Sunday, October 19, 2014

Greetings from the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire

The kids and I had a lovely day with our fellow makers at the East Bay Mini-Maker Faire today.  If you are visiting our page for the first time, welcome!  It will take us a few days to get new posts up.  In the meantime, feel free to:

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Looking forward to sharing soon!

BPC Maker Club booth :)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Matter and Form Meets Middle School

This is what our Matter and Form scanner looks like right now:

Here's what it is supposed to look like:
Yes, we took it apart.... 

(Note: We really don't recommend doing this.  Nor do the folks at Matter and Form recommend doing this.  In fact, had we not brought it crashing to the ground, dislodging the plate from where it belongs and sending it scattering across the floor, we would have much preferred to have a functional scanner without pipe cleaners! Kids, always get your parent's [or teacher's] permission before taking things apart.)

Of course, our teacher was a little worried about voiding the warranty, but I am pretty sure we voided the warranty when a kid accidentally got his foot wrapped in its power cord and pulled the entire thing to the ground. 

As of yesterday, we hadn't quite gotten our scanner working yet, but we've gotten some OK scans from it. But remember, this is a middle school. We were working on it, but we had it out on the edge of a table. Then... oops.

The scanner did not break it as much as we thought, which is a credit to the construction of the scanner. What the fall did do, however, was dislodge the disk on top of the scanner, so we tried to put the disk back. Then we had to take it apart, because the disk doesn't fit back in from the top.  We had to take the scanner apart and attach the disk from the underside.  (Did we mention that it was all greasy to promote turning?!)

This worked, except we didn't get the motor aligned with the disk.  Well, we didn't really realize the gears needed to align between the motor and the disk.

Then we tried to take it apart again. This time, we broke off some bearing holders inside.  After complimenting its construction, it seems we had found its weakest link!  These tiny pieces of plastic poked up and supported three metal bearings.  Oops.

Not so much of a credit to the scanner, but multiple deconstructions by middle schoolers was probably not a problem that they were anticipating. We came up with a high-tech solution to the broken parts - pipe cleaners. We put pipe cleaners where the holders were, like this:

High tech operation going on here. Here's another pic of the underside of the disk, with our pipe cleaner bearing holders.

We had to take it apart once more, (that's three times if you're counting), because we didn't screw in the back properly. In order to screw it back into the base, we'd have to remove the disk from the top.  Which is what started this entire mess in the first place!  [Teacher's Note: reminds me of this.]  We think that it was originally assembled by a machine, so we can't actually put it back together properly. It does scan, though, it just doesn't have all the casing on.

So now it looks like this: 

We are running a scan as we type this.  So far, so good. 

So, it is working, but... these are all the parts that used to be in the scanner, but aren't right now....
And, just because why not, here is a scan of the Matter and Form scanner taken with our Structure Sensor using Skanect!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Avi Reichental's TED talk published

Avi Reichental of 3D Systems gave a TED talk back in March 2014.  It was recently posted for our viewing pleasure.  If you enjoy 3D printing, please do yourself a favor and watch it. :)
3D printing is not going to catapult us into the future, but rather it's going to connect us with our heritage; and it's going to usher in a new era of localized, distributed manufacturing that is actually based on digital fabrication.
In this video you can see the first object ever 3D printed in 1983 by Chuck Hull.  Also, hear about the incredible story of 3D System's challenge to print Amanda Boxtel's a custom-fit and more feminine EKSO Bionics exoskeleton.  He even talks about kids and new tools such as haptics!

Of course my favorite Avi quote is "With 3D printing, complexity is free."

The best use of our digital thermometer yet!

Troubleshooting the Cube.  Again.

(more on this fix coming...)

Monday, August 25, 2014

3DPW Expo Seattle Report & Droplit DIY Kit!

This weekend, I got myself an expo pass to the 3D Printer World Expo in Seattle, WA.

Now I've got our eye on this SLA machine, Droplit, an entirely open source resin-based stereolithography (SLA) printer soon to be offered by SeeMeCNC!  It will come as a kit, although all the pieces (save for that one metal cylinder shape) are open source!  The UV source comes from a DLP projector from which you will need to remove the UV filter.  To cure the resin?  A UV nail lamp from Walmart!  Now, THAT's our kind of budget.  You can read more about the Droplit on this post.

I also got the chance to chat with the Matter and Form folks.  We will be receiving ours any day now!

A 3D printer zoetrope - what a great idea and potentially awesome collaborative school project. :)

Finally, I wanted to acknowledge the Made in Space project.  It's pretty incredible - they plan to send their first printers into microgravity on September 21!

