3D printing roundup

3D printing roundup

3D printing is an exciting field with a lot of active development. Here’s perhaps the first of a series of roundups of interesting news from 3ders.org.

Let’s start first with a blast from the past, my very own Polygon Construction Kit.

3D print yourself a kite with the Polycon construction kit

Fortunately for us, the Berlin-based artist and engineer Michael Ang has developed a 3D printing kit that is perfect for recreating the connectors that are central to kites. Simply add fabric or paper, along with some thin wooden rods, and you’ve got yourself a (partly) 3D printed kite!

Nervous Systems developing 3D printed running shoe insoles

Nervous Systems decided to create a 3D printed platform, a “highly controllable anisotropic, macroscopic foam structure”, which could be quickly tested and modified depending on runner response. “Foam structures are three-dimensional arrays of cells,” said Rosenkrantz. “They have a low relative density and are highly porous giving them the unique property of being both lightweight and strong. While man-made foams are rather uniform, the foams we see in nature like wood and bone are highly variable in scale and direction, enabling specific material properties in different zones. We wanted to use the running data to design foams that geometrically adapt to different forces.

AON “industrial” FDM printer with independent print heads for dual extrusion

The independent print heads can be used either for printing with two different colours/materials or printing two of the same object. Apparently this also reduces problems with ooze when doing dual extrusion.


Airbus A320 saves weight using 3D printed metal and generative design

‘The goal was to reduce its weight by 30%, so generative design was really a necessity. We had very clear goals and constraints. We combined biology, computation in design and a living organism plan followed,’ he says. However, the final result was up to 45 percent lighter, and could shape a new precedent for cabin design. When the same principles are applied to the entire cabin, Airbus estimates that 465,000 metric tons of C02 emissions can be eliminated per year – or taking up to 96,000 cars off the road.


Custom-fit bras using 3D scanning / printing

‘The bras on sale today are mostly terrible creations. The current generation of bra braces are designed two-dimensionally and are just uncomfortable for most women,’ she says. Her designs, in contrast, go into the third dimension. ‘I make three dimensional braces that properly match the shape of your body.’

Custom-matching 3D shapes is one of the strengths of 3D printing. Also note that none of the plastic goes against the skin – fabric is better for that!


Space Station astronauts can now smell their coffee in zero gravity

The special geometry uses the liquid’s surface tension to keep it from escaping into the Space Station while allowing the smell to get out.


Interactive pixel wall

Nice example of designing your own mechanical mechanism and then using the printer as a small scale factory. 3D printing makes it much easier for artists/designers to create these kind of mechanisms.

Physical Data Visualization – Scott Kildall meets Polycon

Physical Data Visualization – Scott Kildall meets Polycon

My longtime friend and prolific artist Scott Kildall visited my studio last month to try out the Polygon Construction Kit. Scott is working on physical data visualization for his EquityBot and Polycon could open up the possibilities of what’s possible. Over the course of an afternoon Scott was able to take one of the polygons he’s generating with code he wrote in OpenFrameworks and turn it into a physical object using Polycon!


It was interesting (and a bit nerve wracking) seeing someone else use Polycon for the first time. Scott’s code was able to output a 3D model file that imported easily into FreeCAD. The 3D model was processed by Polycon (running inside FreeCAD) to generate a set of joints to be printed and a cut list for the rods that connect the joints. After some cutting and other preparation the physical model was assembled, bringing the data visualization into the real world.


Scott brought his own 3D printer, a Printrbot Simple Metal. He was able to print some connectors on his printer – the first time someone else has used Polycon from start to finish! Watching someone else use your software for the first time is a good test – is it going to be buggy or hard to use? We did see some difficulties in the software and assembly, and Scott had some great suggestions on how to improve the process.

Time to print!

We’re now collaborating on Polycon, and I’ve already implemented a new numbering scheme for the connectors based on Scott’s suggestion. You can see more pictures of the visit on Flickr.

Assembled polygon!

Scott’s now back in Utrecht in the Netherlands for his residency at Impakt Works. You can read his write up of the visit and see more of his work on his website. It’ll be exciting to see where this leads!

Scott + Mang


Open source 3D printer field report on Packt Publishing

Open source 3D printer field report on Packt Publishing

My latest article 6 months with an open source 3D printer is now online on the Packt Publishing blog. I talk about some of my reasons for getting an open source 3D printer and experiences so far. Since I wrote the article I’ve gotten the printer to the point where it’s relatively reliable, and most of the time I can just hit “print” and have the machine go about its business. The machine I got is the Prusa i3 Berlin and it’s been working well for printing connectors for building polygons with the Polygon Construction Kit.

You can read 6 months with an open source 3D printer on the Packt Publishing blog.