We Had a Great Day at the ESTEAM Conference

We Had a Great Day at the ESTEAM Conference

This week, we have had the amazing opportunity to participate in ESTEAM (which stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, art, and math) at AB Tech. The kids were so excited to see the printer in action and it has been a lot of fun watching them work with the modeling software as they imagine what creations they would bring to life. We were lucky to have ABC 13 on-hand to capture the kid’s reactions in a news segment featuring Steve and our 3D printer as he spoke to kids at this year’s ESTEAM Conference.   During the ESTEAM conference, seventh graders attend a professional-like conference, where they will learn about future career opportunities and listen to lectures from role models working in fields the kids are interested in. This is a great way to motivate the kids as they start to think about their career path and how they want to direct their future education. At Tuesday’s event, there were more than 125 boys in attendance. Today, Steve is back once more, this time the girls get their chance to attend the conference and see the printer in action. During the session, the boys learned a bit about the basics of 3D design and the future of 3D printing. As the printer created a yellow elephant, the kids dreamed up all of the things that they would make with a printer of their own. It was really fun to see the wheels spinning and know that imaginations were coming to life. On Saturday, this fun week of education continues with the ESTEAM Expo. Held at the Ag Center from...
New Patent Filing by Stratasys Possibly Shows Next Steps

New Patent Filing by Stratasys Possibly Shows Next Steps

FDM with Invisible Seams While there are a huge number of variations on the basic design of 3D printers, most printers either use an extruder to distribute the material onto a build plate, which is known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or use a high-powered device to fuse together liquid particles of material in a build tank, called stereolithography (SLA). Regardless of the method of production, both types of printers produce pieces layer by layer. While layers are clearly visible with FDM, however, you get a much smoother finished product with printers that use SLA technologies. If the recent patent filing by Stratasys comes to fruition, this might be about to change. The Debate Since nearly the beginning, 3D printers have chosen their side in the debate between FDM and SLA. FDM fans love that the machines produce less mess and SLA advocates believe that the process makes stronger parts without the visible seams found in FDM. If, however, an FDM process was able to produce the solid exterior found in SLA prints, this could upend the entire debate. The Patent Filing by Stratasys In Stratasys’ recent patent filing, the company proposes technology that would hide the seams of an FDM printer. According to 3dprint.com, the filing explains,”The method includes generating a contour tool path that defines an interior region of a layer of the 3D model, where the contour path comprises a start point and a stop point, and where at least one of the start point and the stop point is located within the interior region of the layer.” Essentially, this means that the printer would print...
What Can Be Done about the 3D Printed Gun?

What Can Be Done about the 3D Printed Gun?

The fact that a 3D printer can produce something out of nothing is what makes them so revolutionary and intriguing. It is also, however, what makes them a little bit scary. Once the manufacturer turns the printer loose into the world, there is little that they can do to regulate what is created on their machines. In a recent example, however, the a number of companies have stepped in to try to keep their machines out of the hands of at least one group, Defense Distributed, the makers of the notorious 3D printed gun. The Gun In May of 2013, Defense Distributed announced that they had developed and printed the world’s first 3D printed gun. Led by Cody Wilson, the radical libertarian group believes that arms should be freely distributed. Their first downloadable gun, the Liberator, was the organization’s solution to creating universal firearm access. The Liberator is assembled from 16 printable pieces and a basic nail that is used as the firing pin. When Defense Distributed prints their version, they insert a small piece of metal into the gun so that it complies Undetectable Firearms Act. This piece, however, can easily be omitted, which means that the gun can pass through metal detectors undetected. Later that month, Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg was invited to see the Liberator in action. Test-fired with the help of a 20-foot rope, the 3D printed gun was successfully fired. Immediately, the gun caused quite a stir. Gun advocates showed their support by downloading the files more than 100,000 times in the first two days it was available. On the other side of the...
MakerBot Dedicated to 5th Generation Platform

