3D Printed Pottery

Funny just the other day I was telling a woman, who likes to work in self-hardening clay, that 3D printers can use ceramics as a source material. Then I spot this new printer that extrudes what looks like potters clay.

I’m not convinced that a 3D printer that prints a bead of clay is in any way superior to traditional pottery tools and techniques. The usual argument supporting 3D printers, is the printer’s ability to produce shapes that were not physically possible with existing methods. I’d be very interested in seeing an example of an object printed with a soft bead of clay that couldn’t be also crafted with a coil of clay. The precision reproduction, of a given design, is certainly an attraction of 3D printing but for those that admire the craft of pottery such exactness might be seen as a bug not a feature.

There is a selection of four sizes of nozzles, the smallest being 3.5mm. The manufacturer Deltabots says they will make custom nozzles but I’m guessing that the consistency of a clay paste, soft enough to be extruded, is the limiting factor to the complexity of 3D printed clay objects.

Source: http://3dprint.com/43005/3d-potterbot-printer/

Deltabots site: http://www.deltabots.com/products/potterbot

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3D Printed Venus Sculpture

Kim Thoman is a Nebraskan artist who started as a painter but has moved on to become a mixed media 3D sculptor. Here current work is of color 3D printed sculptures on welded steel displays that she then surrounds with one of her paintings.

I was interested in the fact that she uses OffLoad Studios to do her 3D printing. Unfortunately their website doesn’t contain much useful information about their services (http://offloadstudios.com/).

“I learned more and more about 3D printing and discovered the Z printer. As a painter, none of the other 3D printers are of particular interest…as the full spectrum of color is paramount for me. Since I was already wrapping the Venus shape with my paintings for the diptychs and triptychs, it seemed an obvious evolution to 3D print the shape. I am in the process of making new Venus shapes, wrapping with new paintings and designing new welded steel structures to hold her.”

Source: http://3dprint.com/38897/emerging-venus-kim-thoman/

PLA-Based Filaments Blended With Composites

Filaments that have wood or metal blended with the plastic, have been available for some time (check this blog’s material category for some examples). At this year’s CES, MakerBot has announced their own version of these filaments. The new PLA-composite filaments types include limestone, maplewood, bronze and iron.

MakerBot’s market share should help expand the availability and use of these composite filaments. Perhaps more significantly, MakerBot has also developed so-called “Smart Extruders” which are tuned to each material type.

The news item at PSFK.com has some nice graphics to illustrate each composite material (cropped from MakerBot’s site):

Source: http://www.psfk.com/2015/01/3d-printing-materials-makerbot.html

Shapeways to Expand Into 3D Printer Networks?

Shapeways has launched an expansion of their Global Partner Network. The network of Shapeways users potentially has access to tens of thousands of 3D printers.

“What we’re really trying to do here is work with our community to figure out what is possible. Yes, there are others doing similar things but we just want to make sure we’re gathering and using the resources we have to benefit our entire community… Our goal has always been to make 3D printing accessible and affordable to everyone by bringing the best technology to market at the lowest cost,” explained Mansee Muzumdar, Public Relations Manager at Shapeways to 3DPrint.com “We have our own 3D printing factories in New York and Eindhoven for the majority of our production, and we also work with various production partners across the world to bring our community more materials at the lowest cost and fastest turnaround time. 3D printing is changing rapidly, with new materials being tested and introduced (including our own!), and we always want to give our community first access. With the Global Partner Network, we are exploring ways to expand our network of production partners so we can constantly improve our offering, including what materials we offer and how quickly we can deliver.”

Source: http://3dprint.com/36984/global-partner-network/

3D-printed Optical Illusions

John Edmark has created a series of 3D-printed sculptures based on the Fibonnaci sequence. If you spin the sculptures on a rotating base, in sequence with a strobe light, you get an illusion of movement. Mr. Edmark created the sculptures while the artist in residence for Instructables.

Source: http://www.dezeen.com/2015/01/19/3d-printed-blooming-zoetrope-sculptures-optical-illusions-fibonacci-sequence-john-edmark-instructables/

3D Printer That Uses Standard Office Paper AND Prints In Color

I was catching up on the 3D Printer News from CES 2015 and this product caught my attention: the Mcor IRIS – True 3D Color Printer from Mcor Technologies Ltd. of Ireland.

