Aug 28, 2012
Comments Off on 3D printing to help Astronauts survive on Mars.

3D printing to help Astronauts survive on Mars.

The Curiosity Rover is now 23 days into its two year exploration of Mars, aiming to unlock the mystery of Mars. While the project seeks to determine if there is organic matter on Mars, telling us if life can or does exist on Mars, the ultimate goal is to send humans to Mars.


NASA engineers have already begun testing the next generation Rover. Described by NASA test engineer as a “personal SUV” for space the new Rover will act as a housing module for astronauts with two small beds and an observation module so astronauts can get up close and personal with their new surroundings.

The team at NASA decided to use 3D printing to help with the development of the next generation Rover, thanks to the processes ability to create tough, durable components from lightweight materials in a matter of hours. Approximately 70 components used in the Rover, ranging from vents, to external housings were 3D printed using an FDM machine. In addition to the production of end use components Rapid Prototyping also featured in the early design and development stages, prototyping the form, fit and function of the parts prior to tooling.

3D printing helped the team at NASA save time and money at both the prototyping and production phase.

See the new Rover in action below.

Aug 15, 2012
Comments Off on 3D Print mobile to bring Rapid Prototyping technology to school children

3D Print mobile to bring Rapid Prototyping technology to school children

As young children we would rush home from school with our arms laden with wonderful creations to amaze our parents. However somewhere along the way we simply stopped making things, learning became increasing focused on ingesting and regurgitating as much information as possible and we abandoned our much loved crafting tools in favour of pen and paper.

Now a team of students from the University of Stanford aim to foster new opportunities for creativity amongst 7-13 year old school children  (seen as a key developmental pocket where creativity diminishes) with SparkTruck. A bookmobile for makers packed to the brim with crafting goodies. From high tech rapid prototyping equipment used by engineering and design houses to crafting basics such as scissors and glue guns,  SparkTruck is equipped to provide the perfect compliment to a child’s attention span.

Rapid Prototyping while presently the go of industrial designers, is a technology that holds potential even within the tight budgetary constraints of the education system as raw materials and running costs for 3D printers are relatively low”. Coordinator of the SparkTruck project Jason Chua believes that with technologies such as Rapid Prototyping providing fun, open-ended opportunities to children as they move through school and life, children will have assistance in overcoming fear of failure in turn growing increasingly confident in their ability to be creative and work through tough problems.

Aug 3, 2012
Comments Off on 3d Printing sets sail

3d Printing sets sail

Mechanical engineering students at the University of Washington stunned and amused judges at the annual Milk Carton Derby in Seattle as they paddled their way to 2nd place in the worlds first 3d printed milk carton boat!

Taking a unique slant on the traditional Milk Carton Derby design regulations, the team at WOOF (Washington Open Object Fabricators) researched, designed and printed their boat almost entirely from recycled milk cartons. Weighing 40+ lbs the WOOF entry is the only boat that is 99% milk cartons, requiring some 250 one gallon milk jugs to produce.


Speaking on the project, Mark Ganter, professor of Mechanical Engineering stated “milk jug material is an awful material to work with. It shrinks,  it curls, it doesn’t want to stick to itself. Overcoming all those parts of the problem was part of the achievement”. Following weeks of research and dumpster diving, the team received assistance from Scrapblasters who carried out controlled small batch shredding to produce a clean mix of only #2 HDPE milk jug plastic.

Using a home made extruder attached to a 4’x8′ plasma cutter the team were ready for their first test print. Having achieved success the next challenge lay ins scaling up the process while dealing with cost restrictions and shrinkage issues. Thankfully the team overcame the challenges in time to compete in the Milk Carton Derby!

Jul 23, 2012
Comments Off on Automotive components achieve pole position with Rapid Prototyping

Automotive components achieve pole position with Rapid Prototyping

Aston Martin LMP1 AMR-One Engine produced with Rapid Prototyping technologies

Aston Martin LMP1 AMR-One Engine produced with Rapid Prototyping technologies. (Source: formula1-directory)

Rapid Prototyping has grown in popularity within the Formula 1  industry over the past decade thanks largely to the new techniques pioneered in the aerospace industry along with ongoing research into the materials available. Today many Formula 1 teams run SLS brake ducts and air ducts in addition to many more components produced in SLA.

