Author Archives: Angela Linneman

The Week in 3D Printing

Rumors swirled around a possible iPhone 8 3D scanner, an animator took loading screens from digital to analog using 3D printing, plus: laughs, limbs, pills, and backbones got the 3D printed treatment, and we resurrected both dinosaurs and a thinner you — all this week in 3D printing.

Take a (3D) selfie

Appleinsider brought us some pretty serious-sounding speculation that Apple will roll out a 3D scanner with its iPhones 8. Some see an opportunity for scanning and printing almost anything, others see an opportunity for Snapchat to get even creepier.

Back it up now

Some people love to wait. Take Raphael Vangelis. Aside from having a preeeetty awesome name, the director/animator also appreciates the art of loading screens — enough to take them from digital to analog format, creating stop-motion animations with his own special twists, as The Verge reported. Now, hurry up and wait:

Analogue Loaders from Raphael Vangelis on Vimeo.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss back pain goodbye

Printing in space got even more interesting somehow this week when the Made In Space printer aboard the International Space Station produced a “laugh” (a print of a 3D model of sound waves emitted during laughter, natch). Get all of the laughs on Space.com. MEANWHILE IN SYRIA, Vice brought us the moving story of Ibrahim Mohammad, a refugee who’s working to bring relief to Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon — in the form of 3D printed limbs. Read the whole beautiful, harrowing tale here. Less dramatic, but no less useful was the revelation that 3D printing is a better way to produce pills, as reported by 3Dprint.com. And, in an even more stunning innovation for 3D printing, a woman in India received 3D printed titanium vertebrae implants, and was pain-free 12 days after the 10-hour, life-threatening surgery that this entailed. Slow clap.

Image courtesy flickr user Vagawi

Image courtesy flickr user Vagawi

Ride a dino

As TheHindu.com reported, Paleontologists in New South Wales are using 3D printing to recreate a dinosaur they’re quickly digging up. Combined with a planned VR experience, they’ll use the model they’re making to immerse people in an encounter with a dino. Just don’t get too friendly… or get any ideas about cloning extinct dinosaurs for inclusion in a theme park-like setting.

Get that (3D) model body

Most of us know David Barton gyms as body-conscious places where people go to “tighten things up” to the beats of a hired DJ (really). Now, as CBSNewYork tells it, members have a chance to drill down on what exactly that weight loss routine is doing, thanks to 3D scanning and a personalized 3D model you can use to “sculpt” a new you. Now, we can all have a model body.

Low Poly Human Male derived from a 3D PD model, by GDJ

Low Poly Human Male derived from a 3D PD model, by GDJ

3D Printed in Space: A Teen’s Winning Design

tools in space

Robert Hillian’s Multi-Tool, 3D printed on a Made In Space printer on the ISS

While just a senior in high school, Robert Hillian took on a challenge most of us can only dream of: design a tool to be used — and printed — in space.

It was all part of the Future Engineers competition hosted by NASA, SpaceX, and Shapeways, with in-orbit printing courtesy of Made In Space. Since winning the competition with his Multipurpose Precision Maintenance Tool, he’s graduated and now attends college in Huntsville, Alabama. These days, Robert keeps his eyes on even bigger prizes, hoping to one day work with NASA and SpaceX again. We caught up with him recently to ask about his design process, his future, and how he went from high school kid to NASA engineer.

Tell us a bit about what you set out to do for this contest. What was the goal?

My goal for the contest was fairly simple. I focused on delivering the best design I could, without over-complicating it. I was more determined to produce my best design in the limited time I had, rather than trying to win.

The tool you created for NASA — it’s a relatively simple idea, but the execution is really elegant and efficient. What inspired the design? Had you already been interested in tools and engineering?

Thank you, my design was inspired through my process rather than anything else. But one object that definitely influenced the final product was the Swiss Army knife. I enjoyed using tools but I never thought about designing one until the competition,  however I have always been interested in engineering. Creating new things is my passion, and engineering helps me to do just that.

The tool Robert designed for NASA and SpaceX Future Engineers competition

The tool Robert designed for NASA and SpaceX Future Engineers competition

How did you develop the tool? What was the design process like?

I have an elaborate personal engineering process. I first spent a few hours doing as much research as possible on everything from tools astronauts currently use on station to how 3D printers work. From there, I sketched out the maximum build dimensions, and started deciding on where I should place each tool I wanted to include. Afterwards, I had the final product.

What was it like to see your model printed aboard the International Space Station?

It was incredible to simply sit in the Payload Operations Integration Center [at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center] and see the astronauts onboard the station. But seeing that my design was in space, in the hands of astronauts, was unbelievable.

Were you always interested in space travel or engineering for space missions?

Ever since I was eight, I fell in love with space travel, and I don’t remember ever being more passionate about something.

Is this the first step in a career in space, or do you have other things in store? Does being in Huntsville keep you oriented toward NASA?

