There is a topic we have been meaning to discuss here at Prinding for a while now and that is how 3D printing is changing the world of architecture. Architecture students often share mixed feeling when talking about architectural models. A real life scaled down copy of a project, the architectural model is both an easy way to 'test' the project and a way of sharing the project with others. Even though the architect can most probably envision his project finalized from the blueprints or a rendered model more often than not clients will find it hard to visualize the project in their minds.
Much to their dismay architects often walk away from meeting feeling that if only they could show the client what the project would look like they could have closed the contract then and there. Since the clients are couples who wish to buy a house or businessmen who wish to choose one of several designs for the new offices they are building there is nothing better than a tangible 3D print.
From an AutoCAD or 3DMax file straight to the printer a project can come to life in a matter of minutes. It is a magical feeling, to hold a design, an idea, in your hands and look at it as if it were already built. This becomes even more important when presenting the project to others. A 3D print can enable the clients to see the full breadth of the project, the macro of it, as well as the small gritty details.
While most professionals who work in dexterous professions get to train their skills before putting them to use some lines of work leave no room for error. Surgeons are a prime example of this. In the past decades medical schools have relied on a variety of different technologies to help train surgeons; starting with simulators and ending with artificial models. Recently they have also begun to use 3D Printing for this particular purpose.
The two most prominent features of 3D printing are the customizability of models and the variety of materials enabling Health Care centers to create customized models to help better train professionals. This is a very interesting use of the unique advantages of 3D Printing. For example, being able to create a specific model for a specific anomaly can help doctors practice on an exact model of a special tumor that is located adjacent to a patient’s brain or skull by taking images from a MRI scan and creating an actual model of the tumor taken from the patient just hours before the operation.
Another interesting implementation of 3D Printing’s infinite customizability is creating waves of buzz around the world of prosthetics. Traditionally all prosthetic limbs and devices are hand crafted by an artist who specializes in customization of the prostatic to the customer. This service is not cheap and often requires a lot of time in order to fit a particular prosthetic to the client’s unique requirements. However, with the advancement of 3D Printing many prosthetics are now custom made by creating a 3D model and supplementing it with factory made parts. This combination of standardized and customized parts greatly streamlines the process of manufacturing and assimilating the required parts.
An interesting development caused by this is the creation of “designer prosthetics” which fit onto conventional prosthetics.
Soon a 3D Printer will be a part of any modern hospital right next to the MRI and Heart Monitor, but I can’t see it ending there.
3D printing was named rapid prototyping after its main purpose - to create and test out prototypes before they reach the assembly line. When designing a new product, like a keyboard or mobile phone, a designer needs to 'feel' the product in order to get a full grasp of it before sending his design to the assembly line. Sometimes the designer would want to test out a feature or make sure the panels don't overlap. This is what 3D printing was originally intended to assist with. Rather than send the raw design to a factory, have them send a sample, test that sample and send a corrected design, the designer could simply print a prototype, correct it and send a perfected model to the assembly line.
As technology evolved it became an industry standard and today every cell phone and mouse you use were initially a 3D image that was printed. Much like any new technology 3D printing faces two main difficulties: the hardware aspect and the practical aspect. The hardware aspect is slowly progressing and I expect that soon enough not only will 3D printing be widely available in every high-tech company but the increasing range of equipment will enable high end devices to produce medical grade prosthetics while the low end devices will effect everyday use.
The second challenge 3D printing will face is of practicality: where does this technology fit into our lives? How can we use it and how will it grow?
Desoute the fact that 3D printing is limited only by our imagination many people are either unaware of it or do not understand how this technology can serve them. Unlimited customization enables anyone with an imaginative mind and access to a 3D imaging software to create a model from a file but many people are unaware of how much 3D printing can assist them.
For example, many interior designers are discovering that printing an item directly from their rendered project adds a personal touch to their work and is more convenient than looking for a similar item on the market. On the other end of the spectrum hobbyist robot and gadget designers find it easier to simply print their work before assembling it so they can present conventions and investors a working model rather than a rendered version.
Analysts are forecasting 3D printing as the technology of the future, so what are you waiting for, log in.
3D imaging is a powerful tool that in recent years has become an industry standard in interior design. Why bother with sketches when you can render a whole project customize, tweak, and tune it to perfection? The flexibility 3D imaging offers is what made it a cornerstone in the design industry but when moving from vectors to reality some difficulties can occur. Enter 3D printing –
When bringing a 3D image to life 3D printing can do wonders but it is only in the past few months that designers have started to experiment with 3D printing and light. Design is an art that focuses on the finer details and 3D printing offers any designer the opportunity to customize their work by adding the finishing touch: a perfect carbon copy of the lightning and lamps you designed.
3D printing is easily used with a variety of materials to create a unique feel to each lamp or light printed. The translucency, color, and texture are easy to customizable and the results can be quite breath- taking:
This Dragon Fly lamp was designed to resemble an insect’s eye but is in fact created by letting the light reflect off of honeycomb like hexagons and create a dawn-like radiance.
