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Howdy - I attended the Inside 3D Printing Expo in Chicago last week.  There was a wide array of commercial 3D printers (e.g. additive manufacturing) but the most jaw-dropping for me was the Mcor IRIS:


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It took me awhile to grasp what was going on with this machine.  Their software slices a full color 3D model into layers that are printed by a normal inkjet printer onto regular copier paper.  The stack of paper is then loaded into the Mcor IRIS where it is feed into the machine one sheet at a time:


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Here is the the inkjet printer and MCor IRIS feeder in action:



The IRIS then makes precision cuts of each sheet and apply glue to bind the pages together:



The objects that emerge from the ream of paper feel very solid, and it's hard to believe their composition is just copier paper:

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It's so life-like that Google Photos recognizes it as a face and asks if I want to tag a person in my photo!


Here's a close-up of the different types of objects printed with the MCor IRIS:



One of the novel applications of printer-based 3D printer is 3D wedding photos!

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This ticks so many boxes for me. Spotted on Instructables, 'Matstermind' has been working on this project for the past year. Daunted by the high price of 3D printers, he decided to take matters into his own hands and create his own using (mostly) Lego. Check out the full build here.





For more news and blogs, check out the 3D Printing area of the community.


Also see the recording of our recent 3D printing webinar below



"Drone It Yourself" kit, and in action (via Jasper van Loenen)


3D printers are just beginning to blossom into the giants they will soon become. Due to the declining price and increased support in the community, it is becoming more commonplace to see small companies and hobbyist with access to these machines. For the people with or without one it has been truly inspiring to witness what has been made by these machines and how quickly they are progressing. One area that will soon flourish due to 3D printing will be toys.


One example of a great product from 3D printing is the “Drone It Yourself” kit. Created by Jasper van Loenen, this kit will let you turn anything into a flying object. Most of the parts that are needed can be 3D printed straight from the original designs, or custom made to fit your personal needs. The kit allows people with no education in radio controlled technology to turn anything they wish into a flying object. Examples of the finished product being used included a bicycle rim flying through the air, a keyboard taking off into the air and an old phone getting clamped together and ready for flight.



Jasper has made the list of required parts available through his website, Other than the 3D parts, the kit includes a receiver, four electronic speed controllers, a Bluetooth module, and an OpenPilot CC3D flight controller. Jasper has recently submitted his creation into a contest on the Instructables website. If you like his idea, you should check out his website or help him out and give him a vote for the contest he has entered. After all, it is pretty cool to see a bike tire flying through the park.



T8 Spiderbot, the creepiest 3D printed toy


Another 3D printed, remote controlled creation that has surfaced recently is the T8 Spiderbot. Honestly, I am not too afraid of spiders, but this thing gives me the creeps at how eerily lifelike its movement is. The bot is created and designed by, a website centered around creating bio-inspired robots. In addition, the robot features their patented Bigfoot Inverse Kinematics Engine. As their website says, “This engine automatically handles all of the complex math theory and calculations required to control a multi-legged walking robot which means that users can focus on what they actually want the robot to do, without having to worry about the complicated details.”



The Spiderbot's structure is made mostly from 3D printed parts, which will come included in the kit. Furthermore, 26 servo motors lay hidden inside which make all the lifelike movements possible. Users can choose to control the bot through an optional Robugtix controller or through their own custom made designs. Communicating with the bot is done through serial communication using xBees, so any method of communication through Tx/Rx pins will work. The Spiderbot is going for $1,350.00, which is a good chunk of change for the average hacker. However, their product is the result of years of research and development. They are available now for pre-order online and are expected to ship at the end of September this year.



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Microsoft Research Labs embraces 3D printers. Is OS standardization the way to get 3D printers in people's lives? (via Microsoft)


When Microsoft launched Windows 8 back in October of last year (2012) it was received with lack-luster reviews from a majority of PC users (it was initially targeted for mobile device users). Some of the more notable issues that have user’s flummoxed were the removal of the ‘Start’ button, lack of tutorials on how to use the software (specifically navigating through the Metro interface) and the restrictive nature of SkyDrive (cloud storage and syncing service. AKA Windows Live). In an effort to address the problems associated with Microsoft’s latest OS, the company is set to release a much needed update codenamed Windows Blue or 8.1. The update will feature a set of new apps including a calculator, file manager, ‘Food & Drink’ finder and video editing software. The Start button will be brought back as well as the ability to boot directly to the desktop sidestepping the start screen. Navigation using the upper right and left hand hot spots will be able to be disabled when using a touch-screen. While the update will take care of a host of issues associated with Windows 8, it will also provide native support for devices connected to the user’s PC including 3D printers, such as the Makerbot.