I definitely think this is a first step towards a career in space — as well as a step toward more ambitious career goals and opportunities. Being in Huntsville definitely helps keep me oriented toward my goals. I hope to one day soon start a company and work with NASA as well as SpaceX.

Any words of encouragement for other young people looking to get into 3D engineering?

My one piece of advice to aspiring engineers would be to never stop brainstorming. And that it’s a lot harder to succeed in engineering if your ideas do not sound crazy to some people.

Robert, center, at the Alabama State House for NASA Day

Robert, center, at the Alabama State House for NASA Day

How to Turn Your Hobby into 7000 Items Sold

Grant 4-4-0 Metal - Zscale by Stony Smith Designs

Grant 4-4-0 Metal – Zscale by Stony Smith Designs

What do you doodle on the margins of your notes? Stay up late reading about online? Build communities around? Whatever it is, chances are you have something 3-dimensional to contribute to it.

For Stony Smith, who just sold his 7,000th scale model railroad accessory on Shapeways (!!), the seeds of that hobby were planted early on. His parents “were both very crafty, and very strongly into Do It Yourself,” he told us. Today, Smith is a uniquely Shapeways kind of success story – one that proves that, with the right tools, an individual’s hobby can end up enriching a whole community.

As we celebrate his 7000th sale, we thought it was a great time to ask him about the secrets of his success. Take note!

Start With What You Love, and Make It Better

Stony Smith took his love of drawing, combined it with his love of architecture, and then, went 3D. “I’ve worked with 3D design/drawing since 1974, but it was always limited to just 2D renders until 3D printing came along. In 2008, I started building a Zscale (1:220), but I found that the choices for buildings in that scale are extremely limited. I fumbled for a good while with trying to make paper model buildings. Sometime in 2009, I read about Shapeways on the HackADay.com website, and thought, ‘I wonder if 3d printing would work?’ I built a model [of a house], uploaded it, and received a ‘Manifold Error’ message. After several misdirections, I redrew the house using OpenSCAD, and poof! It worked!” OpenSCAD is a great way to create 3D models if you have some programming experience, or have zero 3D modeling experience. Learn more here.

The real-life house that inspired Stony's first 3D printed design

The real-life house that inspired Stony’s first 3D printed design

Get to Know Your Community, and Follow Their Lead

Stony was immersed in a community of makers who all loved scale models, and who challenged each other to create and innovate. “Since 2008 I’ve participated in a forum of fellow ‘Z-heads’ and [I] showed the model to one of the members, Steve Van Til (RIP), who then asked me the crucial question: ‘That’s cool, but can you make one of these?’ That’s where it all started. I could blame all of this on Steve. It’s been a never-ending cycle of ‘That’s cool, can you make one of these?’ ever since.”

Stony's response to "That's cool, but can you make one of these?" The Taconite Orr Car II

Stony’s response to “That’s cool, but can you make one of these?” The Taconite Orr Car II

Embrace Making as a Pure Hobby (Unless You’re Looking to Become a Brand)

Sometimes, you want to make a huge mark on an industry. Sometimes, it’s better to let your day job be your job, and your hobby be purely fun (even if it makes you money). Stony stresses, “This is a HOBBY for me. There’s enough ‘work’ in my day job to keep me fully active. I get a significant amount of relaxation and satisfaction just while doing the drawings, and that’s why I only work on designing things that look interesting to me or catch my attention. I don’t need the distraction of trying to become dependent on the income. That would make this a ‘job’ not a ‘hobby.’ And when someone takes one of my items, paints it properly and places it on their layout, then if I see it in a photo or IRL, the thrill of ‘I did that!’ is what keeps me going.”

Let Your Other Passions Inspire You

For Smith, a career that he truly enjoys inspires how he manages his Shapeways Shop. “My day job is in high-powered big data analytics. Throughout my career, I’ve always been ‘the computer guy.’ There are a number of methods/tools from the day job that I bring over to watching the status of my shop here at Shapeways, like knowing that I’ve sold 7000 items!” He’s also surpassed $10,000 in sales, as we reported last year.

So, what are you waiting for? Do you have a hobby you’d like to take to the next level, but you’re not quite sure how? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be happy to connect you with the resources you need. Ask away!

Cover image: Ferris Wheel – Zscale by Stony Smith Designs, photo by Karin Snyder

Meet Two Women Changing the Face of Cosplay

TheLaserGirls (Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford) are powerhouses of cosplay, 3D design, and general badassery. On their podcast and blog, they show in vivid detail how two creative people have turned their love of fantasy, sci-fi, and cosplay into incredible 3D printed costumes and accessories – while empowering others to do the same. Last week, I had a chance to take a deep dive into what drives TheLaserGirls.

Screenshot 2017-02-14 17.14.49

I really admire you, and I’m sure many of your fans do as well, for showing that cosplay and fantasy/sci-fi can be welcoming, creatively inspiring spaces that women can help define. How do you see yourselves in terms overcoming traditional gender dynamics in those worlds?

