Monthly Archives: Oktober 2013

The future of 3D printing and Robotics by our guest blogger Michael Overstreet

3d printing is becoming a very powerful tool for robot makers in the present and will become even more important tool in the future. Here are a few of my ideas that I have been dreaming about.

Iteration* with 3d printing is becoming a very powerful development tool in the field of robotics. People should not underestimate how powerful iteration is in the creation, prototyping and development of a robotics platform. It all comes down to the time savings you get from the printing step of a new part or an upgrade to an existing part. If you have your own printer or have quick access to one then your turn around time could be hours! Not days or weeks. This speed of evaluation and testing of a part becomes a very powerful tool in the creation, development and prototyping of a robot. It also was the potential to save you a lot of money too.

The robot i.materialise 3D printed for Autodesk

Everyday more and more hobbyist, researchers and makers of robots are getting access to 3d printing because of dropping prices and a lot more choices. A robot maker can send the 3D design to a service like i.materialise for the finished part to be made. This can help a robot maker save time and as they only send the tested and completed robot to be printed by a high quality commercial printer. So 3D printing of robot parts will help robotics in many ways.  It will decrease the cost of building a robot and it will decrease the cost and time to develop a robot design.

A 3D printed clone of the DARwin-OP.

The nature of what a kit is will also change. Kits in the future will be just the parts that you cannot print out like servos, control boards and electronic parts. This will save the manufacturer and buyer of the kit money.

3D printing will also make it easier to share and develop open platform robot designs. As anyone with a 3d printer can download a shared design and print it out.

Garada K7, a project by Mike de Coninck, 3D printed at i.materialise.

3D printers have the possibility to change every aspect of how we buy and make things in the future. Being able to print with high quality materials like  resins, stronger plastics or metals. High quality 3d printing will not be limited to a few people; everyone will have access to it.

As I look into the future I see unlimited possibilities as to how robotics and 3d printing can be used together. 3D printing in metals like titanium comes to mind or new plastics that are cheaper and stronger than metal. Robots making robots is another possibility. Which could be good or bad? The future that I must dream about is being like Tony Stark. Where I design a robot and then send it to my 3d printer or 3d printing service like i.materialise to build it, while I set back and watch.

*Iteration is a process in which a repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result.

Great Examples of 3d printed robot projects to follow:

Michael Overstreet is a real maker and robotics enthousiast, you can follow his robotic adventures on his blog.

Win a free ticket to the 3D Printshow in London 7-9 November!

We’re just under one week away from going to the 3D Printshow and we are excited to announce that we have 14 tickets to give away! If you’re living in the London area (or somewhere else, of course) and want to see all that the show has to offer, here’s your chance to win a ticket.

The tickets we have on offer are:

  • 9 x opening show day passes (Thursday 7th November)
  • 5 x three day passes (unlimited entry to all 3 x show days – 7/8/9th November)

Tell us why you’d love a chance to go to the 3D Printshow in London and whether this is your first time. And then, if you’d like, tell us what you most want to see.

So what about you? Want to go to the 3D Printshow to see some 3D printing magic? Write you comments below and who knows you win a free entry*!

You must be able to get to the 3D Printshow event under your own expense. We are giving away an entry tickets, and it doesn’t include transportation or accommodations.
*when we have more answers then tickets, we’ll pick winners at random.

Mr. Bones shows you around in our office on Halloween

Do you remember Mr. Bones? He was the guest star in our Halloween movie last month. Now that it’s Halloween he decided to join our HQ team for a day and show you around!

Before I give a tour, I need to convince our Marketing Manager Katrien that I'm the right man for the Halloween job.


Okay, let the tour begin! First stop: Dima's desk. He's one of our support engineers who follows up your 3D printing projects.

Dropping by at Bert's, our Product Designer. 'Can you make me a Mrs. Bones, please?'

Going downstairs to one of the many rooms full of 3D printers. 'Do I look good in this picture?'


Moving forward to the showroom. I like that bling bling material.

