All posts by Jeremy Simon

Getting Started with the e-NABLE Volunteer Community

Over the last four years, the e‑NABLE volunteer community has grown into a global movement, with over 10,000 volunteers using 3D printing technology to make free assistive devices for anyone who needs them. Thousands of 3D printed hands and arms have been delivered to people all over the world.

Often, people have questions about how to get started with e‑NABLE. This guide provides an overview and some suggestions for those who want to get involved with this amazing community.

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with e‑NABLE’s Code of Conduct

It’s important that you understand and follow some simple rules when working with e‑NABLE. This is to protect you, as well the people you make devices for (many of whom are minors). Please read e‑NABLE’s Code of Conduct carefully.

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the current e‑NABLE designs available

Spend some time browsing the designs on enablingthefuture.org. We try to keep that site up-to-date with the latest designs available. Each design page includes a link for downloading the files for 3D printing.

If you’re unsure which design to start with, the Unlimbited Phoenix is e‑NABLE’s current recommended design. It’s relatively easy to fabricate and assemble and is one of the most popular designs currently.

Step 3: Make a test device

Once you pick a design to start with, you should create a test device and submit it for approval. Since this device isn’t being created for a specific recipient, it can be made in any size, but we recommend that you use a scale of 120-135%. At 100% scale, the device will be too small for most people, and it will be harder to assemble at that size. 120-135% is a common size range for younger recipients, and it will be easier to assemble the device.

Most of the designs featured on enablingthefuture.org include links to instructions and/or video tutorials to help you get started.

3D Universe offers assembly materials kits for some of the most popular e‑NABLE designs. Assembly materials can also be purchased individually from various online or local sources. 

Step 4: Submit your test device for approval

Once you have 3D printed and assembled a test device, visit the e‑NABLE forums and submit a video of your device for approval. This post provides details of what you should submit, including a sample video.

Step 5: Claim your Credly badges

Once your device is approved, you’ll be given instructions for claiming your “Test Device Approved” badge from Credly. Credly is a free service used by e‑NABLE to keep track of who is authorized for each design.

Visit Credly and create a free account for yourself. Then visit e‑NABLE’s Credly page to see a list of available badges.

Once you have claimed your “Test Device Approved” badge, you should also claim the device specific badges for the design you were approved for. There are two badges for each design – one for fabrication and one for assembly. So, for example, if you were approved for the Unlimbited Phoenix design, you would claim the “Unlimbited Phoenix – Fabrication” and the “Unlimbited Phoenix – Assembly” badges. These device-specific badges are used by the e‑NABLE Web Central application (discussed later) to determine which volunteers can offer help with each individual device request.

Step 6: Learn how to properly size e‑NABLE devices

Before you start making devices for actual recipients, it’s important to learn how to properly size a device. Please watch the video tutorial series created by Peter Binkley, found here.

To follow this process, you’ll need to download a free copy of Blender, which can be found here.

You’ll also need to download Peter Binkley’s e‑NABLE Device Sizing Blender File, here

Watch the videos carefully. Then watch them a second time, following along and pausing the videos as you follow each step of the process.

Step 7: Create an account on e‑NABLE Web Central

e‑NABLE Web Central is a web-based application used to connect individuals seeking to receive e‑NABLE devices with volunteers offering to make them. Visit e‑NABLE Web Central and create an account for yourself.

Be sure to select the “Fabricator” and/or “Device Assembler” roles during the registration process (or you can select them from the Edit Profile screen), or you won’t be able to see the volunteering related pages within e‑NABLE Web Central.

Go to the Volunteering Home page and click on “Browse Available Cases” to see a list of device requests where you can offer to help. Find a case that is requesting a device type you have been authorized for, then click on “Offer to Help” in the Case Details screen to get involved.

Step 8: Join e‑NABLE’s Google+ community

e‑NABLE’s Google+ community is a good place to ask questions if you need further assistance. 

Step 9: Join a local e‑NABLE chapter – or start a new one

A list of e‑NABLE chapters can be found here. Feel free to reach out to nearby chapters to see how you can get involved with them. You can also start a new chapter in your area.

 

Tutorial: Build a Customized Bose Bluetooth Speaker with 3D Printed Side Panels

Looking for a fun 3D printing project, or a nice gift for someone special? Bose offers a “BoseBuild” speaker cube that you can build yourself. And you can 3D print your own custom side-panels for it in whatever design you like.

At $149, the BoseBuild speaker cube isn’t exactly cheap (but it is a Bose speaker, after all). You can purchase the kit here.

Once you receive the kit, you can download the BOSEbuild Sound app for your smartphone. This contains a guided tutorial for assembling the speaker. The kit includes plain side-panels, as well as cut-out templates you can place over the panels to create interesting lighting effects (the speaker has multi-colored LED lights inside and can light up different colors in response to your music).

But to really customize your speaker, you’ll want to 3D print your own side-panels. 

Start by downloading the STL file for the side panels here. You can also download an STL file for the clips that hold the panels in place here.

Now, it’s time to customize the side panels! There are lots of ways of doing this, but here’s the approach I used:

Using Selva3D, you can transform any 2D image into a 3D STL file. I used this to convert our 3D Universe logo into a printable STL. Make sure to set the height of the STL file to a high enough value that it will extend all the way through the speaker side panel.

I found that the STL file for the side panels from Thingiverse had some odd artifacts in it when I tried to edit it in TinkerCAD, so I ran it through the MakePrintable STL repair service. The resulting file was clean but rather large, so I used NetFabb (free license for students here) to reduce the number of triangles in the STL file by a little over half. This reduced it to a file of about 5MB – small enough for TinkerCAD to handle without much trouble.

Next, open TinkerCAD, create a new design, and import the optimized speaker side panel STL file:

Then import the STL file of your custom design (created using Selva3D) and position it on the panel:

Now, select the object you just imported and use the upwards pointing arrow to raise the object above the workplane by 1mm. This way, the design will be cut into the speaker panel, but won’t go all the way through it.

Then, change the object from “Solid” to “Hole” in the Shape window.

Next, select both objects (CTRL-A on Windows or CMD-A on Mac) and click the Group button. This will result in our customized speaker panel!

Click Export to download the new STL file, and you’re ready to start 3D printing!

The BoseBuild speaker has internal lighting, so you’ll want to use a transparent filament for the optimal effect. I used Ultimaker CPE+ Transparent, but you could also use Polycarbonate, Nylon, or some other transparent material.

Now just clip the new speaker panel(s) in place using either the clips that came with the kit or your own 3D printed clips (in your choice of colors).

Now you’re ready to play some music!

Introducing e-NABLE Web Central – A New Matching App for e-NABLE


We’re pleased to introduce the first release of the 
e-NABLE Web Central app!

3D Universe has been working for the last two months on an eagerly anticipated and very much needed “Matching” app solution for the global e-NABLE Community. While we still have another 2-3 months of full-time work to put in on this project, we have released the first version in hopes of getting things started, getting some feedback on bugs that you might encounter and to start seeing how this app will change the way the e-NABLE Community can better serve recipients and others in need of a “helping hand.”

If you are seeking an e-NABLE device or looking to make one for someone who needs one, this application is for you!

e-NABLE Web Central (EWC) can be accessed from any web browser, including mobile devices. You can login using your existing Google account, or you can create an account using an email address and password.

EWC leverages Credly Badges to determine which volunteers are authorized to make each type of device, so if you’re a volunteer, please setup your Credly account and claim the appropriate badges in order to take full advantage of the application.

This is only the first release of an application that will continue to evolve to address the community’s needs. This first version includes all the basic functionality needed for individuals to submit device requests and for volunteers to assist in making those devices. The following are the specific features and capabilities included in this release:

  • Login with email/password or Google Authentication
  • Registration process
  • Profile editor
  • Privacy controls (ability to choose which info to share)
  • Address verification using Google Maps API
  • Ability to create a new Device Request (Case)
  • Ability to edit Case details
  • Device Requests home page (to monitor the status of your device requests)
  • Volunteering home page (to monitor the status of the Cases you’re helping with)
  • Ability to browse available Cases (including map showing locations)
  • Ability to filter Cases when browsing (i.e show only cases without a specific role filled, show only Cases in the current map view, or show only Cases with device types you’re approved for)
  • Volunteers can offer to help on a case (in one or more roles)
  • Credly badge integration (determines which volunteers can offer help on each Case, according to device type being made)
  • Users can accept/decline volunteer help offers
  • Volunteer acting as expert on a Case can make a recommendation for device type and scale
  • Users can accept an expert’s recommendation or provide feedback and request a new recommendation
  • Volunteers can create a new device for a Case and provide details and photos of the device
  • Messages can be exchanged within a Case (Messages are visible to all Case participants)
  • Contact, What’s New and Documentation pages added
  • Placeholder pages for Matching, Chapters and Events
  • Ability to translate the application into various languages using the Google Translate widget

Getting Started

Here’s a video walkthrough for e-NABLE Web Central to help you get started using the application:

When you create a new login for e-NABLE Web Central (EWC), you will be guided through the registration process. During this process, you can indicate whether you are seeking help, offering to help, or both. This will determine the types of functions you can access within EWC. Everyone has a “Device Requests” page, which will serve as your home page in EWC. Here, you can request a new device and monitor the status of your active device requests.

Once you are finished with the registration process, you should go to the Profile Editor page to verify your address and setup your information sharing preferences. You can also upload a profile photo (optional). Any device requests you create will not be visible to volunteers until your address has been verified.

If you are looking to receive an e-NABLE device, your next step is to create a new Device Request. This can be done during the initial registration process or by clicking on the “New Request” button on the Device Requests page.

Once you have created a device request, you need to upload **sizing photos before e-NABLE volunteers will be able to get started. Click on the Case ID on the Device Requests page to go to the Case Details screen. From there, you can click on Add Photo (and optionally, Add Video) to upload your sizing photos and videos.

**In order to get a proper fit for devices and to ensure that the sizing is correct, it is imperative that you take images that are at the correct angle and orientation and in a high enough resolution with good lighting. Please make sure to watch the “Taking Recipient Photos For e-NABLE” video before taking images to submit.

Once you are finished uploading sizing photos/videos, click on the “Ready for Expert Review” button. This will make your case available to e-NABLE volunteers who can then choose to assist with your device request.