The characters we portray and our undying love for them are just two parts of what we do with cosplay. Obviously, we choose to portray women that have shaped us through our lives, and to us represent strength in more nuanced and unique ways. One could say that the “Strong Female Character” is now a trope in itself that has become overly-simplified, and we want to open the box again and reintroduce diversity to that definition.

For Dhemerae, it is also about paying homage and thanking these characters for the impact that they had had on her, and for Sarah, it is also about giving them the attention and portrayal she wanted for them. Many of the characters Sarah loves, she feels were foundationally incredible, but were lessened by either a lack of exposure publicly or storylines that smothered them. Through cosplay, she hopes to give them a new platform to showcase their amazingness!

The other huge portion of this is our focus in making. What we want show is that making is meaningful – more accessible than one would think – and just [show] the joy of creating and building something: here’s a project, and this is how we made it, and it’s awesome, and it’s fun, and it’s challenging, and it betters you, and you can do it too, and here’s how. 3D printing has a wide and deep context that we have found turns many people away because they do not feel they are capable of unlocking it. We want to show and help people clear that wall; it is less about the final product (because if you love what you’re doing, you will look great!) and more about being creative and learning how to build something functional that makes you feel amazing and that gives back to your influences.

How did you get interested in cosplay? Did you each have a separate journey to where you are today, or did you draw inspiration from each other and get involved in creating costumes after you met?

S: I’ve always been interested in cosplay. I was a big anime fan as a tween/teen and I was also a performer, so cosplay was the ultimate marriage of the two. I did a few smaller cosplays with my siblings when I was younger, but never ended up pursuing it like I do now. I think fondly on those days, because when I started cosplaying again in my 20s, I remembered the sense of confidence I felt when I created it and wore it, and witnessed how I affected other people through it. It is a full circle moment for me.

I think working with Dhemerae has helped me unlock a completely different side of making within me that I would have never been able to access on my own, and that has hugely influenced and opened up my mind to what I’m capable of doing with cosplay.

Sarah in Queen Knight cosplay

Sarah in Queen Knight cosplay

D: I’ve always been interested but never had the confidence while I was younger to actually do it. Once I got involved with 3D printing, met Sarah, and began to hone my skills, I really proved to myself that I could in fact do it! This is sort of my time to revisit that interest and finally realize the characters that I always admired and loved.

Tell me about the moment you first used 3D modeling and 3D printing to trick out your costumes. What was your early process like?

D: The first thing I made was San’s mask from my favorite animated film, Princess Mononoke. I had this idea to use the ProJet 660 (sandstone printer) to create a lightweight hollow mask that mimicked the look and feel of a handmade mask. I also wanted to add my own artistic spin by creating some sinister looking cracks in the surface for a weathering effect. I had to print three iterations before I got the size right, and the mechanical component I spent hours designing to keep the mask on my head completely failed. It turns out the best solution was to simply epoxy an elastic band and wear it like a plastic Halloween mask. That process really taught me a lesson in over-engineering. The simpler solution was the most elegant one, and the costume turned out a lot better than expected. I also came up with a crazy idea to attach the ears to my piece of fur using screws inset into the powder prints, which worked beautifully. That was another lesson learned in experimenting with new fastening techniques using 3D printing. So, overall the process was frustrating, but probably the most rewarding to date.

Dhemerae in her San Mask

Dhemerae in her San Mask

S: For my first 3D printed cosplay, I decided to go all in and build body armor. I had never made anything like that ever, and I selected it for that very reason. With each project I choose, I try to give myself a new challenge to explore in order to always be learning and growing, and if I went into everything I learned and experienced during this process, it would be a book (Check out the Sarah’s Comic Con Chronicles on thelasergirlsstudio.com)!

A detail of Sarah's body armor

A detail of Sarah’s body armor

I can say generally speaking, my early process is always the same: I do a ton of sketching, 2D blueprint making, and calendaring in order to set the structure for my workflow. I am a wildly imaginative person which can very easily make me lose my focus, so I need that structure to balance me and make the way I work more effective.

What 3D printed accessories are you most proud of?

D: I am most proud of my Buster Sword from the Lightning As cosplay. For me it was a feat of engineering to be able to 3D model and print a sword that could be assembled in that way, at that scale; I was also proud of the magnet mechanism I designed to join the pieces!

Dhemerae with her Buster Sword

Dhemerae with her Buster Sword

S: Definitely my Fenrir pieces from this year’s Lightning As cosplay; the pauldron, the earrings, and the bag embellishment. I made all of those pieces from one model, which to me shows the usefulness and versatility of 3D printing. Also, the buttons that I printed for my pants – simple but so effective!

Sarah with her Fenrir pieces

Sarah with her Fenrir pieces

What advice would you give to cosplayers who might not be using 3D printing now, but are interested in exploring new ways to bring their visions to life?

When we took a 3D modeling class in college, our professor had us start by choosing a specific object we wanted to make, and we always recommend that others start in this way as well. Choosing an object you love and want to make will not only keep you motivated to finish through the more frustrating parts of learning, but will also make it easier to choose a software package to begin with, and a context under which to work. We also recommend when choosing your first project, to either select one large object or several smaller objects in order to not overwhelm yourself out of the gate!

