3D printing is hot

3D Printing Flies High now. Articles on three-dimensional printers are popping up everywhere these days. And nowadays there are many 3D printer products. Some are small enough to fit in a briefcase and others are large enough to print houses.

Everything you ever wanted to know about 3D printing article tells that 3D printing is having its “Macintosh moment,” declares Wired editor -in-chief Chris Anderson in cover story on the subject. 3D printers are now where the PC was 30 years ago. They are just becoming affordable and accessible to non-geeks, will be maybe able to democratize manufacturing the same way that PCs democratized publishing.

Gartner’s 2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Identifies “Tipping Point” Technologies That Will Unlock Long-Awaited Technology Scenarios lists 3D Print It at Home as important topic. In this scenario, 3D printing allows consumers to print physical objects, such as toys or housewares, at home, just as they print digital photos today. Combined with 3D scanning, it may be possible to scan certain objects with a smartphone and print a near-duplicate. Analysts predict that 3D printing will take more than five years to mature beyond the niche market. Eventually, 3D printing will enable individuals to print just about anything from the comfort of their own homes.Slideshow: 3D Printers Make Prototypes Pop article tells that advances in performance, and the durability and range of materials used in additive manufacturing and stereolithography offerings, are enabling companies to produce highly durable prototypes and parts, while also cost-effectively churning out manufactured products in limited production runs.

3D printing can have implications to manufacturers of some expensive products. The Pirate Bay declares 3D printed “physibles” as the next frontier of piracy. Pirate Bay Launches 3D-Printed ‘Physibles’ Downloads. The idea is to have freely available designs for different products that you can print at home with your 3D printer. Here a video demonstrating 3D home printing in operation.

Shapeways is a marketplace and community that encourages the making and sharing of 3D-printed designs. 3D Printing Shapes Factory of the Future article tells that recently New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut the Shapeways‘ Factory (filled with industrial-sized 3D printers) ribbon using a pair of 3D-printed scissors.

The Next Battle for Internet Freedom Could Be Over 3D Printing article tells up to date, 3D printing has primarily been used for rapid commercial prototyping largely because of its associated high costs. Now, companies such as MakerBot are selling 3D printers for under $2,000. Slideshow: 3D Printers Make Prototypes Pop article gives view a wide range of 3D printers, from half-million-dollar rapid prototyping systems to $1,000 home units. Cheapest 3D printers (with quite limited performance) now start from 500-1000 US dollars. It is rather expensive or inexpensive is how you view that.

RepRap Project is a cheap 3D printer that started huge 3D printing buzz. RepRap Project is an initiative to develop an open design 3D printer that can print most of its own components. RepRap (short for replicating rapid prototyper) uses a variant of fused deposition modeling, an additive manufacturing technique (The project calls it Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) to avoid trademark issues around the “fused deposition modeling” term). It is almost like a small hot glue gun that melts special plastic is moved around to make the printout. I saw RepRap (Mendel) and Cupcake CNC 3D printers in operation at at Assembly Summer 2010.

There has been some time been trials to make 3D-Printed Circuit Boards. 3D Printers Will Build Circuit Boards ‘In Two Years’ article tells that printing actual electronics circuit boards is very close. Most of the assembly tools are already completely automated anyway.

3D printing can be used to prototype things like entire cars or planes. The makers of James Bond’s latest outing, Skyfall, cut a couple corners in production and used modern 3D printing techniques to fake the decimation of a classic 1960s Aston Martin DB5 (made1:3 scale replicas of the car for use in explosive scenes). The world’s first 3D printed racing car can pace at 140 km/h article tells that a group of 16 engineers named “Group T” has unveiled a racing car “Areion” that is competing in Formula Student 2012 challenge. It is described as the world’s first 3D printed race car. The Areion is not fully 3D printed but most of it is.

Student Engineers Design, Build, Fly ‘Printed’ Airplane article tells that when University of Virginia engineering students posted a YouTube video last spring of a plastic turbofan engine they had designed and built using 3-D printing technology, they didn’t expect it to lead to anything except some page views. But it lead to something bigger. 3-D Printing Enables UVA Student-Built Unmanned Plane article tells that in an effort that took four months and $2000, instead of the quarter million dollars and two years they estimate it would have using conventional design methods, a group of University of Virginia engineering students has built and flown an airplane of parts created on a 3-D printer. The plane is 6.5 feet in wingspan, and cruises at 45 mph.

3D printers can also print guns and synthetic chemical compounds (aka drugs). The potential policy implications are obvious. US Army Deploys 3D Printing Labs to Battlefield to print different things army needs. ‘Wiki Weapon Project’ Aims To Create A Gun Anyone Can 3D-Print At Home. If high-quality weapons can be printed by anyone with a 3D printer, and 3D printers are widely available, then law enforcement agencies will be forced to monitor what you’re printing in order to maintain current gun control laws.

Software Advances Do Their Part to Spur 3D Print Revolution article tells that much of the recent hype around 3D printing has been focused on the bevy of new, lower-cost printer models. Yet, significant improvements to content creation software on both the low and high end of the spectrum are also helping to advance the cause, making the technology more accessible and appealing to a broader audience. Slideshow: Content Creation Tools Push 3D Printing Mainstream article tells that there is still a sizeable bottleneck standing in the way of mainstream adoption of 3D printing: the easy to use software used to create the 3D content. Enter a new genre of low-cost (many even free like Tikercad) and easy-to-use 3D content creation tools. By putting the tools in reach, anyone with a compelling idea will be able to easily translate that concept into a physical working prototype without the baggage of full-blown CAD and without having to make the huge capital investments required for traditional manufacturing.

