Dutch creative agency KesselsKramer has used 3D printing & stop motion to create an opening an closing sequence for Dutch children's TV show Het Klokhuis. The apples used for the stop motion sequence were 3D printed by Shapeways. The apples were made using our White, Strong & Flexible material and were so happy to have played a small part in this great video! The video is directed by John Kelly and you can read more about the people that made the video here. Check out the videos below.
Cube Spawn puts machines inside of (rather large) "Lego blocks." By doing this it will define a set of standards to ensure interoperability of these machines with other machines. Web standards such as HTML make the Internet work together by creating standards that everyone understands. Cube Spawn could do the same for open source manufacturing projects. Instead of desperately trying to combine lots of different unique machines with different sizes, plugs and electronics together Cube Spawn will streamline the process. Cube Spawn will make it much easier to get 3D printers but also CNC mills, painting bots or anything you can imagine to combine to become your own open source factory. It is an open source flexible manufacturing system and it is things such as Cube Spawn that will be major enablers of a personal manufacturing future.
Watch the video here to see James Jones explain his project. At first glance something such as Cube Spawn could seem a lot less exciting than a new 3D printer or some awesome thing someone built using 3D printing. It is however a significant development. Standards make life easier for everyone. Just ask a web developer about IE 5. They ensure a common language and allow greater access to technology and more innovation. If you are serious about open source hardware and manufacturing, you can now put your money where your mouth is. The Cube Spawn project is looking for backers (you can pledge as little as $1) and you can learn more about that and check the project out on the Cube Spawn site here. Skint? Well then just spread the word!
Mani Zamani is a Design Academy Graduate, Shapeways Community member and collectible robot designer. He previously made the Revoltech Rosekeeper robot & the Samurai Poet which were already amazing. The RetroroBo however defies belief.
The entire robot is 3D printed, including the joints. The man inside the robot is made out of White, Strong & Flexible and the rest out of Stainless Steel. It is hand painted and I am actually at a loss for words. Mani's Shapeways Shop is here and you can see more on the forum. The video of the robot is below.
Shapeways interviews Bre Pettis (on the right), the Maker in Chief over at Makerbot Industries. Makerbot Industries makes an affordable desktop 3D printer and we and a lot of other people are very excited about them and their Cupcake CNC. We asked Bre about the future of Makerbot Industries and desktop 3D printing.
Joris Peels: What's a Makerbot?
Bre Pettis: A MakerBot is an affordable, open source 3D printer.
Joris Peels: And a Cupcake is a Makerbot?
Bre Pettis: Yes, the Cupcake is our flagship personal fabrication device! It makes things that are a little bigger than a cupcake!
Joris Peels: Who is the team behind Makerbot Industries?
Bre Pettis: Adam (Adam Mayer) has his head in the software, Zach has his hands on production, I'm making waves and we all start prototyping at 6pm when we stop answering emails, packing boxes and taking care of business.
What was the first thing you 3D printed?
A shot glass. Promptly filled with a deadly Scandinavian concoction.
Your favorite thing so far?
Everyday I wake up and check out what's new on Thingiverse and I'm never let down. Lately there has been a trend to make tools to do other things with a MakerBot like the MicroLathe. When folks are using the tools we design to make other tools to make other things it gets me excited. We make things that make things that people use to make things that make other things that make things. Try saying that 3 times fast.
Who came up with the idea for Makerbot Industries?
Zach(Smith aka Hoeken)had been obsessed with 3D printing for a while and infected us with the personal manufacturing bug. Making things that make things is fun so it's contagious.
How long did it take you guys to get the company going, to get the first bots out the door?
We started on Jan 17. Had the prototype done by Mar 17, and then had the first batch of MakerBots out the door on April 17th. There wasn't a lot of sleep in those months. We actually ate 2 cases of ramen in those months so we wouldn't have to go out and eat. That was a bad idea. Don't do that, it's not healthy.
The main difference between a MakerBot Cupcake CNC and a Reprap is how much time it takes to make one. The Reprap project is an academic research project and it can take a few months to gather the materials and then put a reprap together and then a lot of experimentation to get it to print. The MakerBot CupCake CNC is a kit and can be printing things out after a weekend of assembly with a friend.
