*General Electric blue-skying it
*General Electric blue-skying it
Here is an interesting conundrum for Google: it has created an algorithm that’s significantly better at reading street numbers in Street View images, which helps it give you more accurate directions. At the same time, though, it turns out that this algorithm is so good, it can decipher 99 percent of CAPTCHAs (those squiggly text puzzles you often have to solve to prove you are human).
*Goths always think the straights are going to strangle them, even though they’ve been more-or-less around since 1764 AD and nowadays they have more sub-cult flavors than Baskin Robbins.
*If Goths can “discover the color brown” and become steampunks, how come they can’t go to the gym? Lord Byron was a champion swimmer. Let the guy have his Spandex.
*Here, Goth kids: put a little sweat-through in the armpits of this gear, get flat shoes and some lifting gloves, you’re good to go:
PS Also I have been in MARIE CLAIRE and I suffered no ill effects. I am alive years later and still own the same Missoni tie.
The Chairman says don’t panic.
*fucking sea lions
*He’s the very soul of social media
For the past year we have been busy building, testing, documenting and refining the process of taking 3D printed parts and using “Lost PLA” burnout to cast for parts for more robust applications. The documentation is bordering 100+pages, with 20+ pages of brute force data. We will try to keep it simple, show off with a few shiny throwbacks, hopefully inspire ideas for the potential, and give some technical specs to boost the capabilities of those open source open hardware folks who love a good clean walkthrough.
This design prevents the vacuum from sucking up molten metal if the plaster in the flask fails to seal.
The sketches go through the simple breakdown of a furnace in basic parts and vacuum trap parts. More information can be found here. Any casting plaster can be used for when investing flasks for casting.
The test metal was scrap 6061 aluminum, and/or silicon bronze to ensure anyone could replicate the process easily.
These parts yielded data about hole size requirements and edge cases. The goal was to quantify what was likely to succeed.
Parts can have clean interior corners, where CNC machines would fail to accomplish because of the cutter size. Self intersecting geometry is also not a problem. Edge case castings have been hearty with 13 fins space 1.6mm apart extending 15mm up and continuous for 40mm. This means complex geometry for cooling fins has little cost to prototype.The hard part is conceptualizing how volumetric shrinkage occurs. Basically the part will shrink ~2-3% depending on the alloy, but holes will get bigger as metal contracts from the side walls of the plaster. This means that parts need to be scale up ~2% while holes need to shrink by 2%. This allows parts to be well toleranced if machined afterwards.
The best part for testing the capabilities of any machine or process, thank you Loic.
Extremely complex parts that cannot be machined can easily be cast in production volumes allowing standard 3D print/cast parts to; withstand high temperature applications, parts have higher strength to weight ratio, parts can be custom bearing/bushing systems(when bronze is used), and parts can be used to create custom heat sinks (when aluminum is used).
Rapid manufacture of injection molds allows for even the smallest of shops to become competitive with standard injection molding. 3D printing adds ease and flexibility for companies to change their designs/molds faster and keep up with the demand.
Cast bust of a 3D scan
"This is the story of an accidental network of hundreds of people all sort of working towards a vague common goal on a ridiculous project that did not exist a week ago."
No, I’m not a member.
If you saw this picture and your first thought was that you were looking at a costumed Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, you wouldn’t be alone.
Last Friday, Jess and I attended Disneyland’s Halloween party. It was the maiden voyage for Jess’s newest costume, in progress since spring: Katrina Van Tassel from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” “Sleepy Hollow” was the second of two featurettes released together in what was the last of Disney’s “package” films. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was Disney Studios’ 11th animated feature, and it premiered on October 5th, 1949.
Jess was sure no one would recognize the costume, and while I thought she was mostly correct, I still believed that someone at Disneyland would recognize it. From the beginning, no one did. Most believed, as we suspected, that she was dressed as Princess Aurora. A few were confused, thinking she was a fusion of Little Bo Peep from Toy Story and Sleeping Beauty. She was also mistaken for Cinderella, and Charlotte from The Princess and the Frog.
Again, none of this was a surprise.
