What I’m looking for in my next 3d printer

So I eagerly tuned into the Makerbot Replicator2 release event. What new thrills would this growing, innovative company bring to the low-cost 3d printer market?  Would some of my 3d printer feature-wish-list be granted?  Er, no.

Now this won’t post won’t be a rant about a good company lead down the closed-source path by venture capitalists.  That’s been done over and over.  Instead I want to share what I hope to see in the next generation of affordable 3d printers.  Continue reading

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3d printing and Halloween – class project ideas

Fall landed quickly here at school.  Last Tuesday it was 100 degrees in the neighborhood; by Friday it was in the low 70’s.  That’s fall in NorCal.

Any class with making at its heart will turn to Halloween as the focus of the next project.  Here are the ideas that I’m working with:

1. a Halloween blinky or led light.  Students will design a pin or decorative design that incorporates a Halloween theme and the simple components (led, button battery, switch) to make a it blink. Something like this led heart: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1828

2. Halloween costume components: what can you print and wear?  Devil Horns?  Harry Potter glasses? Half a throwing star stuck in your forehead?  Some accessory that goes with your costume?

3. Halloween decorations: ghosts, pumpkins, skeletons.  This opens up the work to pieces that are less linear and more organic.  Perhaps small enough to give away to trick or treaters.  Or big enough to impress.

I’m leaning toward the led project. The final design will require the measurement and inclusion of material such as the battery and led. This means caliper work.  And integrating objects that don’t exist just in the design software.

Final images will appear here.  Stay tuned!

3d scanning app in the classroom

Autodesk’s new app for the iPhone is intriguing.  It’s called 123d Catch.  It’s mission is to help you to scan an object in 3d and then convert the scan so that it can be printed.  Yes, in 3d using a printer like the Makerbot or RepRap…or one of many.

Here’s Autodesk’s offical video:

You’ll notice that the boy continues to refine his scan using the desktop app.  That’s an important part of the process.  In my limited use, I’ve found that the app picks up artifacts (blobs) during the scan that require some work to smooth over.  I’m still working on it.

But the potential in the classroom is huge.  Ideas:
-for a tech class, scan a human and put their face on a custom action figure, create a statue, create a custom award, blend two scanned objects together
-art class – visit a museum and scan works to be viewed in the 3d back at school
-science – scan a molecule and print it out!

If you have other classroom ideas for this promising new app just drop a comment below.  Meanwhile, I will keep perfecting my technique with 123d Catch and post an update soon.