Operating within a highly competitive and time sensitive industry, Formula 1 teams fight to remain ahead in terms of design, wind tunnel testing and race track testing.  Rapid Prototyping or manufacturing decreases production lead times by allowing design errors to be identified and corrected within days making it a critically important tool in the development of Formula 1 components.

Capable of producing almost any shape Rapid Prototyping allows for teams to create even the most complex of geometries. Material developments have also lead to an increase in the range of applications available as materials such as Nanotool, CeraMAX and Bluestone offer the benefits of SLA components (smooth surface finish and high dimensional accuracy)  with the durability and thermal resistance required to withstand wind tunnel testing.  For Formula 1 teams running wind tunnels more or less 24 hours a day, these material advancements  mean it is possible source components for testing within days rather than weeks.

Leading Autosport teams such as Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin are both early adaptors of this technology. In 2011 Red Bull Racing opted to transport two Rapid Prototyping machines to the races inside the trucks. This move allowed the team to source components quickly with parts printed overnight and simply fitted into the cars on site the next day.  The same year Aston Martin’s LMP1 prototype car, AMR-ONE, raised one big question, just how did George Howard Chappel and the team develop a car from scrath in just six months. The answer through the use of 3D printing and Rapid Prototyping technologies.

Jul 16, 2012
Comments Off on Airbus designer unveils plans for 3d printed planes by 2050!

Airbus designer unveils plans for 3d printed planes by 2050!

Aerospace giant Airbus have unveiled ambitious plans for 2050, the creation of a 80 metre long 3D printed air plane. 

Concept model of Airbus 3D printed plane


Following two years of work on the concept Airbus employee Bastian Schafer has unveiled plans for a 3d printed plane by 2050. The project faces a number of key challenges the first of which lies in the creation of a 3D printer large enough to create the concept aircraft, as to create a plane entirely in 3d would require the development of a 3d printer the size of an aircraft hanger. The largest 3d printer in operation, has only ever printed structures of a  few metres high.

The plans for this new aircraft include the construction of the aircraft body from a transparent material, so passengers feel as though they are flying amongst the clouds. At present this transparent aluminium exists only in the imagination of the designers. A challenge Schafer and his team believe can be overcome through creation the bonding of different materials on multi material 3d printers.

Research into the future industry applications of 3D printing technology is not a new concept for parent company EADS (European Aeronautical Defence and Security company) who opened a £2.6 million Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing back in 2011 with the University of Exeter.  The centre which focuses on the exploration of 3D printing opportunities has already had considerable success in terms of producing 3D printed internal components for aircraft with Airbus planning on using 3d printed components in its A380s by the end of 2012.

While a 3D printed plane remains some way off, Schafer is currently focusing on internal components with plans to have 3d cabin seats installed by 2013.

Jul 2, 2012
Comments Off on 3D Printing takes centre stage this October

3D Printing takes centre stage this October

3D Print show highlights applications of 3D printing technology

3D Print show highlights applications of 3D printing technology

3D Printing is set to take centre stage in London this October with the 3D Print Show 2012.

With 3D printing technology still largely confined to the world of product design and development the 3D Print Show provides many with the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with 3D printing technology.  Organiser of the show Kerry Hogarth    hopes the show will inspire early adopters and educate the public on the range of applications for this emerging technology.

Visitors to the show will be able to view demonstrations from a range of 3D printing technologies including 3D scanning company EuroPac 3D, whose work includes the creating of computer-generated imagery through 3D scanning for the Harry Potter films. For anyone interested in 3D printing this exhibition is a must with applications ranging from Consumer Goods to Space Travel , Fashion to Architecture and everything in between on display.

Find out more at

Jun 13, 2012
Comments Off on Loire Valleys largest Château recreated in SLS.

Loire Valleys largest Château recreated in SLS.

                                                                                                                 Loire Valley's Chateau de Chambord

Some four hundred and fifty years after construction began on one of Frances most iconic architectural landmarks, Rapid Prototyping bureau Laser Prototypes have unveiled a scale model of Château de Chambord, produced entirely in using the Selective Laser Sintering process.

With some 11 kinds of tower and 3 types of chimney the complex roof scape alone would represent a significant challenge for any model making process, particularly in light of the customers tight project lead times. With rapid build times, and the ability to produce complex geometries with minimal post production processing the Selective Laser Sintering Process would prove the ideal process for meeting the project brief.