Another example is this Tulip Lamp, printed as a fixture and mounted on a standard lightbulb:
Both of these lamps take advantage of the properties of 3D printing to create an elaborate, one of a kind item but there are other ways to use the technology. For example, in this Reaction Lamp both the intricacy and material properties were taken into account to create a feeling of transparency:
The finished lamp looks and feels like an organic object that was taken out of a coral reef and placed on your dining-room table.
Personally, I am looking forwards to seeing how 3D printing will affect interior design. If future results will be half as impressive as what we see here we have a lot to look forwards to.
In the past few years the industry has been testing the boundaries of 3D printing. Due to the versatility of the printer and the array of materials that it can be used with we are surprised time and time again at how much 3D printing can alter our lives.
Custom made Jewelry is one field in which 3D printing has made a large impact on. Many Jewelers were averse at first to use this new technology because of the ‘assembly belt’ effect: Jewelry needs to be personal and for it to look and feel that way it needs to be hand crafted. Well, not any more. With 3D printing every piece of Jewelry crafted is as unique and custom made as a hand crafted piece. Furthermore, 3D printed Jewelry is seamless and allows for a greater versatility, enabling you to cast intricate shapes that would otherwise require multiple steps to create.
The first ring is by Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenburg –
This next ring was made by Jo Hayes-Ward using conventional Jewelry techniques alongside 3D printing. The ring is 24 karat gold and so intricate it looks unreal –
While the range of materials used continues to increase, the possibilities opening up to us are almost infinite. Here is another example of Gonçalo Campos’ 3D printed pendent. What is remarkable about it is not only the fact it was made of steel but that the texture that is created by the printing process was integrated into the work rather than polished off to create a unique feel to the pendant.
To finish off this week’s entry I would like to present you a video of the people at Z-corp skateboarding on a 3D printed skateboard. The skateboard was 3D printed and constructed with standard trucks, wheels and bearings. The most impressive part is that skateboarding decks are usually made of six to seven-ply cross-laminated layup of Canadian maple wood in order to create the durability and robustness required of a skateboard and yet 3D printing can offer that durability in a fracture of the time and effort it takes to create a classic deck.
What items would you like to see made in 3D printing? Answer in the comm
There was a time when Stop-Motion was the cutting edge of animation technology, a time when movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas would wow audiences with their seamless motion and charm children with their cartoonish yet realistic display of emotions. Most studios have since moved on to full 3D rendering, mostly because of how much easier it is to alter a character’s features using a 3D software when compared to sculpting a different piece for each gesture or facial expression. However today with 3D printing widely available the process is becoming so easy that Stop-Motion is now a viable, cheap option for any animation studio.
In 2009 a movie named Coraline (adapted from Neil Gaiman’s book) hit the theaters becoming an instant hit among people of all age groups. It was an animated movie aimed at young adults but it looked like nothing we’ve seen before – the character’s motion and facial expressions, the lightning and effects looked better than any 3D rendering we’ve been shown before; they looked real. Which is no surprise since it was only partially 3D rendered with all the characters and most of the backgrounds done in full Stop-Motion. The use of Stop-Motion gives the characters a shading and lightning that no 3D rendered movie can mimic but the effort put into the models would often make studios rethink the idea us using Stop-Motion. However, now with 3D printing, making countless models of hands, eyes, and hair is simpler than ever.
Coraline, the movie’s protagonist boasts an impressive 208,000 facial models that were used in her portrayal. The studio’s creative producer claims that the models were partially printed on site whenever they felt like they needed something different from the array of premade figures. The use of 3D printing in movies is growing as more and more studios decide learn to harness this technology to their use. Even classic Claymation movies like Wallace and Gromit are scheduled to be animated with the help of 3D printing.
3D printing is becoming more and more common in show business but where will the next breakthrough be? We'll continue to survey the industries that are learning to use this technology in the upcoming weeks.
Have you ever looked at a movie prop like a superhero’s emblem or a massive laser gun and while admiring the craftsmanship imagined an artist sitting alone in his dimly lit workshop working the nooks and crannies with a chisel? That might have been accurate thirty years ago but today most costumes, props, and trinkets are made in a different manner, how? Well, in recent films the answer is most probably 3D printing. Ever since 3D printing became accessible to movie studios they have been using it for almost every aspect of the production process. Why bother with CGI rendered clothing and props when you can make the real thing?
A good example of this is the recent summer action blockbuster “Iron Man 2”. The design studio behind the movie’s costumes openly stated that one of the secrets behind Iron Man’s realistic looking armor is that it is not computer rendered animation but an actual suit of armor made out of separate pieces of assembled 3D printed segments. From a rendered 3D model into a tangible object, the process took roughly four hours. After some polishing, a fresh coat of paint and some assembling the suit was ready for filming (see pictures below).
Many studios will now choose to use the 3D printing technology to create items that would, just a few years ago, take weeks to mould, assemble and would still not look as realistic as they should. Now with the printing technology widely available the sky is the limit. The main advantage of this technology is how easy it is to use. Any alterations needed are done on the 3D model and within minutes you can print a new copy of the altered part.