Eventually, they hope to use moon dirt as their "filament" to build what they will need.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Buttercup the Duck Gets a New "Swim Foot"!

This is a fabulous, heartwarming application of 3D printing.   We've been following Buttercup's story for a while now, and this week there was announced an exciting new development!  Buttercup's "dad," Mike, from the Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary has developed a new "swim foot."  This foot has little trap doors that open when he moves his foot forward to allow water to pass through, then close when he kicks to maximize thrust.  Brilliant!

You can read more (and see more pictures!) on Buttercup's Facebook page!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pellets vs. Filament

A new 3D printing company, Sculptify is taking the next 3D printing leap  replaces traditional (and expensive) plastic filament with pellets.  These ingenious pellets would significantly reduce the cost of home 3D printing.  (According to Sculptify, a 2-pound bag of pellet costs around $18, while a 2.2-pound spool costs roughly $48.)

Sculptify is not the first manufacture to use pellets, German manufacturing company ARBURG has an industrial 3D printer, the Freeformer, however Sculptify is the first hobbyist-level pellet based 3D printer. Here is Sculptify's Kickstarter video.

The process works by having the plastic pellets go into a  turning screw, then go down the screw while being heated, turning it into one tube of semi-molten plastic.  Sounds familiar, right?

A diagram of the process. Source: Wikipedia.

There have been other companies toying with the idea of using pellets for 3D printing, including a couple of products that promise to turn your pellets INTO filament.  Products like the Filabot (2012), Filastruder (2013), and Strooder (2014).  Other companies, like Colorfabb, are beginning to offer plastic in its less expensive pellet form.

- Abe (8th Grade)

Monday, August 18, 2014

How the Form 1+ Works from Formlabs

Form 1+
I recently had the chance to visit and tour Formlabs, where I saw firsthand some of their early prototypes and new 3D printers.

The Form 1 and Form 1+ are great 3D printers. The Form 1+ is the new version of the Form 1. It comes with many improvements, such as faster print time and more accuracy. They are both SLA (Stereolithography) printers.
The Form 1 and Form 1+ use a galvanometer system (two mirrors) to focus and direct the laser. Then the laser gets reflected off a mirror to the build plate. The laser fuses the resin together.

After each layer is printed, a motor moves the build platform up. Unlike fused deposition modeling, the Form 1 and Form 1+ have the build plate on the top instead of the bottom.

The Form 1 and Form 1+ offer significant improvements over FDM printers. When each layer is created, the way the material is bonded together ensures there will be no layer lines, making the print look significantly better. They also offer much better resolution than any other consumer 3D printer.  The layer height can be from 25 to 100 microns. 100 microns is what most desktop 3D printers offer right now. The Form 1+ is up to 50% faster than the Form 1.  The Form 1+ is more expensive than most consumer 3D printers, costing $3,299, but the print quality makes it worth the price for those seeking extremely detailed products. The Form 1 and Form 1+ also require post processing that can take an extra 22 minutes using isopropyl alcohol (which should not be handled by kids). The Form 1+ has the best resolution and print quality of any current consumer 3D printer.

While at Formlabs, I had the chance to see many examples of models they had printed out with the Form 1+ and Form 1.  Among my favorites are a rook and an action figure with a 3D printed head. This action figure's head was scanned and then 3D printed. This rook is Formlabs' new take on the rook that comes with most 3D printers. Instead of bricks stacking up, it has a beautiful spiral and a very intricate staircase.

- Sam (8th grade)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

NASA, NIH, Smithsonian post free 3D files

US Government agencies such as NASA, The Smithsonian, and the NIH have started to create their own collections of 3D objects!

NASA's model collection is mostly contains models of their satellites however it also contains some of things like space suites, shuttles, and a martian crater. Unfortunately, most of these models are not printable. NASA has conveniently separated the printable models on this page.
The Smithsonian museum has also started uploading 3D models of items from their collection to their Smithonian X3D website. Though many of these models look amazing many also look unprintable so be warned before you try to print them.

The NIH has taken a different approach to 3D model collection by making a Thingiverse like website for medically accurate 3D models. As you might expect, many of these 3D models of proteins and cells are scientifically accurate but likely un-printable. (Especially on our classroom 3D printers.)


-Abe (entering 8th grade)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Check out this video of Chuck Hull, winner of the European Inventor Award 2014.  (You can view videos of the other winners here.)  In this video, he describes his invention of the first SLA 3D printer in 1983!