But you can also use paper, yes, the exact stuff you feed the laser printer, as a material. MCor Technologies essentially pulps standard white office paper, mixes it with a form of wood glue, and then uses it to build 3D objects. MCor boasts it is environmentally friendly – no plastics – and is able to blend in ink into the paper to provide high resolution, nuanced color on all sides of the object being built. An MCor object feels like wood and the detail is astonishing. But the “professional shop” printer lists at $50,000. Fortunately, paper is cheap and can easily be acquired by running to Staples or raiding the (laser) printer.

Mcor Tech claims that the on going cost of operating the paper based printer is one fifth of other 3D printers. Since the color is printed on the object you get a wide range of colors (million +). According to Mcor Tech: “No need to coat color models; even uncoated, the color is rich and vibrant and the models durable”.

They describe their printer as “Office Friendly” because it uses standard office paper and has a low noise level. A lot of people aren’t aware of the toxic fumes that many 3D printers give off. According to Mcor Tech the IRIS has no toxic fumes to vent, messy powders to vacuum or dust and no toxic waste (the materials used are all fully recyclable).

Here are a couple of 3D printed items to give you some idea about the build quality:

Source: http://www.techzone360.com/topics/techzone/articles/2015/01/09/396126-real-3d-printer-news-from-ces-2015.htm

Mcor IRIS specs: http://mcortechnologies.com/3d-printers/iris/

Mcor fine arts related image gallery: http://mcortechnologies.com/solutions/fine-arts/

Paralysed But Still Able to Sculpt

Just read about a charity, in Charlbury, England, that has combined eye-tracking technology with 3D printing that allows severely disabled people to create sculptures. From the item it sounds like they started using the eye-tracking technology, usually used to help people speak via computer, to allow disable people to play video games.

The organization, called SpecialEffect, has evolved one of the games into a unique sculpture-creating application. Founder Mick Donegan describes the project:

“The sculpture idea came into my head because as a charity we try to help children with disabilities to play video games, draw and so on.

It means a huge amount to people with physical disabilities because they have all this desire to play and create art and all of a sudden you are giving them a chance to make all these ideas in their heads real. People who cannot use their hands are able to make real objects.”

Source: http://www.witneygazette.co.uk/business/11702941._/?

Material for 3D Printing “Wearables”

It is hard enough to keep up with advances in 3D printing technology but there are equally amazing innovations being made in the material properties of printing filament. As an artist, the more you can understand about the materials you work with the better. It would be handy to have a database of the properties of different filaments, from various manufacturers, that a non-chemist/engineer could utilize. Anyone know of such a tool?

This news item is reporting on a particularly innovative filament manufacturer named taulman3D. One of their new materials is a nylon material that is very flexible while being very strong and should be a useful material for 3D printing wearable objects.

For those of you, like me, who are clueless when it come to fancy chemical names, this material is basically your typical flexible 3D printing filament on steroids. It is designed to work in virtually any FFF-based 3D printer capable of printing with ABS. Unlike many other flexible filaments that have issues printing on extruders that require 1.75mm filament because they are too flexible in their raw material form, PCTPE will not have this problem. This is because of a special “draw” process that taulman3D required their manufacturers to do. Basically it stretches the material during the final manufacturing process. This is a tactic utilized in the manufacturing of large nylon ropes used for large ships when docking, as it increases the ropes’ tensile strength. It also apparently works with filament, increasing its tensile strength as well. In turn the filament will not buckle or fold as much as will other flexible filaments.

Source w/video: http://3dprint.com/30901/taulman3d-pctpe/

Emailing a Tool to the Space Station

This IS the 21st Century. I don’t recall ever reading a sci-fi story where a tool was emailed into space. This is an example of real life getting very close to matching the concept of a replicator from Star Trek.

Made In Space, the California company that designed the 3D printer aboard the ISS, overheard Wilmore mentioning the need for a ratcheting socket wrench and decided to create one. Previously, if an astronaut needed a specific tool it would have to be flown up on the next mission to the ISS, which could take months.

Source: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-12/19/3d-printed-space-wrench

Good Luck and Wishes Recycling Station

Every three years, the arts charity, Creative Foundation holds a public art festival called the Folkestone Triennial. The event is held in Folkestone; which is a seaside town on the south-east coast of England. The theme of the project is that artists are invited to use the town as their ‘canvas’. Sounds like fun, I don’t imagine there are many places bold enough to let artists loose in their public spaces.

