Tagged in: technology, norway, events, digital revolution, bioprinting, 3D printing
In September, Turlif spoke at TEDxTrondheim's Back to Basics. As usual, an inspirational discussion about some of the problems with current 3D modeling software, and modeling with simplified polygons, which lose some of the infinitely fine grain details of natural and real world objects. Turlif together with our team have developed a generalized and holistic approach for accurately modeling complex real world objects called Digital Materialization (DM). Using mathematics and computational power, our approach has promising applications, that go far beyond 3D printing for modeling the real world through software.
Be sure to check out the video!
Tagged in: MeshUp, gadgets, digital revolution, announcements, 3d scanning
We are happy to announce that we have teamed up with Fuel3D on their new Kickstarter campaign.
Fuel3D developed a point and shoot scanner priced under $1,000 and produces scans at a quality we are used to seeing with other hand-held scanners costing thousands of dollars! This is the first scanner to combine pre-calibrated stereo camera with photometric imaging, which explains the high resolution results. Such a scanner of course is well paired with MeshUp.
Which is why Uformia and Fuel3D collaborated to offer a bundled incentive: a full production scanner and a copy of MeshUp for $1090 - a limited offer to 71 more backers of Fuel3D!
Check out the video below where we use two scans from Fuel3D to demonstrate the all powerful blend union:
More videos using Fuel3D scans inside MeshUP are coming....
Tagged in: digital revolution, apps, 3D printing
3D printing continues to spread into the mainstream. Recently Staples began selling 3D printers, in addition to the "Staples Easy 3D" service where customers can upload their designs to Staples' website and then pick up their part at one of the local stores - printed on the new color Mcor Iris. Amazon less than a month ago launched its own 3D printing store.
Yesterday eBay joined the ranks by announcing its new iPhone application called, eBay Exact. There are 20 categories to start with, mainly jewelry and tech accessories ranging from $9 for plastic prints and $350 for metal. MakerBot, Sculpteo, and Hot Pop Factory are partnering with eBay to print and ship the goods.
eBay Exact could be the first application with the potential to reach an audience wider than the ever growing 3D printing enthusiasts, to just normal consumers. But it is just the beginning.....
Tagged in: technology, digital revolution, bioprinting, 3D printing
Photosynthesis. A relatively simple but highly efficient process of plants using sunlight to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, which produces electrons and creates sugars for the plants growth and reproduction. Plants have evolved this process to a near 100% efficiency -- every photon of sunlight is converted to an equal number of electrons.
To date, even though the sun is the most abundant source of energy on the planet, humans harvest only a small fraction and convert it into energy. Researchers at the University of Georgia have found a way to tap into the plants photosynthesis process and capture the electrons before the plant can convert them into sugars. While this work is still in its infancy they do predict that in the near future it could be possible to power remote sensors or other lower powered portable electronic equipment.
But if we imagine beyond this -- what about man made objects that have the intelligence and ability for photosynthesis, such as the vision of the artist Vivien Muller below. Pretty cool, but let's go another step beyond this. One of the areas where there is much R&D in the 3D printing industry is in material science. And not just to produce better plastics, powered metals and even glass,but to use 3D printers with natural materials and for the creation of meta materials. Regenerative medicine is certainly pushing the boundaries here, and will stand to make massive changes to in the human existence. Some researchers are even using 3D printers to produce synthetic meat. In addition, imagine using this same technology to print synthetic wood, even synthetic trees and plants - a forest. It will could look exactly like a natural forest (this would be up to the designer of course), with the addition of electrical plugs.
Far fetched? Less so then you might think.
The possibility of this future is partially what inspired Uformia to develop our new geometric kernel and subsequent tools. In fact if anyone has seen Turlif speak during the last few years, you have heard these ideas before.
So, why all the fuss over the 3D printed gun when we have things like this to discuss?
TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits talks about 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time. This translates to printed objects that can reshape themselves or self-assemble over time.
Think: a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contract.
To follow up on the post Fabricating Nature let us consider what we mean by 'man-made' objects. Clearly, they are objects that are produced by human effort through a process of design and fabrication, rather than through a process of evolution and natural growth. But what if we start to blur the distinction between objects that we produce and objects that are produced directly from nature. What if we could produce objects that aren't the clunky things we have now, but ones which appear to have been grown. While it won't change the dictionary definition, it just might change our perception of manufacturing.
One of the ideas that our CTO and joint founder Turlif has mentioned in some of his talks is the idea of a Physical Turing Test. The traditional Turing Test was proposed by Alan Turing as a way of testing for artificial intelligence. Here a machine was said to pass if a human conversing with it in a blind test thought that they were talking with another human being. The idea of the Physical Turing Test is that we test objects against nature. If a human believes that a man-made object was actually made by nature, then the object passes.
An amusing example of this is in the Dilbert cartoon on 3D printing. Here, the 3D printed object was mistaken for the actual character, so physically the object passed the test. While mistaking a constructed object for a human being might seem unlikely, waxworks have always been popular not to mention the field of robotics. In the distant future, who knows – perhaps the traditional Turing test and the physical Turing test will one day need to be combined...
