3D printing: A disruptive technology

“I’d love to tell you what’s coming down the pipe, but if I do, I could literally go to jail,” said Bre Pettis, the chief executive office of MakerBot. MakerBot is a 3D printing company based out of Brooklyn that was recently acquired for $403 million by Stratasys, a larger 3D printer manufacturer. Pettis talked to The Daily about the future of 3D printing and design. Because of a legally binding promise of secrecy, his discussion of the future for their iTunes-like digital store was shrouded in mystery. The service, released in January, allows anyone to purchase the design file for a 3D model design, created in-house at MakerBot. This will ultimately allow individuals to print an assuredly high-quality product with their own 3D printing device.

3D printing is an additive manufacturing technique and is often referred to as a ‘disruptive’ technology. This means that it’s going to force many industries to change and adapt, as the internet did in the 1990s. As Pettis explained, “It makes ordinary people feel empowered.” The first step in revolutionizing the layperson’s ability to design is to give them the right tools. Right now, many powerful design software platforms are inaccessible. Programs like SolidWorks and AutoCAD are expensive (Solidworks is $150 for a student, and several thousand dollars for everyone else) and are difficult to use even for those with technical experience. MakerBot’s upcoming app, PrintShop, hopes to change that by making the design process more user-friendly. “We’re coming at it from the other way by making it absurdly easy to use, [with] super friendly tools […] We’re making it so easy for people to be designers that by the time they’ve made something, they sort of realize in retrospect that they’ve made something,” Pettis said proudly. “I think we’re converging on a time where it’ll be a lot easier to design things.”

Producing a vast new generation of designers might be the secret ingredient needed to convince future adopters of desktop 3D printing devices that the products of the advanced manufacturing technique are worth the investment. Fiona Zhao, a professor in the faculty of Engineering at McGill, believes that older, more experienced designers may be unable to design in a world absent of conventional manufacturing constraints. Zhao expects that it’s going to take a new generation of fresh, inexperienced individuals to take full advantage of additive manufacturing technology. I asked Pettis if he agreed with this. “My great grandfather had a radio, and my grandfather got to see TV happen. My dad got to see computers happen. But then when you look at what’s happened in just the last twenty years […] I think we’ve probably had ten generations of technology happen in ten years. So your professor may be right that it’ll take a generational change, but my guess is that the generational change will be faster than ever before,” responded the MakerBot CEO.

“I think we’re converging on a time where it’ll be a lot easier to design things.”

Bre Pettis, MakerBot CEO

The International Chamber of Commerce expects that by 2015, counterfeit goods globally will exceed $1.7 trillion, over 2 per cent of the world’s total current economic output. The desktop 3D printing industry is paving the way for amateur designers, but it is also distributing tools that allow for professional designs to be easily imitated. There’s a whole group of patent holders trembling in their shoes at the thought of someone taking away their intellectual property. For example, you’re browsing the aisles of Bed Bath & Beyond and you come across some napkin rings that would be perfect for that upcoming dinner party to which you regret inviting your boss. You go home and find that someone has created a 3D model of napkin rings which, for your purposes, will do just fine. You download the file from an online design repository and send it to your personal 3D printer. A short while later, you have made yourself awfully similar napkin rings for a fraction of the cost. Or you could use Shapeways, another New York-based 3D printing company which will do the printing for you. They might even be monogrammed for each guest.

There may be a solution, or at the very least, a method of combat that doesn’t require restricting the evolution of technology. In the future, professional designers and their retail outlets may be able to sell models on online 3D print design repositories. This would provide a logical step in protecting designs that can be replicated on a desktop 3D printer. Perhaps companies like MakerBot will open the doors to their Digital Store and allow professionals to sell their designs; or maybe designers and companies will open their own digital stores.

Pettis, unable to disclose any information about the future of the Digital Store, detailed his views on the current position of the service. “In many ways, it’s an experiment. We’re going to find out if people are willing to buy 3D models.”

Shapeways has already begun this practice by selling 3D printed objects designed by anyone. However, they sell the physically printed objects rather than the digital design files. Since anyone can submit designs, there is no assurance of quality. This also applies to MakerBot’s Thingiverse, where anyone can offer their designs for free. If the price of a certifiably high quality design is valued at a lower cost than the time and effort it would take to steal and print the file illegally, then maybe people will embrace this type of service – as iTunes and Netflix have done with the music and film industries, respectively.