Finally when you have reached the end of the article there is time for some fun. Check out this 3D printing on Dilbert strip so see a creative use of 3D printing.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Reverse Engineering The Monoprice Printer

    When the Monoprice MP Select Mini 3D printer was released last year, it was a game changer. This was a printer for $200, yes, but it also held a not-so-obvious secret: a 3D printer controller board no one had ever seen before powered by a 32-bit ARM microcontroller with an ESP8266 handling the UI. This is a game-changing set of electronics in the world of 3D printing, and now, finally, someone is reverse engineering it.

    Reverse Engineering the Monoprice MP Select Mini

    I like to design a new UI firmware for this 3D printer. But first I had to reverse engineer the UI PCB including the display driver.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hackaday Prize Entry: 3D Printed Linear Actuator Does 2kg+

    The rabbit hole of features and clever hacks in [chiprobot]’s NEMA17 3D Printed Linear Actuator is pretty deep. Not only can it lift 2kg+ of mass easily, it is mostly 3D printed, and uses commonplace hardware like a NEMA 17 stepper motor and a RAMPS board for motion control.

    Nema17 3D printed Linear Actuator & ESP32 WebGui

    Nema17 Stepper motor 3D printed Linear Actuator (250mm+ stroke 2Kg+ dead weight lift) with Ramps driver & ESP32/ESP8266 WebGui.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Could the Future of Metal 3D Printing Be Print Farms?

    One company sees 3D print technology evolving into a product lineup of affordable and scalable printers, with the “blade server” concept for volume manufacturing where printers on a rack will scale up or down to meet customers’ needs.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Printed Jet Engine

    In specific applications, jet engines are often the most efficient internal combustion engines available. Not just for airplanes, but for anything that needs to run on a wide variety of fuels, operate at a consistent high RPM, or run for an extended amount of time. Of course, most people don’t have an extra $4,000 lying around to buy a small hobby engine, but now there’s a 3D-printed axial compressor available from [noob_sauce].

    Of course, there are some less-complex jet engines that are available to anyone with access to a hardware store and a welder which don’t require hardly any precision at all.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hackaday Prize Entry: DIY DLP

    The 3D printing revolution is upon us and the technologies associated with these machines is evolving every day. Stereolithography or SLA printers are becoming the go-to printer for high-resolution prints that just can’t be fabricated on a filament-based machine.

    [adambrx]’s current iteration employs a Raspberry Pi 3 and a UV DLP Projector, all enclosed in a custom frame assembly. The logs show the evolution of the printer from an Acer DLP to the current UV DLP Light Engine.

    It is safe to say that [adambrax] has outspent the average entry to the Hackaday Prize with over €5000 spent in around 3 years.

    ADAM DLP 3D Printer

    DIY DLP 3D Printer based on NanoDLP Software using Raspberry Pi 3 and Trinamic Motor Controller

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Printed Turbine Rotary Tool – CR10 3D Printer

    3D Printed CO2 Rockets

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Printed lathe in operation

    I needed to make some 3D printed pulleys more accurate – there was 0.5mm deviation in their diameters over a revolution. So I used my 3D printer to make the parts for a primitive lathe to turn them more accurately.

    OpenSCAD files needed to print the late parts are now online at http://robinsonia.com/wp/?page_id=338

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jet Engine made on a 3D Printer

    Made this on a 3D printer. If you want one for yourself, I’ve put it on:
    Keep away from the blades, they bite!

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Could the Future of Metal 3D Printing Be Print Farms?

    One company sees 3D print technology evolving into a product lineup of affordable and scalable printers, with the “blade server” concept for volume manufacturing where printers on a rack will scale up or down to meet customers’ needs.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A 3D Scanner that Archimedes Could Get Behind

    3D-scanning seems like a straightforward process — put the subject inside a motion control gantry, bounce light off the surface, measure the reflections, and do some math to reconstruct the shape in three dimensions. But traditional 3D-scanning isn’t good for subjects with complex topologies and lots of nooks and crannies that light can’t get to. Which is why volumetric 3D-scanning could become an important tool someday.

    Dip Transform for 3D Shape Reconstruction

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hydrodipping 101

    Style counts, and sometimes all it takes to jazz up the product of a 3D-printer is a 2D printer and a how-to guide on hydrographic printing.

    Hydrographic printing, sometimes called hydrodipping, is a process for transferring graphics onto complex-shaped objects in one simple step. A design is printed on a special film which is then floated on the surface of a tank of water. The object to be decorated is carefully dipped into the water right through the film and the design wraps around all the nooks and crannies in one step.


  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Using 3D Printing To Speed Up Conventional Manufacturing

    3D printers, is there anything they can’t do? Of course, and to many across the world, they’re little more than glorified keychain factories. Despite this, there’s yet another great application for 3D printers – they can be used to add speed and flexibility to traditional manufacturing operations.

    A key feature of many manufacturing processes is the use of fixtures and jigs to hold parts during machining and assembly operations.

