Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am entering the 3D printing world is something no-one expected, really. It, however, is part of today’s reality and since this year’s January he officially may call himself 3D System’s Chief Creative Officer. You might possibly remember his somehow vague, but – who knows – brilliant speech about how the technique could change pop music forever. Now, a couple of months later, he’s back with his first big achievement in 3D printing: a conjunction with Coca-Cola to bring 3D printers to the market, which can create items from plastic bottles.
An eco-friendly 3D printer, in other words. This new printer is called the EKOCYCLE Cube printer and it uses cartridges with filament, partly – for 25 percent – obtained from Coke bottles. With those cartridges the machine is able to produce a wide variety of plastic objects, such as wrapping cases for smartphones, shoes and vases. The machine looks very modern and sleek, which is partly due to its open structure and partly because of the fact it solely uses a couple of colors, with red, black, white and natural as possible options for its main colors. The machine is based on one of 3D System’s previous printers: the Cube 3D printer.
3D printing has been something highly tech-savvy for ages, but it’s the field’s aim to bring the technique to the masses. In order to do so, it’s important to approach a young generation. In this light, a new project on Kickstarter is very newsworthy: ‘Printeer’ is the name of the first 3D printer targeted at kids. It’s an easy-to-use device, which can be controlled via one’s iPad with just one click.
Children have been playing with toys for decades, but with the use of 3D printing it has suddenly become a possibility for them to design their own toys. However, they need a 3D printer to make it happen, and currently 3D printers are too technical for young kids to control. For regular 3D printers from brands such as MakerBot and UltiMaker relatively difficult CAD software is required in order to create proper 3D models on a computer. Printeer does not have this disadvantage, as it can run by pressing the “print button”. Kids can design their own toys on an iPad.
English electronic rock band Klaxons are about to play the first-ever 3D printed tour. The band members will solely be playing on 3D printed instruments, amplifiers and even the lighting and wiring will be 3D printed. Their accompanying video seems to be kind of a persiflage on the international 3D printing hype, with playing members of The Office’s UK version. Despite their sense of humor, the 3D printed world tour definitely seems to be a real announcement. But are 3D printed instruments as good as the real thing?
Klaxons will be touring this year’s October and November, and they will only be using 3D printed instruments and equipment in order to do so. A great publicity stunt to promote their new album Love Frequency, which will be released on June 16. In a band statement, bassist and vocalist Jamie Reynolds says: “We were looking for something for the tour, something big, something fresh, so why not 3D printing?”
In March, Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced that – aside from other product lines – the company will not solely be producing 2D printers in the future, but also 3D printers. Their announcement made the entire 3D printing world feel over-excited, as their printers were announced to be able to to work rapidly and to reduce costs massively. Many expected HP to be talking about a new line of consumer 3D printers, but that does not seem to be the case. The company’s CEO Meg Whitman was interviewed by CNBC and told them “we’re focused on business 3D printing, not consumer 3D printing.”
Our colleagues at 3Dprint.com cleverly picked up this ‘meh’ scoop. “This is an acorn that we’re planting that will become an oak tree in the future,” says Whitman to CNBC. “This is a business we need to be in. It’s very consistent with our heritage, but we’re doing that in a lot of businesses. You know, innovation, you have to plant those acorns before they become oak trees and you have to have patience in terms of development cycles. You have to continuously and consistently invest in R&D.”
There have been a lot of food printers around recently, such as the ChefJet Pro by 3D Systems and the Foodini, by Natural Machines. Even though the Foodini didn’t raise enough money on Kickstarter, there is no sign of 3D food printing being a one day fly. Printers come and go, and this year’s edition of Californian inventions festival Maker Faire welcomes a new food printer: the PancakeBot. As you might have already guessed, this machine can print you a pancake.
As this is a printer, it enables users to produce pancakes with highly complex shapes, such as the Eiffel tower. The team has created two versions of the printer, namely a LEGO version and an acrylic version. It’s the company’s goal to inspire kids to have fun with their food as well as develop interests in technical fields, such as engineering, programming and food manufacturing. In other words: kids learn something about science by creating a pancake. Didn’t hear that one before, did you?