But this isn’t something reserved to movie studios… Have you ever wondered how you would look in Captain America’s helmet or wanted Star War’s Death Star on your bookshelf? All you need is a 3D rendered model and anything is possible.
Rapid prototype technologies use the same basic principle of taking a 3-Dimensional computer generated image, slicing it into hundreds and thosands of digital 2-Dimensional bitmap images then fusing these layers together using different methods. There are many rapid prototype system manufacturers, but all these systems are grouped into smaller classifications of technologies. These are:
3D Printing - Objet PolyJet and Z-Corp systems are 3D printers that jet liquid out of nozzles to create the 2-Dimensional bitmap.
Selective Laser Sintering - Plastic powders are laid flat across a build platform and the 2-Dimensional bitmap image is drawn into the powder using extremely hot laser energy to melt the powder.
Stereolithography (SLA) - Lower power ultraviolet light from a laser draws the 2-Dimensional bitmap image into liquid ultraviolet curable resin to create a hardened image.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) - Hard plastic wound onto a spool is fed under pressure into a heated head that contains nozzles. These nozzles are opened and head moves across build platform to deposit the bitmap image.
At this early stage in inexpensive personal 3D printing, we're still exploring the technology and what it means. While we see intellectual property confusion and carnage in the digital music and now text-based industries, some of us feel that a similar catastrophe will befall personal manufacturing. In the meantime, we continue to explore the space.
But a deep analysis of the intellectual property implications has been recently published by Simon Bradshaw, Adrian Bowyer and Patrick Haufe in their appropriately titled paper, "The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing".
The paper brilliantly introduces the concept of 21st century 3d printing in the context of manufacturing history, putting recent developments in long-term perspective. But then the second half of the paper delves into the knotty problems of intellectual property that will eventually result. One example scenario examined:
If Bridget owns an Acme car she might create 3DPDFs for some of its spare parts, to allow herself to 3D print copies should she need them. One of these is a cap for the windscreen wash reservoir. It is of commonplace design and has to have a diameter and screw pitch to fit the reservoir opening, so it is assumed that no design protection subsists. It does however have Acme’s name moulded into it, a trade mark registered in numerous categories including vehicle parts, and Bridget’s 3DPDF includes this. Bridget makes the 3DPDF available online, and it is downloaded by Dave, who owns a small garage. One of Dave’s customers needs an Acme reservoir cap, so Dave uses his workshop 3D printer to make one from Bridget’s 3DPDF and sells it. He infringes no design right or design document copyright by doing so, but he has sold goods bearing Acme’s trade mark, which he has therefore infringed. If, though, Bridget had removed or omitted the trade mark, Dave could have legitimately labelled the cap as being for an Acme™ car as there is specific provision for a mark to be used to indicate the intended purpose of a product, such as a spare part.
This and other pathological examples are examined in light of UK IP law in gruesome legal detail. Upon reading the paper, one wonders how many other bizarre scenarios will actually occur when the technology becomes widespread.
What is the bottom line? It's not entirely clear, but the paper suggests that generally items produced for personal use may proceed without infringement, but trouble occurs when trademarks or visible designs are shared among others. Time will tell, as these imaginary scenarios will inevitably be played out for real.
As reported yesterday, T. A. Grimm & Associates has published a very extensive benchmarking report on a selection of common commercial 3D printers. We've been looking forward to something like this because we all too often hear statements from vendors such as: "lowest cost of materials" and"five times better resolution" or "suitable for office use". But these terms are vague at best until the actual devices are actually compared against each other in action. That's precisely what this benchmark has done.
So what does the report say? Lots, but here's a few highlights that caught our notice:
When accounting for all aspects of time, the ZPrinter 310 is significantly faster to produce models than the other printers
The SD300, while being inexpensive to acquire, is one of the slowest to produce models
The ZPrinter 310 appears to be not only the fastest printer, but also the least expensive to produce a model, all-in costs considered
The highest cost of materials, by far, is the SD300's plastic sheets. Fortunately, the huge amount of waste cut-away is recycled
The uPrint produces "by far" the strongest parts, with the Alaris 30 a distant second
The surface finish varies considerably between printers, you'd best look at the test images
The accuracy is quite variable and depends on the form of the object being printed by each printer
The Alaris 30 is the most accurate 3D printer measured, and the V-Flash is the least accurate
Biggest surprise for us: the ProJet SD3000 showed poorly in many of the tests, including quality, cost and time
Moral of the story/benchmark: No single performance factor tells the truth. Your printer might have the lowest material cost, but the cost per model might be the highest. A combination of all factors is the only way to truly estimate the operational cos t of any specific printer. The report concludes that the best and worst 3D printers cannot be ranked, as their performance depends entirely on the situation presented.
Wish: An additional report that measures hobbyist printers, such as RepRap, Fab@Home and the MakerBot. Their costs will be low, but their labor will be high.