    Many manufacturers outsource the development of such fixturing, even in large operations – even major automakers will often outsource development of fixtures and new process lines to outside firms. This can have major ramifications when changes need to be made, introducing costly delays. However, 3D printers can be used to rapidly iterate fixturing designs to suit new parts, greatly reducing development time.

    How Professionals are Using 3D Printed Jigs and Fixtures
    Learn how using 3D printing to create custom jigs and fixtures can save time and money in the production process for any product.

    Why 3D Printed Jigs and Fixtures?

    Jigs and fixtures are important because they reduce production cost, accelerate product delivery, and increase quality. The reduction in cost is a direct result of 3D printing. Previously, jigs and fixtures were designed and tooled for traditional injection molding. Now, molds are no longer needed. Jigs and fixtures can be printed overnight and the cost of molds is excluded from the production equation.

    This relates directly to the reduction in production time thereby accelerating product delivery. Designing for molds, tooling, and production of molds and then the eventual injection molded part delivered to the manufacturer previously took days to weeks. Now jigs and fixtures can be designed and 3D printed in one day or less and provide the design engineer with greater latitude and flexibility in the use of the assisted devices. This has led to jigs and fixtures proliferating along the entire production process. Cost and time are greatly reduced and the devices are appearing in places or applications previously not practical or even considered. In other words, 3D printing lowers the threshold for justifying a new tool, which allows you to address unmet needs throughout the production process.

    Finally, jigs and fixtures improve product quality. Poorly fabricated and assembled products are a direct result of poorly fabricated or lack of jigs and fixtures. The entire concept of product quality is in the reduction of defects which is reflective of jigs and fixtures. Without these assisted devices, more end products would need to be reworked thus increasing the cost of production.

    A Use Case for 3D Printer Jigs and Fixtures

    One manufacturer that has experienced the benefits of desktop 3D printing is Louis Vuitton. Louis Vuitton is a premier manufacturer of quality, high-end consumer products and prides itself in its wealth of discriminating, fashion-conscious consumers. Quality is a core objective taken to heart and is evident in every step of the manufacturing process – from material sourcing to end product.

    Initially, injection molding and hardware fabrication were limiting factors on production time. Louis Vuitton changes manufacturing lines every three to four months and excess time is a luxury. Now, by 3D printing jigs and fixtures (see Figure 4), the time to manufacture has decreased by two to three weeks.

    One of the limiting factors in the manufacturing process was the sourcing of hardware. Often, the production of hardware would limit the time required for product line set-up, testing and initial fabrication. Now with 3D printing, the form and the factor of 3D printed hardware can be substituted for the end use hardware

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dylan Martin / BostInno:
    Metal 3D printing startup Desktop Metal raises $115M Series D with New Enterprise Associates, GV, GE Ventures among investors — Boston has a new unicorn. — Desktop Metal, a metal 3D printing startup led by A123 Systems founder Ric Fulop, announced on Monday that it has raised …

    Desktop Metal Is Now a Unicorn After $115M Series D

    Desktop Metal, a metal 3D printing startup led by A123 Systems founder Ric Fulop, announced on Monday that it has raised a $115 million Series D round from top investors, including New Enterprise Associates, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and GE Ventures. The new round, which brings total funding to $212 million, puts the company’s post-money valuation above $1 billion, according to Dan Primack of Axios. Unicorns are private companies with valuations of at least $1 billion, meaning Desktop Metal has joined the ranks of other unicorns like Uber, Dropbox and Magic Leap. Boston-area unicorns include DraftKings, Infinidat and Actifio.

    Early customers include BMW, Lowe’s and construction giant Caterpillar, among other Fortune 50 companies. The venture capital arms of BMW and Lowe’s became investors with Desktop Metal’s $45 million Series C round earlier this year.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What materials can you actually 3D print?
    Hint: it’s not just plastic.

    3D printing technology has actually developed to a point where the variety of printable materials is surprisingly broad. The advanced industrial printers today can print plastic, ceramic, metal and paper. But for non-industrial usage plastic is still the most widely used material. However, the plastic used for 3D printing, or filament, comes in so many finishes and colours that the options are more diverse than ever. Besides a rainbow of colours, your desktop 3D printer is able to print wood, glass and metal replications that are so advanced that you wouldn’t even notice the difference from the real thing.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Additive Manufacturing Standards Are on Their Way
    ANSI and America Makes have joined to create the Additive Manufacturing Standardization Collaborative.

    As 3D printing technology explodes, the fragmented industry is attempting to bring order to its go-go growth with standards. The goal of standards is to bring coherence and interoperability to 3D printing products and processes globally.

    Last year, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – a group formally involved in standards development – joined with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as America Makes to create a standards initiative. The two groups launched the Additive Manufacturing Standardization Collaborative (AMSC) to accelerate the development of industry-wide additive manufacturing standards and specifications to facilitate the growth of the additive manufacturing industry.

    3D Printing Standards Roadmap

    In February, AMSC published a standardization roadmap for additive manufacturing. The roadmap identifies existing standards and specifications, as well as those in development. The roadmap also assesses gaps, and makes recommendations for priority areas where there is a perceived need for additional standardization.

    The roadmap includes a list of standards that are directly or peripherally related to the issues described in the roadmap. “The OEMs making the printers and material in 3D printing have proprietary standards,” Jim McCabe, senior director at ANSI told Design News . “We believes industry standards can help users verify that the products will perform as they claim they will.”

