Objects that couldn’t be made before 3D printers existed!


Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Objects That Couldn’t Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

3D printing isn’t just for making unique stuffed animals or weird fake meat. It allows us to fabricate objects we never could with traditional manufacturing. Here are some of the incredible things we can print now, which were nearly impossible to make before.

Personalized Car Parts

3D printing can make car parts that are custom-built for the driver’s body and comfort: an ergonomic steering wheel, for example. Last month, Fortune reported Ford’s partnership with California-based 3D printing company Carbon3D. The automakers themselves can benefit from 3D printed parts, too. Instead of the ol’ Ford assembly line, engineers can make manufacturing and design more iterative with 3D printed materials, since prototyping suddenly becomes faster and cheaper and testing becomes more frequent and thorough.

You see, many products—from drinking cups to video game consoles to car parts—are created in a process called “injection molding.” That’s when a material, like glass or metal or plastic, is poured into a mold that forms the product. But with 3D printing, you can design a crazy object on your computer, and it can be turned into reality.

“3D printing bridges the gap between the digital and the physical world,” says Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot, “and lets you design pretty much anything in digital form and then instantly turn it into a physical object.”

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Lighter Airplanes

There have been lots of materials used to make planes lighter, and thus more fuel efficient and greener. But 3D-printed materials can cut weight by up to 55%, according to Airbus, which announced its involvement with 3D printing last year.

In February, Australian researchers unveiled the first 3D-printed jet engine in the world.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

3D-printed polymers often have “high strength to weight ratios,” says Kristine Relja, marketing manager at Carbon3D, the same company that’s working with Ford on the 3D-printed car parts. 3D-printed plane parts use that strength-to-weight ratio to their advantage. It gives them an edge over traditional materials, like the aluminum often found in seat frames.

“If the arm rest of each seat of a plane were replaced with a high strength to weight ratio part, the overall weight of the plane would drop, increasing fuel efficiency and lowering the overall cost of the plane,” Relja says.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Detailed Molds of Your Jaw

Possibly the arena 3D printing handedly dominates is personal health. Our bodies are unbelievably individualized, idiosyncratic flesh bags filled with biological items uniquely shaped to each person. Since customization is so critical, especially in surgical implants, 3D printing can really shine here.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Let’s start with dental trays: Those molds of your chompers that’re made with gross cement stuff that you have to leave in your mouth for minutes on end. They’re useful because they can help dentists and orthodontists create appliances like retainers or braces, and can give them a three dimensional, kinesthetic mold of your mouth.

Over at Stratasys, the 3D printing company that owns MakerBot, 3D-printed dental trays are going from CAD file to model, blazing trails in orthodontics. It gives orthodontists and dentists a cheap, accurate glimpse into a patient’s maw. It’s way easier than those nasty physical impressions with the cement, and way less gag-inducing.

Customized Surgical Stents

Stents are those little tubes surgeons stick in the hollow parts of your body—a blood vessel or artery, say—to hold it open and allow it to function properly. Usually, they’re mesh, but stents that are 3D-printed can have an edge, since they’re able to be customized more and are made with cheaper, flexible polymers that can dissolve safely into the bloodstream in a couple years.

At the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in the Detroit Medical Center, a 17-year-old girl was suffering from an aortic aneurysm, a potentially fatal heart condition that was discovered with a precautionary EKG. That’s when Dr. Daisuke Kobayashi and his team turned to 3D printing. A 3D printed model of her heart allowed the doctors to know exactly where to put stents in an otherwise delicate operation for a young patient.

In other cases, the surgical stents themselves are 3D printed: University of Michigan doctors have also implanted 3D-printed stents just above infant boys’ lungs to open their airways help them breathe normally on their own. The advantage of using 3D printing here is that doctors were able to create custom stents that could fit the kids’ individual anatomies, quickly and cheaply.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed


No, not the tiny magnetic choking hazards. We’re talking about models of Buckminsterfullerene, the molecule. It’s every chemistry teacher’s dream. 3D printers can produce tangible, big models of molecules. And they’re accurate, too. This type of complex geometry is really hard to pull off with injection molding. The closest thing we had before was basically popsicle sticks and Elmer’s.