Are you really going to try to tackle 3D scanning too?
Yes. Having a MakerBot 3D printer and MakerBot scanner is the washer/dryer combo of replication. Who doesn't want to print out portrait sculptures of their family and friends?
And what new materials will you introduce?
We just launched PLA, PolyLactic Acid, and it's flying off the shelves. It's clear and it's made from corn. It smells a bit like butter when you print with it. We're finishing up prototypes of the frostruder which is a syringe based extruder that can print with frosting and anything squishable like UV curable silicon. And clay! We're in the market for a kiln so we can fire our own MakerBotted tea set.
What is a typical Makerbot customer like?
A lot of our customers are time traveling antique hunters which brings up all sorts of shipping problems. Most people think that all MakerBot customers are seriously geeky, but the truth is that even though lots of designers and architects and engineers buy them, most of our customers are just clever people who are sick of waiting on other people for their jetpack.
Will everyone have a desktop 3D printer? If so when?
When the Altair came out, people criticized it and said there wasn't a need for more than 10 computers in the world. We're in that same kind of place with personal manufacturing that personal computing was back then. MakerBots will be an absolutely totally common thing to see on a desktop within 10 years.
Why is Thingiverse important?
We built Thingiverse because we needed a place to share our designs so we wouldn't lose them and so our friends could make what we had made and then modify those designs and make them better. The community is amazing and supportive, and it's also a lot of fun. There is no other place that you can share a design for a physical thing and people around the world will make their own copies within minutes (NB: mmm we might need to do some more work in promoting our 3D parts database). It's that kind of sharing magic that makes Thingiverse the closest thing to teleportation that we've got in this solar system.
What are the mayor challenges for you guys?
It can be hard to find time to eat and sleep. There is way too much stuff to do in this world right now. If you're bored in this day and age, you're doing it wrong. Turn off the TV, pick a ambition and start spending your free time working on it. Besides 3d printing, there are all sorts of open source collaborative hardware projects to work on.
A while back you had an experiment in crowd sourced manufacturing with having people produce parts for Makerbots for you. How did that work out? Will you be doing this more often?
We were the first company to ever do crowd sourced manufacturing and it worked out great. It was so cool to have MakerBots in the wild making parts for unbuilt MakerBots. We've got some ideas to do this again that we're going to announce later this year.
How important is your community to you? What do they do for the company?
The MakerBot community is awesome. Because we're open source and the community is so smart, we've seen a lot of participation in the research and development sector. For example, MakerBot Operator Tim Myrtle ripped the guts out of our temperature control code and replaced that section of code with some serious PID math which made the temperature of the nozzle much more stable. Because we're open source, our users know that the code and designs are theirs to hack on. They also know that if they improve their machine, they can share their improvement and everyone in the community benefits. Can I download a Makerbot and print it out using Shapeways?
Go for it! There was talk a while back on the MakerBot Operator google group to replace all the lasercut parts with printable parts. Progress is being made and already there is a printable extruder!
Are Makerbots going to be able to self replicate?
One step at a time. Self replication is cool, but our first step is actually to get the machine so that it can be an autonomous manufacturing factory. I want to be able to go to sleep and wake up to a pile of MakerBotted things next to my MakerBot!
Why did you guys start Makerbot Industries?
We felt compelled. We decided to live the dream. We followed our hearts.
Shouldn't you guys be making the next YouTube or
something (Bre used to work for Rocketboom, Etsy & MakeZine as their video producer)?
Why 3D printing?
We love the internet, but web apps are very
90's.Personal Manufacturing the new black. We see the future and it's
full of flying cars, replicators, and moon colonies. You can watch
videos of the MakerBot Operators popping our collars from the moon
colony on youtube when we get there.
You used to be a teacher, is that still kind of your job? To 'teach' 3D printing?
My mission in life is to be able to develop infrastructure that lets humans be creative. I feel that very tangibly inside my self. When I taught school that's what I did. When I made tutorial videos that's what I did. Adam, Zach and I are taking creative infrastructure to a new level by putting the tools of manufacturing into the hands of creative people. Everyday, even the long days packing boxes, we get excited about empowering people around to world create amazing things with our machines.
is an important article in Wired by Chris Anderson about the democratization of production. It will frame the discussion about the business that Shapeways is in. To sum it up, "In the age of democratized industry, every garage is a potential micro-factory, every citizen a potential micro-entrepreneur." An even shorter summation, "the long tail of things" is coming.