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Make A Bit Of Cloth With This 3D Printable Loom

    When the hackspace where this is being written created their textile room, a member who had previously been known only for her other work unexpectedly revealed herself to be a weaver, and offered the loan of a table-top loom. When set up, it provided an introduction to the art of weaving for the members of all different interests and backgrounds, and many of them have been found laying down a few lines of weft. It’s a simple yet compelling piece of making which captivates even people who might never have considered themselves interested in textiles.

    If you are not lucky enough to have a friendly hackspace member with a spare loom when you wish to try your hand at weaving, you may be interested in this Thingiverse project, a 3D printable rigid heddle loom.

    Rigid Heddle Loom

    This basic rigid heddle loom design incorporates 22mm diameter PVC pipe and two 3mm x 12mm bolts and accompanying hex nuts for the cogs and pawls.

    The heddle is approximately 400mm wide.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Printed Gearbox Lifts An Anvil With Ease

    How strong can you make a 3D-printed gearbox. Would you believe strong enough to lift an anvil? [Gear Down For What?] likes testing the limits of 3D printed gearboxes. Honestly, we’re amazed.

    3D printing has revolutionized DIY fabrication. But one problem normally associated with 3D printed parts is they can be quite weak unless designed and printed carefully.

    Using a whole roll of filament, minus a few grams, [Gear Down For What?] printed out a big planetary gear box with a ratio of 160:1 and added some ball bearings and using a drill as a crank.

    You Won’t Believe What This 3DP Gearbox Can Do!

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    100x Faster, 10x Cheaper: 3D Metal Printing Is About To Go Mainstream

    Desktop Metal — remember the name. This Massachussetts company is preparing to turn manufacturing on its head, with a 3D metal printing system that’s so much faster, safer and cheaper than existing systems that it’s going to compete with traditional mass manufacturing processes… Plenty of design studios and even home users run desktop printers, but the only affordable printing materials are cheap ABS plastics. And at the other end of the market, while organizations like NASA and Boeing are getting valuable use out of laser-melted metal printing, it’s a very slow and expensive process that doesn’t seem to scale well.

    100x faster, 10x cheaper: 3D metal printing is about to go mainstream

    Sintering Multiple Parts – Desktop Metal’s Studio System includes a fully-automated, office-friendly sintering furnace with fast cycle times and a peak temperature of 1400°C, allowing for the sintering of a wide variety of materials.

    The Studio printer runs around and prints parts into layers of bound metal. The parts then go into a de-binding bath that removes a good portion of the binding polymer, and then the parts go into a sintering furnace.

    The furnace is the special sauce in the Desktop Metal process. It uses a combination of regular heating elements and microwave heating to bring the part up to a temperature just below its melting point, where the binding agent burns off and the metal particles within fuse to their neighbors to produce a highly dense, sintered metal.

    Timing and temperature are managed automatically by the system, depending on the design and the metals you’ve used. Parts also shrink up to 15 percent during the debinding and sintering process – but again, that’s all automatically managed by the system. All you need to do is feed in the end design and all that business is handled.

    Depending on the nature of the part, it might be necessary to do some post-print surface finishing like sanding or bead blasting to smooth out the layered surfaces, but effectively you’re left with a prototype part, produced quickly, in the production material and ready for testing. And parts are around 99.8 percent dense, which is huge. They’re very mechanically tough.

    The Production System: Mass manufacture

    The production system is built for speed, to a degree that has never been seen before. Faster than machining, casting, forging or any other technique, each production printer can produce up to an incredible 500 cubic inches of complex parts per hour. That’s 100 times quicker than a laser-based alternative, with zero tooling.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ask Slashdot: Economical Lego-Compatible 3-D Printer?

    There are plenty of high end 3d printers which allow high precision and large prints. There are also plenty of economical 3d printers but most of them don’t have high enough precision for printing good Lego pieces. What is a good economical printer for printing small Lego pieces?

    I wonder if this is even legal?

    As long as you don’t print the LEGO trademark on them, it is legal. But it is not possible, at least on a cheap 3D-printer. Legos are made in custom injection molds with 0.005mm precision. A 3D printer is not going to even get close to that

    That’s the reason why many people who own LEGO bricks are scared of MegaBloks. MegaBloks makes generic bricks that are nominally compatible with LEGO bricks. But in practice, they are built to lower quality standards and tend to attach much more poorly. As small number of MegaBloks in a collection of LEGO bricks can cause a lot of havoc and result in LEGO models that keep falling apart.

    And as the bricks look so similar, they are hard to remove from the collection of bricks, once the infestation has happened.

    Having said that, I can definitely understand why OP would love to have a 3D printer that can output LEGO-compatible bricks. Every so often, it would be nice to build special-purpose adapter pieces that allow integrating non-LEGO hardware (e.g. a cell phone) into LEGO models. Perfect fit wouldn’t necessarily be a strict requirement. And as the adapter is going to look quite unique, there isn’t much risk of it accidentally getting confused with a genuine LEGO part.

    TYCO used to make their own LEGO clone called “Super Blocks” that caused havoc. They were easy to pick out of the pile though since the pieces were noticeably more “glossy” than the genuine LEGO bricks.