The sun is just starting to come up for 3D printing. The concept is staggeringly simple, but the doors it will open for both industry and individuals are still undiscovered. As design becomes easier, the industry will work to find ways to solve the problems this may cause. While the curtains on the endless possibilities won’t rise instantaneously, companies like MakerBot are catalyzing the industry’s growth. You might be your own industrial designer sooner than you think.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

China's First 3D Topographic Map Unveiled in Lanzhou

  • February 23, 2014
  • Editor: Amanda Wu
  • Change Text Size: A  A  A

China's First 3D Topographic Map Unveiled in Lanzhou
Chinese military unveils its world advanced three-dimensional (3D) topographic map of Lanzhou City, capital of northwest China’s Jingxia Hui Autonomous Region. [lz.81.cn]

Chinese military has unveiled its world advanced three-dimensional (3D) topographic map of Lanzhou City, capital of northwest China’s Jingxia Hui Autonomous Region, according to a report published on its official website on February 19, 2014.

A measuring and mapping information center under the Lanzhou Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) used world-advanced 3D printing technology in the topographic map-making and successfully developed China’s first 3D topographic map on November 20, 2013.

Compared with the traditional man-made sand tables, the latest 3D topographic map has lighter weight and portability. Obsolete maps were used as the printing materials instead of professional and expensive printing materials such as gypsums. It has cut down the cost to the maximum and made the map highly promotable.

The 3D topographic map can provide accurate and reliable basis for military topographic analysis, for commanders to make decisions and for troop units to carry out their missions, thus it possesses high military application values, according to an official of the Lanzhou MAC.

The research team had been dedicated to upgrade the map by improving the precision of the A4-sized 3D topographic map from the previous 1.0 mm to present 0.1 mm, and shortening the printing time from the previous 24 hours to 8 hours. They also expanded the scope of the 3D topographic map as well, according to Wang Mingxiao, the director of the research team.

(Source: People’s Daily Online)

Read More

3D Painting Show Held in East China
The 3D painting exhibition opened to visitors for free to welcome the upcoming Lantern Festival, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province, February 11, 2014.

related stories

comment on this story

Messages that harass, abuse or threaten others; have obscene or otherwise objectionable content; have commercial or advertising content or links may be removed.

No comment

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

3D-printing robot creates freestanding metal structures – Gizmag

Although the world of 3D printing is hurtling through milestones at the moment, to a large extent the technology still remains in its infancy. If you thought it was all Etsy jewellery and plastic toys, though, think again. Joris Laarman has created a free-standing 3D printing robot that creates beautiful metal sculptures with the graceful brush strokes of an artist.

You may remember Laarman. We featured him last year, when his studio collaborated on building the Mataerial 3D printer (or MX3D-Resin, depending on where you look), which uses quick-setting material to create free-flowing structures on almost any surface. Not content with making robots into resin sculptors, Laarman has upped the stakes.

The Mx3D-Metal robot is part printer, part welder. It can sculpt remarkable, gravity-defying designs using a variety of metals, including steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze and copper, without the need for any other means of support. “By adding small amounts of molten metal at a time, we are able to print lines in mid air,” explains Laarman on his website.

The MX3D-Metal uses a combination of robotics, 3D printing and welding

Printing with metal in this way sounds like something of an art form in itself. Different pieces of software are required to work together in order to drive the robotics, printing and welding combination. Furthermore, different types of 3D lines, like straight, curved or spiral, require different settings in order to be produced.

“3D printing like this is still unexplored territory and leads to a new form language that is not bound by additive layers,” says Laarman. “Lines can be printed that intersect in order to create a self-supporting structure. This method makes it possible to create 3D objects on any given working surface independent of its inclination and smoothness in almost any size and shape.”

Ultimately, Laarman wants to create an interface that is simple enough for anyone to use, and that can print directly from computer aided design (CAD) software.

The MX3D-Metal will be on display at the Friedman Benda gallery in New York from May 1st to June 7th.

Watch the video below to see the the printer in action.

Source: Joris Laarman

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFF0QQIQDXE&w=530&h=298]

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.

siliconANGLE » Print your food: 3D printing accelerating food product development

ford-candy-carWith one press of the button, and you can get a meal out of the printer, specifically tailored to your taste, and health condition. For now this is still very far from reality, but worldwide there are more and more companies and start-ups that get started with 3D printing of food.

