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Investigation: 3D Printer

 

There has been a lot of development with regards to 3D Printers.  This year alone we have seen the technology used to build anything from buildings to bionic arms.  While some printers can create something as unique as a pizza, most printers create objects out of plastic.

 

It is amazing what you can do with plastic.  But, what if you want to print a pair of pants or need to replicate your child’s favorite stuffed animal?  The answer may have just come from the Walt Disney Company and their fabric 3D printer.  The little fabric rabbit created by the printer is a bit primitive, but I am sure as the technology is refined, you will be able to print your own unique version of your favorite character.  

 

 

UC Berkley brings a new definition to the term “custom home.” The Bloom Pavilion measures 9 feet high, 12 feet wide and 12 feet deep, and has a traditional Thai floral motif design.  Unlike other 3D printed buildings which extruded wet cement through a nozzle, this new building was printed using dry powder cement.  According to team leader Ronald Rael, they "are mixing polymers with cement and fibers to produce very strong, lightweight, high-resolution parts on readily available equipment; it's a very precise, yet frugal technique."

There sure has been a lot of rapid development with regards to the 3D printer.  A Chinese company built 10 houses in less than 24 hours and in January finished a 5 story apartment block.  How soon before we work or live in a 3D printed building?

 

 

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Just in time for the new Fall schedule, Doctor Geek’s Laboratory returns!  Our second season continues with the conclusion into the investigation into 3D Printers.

This investigation is the perfect example of why we often say, “the future is a moving target”.  A lot has happened in the year since we recorded this interview.  Not only has MakerBot developed beyond the Replicator One, but the people behind The Dreambox have repurposed their 3D printer technology to form the new companyTwindom

If you want to learn more about 3D printing, make sure to check out Madame Oracle’s Maker Faire review

For more information on bio-printing, check out this news article

Last year at MakerFaire, 3D printing was seemingly the eighth wonder of the world. There were bunches of these miraculous devices scattered about, and folks clustered around them with heads tilted sideways to watch a bust of Yoda or an iPhone case appear seemingly out of nothing.

 

This year the printers were still much in evidence, but they had evolved and brought some friends along.

 

No, really.

 

Last year’s printers that came to the Faire pretty much had the option to choose between two kinds of plastic, ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) or PLA (Polylactic Acid), to print with, and even then it was really uncommon to run across something in more than one color.

 

This year brought with it the rainbow.   And PolyWood. And shoes.

 

Yep. Shoes.

 

The folks at Feetz (http://www.feetz.co/), like many of us, were tired of not being able to find shoes that fit, so they developed a way to print some that did. They seem to be using one of the new, more rubbery feeling materials for this.   The result looks a bit like a cross between Crocs and sandals. But hey! 3D printed shoes!

 

One of the hallmarks of the 3D printed items I’d seen up to this point was a sort of faint striation or ridging all along the outside of the object. It has to do with the way the printer works.   This time around there were places offering ways to make the outside of objects smoother after printing, and also printers that just plain printed smoother outsides. So, now that you can print with more than one color on some printers, those colorful items can look that much more polished.

 

3D Printers weren’t the only show on the scene this year. I heard rumors of 3D Routers, but I did see ShopBot’s CNC Router, which does 3D carving. There were a couple of 3D Scanners about, and AIO Robotics was showing their 3D Printer/Scanner/Copier/Faxer.

 

Faxer. That’s right, you can scan an item at one end, and print out a copy at the other. Pretty Star Trek-y if you ask me. (video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddvng2s-cy0)

 

So, basically, this year at Maker Faire, 3D Printing technology had taken an evolutionary step forward. There are new printing materials (did I mention PolyWood?) You can now scan something instead of creating an item in a program and then printing it. There are new horizons of color and finer end product capabilities. And heck, you can just fax an item to someone if you need to.

 

Mind you, that’s just stuff that I saw while I was at Maker Faire. In the wide world out there, there are people working on printing makeup in whatever color you want. I’ve heard about someplace working on printing with chocolate. And don’t even get me started on bio-printing. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing%233D_bio-printing)   I mean, they 3D printed a piece of a skull for a transplant just a few months ago. As if we needed more proof that we actually live in the future.

 

In the end, I guess that the only question is: what will you print?
I’ll be over here with a PancakeBot if you need me. – http://www.pancakebot.com/