The world’s smallest phone charger

3D printing helps UK designers develop The Nipper, ‘The World’s Smallest Phone Charger’

When considering that nearly everybody carries a smartphone these days – in addition to their keys and wallet – it makes perfect sense why so many designers and manufacturers have been actively designing accessories ranging from speakers and cases to stands and sleeves for the mobile devices.  However, the one problem that everybody runs into is also among one of the most difficult to solve: battery life.

Inspired by the need to create a portable, on-the-go power solution for smartphone users that doesn’t involve carrying bulky cases or powerpacks, designers Doug Stokes and Chris Tait of Design on Impulse in the UK recently created what they are calling “The World’s Smallest Phone Charger” – AKA “The Nipper”.

Consisting of two AA batteries and a magnet that reside on a user’s keyring (the batteries are only installed when in use), the 10 gram Nipper is capable of charging smartphones while users are out and about or perhaps most importantly – during an emergency situation.

“The Nipper was primarily designed for emergency use,” explain the designers.

“When all else fails, when all hope is lost – in situations where you desperately need to use your phone but have no access to laptops, electrical sockets, wind turbines or solar panels the Nipper will be there for you.”

The design of the Nipper contains 3 neodynium magnets that are responsible for both making an electrical connection to the circuit board as well as holding the batteries together.  According to the designers, the circuit is actually a “boost converter” that converts the power from the batteries into a 5v power supply to charge your phone.  For today’s modern smartphones, this means that the batteries can supply an additional 10% battery capacity in 30 minutes, and 20% in just over an hour.

Like so many other hardware developers today, Stokes and Tait turned to 3D printing to make their idea for the World’s Smallest Phone Charger real – and have put the concept on Kickstarter to help it gain some traction; already, the campaign has surpassed their $10K goal by more than $3K and it has three weeks left to go.

“If we’re making small volumes of Nippers, we’ll 3D print the cases out of high quality nylon, but if demand is high and we have to make a full Nipper army we’re going to injection mold the cases out of polypropylene,” says the designers.

“The two halves of the Nipper are connected by either fabric or genuine leather straps. The neodynium are nickel plated on the classic Nippers, and gold plated on the premium Nippers.”

While the concept is certainly impressive, the fact that Tait and Stokes just graduated school together and entered a national design competition to develop The Nipper makes the story all the more impressive.

“One moment we were doing our finals and the next we were in the centre of London, working on a product we’d come up with in our flat which we’d been given support to make into a reality,” said Stokes.

“A lot of people who have just graduated are spending the summer travelling or trying to find a job and move out of home. But being able to go straight from university to working in Somerset House every day, where you’ve got Parliament on one side and St Paul’s on the other, is pretty amazing.”

Considering that the device comes in a number of colors and will likely expand to include multiple strap options, the charger is likely to fit with anybody’s style similar to modern smartphone case designs.

For those interested, a ‘Classic Nipper’ can be purchased starting at just $23 over on Kickstarter.

by Simon | Aug 19, 2015

Imaginative children’s drawings and 3D printing

3D Printing Brings Imaginative Children’s Drawings to Their Playrooms

3D Printing Brings Imaginative Children’s Drawings to Their Playrooms

Now kids can bring their made-up monsters to life with MOYUPI.

Did you ever make up some fantastical creatures as a kid that you wished existed as actual toys? Maybe you tried to put your parents to work helping you mold them out of clay? MOYUPI promises to make kids’ creatures even more real through the magic of 3D printing and a little hand-painting.


The company uses digital modeling software to prepare your creature (or MOYUPI) for 3D printing, and then renders them in kid-friendly, durable ABS plastic. Due to the rudimentary nature of color 3D printing and the creators’ desire to precisely follow directions, color is carefully added to the designs by hand. MOYUPI can be rendered in three different sizes (15cm, 10cm and 7cm) and two types of boxes designed by Brazilian artist and illustrator Mayra Magalhães, and can also be shipped without paint so kids can do it themselves.