    MegaBloks are dimensionally unstable over a decade or less, Legos are stable for at least 4 decades.

    As a child, lego is awesome because you can build stuff. Then take it apart. Then build new stuff.

    As an adult, lego is awesome because you can build stuff. Then take it apart. Then build new stuff. And it’s an engineering marvel in its own right. It’s just awesome.

    Binding properly 40 years later is merely evidence of the awesomeness.

    I wonder if this is even legal?

    It’s technically legal to produce the basic bricks, since the applicable patents expired in 1989 [wikipedia.org]. As for trademarked Lego properties (like the mini-figures, for example) or any which are covered by more recent patents, you can still get away with it as long as you’re only producing toys for personal use, and make no attempt to sell them.

    But back to the OP’s topic: The feasibility of making Lego compatible bricks [google.com] with cheap 3D printers isn’t actually the only question that you’re going to have to face; you also need to take into account materials cost.

    LEGO Factory Behind-the-Scenes: Making the Bricks

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    This is true– there is no home 3D printer that can print a reasonable LEGO brick.

    However, LEGO makes a lot of other ancillary pieces that you CAN print. Replacement heads for mini-figs, clip-on attachments to things, little flowers, buckets, etc. In addition, the LEGO Technic straight brackets (the long ones with the holes and plusses) are not too hard to print, and you can create your own configuration of those holes. (I have a customizable one up on ThingiVerse here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thi… [thingiverse.com]).

    So a 3D printer is not going to keep you from buying LEGO, but it might make playing and building with LEGO more fun.

    Source: https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/16/01/28/2313255/ask-slashdot-economical-lego-compatible-3-d-printer?sdsrc=rel

    Even More Customizable Straight Beam for LEGO Technic

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Spice Up Your Bench With 3D Printed Dancing Springs

    Not all projects are made equal. Some are designed to solve a problem while others are just for fun. Entering the ranks of the most useless machines is a project by [Vladimir Mariano] who created the 3D Printed Dancing Springs. It is a step up from 3D printing a custom slinky and will make a fine edition to any maker bench.

    The project uses 3D printed coils made of transparent material that is mounted atop geared platforms and attached to a fixed frame. The gears are driven by a servo motor. The motor rotates the gears and the result is a distortion in the spring. This distortion is what the dancing is all about. To add to the effect, [Vladimir Mariano] uses RGB LEDs controlled by an ATmega32u4.

    Dancing Springs

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Worried About Running Out Of Filament Mid-Print? Join It!

    If you’ve ever cringed over throwing away any printer filament you know wouldn’t cover your next small part — let alone an overnight print — you may appreciate [starlino]’s method for joining two spools of filament together.

    How to join 3D Printing Filament (Starlino’s Easy Method)

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Process Enables Precision 3D Printing of Silicone
    In this approach, support is provided by soft microscale particles suspended in the gel, that “smoothly transition between fluid and solid states.”

    Silicone is an excellent material for biomedical applications due to its inherent biocompatibility. The ability to 3D print implantable medical devices would be highly desirable because it would allow for: quick turnaround, local production in a medical facility, precise renderings of highly complex objects, and the ability to customize each device to fit each individual patient. However, 3D-printing with silicone has proven difficult.

    According to Chris O’Bryan, a Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering doctoral student at the University of Florida, “the problem with printing silicone elastomers as that before they actually turn into a hard elastomeric structure, they’re actually a fluid and they have no structural rigidity. This leads to instabilities in the printing process, the material starts sagging, the structures lack definition, and the level of precision that can be achieved is very limited.”

    O ‘Bryan is the lead author of a paper published in the journal Science Advances describing a new process for successfully 3D-printing highly precise detailed objects from silicone.

    Previous attempts to print silicone focused on rapidly vulcanizing tiny droplets of silicone liquid as they were laid down with UV light.

    Self-assembled micro-organogels for 3D printing silicone structures

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Simple 3D-Printed Circuitry

    One of the problems encountered thus far with 3D-printing circuits with conductive filament is that it doesn’t really bond to anything, let alone solder, so how does one use it?

    [mikey77] wrote an Instructable showing how to print circuit boards and create simple circuits, using shape of the plastic as a way to control the circuit. We like how he used using the flexible nature of the filament to make buttons, with two layers of conductive material coming together with the press of a finger.

    3D Printing Circuit Boards and Components

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Printing Flexible Surfaces out of Non-Flexible Material

    Here’s some interesting work shared by [Ben Kromhout] and [Lukas Lambrichts] on making flexible 3D prints, but not by using flexible filament. After seeing a project where a sheet of plywood was rendered pliable by cutting a pattern out of it – essentially turning the material into a giant kerf bend – they got interested in whether one could 3D print such a thing directly.

    The original project used plywood and a laser cutter and went through many iterations before settling on a rectangular spiral pattern. The results were striking, but the details regarding why the chosen pattern was best were unclear. [Ben] and [Lukas] were interested not just in whether a 3D printer could be used to get a similar result, but also wanted to find out what factors separated success from failure when doing so.

    After converting the original project’s rectangular spiral pattern into a 3D model, a quick proof-of-concept showed that three things influenced the flexibility of the end result: the scale of the pattern, the size of the open spaces, and the thickness of the print itself.