 

Important Note for Volunteers

If you are a volunteer, please note that you will not see the Volunteering home page in the menu (where you can browse device requests submitted by others) unless you have selected the “Fabricator” and/or “Device Assembler” roles during registration. You can edit your selected volunteer roles by going to the profile editor:

 

After clicking Edit Profile, you can select the appropriate volunteer roles:

 

Understanding Roles

EWC provides a range of different functionality and is intended to support different types of users. The roles you’re assigned will determine which parts of the EWC application are accessible.

User: A User is the most basic role in EWC. Anyone using the application is considered a User. In some cases, a User may be a device recipient or a family member requesting a device for someone else. In other cases, a User may be a volunteer. All Users have access to the Device Requests screen, where you can create a new Device Request. In some cases, the User requesting a device may be a volunteer who will then work with the device recipient to ensure proper fitting and testing. For example, an e-NABLE volunteer working as part of an e-NABLE chapter could create a number of different Device Requests for different recipients. So the User does not always refer to the person receiving the device. It just refers to whoever created the Device Request on behalf of the recipient.

Fabricator: The Fabricator role is for those who wish to 3D print e-NABLE devices. This role will provide access to the Volunteering page, where you can browse available cases and offer to help. Note that you will only be able to offer to help on cases seeking device types for which you have the corresponding Credly badge (see “Credly Badges” below for more information). Once the fabricator has finished fabricating parts for a device, the parts will be sent to the Assembler. In most cases, the Fabricator and Assembler roles will be filled by the same volunteer, but not always.

Assembler: The Assembler role is for those who wish to assemble e-NABLE devices. This role will provide access to the Volunteering page, where you can browse available cases and offer to help. Note that you will only be able to offer to help on cases seeking device types for which you have the corresponding Credly badge (see “Credly Badges” below for more information). Once assembled, the Assembler will send the finished device to the end-user for testing and feedback.

Expert: The Expert role is for those who are familiar with a wide range of e-NABLE device designs and the proper methods for determining the correct sizing for those devices. Experts are responsible for reviewing the sizing photos/videos uploaded by Users and making recommendations for the e-NABLE device designs and scales that would be most appropriate for the recipient in question. Experts are also responsible for reviewing test devices submitted by other volunteers and deciding whether they should be approved for that device design.

Matcher: The Matcher role is for those who help to match e-NABLE volunteers with individuals who are seeking devices. The Matcher also monitors cases to ensure they are progressing and can intervene if needed to help move a case to completion.

Chapter Lead: A Chapter Lead is an individual who manages an e-NABLE chapter. Chapter Leads have access to a My Chapter page in EWC where they can approve/decline requests to join the chapter, match volunteers who are members of their chapter with individuals looking for devices, and monitor the status of cases within their chapter.

Other Roles: As development continues, additional roles will be added, as guided by the needs of the e-NABLE community.

 

Credly Badges

The Credly badge platform is used to determine which volunteers are authorized to make or assemble the various e-NABLE designs. Badges exist for each supported e-NABLE design. For each design, there is a Fabricator badge and an Assembler badge. So you can be approved for the fabrication and/or assembly of each different device design. This will determine which cases you are able to offer help on. If a particular case needs a, Unlimbited Phoenix design, but you don’t have the corresponding Credly badge, you will not be allowed to offer help for that case.

All volunteers can browse all cases, regardless of which badges are needed to actually get involved in those cases. This allows you to see which device types are being requested, so you can pursue the appropriate badges based on demand.

In the near future, you’ll be able to submit a new test device within the EWC application. After an expert reviews your submission, the appropriate Credly badges will be issued automatically. Until that functionality is added, you can submit Credly badge claims from the Credly website to obtain new badges. Be sure to claim the device-specific badges (for example, “Fabrication – Raptor Reloaded” or “Assembly – Unlimbited Phoenix”).

 

Managing Cases

Once a case is created, volunteers can make offers to help with that case. Each case needs three volunteer roles – Expert, Fabricator, and Assembler. In some cases, all three roles will be fulfilled by a single volunteer. In other cases, multiple volunteers will be involved in a single case. Each case moves through a series of steps, culminating in the recipient accepting a new e-NABLE device. As EWC is developed further, the user and volunteers will be guided through these steps, with status and next steps being described each step of the way. For now, the process is a little more manual, with the volunteers providing status updates and next steps via the Case Details screen.

New Case: When a new case is created, the first step is for the user to upload sizing photos/videos so the e-NABLE volunteers can determine the appropriate device type and scale for the recipient. Within the Case Details screen, the User can add photos/videos and then click the “Ready for Expert Review” button. Only after that is done will the case be available for volunteers to get involved.

Expert Recommendations: Once a User uploads sizing photos/videos, an e-NABLE expert needs to review those photos/videos and provide a recommendation for the best type of e-NABLE device and the scale required for the recipient. An expert may recommend more than one device type, along with guidance for the User. Once an expert recommendation has been made, the User needs to review the recommendation and either choose one of the proposed device designs, or provide additional feedback and request a new recommendation.

Volunteer Matching: Each case needs three volunteer roles to be filled: Expert, Fabricator, and Assembler. Experts can get involved in any cases and offer their recommendations based on the sizing photos/videos provided. Fabricators and Assemblers can offer to help on cases for which they have the appropriate Credly badges (depending on the device type being requested), but these offers need to be approved by the User. If a Fabricator wishes to offer help on a case that has not had an Expert review, the Fabricator will need to take on the Expert role, reviewing the sizing photos/videos and making a recommendation to the User for device type and scale.

Device Fabrication: Once a Fabricator match is approved by the User, that fabricator will begin fabricating the device according to the chosen device type and scale (which will appear on the Case Details page). The Fabricator can click the “Add Case Device” button within the Case Details page to add a record for the device being fabricated. The Fabricator will specify details about the device, such as device type, scale, colors, material being used, etc. When fabrication of the parts has been completed, the Fabricator can upload photos to the Device Details page. The parts will then be sent to the Assembler (unless the same volunteer is filling the Fabricator and Assembler roles).

Device Assembly: Once parts have been fabricated, the Assembler can assemble the e-NABLE device. Once assembly is completed, the Assembler can upload photos/videos of the completed device to the Device Details page. The device will then be shipped to the User.

Device Testing and Acceptance: Once the device is received, the User will work with the recipient to test the device and provide feedback about fit and function. The User can either accept the device and close the case, or the User can provide feedback and request a change.

Change Request: If a User requests a change, the Expert for that case will review the change request and determine the appropriate course of action. If a new device is needed (i.e. the device didn’t fit properly), then the Fabricator will be asked to start fabricating a new device. If the existing device can be used but requires adjustments to the assembly (i.e. adjusting tension of cords, etc.), the Assembler will be asked to make the appropriate adjustments.

 

Coming Soon

We have an exciting roadmap of features that will be added to EWC in the coming months. Here’s a summary of the features we’ll be adding soon:

Case Process Flow Improvements

  • Case Status and Next Step will be updated automatically by the application based on Case activities
  • Appropriate buttons will appear within Case Details screen to allow User/Volunteers to trigger next steps
  • Clearer indications of who needs to take the next step for a Case, and what that next step is
  • A Case “roadmap” to indicate where the Case is in the overall process
  • An activity history will be added to the Device Requests page and the Case Details page, making it easier to see what’s been done and what comes next

Available Devices Page

  • This page will provide a distributed inventory management system for unallocated e-NABLE devices
  • Volunteers can submit a device that is available for whoever needs it (along with photos/videos)
  • Users and volunteers can browse available devices and submit a request for an available device, with comments describing why it’s being requested
  • Volunteer who created the device can approve or decline any request

Sample Device Photos

  • Wherever a list of e-NABLE device designs appears (i.e. when creating a new device request), we’ll provide photos of each device type to make it easier for those not familiar with all of the designs

Email Notifications

  • Option to receive an email notification when a new device request is submitted within X miles of your address (for any device type you’re approved for)
  • Option to receive an email notification when you need to take the next step in a case you’re assigned to (or for a device request you created)

Test Device Submissions and Approvals

  • Volunteers can submit a device for approval (with photos/videos)
  • An expert can review the submission and decide whether the volunteer should be approved for fabrication and/or assembly of that design
  • If approved, the appropriate Credly badge(s) will be issued to the volunteer automatically

Volunteer matching

  • Matchers will be able to view all cases waiting for volunteer matches
  • An interactive map will show volunteers in proximity of each device request
  • Matchers will be able to propose matches between volunteers and users requesting devices
  • Matchers will be able to monitor case progress and intervene if cases aren’t progressing

Chapters page

  • Browse chapters (including an interactive map)
  • Request to join a chapter
  • Register a new chapter

My Chapter page (for chapter leaders)

  • Review and accept/decline requests to join the chapter
  • Propose matches for chapter members
  • See all active cases for chapter members and monitor case progress

Event management

  • Create a new event
  • Define device types and quantities needed
  • Volunteers can commit to making devices for the event
  • Track quantities needed/committed/received

Recipient feedback collection and reporting

  • Recipients can submit feedback about devices received
  • Recipients can rate the usefulness of devices received, with repeat ratings over different time periods
  • Reporting/charts for usefulness ratings over time for various device designs

Charts and statistics

  • Device deliveries over time
  • Average time for case completion
  • Device deliveries by chapter
  • Device deliveries by device type
  • Case status summary (number of cases in various stages)
  • Credly badge statistics

We are looking forward to seeing this app fill up with requests and volunteers eager to fulfill them!

Thank you to everyone that is helping to test this new system and thank you for your patience as we debug and get to work on making this the Matching App the community has been dreaming of all these years!

If you have any questions or suggestions for the application, please email us at support@3duniverse.org and we will do our best to assist.

Library Workshop – Creating a 3D Printing Time Lapse

I recently did a workshop with my local library, the Algonquin Area Public Library District. Working with a group of about a dozen 4th through 8th graders, we selected an object to 3D print and then created a time-lapse video of the project. This provided a great opportunity to introduce the kids to 3D printing in a fun and exciting way, and it also introduced them to a variety of video production skills.

This workshop was conducted in two parts. The first part took place on a Friday. The second part took place the following Monday.

First, I showed them about a dozen objects from Thingiverse.com and let them vote on which one to print. While they were at first very excited about some of the Pokémon characters available, they ended up voting for this fun marble machine, by Tulio:

We then proceeded to get the print job setup. Since we were using an Ultimaker 3 3D printer for this project, we used the Cura slicing software to prepare the print job. 

This model was printed in PLA filament at 0.2mm layer height. No supports were needed.