Just chillin' with my fellow polyamide friends.

This rubber-like ball is so much fun to play with!


Time for a nap at this 3D printed lounge chair 'Roots' by Kol/Mac . Wow, this thing is huge.


On my walk to another production area I bump on this cool car: the first 3D printed racecar (Areion by Formula Group T) in the world!


They're 3D printing some fellow polyamide friends: I like!


Printjob is done, let's dig them out from under the powder!


Ending my day in shipment. This box is going to the Maker Faire in Tokyo: maybe they won't notice me?

Mesmerising kinetic wind sculptures

Combining CAD and a plasma cutter with traditional hand techniques

Anthony Howe is a veteran sculptor whose mind never stops turning… and the same goes for his stunning works of art.

Conceived entirely in his head, the intricate patterns in Howe’s works are resolved using a series of CAD programs before being sent to his own plasma cutter where the components are all cut from sheet material.

The final shapes are hand formed and hand finished using traditional metalworking techniques. All this is achieved in his Eastsound, WA studio.

“I develop a design on computer because it allows me to animate it and see it moving…

…then when I’m making things by hand, my intuition and subconscious plays a lot into the final object.”

Click through to see a revealing video interview with The Creators Project, where Anthony talks through his methodology and explains a little more about the thinking behind these kinetic objects.  

These very 3D kinetic sculptures keep getting bigger and more spectacular, with a 30 foot behemoth that is said to be the ‘largest kinetic wind sculpture in the world’ heading down to blow a few minds at the next Burning Man event.

Even with the CAD process as a part of each sculpture’s development, you may wonder how he gets these giant moving objects just right. A part of it can be chalked up to decades of experience, and then there are unconventional test methodologies such as the following:

“…what will happen if the wind gets really strong. I try to overbuild my work. The best way to test it is to bolt one of the sculptures to a pickup and drive down the freeway.”

Will this change how you use the output from a plasma or laser cutter? Be further inspired by reading the full Creators Project interview, where you can also see more examples of Anthony’s extraordinary sculptures.

Anthony Howe via Laughing Squid

Something’s laser etched in stone

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #146

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

Above is laser etched granite from Amy Richards.

After the jump, pollen, skulls, adventure soot, and an Millypus…

Above is a laser cut lamp from David Sjunnesson seems to be an example of the Pollen Lamp.

Above are laser cut and etched acrylic sugar skull pendants from EcoMonstor.

Above is a great Not laser cut mash up of Adventure Time and the Studio Ghibli Soot Spirits from Supahcute.

Above is a laser cut and etched wood necklace from Supahcute.

Animated laser-engraved wood

The New America – is this the future of film making?

Two years in the making and consisting of over 800 individual laser etched wooden panels, The New America is an animation spectacular from film maker Nando Costa.

No stranger to the digital realm, Costa has created a unique bridge between the digitally produced physical object and the moving image. The largely abstract animation is pieced together from 8×4.5 inch panels of laser etched maple, resulting in an interesting visual effect as the wood grain changes from frame to frame.

The final production was made possible following a successful Kickstarter campaign, where contributors were rewarded with (amongst other things) actual panels from the film. Is The New America an insight into our future? Aside from any messages secreted within the animation itself, it certainly is interesting to see how laser cutting can be utilised in new ways. When reflecting on the process, Costa acknowledged that it was “a lot of hard work and stress” to bring The New America to life.

Click through to discover what the fuss is all about! See the clip after the break.

Although the campaign is long over, if you are a serious fan you can still purchase panels from The New America at Costa’s Etsy store.

via The Verge

What Etsy’s New Policy Means for Ponoko Customers

Early this month, Etsy released new guidelines for Etsy shops. The new policy officially welcomes shops that use outside/outsourced manufacturers — as long as they are first “approved”.

Etsy writes that “These new policies are crafted to support a diverse community of makers, designers and curators — from the solo artisan just starting out, to the full-time seller hiring staff, to the artist who partners with a manufacturer to bring her creations to life.”

