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29 Jul 16:00

The Almond 3D Printer

by General Fabb
almond perspective.jpg

Korea-based OpenCreators has released the Almond 3D printer.

We’re looking at the specs for the new Almond 3D printer from OpenCreators, which includes some interesting features. The most notable is an auto-leveling feature, which can be seen in operation in this video: 

Apparently it works within ten seconds, according to their website. This is a significant advantage, as it not only saves you time but also helps ensure prints are successful and of good quality. Evidently they’ve applied for a patent on their technique. 

Another interesting feature is the ability to quick-swap extruder nozzles. Should one become clogged, you can put an alternate in while you clean out the original. This means your machine can operate more consistently throughout the day.

We’re not sure why this hasn’t been invented before, but the Almond has a 360 degree fan cooling mechanism around the extruder. Normally 3D printers simply blow air at the extruder, meaning the cooling is really from one side only. The Almond has a patent application for their unusual cooling apparatus, which seems to wrap around the extruder. 

The machine has a heated print bed - but also a detachable print surface, making extraction of prints very much easier. 

Software for the machine is Cura, which is typically used for Ultimakers, but apparently can be used with the Almond. Perhaps OpenCreators have made use of some of the Ultimaker designs? 

While most modern personal 3D printers have elaborate plastic and metal cases these days, the Almond has a wooden case. But it’s a really nice wooden case, set upon a wire framework. The front door is actually wood with a circular port for viewing. Quaint, beautiful and apparently functional. It’s also inexpensive to manufacture. 

Buying one of these machines could be tricky; the company is based in Korea and does not seem to have sales from its site. However, they direct you to resellers that appear to be selling the unit for around USD$2,000. 

Via OpenCreators (in Korean)

29 Jul 18:00

Amazon’s 3D Nuclear Option Launches

by General Fabb
amazon in 3D.png

Things just got mainstream: Amazon announced a dedicated 3D print service. 

The online retail giant stepped deeply into the world of 3D printing by launching a new “Main Product Category” called “3D Designs & Print on Demand”. It’s very much like Shapeways or Sculpteo: great designs may be browsed, searched, selected, printed and then shipped to your door. 

At present the service boasts over 200 products, some of which are customizable. Shapeways has teamed with Mixee labs to provide twenty 3D model generators with which customers can quickly design personalized objects of various kinds. Generators include various rings, pendants, figurines and items of jewelry. They’re easy to use and prices are reasonable, at least for 3D printing. 

Amazon’s tagline says: “Introducing Amazon’s 3D Printing Store; Shop the Future”. They’re not kidding - this is how the future may very well turn out. Browsing and designing objects that show up at your door tomorrow. 

While this functionality has been available for some time from Shapeways and other similar services, Amazon takes it to a whole new level. Shapeways might be the biggest 3D print service, but they certainly do not have Amazon’s 250M client base. In fact, Amazon likely adds more new clients every week than exist at most 3D print services today. And these clients could purchase 3D printed items in a way they’re already very familiar with. Some of the 3D printed items even qualify for Amazon Prime, the company’s flat-rate shipping service. 

Amazon also offers a way for designers to apply to their service if they wish to include their designs in the Amazon 3D Print Store. At this point, Amazon’s 200 items are far less than Shapeways catalog, but with Amazon’s massive size, that could change very quickly. What designer wouldn’t want their designs shown to a quarter of a BILLION possible clients? 

But how is Amazon producing the 3D prints? Did they just buy a pile of EOS machines? Perhaps some Stratasys? No, it appears from their press release they’ve partnered with Sculpteo, one of the largest 3D print services. Sculpteo’s CEO, Clément Moreau, says: 

Amazon’s deep understanding of customers coupled with Sculpteo’s fast, high-quality manufacturing process offers an unprecedented level of product possibilities for customers.

There’s no mention of Shapeways, so we presume they’re not part of the deal behind the scenes. However, it's possible Amazon is in fact using Shapeways or other 3D print services behind the scenes in addition to Sculpteo and hasn't made that known. 

So what happens now? We can think of several implications of this blockbuster announcement. 

Shapeways may face a steep challenge. Assuming Shapeways isn't part of the deal, Shapeways at the moment may have the edge on 3D content due to their long existence and relationships with many designers, but Amazon’s depth of client base may shift that over the next few years. It may be that Shapeways will have to partner with another retailer in a similar deal if they haven't done one with Amazon. 

Sculpteo could be a huge winner in this deal. The Amazon shoppers will drive significant business towards Sculpteo’s 3D print factories, which will use economies of scale to grow rapidly. 