The limitations of 3D printing that the creators have encountered also happen to sync up fairly well with many children’s drawings; for example, irregular shapes are considered ideal for making a MOYUPI, but stick figures and other designs below a minimum thickness can’t be accepted. The MOYUPI project also encourages children to be original, as the creators can’t print licensed characters like Spongebob or Elsa (but they can print designs inspired by them).

“A team composed by artists… is the opportunity to get creative in the design process,” said MOYUPI founder Juan Ángel Medina in an email. “‘How did the kid imagine his Moyupi?’, ‘is that an arm or a horn?’, ‘is this element part of the shape or just something drawn on it?’. These questions aren’t always easy to answer, so we need to put our minds in a kid-like state to imagine what the kids wanted to portray and design it in the most accurate way.”


So what’s the big-picture mission with MOYUPI? The young team of six designers says they are interested in donating a portion of the company’s proceeds to organizations: “ASPACE, ALES, PÍDEME LA LUNA and ASPERGER, each one linked to one of MOYUPI mascots.”


An early-bird special allows backers who pledge $34 or more to receive a small MOYUPI figure as well as a Maxi Pack; a special XXL size (30 cm high) for $114 will also only be available during the special Kickstarter campaign. A variety of other configurations, some geared toward multiple kids and families, should be a great opportunity for kids and adults alike to unleash their creativity.

“The material I would like to use for the Moyupi is a rubber-like one, in order to make them even more friendly and resistant. That’s a possibility we are currently researching,”  said Medina. Stretch goals also include a video game, YouTube series and research into making posable, articulated figures: all promising ideas for a kids’ brand.



3D printed clothes!

3D printing your own clothes just became (kinda) a reality

Unless the technology, somehow, proves to be drastically limited, 3D printing is likely to the genesis of a manufacturing revolution. Now, a team in San Francisco believes that it has taken another leap towards our utopian future by building a “3D printer” for our clothes. The team behind Electroloom hope that, a few years down the line, instead of trips to H&M, you’ll be ducking into your basement with a set of drawings the next time you need a new outfit.

Essentially, the Electroloom is a plastic box that can hold a thin metal template, for instance a crudely crafted tank top. Then, a customized mix of liquid polyester and cotton is passed through an electrically charged nozzle and spun into nano-fibers. These fibers are then drawn towards the 2D template, where they bind to each other to form a very thin, but very strong fabric. Even though they’re quite crude, the resulting “clothes” have no seams or stitching, making them much stronger than your average t-shirt. If there’s one downside, it’s that the terminally impatient will have to wait between eight and 16 hours for their clothes to form. Of course, given the various ethical and environmental issues that surround fashion providers, on-the-go clothes manufacturing seems like an easy win.

The company is looking to raise $50,000 in funding on Kickstarter, and much like Oculus and some other high-profile startups, Electroloom isn’t offering this as a consumer product. Instead, it’s offering Alpha versions of its hardware for designers, inventors and creators in the hope of improving the system. If you’re prepared to chip in $4,500 (told you), then you’ll get a prototype, complete with 1.5 liters of solution that, the company promises, is enough to produce 7 beanies, 4 tank tops or 3 skirts. You’ll be able to buy more liquid when you run out, but Electroloom doesn’t yet know how much it’ll cost you.

by Daniel Cooper | May 20th 2015 At 2:47pm

Hendo hoverboard and 3D printing

Awesome Back to the Future Style Hoverboards Will Soon Be Available for Consumer Purchase, with a Helping Hand from 3D Printing.


We are one month into the year 2015, and despite predictions made by writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis in their 1985 Back to the Future we have yet to lay eyes on an actual working hoverboard. If you recall, Michael J. Fox’s character, Marty McFly’s preferred get-away vehicle in the film was a skateboard-like contraption which floated on a thin layer of air rather than relying on wheels for its movement.
Greg Henderson Arx Pax CEO, Co-founder

Even today such a vehicle seems nearly impossible, but after speaking with a man named Greg Henderson, CEO and Co-Founder of Arx Pax, parent company of Hendo Hoverboards, my opinion has drastically changed. Not only is Henderson constructing an actual hoverboard, but he and his team want to begin shipping the very first unit this year. And despite the skeptics who are out there, 3D printing is playing a major role in the speed at which Arx Pax is able to move forward with their plans.

