Saturday, May 24, 2014

Creative Licences and Displaying Models at Shows

We learn about Creative Commons in school but big 3D printing companies don't seem to comprehend it. There have been a lot a cases of big 3D printing companies stealing a design from a small 3D designer. This issue was first discussed at 3DPI in October 2012, when Dizingof first had his designs used without his consent by Tri-Tech 3D and PP3DP. They have apoligized and have given recognition to him. 

This entire situation was started when designers started offering free designs on sites like Thingiverse and GrabCad under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial license. Big 3D printer companies have been violating these licenses. The only way people can try to stop them is using social media because big 3D printing companies have enough money to fend off your (small-time) lawyer when you issue a DMCA.

Recently, Makerbot contacted us about an opportunity to showcase student designs at the upcoming ISTE conference. but assures us that "Your school/student would be credited with a plaque." Nicely done.

Also, on Thingiverse, you are given the option to "give a shout out."  With a click of the button, you can get a tag to print (see image below) to give credit where credit it do.  (In Creative Commons land, we call this attribution.)

- by Sam (newly 8th grade)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Maker Faire was a success (and fun!)

The BPC Maker Club had a booth at the San Mateo Maker Faire last weekend, showcasing the work of the 7th grade science class: 3D printing data scanned at the Advanced Light Source.  (For more information, you can read more about the original projectfollow the latest ALS-tagged blog posts on our Maker Club blog, or read the most recent ALS news feature.)

The Maker Faire is a "a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement" and this year's flagship faire brought together over 1100 makers of all ages.   The Maker Club was thrilled that we were placed in the 3D printing section rather than in the Young Makers tent.  We don't know why this happened, but it gave the students an opportunity to network with some big names in 3D printing such as FormlabsUltimaker and Type A Machines.  In fact Sam, a 7th grader, was even inspired to engage eight different companies in a friendly competition of printing our eggshell file!

We are also grateful to Brook Drumm, Founder of Printrbot, for generously donating a new Printrbot Simple to us just a few days before the faire.  Brook was the one who helped us get started with 3D printing back in December 2011, and it is always a pleasure to stop by his booth and hear about what he is working on next!

Sam, Brook Drumm, Alexander

The kids did a great job and were awarded an "Editor's Choice" blue ribbon for demonstrating great creativity, ingenuity and innovation, and a "Best in Class" red ribbon in the Education division.

Congrats to the entire 7th grade class for the recognition of their work, especially to Flynn, Abe, Alexander, Jane, Daniel, Sam, Kyra and Emily, who worked the Maker Faire booth.  (Also, a shoutout to Gigi, Alex, and Luka (all 6th grade) and Isaac (8th grade) for showing up as representatives of Maker Club!)

Here are just a  couple of pictures from the faire.  Please visit our Flickr page (tag: makerfaire) for more!

And finally, it was exciting to have three functional 3D printers up and running all at the same time.  

If you find 3D printers as fascinating as we do, you may want to follow out our blog(see the right nav bar to enter your email address), "like" us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

3D Printer Test

The recent Maker Faire provided our Maker Club an opportunity to meet and collaborate with the leading 3D Printer manufacturers in the world. We saw this as an opportunity to test their print quality on a hard challenge.

When we were at the ALS (read about it here), we scanned an eggshell and created an STL file with the data.  We asked several 3D-printer manufacturers to print the eggshell blown up about a thousand times.

The companies were excited to help out.  We had the eggshells printed on, from left to right (starting with the top row): the UP Plus 2, Cube 2, Afinia, Ultimaker 2, Printr Bot Simple Metal (using Microsoft's new slicer), RoBo 3D, MakerBot Dual, Form 1, and a Printr Bot Simple Metal (using Slic3r).

We were very impressed by the results -- they were far better than we could obtain from our old printers.

The Printrbot Simple metal has the best value for it's price. I recommend using the Microsoft slicer with it because Slic3r isn't the best at closing holes in the data. The Printrbot also has the standard 100 micron resolution.

For the best quality that isn't SLA, I would rank the Afinia and the UP Plus 2 at the top. They both have outstanding XY quality and have no excess bridges like the Cube 2. They are very similar in price, with each costing about $1,600. If you want a mid-ranged consumer 3-D printer, I would definitely recommend one of these.

The Type A machine is almost as good as the Afinia but it creates more bridges. I don' think the bridges would be a problem for less complicated prints, but for something in our experiments, it produced a lesser quality print than similar printers.