3D printing not only helps us learn more about what molecules look like by making lifesized models of them—it also helps us make actual molecules. Earlier this year, Dr. Martin Burke at the University of Illinois led the construction of a “molecule-making machine”: It’s a machine that synthesizes small, organic molecules by welding over 200 pre-made “building blocks” and then 3D printing billions of organic compound combinations. This could “revolutionize organic chemistry,” the paper in the journal Science reported, significantly speeding up the process to test new drugs.

What’s cool about 3D printing is that it makes ambitiously designed objects way more feasible. Specifically, 3D printing can make those “complex geometries” that injection molding can’t: That is, stuff that’s in obscure shapes, like long twisty mobius strips or zillion-sided polygons.

Replacement Parts for Your Organs

3D printing can be used to make surgically-implanted hardware that protects or supports damaged organs. This could lead the way to custom repairs for damaged tracheas or windpipes, for instance. Sometimes part of a windpipe needs to be removed, but the two remaining ends need to be joined together—if they can’t be joined together, the patient may die.

3D bioprinting to the rescue! It can replicate the mechanical properties of the trachea. That’s right: a living, biological tracheal replacement can be made from a mix of 3D printing and tissue engineering. That’s what the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research did. They modified a 3D printer to use a syringe filled with living cells that produce collagen and cartilage. Within hours, bioengineered tracheas can be created on-the-spot quickly and cheaply. And that’s a key strength for 3D printing: fast prototypes.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

Organs and Bones

The most futuristic use of for these magical printers? They could, one day, create internal organs. That’s a literal lifesaver for folks who need an organ transplant. Also possibly available: eyes, blood vessels, noses, ears, skin, and bones. Even hearts.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed

And this isn’t just science fiction. In 2013, medical company Organovo started selling 3D-printed liver tissue. It’ll be a while before a fully functioning liver can be printed, but it’s a big step in the right direction, even if it just means prototypes and experimental liver-like structures.

As if that wasn’t incredible enough, we can also create replicas of people’s existing internal organs. With the help of CT scan data, docs can whip up three dimensional, touchable copies of individuals’ guts, in all their nuanced, unique glory. This can help medical professionals better find tumors or other irregularities. (Not to mention it could possibly take the gross awesomeness out of biology class dissections.)

And already, companies are creating cheap, 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for kids. A whole generation is growing up with 3D printing — not just as a toy, but a vital part of their bodies.

Objects That Couldn't Be Made Before 3D Printers Existed


by Bryan Lufkin | 8/11/15 4:34pm

3D printed mobile bicycle-powered air compressor



3D Print Your Own Mobile Bicycle-Powered Air Compressor

When he’s not working at Rusty Taco in Plano, TX, Brooks Ruhman is a student at The University of Texas at Austin.

Brooks Ruhman

He’s also a maker with a wicked sense of the absurd, and as a demonstration of that playful nature, Ruhman built himself a neat project which uses the motion of a bicycle wheel to drive an off-the-shelf car tire compressor. The parts for the project were fabricated using 3D printing and laser cutting and a whole bunch of ingenuity.

According to Ruhman, you can find a whole passel of things to use the compressor for from storing the compressed air in a tank to inflating tires to powering a misting system to keep you cool to pumping up a handlebar-mounted water gun.

Ruhman did the design and fabrication work for his project at the University of Texas Maker Studio using a Makerbot 3D printer and a Full Spectrum Professional Laser Cutter.

He says the air compressor itself was purchased cheap online – about $15 for the version he used – and once the plastic shroud and the electric motor of the original are removed and saved, you’ll be left with a “bare minimum air compressor; just a mechanical piston driven by a nylon gear.”


Ruhman designed the parts for his mobile compressor in SolidWorks.

“The flywheel was constructed with a combination of laser cut and 3D printed parts. If you don’t have access to a laser cutter, you could definitely complete this with any other circular object such as the bottom of a bucket or a coffee tin lid,” Ruhman says. “Basically the flywheel has to be both of a reasonable diameter for the area that you’re working with behind the bike seat, and sturdy enough to undergo the damage of road wear. I used two laser cut circles – made from 1/4” acrylic – and connected them with 3D printed spacers. The flywheel was connected to the assembly with a 3D printed faceplate.”