The “artist who partners with a manufacturer” should apply for approval in order to sell on Etsy. This includes all Ponoko customers using our laser cutting service to help create their designs.

According to the new policy, “Digital prints and posters, music, books you’ve authored, and 3D printed items can be sold without review.” This means that Ponoko customers using our 3D printing service to create designs do *NOT* need approval.

I contacted the Etsy integrity team and asked some questions on behalf of Ponoko customers.

1. If I’m already selling on Etsy, do I still have to get approval?
In order to apply to work with outside manufacturing partners, you have to have registered to sell on Etsy. If the items you are already selling in your shop are made in part or fully by an outside manufacturing partner, then we’d like you to fill out the application. There are a few exemptions– types of items that do not need approval– but sellers who work with commercial laser cutters should apply.

2. What are the consequences if I do not apply for approval?
At this time there are no consequences for not applying. We did not want to throw our existing community out of compliance with these changes, so we are not forcing anyone to submit this application immediately. We also recognize the busy season approaching, and understand that our sellers have a lot to focus on to get their shops ready. Starting in 2014, we’ll be reaching out to sellers and encouraging them to apply.

3. How long does it take to review my approval application?
The review process takes about a week at this time. The Integrity team is very carefully pouring over applications. It is a time consuming process that we are being very attentive to. We hope to process applications more quickly in the future, but this is new for us too so we’re being extra-sensitive.

4. The review form is very detailed. Do you have any plans to create a list of pre-approved manufacturing partners?
We do not have any plans to pre-approve manufacturers, but we appreciate the suggestion and will keep it in mind as we make changes to the application process.

5. Is there a reason that 3D printing does not require approval?
The list of exemptions was extremely difficult to come to. We are discussing this internally at this time. I can’t give you a great answer to this at this time, but please know that we are working through this internally.

(For my own curiosity, I asked if digitally printed fabric (eg Spoonflower) was exempt like digitally printed art and books. The answer is no.)

I also contacted one of our customers who has already applied and received approval for her Etsy shop, and asked her to share experience. Jen runs Peppersprouts, a line of home decor and accessories. She has an Etsy shop in addition to selling on her own site as well as to wholesale buyers.

Jen wishes Etsy had waited until next year to roll out the new policy saying “It’s rather frustrating to have to jump through hoops while I am busy getting ready for the holiday rush and shopping season.” And although Etsy says they keep all manufacturer and process information private, she still finds it “a little unnerving to have to share with a site who my suppliers are, not knowing where that information is stored.”

It took just a few days to get approved, but the application process did take a full afternoon: “I had to answer questions about my business and about my manufacturing partners. Like have I been there in person, what certifications if any they have, and why I chose to work with them. I also had to provide a detailed process break down of one of my products and provide photos showing each step of the production process and how and what part I play in it.”

For more information on Etsy’s review process and how to apply for approval, visit Etsy’s page on Working with Manufacturers.

The patterns of laser cutting

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #145

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Make sure you join TLC’s Facebook page.

Above is a laser cut skateboard from Xercanaut.

After the jump, toys, steel, flowers, and sea creatures…

Above are laser cut mdf toys from Becky Hunt at The Design Hunt.

Above is laser cut Corten steel Conversation Garden from 2012 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show by designer Paal Grant – via

Above is a laser cut baroque invitation from Crystal Print.

Above is a laser cut screen print from Julia Mckenzie.

Umfrageergebnisse 2013 der 3D-Druck Community

Auch dieses Jahr wurde von Peerproduction der P2P-Stiftung wieder eine Umfrage unter der 3D-Druck-Community (Developers, early Adopters, End Users) durchgeführt. Die Ergebnisse wurden Anfang September 2013 publiziert.