Katrina has probably been one of the more obscure Disney characters from the beginning. Like a Disney princess, Katrina has a wardrobe change during her cartoon. When Katrina first appears she wears a bell-shaped pink dress with a blue laced front, she carries a green parasol, and she wears a white Dutch cap. Later, at a Halloween party thrown by her father, she wears a longer pink dress with a more open neckline and no blue accent. This is the version that Jess chose to portray.
What was a surprise, was that after revealing that the costume was in fact that of Katrina Van Tassel from the animated feature, there was, to a person, not a glimmer of recognition. Not even amongst the park’s Cast Members.
“You know, ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’? The Halloween cartoon with Ichabod and the Headless Horseman? Narrated by Bing Crosby?”
Blank spot here – then, “You mean that ‘Sleepy Hollow’ TV show?”
“No, the Disney cartoon.”
What inevitably followed was the look of someone who you had just spoken to in ancient Babylonian. Apparently no one under the age of thirty or maybe even forty has ever seen this cartoon.
At the end of the night, on the way out of the park, someone finally recognized the costume. A girl dressed as Princess Aurora, of all things, traveling with a group of other costumed princesses, yelled “Katrina! Katrina!” from across the street, then ran over for a picture. Aurora seemed surprised she was the only person who got it – so I won the bet: someone, one person, had known who Katrina was. Fifteen minutes later one guy in the World of Disney store recognized the character as well. So, two out of many thousands. Which greatly saddened and distressed me.
As a kid, I learned to tell time largely because I wanted to be sure my family made it home from Sunday dinner by six-thirty. Sunday dinner for us was always at the same place: Furr’s Cafeteria in Arvada, Colorado. This, for us, was extremely fancy. The first thing you noticed after your eyes adjusted to the dark was the weird brick walls. As we stood in the tray line with other hungry families I studied the walls made of weird, goopy, sloppy bricks. They all looked a little melted, some much more than others. If one took the proper cues from the bricks and the medieval prints on the walls, I guess they were trying to make the place look like it was from ancient Europe. So waiting in the tray line was like traveling backwards through time to a cafeteria in the Middle Ages. A time when people weren’t so good at making bricks but they could still make Jell-O in every color conceivable.
We each got a tray and pushed it down the line while we picked which plates we wanted from the hundreds that were cooling on crushed ice beyond the glass sneeze guard which was at an adult’s chest level. As a kid I could easily reach beneath the glass and get whatever I wanted. I always chose the same things: Salisbury steak which came with a mandatory side of green beans, green Jell-O presented in cubes, and a sugary green drink. Dad always got the chicken fried steak.
As I ate my Jell-O in the dark medieval dining room, which was hung all around with colorful knights’ shields, I repeatedly checked Dad’s watch. We needed to get home before Wonderful World of Disney came on.
Never was this so urgent than the night in October when they broadcast “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
If I was lucky I saw it twice – once on TV, and again when they herded every kid in Foster Elementary into the gym and screened it in 16mm. We had been making construction paper cats and witches and ghosts since the end of September. But it wasn’t Halloween till I saw “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” That was when it really began. That Disney film was, and still is, the portal by which I reach the heart of the holiday. The kids-in-costumes, plastic-mask-held-on-by-rubber-bands, smell-of-burned-pumpkin-lid, sound-of-candy-dropped-in-a-bag Halloween.
Everything about “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” I consider to be perfect. The fall colors, the narration by Bing Crosby, the disarmingly cute opening and the scary end. Brom Bones’ song at the Van Tassels’ Halloween party always make me feel like I was there amongst the frightened guests. And the execution of Ichabod’s final, lonely ride through the deep woods and hidden graveyards of his township is a masterpiece of tension, humor, and sudden terror.
And the characters! There is only one Ichabod, and certainly Brom Bones is the ironclad prototype from which Beauty and the Beast‘s Gaston was later hammered.