It is thought provoking and inspirational article and everyone should read it. In my opinion however it leaves out several crucial elements that will allow "atoms to become the new bits."
1. Atoms will become bits only if the right infrastructure evolves.
Small entrepreneurs have to be able to defend their IP. Markets will
have to be found. Customization and easy 3D modeling software will have
to be created. Services such as legal, customer service, accounting,
etc. will have to evolve. Customization tools will have to work.
Recommendation engines for people, things and products that do not
exist will have to be found, etc.
2. No amount of technology will replace the division of labor.
3. No amount of (available) innovation will eliminate comparative advantage.
4. Absolute advantage will not magically vanish overnight.
5. The invisible hand will still call the shots
6. Cooperation is not only a word on Sesame Street.
The most successful web publisher is not necessarily the best
coder, builder of websites, writer of web
frameworks, marketeer, authors, editor etc. Indeed even if he could do all of those things working with others would seem to be an efficient thing to do. The best designer in the world should probably spend more time designing than putting stuff in boxes. The best designer in the world might suck at marketing. The best designer in the world might be too expensive.
By working together and using the platforms available to us and using the skills of others in concert we will be able to achieve personal production. Networks of micro-businesses will define the future of commerce.
The key factor for someone who has or wants their own micro-factory or who wants to be a micro-entrepreneur is to specialize. In the New Industrial Revolution the core question will still be, what is it that you can do better than others?
Shapeways community member Robert Carlsen pointed me to the work of Robert Bosco. Bosco was an amazing "turner" an artist & artisan that using a mechanical lathe makes the most amazing things out of wood. To illustrate what is possible with 3D printing we usually point to examples such as "a ball in a ball" or other impossible shapes. But, Bosco has managed to create impossible shapes by hand and by using a lathe. The intricacy, sheer work & skill as well as the planning that goes into these things is incredible. Take some time to check out the site here where he has stars inside polhedra, Stars inside Dodecahedra and something called openwork stapled spheres that blew my mind.
Shapeways Community member Bill Morris has a fun blog called I Heart Robotics. Bill also has some great designs on Shapeways such as a Sonar Servo mount, chuck key Holder & a toolholder for Torx screwdrivers. In order to let people install the tool holders, Bill wanted to develop a way to use screws along with 3D printed parts. A perfect marriage between the old and the new, don't you think? You can check out his blog post here. Its good to see such development because I had
personally given up on threaded screws used along with 3D printed parts. Bolts generally are much easier
to use along with 3D printing and for the White, Strong & Flexible
materials a simple hole will support a screw as long as the wall is
thick enough. Thin walls along with screws might cause the material to tear thought. Bill however worked with the ABS plastic 3D printing material that we call Grey Robust. Its nice to see Bill showing us what is possible.
Joris Peels: Why did you want to use wooden screws together with 3D printed parts?
Bill Morris: I usually drill and tap holes because in many of the projects I work on
there is no way to access the back side to put a nut on. Nuts also have
a tendency to fall on the floor and loosen due to vibration.
After tapping hundreds of holes in 3D printed plastic I thought that
there had to be a better way. I wanted a solution that customers buying
stuff from my Shapeways store could reproduce without buying a set of taps.
I guessed that wood screws might work well, and looked for plastic
screws. While I am waiting for those to arrive, I decided to test the
Joris Peels: What machine and material did you use?
Bill Morris: Stratasys Prodigy Plus with P400 ABS.
Joris Peels: What was the most surprising thing about your findings?
Bill Morris: It was surprising that the wood screws had enough holding strength to
split the countersinks and split the screw bosses.
Joris Peels: Are you going to be doing more testing?
Bill Morris: I have ordered samples of these screws. Once they come in I'll do a similar test. I am hoping that they will work even better then wood screws since they don't have a countersink.
