Category Archives: Gadgets

Terminator Was Not Open-source:

How 3D printing and DIY drone community are changing perceptions.

We will be attending the EAA Airventure Live convention in Oshkosh this week. So as this week will be all about wings, we thought we would look into one of our top growing communities of flying makers, the DIY drone community, and share their story with you.

“I’ll be back!”
The Terminator, 1984

We all know that line from the movie.  And as we are seeing more forms of artificial intelligence and other robotic incarnations, science fiction and the media want us to believe that the Terminator [1]  will indeed be back soon. One of the most reproved and misunderstood of these robots are probably Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, as they are more commonly known. But what no one is showing us is that this technology is not being molded by some dark overlord like “Skynet ”, but more likely by the hobbyist with a 3D printer next door. Embracing the “Maker Movement” and open source development,  3D printing and personal drone communities are bringing together two industries that are growing bigger than the sum of their parts.

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Disruptive technology” is a term coined by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M. Christensen describing an emerging technology that significantly alters the landscape and creates a completely new industry around it.  The web, cloud computing, cell phones, MP3s, and Wi-Fi are all examples of disruptive technologies that we probably cannot live without in today’s world.

Both drones and 3D printing are considered disruptive technologies and together will radically change our perception of both drone technology and the use of 3D printing.  So just what makes them work so well together – 3D printed drones? Well, yes, this is definitely being done, but it is not the real game-changer. Let’s first inoculate the perception we have of UAV technology and then bring in the alchemy of 3D printing.

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DJI Phantom 1.5 – 24mm Battery Door by BrianSelfDesign

UAVs are flown remotely with no one onboard. This allows the pilot the safety of not being airborne and also dramatically improves the visibility and reach of the pilot as UAVs can go where manned airborne vehicles often cannot. The UAV uses computers, sensors, cameras , and GPS to locate itself and feeds back data to the pilot, which could include its position, the terrain, the conditions, and video footage around it.

Probably the most common use of UAVs is for film. The recent Winter Games in Sochi would not have been as dramatic if we did not have the drone’s eye view of the skier in midair. UAVs are not only cheaper than aerial photography from a helicopter, but they can also come much closer and stay close due to their speed. In the US, using UAVs for commercial filming purposes is illegal, but it does not stop amateur filmmakers from shooting some of the most breathtaking and brazen footage currently to be found on the web. Digital cameras such as the GoPro are attached to the drone and then the only thing stopping you from soaring with the eagles is battery life and range.

skier-jump-drone

Credit: fieldofplay.eu

There have also been a couple of more playful uses suggested such as UAVs delivering pizza, beer, and your online store orders. But it is not all fun and games; UAVs are also put to work. They allow scientists to explore weather, farmers to inspect their crops or stock, and they enable rescue missions to find missing people and deliver provisions in disaster areas.

Now, let us add 3D printing to the drone mix, or we could probably just 3D print a drone. University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) has produced a UAV that can be printed and in the air in 24 hours. Without 3D printing, the same drone would take 120 hours to produce, there would be material waste, and there wouldn’t be options to print one or many. This same team is also researching disposable 3D printed drones that could be created inexpensively and be in the air on a mission, whether for surveillance or rescue, within 24 hours.

So there we have drones and 3D printed drones, but now we can take this to next dimension: 3D printing drones. Imperial College London’s Aerial Robotics Lab has developed a “robotic quadcopter that can extrude polyurethane foam while in flight.” The researchers are hoping that this drone could potentially fill holes that need patching or build completely new structures in unreachable locations.

BAE Drone

Credit: BAE Drone

Aerospace company BAE Systems predicts that by 2040 we’ll have airplanes with sophisticated 3D printers onboard that can 3D print UAVs on demand and to scope. So soon we will have flying 3D printers printing 3D printed drones that can 3D print. This is probably not what they refer to as a feedback loop in technology, but it comes pretty close.

However the real alchemy (or disruptive innovation) of 3D printing in the world of UAVs is neither the scientific inventions nor the futuristic possibilities, but rather lies within the rapidly growing DIY community of both UAV and 3D printing enthusiasts.

They have formed a participatory partnership that supports each other’s ideas, shares research, actively contributes, offers mentorship, and most importantly relinquishes ownership. This model of community-led research and development is not new, but it has never been in such control of an entire industry’s future.