MakerBot and Cubify / 3D Systems might not be pleased with this development, as it means some potential 3D printer buyers might instead use Amazon to satisfy their 3D printing urges. Both companies have been pursuing a content strategy around customized model generators, which Amazon now provides, too. 

On the other hand, the announcement could mean this: A huge number of people will now be exposed to 3D printing through Amazon. This could very significantly grow interest in the technology, causing growth in all participants. More water floats all boats, so to speak. 

Amazon’s 3D printing venture seems very serious - and permanent. It’s a bold statement to their retail competitors, who will surely try to keep up with Amazon with their own 3D printing operations. 

Via Amazon

29 Jul 04:45

Atlantropa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Atlantropa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"Atlantropa, also referred to as Panropa,[1] was a gigantic engineering and colonization project devised by the German architect Herman Sörgel in the 1920s and promulgated by him until his death in 1952. Its central feature was a hydroelectric dam to be built across the Strait of Gibraltar, which would have provided enormous amounts of hydroelectricity[2] and would have led to the lowering of the surface of the Mediterranean Sea by up to 200 metres (660 ft), opening up large new lands for settlement, for example in a now almost totally drained Adriatic Sea."

28 Jul 16:00

Design of the Week: x.pose

by General Fabb

This week’s selection is x.pose by designers Xuedi Chen and Pedro G. C. Oliveira. 

x.pose is a dynamic 3D printed article of clothing. We mean dynamic in a couple of ways. First, the wearable sculpture is flexible, having been printed in flexy plastic. But the second type of dynamic behavior is far more interesting. 

xpose see thru.jpg

The model, as you can see in the image above and in the video, is holding a smartphone. As she enters more data through the course of normal smartphone activity, the reactive displays within cells in the sculpture become transparent and we can see through the sculpture.

More data, more view. Here’s their punch line: 

In the digital realm, we are naked all the time. 

They also say: 

In the physical realm we can deliberately control which portions our bodies are exposed to the world by covering it with clothing. In the digital realm, we have much less control of what personal aspects we share with the services that connect us. In the digital realm we are naked and vulnerable.

So true. This work visibly demonstrates an effect that all of us experience today, although it’s not quite as visible. 

Via x.pose and DesignMilk

16 Jul 01:26

Architecture-by-Bee and Other Animal Printheads

by Geoff Manaugh
[Image: By John Becker].

For thousands of years now, animal bodies have been used as living 3D printers—or sentient printheads, we might say—but the range of possible material outputs is set to change quite radically. In fact, bioengineering is rapidly making this idea—that spiders, silkworms, and honeybees, to name just a few, are already 3D printers—more than just a poetic metaphor.

Those creatures are organic examples of depositional manufacturing, and they have been domesticated and used throughout human history for specific creative ends, whether it's to produce something as mundane as honey or silk, or something far more outlandish, including automotive plastics, military armaments, and even concrete, as we'll see below.

Animal Printheads

Researchers in Singapore discovered several years ago, for example, that silkworms fed a chemically peculiar diet could produce colored silk, readymade for use in textiles, as if they are actually biological ink cartridges; and other examples—in which animal bodies have been temporarily tweaked or even specifically bred to produce new, economically useful materials on a semi-industrial scale—are not hard to come by.

As it happens, for example, using bees as 3D printers is quickly becoming something of an accepted artistic process and its deep incorporation into advanced manufacturing processes will not be far behind.

Perhaps the most widely seen recent exploration of the animal-as-3D-printer concept was done last year for, of all things, a publicity stunt by Dewar's, in which the company "3D printed" a bottle of Dewar's using nothing but specially shaped and cultivated beehives.

[Images: Courtesy of Dewar's, via designboom].

These pictures tell the story clearly enough: using a large glass bottle as a mold in which the bees could create new hives, the process then ended with the removal of the glass and the revealing of a complete, bottle-shaped, "3D-printed" hive.

As Dewar's joked, it was 3B-printed.

[Images: Courtesy of Dewar's, via designboom].

Or take the Silk Pavilion, another recent project you've undoubtedly already seen, in which researchers at MIT, led by architect Neri Oxman, 3D-printed a room-sized dome using carefully guided silkworms as living printheads.

[Image: Courtesy of MIT].

The Silk Pavilion was an architectural experiment in which the body of the silkworm, guided along a series of very specific paths, was "deployed as a biological printer in the creation of a secondary structure."

