3D printed Chi flute


Ancient Chi Transverse Flute Gets 3D Printed Reincarnation

If you had been living the high life near the Marquis Yi of Zeng in 433 BC, you might have been lucky enough to hear a performance on the Chi (篪), a transverse flute that was most likely used for court and ritual music. Unfortunately, in the more likely event that you weren’t, the instrument declined in favor, for reasons not entirely certain, and largely disappeared from music history. However, over the last few decades, there has been a small, but devoted, interest in bringing this instrument back to life.


One person who has shown an interest in this instrument is the musician Cheong Li who decided as part of studying the instrument that he would try to create a 3D printed one. This application of 3D printing technology opens up a world for the study of extinct instruments, as explained by Lee in an interview with 3Dprint.com:

“I’m a musician and a novice to 3D printing. I’m not that capable in woodwork, but 3D printing allows me to draw and design my own instrument easily. One thing I’m particularly interested in is music archaeology. There are quite a lot of ancient instruments that have been forgotten or abandoned in the course of history. It would be very interesting to make them and be able to actually hear what they sound like.”

The Chi is a particularly unique instrument. Unlike the flute, fife, or recorder, the air is introduced into the instrument in the center and the holes for fingering are on either side of the mouthpiece. The ends of the flute are actually closed and the sound is produced as the air is blown into and then escapes from the holes that are used for fingering. Information about the flute is scarce and Lee is having to discover the instrument’s secrets the old fashioned way: trial and error.


The position of the holes doesn’t seem to have much impact on the pitch but rather it is their size that has the greatest effect. The fingering itself is irregular, meaning that rather than playing a scale by lifting successive fingers, each note has a unique fingering configuration. As part of understanding the instrument, Lee has created a fingering chart in an effort to codify the relationships between pitch, frequency, and finger position.

He described the process of designing the instrument in preparation for 3D printing:

“I’ve been using Rhino for Mac. It wasn’t too difficult to draw a simple tube like this. However, the most difficult thing is to determine where I should put the finger holes. I’ve spent some time studying pictures of Chi from various sources and tried to figure out the exact measurements. The tuning is not quite accurate yet and I think I’ll need to rework it.”

He printed his instrument as a single piece with the exception of a final cap for the end which was printed separately and then glued into place. The printing was done via 3D Hubs on a FlashForge Creator Pro and took only a few hours to complete. The instrument Lee printed is created entirely in PLA and the interior dimension is 14.2 cm with an extra centimeter on each end that acts as the wall.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 11.03.04 AM

Now that his flute is printed, it seems to have raised more questions than it resolved and Lee plans on diving further into understanding its mysteries.

“There are quite a few questions about this instrument that intrigue me,” Lee notes. “For example, why is the fingering so unpredictable? How does a closed tube sound different from an open tube? To understand these things, I may need to collaborate with a scientist to calculate the physics behind it. It may help to solve a mystery in music history, and if possible, I hope that this instrument can be mass produced and played by more musicians. I’d love to write a tune for it as well!”

This is the third instrument that Lee has created through 3D printing; the first was a Xun, which is an egg-shaped blowing vessel, and the second a sliding whistle. The opportunity to truly understand an instrument that is presented through creating the instrument itself adds a new level of interaction that is open to more and more people through 3D technology. We may never know the way this instrument sounded when it was played 2,000 years ago, but thanks to 3D printing, we can hear it as it has been reincarnated today.

What do you think about the use of 3D printing to re-create ancient instruments? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Printed Chi Flute forum thread over at 3DPB.com.


by  | AUGUST 27, 2015

Shuty 3D printed pistol



The Shuty Hybrid 3D Printed 9mm Pistol Raises Questions About 3D Printed Gun Control

I say this as both a firearm enthusiast and an advocate for strong firearm regulation. It is becoming evident that there is a point when we as a society are just going to have to accept that 3D printed weapons are not going to disappear behind walls of legislation. Will that point be when entire guns can easily be 3D printed and constructed at home? Because it is pretty evident at this point that 3D printable firearms will be here soon, and both sides of the controversial issue are going to have to stop chipping away at each other’s platforms and start a real conversation about what kind of society we will have when they get here.