But none of it would work if not for Katrina. Presented as an unearthly beauty who arrives out of nowhere at the side of her father, she is a creature that only animation could conceive, floating around like a cloud, prancing across streams more like Bambi than a human being. Katrina lifts nothing heavier than a teacup or parasol while a willing army of admirers carry entire picnics and weeks of provisions for her. And yet she never came off as manipulative to me. Rather, Katrina seemed to occupy a needed space in that world. Like a thunderstorm that sweeps through the mountains, she was a disruptive necessity. She kicked everyone into gear. She was the planet all the other characters fall into orbit around. I like that Katrina messes with people, but in the end she, like Brom Bones, is without malice. Her willingness to toy with Ichabod is in direct proportion to the less-than-noble designs Ichabod has for her. This fantastic little story by Washington Irving recognizes both Brom’s and Katrina’s awareness of their inevitable pairing, thus this last dance of courtship choreographed by Katrina. In a situation like this any of these three characters could have come off as a victim or a villain, but in the hands of this particular team of artists they all end up quite likable, indeed. No one, I think, more than Katrina. She’s beautiful and provocative at her entrance, and even moreso at the finish. I wish she showed up in attractions and merchandise more than she currently does. Which is to say not at all – save for an often overlooked restaurant in Walt Disney World.
Katrina is, I think, unique amongst Disney characters. She exudes more dimension, charm and attitude than a character with her screen time has a right to. And all without uttering a single word. And the unapologetic audacity of her design is refreshing. Jessica Rabbit gets a lot of attention for how she’s drawn, but I think Katrina has her beat in all categories. Katrina’s animators include Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, Ken O’Brien, Woolie Reitherman, John Sibley, and, of course, Fred Moore. I’m not sure if a featurette usually had such an all-star lineup, but this film obviously owes a good deal of its longevity and strength to its roster. But a huge amount of credit should be given to the story crew, the background painters, and the editing and sound work in the climactic sequence.
So what’s the point of all this? I guess I just want to keep the memory of this cartoon alive. A new generation shouldn’t miss out on this perfect piece of American Halloween. Take an hour to share “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” with someone you think would like it. You can find it on Netflix (although not streaming, sadly) and Amazon Instant Video, or even newly bundled on DVD and Blu-ray.
And Happy Halloween!
Rosetta’s Selfie via NASA http://ift.tt/1rwxZu2
Leave it to Charlie to neatly lay out a concept I've been nursing for years, but have seen no other writing about to date. I think this has interesting implications for design direction as well. You could see stereotypically common magic objects, spells, and creatures as deeply desired human capacities that we now or soon have the technology to implement...
I'm just not that interested in writing science fiction this decade. Nope: instead, I'm veering more and more in the direction of urban fantasy. Here's why.
My personal take on science fiction is that this narrow slice of the literature of the Fantastika (hint: if you haven't met that term of critical art before, follow the link before reading on) is about the study of the human condition under circumstances which might plausibly come to pass. By "plausibly" I thereby try to exclude the implausible (wizards, elves, surrealist intrusions from the subconscious) and to include stuff that doesn't exist but which plausibly might exist (artificial intelligence, aliens).
Now, as various SF and fantasy writers have observed, our baseline definitions of what is plausible and implausible change over time. In part, this is because formerly plausible ideas have shifted gradually into the penumbra of implausibility (the luminiferous aether, for example: phlogiston: the other detritus of discredited scientific hypotheses; arguably time travel and faster than light travel might be heading this way too). In no small part, the Mundane science fiction movement is a response to this: if we have no plausible evidence to support large scale causality violation in the observable universe, doesn't it follow that FTL starships are little more plausible than fire-breathing, flying dragons?
(Meanwhile, some items which would have been pigeon-holed as implausible without an eye-blink a few decades ago are not merely plausible today but are probably sitting in your pocket right now. About which, more later.)
In addition to the redrawing of the plausibility/implausibility frontier, we have other factors to consider: notably, our relationship with technology and science. As Vernor Vinge remarked in his novel Rainbows End many modern technologies come with no user serviceable parts inside. Back in the late 1970s or early 1980s, personal computers were (by modern standards) a bit crap, but they offered an unparalleled opportunity to open the lid and learn by tinkering. For example, the BBC Micro in the UK—which sold by the million—had an analog i/o port, user-accessible DMA ports, and ROM sockets into which users could install additional firmware; it was designed for learning. The Apple II similarly featured a fairly simple expansion port architecture. But today's personal computing devices (with very few exceptions) come as shiny sealed boxes; their expansion options exist but are complex and require considerable expertise to develop: they're not designed for learners and tinkers but for users or highly trained developers.