The primary structure, meanwhile—the pattern used by the silkworms as a kind of depositional substrate—was nothing more than a continuous thread wrapped around a metal scaffold like a labyrinth, seen in the image below.

[Image: Courtesy of MIT].

It was at this point in the process that a "swarm of 6,500 silkworms was positioned at the bottom rim of the scaffold spinning flat non-woven silk patches as they locally reinforced the gaps across CNC-deposited silk fibers." In other words, they infested the labyrinth and laid down architecture with their passing.

[Image: Courtesy of MIT].

The “CNSilk" method, as it was known, resulted in a gossamer, woven dome that looks more like a cloud than a building.

[Images: Courtesy of MIT].

What both of these examples demonstrate—despite the fact that one is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek media ploy by an alcohol company—is that animal bodies can, in fact, be guided, disciplined, or otherwise regulated to produce large-scale structures, from consumer objects to whole buildings.

After all, the very origins of architecture were a collaboration with animal bodies, and experiments like these only update those earliest constructions.

In both cases, however, the animals are simply depositing, or "printing," what they would normally (that is, naturally, in the absence of human augmentation) produce: silk and honey. Things get substantially more interesting, on the other hand, when we look at more exotic biological materials.

Bee Plastic

For half a decade or more, materials scientist Debbie Chachra at New England's Olin College of Engineering has been researching what's known as "bee plastic": a cellophane-like biopolymer produced by a species native to New England, called Colletes inaequalis.

These bees secrete tiny, cocoon-like structures in the soil—one such structure can be seen in the photo, below—using a special gland unique to its species. The resulting, non-fossil-fuel-based natural polyester not only resists biodegradation, it also survives the temperate extremes of New England, from the region's sweltering summers to its subzero winter storms.

[Image: Courtesy of Deb Chachra].

More intriguingly, however, the cellophane-like bee plastic "doesn't come from petroleum," Chachra explained to me for a 2011 end-of-year article in Wired UK. "The bees are pretty much just eating pollen and producing this plastic," she continued, "and we're trying to understand how they do it."

Bee plastic, Chachra justifiably speculates, could perhaps someday be used to manufacture everything from office supplies to car bumpers, acting as an oil-free alternative to the plastics we use today. In the process, it could perhaps even kickstart a homegrown bio-industry for New England, where the species already thrives, wherein the very idea of a factory needs to be fundamentally reimagined.

The most exciting architectural possibilities here come less from the bees themselves and more from the elaborate structures that would be required to house their activities; imagine a brand new BMW factory somewhere in the suburbs of Boston populated only by plastic-producing bees, and you get some sense of where industrial manufacturing might go in an alternate future. Not unlike Dewar's bee-printed bottle, then, augmented cousins of Chachra's plastic-producing bees could thus 3D-print whole car bodies, kitchen counters, architectural parts, and other everyday products.

But even this, of course, is a vision of animal-based manufacturing that relies on the already-existent excretions of living creatures. Could we—temporarily putting aside the ethical implications of this, simply to discuss the material possibilities—perhaps genetically modify bees, silkworms, spiders, and so on to produce substantially more robust biopolymers, something not just strong enough to resist biodegrading but that could be produced and used on an industrial scale?

Recall, for example, that the U.S Army, working with a Canadian firm called Nexia Biotechnologies, was successful in its attempt to genetically engineer a goat that would produce spider-silk proteins in its milk. Incredibly, those "Biosteel goats," as they were later known, were eventually housed in old ammunition bunkers on a New York State military base, as if they were living bioweapons that needed to be held in quarantine.

[Image: Biosteel goats summed-up in one simple equation (via)].

The ultimate goal of producing these goats was to generate an unbreakable super-fiber that could be used in battle gear, including "lightweight body armor made of artificial spider silk," and other military armaments; but others have speculated that entire bridges or other pieces of urban infrastructure could someday be woven by goats.

These possibilities become even more strange and promising when we move to materials like concrete.

Concrete Honey

As part of an ongoing collaborative project, NYC-based designer John Becker and I have been looking at the possibility of using bees that have been genetically modified to print concrete. We could call them architectural printheads.

[Image: By John Becker].

Initially inspired by a somewhat willful misreading of a project published under the title "Bees Make Concrete Honey," John and I began to imagine and illustrate a series of science-fictional scenarios in which a new urban bee species, called Apis caementicium—or cement bees—could be deployed throughout the city as a low-cost way to repair statues and fix architectural ornament, even to produce whole, free-standing structures, such as cathedrals.

[Image: By John Becker].

