Continuous 3D Printing

 

The company Carbon3D came out of two years of stealth mode Monday night with a simultaneous TED Talk and Science paper publication. Their new tech, which they say could be used in industrial applications within the next year, makes coveted 3-D printers the likes of those sold by MakerBot look like child’s play.

Unlike conventional 3D printing, this printer continuously forms a new object, rather than printing it in layers. As a result, it’s much faster than conventional 3D printing (it takes minutes, instead of hours). There are a few different types of existing 3D printers, but they mostly work via the same principle: a printing head passes over a platform over and over, depositing layer after layer of a material like plastic in a precise pattern. Over time, these layers combine to form the desired object — much like a paper printer forms text on a page by putting down row after row of ink. By contrast, this new continuous 3D printer would do away with the layers entirely. Instead, a platform draws the object continuously out of a bath of liquid resin.

The resin solidifies when ultraviolet light hits it (a process called photopolymerization). So to create the desired item, a projector underneath the resin pool shoots UV light, in the form of a series of cross-sectional images of the object. Light, in a sense, is the blade that the printer uses to sculpt its products. Meanwhile, oxygen prevents this reaction from occurring — so to stop the object from simply hardening and sticking to the floor of the pool, there’s a layer of dissolved oxygen there, creating an ultra-thin “dead zone” at the very bottom.

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3D Printing Gun Out of Lego

What do you do if you want to 3D print in any direction, but can’t buy a pre-made pen like the 3Doodler? If you’re Vimal Patel, you build your own. He melded a hot glue gun with a powered Lego mechanism (really, Technic) to extrude filament in any axis. To call it bulky would be an understatement, but it works — as you’ll see in the video below, it can produce fairly complex objects as long as you have a keen eye and a steady hand. And if you want to try it, you can. Patel has posted his Lego Digital Designer file for the 3D printing gun, so it shouldn’t be too hard to replicate the invention at home.

 

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The 3D Printer That Can Build a House

The University of Southern California is testing a giant 3D printer that could be used to build a whole house in under 24 hours.

Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis has designed the giant robot that replaces construction workers with a nozzle on a gantry, this squirts out concrete and can quickly build a home according to a computer pattern. It is “basically scaling up 3D printing to the scale of building,” says Khoshnevis. The technology, known as Contour Crafting, could revolutionise the construction industry.

The affordable home?

Contour Crafting could slash the cost of home-owning, making it possible for millions of displaced people to get on the property ladder. It could even be used in disaster relief areas to build emergency and replacement housing.  For example, after an event such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which has displaced almost 600,000 people, Contour Crafting could be used to build replacement homes quickly.

It could be used to create high-quality shelter for people currently living in desperate conditions. “At the dawn of the 21st century [slums] are the condition of shelter for nearly one billion people in our world,” says Khoshnevis, “These buildings are breeding grounds for disease a problem of conventional construction which is slow, labour intensive and inefficient.”

As Khoshnevis points out, if you look around you pretty much everything is made automatically these days –

your shoes, your clothes, home appliances, your car. The only thing that is still built by hand are these buildings.

How does Contour Crafting work?

The Contour Crafting system is a robot that by automates age-old tools normally used by hand. These are wielded by a robotic gantry that builds a three-dimensional object.

Ultimately it would work like this,” says Brad Lemley from Discover Magazine. “On a cleared and leveled site, workers would lay down two rails a few feet further apart than the eventual building’s width and a computer-controlled contour crafter would take over from there. A gantry-type crane with a hanging nozzle and a components-placing arm would travel along the rails. The nozzle would spit out concrete in layers to create hollow walls, and then fill in the walls with additional concrete… humans would hang doors and insert windows.

This technology is like a rock that we have rolled to the top of a cliff, just one little push and the idea will roll along on its own.

– Khoshnevis told Discover Magazine

Microfactory – A Machine Shop in a Box

The Microfactory is an all-in-one machine that 3D-prints, etches, and mills. It was conceived and built to be a self-contained prototyping and machining system for product development, not for end production. It is one that’s easy to use, portable, quiet, and leaves no mess behind. Its creators, four members of an independent maker space, formed Mebotics and funded the first five versions of their machine-shop-in-a-box before offering it on Kickstarter.

