The term ‘Internet of Things’ sounds a bit intimidating to many at first, who still quite often reply to the term with a predictable ‘huh?’ This is actually a relatively simple concept though—and one that is continuing to pick up steam, with technology focused on connecting us further, and more easily. The IoT is about convenience. It’s about the flick of a switch and less effort on your part. And if you were worried about machines and robots taking over the world, you should like the IoT concept, as essentially it means humans do less, controlling automation, and finding greater efficiency—all thanks to the wonderful world of WiFi.
Heavily associated with other burgeoning technologies, 3D printing is showing up in the mix more and more too with the IoT as new inventions come into play, and are duly connected. Now, three companies have teamed up to create a switch for the EnOceanSwitch Design Kit, which can be customized by you, and 3D printed. Targeting consumers who are already interested in taking control of the IoT, element14 and 3YOURMIND, working with EnOcean, bring forth this new release integrating the IoT into products, and using 3D printing to do so.
Each company has a focused and important role in this partnership, announced this week at IFA Berlin, as element14 provides the open community where EnOcean—the German manufacturer of maintenance-free wireless sensor solutions—can release 3D models of the non-electric parts of their kits. 3YOURMIND is an international 3D printing solutions provider we’ve followed for quite some time now, known for their popular 3D printing portal that offers 3D printing directly from CAD-based programs. In this capacity, they offer makers a way to 3D print EnOcean’s core design files with numerous options.
This customized switch will serve as part of the starter kit offered by EnOcean that is emphasized as an ‘entry point’ for consumers and businesses who are just being introduced to the Internet of Things and beginning to experiment with its advantages. EnOcean states that their energy harvesting technology allows for the elimination of both design and application barriers and allows for consumers to implement their concepts and technology quickly.
What this means ultimately is that for makers on all levels, the days of complex wiring are over for these types of connects. You can just insert an EnOcean device into another existing device which then begins to trigger actions; for example, you can install a switch next to your bed that will turn on lights in your kitchen—or you can set a switch for turning up the thermostat when you unlock your front door.
“Your next garage door opener can be a switch in the 3D printed cell phone holder on your dashboard. Or 3D print your the light dimmer in gold with the same pattern as your antique lamp,” invites 3YOURMIND. “The design files can be downloaded from EnOcean’s Design Center, modified in any supported CAD Program and directly uploaded to 3YOURMIND where you can select a 3D print service provider based on material, delivery time and cost.”
With the partnership of these three companies, we’re now seeing one of the first in what most likely will be a growing trend, offering consumer applications that couple 3D printing and all the customizations it offers with the Internet of Things.
“By putting 3D models online, Element14 simplifies the process of prototyping IoT by switching from full creation to adaptation,” stated Stefan Kühr, 3YOURMIND’s CEO. “3YOURMIND gives access to have those designs professionally produced in over 150 materials and finishes.”
The 3YOURMIND online platform allows you to verify customized files for printability and manage your orders from there if you do not have your own 3D printer. Best of all, with the streamlining of these devices and IoT technology, the handmade aesthetic is eliminated. That ‘maker look,’ with cords and wires sticking out everywhere, is no longer necessary (unless that’s the style you’re shooting for).
If you’re interested in finding out more about this new customized, 3D printable IoT switch, be sure to check out the EnOcean kits available at element14. You’ll find the design files at EnOcean’s Design Center, and 3D printed components can be ordered from 3YOURMIND. Discuss further in the EnOcean 3D Printed IoT Switch forum at 3DPB.com.