traditional manufacturing with personalized production?

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The Future: Print Customized Robots On Demand From A Catalog

There was a flurry of interest yesterday over MIT’s “Expedition in Computing for Compiling Printable Programmable Machines.” Read: customized robots on demand.

Professor Daniela Rus and her team at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) are joined in the NSF-funded project by a UPenn team led by Professor Vijay Kumar and Associate Professor Rob Wood from Harvard. Together the group are devising a system whereby a person could think of some high-level functionality, and work through an interface in a retail environment to print out a machine that accomplishes that goal.

Let’s flesh that out a bit. Suppose, for example, that the screws on your kitchen cabinet doors are perennially loose. You think, “I need a little guy to move around once a week, find the loose screws, and tighten them.”

Unless you’re a robotics expert, it will take you a prohibitively long time to make such a thing. But suppose there were a system that let you select the functions and physical dimensions you needed. Your selections would run through a compiler, the way source code is compiled into an executable, and a robot would emerge to your specifications. Of course, if you have a MakerBot, you could print it out for yourself, rather than head to a store, as PopSci reminds us.

This is a lofty goal and it requires a shift in societal attitudes toward robotics. CNET says Rus indicated the “device’s programming environment would only control the actions of the individual robots and be easy enough for a non-programmers to use.” Or as Wired puts it, they want to create a “one-size-fits-most platform to circumvent the high costs and special hardware and software often associated with robots.”

This sounds like Dreamweaver for robots, no? It’s less about popularizing robotics literacy and more about mastering the drag and drop. It’s democratizing the manufacturing of whatever fits the needs of the individual without requiring the individual to become an expert in something new.


More from Gizmagieee Spectrum, Digital Trends, MSNBC, Smart Planet, and Eureka, and cool video of the project’s first prototype below.


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