The Form 1 has the best quality. You can only barely see the layers because SLA printer's levels bond more closely together.  One downside to the Form 1 is that its post processing takes an extra 30 minutes to finish the job. The post-processing includes dipping it in rubbing alcohol, so it isn't the best for schools (at least yet). The other downsides are its cost ($3299) and supports. The supports leave marks on the bottom of your print but you can scrape them off very easily.  Bottom line: if you are looking for stunning quality, it is hard to beat on the consumer market.

Of course, our experiment was not perfect. We did not always control for slicing software, type of filament, etc. but we think it gave us some pretty interesting results anyway.

On the whole, we were grateful to the manufacturers and very happy with the results of this challenging test. If you are a printer manufacture and would like a full review of your product, email us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Student's Reflections on the Bay Area Maker Faire

Alexander (7th grade) -  I thought the Maker Faire was a huge success. Our booth attracted lots of attention, and we got to meet all kinds of cool and interesting people who stopped by. But our booth wasn't the only good one. After looking around the faire

Jane (7th grade) - The Maker Faire was amazing! Having our own booth was really fun, and there were lots of interesting people who came to look at it. I got to look around the Faire too, and all the booths had amazing stuff!

Abe(7th grade)- The maker faire was a very fun and interesting experience. Having a BPC booth was cool because we got to meet lots of interesting people. Walking around the faire was also fun because of all the interesting (and distracting) booths.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our New PrintrBot Simple (Metal)

We just got a generous gift of a beta PrintrBot Simple Metal. This time, we actually went to the website as suggested in the instructions! (Our teacher made us read the instructions... pfft.)

The beta version comes with a depth sensor, so we never have to level the bed. Sadly, the depth sensor was initially calibrated wrong, so the extruder scratched the bed when we went to do a test print. 

Luckily we found a video on how to fix it and we did. If you get a PrintrBot Simple, make sure to watch this video and check that the depth sensor is properly calibrated before printing or your bed might get scratched. 

As you can see in the video below, you can calibrate it by putting the extruder on the bed and putting the black piece (included in the set - pictured to the left) on the plate under the depth sensor. If the sensor does not touch the black piece, use the two (included) wrenches to move the sensor down.

And in case you are wondering, we are using Repetier to control our printer.

Printrbot Auto Level Sensor Setup

Here's the unboxing video, too.

Printrbot Simple Unbox and Print

And finally... success!  

This is 3D printer #5 for us. (You can read about the other ones here.)  Here it is printing:

Thanks, Printrbot!  We'll see you at the Maker Faire!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

MINK: 3D Printed Make-up

MINK 3D printer

This printer uses plain printers ink (surprisingly, the maker, Grace Choi, says it is FDA approved) to add colour to a power, cream, or waxy base and create makeup. The printer sells for around $300, and supplies, like boxes and the base, presumably are sold as well. I couldn't find how much these cost, however. To print in a certain colour, you choose that hex colour from any online picture and paste it into a Microsoft Paint or Photoshop file. You send the file to the printer, and it adds that colour to the base. 

Ok, makeup, not that interesting, right? 
But this does show how versatile 3D printing is, and what can be done with printers and common household objects, like ink and a computer. 

Here is an article with a more in-depth explanation of how this works. 

By Jane, 7th grade

Monday, May 12, 2014

Open Source CT

The Tricorder Project is working on an open source, cheap CT scanner. A CT (or computed tomography) scanner takes a series of pictures using x-rays so you can see the inside of the object.  It also created volumes of scanned objects; that's why its often called "volumetric imaging."

This new open source CT scanner isn't meant to scan humans, instead, it is meant to scan objects. The Tricorder's CT scanner takes several days to scan an object, and it also it scans at a very low resolution. The CT scanner uses very low radiation (barely above background levels) to scan the objects and uses an Arduino to control the motors.

The Advanced Light Source in Berkeley, California also uses a type of CT scanner on its Beamline 8.3.2, except its radiation would kill you in an instant. Our 7th grade class was able to go to the ALS and use their scanner (or beamline).  (You can read about our field trip to the ALS here.)  This open source CT scanner is an interesting idea, since it would allow us (and other classrooms) to do what we did at the ALS, without the synchrotron particle accelerator!  And it would be safer, but much, much slower and give much lower resolution images.

From a high-level technical standpoint, a computed tomography or CT scanner takes a bunch of absorption images of an object (for example, x-ray images) from a variety of different angles, and then backs out 3D volumetric data from this collection of 2D images taken from different angles. In practice, this is usually done one 2D “slice” at a time, first by rotating an x-ray scanner around an object, taking a bunch of 1D images at tens or hundreds of angles, and then using the Radon transform to compute a given 2D slice from this collection of 1D images. One can then inspect the 2D slices directly to see what’s inside something, or stack the slices to view the object in 3D. (source page)

You can read more about the open source CT project on MAKE, Hack a Day, or on the Tricorder Project blog.