A pioneer in this regard is Chris Anderson, who quit his job as editor and chief of the revered Wired magazine to join a then 20-year-old Jordi Muñoz, with whom he had only communicated via email to start 3D Robotics, the leading personal UAV manufacturer. Anderson is also a fervent backer of 3D printing and expounds the idea of a new industrial revolution in his book Makers, about a movement started by people who are once again taking design and development into their own hands. In particular, he refers to 3D printing that makes manufacturing faster and more accessible.

Credit: Aarti Shahani

Credit: Aarti Shahani

Before Anderson started 3D Robotics, he had a personal interest in UAVs. A couple of failed attempts at impressing his children with a homemade drone led him to start a community of amateur tinkerers of the UAV persuasion so they could share their findings in this relatively new field and also commiserate on their failings. “By building a team in public,” he says, “you build communities first and open source them, you do not have to find the right people. They find you.” 

Anderson started DIYDrones.com in 2007, and the community currently has over 55 thousand contributing members  and with approximately 1,000 new personal drones being launched every month, this community is flying high.

At about the same time that Anderson was starting DIY Drones, another company had its own story of success in a skeptical market: Shapeways. This company originated in an incubator within Dutch conglomerate Philips. And Shapeways itself is something of an incubator — a 3D printing marketplace that allows for others  to make a business out of the work they produce. Community members are given free reign to upload any 3D printed file to the Shapeway’s website, 3D print in a myriad of materials and colors using Shapeways’ industrial printers and then use the infrastructure to host their own online stores and manage the logistics.

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UltraLight 20cm Landing Gear by BrianSelfDesign

3D printing is a natural fit for the drone community because of the relatively new and unexplored nature of both industries. UAVs would not be developing so quickly if it weren’t for 3D printers and their ability to rapidly prototype and produce the variety of modifications and additions that are needed for things like camera attachments and battery cases for extended flying time. As soon as a new use is defined for a drone, they can immediately test or manufacture it. And in turn, there’s a whole new market and community for the 3D printing industry.

Shapeways has an active relationship with its own community as well. The suggestions and feedback from the community of Shop Owners and Shoppers are regularly addressed not only through dialogue but also by being implementing into development strategies for its online platforms and production facilities. It was also in these community dialogues (together with clear evidence of its booming sales reports) that Shapeways realized what was once considered a niche hobby began turning into a full-blown disruptive force in the marketplace. Drone bodies, modification and drone accessories, have become a significant portion of its current shop owner stock and sales.

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Phantom 1.5 Battery Door by d3wey

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Fatshark Camera Holder with GoPro Mount by d3wey

When you search through the Shop Owners on Shapeways.com, you can see that they are clearly part of this participatory and global community. D3wey, a designer from the UK, asks for feedback on all his products to improve the quality and he proudly states that his designs are more for fun than for profit. He produces everything from GoPro attachments to the battery doors that allow bigger batteries and personalization like dragon or skull designs.

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Canopy for HeliMax 1SQ Quadcopter by spike2131

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DJI Phantom Landing Gear by maikelsdesign

Another active community member, Simensays, produces spare parts, camera equipment, landing gear, and compass mounts to name but a few. These DIY drone enthusiast are clearly more interested in making interesting videos, tracking their extreme sports adventures, or just good old-fashion showboatery than any of the other concerns we might have around drones.

The DIY drone community alone flies more drones than the total number of US military drones at present. Thus the power to ‘demilitarize and democratize‘ the development of UAVs really lies in the hands of the DIY drone community. Inside these communities everyone is a moderator that can encourage good behavior, discipline bad behavior, contest legal decisions, and build software or hardware together. And for the first time, there is communal intellectual property which all own and protect.

And herein lies the true alchemy: every single member of the DIY drone community has a team of 55,000 peaceful and fun-loving inventors, scientist, homemakers, engineers, teachers, and artists—to name but a few—behind them, that are all building and industry with everyone’s best interests at heart. To top this, with the power of 3D printing they also have their own manufacturing plant and from here, the sky really is the limit.

