Food is so central to human survival, bonding, ritual, and even entertainment, it was only a matter of time before people came up with ideas on how to use 3-D printing power to fabricate edible and fanciful digestibles. [Read more...]
Interestingly, the term “3-D” used for 3 Dimensional Printing also hints at design’s role past, present and future. Someone had to design what was produced in the manufacturing and distribution model of the Industrial Revolution. This will still be true in the future, when 3-D printers allow consumers to access a direct manufacturing model. [Read more...]
by Helena Kaufman
The ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of two 3D printer projects that’ll catch your eyes and ears
Michael Curry, the young architect I conversed with on my ‘carriage entry’ as a writer tapping my way into the world of 3-D printing on my keyboard, likes to make big things. He also likes to stay within the limits of the machinery or software he is using while being the ‘maker’ of his 3-D print projects.
One contribution then to 3-D printing and its growing community is to show what can be done. Curry did this when he was the world’s 99th buyer of a MakerBot kit and made an ambitious attempt to create something that had not been done before.
After he got the Cupcake CNC kit (named for its ability to print things more or less cupcake-sized) up and working, he went on to make the requisite mistakes. He accepts the trial-and-error phase and indeed encourages other makers to experience it all on the way to highly rewarding individual successes.
The attention-getting ‘what’ is the Gothic Cathedral Play Set. It rocketed around the 3-D printer world online and became a well-known example, which I view as a kind of 3-D printer project poster child. You’ll see pictures of it on sites such as MakerBot, Thingiverse and those of manufacturers and online magazines – as an alluring example of what can be done with the technology, whether or not it is directly related to its original designer or its kit producer.
Curry created his Gothic Cathedral in weeks rather than the years that any of the real life cathedrals from across Europe would have taken. The design represents many elements of the varied cathedrals that inspired it.
The specs of the actual Cathedral include:
- 20 individual pieces comprise the structure, but they consist of multiples of 5 core pieces, designed and configured to look like they belong and built over a common module.
- That cut down on modeling and simplifies the digital end of the project.
- The materials used allow for unique looks and fit of the pieces so that experimentation with different formulations will yield different cathedral looks.
- The parts will fit together in any configuration, because each part has at least one face that will match any other in the set.
- As for the size, the limiting factor is the height of the MakerBot build chamber.
- Assembled, it is 18” long x 10” wide, 10” tall, impressive in appearance and in the making.
The appeal of this Gothic architecture composite of numerous cathedrals became apparent during our conversation. It was the limitation of its 12th century construction technology studied in architecture school that drew Michael Curry’s interest to its 3-D manifestation. Craftsmanship of its day ensured that each stone within its reinforced masonry construction was supported only by the stones below it. Compare that finesse to the slabs and heavy wires of today’s technology!
A cathedral design parallels what an unsupported 3-D printer can do. It yielded incredible results even with basic limitations. As Michael Curry explained, “Things have more success if they are a simple idea. Even the display of the cathedral itself communicates the ‘Get it in one glance,’ goal and aesthetic appeal” any good designer or architect strives for.
3-D printing for all?
What kind of skills will people have to call upon in order to negotiate not only the technology but also the social and cultural context that might call on us? We have Michael’s example of an architect’s training that prepared him to communicate and stand up regularly and often to defend his work, right from day one. Will 3-D printing for the masses require mass communication skills to negotiate the new way of looking at patents, sourcing materials, ‘making’ using designs shared freely or sold?
And by the way, in case you are a newbie like me and need to know, the current most acceptable word to use when naming those involved on a consumer level with 3D design and production is ‘maker.’
The 3-D printing process for a maker might involve these steps:
- Design a 3-D file
- Use a program such as Google’s Sketchup (available free – the program in which the Cathedral was modeled )
- Save as a specific file and export using a free stl plug-in
- Employ the Replicator G program (available free online)
- Initiate printer deposits
For the last step, Curry asked me to imagine a very long-armed glue gun pumping plastic and layering it in a back and forth motion – I’ve seen demonstrations of what looks like an ordinary printer head depositing plastic instead of ink on paper as it moved.
The familiar is new again with innovative applications. Can the affordable desktop 3-D printer be far behind? What will pop off the screen near you next?
The 2nd ‘What’ – An interactive and movement oriented 3-D print appearance on the Colbert Report
Well, if you are near a TV screen it may be the debut of a talking head on The Colbert Report. The ‘talking head’ test piece was first created by Skimbal, the onscreen name used by Michael Curry on 3D Printing sites, for MakerBot Industries. It helped voice and animate tips for short doable projects by even the weekend maker by founder Bre Pettis. The talking head produced especially for the Colbert Report as part of a grouping to introduce what can be done in 3-D printing is of the highest resolution and quality to date.
Once premiered on The Colbert Report, Michael Curry, aka Skimbal released it to the public sphere. The scoop on the move from hot and new ‘person-alized’ 3D printing project to public persona and property was reported here first.
Next in the DIY 3-D discovery series is a look at what the future might look like and a bit of how much that might cost exactly.
Returning soon to replicate some of what I’ve learned,
Blogger bio note: Helena Kaufman applies her professional writer’s curiosity to help navigate the pace of change in her personal world. She suspects 3-D printing may hold the key to a future extension of her own best before date expiration, and possibly replacement of some parts with 3-D and new materials while enhancing her daily life now.