3D Printing in Chocolate? No, not really, but if you're inventive enough, that shouldn't stop you..
Last week I met Chris Want of the University of Alberta, Canada. Chris has access to a 3d printer on his job at the university and he combined it with his great hobby: making chocolates.
Using the 3d printer and silicon he created a mold that he then used to pour chocolate monkeys. The process forced him to think carefully about the shapes of the chocolates: they couldn't have an undercut as that would make it impossible to pull them from the mold without breaking them. The entire thing (dripping super glue on the models to cure them, pouring the silicon and working with the chocolate) must have made a tremendous mess of his kitchen, but unfortunately he doesn't show that
RAPID is THE rapid manufacturing conference where all the suppliers showcase their latest products. Robert, our Operations Manager, traveled to Florida to see what's cooking.
This year's RAPID Conference did not have many major surprises or big announcements. Still, there was a lot of interesting product development going on, some of which could be very interesting for Shapeways in the future.
Stratasys was there with their new line of machines including the huge FDM900mc which allows build sizes up to 91 x 61 x 91 cm. Objet had their new Connex500 machine which can print in two materials at the same time including blending these two materials to create even more options. And EOS introduced two new materials; a plastic and a metal.
Stratasys is now selling the ReadyPart equipment they already introduced for their RedEye service. It makes FDM parts smooth and watertight. The equipment was not on the showfloor but it is some kind of vapor deposition onto the part. It felt indeed very smooth.
An interesting product I had not seen before was from xlaForm. Their ProSystem is a full penetration resin system for ZCorp printed 3D models (here's a short video of the process). In other words they fix the issue with ZCorp 3D printed models. They are no longer brittle and easy to break, but become strong and actually usable.
The best quote I heard was "It's all about what the customer wants". We could not agree more!
The Blender Foundation has released Blender 2.46 - a very impressive update. As the result of the Peach Open Movie project, some of the new features are hair and fur combing tools, fast and optimal fur rendering, a mesh deformation system for advanced character rigging, cloth simulation and fast Ambient Occlusion (for a full overview of the new features, see the 2.46 release log).
Blender's X3D exporter has also been updated and this introduces a bit of an issue with Shapeways, unfortunately. For the technically minded: each object is now wrapped in a <collision> node. While this is valid X3D, our importer can't read those files. The problem has been reported and I expect a solution shortly.
In the mean time, you can fix things by downloading our patched X3D exporter script and installing it manually. Instructions for Windows, Mac and Linux are provided in our tutorial 'Exporting from Blender'.
Bathsheba Grossman is an artist who creates fascinating geometric shapes using 3D printing. She makes a living by selling them through her on-line shop. Making a living with a 3D printer. I like that!
"I use a lot of technology. 3D printing in metal is the main way that I work, and I also do a lot with subsurface laser damage in glass. This isn't because I love gadgets; it's much more trouble and expense to use new media instead of the more mature techniques that most sculptors enjoy. I do it because the shapes I have in mind aren't moldable, and I want to make a lot of them. Those two constraints, taken together, turn out to be remarkably constraining: ordinary sculpture technology just does not do the job"
A few weeks ago we had one of her models ('Metatron') printed on our Objet printer and the result was amazing. It's quite hard to wrap your head around these designs - I'm not sure how you'd get these in a computer
Shapeways objects, especially from our Objet printer, look pretty good after printing - they are high resolution and have smooth surfaces. Sometimes you may want to add some extra finishing though - maybe to add some extra color or to further improve the surface texture.
These three articles describe in detail how you can paint, dye or polish your objects. The techniques are all pretty straightforward and require only a little investment (mainly paint and sandpaper - you probably already have that).
The polishing may be tricky if you have very detailed objects - I'm going to try it our on my monkeys one of these days. If you have applied a finishing to your designs, let us know how it went and we'll share the result.
The Dimension Extreme Redesign is a yearly design contest for High-school, University and Arts & Architecture students. The challenge for the high-school and college students is to improve on a product that they use everyday; the Arts & Architecture students were free in their designs.