    Flexible 3D Printing

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Electric LEGO Longboard Now Complete with Epic Road Test

    He built a LEGO-looking enclosure for the battery as well, based on a 2×6 brick. The battery pack sits behind the motor with the tail light on top and holds the radio control receiver as well the twin LiPos. The head and tail lights pack 24-LED discs and are controlled by [James]’ FS-GT2B 3-channel RC transmitter. Its third channel is just a button, and he can trip that button to activate the lights with the help of a Turnigy receiver-controlled switch.

    For an added touch he printed some LEGO flowers and a minifig, suitably oversized, and took the skateboard on the road.

    LEGO Electric Skateboard made from GIANT 3D Printed Bricks #3 | XRobots

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Proto Labs adds HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology to portfolio of 3D printing services
    Automotive and Mobility, Consumer Products, Medical

    Rapid manufacturing company Proto Labs (Maple Plain, MN) has announced the addition of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion to its suite of 3D printing technologies. The production-grade technology builds fully functional plastic prototypes and production parts faster and cheaper than current 3D printing techniques, according to HP.

    HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology uses an inkjet array to apply fusing and detailing agents across a bed of nylon powder, which are then fused by heating elements into a solid layer. The technology’s approach to binding powder results in more isotropic material properties, faster build speeds and, ultimately, lower costs compared with other powder-based 3D printing processes.

    Proto Labs has worked with select customers to optimize the Multi Jet Fusion process for its 3D printing offering.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Robot 3D printer auto eject sys & web print queue

    A 3d printer system that can be operated by multiple people that just spits out parts placed in the web based print queue

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Silicone Molds for Stove-Top Metal Casting

    Casting metal parts from 3D-printed plastic or Styrofoam models is all the rage these days, and for good reason — casting is a way to turn one-offs into mass-produced parts. Seems like most of the metal casting projects we feature are aluminum in sand molds, though, so it’s refreshing to see a casting project using silicone molds to cast low-melting point metals.

    Don’t get us wrong — sand-cast aluminum is a great method that can even be used to build a lathe from scratch. But not everyone wants to build a foundry and learn the sometimes fussy craft of creating sand molds. [Chris Deprisco] wanted to explore low-melting point bismuth alloys and set about making silicone rubber molds of a 3D-printed Maltese falcon. The bismuth-tin alloy, sold as a substitute for casting lead fishing weights, melts on at 281°F (138°C) and is cool enough for the mold to handle

    Easy, Reusable and LOW TEMP Metal Casting from 3D Printed Parts!

    Easily cast real metal parts using 3D printed parts, an air compressor and a pressure vessel. If you do try this, be careful! It’s not crazy hot but still enough to burn you badly. Also make sure whatever you use for a pressure vessel is rated for the pressure you will be using!

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Researchers produce smallest ever 3D printed microfluidic “lab on a chip” device

    3D printing technology and microfluidics continue to develop in harmony with each other, and a recent breakthrough from a team of researchers at Utah’s Brigham Young University has taken this development to an unprecedented level, as the smallest ever viable 3D printed microfluidic device has been produced. The tiny chip is capable of being effective at a scale below 100 micrometers, which is a major milestone for 3D printed microfluidics technology, and points the way forward for the devices to be mass produced.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Robot 3D printer auto eject sys & web print queue

    A 3d printer system that can be operated by multiple people that just spits out parts placed in the web based print queue


  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Filaween 2.0 is Go

    [Thomas Sanladerer] is at it again: testing all of the 3D-printer filaments that are fit to print (with). And this year, he’s got a new and improved testing methodology — video embedded below. And have a search for “filaween2” to see what he’s reviewed so far. There’s some sexy filaments in there.

    We really love the brand-new impact strength test, where a hammer is swung on a pivot (3D printed, natch), breaks through the part under test, and swings back up to a measurable height. The difference in swing height reflects the amount of energy required to break the test piece. Sweet physics.

    The next generation of Filament reviews: This is Filaween 2.0!

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DIY Dual Extrusion

    Dual extrusion 3D printers are not as uncommon as they used to be, but there are still a lot of single-extruder machines. [Paul Lang] wanted to refit his printer to take two MK8 extruders, and he documented his experience with a blog post that has a few good tips if you want to try it yourself.

    DIY Dual Extrusion

    Everybody wants a 3D printer that can print in multiple colors right?

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Plan to Put a 3-D Printer With Robot Arms Into Orbit

    Space is indifferent to your suffering. It doesn’t care that it’ll freeze you to death unless you’re wearing a fancy suit, or that even before freezing you’ll suffocate in its vacuum. And it certainly doesn’t care how difficult it is for humans to get stuff done in the void: practical things like screwing in bolts and drinking water and 3-D printing replacement parts.

    But a company called Made in Space is indifferent to space’s indifference. In a first, it’s showed that it can 3-D print in a thermal vacuum chamber, which simulates the nastiness of space. It’s a milestone in the outfit’s ambitious Archinaut program, which hopes to launch a 3-D printer with robot arms into orbit. You know, to build things like satellites and telescopes and stuff.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Prints for Teachers of the Visually Impaired

    Visually impaired students can make great use of 3D prints to learn just about any subject, but their teachers need help making good models.