Hopefully they will reach their goal, but they do have a long way to go. If they do meet the funding goal, the company expects to start shipping about a year from now. A simplified version that prints one color or material and is equipped with an upgraded 650 W milling spindle will ship first for a minimum pledge of $4,495. The full version with four print heads and a 300 W spindle is available for a minimum pledge of $4,995.

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3D Printable Ouya Game Console Case

Gamers will be able to design their own cases for the forthcoming Yves Behar-designed OUYA console and print them out with a MakerBot 3D printer.

The partnership will see OUYA upload 3D print files for the case to Thingiverse, the online design database operated by MakerBot, where they can be downloaded and produced with a desktop 3D printer.

The news comes two months after after mobile phone maker Nokia became the first major manufacturer to release 3D print files for its products, allowing consumers to print their own customised phone cases.

The OUYA’s case includes a lid and a spring-loaded button to house the console’s hardware, allowing users to make modifications to the standard round-edged cube designed by San Francisco designer Yves Behar.

As the first product from technology start-up Boxer8, the OUYA will allow developers to make their own games and tweak the hardware as they wish.

Based on open design principles that encourage users to develop and adapt products themselves, the console will run on Google’s Android operating system and all games will either be free or available as a free trial, while the hardware itself will cost only $99.

The development of OUYA was funded through Kickstarter, with supporters pledging £5.6 million in exchange for first access to the console, making it the second-highest earning project in the crowdfunding website’s history.

Some 1,200 Kickstarter investors were given developer versions of the console at the start of the year, but it’s expected to be available to the public this June.

Last week MakerBot unveiled a prototype of a desktop scanner that will allow users to digitally scan objects they want to replicate with a 3D printerat home – see all MakerBot news and all 3D printing news.

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3Doodler: The World’s First 3D Printing Pen

If anyone hasn’t already seen this, it is the 3Doodler. It is the world’s first and only 3D Printing Pen. Using ABS plastic (the material used by many 3D printers), 3Doodler draws in the air or on surfaces. It’s compact and easy to use, and requires no software or computers. You just plug it into a power socket and can start drawing anything within minutes.

Support them on their Kickstarter and get one for your own here!

Plugg Radio

“Plugg” is a prototype DAB radio designed by Skrekkogle. It  investigates the  physical and metaphorical interaction with electronic devices.

A cork fits nicely into the hole where the radio’s speaker sits beneath. By pushing the cork into this hole, the radio turns off…

…and by removing it, the radio turns itself on again.

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Printable Headphones

With 3D printers becoming more accessible we decided to have a think around the concept “life in beta” as a future scenario. What if printed prototypes could become actual products? Meaning, once off the print bed an object could be assembled without any tools and be made functional by readily attainable components. John Mabry decided to stress test the premise with the challenge of making electronically simple yet functionally complex headphones.

My first go resulted in a good-looking functional model created on a professional ABS FDM machine (Dimension 1200ES: print time 13 hours and 30 minutes, hence the name). It worked out well, but the machine we used isn’t accessible to the average maker, and two of the critical parts relied heavily on soluble support printing—a non-issue for professional 3D printers, a major issue for desktop 3D printers.

Last week he started to started to adapt the 13:30 design to the Maker Bot Replicator. The main challenge: How to build to a similar level of quality without soluble support. In the meantime, he posted the current model(s), component list, and instructions on Thingiverse for you to make your own working headphones right now.

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The DIWire Bender

The DIWire Bender is a rapid prototype machine that bends metal wire to produce 2D or 3D shapes.Wire unwinds from a spool, passes through a series of wheels that straighten it, and then feeds through the bending head, which moves around in 3 dimensions to create the desired bends and curves. Vector files (e.g., Adobe Illustrator files), text files of commands (e.g., feed 50 mm, bend 90° to right…) provide DIWire’s instructions.

It’s essentially a 3D printer that describes lines, instead of volumes, in space, and it could be used for anything from prototypes to customized products.

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