In terms of where to find learning resources, we actually have a whole blog post on that we recommend you check out- also, Shapeways’ forums are fantastic!

Intro to 3D Modeling:

pt1: http://bit.ly/2kqXwtv

pt2: http://bit.ly/2lsFfMH

I’m curious about your relationship with your fans. Do you work actively to grow your fanbase? How do your fans inspire or inform your work?

From people just getting started in 3D printing to those with experience, the reason why we started thelasergirlsstudio.com was because we wanted to provide a resource and a perspective on the process that can hopefully inspire our followers to get involved in the community, or try new ventures in their process. We Have always genuinely loved to share our work and knowledge, and in a world where people hold onto their content for dear life, we strive to focus on sharing in hopes that others can learn from us, and start their own journeys into 3D.

We do our best to provide helpful feedback to those who contact us via any of our social media channels, and hope to build a positive community filled with productivity, experimentation, creativity, and joy.

Any big projects on the horizon that you’re excited about?

We recently announced that we’re going to I-Con in March in cosplay. Sarah is going as Re-L from the anime Ergo Proxy, and Dhemerae is going as Ripley from the first Alien film. We picked these characters specifically because they’ll have only one major prop print. We’re also considering attending other cons in the fall.


Other than cosplay, we’re working on a bunch of new and exciting content for the blog, which should include some good tutorials and maybe a few vlogs. We may have a couple of teaching opportunities on the, and we are hoping to potentially release a collection of pieces in the Summer/Fall of this year.

Luckily, you can actually buy a selection of TheLaserGirls’ accessories in their Shapeways Shop. And for more learnings, incredible photos, and insights, check out their blog, Instagram, and podcast.

 

The Week in 3D Printing

This week in 3D printing, we went from the bottom of prehistoric oceans to the remote villages of Appalachia, picking up some precious metals — and helping the blind to read — along the way.

Printing money

Fortune (appropriately) brought us the story of Desktop Metals, a company that has the likes of Alphabet, BMW, and Lowe’s ponying up $45 million in investment in the hopes of bringing down the cost of 3D metal printing. Takes coin to make coin.

And the blind will see

“Braille” by Roland DG Mid Europe Italia, licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Braille” by Roland DG Mid Europe Italia, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mashable reported on Team Tactile, a group of undergrads at MIT who are tackled the long-ignored, ripe-for-disruption world of braille translators for 2D text. Their model could cost a tiny fraction of the price of existing machines, thanks to 3D printing. While giving 2D-to-3D a whole new meaning.

Jurassic SeaWorld

Popular Mechanics branched out this week, detailing how scientists from the Smithsonian are basically living a paleontologist’s wildest dream — they’ve discovered a treasure trove of prehistoric, extinct marine life, and are using 3D modeling to reconstruct the ancient creatures. Safer than Jurassic Park, and almost as cool.

The Beverly Hillbillies should invest

Bloomberg told the tale of an innovator and a dream: Julielynn Wong, founder of 3D4MD, who wants to bring medical supplies to impoverished rural areas using 3D printing. Even in places where wood stoves still provide the heating, like remote Appalachia, or, one day, the frigid poles of Mars. Not exact black gold, but way more useful in a pinch.

This Dog-Sized 3D Printed Robot Might Haunt Your Dreams

When Shapeways first teamed up with Instructables on their Design Now: 3D Printing contest in November, we couldn’t have dreamt of the level of ingenuity and innovation that would result. Not only would Grand Prize winner Brett Turnage rock the RC world with his 3D printed RC motorcycles, First Prize winner Scott Hatfield, alias Toglefritz, would shake things up in a different way.

Toglefritz’s 3D Printed Quadroped is one of the most fully realized DIY bots we’ve seen to use 3D printed parts. A Playstation 2 controller, hobby servos, and Arduino-compatible microcontrollers under the hood bring the dog-sized robot to life. And when we say life, we’re not exaggerating:

PqAifCjQzsKE8

Check out all the winners (and download their designs) at Instructables, and share your latest projects with us in the comments.

What if Bob Ross Taught 3D Design?

That soothing voice, those happy little trees, that simple adding of elements that are more than the sum of their parts — it can only be Bob Ross. And, just as Bob Ross loved to share the joy of painting, we LIVE to share the joy of 3D printing. So, we asked ourselves, “What if Bob could teach us 3D design?” Then, we looked hard at our Community Manager Andrew Thomas, squinted, and realized: he’s basically the Bob Ross of 3D design. That gentle voice, those mad 3D modeling skills. A wig, a Wacom Intuos4, a free download of MagicaVoxel, and a few hours later, we had launched The Joy of 3D Design With Andrew Thomas.

Check out the first episode below, and don’t miss Uncubed’s awesome feature on the making of The Joy of 3D Design. Then, all you have to do is subscribe to our YouTube channel, and let The Joy of 3D Design take you away….