Ruhman then used a 20×12 Full Spectrum Professional laser cutter to make the acrylic pieces he needed, and those were designed in a program called Inkscape.

The flywheel was an 8″ diameter circle cut from a 1/4″ clear acrylic sheet, and the mounting bracket is made from that material as well. The entire system is mounted to the seat post and extends out over the tire and it was assembled using standard, off the shelf hardware like small nuts and bolts.

Ruhman says his compressor is connected to a long hose which can reach anywhere on the bike and can be used to pump up a tank or power a handlebar mounted water gun.

Check out Ruhman’s detailed Instructable on the project here…




What do you think of Brooks Ruhman’s mobile bicycle-powered air compressor? Will you make one for yourself? Let us know in the Mobile Bicycle-powered Air Compressor forum thread on 3DPB.com.


by  | MAY 26, 2015

3D Printed RayGun Shoots 7 Rubber Bands!



This 3D Printed RayGun Shoots 7 Rubber Bands in Quick Succession

Creativity is endless when a skilled 3D artist is provided with a 3D printer, allowing him/her to turn their virtual models into tangible, real life products. The technology has brought to life some incredible inventions and innovations which have greatly enhanced the lives of others. At the same time, 3D printing has also allowed for these creative minds to have a little fun in fabricating things that would have only been dreamt of a few years ago.

For one freelance 3D artist, named Aiman Akhtar, who specializes in modeling characters, 3D printing allowed him to create a toy gun unlike anything we’ve seen before. Akhtar, who writes a monthly column for 3D World Magazine on the topic of 3D printing, seems to thoroughly enjoy the challenges that come with designing new products.

“Every month, I challenge myself to print something I have no clue how to make, then figure it out and take the readers on the journey with me. In the past months I’ve created an iPhone case, bobbleheads, fully articulated characters, 3D printed trophies, eyewear, and am currently tackling jewelry and wearables,” Akhtar tells 3DPrint.com.


When you think of 3D printing, there are a ton of designs out there for objects that are cool to look at, but only a small percentage of the objects out there are actually functional. One of Akhtar’s latest projects was for something that not only is fully functional, but something that is a ton of fun to play with as well. He designed and 3D printed a rubber band raygun.

“I recently moved to Los Angeles and decided to visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market which takes place bi-weekly in Pasadena,” Akhtar told us. “There, on display, I saw some hand made, wooden, rubber band shooters and instantly knew I had to make my own custom 3D printed version. That’s the great thing about 3D printing, inspiration can come from anywhere and it’s the fastest way to go from an idea to a prototype. I took the toy apart that night and started redesigning it for 3D print.”

To design the gun, Akhtar searched around the internet for photo references of other raygun designs. He then used Photoshop to sketch out his various ideas. Once he had come up with an idea that satisfied him, he used ZBrush to sculpt the shape what he needed, before exporting it as an OBJ file into MODO to start building its functional parts. After all of the parts were designed, the models were brought back into ZBrush to key them all together, before exporting each part out as a separate STL file.


In all, there were 21 separate pieces that needed to be 3D printed, including the trigger, hammer, barrel, sights, grip, internal keys, and more. Akhtar tells us that he could have easily 3D printed it in just five or six parts, and even perhaps as a single object, but he had a desire to make it as colorful as he could. Breaking it down into many individual pieces allowed him to do so.

Surprisingly, Akhtar doesn’t own a 3D printer himself. Instead, for this project, he used 3D Hubs to find an affordable printing service close to his home.

“I landed upon a small buiness called Cybertech, and submitted an order though 3D Hubs to their print lead, Israel Pena,” Akhtar tells us. “I gave clear specifications and color notes on how I wanted each part printed, and Israel took care of the rest. He used a MakerBot 5th generation, switching out the various color plastic spools as specified.”

After receiving the parts back, Akhtar put them together but found that the trigger was not flexible enough. It was too weak to stop the hammer, and upon trying to fire the gun, it snapped off. He quickly redesigned the trigger, and just as quickly had the new design printed out by Cybertech. He tells us that it “worked brilliantly” after receiving and assembling the revised trigger. It can shoot up to 7 rubber bands in quick succession, and it is one of the most beautiful toy guns you will ever see.


