3D printing

What else can you print?

It’s 2015 and we are well into the manufacturing revolution, or so the media claims. No longer restricted to the realm of science fiction, 3D printing and one off manufacturing are becoming surprisingly commonplace.

From food to computers to cars, 3D printing is rapidly becoming a major component of our lives. I’m not just talking about printing plastic toys or parts – no, 3D printing has evolved! From computers that make themselves, to drivable cars printed in 24 hours, it seems like the only limit to what we can make is self imposed by our own imaginations.

Or by what we saw on Star Trek as kids. You decide.

 

VOLTERA

Building hardware sucks!

I assume. I haven’t so much as built my own computer, let alone built my own computer chips and circuit boards. But I know people who have, and according to them it is not a simple venture.

According to them one of the most dangerous components of any electronics project is the circuit board. It involves experimenting with violable chemicals, or waiting weeks after sending their designs off to a  fabrication house.

In short, building a circuit board had two options – messing with chemicals or waiting for weeks. Kind of a tough choice if you’re in a rush.

The Voltera V-One 3D printer wants to offer a third option.

L: insulating mask being laid down, R: second layer bridging over first layer

The Voltera V-One can create a prototype board right from the comfort of your own home.

Gerber files go in; prototype circuit boards come out.   According to the Kickstarter funding this project, the printer lays down a conductive ink to create the traces and an insulating ink as a mask between layers.

These boards aren’t meant to replace mass manufactured PCBs – this is a one off manufacturing prototype tool that helps you get  there faster. The designers claim that you can now you can quickly test an idea without wasting money or two weeks of your time!

The Kickstarter campaign started for this project around Valentine’s day. Their goal was $70, 000 over the course of the month. As of February 18th they have raised $333, 137 and have over 20 days go to.

Conductive ink dispensing

FOODINI

This one is for those of us who hate to cook. A full meal with the touch of a button – sounds like a dream! Or restricted to the realm of science fiction and Star Trek.

Come on, we’re all thinking it.

Although the Fodini hasn’t reached ‘Replicator’ status yet, it is certainly on its way. The meals are raw, but with the push of a button you can have a fully prepared  meal. All you have to do is cook it.

It isn’t too different from a regular 3D printer, but instead of printing with plastics, it deploys edible ingredients squeezed out of stainless steel capsules:

“It’s the same technology,” says Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines, “but with plastics there’s just one melting point, whereas with food it’s different temperatures, consistencies and textures. Also, gravity works a little bit against us, as food doesn’t hold the shape as well as plastic.”

The startup is based out of Barcelona and it is one of a kind. It can print a large selection of foods, from desserts to more savory meals.

The creator,  Natural Machines, points out that it’s designed to take care only of the difficult and time-consuming parts of food preparation that discourage people from cooking at home. Like preparing homemade pasta, or perfectly shaped cookies.

As mentioned before, the device only prints the food, which must be then cooked as usual. But a future model will also cook the preparation and produce it ready to eat.

foodini

And since we live in the Digital Age, everything needs to be connected to the Internet of Things.

“There’s a touchscreen on the front that connects to a recipe site in the cloud, so it’s an internet-of-things,-connected kitchen appliance,” said Kucsma. Users will also be able to control the device remotely using a smartphone, and share their recipes with the community.

Doodler

The Doodler is kind of the odd man out. It is not a 3D printer per se, but it is  an additive manufacturing device.

In other words, it’s a pen that draws in 3D.

There is nothing controlling where the 3Doodler lays down material except for the user. You’re essentially printing in air.

Positioned as something of a toy, and developed by engineers from the toy industry, the 3Doodler helps to bring the concept of additive manufacturing to a new user

 

The Strati

3d-printed-car

With all the talk of those self-driving cars, we can sometimes overlook how those cars are made. Cars are not exempt from 3D printing. In fact, it’s already been done.

ABS plastics is the first to attempt to print an entire car.  They eliminate a car’s “frame” and integrate all exterior and interior features into a drastically parts-reduced automotive creation.