Shapeways wants to do for 3D printing, what CSI did for petechial hemorrhaging. Luckily we are not alone, there are many companies working towards similar ends. These fellow travelers all want to in some way enable personal production and give people the ability to make anything. This post is meant to explain my personal view towards those fellow travelers, the future and pizza. It is long, my apologies.
There has been a lot of discussion about what the HP & Stratasys distribution deal will mean for 3D printing. Will it make 3D printing mainstream? Will it put a 3D printer on every desk, or is it just a limited marketing deal that will not change anything? Joseph Flaherty at Replicator thinks that the HP & Stratasys deal is, literally "no big deal." Al Dean at Develop 3D is more optimistic, while giving a good overview of the industry and challenges. Jeffry Mathias is more optmistic still, and thinks it will be huge. My own opinion on the matter was described as enthusiastic also. This may strike some of you as strange, given that previously I have gone on the record saying some potentially stupid things about desktop 3D printing. In the Singer problem I imply that the desktop 3D printer is basically irrelevant and in the Milk analogy I ask why we don't all have mini cows at home. Today I will go considerably further out on a limb.
How can I rhyme these seemingly disparate viewpoints of mine? By thinking of pizza. You have a lot of different types of businesses making pizza.
There is the fine dining restaurant where beautiful surroundings, linen tablecloths and jacketed waiters envelope you. This is a place where most come only on anniversaries or special occasions, places that are meant to take your breath away. They serve pizza here, with a twist, a wink of an eye and an eye popping price but pizza all the same. The service, the experience, the feeling of being in good hands and their expertise in cooking is why people go here.
You can also get pizza from Domino's and Pappa Johns, You order it and it arrives. The pizza is inexpensive, easy and the variation is enormous. This is a scale business that is efficient and competes on value for money, scale, scope, selection and distribution. Technology, innovation and what's under the hood matter as well as marketing. Within this segment there is variation such as NakedPizza that competes on health and ecology while retaining essentially the same model.
You could also build a pizza oven in your back yard. You could do this in two ways. You could hand build it yourself or get some professional company to ship it to you. In both cases the issues are similar. The initial start up costs are huge, especially compared to the other options. This will leave out a great many people unable or unwilling to make the investment. It will take up a lot of space and require a lot of effort to maintain. Initially you will have to train yourself to use it. You have acquired an asset and this could break, depreciate quicker than you thought or it could, simply not work as hoped. The risks are much higher, as is the effort. But the perceived payoff is higher. The dream of making one's own. You have to love the idea of it. Just look at the guy above smiling.
And what off the ultimate pizza company? A pizza with all of the taste, skill and pizazz of the fine dining restaurant; with the low cost, variation, innovation and ease of the delivery service; and with the feeling of having made it yourself. This ultimate pizza competitor would for $1.99 instantly produce a pizza anywhere you wanted it to be, to any specification, with any ingredients with an unmatched taste. A kind of ultimate frozen pizza. Would that be cool? Would that be awesome? For shizzle. Where would such an ultimate pizza be more likely to evolve initially? Who would have it first? Would it be accessible as an inexpensive product for everyone to buy? Or would lets say a restaurant somewhere or one of those delivery services be the first to implement it, the first to afford it? While waiting for this ultimate pizza, what would be the best course to take as a consumer?
At one point during our lifetime there might very well be a device that can manipulate at the molecular or atomic level. There might be a Tea, Earl Grey, Hot device, a proper replicator. This will change everything. But..if such a device does not exist a desktop 3D printer is a technophile's bread baking machine. A space & time consuming device that will bring a limited number of people immense enjoyment for limited use but be unused by the vast number of purchasers and people in general. Even people with a bread baking machine eat bread baked elsewhere. You can not make all bread with a bread baking machine. Skill is an element when baking bread. And just because there were other devices that used to be very expensive and limited and are now cheap and sophisticated does not necessarily mean that 3D printers will automatically follow the same path. Where is my $100 Rolls Royce? Nike shoes would cost less than a dollar and fly me to work if they were chips but they are not.