In a process not unlike that used for the Dewar's bottle, above, the bees would be given an initial form to work within. Then, buzzing away inside this mold or cast, and additively depositing the ingredients for bio-concrete on the walls, frames, or structures they've been attached to, the bees could 3D-print new architectural forms into existence.

This includes, for example, the iconic stone lions found outside the New York Public Library; they've been damaged by exposure and human contact, but can now be fixed from within by concrete bees. Think this as a kind of organic caulking.

[Image: By John Becker].

Yet tidy plots such as these invariably spin out of control and things don't quite go as planned.

Feral Printers

Predictably, these concrete bees eventually escape: first just a few here and there, but then an upstart colony takes hold elsewhere in the city. They breed, speciate, and expand.

Within a few years, as the bees reproduce and thrive, and as their increasingly far-flung colonies grow, people become aware of the scale of the problem: rogue 3D-printing bees have begun to infest the region.

[Image: By John Becker].

They print where they shouldn't print and, without the direction of their carefully made formwork and molds, what they produce often makes no sense.

They print on signs and phone poles; they take over parks and gardens where they print strange forms on flowers, sealing orchids and roses in masonry shells. Bizarre gardens of hardened geometry form on windowsills and ledges, deep in urban forests and along railways and roads.

[Image: By John Becker].

Tiny fragments of concrete can soon be seen atop plants and door frames, beneath cars and on chain-link fences, coiling up and consuming the sides of structures where they were never meant to be, like kudzu; and, of course, strange bee bodies are found now and again, these little concrete-laden corpses lying in the deep grass of backyards, on parking lots and rooftops.

[Image: By John Becker].

Their fallen bodies, augmented and extraordinary, thus dot the very city they've also beautified and improved—this place where they once printed church steeples and apartment ornament, where they fixed cracked statues, sidewalks, and walls.

Of course, other, more adventurous or simply disoriented bees make their way further, hitching inadvertent rides in the holds of planes and cargo ships, mistakenly joining other hives then shipped around the world.

The bees are soon found in Europe, China, and—for reasons never quite clear to materials scientists—throughout India, where, as in the sample image below, they can be seen adding unnecessary ornamentation to temples in Rajasthan. Swarming and uncountable, they busily speck the outside of the building with bulbous and tumid additions no architect would ever have planned.

[Image: By John Becker].

As the bees speciate yet further, and their concrete itself begins to mutate—in some cases, so hard it can only be removed by the toughest drills and demolition equipment, other times more like a slow-drying sandstone incapable of achieving any structure at all—this experiment in animal printheads, these living 3D printers producing architecture and industrial objects, comes to end.

A Bee Amidst The Machines

Most designers learn from the—in retrospect—obvious mistakes that led to these feral printers, returning to more easily controlled inorganic factories and industrial processes. But, even then, on quiet spring days, a tiny buzzing sound can occasionally be heard beneath someone's front porch, out in the suburban gardens somewhere, deep inside National Parks, and even inside huge machines, where whole automobile assembly lines come shuddering to a halt.

There, within the gears, just doing what it's used to doing—what we made it do—a tiny family of 3D-printing bees has taken root, leaving errant clumps of concrete wherever they alight.

(Thanks to John Becker for the fun. An earlier version of this post was previously published on Gizmodo).
24 Jul 18:00

Giant Creature 3D Printed

by Site Admin

Some folks have 3D printed a truly gigantic monster that might be one the largest 3D prints ever attempted. 

There may be larger prints performed by experimental outdoor concrete 3D printers, but the “BodocK” was produced with plain old industrial 3D printers. It’s a collaboration between Legacy Effects, the Stan Winston School of Character Arts and Stratasys, who together made Bodock. 

Bodock is a character indeed. It’s a spectacular sight to behold, as it is 4.1m (13.5 feet) tall and 3m (9 feet 9 inches) wide. We’re not certain how heavy it is, but it likely requires a crew of monster-sized individuals to move around. However, in the video you’ll quickly notice that it moves by itself. 

How was it made? Apparently different types of Stratasys gear were used, including their massive Fortus 900mc, which can deposit extruded plastic up to 910 x 610 x 910mm (36 x 24 x 36 inches). We wouldn’t be surprised if Stratasys’ latest Object Connex 500 color 3D printer was also used to create some of the colorful details. 