It is already possible to create a three-dimensional shape with plastic, ceramic and even metal and the technology is quickly moving to edible products. Chocolate is a material which is particularly well suited for, and so you will see lots of images of 3D printed chocolates going around the Internet.

Some think that 3D printing could soon revolutionize the manufacturing sector, reducing the need for costly transport. NASA awarded a $125,000 grant” >NASA awarded a $125,000 grant to Anjan Contractor’s company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, to create a prototype of its universal food synthesizer or a 3D food printer. Contractor is already working on a 3D printer that could create pizza as the food is easy to make.

Ford Mustang celebrates Valentine’s Day in a special way

For Valentine’s Day, Ford demonstrated its love affair with the candy Mustang created on 3D printer ” >created on 3D printer . Using chocolate as a raw material for their creation, pony cars were made by the company 3D Systems” >3D Systems, and its edible branch Sugar Lab” >Sugar Lab in Los Angeles.

The cocoa powder is used instead of sugar in order to produce a chocolate bar bearing the semblance of the car. The process began with a CAD model of the new Mustang. After the digital version of the vehicle is designed, layers and layers of chocolate powder then poured by water from inkjet heads. Once the 3D print model is over, the excess cocoa powder is brushed off from the product.

“3D printing is one of the hottest buzzwords in the news today and it’s great to see more consumers learning about the technology and its applications,” said Paul Susalla, Ford supervisor of 3D printing. “We wanted to create something fun to show that while 3D printing made these edible Mustangs, manufacturing-level 3D printing was used in the development of Ford’s all-new sports car.”

It is noteworthy that during the development of the new Mustang, Ford uses 3D printing for many prototype parts including interior components such as air vents, panels and dashboard applications, engine parts, the cylinder head, intake manifold and engine block for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Exterior parts such as the fascia and grille, taillights and hood vents are also created using the technology.

hersheys3D printed Hershey’s chocolates

World famous chocolate makers the Hershey Company and 3D Systems” >Hershey Company and 3D Systems last month announced a partnership to explore and develop innovative opportunities for using 3D printing technology to edible foods, including confectionery treats. As per the partnership, both the companies would create new form of candy using new technologies such as 3D printing.

The alliance aims to combine the experience in food manufacturing with Hershey’s potential and wealth of 3D Systems in 3D printing technology to provide new experiences to consumers.

3D systems successfully demonstrated its new 3D food printers at CES 2014. The new ChefJet and ChefJet Pro printer can use several flavors including chocolate, vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry and watermelon to print cake toppers, centerpieces, garnishes and custom candies.

U.K. based Choc Edge offers a printer for above $4500 and a pack of syringes and chocolate that create what are essentially chocolate illustrations.

Fun food you can customize

MakerBot” >MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based company behind the Thing-O-Matic ($1,100) 3-D printers, showcased their new Replicator printer model” >Replicator printer model to make your own 3-dimensional loaf of bread sculpture complete with a brown crust encasing that white bread interior.

The printer under $2,000” >printer under $2,000 can make Swiss cheese sculptures, print an omelet recipe on an egg, and make beer can openers, koozies and even bottles. The existing commercial applications for printable food items include complex sculptural cakes for weddings and special events that are made possible only with 3D printing, and customizable confections for bake shops and restaurants. 3D system says the printer can produce either sugar or milk chocolate confections, in different flavors that include cherry, mint and sour apple, and will be available to the market later this year.

The machine uses an ink jet print head that’s just like the one you would find in your desktop 2D printer. It spreads a very fine layer of sugar then paints water onto the surface of the sugar, and that water allows the sugar to recrystallize and harden to form complex geometries.

Natural Machine’s Foodini” >Foodini, which will launch later this year, can make many kinds of food including vegetarian nuggets made of chickpeas, bread crumbs, garlic, spices, olive oil, and salt. The machine has also printed quiche, hash browns, cookies, crackers, brownies, fish and chips.

Another 3D print vendor Cornell Creative built a printer” >Cornell Creative built a printer called Machines Lab that can create a swirly, flower-shaped corn chip, using masa dough. It can also make hamburger patties with layers of ketchup and mustard.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.