A major Kickstarter success at the end of last year, raking in over $510,000, Arx Pax’s hover engines which will power their Hendo Hoverboard are more than just amazing. The company is making tremendous progress leading up to the expected October 21, 2015 launch date (Yes this is the date in which Marty McFly arrives in the Future in Back to the Future). This progress, as Henderson tells us, is sparked primarily by their use of 3D printing, a technology that he seems to be as excited about as we are here at

Speaking of a specific key component used in the first prototype of their hover engine Henderson told us the following:

“The first one I designed it took a week to get it manufactured at a machine shop out of aluminum. It cost $500, and we had to bring it back and put it together. Today we print new components that essentially replace that component for about $1.50 in filament and 60-90 minutes of print time. “


I asked him where his company would be if he did not have access to 3D printing.

“I think it’s a very safe bet to say that we wouldn’t be where we are,” explained Henderson to “We would still be hovering things, but it would be in the first generation not our 20th. We are much further along than we would have been. We have saved a great deal of money by using 3D printing, absolutely!”

The company’s first printer was a 3D Systems-made CubeX. From there they purchased a MakerBot Replicator, which they have put hundreds upon hundreds of hours of print time on already. Recently they acquired a printer from Ultimaker, which Henderson feels has really been a benefit to the company because of its high resolutions, and ability to provide near-exact dimensions when needed on the fly.


“It would be great to move at some point to a professional or production 3D printer that has more capabilities than PLA or ABS does,” explained Henderson. ” But, man this is such a phenomenal technology because we are able to rapidly iterate where it might [normally] take weeks of turn around time to design, test and build some component. We can even at a sub-scale test a component’s mechanical connections, and all sorts of other things which would be prohibitedly expensive, but instead we are able to knock these things out, test and iterate within a day.”

The company is primarily using PLA in their printers, and Henderson informs us that he hasn’t seen any real benefit to ABS beside finish appearance, which they are not concerned with at this time.

During the company’s prototyping of the hover engine’s components they experimented with outsourcing parts to other companies as well, but in the end they found that 3D printing the parts in-house was the way to go. It has enabled them to think about problems in new ways, which according to Henderson is particularly exciting when creating a new industry.

As for whether we will eventually see end use components within the actual hoverboard later this year, that is doubtful. However, Henderson tells us, there are certain one-off pieces that they are selling right now, or would consider selling, which are entirely appropriate to 3D print and are individually customizable.


If you were one of the backers of the Hendo Hoverbord, then Henderson has some good news that you will like to hear. As of now, the company is on track to meet their deadlines, and several additional prototypes have been constructed since the end of their Kickstarter campaign. These prototypes feature different engine characteristics and configurations, almost all of which include 3D printed components. He wants his backers to be pleasantly surprised and ultimately provide them with more than what they are expecting.

As for Henderson’s personal opinion on 3D printing technology and where it’s headed, he closed the interview with the following statement:

“I would say if you are trying to solve a problem and you can conceptualize this in a physical way, 3D printing offers you a tool, that if you are not taking advantage of it you should certainly consider it. Rapid iteration and being able to redefine problems to make sure you are asking the right questions, is something that in previous human history has been prohibitive; you make a decision, you make something and you live with it. We don’t have to do that any more.”

I will be waiting eagerly to see just what Henderson and his team bring forth by year’s end. How about you? Disucuss in the Hendo Hoverboard forum thread on

by  | JANUARY 28, 2015

3D Printing Celebrities

So far we’ve covered plenty of interesting printing related gadgets and projects – but what about the names and faces behind these marvelous projects?

Who are the inventors and pioneers that helped propel 3D printing to the pedestal it currently sits on?

One cannot give recognition to the lesser names in the 3D printing world without first mentioning the mastermind that is Chuck Hull.

He is the father of stereolithography, the first link in the chain which lead to different types of manufacturing, all under the 3D printing umbrella. A visionary, Hull also invented the STL file type and the rapid prototyping technique – all critical pieces of the 3D printing pie. He is reported to have over 60 patents in the USA alone.