One of the installations that caught my attention is a collaboration between a 3D printer manufacturer Renishaw and an outdoor art group called Strange Cargo. The creative and fun result of their joint effort is the installation of a luck and wish recycling point. Their piece incorporates various lucky symbols: horse shoes, wishbones, 4 leaf clovers, shooting stars, etc. The concept is that visitors insert a penny, make a wish and then take a different penny to spread the good luck.

They decided to title the piece ‘The Luckiest Place on Earth’. I’m very impressed that they printed the piece in titanium.

Source: http://3dprintingindustry.com/2014/10/16/luckiest-place-earth-forged-metal-3d-printing/

UPS Stores Add 3D Printing Service

Since I don’t seem to have a near-by makerspace I’m very curious about these printing services that are being offered in retail environments. I’m not sure that UPS will be a viable option however.

First, I don’t recall ever seeing a UPS store in my area. At this point, of the stores that offer this service, none are located near me: http://www.theupsstore.com/small-business-solutions/Pages/3d-printing-locations.aspx

What caught my eye is that their costs seem extremely high; not that there is any pricing info on their web site (never a good sign). According to the news item, printing a phone case would cost ~$60. I’ll pass, thanks.

I think they are making a fundamental mistake if they are going to base their prices depending on the complexity of the object. One of the coolest things about 3D printing is, once the model design is complete, complexity should have no bearing on the cost of printing an object. The quantity and type of material you need, to print the object, should be the determining cost factor.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2014/09/22/technology/innovationnation/ups-3d-printing/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Using Friction to Correct Blemishes in 3D Prints

I bumped into this little item about using friction welding, to fill in those holes that you sometimes get in your 3D prints.

The premise is based on the fact that plastic has a relatively low melting temperature, a temperature easily obtainable with friction. If you can rub the plastic against an object fast enough, the friction will cause enough heat for that plastic to melt. This melted plastic (3D printer filament in this case) can then be used to fill in holes, gaps, and other blemishes on a 3D printed object.

Welding two plastics together seems fairly straight forward. I think using this process would be a bit tricker to fill small holes, since the object has the same melting point as the material you are filling with.

On the artistic side of things this technique offers the potential to add additional color and designs to complete your printed object. Makes me wonder if something like a wood burning tool, at the correct temperature, couldn’t be used to a similar end.

Source [with video]: http://3dprint.com/16023/friction-filling-3d-prints/

Additive Manufacturing Using Carbon Fiber

Not sure there is much demand to use carbon fiber in the art space. It caught my eye, that MarkForged is releasing a new 3D printer called the Mark One that can print with carbon fiber.

Sounds like they are marketing this printer as a solution that uses carbon fiber 3D printing to replicate existing parts created from different materials. If strength is a factor in the piece you want to produce, carbon fiber might be an interesting alternative to metal.

Source [includes video]: http://www.3dprintingpin.com/carbon-fiber-3d-printing-mark-one/

3D Printing – Most Influential Companies

I saw a news item about the new Appinions Industry Influence Study and one thing immediately caught my eye. After Amazon’s recent addition of a 3D printing store (where you can buy 3D printed items not printers) they already rank as the number 2 most influential 3D printing company.

I haven’t dug into the report to find out how they measure that but pretty impressive for Amazon for the short time they have been involved. Study is available as a free download here.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucerogers/2014/09/03/3d-printing-goes-mainstream/

Amazon Opens 3D Printing Storefront

Wait – what? Amazon now does 3D printing? It’s not much to speak of yet but their pilot 3D printing storefront could be huge. So far, the storefront has less than 50 products; mostly jewelry and smartphone cases. They all come printed in Nylon Polymide, and only the color is customizable.

Offering an on-demand 3D printing service is a nice initial step. Once designers are permitted to upload their STL files and offer printed output for sale, combined with Amazon’s market reach and distribution power, online 3D printing services could become prime-time. My head is spinning at the thought that Amazon’s 3D storefront could evolve to have service offerings similar to Shapeways.

Source: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/amazon-opens-3d-printing-storefront,news-18465.html

Amazon 3DLT Storefront: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&me=A1V9JQ2VE1JCFX

Sculpture for Trees

Invoking the spirit of the old man in the tree is such a fun concept. Treebeard in “Lord of the Rings” is one great example. These “exterior accents” by Design Toscano caught my eye:

My first thought was that similar pieces could be done using a 3D printer. Color matching and water/sun resistance could be issues. Interesting thought none the less….

Source: http://www.uberreview.com/2014/03/greenman-tree-sculpture-looks-like-devilish-fun.htm