Desktop 3D printers, will be a tax on "makers" living in the early 21st century. Don't get me wrong, I will happily pay it. I am enthusiastic about open source 3D printers and HP. But, look at your toolbox. What is the best tool? The best hammer? For all use cases? I know you have a dream tool, an ultimate but is this the best tool for everyone, in all cases? Could you even imagine an ultimate hammer, a screwdriver? A tool that could do everything? A tool that could do everything better than every other tool, no matter how specialized? How about a factory that could make everything? More likely, but improbable. How about a service with lots of factories, could they make everything? More likely still but even they could not simultaneously be the best at pizazz and afford ability. They would have to make choices, choose a path. They would, Oh I don't know opt for building a service and a community instead of a machine. Indeed this is why I work at Shapeways. Because if a replicator comes on the market we will be the first to buy it. Because if the dream is to let everyone make everything the challenge is (counter intuitively) not one of machinery but rather one of infrastructure such as software, helpful community members, designers, scale and scope. There is a broad host of problems that we are tackling and this will be essential for making 3D printing mainstream. Confused, at this point during the diatribe? Trywin Command and Conquer with one unit. Try find a shirt that fits all your friends. Try find a shirt that everyone you've ever met will like (and no, not everyone likes the Wolf Moon shirt). To make everything is an almost insurmountable mountain of complexity, to let everyone make everything adds a plethora of pitfalls, to limit your solution to within the confines of a desk is delusion. A desktop 3D printer will for some use cases for some people provide a completely compelling way to make something of any shape less well than larger machines owned by people who have more space or money.
So why am I going to buy a desktop 3D printer at one point? Because its cool. I'm a 3D printing fan boy. I'm like one of those people with every Barbie, all the Pokemon, I'm compelled. And this is where my enthusiasm for the HP deal comes in. If enough people believe that desktop 3D printing will happen, then it will. This, like the internet in the 1990s. This is the: no matter what the economics and technical challenges are, if we all go nuts and act like lemmings we are capable of incredible achievements. The hysteria, millions of people working towards the same goal, billions more to go into things like boo.com, dark fiber, data centers, coders, code, software, routers and the marketing, PR and news that brought everyone to the internet. The internet became a frenzy, a self fulling prophecy that defied any economic logic. Anything that brings people closer to believing that desktop 3D printing is inevitable, is great. Because a massive investment of time and money in one thing, in one dream, is bound to do amazing things.
But..you started this talking about pizza? Yes, I did and may I congratulate you on your perseverance as well as thank you for it, in this part of the story.
If I asked you about the pizza industry you might think that all companies that made pizza compete with each other. They don't. Each slice is consumed by different people for different reasons. Yes, there could be overlap. I could buy a Pizza at night because I'm too lazy to fire up my pizza oven or order one from this one place because they have flavors or ingredients I don't have. But, essentially these companies do not and will not derive significant gains or losses in revenues from these other pizza category companies. These companies would not thrive or fail if they did well or badly as compared to or in opposition to the overall pizza market. Each of their futures will be determined by different tactical and strategic choices and in competition with different players. Even if the market was saturated, they would not predominantly compete. Domino's is more worried about McDonalds than fine dining. The "build your own wood fired oven" pizza people actually compete more with hot tubs, hobbies & vacations more than the other categories.
Shapeways aims to be Dominos of 3D printing. The guys at RepRap & Make@Home are the "build your own pizza oven crowd." Stratasys, Objet, Zcorp, 3D systems and EOS are the professional pizza oven retailers. Makerbot is a unique hybrid of the two. 3D printing service bureaus such as Materialise are the fine dining restaurants. We all would like to offer the ultimate in production technology. We all would love to have or sell the ultimate replication machine. If there is an internet-like hype we might all get the chance, eventually. But, our energies are wasted in competing across categories.
We are all fulfilling a similar need but essentially not exactly the same need, and not to the same people and not in the same way. The differences between those needs and how we meet them will mean the difference between success and failure for individual companies and products in this industry. Domino's might be the most excellent pizza delivery company out there but they could not do fine dining. There are six billion people on this planet that have no concept of what 3D printing can do. Lets divy these up first and then start thinking about the other guy.
PLASTIC JAM OPEN INPUT TRAYS. HP has joined the party and our first spy photo below of the HP 3DJet has impressed me. HP seems serious about putting a 3D printer on everyone's desk. Which is great because right now I don't even have a regular printer on my desk so there is plenty of room for a 3D printer.