At this point, we have all heard of the Liberator created by Cody Wilson, the original 3D printed handgun that got gun nuts overly excited and anti-gun nuts wildly up in arms. For those of us in the middle, realistically the Liberator is a single shot firearm completely made of plastic and is probably not much of a real threat to anyone. And I don’t believe that even with subsequent upgrades and redesigns that have turned it into a much more reliable and dependable firearm, that has really changed. But firearms enthusiasts with 3D printers obviously weren’t going to stop with the Liberator, and they have turned to designing hybrid firearms made of 3D printed parts combined with more durable parts culled from traditionally manufactured guns.

One of the most sophisticated and impressive hybrid designs out there is the Shuty, a 9mm semiauto based on a combination of parts from a standard AR-15 and the homemade firearm designs of P.A. Luty. The design for the Shuty combines a metal bolt, an AR fire-control group and the barrel of a Glock combined with a 3D printed bolt carrier, upper and lower receivers and even a 3D printed magazine.

The 3D printed parts are all made from standard PLA printed on an Orion from SeeMeCNC. The design intentionally combines metal parts that will be exposed to repeated use with its printed parts that will encounter less wear and tear. With so many plastic parts the Shuty is obviously going to have a rather short period of usability, but because of the clever mixing of metal and printed parts it will be far longer than the one-and-done Liberator.

The unassembled Shuty.

One of the fears of those in favor of banning 3D printed guns is that they might be used in crimes, mass shootings or even for political assassinations. Anyone who has used or 3D printed a gun, regardless of their stance on the issue, is going to be able to tell you with some authority that that isn’t a fear that is based in reality. In terms of actual, practical usability the Shuty really isn’t going to score many points there, especially with no stock or sights. It also looks like a brick, and isn’t going to be comfortably or surreptitiously tucked into any waistbands without looking like an idiot.

But while the Shuty isn’t the prettiest gun on the block, it is certainly a cleverly designed one, and most importantly not only does it work, but it actually works pretty well. But it is still a work in progress, so it will undoubtedly be improved with each new iteration. So while right now 3D printed guns are probably the last firearm anyone would choose when planning to commit a crime, that is likely to change at some point. Especially as more advanced 3D printing materials far stronger than standard PLA become available.


However, as Derwood says in the description of one of his test videos, at this point the Shuty “is now functioning perfect” and certainly looks intimidating despite its clumsy appearance. If the plastic parts are replaced with more durable and advanced 3D printing materials then it could become a little more of a threat. And even now it is an excellent example of a homemade firearm proof of concept.

Gun control advocates insist that eliminating guns in the United States would save lives and reduce (our already record low) crime rates, and they have the Facebook memes about gun availability in European countries to prove it. But you simply can’t erase the last 200 years of our history and culture, and those same European countries don’t have the right to own firearms written into their constitutions. Not to mention the fact that there are an estimated 8.8 guns for each 10 people in the country, so even banning guns isn’t going to result in a gun shortage. They’re going to have to understand that guns aren’t going away, and neither is the culture that surrounds them.

But firearms enthusiasts and gun owners are also going to have to face up to some hard realities. They can quote the second amendment all that they want, while trying to pretend that the words “well regulated” aren’t in it, but it simply does not mean all or nothing no matter how much you want it to. The Supreme Court has already ruled that regulation doesn’t violate the Constitution, and because of the fragmented nature of our country, each state sets its own gun laws that are often wildly out of sync with each other. Rather than fighting the inevitability of gun regulation, the smarter move is to implement sane, logical and effective legislation that preserves gun owners’ rights but puts a system in place to help prevent those who would misuse them from getting their hands on them.

What Congress thinks a 3D printed gun is.