SLS Scale model of Chateau

Customer supplied 3D CAD data of the Château was sliced into a series of 2D cross sectional layers using proprietary software to create an STL file. Once compiled this file was then fed to the companies SLS machine, where the model was grown layer by layer on a bed of PA Nylon powder.  Parts produced in the Selective Laser Sintering process require no support structure, as the Nylon powder proves self supporting with minimal clean up required, ensuring no damage to fragile/ fine features of the Château chimneys and towers.

Complex roof scape accurately recreated in SLS


May 10, 2012
Comments Off on 3D printing of the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

3D printing of the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

Designed on a compact island site, with seating for 80,000 and the flexibility to transform into a 25,000 seated arena post the 2012 games, the 2012 Olympic stadium pays homage to the quality of engineering and architectural ability within the UK. Forming part of East London’s regeneration programme the Olympic stadium has taken just over three years to complete.

Demonstrating the speed and accuracy of Rapid Prototyping technology, a lecturer at Ravensbourne college London, has created a scale model of the Stadium in just 6 hours.

Using satellite imagery and 3d modelling software Jon Fidler created detailed 3D CAD data of the 2012 Olympic Stadium. Once completed this 3D CAD file was then sent to an FDM printer allowing a physical model of the stadium to be printed within hours. In addition to developing the model in just 6 hours Fidler created a time-lapse video showing the various stages involved including design and build.

This cool 3D printing video can be seen below.

May 9, 2012
Comments Off on “Print” your own pet!

“Print” your own pet!

A small Californian company, the Gene Duplication Corporation, is set to push additive manufacturing technology to its limits with the company announcing plans to use 3D printing for the creation of bespoke pets.

3D printing of organs is not a new concept with several years research into the printing of organs such as kidneys for transplant. Organs such as kidneys consist of eight cell types,  cultures of each individual cell type are grown separately and then sprayed out layer by layer with a binding agent to build up the correct shape. The difficulty in directly translating this technology to the printing of household animals lies in the complex nature of correctly laying down the 220 cell types required to produce a living creature.

American company soon to offer custom built pets

To overcome this challenge the team at Gene Duplication Corporation rely on a precise form of CT scanning known as nontomography, which records to a resolution of 500 nanometres. This scanning technique analyses the position and nature of each cell and used across a wide variety of animals and breeds allows existing breeds to be re-created. New combinations of form, colour and behaviour can also be created to create custom made pets for customers.

The adjustment of colour and temperament requires laying down the correct layer and mixture of melanocyte cells and nerve cells respectively. According to Dr. Fril, Manager at Gene Duplication Corporation the leading challenge has been the creation of nerve cells  which may stretch from the animals spinal cord to the tops of its toes. To over come this the printer “PrintaPet” leaves a hole in each layer of cells at the exact point through which a nerve cell is supposed to pass. A nerve-growth factor is then added before the next layer is printed allowing the nerve cell to to the correct destinations once the main body of the nerve cell is printed.

Once final technical difficulties are overcome you will be able to order a customised pet, with behaviour characteristics colour and form fined tuned to meet your specification. With marking behaviour modified your pet can even be supplied pre-wired to use the company’s proprietary “DoggieLoos”



Apr 23, 2012
Comments Off on Crowdfunding digital craft innovation.

Crowdfunding digital craft innovation.

Contemporary jeweller deploys crowd funding tactics to optimize digital craft modelling tools.

Cloud9 3D modelling platform with Falcon Haptic Device

Cloud9 3D modelling platform with Falcon Haptic Device

Inspired by the increasing availability of digital technology and the potential impact of 3d printing to her creative process, Ann Marie Shillito developed a 3D modelling platform targeted specifically at studio artists and designers. Cloud 9 includes 3D touch feedback allowing the fluid, organic exploration of conceptual ideas that is synonymous with studio design.

Undeterred by the difficult economic climate, Shillito – CEO of Anakik 3D – has embraced the recent phenomena of crowd funding to raise the necessary equity investment to complete the next phase of Cloud9’s development, software optimisation.

Follow the campaign launch online or discover how you can support and share in this crowdfunding adventure at

Interactive Sculptures created using Cloud9 by Farah Bandookwala

Interactive Sculptured created by Farah Bandookwala using Cloud9

Source: Anarkik3D Press Release

Anarkik 3D are a 2007 spin off from collaborative research at Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh and retain close links with both Institutions. The team benefit from 10 years of practical, theoretical and applied research into the development of haptic products. For further information on Anarkik3D visit