The days when 3D printers used to be over-expensive officially seem to be part of the past, as new and promising 3D printers start to get cheaper and cheaper. Last month, The Micro had been placed on Kickstarter. This 3D printer was striking, because of its very low price of less than 300 dollars. The Kickstarter campaign ended this week with a total in fundings of 3,4 million dollars funded by as many as 11,800 backers. And the first party to follow its example is California-based start-up New Matter, which now comes with MOD-t: another 3D printer priced less than 300 dollars.
Will this mean 3D printers will officially enter the consumer market? Who knows, as for the price people don’t have to stop themselves from buying a three-dimensional printer anymore. The pricing, however, is not the only interesting aspect of the new MOD-t printer, as the printer is also presented to be an easy-to-use tool for everyone. The machines will come along with an online library full of ready-to-print 3D models. In addition, a store full of high-quality 3D designs will also be launched, where customers can print directly from the store, without the need to use any kind of complex software that requires technical knowledge.
A new printer is presented as the next step for the world of 3D printing. We’re talking about KAST, a 3D printer able to print faster than a desktop printer. The machine will soon be launched on Kickstarter. Whether the printer is going to live up to its expectations is still unknown. What we do know, is that KAST definitely is an interesting project worth mentioning.
The KAST team was at the HAXLR8R conference in San Fransisco, where they appeared to have made a huge impression with the machine. The printer won’t cost tens of thousand dollars, but it can print out objects in a rapid way. More than that, the printer will be able to print 12 times faster than today’s regular 3D printers. To make this happen, the machine seems to be using UV-sensitive liquid resin, which will eventually be melt at 400 degrees celsius. The team has spent 2 years on creating the machine and they will soon enter the consumer market with KAST.
Most 3D printers can solely print plastic objects, such as jewelry, caps for a ketchup bottle and even holders for your wine glasses when you’re taking a bath. Rabbit Proto however is an application that wants to add something to this use of 3D printing, as the device enables users to 3D print their own electronic gadgets.
It uses an electronic ink, which comes from a syringe-like extruder. Users can clip this extruder on a RepRap 3D printer in order to print electronic devices with embedded structures. The ink can be used to create circuits that can connect different parts of an electronic device. Another advantage is that this printer can automatically switch between printing plastic and electronic materials. All in all, this is great news for game developers, as they can now print their controllers in a relatively easy way.
3D printers can be good fun, but not to many. The overall problem with the machines is their high price. A new printer however is called The Micro 3D (M3D), which aims to become the first consumer 3D printer. Initially, early birds were even able to buy one for as few as 199 dollars. The Micro has had a very successful Kickstarter champaign, which is still running, and they funded 50,000 dollars in only 11 minutes. Will The Micro become The Beatles of the 3D printers?
That could very well be the case, as this machine offers handy solutions, being an energy efficient, compact machine, which 3D prints several materials. From little objects to jewelry and even food: the makers of this printer now claim that their machine can print it all out. In addition, the machine has already printed out a vase and chocolate figurines.
3D printing might break some hearts of the old-fashioned, but it also saves hearts. In the biomedical world, the technique is being used for a variety of life-saving and life-improving purposes. New in the game is a project led by scientists at Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH). The have succeeded to produce very small ear implants with a memory function (wow, that’s handy!) or complex shapes, just like the ear’s cochlea.
The magic trick in this case is called Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM). This is a kind of 3D printing technique where a scientist uses laser to achieve its goals, and it’s a useful technique to print out metallic objects. However, 3D printing a car is one thing, but using additive manufacturing to improve someone’s body is surely the next level. Scientists are now using LAM to better help the hearing-impaired. Right now, when an implant is inserted into the minuscule cochlea there is still a risk of destroying important sensory cells. As you can imagine, a tiny mistake by a surgeon could lead to the reduction of a person’s hearing ability.