MakerBot Dedicated to 5th Generation Platform

MakerBot Update As a MakerBot reseller, we are very excited to let you know about their plans for the coming year. Rather than focusing on big changes like new releases in 2015, MakerBot is focused on fully providing a better user experience for the 5th Generation platform. Our favorite thing about MakerBot’s trajectory is that they reinforced the idea that the company is dedicated to continuous improvement of the current 5th Generation printers. This is great news for our customers, who often express concern that they will end up with a printer that is obsolete within a year or two. Instead of releasing the 6th Generation this year and the 7th Generation next year, MakerBot is adopting a model of steady positive change to make the 5th Generation the best machine that it can be. MakerBot has already been demonstrating this dedication to a better printer through continued upgrades to the firmware. From personal experience on the MakerBot Replicator that we have in the office, we have noticed a vast improvement in printing quality following the most recent firmware upgrade. MakerBot, as a subsidiary of Stratasys, it is the largest manufacturer of 3D printers in the world. This means that they have the resources to identify and fix problems while still innovating and working on what’s next. New Printing Materials Speaking of what’s next, MakerBot is rolling out some really cool ways that you can get even more use out of your 5th Generation printers. One of the first endeavors that they are undertaking is new materials. Citing their belief that the ability to print with more and more...
Winners of YouMagine Contest Seek to Advance the 3D Printing Industry

Winners of YouMagine Contest Seek to Advance the 3D Printing Industry

What’s New in 3D The world of 3D printing is in a state of constant innovation. As new companies pop up and announce their take on the additive manufacturing process, they create technologies that look at the entire printing process in a slightly different way. While this can make it difficult for new entrants into the market to really decide which printer is right for them, it is also paving the way toward better products that truly solve customer needs for larger build spaces or more fully functioning parts. The recent YouMagine contest, “Develop a New 3D Printing Technology Challenge” is one great example of how organizations around the country are helping the 3D printing industry develop future technologies. On February 13th, YouMagine announced their two winners, who also received Ultimaker Original printers. The Contest With this contest, YouMagine looked at both the level of innovation found in the new technology, as well as the actual practicality and achievability of the design. The online publication then examined the open source community to ensure that the chosen design was unique and not already being worked on in open source circles. Finally, the projects were chosen based on the fact that they opened doors to new possibilities in 3D printing. The Winners The first of the two winning technologies comes from Laird Popkin who designed a dual nozzle 3D printer. Intended to reduce the time it takes to print large-scale items, one nozzle is very large and the other is smaller. This design allows the printer to utilize the small nozzle for more detailed work and the larger nozzle for print...

Autodesk Well Positioned in 3D Printing Market

Advancements in 3D Printing In order to take your 3D part from concept to tangible piece, the part must first be modeled in 3D software. Autodesk, the company behind software like AutoCAD, Maya, 3ds Max, Inventor, and Fusion 360, has been rapidly incorporating 3D modeling capabilities into their existing software. Between Autodesk’s well-established software programs and new software in development, Autodesk is charging head first into the 3D printing market. Over the last year, Autodesk has released a variety of app-based software that is specifically designed for 3D printing. These apps include 123D Catch, a program that allows users to take a series of photos of a model that are transformed into a 3D design, 123D Design, a basic 3D modeling program, and 123D Make, a program that allows users to create 3D models in slices from individual layers. With these apps combined with Autodesk’s Spark, an additional software platform, Autodesk has been described as the “Android of 3D printing.” Autodesk Talks About the Future Recently, IDG Connect was able to sit down with Aubrey Cattell, the Senior Director of Business Development and Operations. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits about the interview. Cattell reiterates that, although the printing industry is 25 years old, it hasn’t yet blown up. In fact, there have only been 250,000 3D printers sold over the last 25 years. Despite this, Cattell believes that we are on the cusp of huge growth, citing studies that predict that the industry will grow to $16 billion in 2018. Cattell compares the current state of 3D printing to a “Homebrew Computer Club.” Essentially, at this...