Hi this is Duann and I will be joining the Shapeways team and will be contributing with blog posts, on the forums and generally discussing Shapeways, 3D printing and the democratization of design.
As way of introduction and to let you know a little of my background, I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of South Australia, my research is focused on 'Mass Customization and the Democratization of Product Design' especially online tools and the communities surrounding them. Whilst undertaking this research I also work as an industrial design consultant on a wide variety of projects ranging from jewelry to furniture, touchscreen kiosks to children's playgrounds, museum and retail interiors to large scale public sculpture. Throughout all of my professional practice my passion is the use innovative materials and processes to produce aesthetically resolved and humanized objects and spaces.
As Joris is on holiday and he put me in his out of office and in the latest newsletter, I thought it was time to let you know who I am.
I would like to introduce myself as Shapeways new Marketing Director. My name is Jo (pronounced Yo) and with this segment I would like to invite you, fellow bloggers, readers and customers to join me on a journey through this exciting industry and in discovering the amazing things we have in store for you. Having been exposed to all things Shapeways for the last 2 months now, I must admit that I am really enjoying the work, the company, the colleagues and the amazing products and of course the concept of 3D printing.
He designed it and printed it weeks before it came out. Some friends quickly bought an Ipad in the States and brought it to Finland. Pekka was the able to test the plug holes and the buttons to see if the 3D print & his design were correct.
There were some issues with his initial design but he corrected them and now he is able to put an Ipad compatible accessory on the market worldwide. Pekka has the product design skill, he prototypes using us and then we provide him with a scalable manufacturing infrastructure so he can sell a product worldwide while we do the shipping production and all other things boring. You know what, the more I think about it the more I am beginning to believe that there might be something to this whole 3D printer and 3D printing hype after all. Pekka's 3D printed case for the Ipad cost $50 and you can get one here.
There is a lot of hype currently about desktop 3D printing. A lot of people are saying that the dream is to be able to make anything with desktop 3D printers.
I love the entire "be able to make anything." But, why "desktop 3D printing"? Why is the predefined form factor part of the dream?
Is it because paper printers went from large expensive things to cheap desktop things? Are we stuck in this allegory?
Is it because when you're making a 3D printer it is much easier to make one with a small build volume than a large build volume? Is it therefore because making a desktop 3D printer is so much more achievable than a larger one?
Is it because a cheap printer is important and so smaller ones are advantageous in this regard?
Is it because the Star Trek Replicators are desktop sized?
Is it because this is a good size for a consumer electronic device?
Is it because of the development of cell phones and other technologies that seem to indicate that small is more advanced?
Is it because making them this size would increase the adoption rate because more people could fit them in their homes easier?
Or is this desktop somehow in some other way important? Somehow crucial to the entire endeavor?
What am I missing?
My fridge is not desktop sized. My washing machine is not desktop sized. In fact my washing machine would be near useless if it were desktop sized and it could only wash two socks at a time. My dishwasher would be less efficient as a device and less useful to me if it were smaller. Bicycles & ovens would also suck as a smaller devices. I'm not saying that someone will not find a use for a tiny fridge or tiny oven: just that the most useful versions of these devices tend to not fit on your desktop.
We operate on a human scale and so the things we will print will be in this scale too. We make small things with 3D printing currently because big things are expensive. But, I totally want to make big things too: houses, couches, cars etc.. I want to be able to make anything. So why should the technological development of 3D printing be limited by a seemingly arbitrarily chosen form factor? Would "backpack portable" 3D printing or fridge sized 3d printing not be easier or better?
We now got to interview Dr. Sivam Krish, the Co-founder of Genometri. Sivam studied aerospace engineering and architecture and became a university lecturer. The next logical step was of course to found Singapore based Genometri a software company that sells generative design software. Whereas a lot of companies are starting to get into personalization and coming up with mass customization tools Genometri is ahead of the curve and wants to be a vendor that supplies easy to use mass customization to companies by using generative design software.
Joris Peels: What is Genometri?
Sivam Krish: Genometri is about genes and
geometry. I believe that the future of design is going to be based on
biological models. We developed technologies that will help designers
create genetic representations of design that may be used for
generative design or mass customization.