- Sam (7th grade)

PS - In the comments section of the article, the maker discusses more specific detail about his plans for a radiation source:

I have a 1uCi Cadmium-109 check source on its way (as well as a pound of lead shielding to help put together a rough collimator). Cd-109 is the lowest-energy radioisotope that I could find, that emits around 22keV if I remember correctly — which is absorbed about 50% by 2cm of tissue, so I think there should be usefully contrastive absorption for things like vegetables. I was also considering a Barium-133 source, which is higher energy (80-120keV, I think), so perhaps more suitable for things that have some small amount of metal, but Ba-133 is not monochromatic. These radioisotope check sources are sealed in epoxy, and are of such low intensity that they’re not licensed, generally considered pretty safe unless you eat them or tape them to your body for long periods, and can apparently be disposed of in the trash. 
In order for the imaging to work, the source has to be completely shielded such that it only emits in about a 1-2mm dia cylinder outward, facing the detector — something like the shape of an uncooked noodle of spaghetti. This dramatically reduces the intensity of an already very low intensity source. If the numbers I’ve read are correct, this should give around one high energy photon per second in that 1mm cylinder to the detector at 30cm away, and zero everywhere else. That should give a signal-to-noise ratio of about 10:1 if you sample each point for a minute, as background is about 5 counts per minute on my desk. Hopefully that will be enough to give an okay image. 
So ... the radiation level should be zero above background outside of the bore, and so slightly above background in an area the size of a spaghetti noodle within the bore that you could measure it in bananas-worth of exposure. The trade off is of course extremely long imaging times.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

HeLa Cells Now Used in 3D Bioprinting: the continuing story of Henrietta Lacks

For people who don't know what HeLa is, HeLa stands for Henrietta Lacks, who donated cells from her cancerous cervix in the the early 1950s.  These cells were one of the first surviving cell cultures, and became integral to discovering many things about cells, cancer, and human bodies. The HeLa cells were the most common cells for experiments using human cells for many years. They are somewhat controversial because she was not aware of her donation (no informed consent) and her family didn't make any money from the sale of cells.

American and Chinese researchers used her cells to create a three dimensional model of a tumor, used to test new drugs in a more realistic way than the traditional single-layer models. the researcher found that around 90% of the cells remained viable after being printed, and that the 3D model was more realistic than the single layer one.

Here is an article with more information on this story and here is an earlier blog post about bioprinting.  Or, click the image above to read a February 2002 NPR article about the book.

- By Jane (7th grade)

Future Trends in 3D Modeling - Smartphones and Google

A Graphic of the phone with the Camera app open
Many major technology companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all gotten into the 3D scanning game.  

"Giving devices full 3D vision is the next step in the consumer electronics evolution. This began with Kinect for the Xbox, and, although this process is still in its early phase, that is where all the technology giants seem to be setting their sights. Apple bought PrimeSense, the company that makes Kinect, as well as 3D Systems' Sense consumer 3D scanner, " says 3DPI in an article titled "Google Wants to give Your smartphone 3D modeling Capabilities."

A Schematic of the Phone
It seemed as though Google stopped having interest in 3D modeling when it sold Sketchup to Trimble in 2012. However Google is now working on Project Tango - an Android smartphone that can 3D scan objects. You may be thinking that any smartphone can do that with 123D Catch however this would have an extra depth sensor camera in the back and therefore have to take many fewer shots for a higher quality image. 

Putting depth sensors on smartphone cameras is not new.  In 2011 HTC released the HTC Evo 3D.  It had one for capturing 3D video and now the HTC One (M8) has one for refocusing a shot after it is taken however Tango would be the first phone to have one made for 3D scanning.

Although we (the BPC Maker Club) have not had much luck getting decent quality out of our Kinect it supposedly can get some decent quality scans. The Kinect was not made for 3D scanning but for movement tracking in video games that don't need high accuracy and therefore this limitation is to be expected.

Apple has not actually released a 3D scanner it did buy PrimeSense, the company behind Microsoft's Kinect 3D motion sensor. This means that Apple will probably come out with some sort of 3D sensor in the future.

- Abe (7th grade)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Text-To-3D model program

A Text-to-3D model program allows anyone to search a 3D model program with a term like
'bench,' or 'room with windows,' and get a 3D model of the basic geometry.