Credit: Parrot AR.Drone

Credit: Parrot AR.Drone


[1] Elison Harlen, James Cameron, The Terminator, 1984
[2] American Broadcast Corporation, Modern Family, Season 05 Episode 14 “iSpy”

 


 

Seeking Designers to Feature at EAA Airventure: Send us your Planes, Drone Parts and Aerospace Models

custom drone
Do you love planes, drones or just aerospace in general? Have you heard of the Experimental Aircraft Association? Once a year they bring together air travel enthusiasts of all varieties at the world’s largest gathering of the sort, EAA Airventure, in Oshkosh Wisconsin. We’ve won a booth through a contest they held for startups and we would love to have you join us, or show off your planes and drone parts in our booth!

The Details:
July 28th – August 3rd
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

How You Can Get Involved:
Come say Hi to Dan & I in the booth or join us! If you live nearby or are visiting the midwest and would like talk to fellow aircraft enthusiasts any of the show days, please email Savannah@Shapeways.com and we can coordinate logistics.

Can’t make it to Oshkosh? No worries! Send in any products you want shown off at the show with your designer details, any custom branding you have, and a bit about each product you’re showing. We’ll tell your story and send them back to you after the show if you’d like!

Send Planes, Drones & Aerospace Accessories To:

Savannah Peterson
c/o Shapeways
419 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016

More about EAA and Airventure can be found on their website; though this video gives you a nice taste of what is in store.

What would you fly if you could fly anything?


 

What the Oculus Rift Acquisition by Facebook means for 3D Printing

The tech world collectively gasped and gossiped yesterday as Facebook announced its purchase of Oculus, a virtual reality headset originally launched on Kickstarter, for a cool $2 Billion Dollars. Safe to say that their 21 year old CEO and his team of are set for life, but what does this mean for the rest of us?


Our very own Brad Dickason rocking his Oculus Rift

In sum:
  1. Hardware is back
  2. People powered product > other stuff
  3. Communities are empowering the future of design meaning innovation is no longer dictated by big brand hegemons
  4. Shapeways, like Oculus, is at the epicenter of this next industrial revolution

Continue reading


 

 

3D Printed Gadget Accessories

Searching for the latest tech accessory for your new gadget but tired of the same old same old? We’ve found some fresh and unique 3D printed products on Shapeways that will compliment that shiny new smartphone or gadget of yours. A few years ago 3D printing affordable gadget accessories was challenging and they often fell in the shadow of their mass produced counterparts, Now they can be customized, are comparable in cost to all other accessories and come in a variety of options. Have a look at few of these 3D printed gadget accessories. 

Acoustic iPhone 5 Gramophone by abite  

The iPhone 5 Minimized Gramophone turns your phone into a multi-functional device.  

Honeycomb iPhone 5/5s case by mygadgetlife

This is a half bumper / half case with a pretty honeycomb design.

Earphone Holder by agelos

The earphone holder will hold your apple headphones from hanging when not in use.

Socially Awkward Penguin iPhone 5 Case by kspaho

We all experience socially awkward moments, own them by rocking the SAP case. 

Pebble Watch Bike Mount by Phil_Willoughby

This bike mount grips your Pebble watch securely; positioning it above the headset cap where you can easily see it. 

The great thing about 3D printing is that you’re not limited to what’s available. If you don’t like what you see on the market then you have the option to design your own product. Don’t own a 3D printer? We’ll provide the service for you. These are just a few examples of the awesome gadget accessories members of the Shapeways community took the initiative to create with many new designs uploaded everyday. Is there a tech accessory you wish existed but doesn’t? Plunge in 2014 and create it. It’s never been easier to go from conception to production with 3D Printing and Shapeways! 


 

Capture the World in 3D: Structure Sensor on Kickstarter

These are exciting times for pixels and atoms alike. Yesterday was the launch of the Structure Sensor campaign on Kickstarter. In just over 24 hours the Structure developers, Occipital in San Francisco, have quadrupled their funding goal and raised nearly $400,000 with 43 days left to go. And for good reason. With a tap of the screen the sensor lets you measure a room, make a 3D model from real life objects and send the files directly to your iOS device.