In a recent press release from Microsoft, the company states that they want to bring the technology to a wide variety of users from novices to advanced enthusiasts by making 3D printers more of a ‘plug and play’ option through API support. Stratasys, Makerbot, Autodesk, Formlabs, Trimble and netfabb (and a host of others) have all signed on with Microsoft to bring native support to Windows Blue. This should come as a breath of fresh air to novices of 3D printing as creating a 3D object requires the ability to create ‘mesh’ files which are then ‘blue printed’ and sent to the printer for manufacturing. Being able to simply connect the 3D printer to a laptop or desktop and create designs will drastically reduce the amount of knowledge needed to making objects as users can design their objects and simply port it over to the printer. Autodesk helps in this regard, as their upcoming release of their app, 123D Design allows users to design objects with relative ease, which can then be printed on the fly. Not only that, but hobbyists can even email files to one another and print them directly from the file. Autodesk, Makerbot and Microsoft teamed up to show off the ease of which 3D printing objects could be done at Microsoft’s Build Conference by using Autodesk’s software to design a small pot which was then printed out on Makerbot’s Replicator 2 machine. The design was simple, but after it was finished, the Autodesk representative simply hit the software’s ‘Print’ button to make the creation. Microsoft thinks that 3D printing is set to become mainstream and has recently added Makerbot’s Replicator 2 printer to their retail stores in San Francisco for those looking to purchase an affordable printer. Adding native support for 3D printers is great accomplishment for the software giant but it remains to be seen if the Windows 8 update will rectify the shortcomings the OS has been plagued with since its release.


Is this enough to get people onboard with Windows 8?



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3D printed cast prototype. I wonder if the hideous coloring of a lot of people's broken limbs will be a deterrent to this option. I hope not, it looks so futuristic. (via Jake Evill)



People who have ever broken their arm or wrist usually are fitted with a fiberglass-based cast. The casts are much lighter and stronger than the plaster kind however they are not without their problems. The first problem to come along with wearing a cast is the incessant itching, which can drive the most sane of people to go mad. It is not uncommon to find various objects such as butter knives, pencils/pens and chopsticks inside the cast when it is cut off. The second problem comes in the form of a noxious odor as most casts cannot be submerged in water and therefore that area cannot be cleaned. When the cast eventually is cut off after about six weeks the skin will have become dry and flakey with a smell that does not seem to ever go away. Victoria University in Wellington graduate Jake Evill has found a novel solution to those problems with a new cast concept for broken arms. His concept makes use of a 3D printed design that is both thinner than traditional casts and allows for easy access to the wearers skin.


The concept cast is also washable so the wearer can clean their skin without worrying the cast will be damaged. Jake's design uses a nylon-based resin that can be recycled when it is no longer needed unlike plaster or fiberglass-based casts, which usually end up in a landfill or incinerator. The conceptual process begins with the patient (with a newly broken bone) undergoes an X-ray to determine the location of the break. After the X-ray has been done, a 3D scan is taken of the patients arm to determine the length and thickness of the customized cast. The doctor then uses specialized software that calculates the optimal pattern as well as the thickness of the reinforced areas around the patients fracture. The cast is then manufactured in two parts using a 3D printer, which is then fitted to the patient and snapped closed with built-in durable fasteners.


Jake built his initial prototype using a 3D scanner derived from a Microsoft Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360. He manually rotated the modified camera around his arm to get the overall 3D image, which was then refined using Pixologic’s ZBrush digital sculpting software. After he was satisfied with the scan, he then sent the design to Shapeways who printed the design in nylon-based resin. Jakes design is still in its early stage of development but he plans on refining the design using better scanning technology as well as materials for the next prototype. Once his revisions are complete he plans to test the design at a local hospital and if all goes well, will be looking for affordable manufacturers who can bring the design to the market. With affordable 3D printers currently available it’s likely those who suffer a broken bone will be outfitted with his design in the near future.



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