There are limits, like if you look up a model not in the database, it's game over. The available things right now are mostly architectural features.  The database could connect with other databases, like Thingiverse, to add more available objects.

I think that a program like this will probably be frustratingly limited, because without several descriptions and a very complete tagging system, the program will be hard to get what you want from. Here is a demo, and here is another article.

An example of some of the things in the database 

- By Jane, 7th grade

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bone Printer

Japanese researchers have built a 3D printer that prints calcium phosphate,  a component in human bones. These artificial bones can fuse to existing bones, and speed healing from broken bones or bone removal as part of cancer treatments. These printers have not yet been declared medically safe, but they are an exciting development in medical 3D printing.

Students Use 3D Printing as a Tool for their Science Fair Projects

Four our (non-competitive) school science fair, I give my students a lot of freedom in choosing a topic that is personally interesting to them.  Many groups choose to do a traditional controlled experiment, but I always allow for more engineering-type projects as well.  This year, we had 4 (out of 31) projects organically incorporate a 3D printer as a tool in their projects.

Here are their project abstracts:

Experiment Title: What is the strongest type of beam?

Abstract :   We conducted an experiment to determine the strongest shape of beam with the same cross sectional area. We first designing the beams in Solidworks, making sure that they all had the same cross-sectional area, then we had them 3D printed. Then we took two clamps, clamped one of the beams to the piece of wood and put weight on the beam. We found that the I-beam was the strongest by 4.23mm per kilogram. This is true because the I-beam has the highest moment of inertia, a measurement of how much of the area is farthest away from the central axis. Engineers use I-beams all the time to create stronger, cheaper buildings.
Click here to download the STL's from their project.

Experiment Title: Building a LibraryBox: Our Very Own Private Portable Digital Distribution System

Abstract: We (Eli M. and Alex B.) attempted to build a LibraryBox. A LibraryBox is a digital file distribution system originally designed by Jason Griffey, who based it on a previous concept called the PirateBox. It has an advantage over conventional cloud storage systems (such as Google Drive) because it is usable in areas that do not have access to the Internet. Devices in the general area of the Box can connect to it and download various files from it, such as music or documents. We also designed and 3D printed a case for our LibraryBox using Tinkercad. We successfully designed the case, but the fate of the Box remains to be seen.

Experiment Title: The 3D Ice Cream Ball 

Abstract: We used a 3D printer to make a 3D printed ice cream ball, which would hopefully be able to actually make good ice cream. We tried to use a lot of different ways to get a good print of the ice cream ball. We used a Kinect to try to take a good scan of the ice cream ball. It failed because the Kinect couldn’t get most of the angles, so it ended up with lots of holes. Then we tried to use Tinkercad, but we couldn’t get an amazing product. We used 123D next. We had to take lots of pictures to get a scan. We didn’t like it again, so we knew that we had to go back to Tinkercad. We worked on making the ice cream ball able to be printed out. Our first scan didn’t go super well because one side was thinner than the other. Then we ran out of time to make a different scan.  The importance of our project is to create a cheaper way to make ice cream if you already have a 3D printer & a lot of free time. 

Experiment Title: 3D Printed Quadcopter

Abstract: We tried to make a 3D printed quadcopter with Arduino. We haven’t gotten the quadcopter to fly yet, but we are hopeful.  We printed all the parts successfully after quite a few failures and delays.  We used 3 different printers, including the printer at the ALS (a government facility). The Arduino code and Aeroquad software wasn’t working correctly because the versions of each software weren’t compatible, which gave us a whole host of problems to solve. Learning about this is important to science and 3D printing because it shows how easily things are to customize and print with 3D printers.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Experimenting with the Proprietary Cube Cartridges

We tried hacking a cube cartridge. We first cut off the top then we hammered the cartridge. We broke the entire cartridge into 5 parts they are as followed: Plastic cases, microchip, Cardboard spool, and filament. 
Then we hacked the Cube by putting the microchip on the cube. The Cube thinks there is a cartridge in it when their is only an microchip.  

- Sam (7th grade)

Osteiod: an improved 3D cast!

You might recall hearing about Cortex.  Cortex is a new 3-D printed cast that is water resistant and is customizable for each person. Cortex takes a 3-D scan and an x-ray of the broken hand or other body part. Then they create a 3-D model of the cast and 3-D print it. Each cast is customizable because it is 3-D printed. Their casts are very open and light. They are also, small and less noticeable than their plaster cousins.  I imagine that people could request different colors of the cast once the idea takes off.

Well just recently Deniz Karasahin designed a new version that adds a new feature an ultrasound system. The ultrasound system helps heal bones up to 80% faster. 

Picture and research from