Teilgenommen haben 344 Teilnehmer, die hauptsächlich aus Europa und Nordamerika kamen (über 90%). Die Umfrage hat folgende Zielgruppe angesprochen:

1) Personen, die selbst einen 3D-Drucker im Einsatz haben

2) Personen, die 3D-Drucker und Software im 3D-Druck Umfeld entwickeln

Die Ergebnisse der Umfrage repräsentieren vor allem Anwender im Einsteigersegment, die selbst im 3D-Druck Umfeld aktiv sind, d.h. selbst Inhalte in Social Media beisteuern oder Soft- und Hardware entwickeln. Die meisten der Teilnehmer geben Spass und das Lernen neuer Skills als die Hauptmotivation an.

Die Initianten der Umfrage sehen einen Trend zu einem reifer werdenden 3D-Druck-Ökosystem, das aus der Nische der Innovatoren, Geek und Bastler herauskommt. Zudem erwarten sie eine weitere Zunahme im Angebot von 3D- Druckern, 3D-Druck-Dienstleistern und im allgemeinen Interesse. Weitere neue Startups mit innovativen Geschäftsideen werden mit das Interesse am Thema hoch halten.

Einige der m.E. interessantesten Ergebnisse der Umfrage:

  • Dieses Jahr geben 25% weniger Teilnehmer an, Mitglieder eines FabLab, Hackerspaces oder ähnlicher Interessengruppen zu sein. Dies kann als Hinweis verstanden werden, dass 3D-Druck mehr Mainstream wird.
  • Consumer Drucker 2013 - Ergebnisse Umfrage Peerproduction 2013Meist verwendete Drucker im Consumer-Umfeld:
    1. RepRap basierte Drucker / Bausätze
    2. Makerbot Replicator (und Vorgänger)
    3. Ultimaker (Anmerkung: ist auch RepRap basiert und Open Source)
    4. Printrbot
    5. UP!
  • Gewünschte Features 3D-Druck - Umfrageergebnisse 2013Gewünschte Features für die Zukunft. Dies sind genau dieselben wie letztes Jahr:
    1. Mehr Qualität der gedruckten Teile (17%)
    2. Höhere Druckgeschwindigkeit (13%)
    3. Farbe, Multimaterial-Druck, billigere Materialpreise (je 12%)
  • Hauptprobleme / Engpässe von 3D-Druck:
    • Design Prozess: immer noch schwierig zu bedienende 3D-Design Software und die geringe Verfügbarkeit sowie Auffindbarkeit von guten 3D-Modellen
    • Hardware: geringe Zuverlässigkeit und Benutzerfreundlichkeit / Konfiguration 3D-Drucker
    • Produktion: Workflow schwierig, fehlendes Netzwerkmanagement von 3D-Druckern, mangelnde Qualität in der Dokumentation, zu geringe Druck-Geschwindigkeit, zu wenige Auswahl an verschiedenen Materialien (Flexibilität, physische Varianz, weniger die Auswahl an Farben)
    • Herausforderungen für 3D-Druck Geschäftsmodelle: Für Entrepreneure stellen Patente eine grosse Hürde dar, um z.B. mit neuer Hardware in den Markt einzudringen. Die in den letzten Jahren immens häufigen Übernahmen der beiden grössten Hersteller 3D Systems und Stratasys sind schon fast ein Duopol. Diese halten die wichtigsten Patente und reichen ständig neue Patente ein. Für den Endverbraucher betrachten die Teilnehmer der Umfrage diese Entwicklung langfristig eher negativ. Der Wettbewerb wird härter und Open Source Projekte wie RepRap ist dies auch eine grosse Herausforderung. Interessant ist der Hinweis, dass die teilweise von den Medien (Anmerkung 3DPrintingblog: aber auch von den Herstellern) geschürten übertriebenen Erwartungen nicht erfüllt werden können. Was geschrieben wird, entspricht oft nicht der Realität. Dies kann für die weitere Entwicklung von 3D-Druck kontraproduktiv sein. Plug & Play ist nach wie vor Wunschvorstellung.

Die kompletten Umfrageergebnisse Peerproduction 2013 sind frei verfügbar. Die Rohdaten können für eigene Auswertungen bezogen werden.

(Zusammenfassung der Ergebnisse der ersten Umfrage 2012)