Poppy is an open source, 3D printable humanoid robot that has been designed by researchers in France to help them to study bipedal locomotion and full-body physical and social interaction between robots and humans. It's designed to be affordable and fully hackable.
Of course, it isn't quite the robotic domestic helper of science fiction (not yet), but it could well be one to watch (and hack).
From the blurb:
MakeVR is powerful yet simple, giving users a creative experience based on Sixense’s innovative two-handed interface. It eliminates traditional menus and operations, instead relying on natural hand gestures to manipulate objects and tools using the STEM System or other 3D controllers. Combining the STEM System and MakeVR gives you a natural, intuitive and fun way to create, share, and print 3D models. MakeVR allows users with any level of experience to create, manipulate, and sculpt objects with their hands from within their own 3D environments. The solution includes collaboration that allows two or more users to work together in one virtual world.
It also works with the Oculus Rift (as you can see in the video) and the STEM System (aka, the Razor Hydra) which I bought into via Kickstarter recently.
Independence Magazine, the biannual journal of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, has published a great article (which is linked below) that looks at a variety of issues around integrating 3D printing into the school curriculum.
They look at the importance of supporting students' interest in CAD and CAM technology and discuss some of the dynamics about how this interest can be made highly visible to other students in the school; particularly as the students referred to were making objects like name tags and tablet holders that were then used within the school. We have seen this dynamic at play after our incursion workshops, or at least heard reports from the teachers, of primary school students taking turns parading their 3D printed house designs around the school yard to show other students. The article makes it clear that, with the right mix of facilities and guidance, the students themselves can become the driving force towards greater engagement with the technology, with a few keen early adopters lighting a fire under the rest of the student population.
Another interesting angle that the article explores is the way in which 3D printing can cross over from design and technology to other areas of the curriculum, such as maths, science, art and the humanities. It also discusses how the barriers to this kind of cross-pollination are lowering all the time, particularly as new types of CAD software appear (often at no cost) that enable both teachers and students to learn to design objects that can be printed. An example of this that we really like is the fabulous Tinkercad. It's fully browser-based, so there is nothing to install, and it comes complete with a range of fun tutorials to get you started.
Preshil, The Margaret Lyttle Memorial School, in Kew in Victoria, is looking to the maker movement for inspiration on its design program:
‘Engineers and scientists are looking to team up with artists and designers to create products, and more young people are looking at design and technology options for their university studies,’ says program director Bronte Howell. ‘Maker labs and hacker spaces – fully equipped hi-tech workshops run by volunteers where people can buy time – are becoming increasingly popular overseas and starting to emerge in Australia. It has inspired us to attempt to build that culture here in the School, and 3D printing certainly has a place in it.’
Happily, we can announce that The Robots Are Coming will be stepping in to assist Preshil to make their maker space a hot-bed of creative activity.
The article also mentions the fact that the costs around 3D printing technology are diving rapidly. We posted a blog article recently after purchasing a 3D printer for a little over AUD$100. It's a Kickstarter thing, for which we are going to have to wait about a year to get our hot little hands on, but it's a portent of things to come. Today, a school that is willing to shell out a couple of grand can get started with some highly capable tools and can set their students on a path into their future.
I ordered a new part for the UP Plus that arrived recently and which has taken the quality of my prints to another level. It's yet another brilliant 3D printer hack, and it has me excited enough to blog about it.
The image that I've posted here is the latest version of the clip for the top rack of my dishwasher at home. The rack system is pretty terribly designed and these little hooks that clip to the wire of the rack keep on busting, so every version that I print gets a bit beefier at that point. That's a whole 'nother story though.
What I'm excited about now is the quality that I am now getting from the UP. The support material is coming away easily without leaving a trace and there is no... what is the word for this?... no herniation of the plastic on the surface of the print. Everything is just sweeeet.
It turns out that the temperature that the UP runs at is set (permanently) for the premium UP filaments (260 degrees C) which is too hot for standard ABS, which is what I like to print with.
What this $20 hack does is trick the printer into thinking that it is hotter than it really is, thus dropping the actual temperature by about 30 degrees. Standard ABS runs WAY better at this lower temperature.
The other thing I'm doing lately is running the machine in an enclosure. ABS shrinks when it cools, and will warp if its temperature varies across the print, causing it to curl up off the heated bed a little. In the worst case scenario this can cause the print to delaminate from the bed entirely, resulting in a "birds nest" of filament going everywhere. The way to stop this is to make some kind of enclosure to prevent any drafts. Currently this is a plastic storage bin straight out of Bunnings, but a more elegant plexiglass solution is in the works.
This is one of the truly great things about 3D printing - the power of the hack!
Maker Spaces (or Fab Labs ... choose your terminology) are being incorporated into schools all around the world as a way of engaging students in subject matter and building bridges between technology design subjects and the more academic subjects like maths and history.
3D printing isn't the beginning and the end of a Maker Space, by any means, but it is an increasingly important, fun and useful technology that can inspire all manner of creative exploration. This is why we work with schools, to give students and teachers a glimpse at the possibilities, and to assist them to establish their own digital fabrication laboratories.
Read more about Maker Spaces in schools in the following articles:
I did not see this coming!
Blizzident is a 3D printed custom-fit toothbrush. The idea is that you get your mouth scanned and use the model to make the Blizzident toothbrush especially to fit your mouth. Then you basically just chomp down on it and chew around on it for a few seconds while the bristles do the work.
Will this be the next big thing in dental hygiene, or a crazy flop?
Scott Phillips is a lawyer, designer and technologist, fascinated by the potential and the promise of 3D printing.