The complete detailed tutorial on making this gun can be found in 3D World Magazine, issue 194, which can be purchased through iTunes or ordered as a physical copy through MyFavouriteMagazines. What do you think about this incredible design? Discuss in the 3D Printed Rubber Band Raygun forum thread on 3DPB.com.


by  | MAY 5, 2015

Rise of the 3D printing machines


Rise of the 3D printing machines

‘Terminator’ technology threatens manufacturing pioneers.

From a red puddle of liquid plastic, a three-dimensional sphere of connected hexagons and pentagons begins to rise, taking only six minutes to be lifted by mechanical arm into its final geometric form.

It is a phenomenon known as “continuous liquid interface production”, and has been developed by Carbon3D — a Silicon Valley start-up backed by technology investment group Sequoia Capital. But while it was inspired by a scene from the science fiction film Terminator 2, when the T-1000 android rises from a small pool of metallic liquid, the new technique is very much a reality — and set to shake up the 3D printing industry by making the process of forming plastic objects up to 100 times faster.

Since 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, was pioneered in the 1980s, it has been widely expected to revolutionise the manufacturing of complex components, from medical implants to jet engine parts. But growing competition from start-ups, such as Carbon3D, and household names such as HP, is now putting pressure on the tech companies that developed the fledgling industry.

Two of the largest 3D printing companies, US-based 3D Systems and Israel’s Stratasys, are already finding that investors are questioning their continued dominance. 3D Systems shares have fallen 71 per cent, from a high of $96 at the start of 2014 to $28 today. Similarly, Stratasys’s Nasdaq-traded shares are down 61 per cent over the same period, from a high of $136 to $56.

“There’s a possibility that you look at the current crop of public 3D printing companies and they will be like the computer companies of the 1980s — brands that are footnotes in computer history,” warns Carl Bass, chief executive officer atAutodesk, the US-listed software company.

“It’s not obvious that being first to market really means you lead forever.”

Both 3D Systems and Stratasys, as well as their smaller rivals ExOne, Arcam and Voxeljet, have endured a tough 15 months, in which their revenue growth has failed to live up to the hype.

Pieter Busscher, manager of the RobecoSAM Smart Materials fund, says they failed to live up to their stock market valuations. “Essentially, what we saw up until 2014 was a bit of a bubble in the works. Multiples at the end of 2013 were anywhere between 60-100 times earnings.”

Slower than expected revenue growth also coincided with a need to spend more to sustain their competitive positions, notes Scott Schmitz, an analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Over the past three quarters, organic revenue growth at 3D Systems has been between 7-12 per cent, well below guidance of 30 per cent. Stratasys achieved a better organic growth rate of 31 per cent in 2014.

However, it unveiled an accelerated investment plan that is likely to keep operating margins in the 10-14 per cent range for the next couple of years, compared with its own long-term guidance of 18-23 per cent, Mr Schmitz points out.

Nevertheless, these margins and growth rates have still been enough to attract the attention of conventional printing groups.Hewlett-Packard has revealed plans to enter the sector in 2016, with a 3D printer that it claims will be faster and cheaper than existing machines.

Pete Basiliere, an analyst at consultancy Gartner, believes HP is not the only household name eyeing up the space. “By the end of 2016 we’ll see at least three of the big printer makers in the market with their own branded 3D printer,” he predicts.

But with at least a year until these rival products appear, competitors have time to respond, Mr Schmitz says. “HP needs to develop new go-to-market channels as 3D printers target a different audience than PCs and office printers.”

3D Systems and Stratasys have so far tried to maintain their competitive position by buying up other companies, making about 60 acquisitions between them in the past five years — including providers of 3D printing materials, hardware and software. In 2013, Stratasys bought MakerBot, a New York start-up that produces cheap, easy-to-use 3D printers, for about $403m, although it has since booked a $100m impairment charge following disappointing performance.

Both companies require the use of their own materials with their printers, but Weston Twigg, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, suggests that in future there will be separate specialists selling printers, software and materials.