Continue reading


 

Home Made 3D Printed Stepper Motor (VIDEO)

3D Printing isn’t just about photorealistic bulldogs, beautiful jewelry and iPhone cases, it is also a way to design, prototype and produce more complex products by integrating other components.  Check out this working stepper motor constructed around a Shapeways 3D printed frame along with some nails, magnet wire, neodymium magnets and a digispark microcontroller.

If a simple motor can be constructed, what is the next step? (pun intended)


 

3D Printed iPod Nano Watch

With great music comes great responsibility, and, honestly, it’s difficult to keep track of that tiny 6th generation iPod Nano sometimes.

The VIR 3D Printed Watch by dominicprescod is here to make life a little easier by transforming your iPod Nano into a nifty watch.

3D Printed iPod Nano Watch

The accessory has four parts, two of which attach to either side of the nano and have slots to attach the bands. The pieces are then secured with mating screws, which are sent separately.

3D Printed iPod Nano Watch

Having your music with you while you’re on the go has never been easier!

3D Printed iPod Nano Watch

What 3D printed accessories have you created to make your jam sessions more mobile?


 

3D Printed Mount iPhone to Hang Glider Flying Over San Francisco (VIDEO)

Using a 3D Printed Hang Glider Bracket and The X Bracket Universal Smartphone Holder Tom Rust shot a HD video of a flight over Fort Funston, San Francisco CA. With a view of the North Pacific coastline including Daly City, Northern Peninsula, San Francisco out to Point Reyes and as far east as Mount Diablo, Sutro Tower and Golden Gate Bridge as well as peaks of downtown San Fransisco.

This is a perfect use of a super lightweight material like 3D printed Nylon (WSF) to make a custom mount for a specific purpose such as a hang glider mount for around $40. Take a look at Custom Solar Power’s range of 3D printed products designed to connect things to things

For those of you who suffer easily from vertigo, do not watch this video.


 

Designer Spotlight: Bo Lorentz

This week’s Designer Spotlight focuses on Bo Lorentzen, a photographer whose creative upbringing has led him to create custom mounts and accessories for the popular GoPro camera.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

I am Bo, originally from Denmark, now living and working in Hollywood, California. My background is photography and graphic design.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you to design for the GoPro?

My designs are mostly created to solve my own needs and wants.  The GoPro for me is a amazing camera, which truly shows how scale and technology affect how we do things, because it creates images with quality better than my broadcast cameras of years ago.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
Shapeways is an absolutely fantastic concept, I was printing parts for customers myself on my UP! printer, constantly having to check on prints and files,  using Shapeways is the only logical way to do this,  I upload a file and let Shapeways deal with fulfilling orders. It is brilliant! (Ed-thanks, we think so too!)

shapeways gopro drone mount

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I did actually take classes in 3D animation in the nineties, but 3D product design is something I have slowly figured out the hard way. I probably learned to think in 3D from my mother who is very artistic and “forced” us as kids to draw, to work in clay, and generally hammer together and build whatever we were thinking. So when we saw a TV program about pirates, we would later be building a pirate ship in the backyard.

How do you promote your work?

I don’t really promote like I should,  most of my sales are from word of mouth, from happy customers using my designs. I write a blog, where I share my thoughts about photography.

shapeways gopro hero mount

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
EVERYBODY, the Shapeways community is truly amazing and one of a kind, there are so many creative people using technology to make hard-copies of their imaginative concepts. To mention one maybe Theo Jansen’s amazing moving sculptures might be one, I look at those weekly.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I am very excited about printing with multiple materials in one project in the future.
GoPro fan? Check out Bo’s camera accessories in his Shapeways Shop, or explore the range of GoPro add-ons that people are creating.

 

Controller Pendant Designed by stop4stuff: A Father and Son 3D Printed Project

Another family 3D printing project to hit Shapeways is the Controller Pendant by stop4stuff. Not only is it a story of a father and son, working together on a creative project, but also a story entrepreneurial spirit.  If the design sells, the boy get’s his pocket money without doing any additional work, but most importantly, the boy get’s his pocket money without it coming out of his father’s pocket…. Win, win.

3D Printed Games controller pendant on Shapeways

Some time last year (2012) my 13 year old son, Nath, was trying to think up ways to make a bit of extra pocket money. Knowing Nath’s artistic flair, I suggested a design of something he could have 3D printed. Nath drew up the design on paper, I did the 3D model work and between us we came up with the style of the pendant based on an Xbox games console controller.