Fabbaloo friend and Legacy Effects Lead Systems Engineer Jason Lopes says: 

The true value of using Stratasys 3D printing on the Bodock project was the time savings – being able to go directly from design to the end use part without having to add additional steps in the process. This is a huge step forward for Legacy Effects in incorporating 3D printing for end use materials in their designs. Never have we used such a large scale of directly 3D printed parts on a project of this scope and magnitude. This truly showcases the strength of this material and the ease of post-processing and finishing.

Legacy Effects is well-known for their incredible ability to create amazing characters, which no doubt you’ve seen in many popular recent films. 

Why build this item? It’s a promotional piece to be displayed at the San Diego Comic Con, which just happens to open today. 

Via Stratasys

23 Jul 18:00

NASA Releases Many Printable 3D Models

by General Fabb

The US space agency NASA has released two dozen printable 3D models of spacecraft and alien worlds. 

A page at NASA’s website now holds around two dozen 3D models of contemporary interplanetary spacecraft, asteroids and planetary surfaces. Among the spacecraft are Cassini, Dawn, Kepler, Messenger, Pioneer, Rosetta and many more. 

There are a few planetary bodies in the small collection, including the asteroid Eros, shown above. Also available are the asteroid Itokawa, the dwarf planet Vesta and surfaces of the Moon and Mars. These models are incredibly detailed and should print very well. Even better, NASA has pre-cut them into printable pieces, as you can see above - although from a distance the print might not look like something other than an asteroid. 

The actual printability of the spacecraft models is questionable, as most of them include many extremely spindly parts, like long protruding antennae. It’s pretty clear to us that those parts are almost impossible to print, even with support structures: removal of the support structures would likely snap the very small antennae. Printing them on industrial 3D printers would also be quite challenging. Nevertheless, you still may be able to print the main spacecraft bodies. 

We’re hugely pleased that NASA has done this. They’ve been collecting massive amounts of 3D data on our solar system and it’s been curious why they haven’t released it in this way. But now they have, and they’ve done it in just the right way to address the needs of the 3D print community.  

Now, do we have any gray filament left? 


21 Jul 19:32

Stunning Photo-Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee

by Johnny Strategy

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

Stunning Photo Realistic Graphite Drawings by Monica Lee portraits photorealism hyperrealism graphite

left: the girl with glasses by Marteline Nystad | right: Monica Lee’s illustration of the photograph

Malaysian artist Monica Lee is obsessed with details. But then again, I guess you have to be in order to create some of the most stunning photo-realistic drawings we’ve ever seen. “I like to challenge myself with complex portraits especially people with freckles or beard,” says Lee, who often works from photographic portraits to create seemingly identical drawings. Surprisingly, Lee worked in the digital world for 12 years before making the jump to illustration. But it certainly doesn’t show. She now spends 3-4 weeks on a single drawing. The artist attributes her love for hyperrealism to her father, who worked in the field of photography. You can follow Monica Lee on Facebook or Instagram. She also sells her complex drawings as smartphone cases. (via IGNANT)

26 Jun 16:20

Brave New Now

by suckerPUNCH

Future Perfect Concept art: Hovig ALAHAIDOYAN, "Coastline."

Brave New Now is a collection of specially commissioned short stories set in a fictional future city developed by speculative architect Liam Young for the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Authors have been invited to inhabit the city, to breathe life into its characters and cultures and give form to its streets and spaces through narrative. . . .

image: Hovig ALAHAIDOYAN.


It is a speculative urbanism, an exaggerated present, in which we can imagine the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research.

“A projective fiction is a critical tool that is both an extraordinary vision of tomorrow and a provocative examination of the pertinent questions facing us today.” — Liam Young

This digital publication was commissioned by “Close, Closer” chief curator Beatrice Galilee, Art Direction by Zak Group, and graphic design by Raquel Pinto.

*The support of The British Council has enabled a discounted distribution price of Brave New Now ebook.

Editor: Liam Young
Authors: Warren Ellis, Tim Maughan, Jonathan Dotse, Bruce Sterling, Rachel Armstrong, Samit Basu, Anil Menon.
Photographers: Michael Wolf, Greg Girard, Neil Chowdhury, Vincent Fournier, Thomas Weinberger, Charlie Koolhaas, Greg White, Daniel Beltrá, Victoria Sambunaris, Christina Seely, Brice Richard, Bas Princen.
Concept Art: Hoving Alahaidoyan, Daniel Dociu.

22 Jul 16:00

Make Your Own 3D Printer Filament with the ExtrusionBot

by General Fabb

There have been several attempts at developing a practical filament-making machine. Is ExtrusionBot the one that succeeds? 

