rapid-manufacturing

Planning to visit any art fairs this week? Julia Kaganskiy, Director of NEW INC will be leading a conversation about rapid manufacturing at the Collective Design Fair on Sunday. More information can be found here. We’re also looking forward to the Outsider Art Fair (check out their schedule of public programs here.

Photo: Courtesy the Collective Design Fair

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3D printer creates keyboard with functional keys - no assembly required

3D Printed… Terminator!?

Thanks to recent developments within the prosthetics field we’re now tantalisingly close to being able to reproduce Terminator style limbs that operate just the same as Arnie’s futuristic version’s do.

Materials have become far more durable, stronger and lighter; much better than they were just a few years ago. 3D printing has been incorporated into the manufacturing process of prosthetics – a fact that would’ve been hard to believe only a few years ago when small plastic objects alone were difficult to print.

Richard Hague and students from Nottingham University have successfully 3D printed an arm which has a strong plastic structure, mobile joints and fingertip touch sensors. The results are quite stunning and are currently on display at the London Science Museum.

The field of prosthetics is looking brighter than ever with the Notts Uni arm being one such fine example. Being able to simply print complex objects in this manner means the cost implications are lowered making high quality products much more affordable.

3d Printing with Stainless Steel

Last week, we launched customizable cufflinks 3d printed in Stainless Steel. It’s a cool material (you’re 3d printing in METAL!!), and we want to share some information on the process.

There are a few different ways of printing in Stainless Steel. The method used for our cufflinks involves first binding stainless steel powder with a glue. A layer of stainless steel powder is spread out, a print head drops bits of glue over the layer. After the glue solidifies that layer, another layer of powder is spread out on top. This process repeats until the objects are made.

Afterwards, a technician carefully extracts the solid parts (parts of the powder glued together). The technician vacuums away the leftover powder, which is reused in the next batch. At this point, the models are in their “Green State.” The parts are solid, but quite brittle. Models that are too fragile often break during this stage. It is a just a little stronger than wet sand people use to make sandcastles. So here’s a tip—when you’re designing, think: what if I made this with wet sand, will it crumble? The video below (from Shapeways) shows how easy it is to break parts in this Green State.

The models are then affixed to a long beam using sprues. Each beam is attached to a pool of liquid bronze and heated in an oven. These parts are quite porous and soaks up the bronze like a sponge. This accounts for some slight coloration differences. The parts on the beam closest to the bronze pool will be a little more bronzey, the parts on the other end will be a bit more silvery. You can see the range of stainless steel coloration differences here.

When the parts come out of the oven, they are fully strengthened. Remember that video of me crushing the models with my fingers? Can’t do that anymore after they come out of the oven!

Last, technicians cut each part from their sprues and polish the models using a tumbler. They put the models into a big tank containing little pieces of media rubbing down the rough surface of the stainless steel—different types of media are used depending on the geometry. In the Tumbler, the media vibrates and smooths the surface of each object. A technician then applies a sealant after the model is polished to finish off the process.

Cool eh? Shapeways, our production partner, made a video that summarizes the process of 3d printing stainless steel.

If you are interested in learning more about designing for 3d printed stainless steel (or any materials), leave a comment or email us. You can also head over to the Shapeways materials pages and check out more information there (an amazing product lead wrote those pages!!).

Mixee Me is now Mixee Labs!

We are super excited to announce that Mixee Me is changing to Mixee Labs. We are just welcoming even more interactive, customizable (and yes 3d printed) products into our family! Don’t worry, don’t worry. Mixee Me creator isn’t going anywhere. 


Shown: Quark Jewelry, Wave Bracelet, Knotty Rings, and of course.. Mixee Me

Mixee Labs is now a web app platform where designers can create interactive models of their products for consumers to customize. With each of our web apps, or “creators,” anybody will be able to create unique objects without knowing how to model, and watch them come to life without needing to buy a 3D printer.

As part of our launch, we are featuring Quark Jewelry by Stijn van der Linden, of the studio Virtox. Quark Jewelry's innovative design draws on the intricate movements of subatomic particles. Stijn has been a leading figure in the 3D printing community. His designs have been featured in the Wired Store and the Today Show.


Pendants, earrings, and charms made by the Quark Jewelry Creator on Mixee Labs

Initially, we are launching with our JavaScript Platform. We are also working on a complementary platform that will enable 3D modelers who don’t know how to code to make creators as well (and we’re looking for beta users!). We will work with all designers to make sure their prints are manufacturable before publishing each creator.

Working with our production partner, Shapeways, we manufacture these objects on-demand using 3D printing and ship directly to you.

Like what you see? Start creating shtuff and let us know what you think!

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3D printed mathematics

University of Melbourne mathematician Dr Henry Segerman says all language is about communication, Maths is just the same. Dr Segerman has found a special way to express mathematics in 3D printed sculpture art.

Henry Segerman earned his master of Mathematics degree at University of Oxford in 2001 and then a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Stanford. Using 3D modeling software Rhinoceros and 3D printing company Shapeways’ service, Segerman has made more than 100 sculptures.

3D printing gives Segerman huge amount of freedom in the geometry. See the photo below, he used 3D printing to create these representations of regular four-dimensional polytopes, the analogues of the 3-dimensional regular polyhedra.

The 120-cell and 600-cell are shown, which have 120 dodecahedral facets and 600 tetrahedral facets respectively. The left and right objects are dual to each other, which means that the vertices of one correspond to the 3-dimensional facets of the other, and vice versa. This is illustrated in the center object, which is simply copies of the two other objects occupying the same space, interlinking with each other.” ~ 3ders.org

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This guy may be pushing the envelope of sls.