Ordered on the 15th December, the pendant arrived on the 2nd January, in plenty of time for his birthday next week.

This is Nath’s first design and any markups from this model all go to Nath.

So, if you want an awesome pendant for yourself or your gamer friend, go for the Controller Pendant and support teenage entrepreneurship. Happy Birthday Nath…

3d printed gamer pendant in stainless steel on Shapeways


 

iPad Mini Case Design Guidelines Now Available : Let’s 3D Print!!!!

The iPhone 5 Design Contest is now over and we are 3D Printing some of our favorites right now (HINT: you may have seen them exposed in the feed) but Apple have just released the specs for the iPad Mini so it is time to start designing for the next range of Apple Fanboy Accessories.

iPad Mini Specifications to 3D Print with Shapeways

You can download the specifications for the Wifi Version and Cellular Version from the apple site (yes, they are ever so slightly different but you may be able to make a design to fit both).

SO, what shall we do to get you all designing some cool new accessories for the iPad Mini?  

What applications do you see for this device that the iPad is too big for and the iPhone too small?

What is the point of differentiation that Apple is aiming for and can you amplify that difference with your design?

Tag Your designs with Apple, Fanboy and Ipad Mini so we can find your designs and we will find a way to reward your creativity.

Thanks to Core 77 for pointing the way to the specs. 


 

Design an iPhone 5 Accessory to win $500 Worth of 3D Printing at Shapeways

Only a few days left to get your entry in to win $500 worth of 3D Printing at Shapeways.

We have already received some very impressive entries so the bar has been set quite high but it is always worth entering because there is always room for more awesomeness and hey, if it does not win it still might sell if you have it for sale in your Shapeways shop….

To enter the contest:

  • Upload a new design to Shapeways with the tag iPhone5_3D by 5pm EST Friday October 19th 2012.
  • Upload a description of your design specifying the use/context.
  • Make it awesome.

    Terms and Conditions:

    • Free prize draw, closing date, 5pm EST Friday October 19th 2012.
    • Winner will receive $500 worth of 3D Printing from Shapeways.
    • The winner be notified in writing by October 30th, 2012.
    • No purchase necessary.
    • Multiple entries allowed.
    • Entry must be a new design uploaded after September 13th, 2012.
    • Entry must be on display to public to be eligible
    • All IP for all entires remain property of the designer as per standard Shapeways terms and conditions.
    • All entries, images, renders and 3D prints may be used by Shapeways for promotional purposes 
    • By entering this competition, entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to the conditions.
    • No cash or other alternative prizes available.
    • The prize draw is not open to Shapeways employees or their families.
    • The promoters decision is final and no correspondance will be entered into.
    • Promoter: Shapeways LLC, 419 Park Ave South, New York, NY 10016, USA 


 

Your Portable iPhone Charging Dock Now Available for US iPhones.

We have seen the European version, now the US Version of the Clip-it for iPhone converts your iPhone charger to a wall dock; making
sure that you can easily charge your phone at every wall socket.
Unfurnished rooms, hotels and conference rooms are no longer a problem.

Shapeways 3D Printed iPhone Charging Dock

Clip-it
makes use of your existing Apple Dock Connector to USB Cable. Simply
snap it in and lock it by clipping it to your charger. Clip-it is
perfectly engineered to hold the latest two generations of original 30
pin Apple charging cables.

Clip-it US is designed for the iPhone 4 & iPhone 4S and the included Apple USB Power Adapter (US version). 

http://www.shapeways.com/model/680813/clip-it-us-edition.html


 

First 3D Printed iPhone 5 on Shapeways

It Arrived!!!

The first 3D Printed iPhone 5 has landed at Shapeways and along with it an update to the design for the iPhone 5 case templates for the contest we are running at Shapeways where you can win $500 worth of 3D Printing by designing an accessory for the iPhone 5.

There are already over 30 3D Printed products already available on Shapeways to fit the iPhone 5, enter your design in the contest to win.

We have updated the downloadable files for customization now that we have been able to test the fit, especially around the corners for the iPhone 5, the case can be downloaded here, and the bumper here