We’ve looked at a few similar devices and found most of them to be impractical for various reasons, not the least being quality of output. In today’s personal 3D printers (at least the plastic filament-based ones) the quality of input filament is critical. It must have highly consistent diameter, no air bubbles, consistent coloration, consistent chemistry for strength and be non-toxic. Any usable filament maker must be able to produce those results or it won’t be worth your trouble. 

Let’s take a look at the ExtrusionBot, said to be “The world’s fastest filament extruder”. At a scary 4 feet per seconds (1.22 m/s), you’d think so - and stand clear of the machine, too. We suspect that there are industrial machines that can beat this mark, but we would believe the ExtrusionBot could be the world’s fastest PERSONAL filament extruder. 

The ExtrusionBot has a unique design: it’s upright, whereas most of the other filament makers we’ve seen are horizontal and take up much more space. We suspect this could be the optimum design, as gravity can assist in the speed and by dropping filament vertically it avoids natural bending that may occur. 

Also unlike many other filament makers, the ExtrusionBot includes an “automatic spooling mechanism so filament does not end up as a tangled mess on the floor”. This alone makes the ExtrusionBot better. We have been very surprised that other filament making machines’ designers have often ignored this critical feature. 

The ExtrusionBot includes several other interesting features:

  • Swappable nozzles to enable extrusion of different filament diameters. 
  • Temperature sensor to automatically stop if trouble is detected.
  • Metal components for high temperature use.
  • Worldwide shipping.
  • Fully assembled.

Of course, the major benefit of making your own filament is low cost materials. According to ExtrusionBot, you can make a 1kg spool of PLA for as low as USD$4, some ten times less than typical pricing. And you can control the coloration yourself. 

The ExtrusionBot is available today for USD$625. That might sound like a lot of money if you’re using a 3D printer that costs about that same amount, but let’s check out the math: If you can save USD$40 per spool, you’ll need to create and use around 16 spools to break even.

For some of us, that’s not too hard. 

Via ExtrusionBot (Hat tip to Andrew)

19 Jul 19:05

Modern Packing Dissonance

by Warren Ellis

Roll the shirts.  Zip all the cables into their pouch.  Put some power in the mp3 player.  Charge the book.  Stand there with the Kindle in one hand and the cable in the other and realise that you’ve just said “charge the book” to yourself.  Stick electricity into the book so you can read it and it can update itself over the air.  Charging up the wrist thing that counts my steps and monitors my sleep, sure.  Charging up a book.  If I wasn’t hungover, it probably wouldn’t be so dissonant.  But, really, what a bloody ridiculous thing to do.  I mean, the book carries a thousand books inside it.  But it’s another one of those lines that belongs in an old science fiction novel.  Racked next to Ray Bradbury’s MARTIAN CHRONICLES, perhaps, which I believe carried an instance of a Martian “listening to his book.”

It’s the little things that leak through.



21 Jul 17:00

A Fully Mechanical 3D Printer? Yes, It Exists

by General Fabb

It has been proven: a rudimentary 3D printer has been built solely from mechanical components - with no electronics involved. 

Dutch artist and maker Daniel de Bruin created this startling mechanical creature he calls “this new technology” as a work of art. He says: 

3d printing allows me to create products more swiftly and more efficiently than ever. but these products are not mine. they are merely a product of this new technology. I love technology but how can I reclaim ownership of my work? perhaps by building the machine that produces the work. perhaps by physically powering the machine, which I built, that produces the work. in hopes of rediscovering the sense of having created something, I create.

The machine operates by gravity. Some 15kg of metal weights pull a chain that powers all the moving parts of the machine, including the extruder, speed governor, z-axis and print plate spinner. Wait a sec, what are those? The speed governor appears to be a fan-like structure in the rear that uses air resistance to moderate the speed of the machine. The plate spinner, well, spins the print plate, eliminating the need for old-fashioned X and Y axis movements. 

You might ask how the machine knows what to print, as there are no electronics to read SD cards, no WiFi to listen for GCODE streams. Instead, the “3D model” is in fact a simple aluminum wire from which the diameter of each layer is read in an analog fashion. Bending the wire provides a different shape. It’s much like a “Lathe” tool found in 3D modeling software, except this one is in real life! 

Material options on this machine seem to be limited to room-temperature squishy stuff, as the extruder is a syringe driven by the limited force of gravity. 

This design is never going to show up in people’s homes or workshops, but it does demonstrate the possibilities of analog design.