Once the print job was setup, we positioned a webcam on a tripod in front of the 3D printer. Using a program called EvoCam, we took a snapshot of the print job every 15 seconds.

After getting the print job started and verifying that the snapshots were saving properly, we adjourned for the day and allowed the print job to run. As configured, the print job took about 39 hours to complete.

When we returned on Monday, we had a very nice print waiting for us:

Using a program called Zeitraffer, we combined the many snapshots of the print job into a time lapse video. At 30 frames per second, we ended up with a video of a little over 5 minutes. This would later be adjusted in the video editing phase to produce a shorter video.

Next, I provided the kids with choices of music to accompany their time-lapse video, and they voted for an upbeat piece called “Club Rock” which you’ll hear in the final video.

Using Final Cut Pro X, I showed them how to assemble the various pieces to produce the final video. We used some title slides, the above screenshots of Thingiverse and Cura, then the time-lapse video, shortened to about 1 minute, and then we inserted some footage showing the kids assembling and testing the marble machine. After adding our chosen music and inserting transitions, we were ready to produce our video and publish it to YouTube!

The kids had a lot of fun with this workshop, as did I. If you’re looking to introduce kids to 3D printing in a fun and engaging way, I recommend a project like this. Too often, the things produced by 3D printers are just static objects. In this case, you end up with a fun marble machine with moving parts that the kids can actually play with.

The “marbles” we used in the marble machine are 9.5mm steel ball bearings, which you can purchase at your local hardware store.

Here’s the final video:

You can find the Marble Machine 3D printable model here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1385312

To learn more about the Algonquin Area Public Library District, please visit: http://www.aapld.org

MiniMaker Software Lets Kids (or Adults) Easily Create 3D Printable Action Figures

We recently had the opportunity to try out MiniMaker, a new software program from Digimania. MiniMaker makes it easy to create 3D printable action figures with just a few mouse clicks.

productsheet01

MiniMaker is fun and easy to use. It’s a great tool for introducing kids to 3D printing because it makes it easy for them to create action figures that are completely customized to their liking.

Each aspect of the figure can be customized, including:

  • Hairstyle / hat / helmet
  • Facial expression
  • Glasses
  • Clothing (upper body)
  • Clothing and shoes (lower body)
  • Accessory being held
  • Platform type
  • Positioning of figure

muvizu_minimaker

All of these options can be controlled with simple mouse clicks and drags. Positioning can be controlled with a simple slider, or by rotating individual control points in any direction.

muvizu_minimaker2

Once the figure has been customized to your liking, you can generate a 3D printable .OBJ file with a single click.

muvizu_minimaker3

For only $49.99, you get two versions of the software – one for creating boy figures and another for creating girls.

The resulting action figures require supports for 3D printing. While traditional supports can be used, this software really excels when paired with a dual extrusion 3D printer, like the Ultimaker 3. With the ability to use water-soluble PVA supports, you can produce nice, clean prints, like these:

img_2001

img_2011

Check out our video demo to see the software in action:

 

To purchase the MiniMaker software, please visit: https://shop3duniverse.com/products/minimaker-software

To learn more about the Ultimaker 3, please visit: http://www.3duniverse.org/2016/10/18/introducing-the-ultimaker-3-and-ultimaker-3-extended/ 

Introducing the Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker 3 Extended

Today, Ultimaker launches their new Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker 3 Extended desktop 3D printers. Some of the key new features are as follows:

1. Dual extrusion → Ultimaker has introduced an ingenious new method for producing clean dual extrusion prints. A mechanical switch lifts one extruder so that it’s out of the way when the other extruder is printing. This opens up a wide range of possibilities for printing complex geometries using PVA water soluble filament, as well as dual color printing capabilities.

2. Swappable print cores → With the Ultimaker 2+ there used to be only swappable nozzles. With the Ultimaker 3, the user can now replace the entire print core to easily switch between materials in seconds.

3. Connectivity → The user can start prints through the network, update firmware and easily integrate with printer networking solutions.

4. Active bed leveling → The new Ultimaker 3 can compensate for minor bed leveling issues by automatically adjusting the amount of filament extruded for the first several layers in the appropriate parts of a printed object.

5. NFC (Near Field Communication) → There is a chip on the filament holder and a reader on the spool holder of the printer that identifies which material is being put on. Cura, the slicing software, adjusts the settings automatically to the best settings for this material.

6. Built in camera → The user can now watch your print through Cura when located on the same WIFI network.

7. USB → If the user does not want to start prints through the network, they can load gcode onto a USB stick and print from there.

Check out our video for a comprehensive tour of all the new features in the Ultimaker 3 and the new and improved Cura software!

You can purchase the Ultimaker 3 here: http://shop3duniverse.com/products/ultimaker-3

And you can purchase the Ultimaker 3 Extended here: http://shop3duniverse.com/products/ultimaker-3-extended

Upgrade Your Ultimaker 2 to an Ultimaker 2+

I recently installed Ultimaker’s Extrusion Upgrade Kit on my Ultimaker 2, upgrading it to an Ultimaker 2+. I couldn’t be happier with the results! It’s like a whole new 3D printer!

I’ve been using the Ultimaker 2 for a couple of years now, and I was very happy with the printer overall. Out of all the desktop 3D printers I’ve tested, the Ultimaker 2 stood out as one of the best available. However, I occasionally would run into issues with the feeder mechanism. Sometimes, the filament would slip or the feeder would grind into the filament. This would sometimes lead to failed prints. I noticed this problem especially on prints with heavy retractions.

As an example, check out the photo below. I tried printing this on my Ultimaker 2, before installing the upgrade kit, and the print failed about half-way through. When it got to the part with all those small arches, it had too many retractions for the printer to handle. The filament was ground down by the feeder mechanism, leading to an “air print”.

After installing the Extrusion Upgrade Kit, this was the first print I tried, and it worked flawlessly! Since then, I’ve printed all sorts of things, with almost no failed prints. The difference the upgrade kit made is very noticeable.

Castle Printed on the Ultimaker 2+

The Ultimaker Extrusion Upgrade Kit retails for $395 in the USA, and each kit includes the following:

  • Fully assembled print head
  • Swappable nozzles aka Olsson Block (includes 0.25mm, 0.4mm, 0.6mm, and 0.8mm nozzles)
  • Geared feeder motor
  • Geared feeder
  • Print head shafts
  • Ultimaker calibration card
  • Filament reel holder
  • Axis tools
  • Build plate clamps
  • New ‘+’ stickers

Ultimaker Extrusion Upgrade Kit

Detailed installation instructions can be found here: https://ultimaker.com/en/resources/19641-installing-the-extrusion-upgrade-kit

Just follow the instructions, and you’ll be finished with your upgrade in about an hour.

If you have an Ultimaker 2 or Ultimaker 2 Extended, I strongly encourage you to consider the Ultimaker Extrusion Upgrade Kit! It’s like having a completely new printer!

Buy your Ultimaker Extrusion Upgrade Kit here:

Ultimaker Extrusion Upgrade Kit

 

The Best Tools for Monitoring Your 3D Prints are Your Own Eyes and Ears

man-wearing-glasses

I like to monitor my 3D prints closely. You can learn so much by just watching and listening to a 3D printer in action. The more closely you look and listen, the more you’ll see and hear!

For example, watching is especially important for the first layer of a print. I watch the first layer carefully to make sure the bed is perfectly leveled and the extruded plastic is being pressed flat into the build plate. I watch to ensure there’s good adhesion to the build plate, especially at the edges of the print. If any of the edges are lifting off the build plate, it’s likely to get worse and lift more as the print proceeds. This is especially true with ABS prints.

Here’s an excellent guide for visually troubleshooting issues with 3D prints. This is written for the Ultimaker 2 specifically, but much of the information is also applicable to other desktop 3D printers.

So there’s a lot we can see by watching carefully. But there’s also a lot we can “see” from careful listening! After watching the first layer, I find that I can detect some of the most common print issues by sound more readily than by sight. Each printer has a very distinct sound that it makes when everything is working properly. It’s important to become very familiar with that sound, so you can detect even the slightest variations from that.

Probably the most common example would be a sort of clicking sound that can start to occur when there are problems feeding the filament. This can be caused by a filament jam, or when the printer is being asked to extrude material faster than it can be melted and pushed out of the nozzle.  Catching this kind of issue quickly can mean the difference between a good print and a failed print, since you can pause the print job to reload the filament, or adjust flow settings, before it causes any serious problems.

If you start to hear a squeaking sound as the extruder moves around, that can indicate that it’s time to apply some lubricant to the appropriate parts of the printer, which varies by printer type.

If your extruder is instructed to move somewhere beyond the X/Y boundaries of the print bed, it can result in a loud grinding noise as the belts slip when the extruder reaches the limit of its range of movement.

These are just a few examples, but the basic idea is the same… Become very familiar with the way your printer looks and sounds when it’s working properly, and it will become much easier to identify exactly what’s going on when something does inevitably go wrong.

 

 

Interview with Josh Goldstein, Founder of Parametrix

I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Josh Goldstein, founder of Parametrix. Josh comes from an architectural design background but is in the process of building a new business around 3D printing, utilizing his design expertise in new and creative ways. Like many others, Josh is finding new opportunities thanks to the empowering capabilities of desktop 3D printers. In getting to know Josh’s work, I became fascinated with the benefits of having a strong design skill set combined with a solid understanding of 3D printers and their capabilities. He has learned to design not only for aesthetics and functionality, but also for ease of 3D printing.

Can you please tell our audience a little about your background?

I’m a wannabe inventor from Denver, Colorado. In my youth, I spent much of my free time making robots. First out of cardboard, and later out of consumer electronics (VCRs, computers, stereos, toys). My dad even made business cards for me so I could impress my elementary school friends. “If we don’t have it, we’ll invent it” the business cards said.

After I was done electrocuting myself with the robots, I got into architectural design. I saw the demolition of a well-known Denver property and became interested in the life and death of buildings. which I saw as larger-than-life machines. I taught myself how to use digital modeling software and landed an internship with a retail developer in high school. I worked on the construction and design of a $300 million urban development project near Denver for two years before going to college.

I went to Kansas State University for my Master of Architecture degree. It’s one of the top architectural design schools in the country. It was there I learned to take 3D modeling and design to the next level – by using parametric inputs and algorithms to “script” a design
into creation, whether that be a08 18 Parametrix logo stacked_forweb-01 building, a piece of furniture, or a product. This ability to rapidly generate designs and patterns was what inspired the creation of my side project, Parametrix.