Everything on the car that could be integrated into a single material piece has been printed. This includes the frame, exterior body, and some interior features. The mechanical components of the Strati, like battery, motors, wiring and suspension are sourced from Renault’s Twizy, an electric powered city car.

Not only that, but this car may be on the road within the year. Once the 3D-printed car is cleared by U.S. vehicle rules and regulations, it will be drivable on public roads.

The Strati takes 44 hours to print, with the hopes that they can cut that rate to 24 hours.

With all these printing developments, one question remains – how long until we can 3D print the perfect spouse?

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Reading Rainbow got a Kickstart

“Butterfly in the Sky

I can go twice as high

Take a look

It’s in a book!”

Nostalgia aside, how many of you remember Reading Rainbow? If you were alive in the 80s, 90s or even the 00s,  odds are you remember the television show that encouraged children to read.

 

The fact that it was hosted by LeVar Burton (also known as Jordie from the popular Star Trek the Next Generation series) was only icing on the cake.

The show came to the end of its 26 year long run in 2006.  That made it the third longest running children’s show in PBS history – outlasted only by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers.

The show was cancelled because of a fundamental shift in the in the philosophy of educational television programming. Reading Rainbow followed the reasoning of the 80s and 90s, which was to teach kids why they should read. Pick up a book – go to Hogwarts, Mount Doom, the moon, all these places without commercials.

(For the record it worked for this author – Reading Rainbow was one of my favourite shows as a kid!)

Today, the focus has shifted from teaching kids why they should read, to teaching kids how to read. Reading Rainbow just didn’t cut it, and its book finally closed.

Or so we thought.

READING RAINBOW IS BACK

logo

We live in the age of Crowdfunding and Kickstarter. Today, you don’t need to find a network, publisher or sponsor to create great ideas and shows. You can take them directly to the source – the audience.

That is just what LeVar Burton did.

The original goal for the project was a lofty 1 million dollars.

He got two million in a single day.

The project will be running on Kickstarter until July 2 at 3pm, so if you want to donate you still can by clicking HERE 

As of writing this blog over $3, 635, 451 has been raised.

UPDATE: Due to overwhelming success, LeVar Burton has issued a new financial challenge for the campaign. He hopes to raise 5 million dollars. 

WHY AM I WRITING ABOUT READING RAINBOW?

Well, first of all – NOSTALGIA! It’s Reading Rainbow people!

Secondly, and for a much more important if not valid reason, to show you the power of Crowdfunding in action.

I’ve explained how Crowdfunding works before. As with all things, seeing something in theory and reality are very different.

Crowdfunding can bring anything to life – whether its a tech product, a initiative, or a dead television program that the networks have given up on.

Everyone can present an idea and possibly get it funded.

So, without further ado, I’m going to highlight some of the most successful and interesting Kickstarter campaigns out there. Now, these are my own opinions and the results of whether or not the campaign is meeting its goal. If you disagree or have anything to add, please do so in the comments blow, or on any of our other Social Media pages!

SCiO

A molecular sensor that fits into your pocket. Might sound complicated, but what that means is you can now analyze food, plants and medications in real time! Anything from nutritional facts, medical information and finding out which watermelon is sweetest at the grocery store.

All this information is sent instantly to your smart phone.

The campaign was asking for $200,000, as of this blog they had raised $2, 502, 696.

There are still 4 days to go. You can check out the campaign HERE 

 

 Homey, The Living Room

A speech controlled home automation device. With just a voice command, you can talk to and control everything in your home from lights to music, from climate to TV.

Check out the campaign HERE 

The campaign will be ending on July 27. They were asking for 100, 000 pounds, and have already reached 172, 734 with 15 days to go.

 Augie and the Green Knight: A Childrens Adventure Book

Of course it’s not just technology that gets pushed through in Crowdfunding. This particular project is a children’s book about a scientifically precocious young girl in a world of fantasy.

Unfortunately, I can’t embed the video here, so you can check out their entire Kickstarter campaign plus video HERE 

This project was asking for $30,000 and has already reached $233, 116 with over 21 days still to go.