Tagged in: technology, digital revolution, bioprinting, 3D printing
Nature is unbelievably complex. Animals and humans have evolved in this world without in-built digital systems. Our minds have evolved in ways that allow us to make sense of our environment, so that we can abstract and categorize the things that we encounter and experience. As such, we have an in-built tendency to represent the world in terms of simple, clearly identifiable boundaries of space and objects. When we create objects ourselves, we continue to follow this path without even realizing it. Traditional manufacturing and design assumes that each object, or each independent part of a larger object, is made of a single homogeneous material. This makes human-made objects clearly stand apart from nature. A tree, for example, is not made from a single material and nor does it have 'parts' that are as easily discernible as we would think - if we look up close we can see that roots blend into the trunk, which blends into branches which blend into twigs, which blend into leaves. Our abstractions are useful for recognition and categorization, but they do have limitations when it comes to creating or recreating complex objects like this.
Historically then, we've interacted with nature through powerful but reductive simplifications and approximations - the way we look at it, the way we model it and the way we attempt to reproduce it. Cheap computing power is now extending our capabilities, putting us in a far better position to understand the complexities of nature. We have better control over matter and can design and fabricate a whole new class of human-made objects. These objects offer more localized, dynamic, sustainable and natural interactions with the world. Unfortunately, we've hit a stumbling block. The current generation of digital design and fabrication systems have failed to fully capitalize on the raw computational power that is available to us. We still can't create objects that offer a comparable wealth of detail, complexity and combination of materials that we find in nature. Here is an example of how a typical user might model a watermelon using 3D modeling tools and a real watermelon. There is little to compare other than the rough outside shape. How can we truly represent a slice of watermelon digitally?
Let us take a very basic example, one that is even human made, a glass marble. Marbles are simple children's toys, but how can we exactly model their construction?
The only real 'surface' here is the outer shape, but modelling it with polygons will always leave it faceted. Perhaps we can try to overcome this inaccuracy and using a parametric surface, but can we efficiently represent the minute chips made by numerous games of marbles? Still, a spherical surface won't allow us to define what's inside. Perhaps each of those different colors could be a separate part? If we look closely at the swirls we can see that they don't have sharply defined edges. The colors mix and blend together throughout the interior. Our traditional approach of modelling with surfaces falls apart completely. Our entire approach is wrong because this is a problem that requires real volumes with no neatly defined 'parts'.
Is this a fair example? Would anyone actually want to recreate a watermelon or 3D print a glass marble? Perhaps not, but what about a human organ such as a kidney. That's also a challenging volumetric problem and one that would be of huge benefit if we could design and fabricate them as required.
So, the way we think about the world allows us to make sense of it, but doesn't necessarily let us reproduce it. Existing digital systems have followed our natural way of thinking and have led us to an impasse. They are imprecise and fundamentally incapable of accurately representing real objects. If we want to move forwards, we will need to take a very different approach.
Tuan Tranpham created this matrix showing the current 3D printing world (scanning, software, service bureau and printing) which is correlated with consumer and industrial categories. A nice snapshot of the moment.
(Cllick the image to see the larger version.)
For all us tech nomads, there are finally emerging a few projects that bring mobility to 3D printers. Below are four printers in the press as of late, each offering different features to meet the needs of the varied types of modern day nomads.
PopFab is more than just a 3D printer, it is a 3-in-1 CNC mill multi-tool that can travel with you as carry-on luggage. Its compatibility with different toolheads allows it to run as not only a CNC mill but also a 3D printer, vinyl cutter and plotter. As you can see in the video, the computer controlled platform rests inside the suitcase while the toolhead pops up.
Check out their first 'episode' here.
The FoldaRap is an open-source 3d-Printer that can also be folded up for storage or travel, then easily reassembled and used. This project is currently seeking funding (only 2 days left) on Ulule, a crowd funding site.
3) Tantiillus offers a different kind of mobility, one without electricity. While this mini-printer sports a build area of 100mm x 100mm x 110 mm, making it easier to travel with than most printers (but not foldable), it has the extra advantage of running off batteries. In addition to that it has a daisy chain feature, allowing two printers to share one set of electronics that can mass-produce duplicate sets of prints at a reduced cost.
4) Solar Sinter
4) Solar Sinter is portable, but not as easily as the others on this list. Its star feature is that it is an entirely solar-powered machine, using sand to make glass objects: solar sintering instead of selective laser sintering (SLS). This printer is obviously designed to work in the desert, and to take advantage of cheap raw energy and materials.
Yet again, 3D printing hits the mainstream, this time with an article in the USA Today on how 3D printing has already changed US manufacturing. Quoting Terry Wohlers (the trusted source for all developments, trends and future forecasts on additive manufacturing) and siting such companies such as Boeing, GE, and Audiovox, they illustrate some nice examples on why 3D printing is beneficial over standard manufacturing, even if the end cost can be higher.
A few highlights from the article:
• Production of usable parts (not prototypes) made with 3D printing products and services continues to increase every year: $1.7 billion in 2011, and predicted to represent 80% of the industry's $6.9 billion in revenue in 2019.
• The sales increase of 3D printers is in part due to the continued rise in the cheaper printers purchased by the DIY community, but the manufacturing industry accounts for the majority of this growth.
• 3D printing's cheaper labor costs (a few employees can run multiple printers) and quick product launches (no time consuming and expensive retooling) point to a trend of bringing back manufacturing jobs to the U.S.
• The U.S. government will spend $45 million in an additive manufacturing institute to help foster innovations in the industry, with the goal of bringing this to the mainstream.