    Often students with visual impairments have difficulty with concepts based on visual/spatial relationships, particularly in math and science. 3D prints offer an unprecedented asset for their teachers, and 3D printers are becoming affordable. But these teachers need help designing models. [Whosawhatsis] and I have been volunteer mentors to various groups working on figuring out the best ways to use 3D printing for the visually impaired. Our goal with this project is to document some simple, practical conventions for designing models, and lay the groundwork so that interested parties can create the needed designs. We know that schools have 3D printers and want to teach design thinking to their students. This project creates a minimalist open-source way to link teachers who need design files and (sighted) students who want projects to do. We want students to create the designs for the needed models, learning science, math and other subjects while helping their visually-impaired peers.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Better Cooling for 3D Printer Extruders

    Installing a peltier device (TEC) in place of the 40mm cooling fan of an all metal extruder.

    View Gallery
    Team (1)

    Brandon Langdon

    Join this project’s team
    ongoing project
    3dprinter peltier tec electric liquid cooling fanless extruder BETTER improved Metal printer thermoelectric cooler

    This project was created on 08/15/2017 and last updated an hour ago.
    Tired of the summer causing my extruder to overheat and jam I decided to find a solution. I did with a peltier, or thermoelectric cooling (TEC), device.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Analysing 3D Printer Songs For Hacks

    3D printers have become indispensable in industry sectors such as biomedical and manufacturing, and are deployed as what is termed as a 3D print farm. They help reduce production costs as well as time-to-market. However, a hacker with access to these manufacturing banks can introduce defects such as microfractures and holes that are intended to compromise the quality of the printed component.

    Researchers at the Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Georgia Institute of Technology have published a study on cyber physical attacks and their detection techniques. By monitoring the movement of the extruder using sensors, monitored sounds made by the printer via microphones and finally using structural imaging, they were able to audit the printing process.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Monoprice Mini Delta Review

    For the last year or so, Monoprice has been teasing their follow-up to the fantastic $200 MP Select Mini. This is the $150 mini delta printer.

    Over the last few years, 3D printing has settled down into what most of us expected way back in 2010. No, not everyone wants, or arguably needs, a 3D printer on their desks. This is a far cry from the hype of a few years ago, leaving us with what we have today. 3D printers are just tools, much like a drill press or a laser cutter.

    With that said, there still are some fantastic advances in 3D printing coming down from on high.

    This would be an excellent printer at three times the price, and evidence enough that 3D printing is changing from a weird hobbyist thing to a proper tool.

    Specs and a Teardown

    The MP Mini Delta is an all-metal 3D printer, with a 110mm diameter by 120mm height build volume. It includes a heated build platform with a BuildTak-like surface, auto bed leveling, a full-color display, and WiFi connectivity. This printer accepts PLA, and ABS, and I have run PETG through this printer for a few random objects. The power supply is 12VDC, so if you’re building a workshop in a van, here you go. In short, this is a minimum viable product that has a build volume just large enough to be a useful tool for prototyping.

    The Mini Delta keeps the 32-bit ARM controller, has much better WiFi support, and the full color display looks even better.

    This is a 32-bit ARM board based on the STM32F0.

    The other half of the electronics consists of a front panel controlled for the most part by an ESP8266. This chip handles the WiFi and drives the display.

    The mechanics of the printer are, of course, a delta platform, and not much needs to be said about that. The heated bed is a bit interesting; it literally sits on three tact switches. The bed leveling G-code simply taps the nozzle down onto the bed until the tact switches close. Simple, yet effective.

    The extruder and hot end are again extremely similar to the MP Select Mini.

    The default test print at Maker Faire and included on the printer’s SD card is a small Chinese cat print. The very large layer height used for the Maker Faire demo may have turned a few people off to the Mini Delta

    This demo model was subtly changed in the production version; now, the default test print uses a 0.10 mm layer height. The print quality is amazing, and although the print time is nearly three hours no one will be disappointed by the plastic parts produced with this printer.

    This will be an exceptionally popular printer and we’re looking forward to the hacks that will turn this printer into something remarkable.

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Detailed Guide for 3D Printing Enclosures

    We’ve all have projects that are done, but not complete. They work, but they’re just a few PCBs wired together precariously on our desks. But fear not! A true maker’s blog has gifted us with a detailed step-by-step guide on how to make a project enclosure.

    3D Printing an Enclosure – Finishing an Arduino Project in Style

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How to Grow Your own Heatsink!

    Established heatsink manufacturing processes such as extrusion and casting, impose constraints on the methods used to design the heatsink. These affect both allowable geometry topologies and absolute sizes. The advent of 3D printing (additive manufacture) may remove many of these constraints, forcing us to reconsider the approach taken during design.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mini Delta Gets a Hot End Upgrade

    3D printers are now cheaper than ever and Monoprice is at the absolute forefront of that trend. However, some of their printers struggle with flexible filaments, which is no fun if you’ve discovered you have a taste for the material properties of Ninjaflex and its ilk. Fear not, however — the community once again has a solution, in the form of a hot end adapter for the Monoprice Mini Delta.

    This adapter allows the fitting of the popular E3D V6 hot end, and is similar to modifications out there for other Monoprice printers.

    Monoprice Mini Delta Effector / Mount

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tool Switching – Multi Extrusion

    A scaleable approach to multi extrusion, easy to adopt in most CoreXY/H-Bot printer designs.