 

What inspired you to get involved with 3D printing?

3D printing brought out the inventor in me. Since I already had the skills to draw and script complex 3D designs, the ability to physically create the designs in my own home was the next logical step. I decided it was a worthwhile investment to buy a FlashForge Creator almost a year ago. It’s been simultaneously exhilarating and maddening. I have been able to design and fabricate useful and beautiful products with a foundation in architectural design, all while learning the capabilities and limitations of this new home production technology.

Besides being fun, I saw the ability to design and produce products at home as an opportunity to launch a small business, something I’ve always wanted to do. Select Parametrix products are now available at I Heart Denver, a mecca for local Denver art and design. 3D printing has enabled me to follow a dream.

What are some of your favorite 3D printed designs? Please share some photos, and tell us a little about each one.

With Parametrix, I’ve experimented with shapes and patterns to create unique and innovative home products. The ability to use parametric scripting means these designs are all based in mathematics and can be changed and adjusted in seconds, and 3D printed again.

IMG_6424_edited IMG_6405_editThe Parametrix Pen Holder is the first product that seemed worthy of retail sale. The original faceted version was the one that caught the eye of I Heart Denver, and allowed me to produce more products for the store. The faceted version has since been joined by the wireframe version, which takes its inspiration from Colorado Native American arrowheads and is designed specifically to print cleanly using FDM manufacturing processes.

final mountain range with plant whiteOf course, great product design isn’t simply about shapes and patterns. The Parametrix Planter is designed with a hidden drainage system. It hides the unsightly saucer behind the beautiful relief pattern and provides the plant with critical aeration. The Planter is a good example of high-quality design and function in one cohesive 3D-printed design.

IMG_6606_editedA final product worth mentioning is the Parametrix Denver Cityscape. Over 50 iconic buildings make up this beautifully-detailed 1:5280 scale model of Denver. An algorithm controls the rotation, scale, and placement of the buildings on the platform in order to maintain location accuracy but ensure visibility. On the bottom, I’ve included an engraved numbering system for each building which can be matched to a legend on our website, www. parametrix3d.com.

Now that you’ve learned 3D printing, how are you leveraging your combined skill-sets of professional design and 3D printing?

Screenshot 2014-09-21 12.30.02I’ve learned how critical it is to keep designs flexible with 3D printing. The ability to quickly adjust a dimension globally for a particular product using the scripts I create saves so much time over drawing and redrawing geometry manually. I’ve learned a lot about flexible design and scripting through the process, and I translate these skills as an architectural designer. Keeping in mind that tolerances and dimensions may change affects how I look at the design process of buildings, structures, and spaces. Being able to maintain an idea while satisfying real-world considerations and limitations is key to flexible and successful design.

Do you feel that 3D printing technology is creating new professional opportunities? Please explain.

Absolutely. I think 3D printing will spawn a whole host of new markets. For instance, if a 3D printer becomes a common household appliance, maybe we’ll see more brick & mortar printer demonstration and repair shops. I think we’ll continue to see individuals and small businesses innovate to create a better printer, better accessories, and better filament.

I also think we’ll see businesses dedicated to some of the by-products of home 3D printing. Filament waste is a significant issue, and maybe we’ll see new markets to capture some waste and turn it back into profit. For instance, we’re already seeing a movement to recycle filament at home with the right machinery. Recycling printed objects is a sticky issue itself, and we’ll likely see municipal recycling programs taking a stance and educating people about where and how to dispose of tricky plastics like PLA.

Do you have any future plans or projects you can tell us about?

Now that I’ve got several products that are print-ready, I can focus on new directions. I want to start looking into robotics and kinetic design. Using a 3D printer to fabricate structural frames, skins, and mechanical parts and combining them with servo and stepper motors could result in cool robots or machines. I want to come full circle and return to my inventing and robotics work, this time with a design degree and more experience.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

WP_20140817_002I have high hopes for 3D printing, but I also have been frustrated by its limitations. The FDM manufacturing process imposes illogical limitations on design. For instance, the script that controls the wireframe pen holder specifically aims to keep the angles on the pattern very high, otherwise the bottom edges of the design get messy as the molten filament tends to warp and expand if the angle of an overhang is too low. Depending on the intelligence of the slicing engine, the very movements of the print head while printing may result in poor-quality prints because the hot nozzle will pull corners up and distort edges. I look forward to a time when I can design anything, regardless of angles and overhangs, and print it accurately at home.

I also think 3D printing is unfortunately far from ready for the average consumer. I’ve had to do a fair bit of research, experimentation, and tweaking with varying results. Obviously this comes with the age of the technology, but I look forward to a time when 3D printing is truly as easy as plug and play. The good news is, we’re getting closer every day.

BONUS: Here’s a time lapse video of the Parametrix Denver Cityscape bring printed on a FlashForge Creator X 3D printer.

[youtube http://youtu.be/Df21PhWsOV8]

For more information and for links to download STL files visit, please visit Parametrix at http://www.parametrix3d.com/

Introducing The Raptor Hand by e-NABLE

I had the rare privilege recently to work with a team of amazing individuals to help design e-NABLE‘s latest model of 3D printable prosthetic hand, The Raptor.

Raptor-Hand

Ivan Owen, Peter Binkley, Frankie Flood, and Andreas Bastian did the 3D modeling work, while I provided project management and coordination, as well as 3D printing and testing of design iterations.

These guys are my heroes! I’ve been doing project management for over 20 years, but I’ve never witnessed a team work so effectively and efficiently as what I witnessed with this team. These guys started with a blank slate, designed original 3D models for all the parts of the Raptor Hand, including many iterations and improvements – and all within a period of less than one month, on top of working their full-time jobs!

The Raptor Hand was introduced in a big way at the recent Prosthetists Meet Printers conference with Johns Hopkins. Please check out Jen Owen’s terrific blog post describing that event – I can’t possibly describe it any better than she did.

The design this team came up with is truly elegant. A lot of thought was given to what worked best with previous designs, and where there were issues that could be improved upon.

The Raptor Hand is intended to bring together the best and most widely tested ideas from a year of crowd sourced innovation.
The objectives in designing the Raptor Hand were as follows:

  • To simplify fabrication and assembly and repair for makers and recipients alike
  • To provide a platform and reference design for future innovations, incremental and radical
  • To identify a core features set and standardized dimensions embodied in accessible 3D models with progressive licensing terms that will ensure widespread availability and future development.

e-NABLE’s prior “go to” designs included the Cyborg Beast, the Talon hand, the Ody hand and the Talon Beast. To these classics, the Raptor Hand by e-NABLE adds the following features:

  • Easier and quicker printing (no supports required)
  • Easier and quicker assembly (no Chicago Screws required, simplified cord installation)
  • An improved tensioning system (modular design, allowing for easier future development)
  • Improved documentation (in progress)

All of the parts needed for assembly can be found easily in most areas, but if you prefer to get everything in one place, 3D Universe offers kits with all of the assembly materials needed for producing a Raptor Hand.

Instructions

The Raptor Hand instruction manual is in the process of being developed. Until then, please refer to the following video tutorial for assembly instructions.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HVwC3RnWXk]

Printing instructions:

  • Print without supports (palm and gauntlet have some supports built into the model)
  • Scale all parts as needed (the Raptor Hand is designed to work at scales from 100% through 170%)
    • At 100%, the inside of the palm area measures 55mm
    • Measure across the widest part of the palm, then add 5mm for padding, then divide by 55 to get the scaling factor (for example, if the palm is 65mm wide, then 65 + 5 = 70, and 70 / 55 = 1.27 – so your scaling multiplier would be 1.27 or 127%)
  • PLA is recommended for this design
  • Suggested settings are 0.2mm layer height, 35% infill, 2 outlines
  • Refer to file names for part descriptions. The number in square brackets at the end of each file name indicates how many copies of that STL file need to be printed for a complete hand assembly.

Parts reference:

Raptor Hand Parts - Exploded View

If you have a 3D printer with a large enough build plate, you can print all of the parts for an entire Raptor Hand in one pass. Here’s a time-lapse showing the Raptor being printed in various colors.

STL files for printing a Raptor Hand can be downloaded from

Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:476403

YouMagine: https://www.youmagine.com/designs/the-raptor-hand-by-e-nable

Also, be sure to check out e-NABLE’s new Handomatic web application, which can create custom scaled STL files for you in just a few clicks so you don’t have to do the scaling yourself.

Taulman 3D Launches Kickstarter for Six New Filament Types

Looking to expand your 3D printing horizons beyond ABS and PLA? Then look no further… Taulman 3D has launched a Kickstarter campaign for SIX new specialty filaments.

These materials are already developed and community tested. The Kickstarter campaign is strictly to raise enough money to go to full-scale production.

3D Universe is proud to be one of Taulman 3D’s testers, so we were lucky enough to get our hands on samples of all these materials, and we were very impressed with the results and ease of printability.

Taulman3D-Toolbox

matrix

Tritan

Tritan is a new high tensile strength material.  Tensile Stress (PSI) of 6,600 lbs, Modulus (PSI) 53,000, E@B was 18.7% “When 3D Printed”.   The reports from testers continue to confirm that Tritan is the strongest material they have printed. To include bonding, bridging, non-stringing and extremely low warping.

Summary:

  • Glass clear
  • FDA approved raw material
  • Excellent bonding makes for shatter proof parts.
  • Prints at ~270C on clean glass heated to 85C

PCTPE (A Plasticized Copolyamide TPE)

     An extremely flexible yet durable and strong TPE and nylon based material.  PCTPE was designed to be both highly flexible, yet retain the durability of nylons.  Single perimeter parts can be wadded into a ball, yet are difficult to stretch out of shape.  With a lower printing temperature than our nylons, PCTPE easily prints on any 3D printer, as it requires only 225C – 230C. While extremely flexible, the nylon insures 1.75mm line is no problem for direct drive or bowdens feed systems. That determination was made by our testers, as every sample of PCTPE sent out was 1.75mm.

Summary:

  • Prints at 225C – 230C on glass w/PVA heated to 45C
  • Elongation @ Break = 370%+
  • Excellent bonding even at 0.3mm nozzle size

ARCbio PLA

ARCbio is a new high strength, crystal clear PLA, biodegradable material. ARCbio is a very new polymer developed specifically for it’s strength, clarity, and light transmission. The natural color of ARCbio is clear and Aspen Research has worked to develop a PLA the stays clear during thermal processing, thus eliminating the common “yellow tinge” seen in other PLAs. Unlike t-glase, ARCbio is more optically transmissive rather than reflective.