Similarly, in other fields our technologies have developed in a way that's hostile to monkey-see monkey-do learning. You can't credibly learn to service a modern automobile in your own garage. You can't formulate a new pharmaceutical preparation in the back of your dispensary (which, believe it or not, actually happened right up until the late 1930s: even in the late 1970s/early 1980s it was possible for a medium-sized company with perhaps 20-30 researchers to develop and bring to market new medicines).
In part, this is a side-effect of market globalization: to survive even locally a product has to reach a planetary market, which means competing with large organizations and getting access to huge supply chains, which means you need to be big ... and market regulations are structured to lock out upstart small competitors. But that's not the only reason for it. Lots of our technologies have become so complex that just learning how to use them is a full-time job; understanding the interlocking specialities that go into them is beyond individual comprehension.
As brilliant new fantasy author Max Gladstone notes:
Old-school fantasy is a genre of the unknowable. Magic in Tolkien's works is big and vast and ancient. His characters relate to that magic with awe, with fear, and occasionally with love. No one tries to hack the One Ring. Certainly no one tries to build a new one! People acquire the One Ring, or the Palantir, and use each within its limits.
But consider the smartphone I have in my pocket.
No single human being knows how to make this phone. I acquired the phone, and I use it. People who know more about the phone can tell it to do more things than I can, but they're still bound by the limits of the hardware. A few communities are dedicated to modding and hacking phones like mine, yes, but for most people most of the time a smartphone is a portable magic mirror. We make mystic passes before the glass, address the indwelling spirit with suitably respectful tones, and LEARN THE FUTURE. ("Siri, what will the weather be like tomorrow?") The same thought experiment works for many modern technologies.
Max then goes on to make a point that I might well have made myself if I'd thought to put it so explicitly: while the technologies in our far-future SF now look more and more like numinous magical powers, our daily life is perfused by magical devices that obey relatively predictable rules—utter the right incantation and Siri tells you the weather. Which means we as readers are coming to expect an almost mechanistic causality to inform the magic in our fantasies.
(And if that makes sense to you, go try one of Max's novels. No, seriously: if you like near-future SF there's a rather good chance that this fantasy novel will speak to you. Weird, isn't it? Because he's writing SF set in a world perfused by mechanised, systematized magic. We need a word for this: the standard genre tags are too limiting.)
So here's my next step: we are living in a 21st century that resembles a mutant Shadowrun—by turns a cyberpunk dystopia and a world where everyone has access to certain kinds of magic. And if you want to explore the human condition under circumstances which might plausibly come to pass, these days the human condition is constrained by technologies so predictably inaccessible that they might as well be magic. So magic makes a great metaphor for probing the human condition. We might not have starships, but there's a Palantir in every pocket (and we might not have dragons, but some of our wizards are working on it ).
Over the past few years I've found myself reading less and less far-future SF and more and more urban fantasy. If you view it through the lens of the future we're living in rather than the future we expected in times gone by, that's not so surprising. Starships and galactic empires and aliens are receding into the same misty haze of unreality as dragons and demons: instead we're living in a world with chickens with tails and scales and teeth, magic mirrors with answers to every question (many of them misleading or malicious), dominated by abhuman hive minds.
So it shouldn't be any surprise to discover in the world I'm now living in I can engage better with the subjects of my fiction by writing urban fantasy, rather than by extruding good old-fashioned space opera just like grandpappy wrote. This doesn't mean that I consider traditional space opera to be dead (any more than high fantasy with elves, dwarves and dragons is dead): but it's not something I'm engaging with much, if at all, these days.
And now for one final thought.
Traditionally fantasy works were set in a mythologized past: frequently faux-mediaeval, occasionally classical, sometimes (as is especially the case with the more recent steampunk sub-genre) only 1-2 centuries removed. Some fantasies are set in the present: we often mislabel these urban fantasy, although very often contemporary fantasy is rural/wilderness oriented while it's quite common for urban fantasy settings to be historic (Ankh-Morpork, I'm looking at you). But it's still very rare to find a fantasy that's set in the cities of the near future: and I find this genre blind spot fascinating, because the future of humanity is overwhelmingly urban and magical ...
*Yes, yes, enjoy the sarcasm while you can….
*I’ve seen some folding furniture in my day, but that’s not half shabby.
