As children our imaginations were often central to our daily activities from crafting rockets and houses out of old boxes to creating characters with play-dough or simply sketching our ideas on paper, anything we could get our tiny hands on could be turned into something amazing, with just a bit of creativity. While many of us have lost this childhood ability, a lucky few have managed to convert this creativity into a career in design. For designers 3D printing has become the modelling tool of choice. Impossible designs can be sketched up on 3D CAD software and converted to physical models within hours with the help of local Rapid Prototyping bureaus or desktop 3D printers.
Nowadays children’s toys are becoming increasingly hi-tech with i-pods, mobiles and games consoles often ranking high on Christmas lists however one feature remains unchanged and that is the natural creativity of children. Enter Origo, a 3D printer suitable for use by children as young as 10 years old.
The Origo project was created as part of Artur Tchoukanov’s masters degree and aims to make 3D printing more accessible to people. Research demonstrated that adults found it difficult to grasp the notion of 3D printing as they had lost their childlike ability to create and dream up ideas without inhibition, the decision was clear, Origo’s target audience would be children. In an interview with Develop 3D,Co-founder of Origo, Joris Peels, explained
“kids are still natural makers, they sketch, draw and dream without limits. They lack only the skills to execute their whimsy. Origo was conceived as a tool to let kids make whatever they want. It was aimed at kids because they are the most able to take advantage of 3D printing at home”
One of central challenges faced by the project was the need for users of 3D printers to know how to create a 3D model in CAD, a challenge for even the most technically savvy adult let alone a 10 year old. This initial challenge was overcome thanks to the creation of 3DTin, a free online modelling tool that requires no installation and allows for 3D models to be design using individual blocks. Put in the hands of children at TEDxKids in Brussels this software was quickly adopted resulting in the creation of dozens of really cool products and most importantly a bunch of really excited children.
Currently the project is still only in the design stages however the team are hopeful of taking the Origo printer from concept to production in less than eighteen months. Althought I might not have a ten year old of my own, the child in me looks forward to hearing news of a launch date, until then I guess I better start perfecting my 3D Tin design skills.
Rapid Prototyping has broken into the fashion world thanks largely to the durability of Selective Laser Sintering materials such as PA Nylon. Previous 3D printed fashion collections such as footwear and dresses have been designed solely as haute couture experimental pieces, unavailable to purchase, however thanks to Consortium Fashion you can now purchase ready to wear SLS fashion in the form of the N12 bikini!
Named after the material its made out of, Nylon 12, the N12 bikini has been made entirely by 3D printing with all fixtures and fastenings snapped together without any sewing. Innately waterproof Nylon 12 was selected as the ideal material, as not only is it strong enough to allow bending even when printed very thin (a minimum wall section of 0.7mm can be achieved) it actually becomes more comfortable to wear when wet.
Designing such a bikini was not as easy as simply entering the shape on a 3D modelling software, designers Jenna Fizel and Mary Haung had to ensure it would be comfortable, cost-effective and printable without leaving too little to the imagination. Designed using Rhino 3D CAD software a unique algorithmic script was specifically written to create the structure of the 3D printed fabric.When speaking on the design Mary Haung stated
“The bikini design fundamentally reflects the beautiful intricacy possible with 3D printing, as well as the technical challenges of creating a flexible surface out of the solid nylon. Thousands of circular plates are connected by thin springs, creating a wholly new material that holds its form as well as being flexible. The layout of the circle pattern was achieved through custom written code that lays out the circles according to the curvature of the surface. In this way, the aesthetic design is completely derived from the structural design”
One of the goals of this particular circle patterning system is to allow for its application to any surface making the N12 bikini just the start. Future adaptation of this technology could allow absolute customization with bespoke articles of clothing created from a 3D body scan.
While the N12 claims to be the first affordable 3D printed bikini, it will still set you back a little more than your traditional bikini with prices starting off at approximately £160 pounds for the top alone. For those of you with £1000 to spare you can get a bespoke fitted model designed around your body alone.
From jumping spider-bots, to self flying SLS herring gulls, the animal kingdom provides inspiration for a number of robotic creations, so little wonder scientists have decided to draw inspiration from one of the fastest creatures on two feet, the ostrich. This robotic project “Fast Runner” is a collaborative project between DARPA (the Defence Advanced Research Projects Authority), MIT and the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IMHC) aimed at creating a fast, light weight bi-pedal search robot that can transverse difficult landscapes.
The decision to base the Fast Runner design on an ostrich lies in the minimal use of energy required for ostriches to maintain a steady speed of 31mph. According to Johnny Godowski (the idea originator behind Fast Runner) “the architecture takes zero energy to carry weight..The legs lock and unlock a lot like a folding table, to support what we imagine will be quite a lot of mass when the prototype is finished… really as much as the legs will hold”
Only one year into the four year research project, stunning results have been demonstrated with 40% of the mechanical design complete, and one full-scale leg machined using Rapid Prototyping techniques. Designs for the rest of the robot’s body have also been prepared, with the final robot projected to weigh only 80 pounds and stand just over four and a half feet tall.
Researchers estimate that the “Fast Runner” will achieve speeds of up to 27 mph, faster than Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man! While these speeds have yet to be confirmed in final testing simulation has shown that the robot can go from a standing position to 20mph in as little as 15 seconds, along with demonstrating an ability to transverse gentle slopes.
The appeal of this project for the DARPA lies in the military applications of Fast Runner as a ground based-drone capable of scouting ahead over rough terrain with no risk to military personnel along with the potential to support troops in war zones through the rapid delivery of supplies.
See the mechanics behind the movement:
When choosing a form of locomotion for their robotic creations, roboticists often draw on nature to inspire alternatives to the tried and tested tank like tracks or wheels. This is exactly where the team at the Fraunhofer institute have turned in the creation of their new eight-legged robot.
Agile and purposeful, the Spider-Bot can transverse hazardous environments and unstable ground. Like its biological counterpart, it keeps four of its eight legs on the ground at any one time, while the remaining four legs turn and ready themselves for the next step ensuring stability. Despite lacking muscles to stretch their long extremities, a number of spiders can jump, using built up body pressure to force fluid into their limbs to extend them and this principal has been applied to the Spider-Bot through elastic drive bellows that operate pneumatically to bend and extend its artificial limbs.
Despite combining rigid and elastic shapes in a single component the spider-bot has been produced at low cost and with just a few production steps, thanks to the help of Selective Laser Sintering, the process by which thin layers of a fine polyamide powder are applied one at a time in thin layers and melted in place with the aid of a laser beam. The use of SLS allows for complex geometries, inner structures and lightweight components to be produced while keeping the costs and development times of the Spider-Bot low. The lightweight polyamide powder also ensures the end-product is lightweight.
With the Spider-Bot body capable of carrying various measuring devices and sensors it is anticipated that future applications will include an exploratory tool in environments considered too hazardous for humans, or too difficult to get to.
A prototype model of the robot will be on display at Euro Mold 2011 (Frankfurt) later this month.
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