As much as both sides of the gun debate, as well as the 3D printed gun issue, want their problems with it to go away, that simply isn’t going to happen. The fact that both sides can be less than mature when responding to the opinions of the other certainly isn’t helping settle the issue either. (As I can attest with the hate mail from both sides that I often receive after I write anything on the issue.) Ultimately, some things are going to have to change with the way that we debate and discuss the politics of firearm ownership, especially as it relates to the 3D printing industry. If we don’t, then history has taught us that the option for us to debate the issue is going to be replaced with poorly thought-out laws rammed through Congress.

How long until laws are passed requiring manufacturers to include blocks for 3D printed firearm parts? The fact that it is almost un-implementable wouldn’t alter the fact that it has already happened with other technologies. And beyond guns, I’m extremely uncomfortable with the law regulating what someone can and cannot print on their printer. It isn’t as far a leap from preventing the printing of gun parts to preventing materials considered obscene, or preventing trademarked materials from being printed at home. 3D printing is still highly emergent technology that, while opening entirely new possibilities, is still struggling to find its proper place in our world. Things rarely go well when governments step in to regulate technology that they don’t understand.

Let us know what you think of the 3D printed firearm issue (or call me a pinko scum or a fascist or a micro-penised gun nut, depending on your political ideology) over on our Shuty 3D Printed 9mm Pistol forum thread at 3DPB.com.


by  | AUGUST 19, 2015

3D printed smartwatch


8-year-old child develops 3D printed smartwatch kit for kids to learn coding and 3D printing

Due to the successes of the ever expanding maker revolution, it’s becoming more and more evident that 3D printers and basic programming need to be integrated into schools to prepare children for their future. Its therefore fantastic to see that children are already picking up making themselves. Just look at the eight-year-old aspiring programmer and maker Omkar Govil-Nair, who has already developed his very own 3D printed O Watch smartwatch and plans to make it available everywhere through a crowdfunding campaign.

Now we sometimes come across inspiring children who are so quickly and easily taking up programming and 3D printing, but few are as successful as Omkar. Like most eight-year-olds, he will be starting fourth grade this year and loves Star Wars, James Bond and badminton. But unlike most, he also loves working with Arduinos and 3D printing. ‘I got interested in electronics and programming 3 years back when I attended my 2nd Maker Faire. I was inspired by Quin Etnyre then the 12 year old CEO of Qtechknow. Since then I wanted to make my own product,’ he explains about his fascination.

But more than doing just a bit of tinkering, he has actually developed this cool-looking O Watch, an Arduino-based programmable smartwatch that is intended to give kids a bit of experience with programming and 3D design. Planning to bring this cool watch to market, it will come with a complete set of components that can be used to build the watch yourself and customize it with 3D printed cases and colorful straps.

As Omkar explained to 3ders.org, he was inspired by all the buzz around smartwatches. ‘I wanted one for myself. I was doing some Arduino project and decided to make my watch using Arduino compatible components. I thought it will be great if other kids can also make their own watches and that is how the idea was created. I always wanted to have my own company after I read about Quin Etnyre of Qtechnow and met him at Maker Faire in 2014, so looking to launch a crowd funding project,’ he explains. ‘I want to make this kit available with easy-to-use web instructions for other kids like me to make their own smartwatches and learn 3D printing and programming.’

As he goes on to explain, the O Watch is essentially an Arduino IDE build intended for basic use through four buttons. ‘You can program it using Arduino IDE. You can program it to function as a watch with date and time functions from Arduino, you can make games and apps and with the sensor board model you can also measure temperature, humidity, pressure as well as make a compass,’ he says. An integrated color OLED screen and a LiPo batter finishes the kit. One example that the boy already made is a rock-paper-scissors app, illustrating that it is a perfect option for learning some basic programming.

What’s more, Omkar did a lot of the work himself and the rest with the help from his dad. ‘I started learning 3D design using Sketchup about 6 months back with help from my dad and Sketchup video tutorials,’ he explains. They then started designs for a case about five months ago, with an eye on the Bay Area Maker Faire. ‘We tried several designs and printed many versions before we got the basic working model we used for the Maker Faire in May. After that we further improved it a bit to make the edges rounded,’ he explains. All 3D printed parts were completed on a Printrbot Simple Metal and in PLA, with a case taking anywhere between twenty and forty-five minutes to 3D print depending on the settings used.