"Founded by architect, designer and innovator Alexander Gendell, Folditure is a young company that develops functional pieces of furniture designed to be suitable for living spaces of any size. Folditure’s pieces are engineered so that they can be easily folded in seconds into flat silhouettes that can be hung in the closet when they are not in use.
"Folditure uses a patented pyramid hinge technology, mixed in with cutting-edge materials and assembly processes, to create furniture that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to stow away as needed.
"The patented folding mechanism of Folditure’s pieces allows the components to either smoothly move in sync and fold into a completely flat structure or open up into a three-dimensional frame. The components of the furniture piece easily lock together to create a sturdy and balanced chair or table…."
Brad Hill is the creator behind LittleRP – A DLP projector-based resin printer that can be put together for as little as $499.
Brad set out to create a printer that was open, flexible and affordable. Rather than using proprietary resins, the LittleRP is designed to use as many different formulations of UV curing resins as possible. By focusing on smaller, higher quality prints, the LittleRP is able to provide high accuracy while keeping costs low.
The flexibility and low cost helps explain the explosive popularity of the LittleRP’s Kickstarter, which passed it’s funding goal of $25,000 is under 24 hours. As of this writing the LittleRP has raised over $98,000, just under 400% of it’s original goal!
The LittleRP works using a process known as 3D stereolithography, a 3D printing process that uses light-sensitive resin and a high intensity light source to build a 3D object, layer by layer, rather than using spools of plastic filament as on a majority of 3D printers currently on the market. You can check out the LittleRP in action on it’s Kickstarter Video:
Want to get your hands on your own LittleRP? Head over to Brad’s Kickstarter page to get one while you still can.
Inspired to make your own project? Signup to make and sell for free!
Coils that run rings around Slinky
Thanks to the addition of a rotary attachment for his laser cutter, Adam Watters has spent several months exploring what happens when you cut helical paths onto cylinders.
The variety of outcomes shows that there is a whole lot further to go with Springs than the trusty old Slinky would have us believe. Working in materials including acrylic, cardboard and 3d printed PLA, he has created a range of forms that have a mathematical beauty both as static objects and when in motion.
Discovering new patterns and the shapes and forms that follow has been a rewarding process for Adam. When questioned as to what the point of it all is, he had this to say:
For a little while, I turned my attention to finding an application for these, but that proved to be way less fun than experimenting with the process and cutting new springs. So for now, they are what they are.
Head over to Instructables where you can read all about laser cutting acrylic and cardboard springs, from a straightforward spiral through to cuboid grids, nested coils and even compression springs that take things in another direction entirely.
Changing your appearance with your mood is a topic that’s no longer reserved for New Age followers or sci-fi fans.
By embedding Intel’s super versatile, small-in-size-but-large-in-processing-capacity microcontroller called “Intel Edison”, Anouk Wipprecht created “Synapse”, a smart dress based on biosensors that takes user experience to the next level, as it acts on the wearer’s behalf!
Take a moment to imagine the possibility of the clothes you wear communicating changes in your mood, not only to others, but also gives the wearer better knowledge on her own fluctuations in attention and (dis)-stress level; basically functioning as a learning system.
Dutch high-tech fashion designer, Anouk Wipprecht – a name you may recognize from her “Smoke Dress”,Cirque du Soleil pieces and a recent Open Source Particle dress- is known for creating electronic couture that intersects fashion design with engineering. She is particularly interested in interactive design and sensors, and with her new work, she dove even further into the world of user experience design and body sensor networks.
How did Anouk pull this off?
By flawlessly blending the newest technological developments with her sophisticated fashion sense, her “Synapse Dress” is powered by Intel’s newly launched “Intel Edison” microcontroller and was designed in collaboration with Niccolo Casas. The dress was then 3D printed by i.materialise’s parent company Materialise, in the fully-flexible TPU 92A-1 (Rubber Like‘s technical name), a material Anouk is pretty familiar with at this point.
The Synapse dress was revealed on September 9th at Intel’s Development Forum and was made in collaboration with Intel’s New Devices Group. It marks Anouk’s first attempt to embed Intel Edison into a sensing garment, and has given truly spectacular results!