Designer Spotlight: Nikolay Vorobyov — Disculpt

From his childhood in a small rural village to a career in cutting-edge 3D design, Nikolay Vorobyov of Disculpt proves that inspiration — and  innovation — can come from unlikely places. We were floored by his detailed, soulful depictions of wild animals, and we were even more impressed by his passion for creating them. Read on to find out how Nikolay bridges the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! How did you decide to focus on these animal-inspired designs?
I grew up in a small village in the north of Russia on the banks of the river, on all sides surrounded by forests. In my childhood, I was always around a lot of animals, both domestic and wild in the nearby forest. Later, in my work, my interest in animals sculptures grew from real custom orders.

Deer Head Ring by Disculpt

Deer Head Ring by Disculpt

Having studied architecture, was it difficult to transition into creating natural-looking animal sculptures?
I tried a few jobs, from architecture to 3D game character design and animation, and eventually, digital sculpture. It was at a time when 3D printing had become more accessible.

How did you approach prototyping your jewelry?
Gradually, in my work with clients, the priority has shifted to sculpture for 3D printing instead of real-time models, and I like it, not depending on polycount, textures, or game engines. And most importantly, the possibility of seeing my own creation as part of material world. Now I have a little studio, and I can work at my pleasure. Modern technologies like 3D printing gave me this possibility. I hope sometime in the future I will be able to maintain my own production, instead of only digital sculpting.

Of course, when I became aware of the existence of Shapeways, I wanted to try to make something in metal or plastic. I had not thought too long what it could be, so naturally animals are my first experiment, in jewelry and wall-mounted heads.

Two Ravens Ring by Disculpt

Two Ravens Ring by Disculpt

Were there any particular challenges you needed to approach in the design of any of your products?
Was it difficult? I think i just went to what I’ve always wanted. I had much to learn by myself for many sleepless nights, but it was worth it.

I think I am a perfectionist. I dive into the fine details, trying to make the model more realistic. Sometimes i want to shout to myself, “Enough, stop it, go do something else already!”

To work with Shapeways was very, easy, and the latest updates makes it even easier. Shapeways gave me a chance to offer my digital art to people from around the world. And it has already ceased to be only “digital.” Now it is “real,” “material,” “actual.”

Proud Wolf Head by Disculpt

Proud Wolf Head by Disculpt

Thanks for sharing your process with us, Nikolay! Don’t miss his full range of designs in his Shapeways shop, and leave a comment below if you’d like to be featured in a future Designer Spotlight.

The Ultimate Football-Lover’s 3D Wishlist

Of course, when we think “football,” the next thought is “3D printing,” right? Ok, maybe that’s not exactly true. But 3D printing and football have a lot in common: they’re both heavily dependent on a grid, and they both create awesome communities that bring people together! See what we did there?

But seriously folks, the Big Game is almost here! And, for the jewelers, engineers, designers, and makers in Shapeways’ community, this is a big moment. Check out some of the awesome designs that football fans in our community have created, and add a comment if your favorite football-related product isn’t featured:

Jackie’s Football Ring

football ring

Football Field Phone Case

football phone cover

Football Laces Koozie

coozie football

Football Webcam Security Cover

webcam football

BONUS: Show your team pride!

Georgia State Earrings

mass earrings

Massachusetts State Earrings

Massearrings

When 3D Printing Opens Up New Ways of Seeing

Henry Segerman’s new book Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing provides non-mathematicians with exciting new ways to understand complex mathematical shapes. Segerman’s easy-to-follow book and companion website show how we can use 3D prints to gain a tactile awareness of these objects and use our full stereoscopic vision to understand them better than we ever have. In this excerpt from the chapter on symmetry, Segerman explains what we learn when we look at Bathsheba Grossman’s beautiful and symmetric sculpture “Soliton” from dozens of angles — the only way to sufficiently capture the complexity (and artistry) of the form.

Bathsheba_soliton_montage

The picture above shows two photographs of Soliton, a sculpture by mathematical artist Bathsheba Grossman.

This is a difficult object to comprehend from a couple of photographs. Sinuous curves twist around each other in a complicated, but obviously symmetrical way. Rotation by half a turn is a symmetry for each of these views. But it isn’t so easy to see how these two views are related to each other, or even that they are photographs of the same object. With a few more viewpoints of the same sculpture however, we can see how they are connected. See the picture below. The first view shown in the picture above is at the far right, and the second is at both the top and the bottom.

soliton_array

25 unique views of “Soliton”

Let’s think of the sculpture sitting at the center of a sphere of possible directions to take a photograph from. We get a panel of possible views: a quarter of the entire sphere, like the panel of a four-panel beach ball. The picture below shows camera positions evenly spaced out over one of these panels  photographs from these positions make up the array of images above.

soliton_camera_positions

An illustration of the camera’s positions

Some of the photographs around the edges are repeats: they show the same view as each other. The pair of photographs above and below the rightmost photograph in the figure are the same as each other, as are the pair two above and two below, and so on. In fact the whole boundary edge from the rightmost point to the top is the same as the edge from the rightmost point to the bottom. The same is true of the two edges above and below the leftmost edge. This tells us how to cover the rest of the sphere of possible photographs: we can do this with a total of four copies of the panel, tiling the sphere so that the photographs we see along the edges match up.