He points to Germany’s SLM Solutions, which focuses on making metal printers and partners with various materials companies. It increased its unit orders by 138 per cent in 2014, and its revenue by 56 per cent. Conversely, software provider Autodesk is adopting an open approach by teaming up with materials and printer companies.

Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, a 3D printing consultancy, agrees that it will become increasingly difficult for companies to compete with products that are “closed and locked to prevent third-party products and solutions”.

However, the big incumbents will be reluctant to open up their business models while they can achieve such high profit margins on materials sales. In 2014, 3D Systems achieved a margin of 73 per cent on materials, compared with 36 per cent for its printers.

And demand for 3D printing materials is only going to rise. Gartner expects worldwide shipments of 3D printers to reach 217,350 units in 2015, and then take off to 2.3m by 2018.


by Tanya Powley, Manufacturing Correspondent | April 9, 2015 11:55 am

3D printing being used in disaster relief



Power to the People – 3D Printing Being Used in Disaster Relief

Dara Dotz is a pioneer in 3D printing in troubled and sparse environments. She’s the founder of iLab Haiti, a project which brought 3D printers as part of an aid package to that country following the catastrophic earthquake that devastated that nation in 2010.

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck beneath Port-au-Prince, and aid groups did their best to battle the massive logistical and medical emergency challenges they faced, as the Red Cross estimated that up to 50,000 deaths had occurred, and many more individuals were grievously injured.

Dotz works with Made In Space, a company which has made headlines for building a variety of projects involving 3D printing objects in space, in conjunction with NASA and the International Space Station. She and Eric James, the Director of FieldReady.org, are intent on changing the outcome of communities faced with the problems of recovery from the aftermath of a natural disaster or war. They say that 3D printing promises to revolutionize the way humanitarian-aid supply chains function.

3D printed umbilical cord clamp Haiti

James has nearly two decades of experience in leading disaster relief and development projects, and he’s the author ofManaging Humanitarian Relief: An Operational Guide for NGOs.

Field Ready says that the supply chain for disaster relief projects includes agents, middlemen, functionaries, and bureaucrats who insert themselves into the process of delivering goods and services to affected areas, and that those interactions lead to heavy lead times, and require good information systems and well-trained staff. But they add that all those efforts need to be precisely focused on the needs of disaster affected people.

“To date, the focus has been on stockpiling, distribution of cash and improving basic efficiencies, but there has been little done to transform the situation,” James says. “And so it calls for disruption. Instead of relying solely on the supply chain—what if we could make much of what was needed onsite–or at least nearby? If we can do it in space, we can do it here too.”

James says Field Ready combines 3D printing with low-tech innovation such as “hyper-local” manufacturing to provide aid workers and those affected by disasters with tools to help them overcome the weaknesses of the current system.


Using 3D printers like the UP Miniand MakerBot Replicator, the team collaborates with health practitioners to design solutions such as medical disposables. They printed a prototype prosthetic hand which uses just five parts, as well as a butterfly-needle holder, a prototype screwdriver, prototype pipe clamps, and bottles. James says that while needed items like those would take weeks–and perhaps even months–to make their way to a disaster area, a few 3D printers and spools of filament can make those items available immediately.

Throughout its history, Haiti has suffered developmental and humanitarian challenges, and the earthquake of 2010 brought conditions there to a tipping point. James says nearly every sector of the country is stressed, and that pioneering aspects of in-situ manufacturing means Field Ready is deploying a team of specialists to Port-au-Prince to take on challenges in select health facilities. A grant provided by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund means Field Ready are poised to work with Haiti Communitere, Ti Kay Haiti, and MamaBaby Haiti to make medical disposables and pilot the use of recycling plastic filament.

According to James, others groups like Oxfam and partners Griffith University and My Mini Factory have similar initiatives underway in Kenya, and the Innovation & Planning Agency (IPA) in Jordan does as well. Yet another group,eNable, has been working to print prosthetic limbs using an all-volunteer-based approach.

“Humanitarian relief is still messy, tough and perplexing,” James says. “Aid is provided in the most difficult places on earth, and relief situations are the outcomes of catastrophic failure–usually, a collapse of cooperation and good governance.”