This fun and impressive watch looks perfect for educational purposes, so it’s fantastic to hear that Omkar and his dad are also planning a crowdfunding campaign, which is set to launch later this month. The specific goal will be to raise funds for further improving designs and developing templates that can be easily used by children for customization and 3D printing options. The father and son duo are also aiming to develop two kits: one with the basic O Watch, and the second with an additional sensor board with a wide range of sensors for more build options. In short, plenty to keep an eye on. You can find the O Watch website here.


by Alec | Aug 17, 2015


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 3DPrint.com.

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 3DPrint.com. “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 3DPB.com.

by  | JANUARY 28, 2015

Influence of 3D Printing to environment

How 3D Printing is helping to save the environment

Besides the usage of biodegradable materials such as PLA, 3D printing is paving the way for the future of environmental sustainability. Below you can find 3 prime examples of how it’s already impacting societies worldwide.



3D printing tech has opened doors in a lot of areas – including sustainability. Take a look at the efforts of some groups to 3D print a greener planet.

Give someone a 3D printer, and she’ll make something cool; teach someone to use a 3D printer for sustainability, and she might change the world.

We’ve seen a variety of 3D-printed projects spring up over the last two years — from medical splints to houses to guns — and most fanatics will gladly argue that it’s only the beginning of a revolutionary distribution movement.

Ideally, 3D printing itself is a largely sustainable concept — but a few projects, which we’ve highlighted below, take it to a whole different level.

1. Protoprint

Protoprint was founded in early 2013 by Sidhant Pai, an environmental engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the summer of 2012, Pai had been researching low-cost recycling technology around the same time his father began dabbling in 3D printing as a hobby.

“[I realized] that 3D printer filament” — the plastic, coil-like material used to mold 3D-printed creations — “was basic in its chemical composition. So, we started looking into whether it was possible to recycle the filament from waste plastic,” he says.

It was. After a brief research period, Pai partnered with Pune, India-based cooperative SWaCH, which employs “pickers” to sort through the city’s waste bins for plastic bottles. They developed a system: After the pickers collect the bottles, workers wash and run them through a FlakerBot shredding machine, and then melt the plastic and spool it into reels of filament.

“This really bridges the gap between cutting-edge technology and grassroots recycling,” Pai says.

The group is in its final stages of its pilot launch, and plans to begin commercial production by the end of the summer.

2. Amsterdam’s Canal House

The 3D Print Canal House project, based in Amsterdam, claims to be constructing the world’s first 3D-printed house.

Dus Architects announced the idea in 2013. The firm will print out blocks of plastic, using a specialized printer called the Kamermaker, and stack them together like Legos to build the 13-story canal-style complex.

The idea is to eliminate both waste and the cost of transporting typical material needed for building, like lumber, steel and cement. As of now, the printer runs on bioplastics, but has the capacity to melt anything that will mold at a low temperature. Similar to Protoprint, Dus Architects is considering using recycled materials — even wood pallets and natural stone waste.

According to the Guardian, the group began construction on the house at the end of March. But the project’s website says the ordeal will likely take up to three years to complete. For now, anyone can take a tour of the physical site, for a small fee.


WASP is a team of Italian-based 3D printer enthusiasts who also have their eyes on the housing market.

The group is most well-known for the PowerWasp, a 3D printer that’s able to use clay as filament, while also doubling as a milling machine. Founder Massimo Moretti hopes to use his machines to create cheap, affordable housing in poor areas of the world. That kind of machine is still in development — but in the meantime, his team is self-funding its research by selling the PowerWasp at low costs to aspiring entrepreneurs in lower income areas.

For their efforts, the group won the Green Award at last year’s 3D Printshow in London.

BONUS: I 3D Printed a Gun