Via Daniel de Bruin

16 Jul 18:33

Trinity - July 16th, 1945

Trinity - July 16th, 1945

18 Jul 17:00

MakerBot’s New Reseller: Home Depot

by General Fabb

MakerBot has agreed with Home Depot to have specially designed “MakerBot kiosks” in a dozen Home Depot outlets in the US. 

While we’ve already seen retail arrangements between the major 3D printer manufacturers and several office supply chains, we have not seen any with home construction supply chains. Until now. 

MakerBot and Home Depot announced an “in store experience” to showcase MakerBot’s new 5th generation 3D printers in a themed display area. The agreement indicates twelve Home Depot locations are initially targeted in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Chicagoland areas. 

This move is quite interesting, as the theory goes something like this: Home Depot shoppers are makers (of a different kind) that may require custom plastic items from time to time. With a 3D printer of their own they’ll be able to make the parts themselves. 

Will this marketing strategy succeed? We’re not sure, but aside from the obvious exposure MakerBot will receive, we have some questions: 

  • Will Home Depot makers find economy or utility in making their own parts when they are accustomed to buying inexpensive parts at Home Depot? 
  • How many Home Depot makers are capable of creating their own 3D designs?
  • Will Home Depot offer some type of 3D design service or perhaps a website where their makers can generate 3D models for printing? 

The last one is the biggie. If Home Depot begins selling 3D models for printing, then we’ve taken a huge step in a very long journey towards distributed home manufacturing. 

Via MakerBot

18 Jul 00:00


Once again topping the list of tonight's hottest rising stars in Hollywood is ξ Persei!
17 Jul 20:29

Big Red Mark

by Warren Ellis

Woken by my phone thundering with notifications.  Plane down somewhere in Ukraine.  Allegations of missile attacks and terrorist acts.  Finally the phone stops shivering around on the bedside table and I go back to sleep.  A few hours later, it starts jumping up and down again.  Israel crosses into Gaza.  Ground invasion.  Talk of “dreadful consequences.”  I give up, get up, open email.  That was a mistake.  Television screen fills with fire and smoke.  I go outside, smoke a cigarette, try to wake up and assemble the last few hours in my head.  My phone rattles with received news again, and then shows nothing but an ! on the screen.  ! and TEMPERATURE EMERGENCY.

Yeah.  !  sums it up.  Temperature emergency.  The phone really could have just displayed ! to start with.


Reading: 131, Julian Cope


15 Jul 17:30

designculturemind: Tangible Media MIT’s Tangible Media is...


Tangible Media

MIT’s Tangible Media is coming along nicely,

"Almost like a table of living clay, the inFORM is a surface that three-dimensionally changes shape, allowing users to not only interact with digital content in meatspace, but even hold hands with a person hundreds of miles away. And that’s only the beginning."

*The tie-in with the projection-mapping is especially good.

14 Jul 20:44

generalelectric: Pictured above is the world’s largest indoor...


Pictured above is the world’s largest indoor farm illuminated by LEDs, which opened this month in Japan. Inside, 18 cultivation racks reach 15 levels high, and are outfitted with 17,500 GE LED light fixtures developed specifically for this facility. The indoor farm can grow lettuce two-and-a-half times faster than an outdoor farm, and is already producing 10,000 heads of it per day. Read more about this breakthrough in modern farming at GE Reports.   

03 Jul 18:07

Outbreak: Hand Cut Paper Microbes and Pathogens, Rogan Brown

Outbreak: Hand Cut Paper Microbes and Pathogens by Rogan Brown

Outbreak: Hand Cut Paper Microbes and Pathogens by Rogan Brown

Outbreak: Hand Cut Paper Microbes and Pathogens by Rogan Brown

Outbreak: Hand Cut Paper Microbes and Pathogens by Rogan Brown

Outbreak: Hand Cut Paper Microbes and Pathogens, Rogan Brown

11 Jul 16:21

Lunch Is Cancelled

by Warren Ellis

Phones that dream.  Personal satellite constellations.  OK, Google, program some matter with me.  Can you see me?  A wall-mounted networked eyeball streams my heartbeat to a vampire server farm on some distant dry plain.   Someone walks past me, on the corner of Mercer and Prince in the brilliant morning sun, wearing Google Glass, and I instinctively step back and into an alcove, away from the machine vision.  Stray photons have taken seven hundred and seventy five thousand years to reach New York City from the outer halo stars of the Milky Way, and SoHo’s lone Googlenaut hoovers them up with his weak extra eyeball.  I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him.  I’ve never seen Glass in the wild before.  The thing sits on his shades like Minimum Viable Science Fiction.  Toy future.