    Single and dual extruder FDM printers are commonly available these days but machines with support for 3 or more hotends are still hard to find. The current approach to dual/multi extrusion is either a XY carriage moving multiple hotends or a single hotend with several filaments feeding into it (eg. E3D Cyclops, Diamond Hotend, Prusa i3 MK2 Multi Material), Both designs have their own limitations with regard to scaleability. For the first it is size and weight of the carriage, the second requires all materials to be within a similar temperature range.This design overcomes some of these limitations and requires only off the shelf components (pins, bushings, magnets), 3D printed parts and most importantly no additional motors, servos or other electrical components. Modification of most CoreXY/H-Bot style printers should be possible.See https://youtu.be/eOKCvtaMa08 for a demo

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Printing Secured Using Three-Layer System That Ensures Components Aren’t Compromised

    A research team has developed a security system for additive manufacturing processes to help protect them against possible cyberattacks, as well as to ensure the overall integrity of the components produced by 3D-printing methods.

    Dedicated security processes are commonplace among business IT systems due to the high risk of intrusion, data breaches, and cyber attacks. However, until now they haven’t specifically secured additive manufacturing systems present on computers and hardware attached to those networks. These systems are becoming more prevalent to replace conventional fabrication processes in areas ranging from aerospace components to medical implants, making the software that controls them also vulnerable.

    The spatial layer is comprised of a linear potentiometer and gyroscopic sensor attached to each other to construct a set of spherical coordinates to describe the printer’s motion, Beyah said. “Similar to the acoustic layer approach, we obtain data—this time from the linear potentiometer and gyroscopic sensor— from the printing of the golden copy and compare it with the data generated from subsequent prints,” he said.

    The materials layer uses contrast agents embedded into the printed object during the printing process to act as signature markers for particular prints without compromising the structural integrity of the original model, Beyah said.

    “We embed nanoparticles [gold nanorods] at different points in the printed model to generate a pattern specific to the model,”

    Beyah said he believes the technique can be used to secure the additive manufacturing process across many industries, including for the production of aircraft parts, automobile parts, and artificial limbs. The team plans to continue their work to improve the system so it functions without limitations in various environments, he added.

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why HP Inc. and Deloitte Are Going Big on 3D Printing

    HP Inc. and Deloitte are making a big push in 3D printing.

    The personal computer and printing giant and consulting firm said Thursday that they would jointly work with companies interested in using HP’s 3D printers for manufacturing.

    HP (hpq, +0.82%) only started selling its first 3D printers in December after first announcing them in May 2016. Although currently a small market, HP CEO Dion Weisler believes that 3D printing will become a big hit for his company and that it could win a sizable share of what he said is a $12 trillion market.

    “We are looking to accelerate what I think is the inevitability of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Weisler told Fortune.

    For this, HP is hoping that its new partnership with Deloitte, which routinely works with manufacturing clients, will give it more credibility.

    “This is not just a big announcement on paper,” said Deloitte CEO Punit Renjen. “We are making big investments in terms of capabilities, in terms of personnel, that will be focused on going to market with HP and the ability to deliver. “

    Deloitte’s interest in 3D printing has grown along with improvements in the technology over the past few years that increasingly let companies quickly print custom designed products with materials like plastics, nylon, and other resins. Those materials have also become cheaper over time, making the economics of 3D printing more attractive, the executives said.

    “What was impossible just a few years ago is now possible,” Renjen said.

    Deloitte partnered with HP instead of older 3D printing companies like Stratasys and 3D Systems because of HP’s size and its worldwide brand recognition.

    Weisler declined to name any customers that have bought its 3D printing systems. The only detail he would reveal was that some of HP’s 3D printing customers are making repeat orders and that overall sales are growing, representing a “real measure of success.”

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A 3D Printed Junction Transistor Model

    Transistors are no doubt one of humankinds greatest inventions. However, the associated greatness brings with it unprecedented complexity under the hood. To fully understand how a transistor works, one needs to be familiar with some Quantum Mechanics! As perhaps any EE undergraduate would tell you, one of the hardest subject to fathom is in fact semiconductor physics.

    [Chuck] has designed, printed and explained the workings of a BJT transistor using a 3D printed model. We really like this model because it goes a long way to shed light on some of the more subtle features of BJT transistors for beginners.

    How Transistors Work is Explained using 3D Printing Teaching Aide

    Chuck uses a custom 3D printed design to show how Bipolar Transistors work. He explains its two main functions using the 3D print along with some actual circuits using Snap Circuits. If you’ve ever wondered how a Bipolar Transistor (often used in Arduino circuits and Radios) works then check out this video.

  46. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Blinking LEDs on the Internet of Printers

    When you ask for recommendations on which 3D printer to buy, damn the cost, the Ultimaker is consistently at the top of the list. There’s a reason for the popularity of this printer — it’s easy to use, extremely high quality, and has an entire freakin’ Linux system running somewhere under the hood. That last bit is opening up a few doors to some interesting hacks, like using a 3D printer as an RGB LED.

    The Doodle3D team has been playing around with the Ultimaker API to see if they can make their software work with the Ultimaker printer. The Ultimaker has RGB LEDs, so obviously the simplest proof of concept in futzing around with an API is to blink a few LEDs. The actual code was written in HTML, JavaScript, and Node in just two hours. The author admits it’s ugly, but it works. Can’t go wrong with that.


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