Browsing articles from "October, 2011"
Oct 31, 2011
Comments Off on Create your own doppelgänger with 3D printing

Create your own doppelgänger with 3D printing

3D printed masks.

3D printed masks have creepy realistic factor

This Halloween if you’re looking for the scariest mask possible, forget about visiting your local costume store for the usual blood and fangs; instead get the team at That’s My Face to print you off a photo-realistic face mask. Become your favourite celebrity, impersonate your worst enemy or simply become your friend’s doppelgänger with a creepily realistic mask of their face.

That’s My Face specialises in patent-pending technologies centred on transforming 2D photos into 3D sculptures and was founded by a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Using online facial analysis and reconstruction you can then adjust your 3D file to view changes in age, gender and race prior to purchasing your 3D mask.

Fortunately the masks are not likely to fool any border guards or security systems, but this technology can be viewed as a proof-of-concept for realistic full-face masks based on photographs. Some commentators have suggested that with a few advancements in materials as well as 3D printing, this technology’s next evolution could take the form of non-permanent cosmetic surgery.

For now thought this technology remains costly, with a life size mask costing around $300. It appears I might have to wait until 3D printing technology makes its way into our homes before I get a mask of my own!

Oct 27, 2011
Comments Off on 3D printing community aim to rehouse homeless hermit crabs.

3D printing community aim to rehouse homeless hermit crabs.

3D Printed shells for hermit crabs
3D printing could rehouse homeless hermit crabs.

While the heading of this post may appear strange the creative minds at MakerBot Industries, manufacturers of do it yourself 3D printers, have devised a plan to tackle the growing threat to hermit crabs, the man-made housing shortage that threatens the entire species. The project known as Project Shelltor intends to utilize the Makerbot community’s design skills to design and produce shells for hermit crabs.

Hermit crabs are born shell-less, therefore they must scavenge for suitable housing – usually a shell which will protect them from predators and provide suitable space for growth. Each spring a growth spurt causes them to abandon their home and once again begin the search for suitable housing, but a severe shortage of shells has forced hermit crabs to fight over inadequate housing such as bottle caps, aluminium cans and other bits of trash.

Lead by Miles Lightwood, the “Shelltor project” challenges designers to create “crabitats”, shells created using a right handed helix that will accommodate the natural curve of hermit crabs bodies. While commentators have questioned the safety of this project, Makerbot insist that no shells have be placed into the wild (shells are intended for domestic use only, to avoid environmental implications from putting plastic into the sea) and a suitable non toxic material will need to be sourced to prevent the hermit crabs ingesting potentially dangerous materials (hermit crabs do ingest bits of the shell now and then).

While it remains to be seen if hermit crabs will even consider a 3D-printed shell as a suitable home, the Shelltor project is indicative of novel and helpful uses for 3D printing

Oct 21, 2011
Comments Off on Worlds first 3D printed car on display in Canada

Worlds first 3D printed car on display in Canada

3D printed car - Urbee

Made to last the Urbee's body panels were printed using additive manufacturing technology.

Following 15  years of development, the worlds  first 3d printed car, Urbee has made its debut in Canada. Only one prototype model exists to date but developers at Kor Kor Ecologic are hopeful that commercial manufacturing will begin by 2014.

Built to last 30 years the Urbee, is one of the worlds most environmentally friendly cars running solely on renewable energy. Designed to achieve maximum efficiency with minimum input, the Urbee can achieve up to 200mpg on the motorway and reaches speeds of up to 70mpg on a mere 8 horsepower single cylinder engine. Underneath the cars unique body lies a steel chassis, which houses a petrol and electric hybrid engine. The car batteries can also draw charge from optional solar panels.

The Eco credentials of the Urbee don’t stop there, with the cars entire body panels produced using a 3D printer! According to project leader Jim Kor, the use of additive manufacturing eliminates waste, only placing material where it is needed, with the ultimate goal of Kor Kor Ecologic to use fully recycled-materials for commercial production.

It is also anticipated that the firm will produce a number of other parts using this additive manufacturing technology. This Kor Kor Ecologic claim will make it easier to repair the car, as parts can be printed at a local 3d printing facility.

With extremely low fuel consumption and an estimated price tag of £10,000 – £33,000 the Urbee could revolutionise the automotive industry, but with the second prototype still to be developed and an estimated development cost of £610,00 the team at Kor Kor Ecologic still have a few challenges ahead.

Oct 14, 2011
Comments Off on 3D printing now with criminal intent

3D printing now with criminal intent

With general awareness of 3D printing on the increase, new applications for this technology appear to emerge almost on a weekly basis. We have seen 3D printing morph from a chocolate printer to a device with the potential to print human tissue and with this technology still in its infancy rumours circle that similar to the Internet, 3d printing will make its way into our homes becoming something taken for granted, a part of everyday life.

Despite this early promise, little did I expect to come across a story of how an ATM skimmer gang used 3D printers to steal over $400,000 but then again being the enterprising businessmen that most gangsters are, should I really be surprised?
ATM skimmers are electronic devices typically attached to the card slot of ATM machines, steal credit and debit card information from unsuspecting ATM users.

The appeal of 3D printing for ATM skimmer gangs lies in the complex design nature of such devices, in order to avoid detection each unit has to be carefully crafted to blend in with the targeted cash machine in both form and colour, a laborious process considering each particular ATM would require its own unique device.
Throw a 3D printer into the mix and the labour required for each device is considerably reduced. Now its simply a matter of snapping a few photos, taking some measurements and accessing 3d modelling software prior to hitting print and allowing the 3D printer do all the hard work.

3D printers are however costly with a high end desktop printer costing anywhere between $10,000 to $20,000 and while outsourcing printing to a prototyping bureau may appear like the next best option, however with 3d printing bureaus ever more vigilant, you run the risk of detection
While this negative application may taint the glow of 3D printing somewhat it is important to remember that 3D printing is not encouraging anything new, and in reality with costs of 3D printers high it is still easier to gain access to 3D skimmer kits than a 3D printer and CAD engineer.

Oct 10, 2011
Comments Off on Artificial bood vessels created on 3d printer

Artificial bood vessels created on 3d printer


German scientists construct blood vessels on 3d printer

German scientists construct blood vessels on 3d printer

In 2009, Dr. Atala, the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, explained how one day 3d printing technology might be used to print organs and thanks to a team of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute this future may be closer than ever before.

Until now, the supply of nutrients to artificial tissue via capillary vessels has proven a major stumbling block in tissue engineering. In order for a lab-made organ to function, it needs to be equipped with tiny and extremely complex tubes or blood vessels, to carry nutrients.

Numerous attempts to create synthetic capillaries have been made, but it is the work carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany that appears especially promising. According to the head of the BioRap project at Fraunhofer, Dr. Gunter Tovar, “the individual techniques are already functioning and they are presently working in the test phase”.

By combining 3d printing  with two-photon polymerisation – shining laser beams onto the 3d printed material in order to stimulate molecules in a very narrow focus point, it was possible to create an elastic solid which would interact with natural human tissue. These synthetic vessels are then coated with modified bio-molecules to prevent rejection by the living organism.

While still a long way off, this latest development brings 3D printing of tissue one step closer to saving the lives.