13 Jul 14:29

ryanpanos: Tower of David: the World’s Tallest Slum | Via The...


Tower of David: the World’s Tallest Slum | Via

The Tower of David is an abandoned unfinished skyscraper in the center of Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, that is now home to more than 3,000 squatters, who have turned the 45-story skyscraper into the world’s tallest slum.

Construction of the building, originally called “Centro Financiero Confinanzas” and nicknamed the “Tower of David”, after its developer, David Brillembourg, was started in 1990 and was to become a symbol of Caracas’ bright financial future. It is the third highest skyscraper in the country. But a banking crisis brought those plans to an abrupt halt in 1994. The government took control over the building and construction was never completed. The building has no elevators, no installed electricity or running water, no balcony railing and windows and even walls in many places.

In 2007, a group of squatters took over the building, and it quickly gained notoriety as a hotbed of crime and drugs. Despite this, residents have managed to build a comfortable and self sustaining community complete with basic utility services such as electricity and water that reaches all the way up to the 22nd floor. Lifts being absent, residents can use motorcycles to travel up and down the first 10 floors, but must use the stairs for the remaining levels.  Inside the building’s long hallways there are warehouses, clothing stores, beauty parlours, a dentist and day-care centers. Some residents even have cars, parked inside of the building’s parking garage. Some seven hundred families comprising over 3,000 residents live in the tower today.

10 Jul 14:20

"Why does this guy get to call this guy about stuff this guy...

"Why does this guy get to call this guy about stuff this guy released?"

Colonising the Clouds  — Medium

Slides and Notes from a presentation given at Theorising the Web #TTW14 NYC April 2014 with updated/expanded comments.

09 Jul 01:19



07 Jul 17:32

Air Purifying Drone

by Radhika Seth

The city is our home! Based on this premise is the UrbanCONE – a personalized drone that aims to keep your surrounding environment pollution-free. Inspired by jellyfish, this floating device stays afloat thanks to the air fans. As a part of the Semi-finalist concepts of the 2014 Electrolux Design Lab competition, it will be intriguing to see if this urban mass air purifier makes it to the finalist list this year. More details here.

Designer: Michał Pośpiech

Yanko Design
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(Air Purifying Drone was originally posted on Yanko Design)

Related posts:

  1. Water Purifying Bridge
  2. City-Purifying Tower
  3. A Different Kind of Drone

02 Jul 16:17

02 Jul 00:00

Surface Area

This isn't an informational illustration; this is a thing I think we should do. First, we'll need a gigantic spool of thread. Next, we'll need some kind of ... hmm, time to head to Seattle.
27 Jun 18:51

Jurassic Park

29 Jun 07:40

Tom Coates, “Interacting with a World of Connected Objects”

27 Jun 04:48

Short Film Magic

by (Braden Duncan)
I'd like to take a moment to share a gorgeous video short created by Adric (Knight) Hicks for the opening at Roq la Rue Gallery this month featuring the art of Redd Walitzki and Andy Kehoe. It captures the chaotic beauty of a whirlwind art opening in a selection of intimate vignettes; and at only 1:43, it's a film you won't soon forget.

Adric premiered another video at last month's Pioneer Square art walk, "Erlkönig," a collaboration with mezzo-soprano Roxanna Walitzki and musical group Toy Box Trio. More of Adric's vidoe work lives here. Stay tuned for brand new projects and collaborations!

Support your local art scene!

~ BCDuncan 

24 Jun 11:27

Wearable Food

by Warren Ellis

I was bitching to Leila Johnston the other day that, in the same week, I’d seen tech-blog writers refer to both “wearable glasses” and, I swear, “wearable shirts.”  They meant networked wearable computing objects, of course, but they gave the strong impression of spending so little time outside the Bay Area tech community that simple things like “glasses and shirts were already wearable” just pass them by now.  These are the same people who say things like “I just don’t need 21 nice meals a week.”   On this page, you will see Soylent users referring to actual food as “muggle meals.”   Because what the vile, off-white milk from the plastic teat of the  mother of invention really needed to finish its metaphor was being surrounded by language from children’s fiction.  Childike Othering from people in their twenties who really know that shirts aren’t wearable until they’re linked and declare food to be something that the lumpen common people do.


Cut to Robert Scoble in the shower with his Google Glass: a toy that he played with obsessively for a couple of months and then put back in the toybox.


Reading: FOR A NEW NOVEL, Alain Robbe-Grillet.