Discov3ry Extruder

This one is especially exciting to me for two reasons:

  1. It’s local! Kitchner Ontario is just about 30 minutes from where this company is located.
  2. It involves baking and icing!

The Discov3ry Extruder from Structur3D Printing actually prints edible food!

Like LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow, the Discov3ry hit its goal of $30, 000 in less than 24 hours. It is now sitting at $49, 191 with over 30 days to go. You can check out the entire campaign HERE

 

That’s it folks – a list of all the current Kickstarter projects that want to spend money on. If you disagree or want to add anything, please let me know in the comments below.

3D Printing and the Manufacturing Revolution

 

Digital technology is now integrated with everything. We’ve seen it in our businesses, our economy and how we socialize and relax. Now, with the rise of 3D printing technology, that very same digital revolution is sparking the powder keg of another metamorphosis.

Welcome to the Manufacturing Revolution

People are saying that 2014 will be the year of the 3D printer.

3D-printing-is-a-process

3D printing refers to taking 3D data and feeding it into a machine, which then produces the physical product.

HOW?

Think of a multi-layered cake. The baker laying down each layer one at a time until the entire pastry is finished. A 3D printer works much the same way.

It begins with a digital file – specifically a Computer Aided design (CAD). This is created using  a 3D modelling program. There are many such programs out there. Some examples are:

Images can be made both from scratch using these programs, or from a model created by a 3D scanner.

Photo By Alange6373 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

 This data is then sent to a 3D printer, which slices it up into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. These layers are then printed one on top of the other until the item is complete.

3dprint

 

From a theoretical standpoint, this is just a small step forward from spraying ink and toner on paper. Instead of spraying ink something more substantial is used, like plastic resin, until the layers add up to make a physical product.

Of course, from a practical standpoint, the process is much more complicated.

Fundamentally Different

The process of manufacturing through 3D printing is completely different, right down to a fundamental level, from how we produce items today.

To produce items today, we use a process called subtracted manufacturing.

Subtractive Manufacturing: a process that relies upon the removal of material to create something. Like a sculptor carving away at a piece of rock to produce a statue.

3D printing technology uses a process called additive manufacturing.

Additive Manufacturing: a process that relies upon adding material to create something.

been around for years

3D printing technology has been around for about 30 years. It is just recently coming into the public eye because in the past they’ve been too inefficient, inaccessible, expensive and slow to be practical at all.

As new technologies develop, so do the capabilities of existing devices. In a short 30 years we’ve gone from a impractical concept, to 3D printers being a desktop item.

The Micro 3D

It’s looking like The Micro 3D printer will be the worlds first truly affordable 3D printers for the everyday user.

Costing just $249 and weighing 2.2lbs, it can print objects up to 4.6 inches tall. It is a crowdfunding project that is hosted on Kickstarter. It’s designers (M3D) launched the product on April 7, 2014 and within 11 minutes they achieved their target of $50,000.

You can check them out here. 

Lets put this into perspective. The Micro 3D printer costs less than an iPhone.

Affordable? Yes.

With this technology, the possibilities are endless. It is the end of large scale manufacturing and the birth of customizable, one-off production. In some ways we could abolish the need for manual labour at all.

Artists can now make objects that would otherwise be impossible to create.

Photo By John Cummings (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Medical implants can now be custom made to the individual. Need a new part for a device that’s out of production? No problem – download the file and make it yourself.

Machines are making themselves!

Let’s take this one step further. If items can easily be made as they are ordered, it’s logical to assume that they can more easily be made to the specifications the customer asks for.

3D printers are heralding in the next generation of customization. Consumers can now direct personally how they want their products to look. This is not to be confused with varium production, but actual unique products.

Varium Production: variations of the same product.

The customization doesn’t stop there. What about building replacement organs using the donors own skin cells? Restoring damaged pieces of artwork to their former glory by printing replacement pieces? Studying dinosaur bones by producing exact replicas of them within minutes with no fear of breakage. Architecture that doesn’t have to be built, but  printed!

Manufacturing revolution indeed.