Field Ready says they hope to alleviate the problems by providing more direct, immediate technological intervention.

In 2013 alone, 334 “country-level natural disasters” affected the world, occurring across 109 countries.

Do you know of any other ways 3D printing technology is disrupting the status quo and solving problems around the world? Let us know in the 3D Printing Disaster Relief forum thread on 3DPB.com.


iLab Haiti


by  | APRIL 6, 2015


3D printing in creative marketing campaigns

Looking for a way to spruce up your business’ image? Standard marketing methods turning up stale results?

Have you considered 3D printing as a marketing tool? Contact us now and we can show you how to inject some creativity into your marketing campaign!


3D printer

The 3D printing boom began in 2012 when it became apparent the technology was nearing a commercial level. As a printing technique it’s been around since the 1980s, but until recently it has never been advanced enough to enthuse the business world. Since finding regular press coverage, however, 3D printing has found itself entering the public awareness. There are major expectations for the industry, which could become as integral to day-to-day life as regular laser printers.

The business world is never far behind such innovations. Global brands have been experimenting with marketing campaigns over the last 18 months, and there have been varying degrees of success. Coca Cola, Warner Bros., eBay have attempted to steal a march on their rivals with intriguing ideas, but for now the idea of 3D printed marketing remains untapped. Is it something that will be integral to business campaigns in the near future, or is it a passing gimmick? Here’s an insight into how it’s been used to date.

Pioneering 3D Printed Marketing

Coca-Cola Mini Me campaign

The process of 3D printing is intriguing. Once a design has been completed the object can be printed off. The printing process is entirely different to standard laser/toner printers, and doesn’t work in an advanced manner you, perhaps, envisaged. Instead, objects are steadily built in layers. Typically a base is formed, and from there the printer works methodically to construct the mode. You can see an example of this in action withMakerBot.

Currently the technology isn’t at its most convenient stage, as printing even minor objects can take several hours. However, as technology advances it has to be expected the devices will be a part of many households.

Despite the limitations the marketing world hasn’t ignored its potential. One of the most notable industries to latch onto the prospect of 3D printing has been Hollywood – numerous studios have utilised the technology in several ways. In late 2013 Warner Bros, for instance, offered the blueprints for the Key to Erebor. This coincided with the release of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. The science fiction film Ender’s Gameoffered a similar scheme.

Asides from the marketing front, 3D printing is now being used heavily in the design of props. 2013’s Pacific Rim was one such film, and more recently Monty Python star and film director Terry Gilliam (currently participating in Monty Python’s stage reunion in London) employed FATHOM and North Design to take his latest film, The Zero Theorem,to a new level. Many of the unique props, as seen on set, were 3D printed, harking back to an era of film when CGI wasn’t so readily available.

Elsewhere, interest in 3D printing is being popularised by the likes of Netflix. The hugely popular streaming video service recently acquired the documentary Print The Legend,which is based on the burgeoning 3D printing industry in America.

There have been a number of other brands to take on the concept in marketing. Coca-Cola ran a “Mini Me” reward scheme in Israel which allowed fans to print off 3D model equivalents of themselves. This was picked up by a number of stores, notably British supermarket chain ASDA. In store machines allow customers to print off versions of themselves or their family – this comes at a price of a rather hefty £60 ($100).

Auction site giant eBay has also become involved. eBay Exact allows users to download an official app and create personalised merchandise and accessories. It’s a novel idea based around the current smartphone phenomenon. As the company explained, “Starting today, iPhone users can download and use our newest app, eBay Exact, to buy customizable “printed” merchandise from three leading 3D printing companies. Customers can choose from roughly 20 items, ranging from technology accessories to jewelry.”

3D Printing Competition

3D print cup winner

Despite several major brands being involved, 3D printing as a marketing scheme has yet to fully take off. These are pioneering days, but it’s an exciting time as it allows for experimentation. If it is within your niche, for instance, the rewards can be impressive. Creative businesses can take advantage of the technology and subsidise through 3D printing professionals to create unique models for customers to try and win.