Imagine a future where everyone has a 3D printer. It will be amazing. UPS would only deliver 3D printing materials. All their packages would be exactly the same. You quickly 3D print some cutlery for your guests just before they arrive, only to have the printer stop working because you ran out of Cyan. Or you 3D print a game character for your child, only to have the MPAA sue you for $1,800,000 because the movie Avatar holds the copyright for all the avatars anywhere, anytime. A friend would send you a better mousetrap via the internets and you could try it out for real shortly after. Unless of course you happen to open the file with Adobe Reader 3D, because I'm guessing that this would take more time than you have on this earth. Environmentalists will have to put "please don't 3D print this" stickers on everything, every single thing on the planet, even all of the ideas.
In all seriousness, the moment that HP joined Stratasys in manufacturing 3D printers is a watershed. A $100 billion dollar revenue hardware and technology services firm is saying, "we would like to take this technology and make it mainstream." This marks the moment when 3D printing turned from techno-spielerei and the pioneering efforts of a few technology companies into a thing for MBAs to think about. Makerbot already succeeded in putting an affordable 3D printer out there. Shapeways means that anyone can buy or make 3D printed things inexpensively already. EOS, Stratasys, Zcorp, Objet and 3D Systems have been showing people for years how powerful the technology is. The significance of HP lies in putting a huge company with incredible scope and considerable marketing prowess in the middle of 3D printing industry.
As a result eleven things are now happening or will happen as a result of HP joining up with Stratasys and entering the 3D printing market:
Many more stock and industry analysts are looking at the rapid manufacturing industry than before. These analysts are now mulling the significance of 3D printing as a consumer proposition. Their ideas will spread through finance and industry.
Marketeers and B2B salespeople at HP are now thinking about they will sell 3D printers to their channels. Their ideas will for a large part re-define how 3D printers are sold.
These same newly minted HP 3D printing Marketing people will also be totally angry when they discover that Desktop Factory is already taken.
HP competitors and other hardware companies are deciding if this is a business they want to be in.
Ten thousand people have started writing business plans about their amazing 3D printing start ups.
Venture Capital people are going to be asking themselves the question, "are we smarter than HP or is HP smarter than we?"
Business Development people at rapid manufacturing companies are scrambling through their Rolodexes with panicked fingers in search of that one nerdy kid that ended up doing something vague at Dell.
People at Mckinsey job interviews and business schools will be asked, "how much would a desktop 3D printer that could print anything sell for?"
Business Week is trying to find the Kevin Rose of 3D printing so they can put him on the cover. It will, amazingly, take them a while to find Bre Pettis, but it will happen.
It will at first become much more difficult and later much easier to explain what I do at family get togethers.
In short the passionate few, the adventurers, the nerds, the people plugging away for years at ideas, the people that got their hands dirty are now going to be joined by people with weird job titles. Pre Sales Solution Architect III & Enterprise Customer Pursuit Program Manager (I wish I made that up). The Power Point punters are coming. Packaging Look & Feel meetings will be held and unboxing experiences will be discussed. There will be market research. People will jump into this market like its the worlds biggest bouncy castle.
In the short term this will suck. The suits will get it wrong. They'll come up with stupid terms and shiny things that don't work. But, in the long term we will be better for it. They will drive this market forward and eventually machines will become better and cheaper. Tea, Earl Grey, Hot, will still take a long time. But, I already have cleared space for 3D printer on my desk.
Really, I have. You can see it in the photo above. I keep a space empty on a otherwise way too cluttered desk so that I can eventually put a 3D printer there. That space has been empty for 19 months. What should & will fill it? Will that be an open source kit? a slick injection molded (oh the irony) affair? And the 11th thing that is happening right now? Many people are now wondering how many people there are out there with space on their desks for a 3D printer.
Stratasys and HP are going to make and distribute 3D printers together. This is huge news. As you may know Stratasys is the company behind the Dimension & Fortus 3D printer brands and the Red Eye 3D printing service. Stratasys use the FDM process and we use their machines for our Grey Robust material. Some quotes from the press release: “We believe the time is right for 3D printing to become mainstream,”
said Stratasys Chairman and CEO Scott Crump. “We also believe that HP’s
unmatched sales and distribution capabilities and Stratasys FDM
technology is the right combination to achieve broader 3D printer usage
worldwide. HP has made a similar move in this market before, capturing a
dominant position in large-format 2D printers. Together we hope to
repeat this success with 3D printers.”