Summary:

  • Prints at 205C to 210C on clean glass/acrylic or warm bed with Kapton/Blue Painters tape
  • FDA approved raw material
  • Glass clear
  • Non-Yellowing

Tech-G

Tech-G is an extremely tough PETG polymer with full FDA approved raw polymer documentation and certification. Tech-G will be released as a technical “Fully Documented” material with the intent to provide Engineers, Design houses and Industry with a material that comes with hundreds of specifications as to strength, chemical resistance, worldwide certifications and technical data sheets. A simple scan of the QR code on our label will take you directly to our documentation site for Tech-G . You’ll be able to download all of the documentation provided from the chemical company and the St. Louis Test Labs. Working with one of the largest Chemical companies offering PETG variants, we have selected and tested the one chemical configuration that provides the best viscosity, lowest shrinkage and best bonding for 3D Printing.

Summary:

  • Fully FDA approved PETG polymer with extensive certifications and documentation
  • Low shrinkage and high bonding
  • Prints at 238C

Nylon 680 FDA

After almost a year of testing by users worldwide, nylon 680 FDA approved raw material polymer is ready for release. Nylon 680 is an extremely tough semi-transparent line with one of the highest impact ratings and least shrinkage of all of the taulman3D nylon materials. Nylon 680 FDA will have “traceability” via QR codes. Nylon 680 is currently under evaluation for CE Dental use.

Summary:

  • Print temperature is 245C
  • FDA approved raw material
  • Double Vacuum sealed

Bio-G

Bio-G is a new BPETG that has significant biodegradable features. When your design, idea or invention requires a biodegradable super tough polymer, one that you can count on to survive significant shock and resist harsh chemicals, Bio-G is there to support you. Bio-G is relatively new on the market and has gone through significant testing to meet several certifications. Like all taulman3D materials, you can count on printing huge pieces with no delamination.

Summary:

  • FDA approved raw material
  • Prints at ~238C on glass heated to 45C with a coat of PVA

 

 

A New Model for Rapid Progress

I’m an impatient person. I think that’s part of the reason why I’m enjoying 3D printing so much. It seems to be following an amplified version of the Moore’s Law trajectory. So why is that?

As I see it, this is due primarily to a combination of three factors. 1) open source licensing and the open source community, 2) Internet-driven collaboration, and 3) a widespread willingness to share the results of one’s labor freely.

It turns out, this is a very powerful combination! It’s the exact same combination of factors that has resulted in the e-NABLE volunteer community accomplishing so much in such a short period of time, with over 1350 members in just one year of existence.

Recently, Autodesk threw their significant weight into the ring, committing to a significant investment into that open source process by developing an entirely new open source hardware and software platform for 3D printing.

Internet collaboration technologies are empowering individuals everywhere to get directly involved in solving real-world problems and helping to move important technologies forward. This is something the larger companies are going to have to adapt to if they wish to survive in the long term. Companies will need to learn to leverage this model instead of trying to compete with it.

Like any well-managed company, 3D Universe has a clearly defined set of strategic objectives and targets. Unlike most companies, financial profit is NOT the top item on that list. Profit is one factor that plays into our decision-making, but social impact and alignment with our core principles carries more weight in our considerations.

I sure hope that idea continues to catch on. Companies can no longer afford to act or make decisions in isolation from the broader community. With continued population growth combined with Internet and computing technologies, everything has become too connected for that to work any longer.  It’s amazing how many companies still have profit as their number one objective without realizing how that leads to bad decision-making. When we focus too much on profit, at the exclusion of everything “outside” of the company, our view is way too narrow and disconnected from the broader reality of the situation.

We need to change our definition of success. Real success isn’t measured by a bank balance. It’s measured in terms of the impact we have on those around us. It’s measured in terms of our peace of mind when we go to bed at night and the enthusiasm with which we greet each day.

If we consider the model of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, we can view this shift as moving beyond the more basic physiological and safety needs, to focus more on matters of self-actualization (which can apply to companies as well as individuals).

maslow

Interestingly, it seems there is a growing number of people who share this view and therefore wish to do business with companies who operate on this basis. As a result, financial goals can easily be achieved, even without that being the primary focus.

There is a strong current rapidly developing through Internet-driven collaboration and sharing. Companies who try to fight against this current are going to lose. Those who learn to ride the current will find things progressing quite rapidly!

Beginner’s Guide to 3D Printing

There’s a reason why so many people from all walks of life are passionate about 3D printing: It’s a great hobby! Once you’ve learned how to print (and get good results) the whole process is a total hoot.

However, you’re going to encounter a number of teething issues and stumbling blocks along the way. So what can you do to bypass these hurdles and progress with your printing knowledge and skills?

There’s loads of information online about 3D printing, but much of it is aimed at those with existing knowledge and experience.

This can make getting started with 3D printing a challenging task indeed.

To help make your journey from 3D printing novice to expert as simple as possible, the crew at 3D Printer Plans have compiled a Beginner’s Guide to 3D Printing that will teach you everything you need to know to get started the right way.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll learn:

  • The history of 3D printing
  • Different printing processes (and their pros and cons)
  • How to pick your first 3D printer
  • What software you need to get started
  • Essential hardware and accessories
  • Maintenance and safety instructions

Hopefully you’ll find 3D Printer Plans’ guide useful – you can read their free guide to 3D printing here.

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 4

For background on this story, please see:


The science fair is over, but Sierra’s adventure continues! As you may recall, having finished her work for the science fair, Sierra still wanted to do more. At her request, I worked with e-NABLE to locate an 8-year old girl in need of a prosthetic hand. Sierra is now helping to build that device for this girl she’s never met!

Also, this is a new design, developed by several e-NABLE volunteers, made specifically for people who have a functional thumb but no fingers. So not only is Sierra making a new hand for another girl, but she’s also helping us to test this new design and is providing valuable feedback from the assembly and testing process.

Today, Sierra was going to be speaking to a large group of teachers in Vermont, as part of a “Make, Create, Learn” event focused on personalized education. Unfortunately, she came down with a bad cold and 102 degree fever yesterday, so she wasn’t able to make it to that event.

I had the honor of being a guest speaker for that event, so I got to talk to 50+ educators who are working to bring more personalized and experience-based education to our schools.

Kate Gagner, Sierra’s teacher, was also there, and had the following to say about Sierra’s project:

“I think Sierra said about 27 words the first six months of school – she’s very, very quiet. But this hand became the unofficial mascot of our classroom. She was a rock star. She had all of this intellectual and social capital because she had designed this project for herself, and it was so innovative and so cool and so engaging, that she just stole the show. It was really great to see.”

While she couldn’t make it to the Make, Create, Learn event, earlier tonight, Sierra was featured on her local news station, WCAX, in Vermont!  Check out this great video:

2014-07-15 02.20.19 am

http://www.wcax.com/story/26016030/monkton-girl-develops-prosthetic-hands


So let’s review…

Sierra came up with this project idea for exploring possibilities for 3D printed prosthetic devices (for people or animals). She went on to not only make a fully functional prosthetic device, with minimal assistance, but also make another device for someone who actually needs one! Along the way, she has been inspiring people all around her. Her classmates have been inspired. Her teacher and fellow educators have been inspired. I’ve been inspired. Today, that circle of impact broadened considerably, with 50+ other teachers being inspired by her work. Now they’re tweeting about it and sharing it with others.

Sierra is making a real impact that is already spreading far beyond her home town.

Would you like your kids (or your classroom) to be involved in a project like this? Send me an email or give me a call, and I’ll be happy to help you get started!

Email: jeremy (at) 3duniverse (dot) org
Phone: 800-689-4344


For more information about e-NABLE, please visit:

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started with the FlashForge Creator X

Here at 3D Universe, we’ve been using the FlashForge Creator and Creator X almost around the clock for months on end. We have been very impressed with what this printer can do, given the very reasonable price.

However, in getting started, we found the need to reference a variety of different information sources on the Internet and had to go through a good deal of trial and error to get everything working the way we wanted.

Now, after months of using the Creator and Creator X, we wanted to give something back to the 3D printing community, so we have prepared a new guide containing all of the information you’ll need to get started in one place.

This is our gift to you – free of charge. No need to fill out any forms or give us your email address.

Creator-X-Guide

Free download: The Unofficial FlashForge Creator X Manual

The official FlashForge manual isn’t bad, but it only covers the initial hardware setup and Replicator G software. Many users prefer to use other software options, of which there are many available. Our unofficial guide covers some of these other options, as well as the process for upgrading to the popular Sailfish firmware. We also show how to install and use a glass build plate and explain why you may (or may not) want to consider doing so.

In addition to the PDF version of the guide, we are also releasing a series of video tutorials that correspond to the topics in the PDF.

Been thinking about getting a 3D printer, but feeling hesitant because you’re not sure exactly what you’re getting into? Watch these videos, and you’ll know exactly what to expect!

For the entire playlist of videos, click here.

Part 1: Unboxing and Initial Hardware Setup
Part 2: Overview of Software Options
Part 3: Installing and Configuring Replicator G
Part 4: Installing and Configuring Slic3r
Part 5: Installing and Configuring MakerWare  (coming soon!)
Part 6: Installing and Configuring Simplify3D™ (coming soon!)
Part 7: Upgrading to Sailfish Firmware
Part 8: Installing a Glass Build Plate (coming soon!)

A note about FlashForge support:

Please refer to the official FlashForge manual included with your Creator X (on the SD card) before contacting FlashForge support. The FlashForge support team will not provide support for anything not covered in their official manual. FlashForge only provides support for their hardware and the Replicator G software.

For any questions related to other topics covered in this unofficial manual, 3D Universe customers are welcome to contact 3D Universe at support@3duniverse.org or 800-689-4344.

To purchase a FlashForge Creator X, please visit shop3duniverse.com.

1000 Volunteers, Making Free Prosthetic Limbs for Those Who Need Them

“Never underestimate that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

–  Margaret Mead [American Cultural Anthropologist]


Yesterday marked an important milestone for the e-NABLE volunteer community, as the 1000th member joined the group! 1000 people from all over the globe, all making 3D printed prosthetic devices FOR FREE for anyone who needs them. How amazing is that?

e-NABLE’s crowd-sourced, Internet-enabled global network of volunteer designers, technologists, and researchers designs and delivers 3D-printed assistive technology devices to underserved communities around the world. We have already advanced the state of the art in technology and in collaborative pro-social innovation. We believe we can globally scale and generalize our approach.

