Welcome back to the home of Malta 3D Printing!
With a host of exciting 3D printing prospects on the horizon, our team of tech junkies are on constant alert for promising projects in the industry.
Today we’ll take a look at how 3D printing goes hand-in-hand with the latest virtual reality devices, as well as presenting the world’s first 3D Printing pen!
Fact: Kickstarter has helped turn all 3 of these brilliant ideas into real products!
The Oculus Rift
Essentially a portable virtual reality headset, this revolutionary project was designed by Oculus VR, and invented by Palmer Luckey.
The Oculus Rift is aimed at transforming the way users experience media – mainly video games, but other visual media too.
The Oculus Rift uses 2 stereoscopic lenses to project a small screen in front of your eyes to a 160 degree angle (the naked eye typically sees 180 degrees), ultimately transporting your vision to a virtual reality.
You may be asking yourself, where does 3D printing fit into all of this?
The answer lies with the Oculus Rift’s inventor, Luckey, who worked on a number of low-budget augmented reality machines prior to the Oculus. These devices, many of which have remained open-source, can all be 3D printed.
The MxR (Luckey’s former associates) lab at the University of Southern California have a number of free, 3D printable versions of these ‘immersive’ viewers, including the VR2GO and Socket HMD (head-mounted display), which work with various smartphones.
Once fitted with the correct circuitry and software, the item transforms itself into a low-cost ‘immersive viewer.’ While these machines may eventually be brushed aside by the Oculus’ supremacy in the VR world, they have, ironically, paved the way for it to take centre stage.
One can also print a number of unofficial attachments for the Oculus Rift. These include eye-cups and adjustable focus knobs and sensor mounts, all available to print for free from thingiverse.com.
3D printing picks up where the developers left off, allowing for customers to tweak their products, resulting in an improved experience. 3D printing effectively acts as the cherry on the cake.
When 3D printing and virtual reality combine, the result is nothing short of remarkable. Similar to the aforementioned VR2GO and Socket HMD, the Altergaze is a 3D printable virtual reality machine designed to work with smartphones.
While it may not rival the Oculus Rift in terms of technical prowess, the Altergaze has a few tricks up its sleeve.
The team behind the Altergaze are allowing for their work to remain open-source, allowing for any owner of a 3D printer to become an official seller. This idea is helping to revolutionize the way products are being sold – resulting in more efficient channels of distribution, lower costs for the company and better products for the consumers.
Furthermore, it reduces a company’s carbon footprint, resulting in a greener environment for our future.
The Altergaze would, similar to other virtual reality products, have big implications for mobile gaming – allowing users to immerse themselves in a virtual world. Other possibilities would include virtual experiences at museums, music events and much more.
Currently, the Altergaze’s kickstarter campaign – while failing to reach the unprecedented heights set by the Oculus rift – has exceeded its $25,000 target. Altergaze are offering users 3 separate designs to choose from, 26 different colours for the plastic structure, 8 colours for the eyepiece and more than 20 smartphone bracket sizes.
Moving along the branches of the technology tree, we present to you the world’s first 3D pen, the ‘3D Doodler’!
Created by WobbleWorks, this unique product gives users the freedom of 3D printing without the need for technical expertise. So long as you can draw, and have a power source available, then you’re free to create objects in any shape you like!
It’s basically a mini-printer – as the plastic heats up, it’s pushed through the tip of the lightweight pen, quickly cooling down to form ABS or PLA plastic structures.
3D Doodler also comes equipped with its very own stencils, helping you to unleash your imagination until you begin creating your own masterpieces. The online 3DDoodler community is growing fast, with plenty of solid advice for beginners and free stencils available.
This promising addition to the 3D printing world can easily become a powerful educational tool, and according to their website, WobbleWorks are already in contact with several educational distributors.
Although this technology produces 3D printable items, it’s still miles away from the complex builds traditional FDM (fused deposition modelling) printers can produce.
Traditional 3D printers generally take hours to create a model, however, we can’t help but ask ourselves, would we spend hours on end holding a 3D pen?
Available for approximately £100 from the3doodler.com, it’s far cheaper than traditional printers, at the cost of severely reduced accuracy and extended man hours.