—–

The rest of this chapter goes on to investigate and catalogue the other ways in which things can be symmetrical, and show more beautiful symmetric sculptures by various artists.

In case you were wondering, I took the grid of photographs using a rig that allows me to (relatively) precisely control the angle that the camera sees the cube from. Then there was some surprisingly tricky math and programming to generate the array of photographs!

photo_rig

The camera rig Segerman devised

For more, pick up a copy of Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing. All of the models discussed in the book are available on Shapeways, many from Segerman’s shop, with the rest linked to from the book’s companion site. We’re in awe of the work that mathematicians and designers like Henry are contributing to the Shapeways community — and how that work is advancing our understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts. Are you working on a project you’d like us to share on the blog? Make sure to get in touch, whether in the comments below or at community@shapeways.com.

Designer Spotlight: Knight Customs RC Cars

RC cars are hugely popular worldwide, and the RC car community on Shapeways is growing bigger every day. Designer James Knight of Knight Customs is a highly respected creator of RC car accessories. He shares with us how he got started, and how anyone interested in RC cars can use 3D printing to bring their dream cars to life. Let us know in the comments what parts you’d like to see James tackle next.

One of the most popular RC cars to upgrade, the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. The image shows the following Knight Customs parts: AJ40011 Halo Light Bucket Set (frosted ultra detail) AJ30006 Skull Face Grill & Mount (White strong & flexible polished) AJ10030 Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Bumper & Stinger (Stainless Steel) AJ10018 Hood Latch (Black strong & flexible) AJ10023 Smittybilt XRC JK Front Fenders AJ10020 Snorkel Tall (frosted ultra detail) AJ10037 Smittybilt Stingray Hood

One of the most popular RC cars to upgrade, the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Jump to the bottom of this post for a full list of 3D printed parts used.

How did you get started creating custom RC car parts?
I have been a fan of RC cars since a very young age. Many of the cars I have collected were based on full-sized models but didn’t always have all the details of the full-sized vehicle. I started making custom parts to add those missing details and to create my own unique versions of a particular model.

Were you always using 3D printing, or did you begin with a more manual process?
Early on, I used a lot of traditional model-making techniques, glue and plastic, but it was very time-consuming to create multiple copies of certain parts. I also found that by using certain 3D printed materials I could create parts that were much more durable than if they had been created with traditional techniques that were available to me.

What inspired you to open your shop and offer your products to the RC car community?
People within the RC community often asked me to build them a copy of some of the parts I had created, so it just made sense to open a shop so they could purchase one of my creations.

Are there any designs that are proving particularly popular? What need do you see these designs filling for the community?
The most popular designs have been those that allow you to add more realistic details, such as working LED lights to your RC model. This is a popular upgrade for many RC vehicles and if you have ever seen an RC with working lights, they look awesome (see picture of our Halo lights fitted to the Axial Jeep®). Other popular parts allow the modeler to give a fresh new look to a stock vehicle. Just like in the 1:1 world, everyone wants their car to look a little different from the stock showroom model.

How did you determine which brands to offer parts for?
I take inspiration from the 1:1 world. I am a fan of off-road vehicles so I look at the classic and modern vehicles to see which are the most popular and what sort of modifications the 1:1 communities make to those vehicles. I partner with the real 1:1 companies to create officially licensed replicas of many of the popular off-road parts from great companies like Magnaflow, Smittybilt, RotopaX, Front Runner Outfitters, and Ripp Superchargers.

SOR Graphics make our licensed T-shirts and RC vehicle graphic wraps. We also have relationships with leading RC companies Axial, RC4WD, and Vanquish Products.

A few of Knight Customs licensed products

A few of Knight Customs’ licensed products

What advice would you give to RC car fans who are just starting to customize?
I would say make sure you pick a good base for your project. When you decide on the car you want, then check to see if anyone already makes that model as a kit. There are some great base models to use from the top manufactures like Axial and Tamiya. There are many great RC forums to go on to find information and inspiration on building your custom project. My favorite is www.scalebuildersguild.com. Doing a little research online will show you what parts are already available to customize your rig, and of course a search on Shapeways shows you all the great parts the community here have helped create. If you want to learn to create some parts yourself, I recommend Rhino CAD software. It has great functionality for the price and there are many great tutorials on YouTube teaching you how to create models.

In the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon model featured at the top of this post, Knight Customs parts include:

AJ40011 Halo Light Bucket Set (frosted ultra detail)
AJ30006 Skull Face Grill & Mount (white strong & flexible polished)
AJ10030 Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Bumper & Stinger (stainless steel)
AJ10018 Hood Latch (black strong & flexible)
AJ10023 Smittybilt XRC JK Front Fenders
AJ10020 Snorkel Tall (frosted ultra detail)
AJ10037 Smittybilt Stingray Hood

Thanks for sharing your story with us, James! We can’t wait to see what you decide to work on next.