The Intel-Edison-powered dress logs your own actions and makes you and others understand when something within yourself or within your immediate environment captures your attention or gives you stress. Unlocking the potential for social, emotional and even “therapeutic” ways in how we can merge electronic fashion with body sensing networks and learning systems, this dress defines and uncovers new ways to explore and interact with the world around us.
The dress’s headpiece is fitted with a sensor that track the wearer’s attention level and focus to monitor fluctuations in the wearer’s “internal” mode – where attention level is usually high (around 80%). This functions internally to train your attention span, but also communicates externally by telling others that you are in a high state of focus and “do not disturb” while concentrated on a difficult task.
One of the other sensors embedded in the dress monitors proximity: if the wearer feels like someone is invading her personal space, the lights in the dress can give off up to 120 watts of brightness, telling the other person to back off. The dress has a camera on the front that can capture a picture whenever the subject feels either most tense or most relaxed so she can later track what was making her feel that way. In short, it’s a dress with a lot of on-board hardware that challenges the body.
Thanks to these new technologies, the designer can now easily compute with a whole set of complicated hardware. Anouk’s previous innovations for wearable technologies brought her to a great height; but with the use of her recent technology, body-activated interactions can also flourish. She is super excited about new finds that give depth to her design process.
“I cherish all new technologies; for example, Intel Edison allows me to integrate a super small piece of technology which can quickly compute complicated sets of signals, optional store and interconnect wirelessly to a lot of input data at once in an more advanced and more intelligent way. With digital design and manufacturing processes like 3D printing at Materialise for example, I can seamlessly create a garment, that rolls out of the machine, that I can directly embed, code, program and test out to be worn a few hours later. It simplifies certain things (manufacturing process), and deepens others (design process). At this point in time we stop ‘crafting’ fashion – but instead, ‘engineer’ your garment extensively.” – Anouk Wipprecht
What would you want to design with 3D printing and Intel Edison? Share your ideas in the comments below!
Ransombots are everywhere now. Last month 900,000 Android users were attacked by an aggressive bot using the "ScareMe" framework.
Here's what ransombot does:
This scam is worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
The cops and the police can't and won't protect you from this and all of the other attacks that are being made against you. Why?
Where is this going?
Bots are going to be everywhere.
Here's one Reuters story I'm waiting for. You know it's close:
Ransom bot locks mother and child in their car for two terrifying hours until they are able to pay five bitcoins.... Their names have been withheld due to a fear of retribution from the bot if they told anyone about the crime.
"This is the second interview of the series I started last week, based on my recent book about future, sci-fi and design fictions. After Warren Ellis, here’s Bruce Sterling (whose blogging have moved to this wonderful tumblr called ‘Wolf in Living Room’:
"NN: In your opinion, as a science-fiction writer, how to you perceive this difficulty to go beyond the standard visions of "the Future" (from flying cars to humanoid robots)?
"BS: At SXSW 2014 I was on a panel with Warren Ellis, Joi Ito and Daniel Suarez where an interesting atemporal design-fiction issue came up. We science fiction writers were discussing the problem of inventing something far-fetched, satirical, extrapolative or socially critical and then discovering that it was already commercially available on the shelves of Wal-Mart. This was immediately called the “Wal-Mart Problem.”
"Atemporally speaking, it’s clearly possible to write a form of "futuristic" science fiction in which all the "sci-fi gadgets" are already real objects in Wal-Mart. …"
Toolmaker Dremel surprised everyone by announcing a personal 3D printer, the Dremel 3D Idea Builder.
Dremel is, of course, famous for their incredibly versatile handheld tool, capable of accommodating multiple types of add-ons. There’s likely one (or more) Dremel tools in every maker’s toolbox. Now, perhaps, you can add another Dremel device to your collection.
Let’s take a look at the 3D Idea Builder’s specifications. It is a plastic filament-based device, capable of printing PLA plastic at 0.1mm layer size with its single extruder, like many others currently on the market. It has a build volume of 230 x 150 x 140mm, similar to current MakerBot models.
While the 3DIB doesn’t have a heated build surface, it does have a fully enclosed build chamber, which should not only be safer for nearby children and pets, but also encourage consistent heating conditions during printing. A fan can blow out hot air when desired temperatures are exceeded.
The machine is of course fully assembled, UL certified and includes a friendly touchscreen for easy use.
