Zuta – Mini Robot Printer


After raising almost $600,000 on Kickstarter, Zuta Labs is ready to start production on the printer and is accepting pre-orders from non-Kickstarter backers.

The pre-order price — which Zuta Labs says will be lower than the cost at launch — is $199.99. The printer is available in white and black. It comes with a print cartridge that is good for at least 100 pages. Additional cartridges are available for pre-order.


The wireless printer works for about an hour and is rechargeable via micro USB. Users can print on all sizes of paper and it works without drivers and can print from Macs, PCs iOS and Android.

Since its Kickstarter period, Zuta Labs says it has managed to make the printer smaller and faster than it originally anticipated.

The size — just 10.2 centimeters in diameter — is a big selling point for the product. It is aimed at users who only need a printer infrequently and in places where traditional access — think a coffee shop or at a hotel — is not always applicable. The fact that it also works with smartphones and tablets is a big deal, too. More often than not, I wind up needing to print documents from my phone more than my laptop.


Zuta Labs is aiming to have the Zuta Pocket Printer shipped by September 2015. The company is at CES 2015 showing off demos of the device and taking meetings with potential partners.




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.


Micro-robots Making Things!

I’m always a sucker for tiny things but also have a great love for robots, so when I learned about these micro-robots, I really got excited. We’re all familiar with ant colonies, where every tiny creature is running around doing just what it needs to. Well it looks like SRI International has taken inspiration from the giant mounds of insects, to create their own swarms of tiny worker robots that can put together mechanical assemblies and electronic circuits.

Diamagnetic Micro Manipulation (DM3) uses tiny magnets that move under a circuit board, to get the micro-robots to follow a set pattern based on a set of preprogrammed instructions. The system can be set up so just one or a couple of robots are working together, or you can have giant groups of them moving together in sync like some bizarre gymnastics routine. Despite their tiny size, the robots can move up to a foot in a single second, so they can haul around your micro manufacturing supplies pretty swiftly.

SRI says that DM3 can be used for prototyping parts, electronics assembly, biotech lab-on-a-chip experiments, and assembling small mechanical systems in hostile environments. Eventually they plan to scale up the technology, by developing a manufacturing head containing thousands of the little buggers that can build much larger assemblies.

As you might expect, the funding comes from the military, and is part of DARPA’s Open Manufacturing program.

Check out the video of the tiny robots in action, you’ll be surprised by how fast and accurate they can be:

Source – Original written by Michael Trei

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

Stronger by Stress Plastics

A new type of plastic developed at Duke University that actually gets stronger when it is stressed.

“The carefully designed molecular structure of the material is what gives it this unusual property. Like all plastics, this one has a backbone composed mostly of carbon. However, the carbon atoms are arranged in a series of triangles extending down in long chains with two bromine atoms at one point.
The researchers included a molecule called a carboxylate in this plastic to utilize those bonding sites. This cross-links multiple chains and increases the material’s strength at the site of damage. Because this material reacts to mechanical force instead of light, heat, or chemical exposure, it is called a mechanophore.”

This could be implemented into phones, to make more durable medical implants or even stronger prosthetics that resist wear and tear.


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!

GiraDora – Human Powered Washer and Dryer

GiraDora is a human-powered washing/spin-dryer a user can sit on that increases the efficiency and improves the experience of hand-washing clothes. For under $40, GiraDora more than doubles productivity, increases health of women and children, and affords the opportunity to begin breaking the poverty cycle. The user sits on top of the drum-like appliance and pumps a pedal with her foot, which agitates, cleans, rinses, then spins-dries clothes. While providing a more comfortable, ergonomic, and efficient way to clean clothes, GiraDora also affords opportunities to generate income.


Rest of Summer Industrial Design Reading List

From top to bottom:

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley , Jonathan Littman and Tom Peters

The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman (I have been hounded by a few professors to read this one)

Innovation Tournaments by Christian Terwiesch

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

Engines of Innovation by Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein

Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter F. Drucker

Quite a long list I’ve accumulated, well I better get cracking if I want to finish all of these books before school starts again.