The large printer manufacturers have now dabbled in the "low end" of the market with Dimension FDM printers breaking the $20,000 mark at one point. This is the same price as the entry level Zcorp machine, the 310. Objet's Alaris is around 40,000 if I'm not mistaken. Now the Dimension U-Print starts at $12,000. 3D Systems, another 3D printer manufacturer, recently acquired the assets for Desktop Factory which was a start up that wanted to produce a $5000 3D printer.
Stratasys working with HP means that they will have a lot more muscle on the distribution side and will push prices lower. HP's savvy in doing the whole "giving you the printer" and charging an arm and a leg for the ink thing. It would be interesting if they tried this with 3D printers. This is a huge shake up in a market coming to grips with the idea of manufacturing for everyone.
The race to lower prices and desktop machines is of course even more interesting given that the open source Rep Rap printer (and its positively dirt cheap $750 Makerbot Cupcake CNC variant) are both doing very well. This means that as of now the major 3D printer manufacturers are locked in a battle for your desktop while at the same time trying to figure out how to compete with open source. Awesome!
Pauline Wiertz's ceramic pistols are simply wonderful. The concept came out of an art project she did with the local Dutch Police. Pauline then started to make molds out of a series of guns and paint them brightly with things such as clown fish and butterflies. The effect is a somehow dainty and charming gun. Apologies for the crappy pictures.
Shapeways Community Member Anthony Hill makes Finger Boards. He hand crafts high quality Fingerboards from maple, oak and birch wood. These exquisite boards have 5 layers and 7 coats of lacquer. You can check out Anthony's hand made custom fingerboards here. Anthony wanted to add a super special touch to his boards, so he got a Shapeways metal 3D printed branding Iron. Using that he can brand logos into the boards.
I love the idea of this so much! First of all, Anthony is running a micro-business. A business that would not be viable without the Internet. A business that exploits a tiny niche but is nonetheless viable because he can reach a global cadre of enthusiasts. Secondly the business is a customization business which of course I love and think represents a big coming trend as many businesses and products move towards higher value unique products because of customer demand. Thirdly, he's used 3D printing in a business enviornment. But, the one thing I like most is that he's using 3D printing because it is useful. For him the branding iron makes sense as an investment. The fact that it is 3D printed stainless steel is not the decisive factor in his purchase of it. He brought it because it allows him to add logos to a board quickly. You can see some more pictures on the forum or check out the boards on his site here.
Eric Finley and Aaron Trocola rock! I am continually astounded by the helpfulness and kindness of the Shapeways community.
As you know we recently introduced color 3D printing. To upload and create a color 3D printed file you have to work with a texture map and the VRML file format. These are both unfamiliar to a lot of people. Aaron therefore spend a considerable amount of time making a clear and well illustrated tutorial explaining the texture mapping of VRML files. His tutorial shows you how you can use the free Google Sketchup tool combined with the free and open source tool Meshlab to easily make textures out of images. His example of a simple photo frame is clear and the tutorial is a huge help to our community. I would like to thank Aaron so so much. You can check out the tutorial which will help 3D modelers from noobs to ninjas deal with texture maps here. Besides writing super tutorials Aaron is Aeron203 on Shapeways and has some really well designed items in his Shop.
Just having one person such as Aaron do something so helpful would be amazing but over the past weekend we had two. Eric Finley made his Shapeways Tools Script for Blender. This script integrates and builds upon the work of another awesome member Loonsbury. Loonsbury's pricing script for Blender is now included in Eric's Tools. This means that community members have now made tools for Blender as well as for 3D Max in the form of Virtox's excellent pricing script.
Eric's Shapeways Tools for Blender include a completely automatic wall thickness check. You are not dreaming. The script even color codes your wall thicknesses so you can see where your problems lie and just how problematic the walls are, right within Blender! Please help Eric by giving him feedback for his awesome app. You can check out his great fantasy Shop here.