Upper limb differences accompany up to 1% of live births worldwide. Fingers, hands, and arms are also lost in accidents and armed conflicts.

Traditional prostheses cost tens of thousands of dollars, and insurance coverage in the developing world and for children who will outgrow them are rarely adequate. As a result, physiological, sociological, and psychological development can be impaired and human potential wasted. Our distributed manufacturing model provides local solutions that are inherently sustainable, replacing industrial manufacturing processes with in-place fabrication by end-users with locally-reproducible, recyclable materials.

In less than a year, e-NABLE has grown to over 1000 members, spread around the globe, focused on providing 3-D printed prosthetic hands free of charge to anyone who requests assistance. e-NABLE continues to grow rapidly, currently at a rate of about 20% monthly.

What originally started out as a couple of guys who created something to help one child in need…has grown into a worldwide movement of tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students, teachers and people who just want to make a difference.

They are coming together to create, innovate, re-design and give a “Helping hand” to those that need it – whether it is helping to print parts for them, creating a completed device for them or simply helping to guide them as they build one themselves.

There are people around the globe – 3d printing fingers and hands for children they will never meet, classes of high school students who are making hands for children in their local communities, a group of people that are risking their lives to get these devices onto people in 3rd World countries and new stories every day of parents working with their children to make a hand together.

Come see what it’s all about…

e-NABLE’s web site
e-NABLE’s Facebook page

Ready to volunteer? Just fill out this form to get started.

Looking to obtain a free prosthetic device? Fill out the same form, and someone from the e-NABLE Matching Team will help match you with an e-NABLE volunteer.

An Experiment: Using Dual Extrusion to 3D Print a Plastic Object with a Bronze Shell

I just ordered some of this new bronze filament. It is made up of 80% real powdered bronze. It prints on normal FDM type 3D printers, but after polishing, it looks like actual bronze, as you can see in the photo below.


http://www.3dprinterworld.com/article/bronze-age-colorfabb-bronzefill-3d-printing-material

It looks beautiful, and I can’t wait to try it, but I do have to say – it’s pretty expensive stuff! A 1.5kg spool of it, including DHL shipping to the USA from The Netherlands, was $130. I’ve calculated this to be about 11 times as expensive as an equivalent amount of ABS.

Here’s my math on that:
(Note: I’m not great at math, so let me know if you see anything I missed)


ABS Plastic Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 1.04 g/cm^3
Volume: 960 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $30
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 400 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.075 (7.5 cents)

PLA Plastic Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 1.25 g/cm^3
Volume: 800 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $30
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 330 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.091 (9.1 cents)

bronzeFill  Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 3.9 g/cm^3
Volume: 256 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $87
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 106 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.82

Based on weight, the bronzeFill is only 2.9 times more expensive than ABS. But because the bronzeFill is so dense, a 1kg spool only has about 106 meters of 1.75mm filament on it. So when it comes to how much you can actually print with it, you need to compare cost per meter. Based on that, we have a cost difference of about 11x.


A Bronze 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand??

I personally don’t mind the price if this stuff performs like I hope it will. I’ll just need to use it sparingly.

But I have a special purpose in mind. I know a young lady (in her 20’s) whose dream is to receive a metallic version of a Cyborg Beast 3D printed prosthetic hand (she was born without most of her fingers on one hand) and has always had self-confidence issues as a result.

Before coming across bronzeFill, I was looking at ways of 3D printing a Cyborg Beast in ABS and then applying some kind of metallic plating to that after printing to achieve the look she wants. Now, I’m thinking that maybe I can use my dual extruder FlashForge Creator X to print the shells of the parts in bronzeFill and print the infill and supports in PLA (plastic).

I use Simplify3D software, which is one of the few programs that makes this possible. I can choose which extruder to use for the outlines (the shells of each object), the infill, and the support.

I have no idea if this will work, but the bronzeFill seems to be based on a PLA material, so I’m guessing it’s going to be able to stick to the PLA in a dual-extruded print. Even if it doesn’t work, it’ll be a fun experiment!

While discussing the bronzeFill material, someone in the e-NABLE volunteer community recently asked how much it costs to print a Cyborg Beast (how much filament it takes), and how much it would cost if bronzeFill was used.

OK, let’s do some more math…


What does it cost to 3D print an entire Cyborg Beast prosthetic hand?

Assumptions:

  • Using 150% scale (for sizing the parts)
  • 30% infill
  • 10% support infill

ABS Plastic Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $3.12

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $1.98

Cost for an ABS Cyborg Beast print: $5.10
Total cost with assembly materials: $50.10

PLA Plastic Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $3.79

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $2.40

Cost for an PLA Cyborg Beast print: $6.19
Total cost with assembly materials: $51.19

bronzeFill Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $34.11

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $21.65

Total cost for a bronzeFill Cyborg Beast print: $55.76
Total cost with assembly materials: $100.76


As you can see, when we factor in the cost of assembly materials, we find that a hand printed entirely in bronzeFill would only cost twice as much as one printed in ABS. Not too bad…

However, a hand printed entirely in bronzeFill will weigh close to 1kg, which is way too heavy for a prosthetic hand. That’s what gave me this idea to try printing the shells in bronzeFill and the infill and support in PLA. I’m hoping this will result in a nice bronze outer shell, with the lighter weight PLA material filling in the inside of the parts. I’m guessing this should reduce the overall weight significantly (compared to an all bronzeFill print).

Hopefully, the bronzeFill will arrive soon, as I can’t wait to get started with the experiment! Regardless of the outcome, I’ll post again with the results, including photos and videos.

To purchase bronzeFill, please visit:
http://colorfabb.com/bronzefill

To purchase Simplify3D, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/products/simplify3d-software

To purchase the assembly materials for a Cyborg Beast, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/products/e-nable-hand-assembly-materials-kit-cyborg-beast-edition

Shopping with 3D Universe helps support our charitable work, making free 3D printed prosthetic limbs for as many people as we can.

For more information about the e-NABLE volunteer community, or to get involved, please visit:
http://enablingthefuture.org
https://www.facebook.com/enableorganization

Formlabs Introduces the Form 1+ 3D Printer

Formlabs made a big impact when they released their original Form 1 3D printer. Instead of using extruded filament, the Formlabs printers use lasers to cure a light-sensitive resin. The resulting print quality and ability to print complex geometries is very impressive.

Now, Formlabs is introducing the new and improved Form 1+, with 50% faster speed and improved durability. Along with the introduction of the new Form 1+, Formlabs produced a video that I have to say has the highest production values I’ve ever seen in a product overview:

2014-06-10 03.48.50 pm

For more information, please visit:
http://formlabs.com/

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 3

For background on this, please see:

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 1

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 2


Time for another update!

Sierra celebrated her 11th birthday yesterday. Happy birthday, Sierra! This is a big week for Sierra – her science fair is coming up this Thursday!

As I showed in Part 2, I sent some 3D printed parts and assembly materials to Sierra, and she was able to assemble a fully functional mechanical hand, with minimal assistance. As a nice surprise, Sierra’s mom recorded the whole assembly process as a time-lapse. I am therefore very pleased to share with you this wonderful video:

2014-06-09 11.29.32 pm

Isn’t it great? I especially love the ice-cream break!

Then, on Thursday, May 29th, I had the opportunity to do a Skype call with Sierra’s entire classroom (14 students). These kids asked the most amazing questions. So intelligent! We got to spend more than half an hour talking together about 3D printed hands, and 3D printing in general. We talked about where 3D printing is likely to be a few years from now, and how they might be using it.

2014-06-09 11.13.26 pm

This is the second “virtual field trip” I’ve had the opportunity to do so far. I previously did the same thing with a classroom in Massachusetts. It’s wonderful to see how kids respond to this technology. They listen attentively, they ask intelligent questions, and they seem genuinely interested in learning more.

The e-NABLE volunteer community is now beginning to formulate plans for helping more classrooms to get started with 3D printing, and to make 3D printed hands for people who need them in their local communities. There is so much talent and good-will within e-NABLE – I’m very excited to see what we’re able to come up with.

So on Thursday, Sierra goes to her science fair to present her work to the school and community. But even though she hasn’t finished that yet, Sierra has already volunteered to make another 3D printed hand for another child who actually needs one!

Another e-NABLE volunteer helped me to quickly identify an 8-year-old girl who doesn’t have most of her fingers on one hand. She does, however have a fully functional thumb. e-NABLE is currently testing a new design, specifically for people who have a functional thumb but need mechanical finger replacements.

I printed the parts out for this new design and have sent them to Sierra. She’s going to assemble and test the new hand. She’ll then provide some feedback about how the new design seems to work. When she’s finished, she’ll send it to me for a final check, and I’ll then send it to the 8-year-old girl who is awaiting her new hand.

Having done a similar assembly already, I can guarantee Sierra will be able to put this one together without issue. So we now have an 11-year-old girl making a new hand for an 8-year-old girl who lives 2,000 miles away from her – for free! And BOTH girls are very happy about it!

Here’s a photo of the new hand parts, unassembled:

IMG_1430


A note to Sierra:

Sierra,

Good luck with the science fair on Thursday! You’re going to do great! Of course, the outcome (if they even select “winners” at this science fair) doesn’t really matter. You’ve already achieved so much and inspired so many people!

I’m so proud of the work you’ve done, and especially the way you’re volunteering to help make a new hand for our new friend. To see someone your age who already understands how rewarding it is to do things like this for others is a wonderful thing!

Your friend,
Jeremy


Continue reading…

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 4


For more information about e-NABLE, please visit:

Using Simplify3D to Print an Entire Cyborg Beast Prosthetic Hand on a Single 6 x 9″ Build Plate �

I recently taught my wife how to setup 3D prints using Simplify3D. She’s a natural and was setting up her very first print job within 10 minutes, with me helping only with verbal pointers from time to time.

2014-06-09 10.48.15 pm

These days, most of what I print is prosthetic limbs, so I was teaching Alina how to setup a print job for a Cyborg Beast e-NABLE Hand. It’s a pretty advanced print job to start off with. For best results, the support material needs to be customized so it only goes in specific places, which Simplify3D allows you to do, as shown here.