Dremel’s documentation says you must use “Dremel PLA filament”, which “has been specifically engineered for optimal printing with your Idea Builder.” We do not know the price of their filament, but if it is hefty, it appears that you might be able to use generic filament in this machine easily enough. The spools mount inside the machine at the bottom, so as long as your spool fits and the filament is of the correct diameter, it’s probably worth a try.
In other words, it’s a pretty decent, but basic filament-based personal 3D printer, particularly at their price point: USD$999.
So what’s the big deal? We think the big deal is that Dremel is behind this venture. Consider these:
If you happen to be a smaller 3D printing venture, there is simply no way you could manage to do all these things. Even the larger 3D printing companies, such as MakerBot, took years to accomplish even some of them. When a big company decides to go into this market, look out.
Smaller 3D printing ventures simply cannot compete against this, as the volume of product sold by Dremel will likely overrun most of their competitors in the first week of sales. It is not a good time to launch your personal 3D printer startup company; that time has long past. In fact, we think even MakerBot, Ultimaker and 3D Systems should be concerned about this announcement, as Dremel’s market reach is well beyond those companies.
Now then, when is HP announcing their 3D printer?
At this year’s 3D Printshow in London the most important item seen, in our opinion, was the launch of ColorFabb’s Amphora line of plastic filament.
You might ask the question, is it ABS or PLA-based. The answer, surprisingly, is neither. It’s an entirely new polymer, never previously used for 3D printing. In fact, it’s never been used EVER.
Amphora has been newly developed specifically for filament-based 3D printing applications by the American firm Eastman Chemical Company. As far as we know, this has NEVER happened before. Plastics used for 3D printing were in fact, leftover plastics, designed for other purposes that had nothing to do with 3D printing.
Now, however, there are sufficient 3D printers in the world to justify the development of new plastics that match the needs for improved 3D printed filament.
Imagine if you were granted a wish to magically develop a new plastic filament. What properties would you include in it? Would you make it shiny? Bendable? Heat resistant? Dishwasher safe? That’s the challenge posed by ColorFabb to Eastman last year. Eastman chemists took up this challenge and created a checklist of required properties.
And then they made a polymer that has them.
Ok, let’s get directly to the juicy facts about Amphora:
Although the material is food contact-safe, that doesn’t mean a 3D printed Amphora cup is literally foodsafe, as gaps in the layering can physically harbor bacteria. That said, if a new process used Amphora to produce a perfectly sealed surface, it could indeed be a foodsafe object.
We’re particularly interested in the safety characteristics, as personal 3D printers are increasingly installed in people’s homes - even their bedrooms. We cannot imagine a world where ABS fumes are breathed by sleepers for hours every night. Amphora should change all that. In fact, Eastman's expert says there are no toxic styrene elements within Amphora and that the amount of nanoparticles is “way lower” than when printing ABS.
We asked Eastman’s representative about methods for smoothing Amphora, such as is done for ABS with Acetone. Apparently there is no common substance that can smooth Amphora - it’s simply too resistant to chemicals. That's the only downside we could find with the new material.
If you’re skeptical of Amphora’s physical properties, just watch this video, where ColorFabb’s Sander Strijbos crushes an Amphora print to an impossible degree - and watch it snap back into place! Wouldn’t you like your prints to act like that?
Here is an example of the strength of Amphora. This is a rather long bridge easily built with Amphora. At the time of this writing, they were attempting to increase the gap by another 5cm. Incredible!
Amphora seems like a miracle material made just for 3D printing. That’s because IT IS made specifically for 3D printing. For now, ColorFabb will be marketing a line of Amphora products, likely eventually abandoning their existing plastic products. The new Amphora material is officially called “XT-COPOLYESTER” made from “Amphora 3D™ Polymer” by ColorFabb. Other filament manufacturers may eventually adopt Amphora, too, but there are none so far.
Our spies tell us that the new material is actually just the first of MANY new plastics that will be specifically designed for 3D printing. We’re expecting to see several new variations emerge over the next few months, including: a heat resistant version; a dissolvable support material; and much more.
Best of all, the implication of this new material implies that 3D printing has reached the stage where it deserves its own plastics. This is a huge milestone for the personal 3D printing industry. Congratulations, we made it!
So I'm not the only one who does this!