Together with Maryland Plastics we will have a contest to see if the creativity of our community can lead to excellent design in injection molded tableware. The winner of the contest will receive $300 in 3D printing from Shapeways.
The top 3 entries will then be evaluated by Maryland Plastics and if the designs meet their exacting standards they will offer the designer a buy out fee. This could mean an additional fee of $2000 for example. But this would depend on the design being injection moldable.. The design has to be injection mold able and fit into Maryland Plastics Crystalware line. You can enter the contest by uploading a model with the tag: injection molding to Shapeways. Your design will remain your own property unless you decide to accept an offer from Maryland Plastics for the rights to the design.
So tired of all this boring unique, one of a kind stuff? Injection molding, is about millions of copies.
Rules to be Injection Mold able:
The easiest thing to do is pick up something that is made in plastic. You can even look through the Maryland Plastics Catalogs and see how it works. In most cases, a Mold is 2 pieces of steel, that are held together at high pressures, and liquid plastic is injected in the cavities. Then the 2 pieces of steel are pulled apart and the plastic pieces fall out. This can be seen on any injection molded piece. If you look at a plastic fork, there is a seam that runs along the entire perimeter of the fork. This is where the pieces of steel meet. On a plastic bowl or plate, it is usually along the brim. This seam is very important in your design. You must leave a way for the steel to escape.
For example, this punch bowl shape. Think of 2 pieces of steel. How would you have two pieces of steel to make this design, and then be able to remove the plastic piece? It would require extra moving pieces and be extremely expensive. And when you go to buy plastic stuff, you don’t want expensive. In some cases a 3 piece mold is required.
In the case of a coffee cup or pitcher, a 3 piece mold is acceptable. It is had to design a handle in a product that wouldn’t require a third piece. If you think about how the steel would need to escape from the plastic, you would see that one piece of the mold would be for the inside of the cup. Then you would need 2 pieces to move in from the sides of the cup to make the handle. If you just had a 2 piece mold, the steel would not be able to pull out from the handle.
Rules for Crystalware:
When you look through the Crystalware catalog, you will see many items ranging from platters to pitchers to plates. What we are looking for is one of two things. Something that will fit along with the items we already have. Or a design of it’s own that would look good in clear plastic. For example you like the design on the pitcher. You could make say cups that compliment the design. Or if you hate the design on the pitcher, and you think another design would look better.
The image above is an actual picture of Alien Grey by Jiovanie. It is 3D printed using our Full Color Sandstone material. This is our least expensive material and the pricing is $0.99 per Cubic Centimeter ($16.22 per cubic Inch + $ 1.50 start up costs per model, these prices include worldwide shipping).
You can check out the video here:
Several community members have been making some wonderful things over the past months to showcase Full Color 3D printing.
We turn any image into a color 3D printed depth map so you can see as well as touch your holiday snapshots for $29. Check them out here.
For Character modelers & animators this really means they can now take their avatar or their favorite character design and put it on their desktop. Designers can now come up with Co-creators that can be turned into any color, any pattern such as this Ipod accessory below. You just upload any image or pattern and the designer easily makes your object this color or pattern.
The type of 3D printer we use for this process are Zcorp 650. We however are using a finishing technique that strengthens the 3D printed parts using rapid thermoset composites. Additionally we also use a one of a kind machine to resin infuse the models. This unique process makes the models much stronger and the colors much brighter, than was possible previously. We believe that people that have been exposed to Zcorp previously will be blown away with the results.
Having said that we do have to temper your enthusiasm somewhat. The resolution of the printer itself is low compared to the other processes we use. So the details and features will be less accurate. However, the color resolution is high so high detail in images is possible. The models are much stronger than traditional Zcorp processes but still fragile compared to the other things you can make with Shapeways.
We have more technical information here in the Design Rules for Full Color 3D printing here. The most crucial information is to realize that the wall thickness is 3mm and that fragile dainty models can not be made with this process. For a quick overview of the material you can check out our material page for Full Color Sandstone.
You can currently add color to your models by using a VRML file with texture map or by using x3D. You can find out how that works here.
Please tell us what you think and especially in the first weeks of this new material, let us know what needs to be improved.