Now, Make It Faster

Great news! Thanks to the ongoing hard work of our production teams, we’re announcing updates that will make 3D printing more accessible — by delivering your prints faster. We’ve significantly reduced print production times for a dozen Shapeways materials. From the time you order to the time we ship, our turnaround times for the materials below are now shorter than ever:

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These updates are part of our continuing commitment to reducing lead times. How do we do it? We innovate in manufacturing, processing, and shipping. Whether it’s by testing new materials and processes (shaving seven days off high definition acrylate), investing in updated machinery (halving lead times for two materials), or improving manufacturing efficiency (getting cast metals to you faster), we’re always working to enhance production quality and speed.

Now is the perfect time to get started on that project you’ve been dreaming of. Whatever you’re making, print it today in one of our faster-than-ever materials.

We’re always working hard to improve your Shapeways experience. Make sure to let us know in the comments what you’d like to see in 2017.

How I Made It: 3D Printed Roller Coasters

Our new How I Made It series takes us inside the projects that have inspired our designers, shoppers, and makers. Last week, designer and Shapie Mitchell Jetten’s miniature roller coasters got lots of attention from the community. I asked him to share how they came to be. Leave a comment if you’re interested in having us feature your latest project.

Back in 2014, I got the idea to start 3D printing rides from a game I used to love, RollerCoaster Tycoon.

I had no idea how to paint this, and not having too much money in my pocket, I decided to make a small version in Full Color Sandstone.
Mitchell 1

I’m sure many people will still remember these rides and their iconic entrances and exits.

Same goes for these two renders of the burger and drinks stalls:
Mitchell 2

A couple of years ago I decided to go a bit bigger. I decided to 3D print a Boomerang Rollercoaster, which cost around $300.

Definitely worth every penny, as it was a staggering 60cm long.

I included some roller coaster cars, which as you can imagine were just static (you can move them by hand) as it wouldn’t be able to do a full run back and forth.
Mitchell 3
Mitchell 4

This was all great, but I didn’t expect that anyone would be willing to spend $350 on a 3D printed roller coaster.

Rescaling this roller coaster wouldn’t work; the rails would be too thin to print.

I designed around five or six rollercoasters back in 2014, but, with a Boomerang already coming out at $350, there was no way the others would be close to affordable.

This plan went in the fridge till last month.

It made me think about the issue: why couldn’t I rescale the coaster and sell it for a lot cheaper?

The tracks where too thin, so the the only option was to get rid of the detailed track, make a tube, and hope it would still have a coaster feeling.

As everything is done by using splines, changes were made easily to the track.

In the image below, on the left is the first prototype and, on the right, the second prototype with a flattened track.
Mitchell 5

The test print of the second prototype arrived just days later.

A quick picture of the model with a coin for scale and a post on Facebook in a roller coaster group was all it took to create a buzz — people loved it already.
Mitchell 6

Right away, I noticed that some supports had to be a bit thicker due to their length, but that wasn’t really a problem and it was fixed just minutes after detecting the problems.

Here is a picture of my first attempt to paint the roller coaster:
Mitchell 7

And a bonus picture of another coaster, the Raptor:
Mitchell 8

And the results:

Rougarou (1:1200)
Mitchell 9

Raptor (1:1200)
Mitchell 10

A few more rollercoasters can be found here:

https://www.shapeways.com/shops/miniaturized

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mitchell! Remember to leave any questions for Mitchell below, and let us know if you have a project you’d like to share.

A Visionary Artist Takes on the Smart Home

This year’s Amsterdam Light Festival is putting Dutch artist and Shapeways designer Anouk Wipprecht’s designs in the spotlight. Her Living Pods exhibit asks us to rethink the smart home as something more than purely functional, with interactive clothing and flower-inspired pods that welcome visitors “home” by reacting to their presence.

Mechatronic “LIVING PODS” – Anouk Wipprecht x Somfy Home Automation from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Wipprecht is already well-established in the Fashion-Tech world, and her current exhibit expands on past work around reactive and wearable tech. The Pods are part of The Art of Motion, the artist’s ongoing collaboration with connected home company Somfy, Michael Sagan of Autodesk’s Fusion 360 team, and LA-based concept designer Igor Knezevic. The project envisions a time when all the objects in our homes become sensory and smart. While Wipprecht’s fashions focus on interaction with (and mediation between) the human body and the outside world, the Pods aim to bring humanity and soul to home electronics.