Far-Fetched Ideas Are Fun, But Innovation Usually Starts Small

Despite what New York Times  editors might think, innovations aren’t always way-out-there ideas. Rather they can be small, incremental changes that better the lives of people.

Innovation is about more than cool. Many of the ideas presented in the feature seem to ignore key elements of human behavior, motivation, and desire. Moreover, the coverage glamorizes innovation and presents it predominantly as those far-out-there ideas, while missing that sometimes innovations with the most impact are the smallest, most obvious ideas. Innovation is about solving people’s problems in a way that’s meaningful to them in the context of their lives. It’s about finding ways to design services, products, and experiences that help people achieve their goals. It’s about making life better for people, on people’s terms, however they define what “better” means.

So beyond the Cool Factor, what else should we keep in mind when we develop innovative ideas? Here are some of our thoughts:

1. Powerful Ideas Can be as Small as a Sack of Beans

When we’re faced with a major problem, we often expect that we need a huge solution to solve it. But innovation doesn’t have to be some big new technology. A solution to a problem as large as global health, for example, may be as small as a sack of lentils. Esther Duflo, of the MIT Poverty Action Lab, has found that incenting Indian families with a kilo of lentils for immunizing their children significantly raises vaccination rates. Duflo’s idea is so effective because it’s based on an understanding of what’s meaningful to the families involved, on their terms. A bag of lentils may seem like a small idea, but it resulted in real, measurable impact.

2. Good Innovations Meet Consumers on Their Terms

It’s the late ’90s, and the diaper wars are on. Huggies and Pampers are caught up in full-fledged battle, trying to come out with the World’s Best Diaper. At the time, both companies thought that “best” translated to “most absorbent,” and they designed their diapers accordingly. But in doing so, they lost sight of what moms cared about: being good moms. Diapers became so thick that wet and soiled diapers could sometimes go undetected for hours.

Continuum partnered with Pampers and helped them redesign their diapers in ways that not only addressed key functional concerns–such as absorbency–but also aligned with what mattered most to moms: supporting the developmental growth of their babies. Something as simple as putting an Elmo graphic on the seat, so moms could easily know which side was front and back, a wetness indicator, and tabs on the front to line up the tape made it easier for moms to change the baby, especially in the middle of the night. We also rebranded the diapers as Pampers Stages to speak directly to moms’ desires to support their babies’ growth, from Swaddlers to Cruisers. Other diapers branded by age; we focused on developmental stages. These small changes made moms feel confident and reassured that they were effectively aiding their babies’ development and shot Pampers to the number-one spot on the market.

 3. Start With Your Vision, Then Work Back to Today

There is value in thinking about pie-in-the-sky, seemingly unattainable ideas. But it’s a matter of how you use those ideas. Often, companies are looking for the strategic ideal to work toward but need some quick wins for right now. And even small changes can have major operational implications that take years to execute. So when we innovate, we first come up with that “lighthouse”–that ideal, almost unattainable experience that we ultimately want to deliver. And then we backcast. We ask ourselves: What are the steps that we can take today that will make an impact while moving the needle on the path toward our ideal? By using this backcasting model, we are able to ensure that each stage of innovation–no matter how incremental–can deliver something that makes an impact for people in the near, mid, and future terms. We always strive to arrive at our ideal, but often we’ve just gotta get there one step at a time.

Small innovations may not garner front-page attention the way big sexy innovations do, but they often make a larger impact in the long run. In fact, I think that some of the most compelling innovations in the Times Magazine‘s innovation issue actually came from the reader-generated “innovation whiteboard” section, tucked away behind the feature article. Most of these ideas are not splashy or particularly wild. But when you read about them, you think to yourself, “Wow, I could really use something like that,” or “Wow, that would really help me,” instead of “Wow, that seems cool.” Because at the end of the day, this is what innovation is really about: Meaningful ideas that solve our problems and make our lives better. No matter how small.


Technology + Business + Human Values = Design Innovation