Having recently been part of a 3D printing competition for my company, I’ve been able to see the results up close. We ran a design competition for creative companies/students to enter with a unique character – the subsequent promotion through social media proved engaging for the local community. It was a content creation exercise, with many blog posts marking the occasion and promoting 3D printing, our company, and the hard work of emerging design talent.

It all culminated with an awards ceremony in one of Manchester’s leading independent cinemas, where prizes were handed to the very best designs. As an engaging exercise for the local community it proved to be a great success.

3D Printed Potential

MakerBot Replicator 2

Although there are suggestions 3D printing will be a passing gimmick in marketing, the potential is there to be tapped into. These are very much pioneering days for the concept, but the technology is sufficiently intriguing to the public and media to be worth the effort.

The good news is everything is moving at a fast pace, and it’s to be expected 3D printers will become widely available to the public within the next few years. As the commercial opportunities become increasingly viable, a whole world of marketing opportunities are opened up — from unique downloadable goods and content for customers to staging localised design competitions — and the technology has the ability to engage your company with customers in a way social media or advertising can’t offer.

For the companies who dared themselves to try a new tactic, it has been paying off. If you’d like to have a look for your company, there are apps such as 3D Builder to experiment with. There are also many localised 3D printing professionals you can contact for advice, such as 3DSystems. If you’re feeling inventive, now’s the time to give this fascinating technology a try.

by  | July 21, 2014

Infant prodigy

The number one issue that people have with 3D printers today, is the speed at which they print at. People now-a-days want things quickly, at the touch of a button. Over the years, many of our everyday jobs, chores, and desires have reached a point of almost becoming instant. For example, when you want to print a document from your computer or tablet, its done in approximately 5-10 seconds. When you want to bring up a website on your smartphone, it’s up in a matter of 1-2 seconds. Just about every aspect of our lives, when compared to that of the technology we used a few decades ago, has moved into a new realm where everything seems to be running in “fast forward”. 3D printing, however, when it comes to speed, is still chipping at the ice in the Ice Age.

This can be expected. 3D printing is a relatively new technology, especially when you focus solely on consumer level, at-home 3D printers. It can take a full day to print objects the size of a basketball. It can take several hours to print something as small as a Rubik’s Cube. Speeds have improved slightly in the few years since consumer level 3D printers have been made available to the general public. However, we’ve hardly seen any noticeable improvements. One little boy and his company CarrotCorp, plans on changing this.

Thomas Suarez, a 15-year-old little boy, made headlines several years ago when he created a Justin Bieber whack-a-mole game called Bustin Jieber. Since then he has given a TED talk on technology, was featured on BBC, and had the chance to meet a lot of important and famous people.


Now Suarez has a relatively new interest, and that interest is 3D printing. He had the chance to meet Bre Pettis back in 2012, and tour the MakerBot ‘Botfarm’.

“I told my dad [about 3D printing], and he said, ‘oh that’s not real!’,” explained Suarez back in 2012. “He didn’t believe it.”

Soon after, Suarez decided to prove to his dad that 3D printing was very real, by setting up a tour of the MakerBot botfarm. Nevertheless, his father became a believer, and Thomas himself became even more enamored by the technology; so much so that he decided to set out to push the technology even further.

“Recently I applied for a patent on 3D printing,” Suarez told BBC in aninterview. “I’m trying to make 3D printing faster and more reliable. The key there is speed, and we’re trying to [get] ten times faster than current generation 3D printers.”

Thomas is completely self taught when it comes to his technology insight, and his revolutionary new ideas. It should be interesting to see more details on what this patented super 3D printer includes. If Thomas can legitimately create a 3D printer capable of speeds that are ten times faster than today’s current technology, you may just be reading about a future billionaire. Just yesterday, CarrotCorp announced that they are working on creating a 3D printer that is “the most advanced, the most reliable, and the fastest 3D printer ever created”.

We have recently covered a story on 3D Systems, a company which has created a super speedy industrial level 3D printing system for the creation of smartphone modules, as part of Google’s Project Ara. However, we have yet to see these 3D printers in action, and they will surely cost in excess of $1,000,000 each. Thomas’ patent is for a consumer level 3D printer technology, which could make the process of 3D printing ever so close to being the speeds we all truly desire.

by  | JULY 6, 2014