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Visitors to the Amsterdam Light Festival take in Wipprecht’s work

To articulate the concept, she created an one-piece hanging mechanical gripper structure with hooks that allowed 3D printed leaves to be connected. The gripper mechanism was created in Fusion 360 by the designer during her residency at Pier 9 — Autodesk’s maker-workshop in San Francisco. The Pier 9 Artists in Residence program allows artists, makers, and fabricators to work with high-end tools and machinery in Autodesk’s digital fabrication workshop, bringing dream projects to life. The final pieces were printed at Shapeways, each in a single piece, using SLS for strength and rigidity. The Pods light up, and a linear motor moves their petals in response to a sensor, emulating a living flower’s reaction to the sun.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Amsterdam this week, check out Anouk’s exhibit at the Amsterdam Light Festival, now through January 8, and let us know in the comments what smart home tech you’d like to see in the future.

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Living Pods designs for Somfy in Fusion 360, printed at Shapeways

Living Pods designs for Somfy in Fusion 360, printed at Shapeways

Bonus: Check out the video below to go behind the scenes of the Living Pods’ creation. Behind The Scenes // LIVING PODS [Mechanic Flower lamps in Fusion360] from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Beating Tech Obsolescence With 3D Printing

One of the most exciting — and practical — ways our community is using 3D printing is in the creation of replacement parts for household electronics. Australian designer MichaelAtOz of Matter Haus is a perfect example of a maker who starts with existing tech (in Michael’s case, Dyson vacuums), and creates a range of parts to extend the life of the high-end devices. In his recent forum post, shared below, the designer tells the story of his latest work.

dyson

Adapter for Dyson V8 to pre-V8 tools/accessories by Matter Haus

This is my latest major design. An adapter to fight obsolescence, which I think is a great aspect of the evolving maker/3D printing possibilities. This is how it happened.

A friend’s daughter was cleaning her car, and managed to drop their Dyson Handstick vacuum into a bucket of dirty water. Fitzzitzt…the vacuum now sux  not. So they bought the latest Dyson V8 Handstick.

It wasn’t until they got home that they realised the V8 had changed the connectors, and so they couldn’t use the variety of additional accessories they had bought for the previous version.

I had previously modeled the old version’s connector to make a range of holders/wall mounts for the accessories/tools. I needed to measure the changed V8 sizes and the new clip mechanism to update my holders anyway, so I though an adapter would be possible. Plug the new measurement into my OpenSCAD designs, and after a bit of that design magic, blood sweat and tears, I worked out that Strong and Flexible Plastic (S&FP) would allow me to use “flex” in the design of the release clip.
adapter prototype cut Flex.jpg

I often prototype my designs on my personal FDM 3D printer, but that imposes design constraints which Shapeways S&FP doesn’t have, like gravity. However, the bad thing about Shapeways is that it isn’t here in Oz, and a prototype can take some time to arrive. So you have to adapt, firstly make sure it fits, cut out bits which aren’t needed and show the internals; luckily this was doable with minimal support material. The first physical prototype confirmed the fit, and the flexi release worked as intended.
Adapter 1st prototype SANY0921.JPG
(My printer is a bit long in the tooth, it could use some adjustments for better results)

Similarly working out a good way of joining the new V8 tip design to the old receptacle I also considered how I could prototype on my local printer; after careful attention to the angles, I had a design I could print with little support.
Adapter 2nd local prototype printed.JPG

It was time for a real Shapeways prototype; finalising the design and ensuring the Shapeways 3D tools were happy took a few more iterations. Again it was necessary to incorporate cut-outs otherwise you couldn’t see how well the parts will fit.
Adapter 2nd prototype cut A SW.JPG
As, until I sell some more designs, I’m not made of money, I also chopped off bits not needed for testing to save on material and machine space costs.
Adapter 2nd prototype cut B SW.JPG

I chose White & Un-polished S&FP as it saves several days production time, and awaited delivery…
Adapter 2nd prototype cut delivered SW.JPG

Thankfully my measurements, earlier prototypes, and tolerance guestimates were good, and it fit like a glove. The next step was a final prototype of the complete model. Previous testing with a variety of the Dyson tools showed a small variance in size, so there was a small gap to allow for this. I was concerned how that may affect the vacuum suction, something I couldn’t test with the cut-out prototype.

Not wanting to spend too much on prototypes I decided the design should be finessed for the next order. It needed a seal/gasket/washer, this took a lot of searching to find the most appropriate, cost-effective, and easily acquired solution. The best balance turned out to be o-rings, so I had to find the right size to fit the design and incorporate an appropriate recess to hold it.
adapter o-ring cut SW.JPG

It was ready for the full prototype, or as I hopefully like to call it, the first production model. As the design has a friction fit I had always intended Polished S&FP as the production Material, and given the Dyson design, it had to be red.

And so, a new design is born
Adapter mounted w brush SW SANY0852.JPG Dyson Adapter Side SW SANY0827.JPG Top oring SW - SANY0892.JPG

As it turned out, it works pretty well without the o-ring, but the capability is there if you want perfection ;)

So after six weeks from concept to product, it came just in time for Xmas, so my friend can keep his old accessories.

That’s how it happened.

Thank you for sharing your story, Michael!

Which electronics would you revive with the right replacement parts? Let us know in the comments what parts you’re working on or would like to see our community develop.