As if this print job wasn’t challenging enough already, Alina proposed something really interesting. I normally print a Cyborg Beast in two print jobs – one for all the hand parts, and another for the “gauntlet” – the part that fits over the arm. As Alina was setting up her very first print job, she asked if we could just position the smaller parts underneath the bigger parts. We did a test, and it came out surprisingly well! Check out the video (10 minutes) here.

To make a 3D printed hand for someone who needs one, please visit:
http://www.facebook.com/enableorganization
http://enablingthefuture.org

To buy Simplify3D, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/products/simplify3d-software

To buy a FlashForge Creator X, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/collections/3d-printers/products/flashforge-creator-x

To buy a kit with the assembly materials you need to make your own Cyborg Beast 3D printed hand, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/collections/3d-printable-kits/products/e-nable-hand-assembly-materials-kit-cyborg-beast-edition

Introduction to Fused Filament Fabrication Design

Barbara Busatta and Dario Buzzini, designers based in NYC, have created a free instructional guide for creating 3D designs that look exceptionally good when printed with consumer-level 3D printers.

By recognizing the limitations of Fused Filament Fabrication (specifically, imperfections or unwanted textures in the surface finish), they came up with a brilliant approach for overcoming this issue. The objects you see above and below are exactly how they look, straight off the 3D printer. I know because I’ve tested them myself! These designs have been released as open source, so anyone can download and print them.

Use their simple and effective design technique, then swap filament colors during your print (pause print, change color, resume print), and you can achieve results like this:

To read about their design approach in detail, please visit Pirate3D’s Blog

To download the “Machine Series” as shown above, please visit Treasure Island

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 2

For background, see e-NABLing Sierra – Part 1.


I’m so impressed with Sierra! I sent her a bunch of 3D printed pieces and some assembly materials:

Sierra04

From there, she was able to assemble a fully-functional mechanical hand prosthesis.

Sierra05

And she’s TEN YEARS OLD.

Now, let’s look at the bigger picture here for a moment…

Sierra has already caught the attention of Ed Tech, who wants to interview her, and the science fair hasn’t even taken place yet.

Her classmates have been excited to hear stories of her work, so this Thursday, I’ll be doing a Skype call with her whole class to talk about 3D printing and the kind of work Sierra and I are doing.

And of course, stories and photos of her work are being shared on the Internet.

Now, think about the downstream effects of all this. Sierra is going to be reaching thousands of people – sending a strong message about how powerful this technology is. An affordable technology that allows a 10-year-old to do something that used to require a big company and millions of dollars in R&D and manufacturing costs is a really big deal, and Sierra is helping to spread the word. For that, I am truly grateful to her.


Continue reading…

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 3

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 4


For more information about e-NABLE, please visit:

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 1

I have a new project that I will share with you as it develops. I think it will serve as another great example of why 3D printing is so important for students and schools.

Sierra

Meet Sierra, a 10-year-old girl who is getting ready for a Science Fair and wants to show how 3D printers can help humans and animals who need limbs. I have volunteered to help her with her project.  I’ll send her some assembly materials kits so she can make her own 3D printed prosthetic hands. The photo above shows her first “Cyborg Beast” e-NABLE Hand printing with the help of a local 3D print shop.

Sierra’s mom described Sierra’s feelings about this project:

“She is so incredibly excited about this project. She goes to sleep talking about it and wakes up asking what we have to do next…”

“Her enthusiasm for this project has ignited interest in 3D printing in her classmates as well as her teacher. I’m sure her teacher would be interested in turning this into a class project (probably for next school year since we are winding down).”

Well, I’m excited too! I’ll speak with Sierra and her mom via Skype soon, and I hope to speak with her teacher as well. Maybe I can help Sierra’s teacher get a class project going and eventually maybe even a whole curriculum for 3D printing!

3D printing is an amazing technology, and children in particular seem to recognize the potential. I’ve seen my own son’s eyes light up when he realized he could have an idea and turn it into a physical object overnight. I’ve had other people bring their kids over to see our 3D printers and talk about how it works. Within minutes, these kids become engaged in a way we don’t see often enough these days.

We adults grew up in a world where companies make the products, and the rest of us are just consumers. Our children will grow up in a world where we are all co-creators. They seem to recognize this potential intuitively and get genuinely excited about it. Our educational system desperately needs something like 3D printing to provide a more practical education that can truly engage kids.

The power of 3D printing to engage is why I’ve been so excited to see students, teachers and schools getting involved in 3D printing, specifically in 3D printing prosthetic devices. Most schools with more than a couple thousand students are likely to have at least one student with an upper limb difference. Students in that school can work together to make a new hand for someone they know — and learn all about 3D printing along the way!

Here are some videos showing students involved with 3D printing. Notice how genuinely interested and engaged they seem:

Today, I received the following update from Sierra’s mom, Lianne:

“I just got back from an EdTech conference, and 3D printing was a VERY popular subject. Sierra has also attracted some big attention to her project, and it looks like some Ed Tech leaders in VT will interview her. The Keynote speaker described this exact kind of learning and how it needs to be more evident in schools if we are going to keep kids engaged. Very cool!”

Very cool, indeed!

I have two assembly kits ready to send to Sierra tomorrow:

IMG_7261

Each kit includes all of the assembly materials needed to make a 3D printed “Cyborg beast” e-NABLE Hand.

 


Continue reading…

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 2

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 3

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 4


 

For more information about e-NABLE, please visit:

KICKSTARTER JUST LAUNCHED! Strooder: A Consumer-Oriented Filament Extruder You’d be Proud to Have on Your Desktop

The KickStarter campaign for the Strooder just launched! Check it out here!

Anyone who spends a lot of time with 3D printing eventually starts to look at how to reduce the cost of filament. It’s the biggest ongoing cost of 3D printing by far, so it’s where we naturally look for savings. A typical spool of filament weighs 1kg and typically costs around $30-45 (USD) for ABS or PLA, the most common 3D printing materials. Costs vary for other kinds of materials, but most of them are more than ABS or PLA.

Once my wife saw all of my filament orders, she started asking if there was a way to make our own for a lower cost. I told her about filament extruders, which have been around for a while. She loved the idea, but when we looked at available options, we found that 1) everything currently available was either in a kit form, over-priced, or both. A kit would have been fine and could have been a fun project for us, but . . . 2) the available designs tend to look like something built from spare parts out of someone’s garage, and 3) the general consensus in online discussions seemed to be that it was difficult to obtain consistent results from available models and that it may end up being more hassle than it’s worth currently. So, I continued buying filament online.

Several months later, along came Strooder:

strooder

I had a chance to talk to the founders of the company behind this attractive device via Skype the other day. Greg Gruszecki and David Graves are two robotics engineers in Bristol, UK who joined forces and founded OmniDynamics. They started out working on an overall robotic system but they found themselves limited by the lack of materials available for prototyping. Strooder, therefore, became a vital stepping stone to enable the company to achieve those initial goals in the future, by enabling faster, lower cost prototypes and the use of more exotic materials.

They turned their attention towards developing a consumer-oriented filament extruder. As you can see from the above and below photos, design was an important consideration from day one. It was important that the final design be something people would want to have sitting on their desk, next to that fancy 3D printer. I’d say they hit the mark there:

Colors

Along with design, their focus was on being able to help lower overall filament costs and increase the range of material options available for consumer-level 3D printers.

The initial investment seems reasonable, especially compared to other existing options. The Strooder will have an early-bird Kickstarter price of about $250 (149 GBP) and a final retail price of about $420 (249 GBP).

OmniDynamics plans to sell ABS and PLA pellets for somewhere around 20% the normal cost of filament spools. They also plan to offer a variety of colors, and eventually additional materials, so that users can mix up custom colors and obtain specific physical properties by mixing different pellets in the hopper.

color_mixing

 

Aside from being cost effective, the Strooder is also environmentally friendly. I have bins of material left over from failed prints:

filament_bins

So now I’ll be able to cut up those failed prints (into pieces no larger than about 1 inch) and feed them into the Strooder to make new filament! Recycled prints can be combined with new pellets to help prevent the material from breaking down from too many repeated extrusions.

Of course, I haven’t had the opportunity to use one myself, but having spoken to Gruszecki and Graves, I can tell you this much: I intend to back their Kickstarter campaign. Here’s why:

  1. Having seen other similar Kickstarter campaigns, and knowing the demand for a solution like this, I have a feeling their campaign will succeed, so the risk seems fairly low to me, given the early-bird cost
  2. It comes fully assembled and ready to use
  3. It includes an easily-swappable nozzle for 1.75mm, 2.85mm, or 3mm filament
  4. It has an interactive onboard display so you can easily select what material and nozzle size you’re using, and the machine will determine all of the appropriate settings for you
  5. It’s designed with safety in mind (i.e. active protection against overheating, no exposed parts that could burn someone)
  6. Once their company has revenues coming in, they plan to develop and offer a filament spool winder, as well as a grinder for recycling failed prints, which, when combined with the Strooder, will provide a complete desktop filament production solution.

Their testing so far has yielded very consistent results. They claim you can load a full hopper of material, push the button, and walk away. I pointed out that, while that may be true, you would probably come back to find a tangled heap of filament on the ground. That’s when we started talking about their plans for the prints grinder and filament spool winder. They might end up offering those as part of a stretch goal for the Kickstarter campaign, but that hasn’t been determined yet.

In order to help ensure the highest quality results, the OmniDynamics team has been focusing their testing primarily on PLA, which is somewhat more challenging to extrude properly than ABS. Most other designers of filament extruders seem to focus more on ABS and sometimes have difficulties with PLA. Later, OmniDynamics plans to offer the ability to work with other materials in addition to ABS and PLA, such as HDPE, PP, and LDPE.

Strooder’s specifications are as follows:

  • Screen: 2.4inch, 340 * 220 Pixels
  • Hopper Volume: 1 litre
  • Pre-set Material Options: PLA & ABS
  • Extrusion Rate: 0.7m – 1.5m/minute
  • Extrusion Temperature: up to 250°C
  • Enclosure Size: Height 225mm, Width 165, Depth 285mm
  • Feed Screw Speed: up to 10RPM
  • Input Power: 115VAC and 220VAC
  • Power Draw: ~200W
  • Filament Diameters: 1.75mm, 2.85mm, & 3mm
  • Filament Tolerance: (+ .1/ – .1mm)
  • Pellet Sample: 100g

For more information, please visit: http://www.omnidynamics.co.uk/

The KickStarter campaign for the Strooder just launched! Check it out here!