Chuck Hull (Image taken from IndustryWeek)

Hull’s passion for his creation lead to him founding 3D Systems Corp. Established in 1986, it stands tall and proud as the world’s first company dedicated to 3D printing, and is still the market leader. Currently 74, his desire to continue to lead his company clearly hasn’t waned, and he still operates as the Chief Technical Officer and Executive Vice President.

The metaphorical light bulb above Hull’s head lit up back in 1983, when the entrepreneur was working for a small business that used UV rays to place layers of plastic onto tables and other furniture.

Envisioning a method which involved using light to mould plastic layers into 3D shapes, the cogs in his head began to turn.

After months and months of experimenting, Hull’s dreams turned into reality – and a prototype was made. The printer pictured below was Hull’s first ever printer, a relic now over 30 years old!

The First 3D Printer
The Birth of a New Dimension in Manufacturing

(Image taken from Pcmag)

Moving onto another celebrated face in the printing industry, Malta 3D Printing presents the story of Enrico Dini, also known as ‘The Man Who Prints Houses.’

In case you missed out, last week’s post included a Chinese company capable of printing up to ten houses a day! While that is awe-inspiring, the Eastern firm must pay homage to Dini, the first to patent the technology to print large structures using 3D printing.

Many years ago, Enrico Dini was a robotics specialist, and enjoyed experimenting with 3D printing in his spare time. Teaming up with his brother, he created his first prototype printer, eventually succeeding in printing a stone column, and more notably – the world’s first ever fully printed architectural structure.

The ‘Radiolaria’ – designed by Anrea Morgante, Printed by Enrico Dini

(Image taken from HuffingtonPost)

After this, Enrico Dini’s name became famous in the world of architecture. A documentary filmed by Marc Webb and Wake-Walker takes a look at Dini’s life as he balances work and family – at times, to his own detriment. A teaser of the documentary can be viewed here.

Enrico Dini Sits Within His 3D Printed Structure

(Image taken from 3DPrinting)

In an interview with, Dini states that his only wish is to be able to convert his current line of printers into affordable, simplistic machines for all to use.

“My dream is to go to Africa, remove the weapons out of the hands of child soldiers and replace them with a basket. They can use the basket to collect sand and bring it to a 3D printer. This printer then builds small houses, irrigation canals, or parts for shading. Things that improve life for the people there,” Dini was quoted as saying.

Our next contender for the printing pioneer award is one who claims that 3D printing is effectively lighting the fire for the third industrial revolution.

His name is Tedd Syao –  a man who, after analyzing the state of the 3D printing industry, saw fit to dedicate himself to improving its infrastructure from the bottom up – similar to how his revolutionary printer operates.

An earlier version of the Titan 1

(Image taken from

As founder of Kudo3D, Syao was instrumental in the creation of the Titan 1, the next wave of SLA printers. Incredibly, the Titan 1 raised a staggering $687,000 dollars on Kickstarter in 2 minutes!

According to Kudo3D’s Kickstarter page, Syao previously worked as a professor in electrical engineering, clocking in 15 years of hard work in the Photonics industry. Building on his unique set of skills and experience, Syao and his team crafted this trendsetting printer, available at the low cost of $1,999!

SLA (stereolithography) printers differ from the conventional FDM (fusion deposition modelling) printers. Kudo3D’s entry into the market claims to improve the resolution, increase build speed and build space whilst focusing on reliability – effectively making it a top contender in the SLA domain.

Interestingly enough – the Titan 1 builds items ‘bottom up’, as displayed in the picture above.


Tedd Kao-Chih Syao, Founder of Kudo3D

(Image taken from Google+)

Tedd Syao was also at the heart of creating and polishing Kudo3D’s patent for the PSP technique – a ‘Passive Self-Peeling’ technology, which is said to “minimize the separation force, (so that) features as tiny as a strand of hair can be preserved during the printing process” according to company’s website.

From Hull’s moment of brilliance to Syao and Dini’s revolutionary ideas, the world of 3D printing has not stopped expanding in the last few decades. As the world continues to open its’ eyes to this method of manufacturing, one can only expect more pioneers to pop up around the world.