Joris Peels: So you sell software? What kind of companies do you sell it to? Who do you expect will be your customers in the future?
Sivam Krish: We were one of the first movers in generative design. We were a bit too
early. We had to explain to people what generative design was all about
and we found designers to be very resistant. That has changed now,
especially in architecture. We made a mistake of focusing on product
design. What has taken off in the last few years is parametric design
(not generative design) Parametric design is an essential step for
generative design. Generative designs will allow computers to spew out
thousands of designs and let designers select and improve them. This is
not happening yet, but it is about to. This technology has now reached
adolescence – but is not producing babies yet. The time is now right
for the technology we have developed. We are currently revising our
strategy to focus on design education and make our technology widely
Today, Tuesday the 2nd of April there will be
a bank holiday in the USA. Because of this we might be a little late in
getting back to you with some emails with regards to your orders.
The Customer Service team will be enjoying the Easter holiday on Easter Monday
the 5th of April. We will not be able to get back to your emails within 24 hours on the 5th. Also, some emails sent in the evening (in Europe) of Sunday the 4th or during the weekend might only be answered on Tuesday the 6th. Happy Easter everyone!
Shapeways was over the past week hit by what we assume is the first virus to affect 3D printing. This virus infected a plug in of a popular 3D modeling package and corrupted files that were exported to STL with that plug in.
A few important things first:
the maker of the 3D modeling software and the company that developed the plug in have been notified.
the offending plug in has been disabled and a new version is being developed
we suffered no major delays as a result of the virus
on Shapeways the six community members that were affected by the virus have been notified
two orders were impacted by this and did suffer a slight delay but the community members in question have also been notified
this virus was basically harmless and more a proof of concept virus than a malicious one
we know that some 3D printing companies did have some issues with the virus also but they have informed us that they have contacted all affected customers
As you may or may not know the STL file type is the default file type in 3D printing. STL files turn your design into a lot of triangles. STL files then describe all these triangles and how they are oriented. There are two different types of STLs: binary and ASCII. This virus only affected ASCII STLs. In an ASCII STL each file begins with the text SOLID followed by the file name and ends with the text ENDSOLID followed by the file name. As the offending plug in converted the files into STL the virus simply inserted text into the header of the file. The virus operated much like the Macro Virus' that used to be the bane of Word and Excel documents.We can not currently disclose how the virus spreads because some standards people are looking into that first (along with some bemused anti-virus guys).
So lets say your file used to be called "joris" and the header of the file would therefore start with SOLID joris. The virus would simply insert "SOLID RotherJ" & all its triangles before your text. Once your file was uploaded the 3D printer the printer would read the file and start with SOLID RotherJ and read that "shape" instead of yours. At the end of the virus' triangles there would be the words ENDSOLID. This would tell the printer that it was done reading the file. So what it did, amazingly!, was replace your model with another. If you sent the file for printing to the machine it would print the virus' object and not yours.
One of our community members meant to upload a nice model of a small action hero. Once they looked at the rendering of the file that person noticed that the rendering and 3D view showed a rectangular object. We were very confused originally and looked at the problem in depth. After some days we noticed that the text in the file had been replaced. We were amazed to discover that the replaced file was a crude credit card.
Clearly the offending 3D print was far to crude to fool anyone into
thinking it was a real credit card. The file and the 3D print were, we
think, only meant as a proof of concept for the writer of the virus. That person simply wanted bragging rights of having created the first virus for 3D printing.
The 3D print on the right lets you see the detail. The card was completely to scale.
The virus itself does point to some worrying signs for the future though. What if your home 3D printer was used to print counterfeit things without you knowing about it? What if you spent a lot of time making something and something awful came out? What could criminals & counterfeiters do with this kind of malicious technology?
The second virus print we tested did however indicate just how far we are from such a scary future. Whilst the Credit Card was crude, this is positively laughable. A 3D printed "watch" that says Jolex. Clearly the technology is years away from properly duplicating a watch.
Here you can see an open image of the watch.
Despite the somewhat underwhelming nature of the 3D prints, this was a huge wake up call however and we are going to work with the industry on virus scanners for objects to counter these threats before they emerge once again.
Please keep us informed should you find any other news about 3D printers experiencing these issues. And please do spread the word just in case there is someone out there that has this problem.