Autodesk Makes Two Big Announcements That May Help Move 3D Printing Forward

Autodesk just announced two things that could be significant for 3D printing:

  1. An open software platform for 3D printing called Spark. This platform will make it more reliable yet simpler to print 3D models and easier to control how that model is actually printed.
  2. Their own 3D printer that will serve as a “reference implementation for Spark. Autodesk President and CEO Carl Bass says this printer “will demonstrate the power of the Spark platform and set a new benchmark for the 3D printing user experience.”

Autodesk has already supported the 3D printing community in a major way, especially when it comes to students and educators. They have also actively supported the e-NABLE community and other sources of crowd-based innovation. This announcement further demonstrates their commitment to contribute to an important technology already having a very positive impact around the world.

Regarding licensing for their new software and hardware, Autodesk says:

Spark will be open and freely licensable to hardware manufacturers and others who are interested. Same for our 3D printer – the design of the printer will be made publicly available to allow for further development and experimentation. The printer will be able to use a broad range of materials, made by us and by others, and we look forward to lots of exploration into new materials.

Spark’s open licensing could have a significant impact. Think about how far 3D printing has come in recent years.  This growth and development has primarily been the result of open source designs (for example, the RepRap), shared with the world, picked up by others, further developed, re-released, and so on.

Now, Autodesk, a company with significant financial and personnel assets, will give that very active global community an open software and hardware platform.  This offering will provide an opportunity to address many of the common complaints with the current state of 3D printing.

The details on Autodesk’s new software and hardware platforms are scarce for now, but Autodesk says both be available later this year.

The printer sure looks pretty, but I’m actually more interested in the software side of Autodesk’s announcement. The whole 3D printing workflow could be significantly improved with 1) better software and 2) moving away from the STL file format in favor of a format developed specifically with today’s (and tomorrow’s) 3D printers and materials in mind.

My experience with Autodesk’s software so far has shown me they know how to build applications that provide a smooth user experience.  I can think of no other company that knows 3D modeling and 3D file formats better than them.

I don’t know exactly what features their software and hardware will include, but I’m confident both will be of a high quality.  Since the software is open and hardware designs will be released, others will be free to build upon these offerings. I’m guessing it will further accelerate an already rapidly developing technology.

We’ve waited for the “big players” to get into 3D printing. HP and Epson are still getting ready, and we know they’ll shake things up when they do.  Whatever they offer, though, it’s not likely to be shared or licensed freely. Autodesk is making a significant contribution here.

If you’d like to sign up to be notified as more information becomes available from Autodesk, please visit here.

Jose Delgado, Jr. Compares His $50 3D-Printed Hand to His $42,000 Myoelectric Prosthesis

I would like to share a story with you about the power of 3D printing technology to transform lives.

I recently had the opportunity to work with a great guy named Jose Delgado, Jr., a 53-year old who was born without most of his left hand.  Jose found his way to me and asked if I could help make a 3D printed prosthesis for him.

Jose has used multiple types of prosthetic devices over many years, including a myoelectric version that uses the muscle signals in his forearm to trigger closing or opening the fingers. The cost of this myoelectric device was $42,000.  Only a portion of that was paid by insurance and the rest by Jose.  The cost makes it an unaffordable option for many in similar situations.

The total cost of materials for a 3D printed e-NABLE Hand is about $50.  This device (also referred to as the “Cyborg Beast”) is a completely mechanical design. There are a series of non-flexible cords running along the underside of each finger, connecting to a “tensioning block” on the top rear of the device (the “gauntlet”). Tension is caused by bending the wrist downward. With the wrist in its natural resting position, the fingers are extended with a natural inward curve. When the wrist is bent 20-30 degrees downward, the non-flexible cords are pulled, causing the fingers and thumb to bend inward. A second series of flexible cords run along the tops of the fingers, causing the fingers to return automatically when tension is released.

I was curious to see what sort of experience Jose would have with this mechanical hand design compared with his myoelectric device.  My expectations were limited, however.

Jose works in an environment that involves a lot of box lifting and moving.  I anticipated that the e-NABLE Hand, made of ABS plastic (same material as legos), might not hold up for long. To my surprise, however, Jose says it’s been doing very well.  He actually prefers it to his far more expensive myoelectric prosthesis!

Jose and I got together again today so I could fine-tune the tension on the “tendon” cords.  I asked Jose if he would be willing to talk with me on camera about his recent experience using the e-NABLE Hand and compare it to his experience with other prostheses.  As a result of using a number of different prosthetic devices over many years, Jose has a unique perspective.  He has extensive hands-on knowledge of what can or can’t be done in terms of day-to-day functionality.

Since the prosthetic devices Jose has used are completely different types, his statements do not represent an apples to apples comparison. The comparison here is simply in terms of how useful Jose has found each device to be on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s the video:

IMG_7169

And here’s a follow-up interview with Fox News: http://youtu.be/AymSI4GP_O4

 

It turns out, this simple, mechanical design provides Jose with more day-to-day functionality than his far more expensive myoelectric prosthesis.  If a part does break, I can easily print a new one for him in a matter of hours.

Now I am going to print another e-NABLE Hand for Jose using Bridge nylon, a material that is still lightweight but with significantly enhanced strength properties. I’ll also provide him with an alternate thumb mount to enable a different kind of grip. I look forward to getting his valuable feedback from those changes as well!

I believe that 3D printing is a transformational technology.  Jose’s experience is a great example of that.  3D printing completely changed the possibilities for one man, and at 1/10 of 1% of the cost of other devices, those possibilities are becoming more readily available to anyone, anywhere.

3D printers are coming down in price rapidly. As of today, a self-assembly kit starts at around a few hundred dollars.  A fully assembled “prosumer” level printer sells for $1000-$2000. In other words, this kind of technology is rapidly becoming very accessible.

When you combine that kind of technology with the collaborative power of the Internet, the inherent generosity of human beings, and a global open source community, truly remarkable things start to unfold.

The e-NABLE volunteer community is a great example of this. Less than a year after being formed, more than 650 volunteers have joined in to help provide inexpensive assistive technologies (such as 3D printed prosthetic hands) for underserved communities everywhere.

For more information about e-NABLE, or to join in, please visit https://www.facebook.com/enableorganization or http://enablingthefuture.org. Everyone is welcome. With or without a 3D printer, everyone has something valuable to contribute!

To download the model for this prosthesis, the e-NABLE Hand (aka the “Cyborg Beast”):

Review of Simplify3D All-in-One Software for 3D Printing

Simplify3D is designed to be a complete solution for 3D print preparation, and has features not found in other popular slicing programs. It also has a price tag of $140, with no evaluation version available, which makes many people hesitant to give it a shot.

To help with your buying decision, check out our four-part video review on YouTube:


Part 1 provides a 20 minute overview of what Simplify3D has to offer:

S3D1


Part 2 shows a specific use-case where the custom support features of Simplify3D prove to be especially useful:

2014-05-24 02.01.41 pm


Part 3 demonstrates how the visualization features of Simplify3D can be used to avoid failed prints:

2014-05-24 02.06.21 pm


Part 4 shows how Simplify3D customized support allows for “stacking” parts, positioning smaller parts underneath the overhanging portions of larger parts:

2014-06-15 11.35.17 am


 

Purchase Simplify3D now at shop3duniverse.com.

First Impressions of the Flashforge Creator X 3D Printer

I recently received the new Flashforge Creator X and figured I’d provide a side-by-side comparison with the original Flashforge Creator in this video review.

2014-03-30 06.51.03 pm

This video doesn’t focus so much on technical specifications, as those are readily available on the Internet. Instead, the focus here is on the differences between the Creator and the Creator X.

In summary:

  • Same technical specs – both have dual MK8 extruders, 6x9x6″ build area, and a heated build plate
  • The Creator X costs $100 more than the Creator ($1299 vs $1199)
  • Improved build plate, with 6.3mm thick aluminum to prevent warping and provide a level print surface
  • Aluminum frame for improved rigidity
  • Side panels for better results when printing with ABS (keeps the temperature higher within the build chamber)
  • New mounts for y-axis rods to improve stability
  • LED strip lighting mounted inside for improved visibility
  • Noise level seems to be about the same between the Creator and Creator X

Purchase the Creator X now at shop3duniverse.com.

 

A New Hand for Lily

This 8-year old girl named Lily is going to get a new left hand soon. I just finished printing it for her! There are photos below and a video showing the fully assembled prosthesis.

Lily is in 2nd grade, and she is now attending her third elementary school because other kids have relentlessly teased her about missing her left hand (and part of her left arm). Her current math teacher found out about 3D printed prosthetics on the Internet and shared a video with his class (including Lily), asking if she might like one. Now, she has more friends than she knows what to do with, and she hasn’t even gotten the prosthesis yet!

Historically, a customized prosthesis like this would cost anywhere from $10,000 to $80,000. The total cost of this one – less than $50 and some of my time! Start to finish, this took two days to 3D print and assemble. This is a perfect example of why people say that 3D printing is such a transformational technology.

If you have a 3D printer and would like to explore making prosthetics for those who need them, please visit e-Nable. Anyone can do this, as you can see in the assembly video I did recently.

About 1 in every 1000 children is born with a condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome, which results in missing fingers or other defects. And of course, there are our veterans and others who have lost fingers or limbs in the line of duty, on the job, from illness, etc. So please, get involved!

This prosthesis was printed in “Bridge” nylon, a new material from Taulman 3D. This filament has excellent strength properties, as well as being heat and chemical resistant. It has been formulated to address the challenges encountered when printing with other nylon filaments. For more information, visit http://taulman3d.com/index.html.

To download the model for this prosthesis, the Cyborg Beast:

IMG_6539

IMG_6543

IMG_6535

IMG_6538

IMG_6541

How to Assemble the “Tendon” Lines for the Cyborg Beast 3D Printed Prosthesis

After posting another video showing the overall assembly process for the Cyborg Beast 3D printed prosthesis, I was asked to show some details specifically for the process of installing the two types of cords used as tendons in this design.

So here’s Part 2 of Assembling the Cyborg Beast, showing a close-up view of how to install those tendon lines.

A big thanks to the great work of those who contributed to the Cyborg Beast prosthesis, including Jorge Zuniga, Frankie Flood, Ivan Owen, David Orgeman, and others in the e-Nable community.

For more information about the e-Nable community, please visit http://enablingthefuture.org.