Additive Manufacturing Strategies

The Blender Institute Uses a LulzBot Mini 3D Printer to Facilitate Open Source Creativity

ST Medical Devices

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logo-39One of the most popular 3D creation software programs is Blender, for a multitude of reasons. First of all, it’s free. Secondly, it’s open source, relying on the collaborative creativity of people around the world for its continued development. Thirdly, it supports every aspect of 3D creation, from modeling to simulation to rendering to video game creation, just to name a few of its applications. An individual with skills in Blender has a whole world of creative options at their fingertips, and the growing Blender community gives users a wide forum for sharing their work.

Blender’s physical home is the Blender Institute, an office and studio space based in Amsterdam. The artists, developers and employees at the Institute spend their time not only developing Blender software, but facilitating open projects based on 3D technology.

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Andy Goralczyk

“The reason why the Blender Institute is here is because we wanted to have artists and developers working on Open Source Software,” said Andy Goralczyk, art director at the Blender Institute. “They should work together on projects so that we can improve the software and at the same time make sure that it works for everyone, that we don’t keep breaking it, and that there is defined goals to drive the software forward. Everything that we do is going to be Creative Commons. It’s going to be online and we have a platform called the Blender Cloud and there we publish everything that we do.”

big_buck_bunny

Big Buck Bunny

The Blender Cloud is where the Blender Institute has been sharing 3D printable files for the characters they create. They’re interested in using 3D modeling and 3D printing for character development, and the LulzBot Mini 3D printer in the office has been busy lately. The team has been working with two characters in particular: the popular Big Buck Bunny and comic book character Agent 327, originally created by Martin Lodewijk.

It’s the first time, according to Goralczyk, that the Institute has worked with existing source material, rather than characters exclusive to the Blender Institute, and they’re having a great time with it, especially because the LulzBot Mini makes the 3D printing process so easy, even with more complex prints. Agent 327, for example, was a large print that needed to be printed in seven different parts before assembly and post-processing. The Blender Institute tends to stick to basic materials such as ABS, PLA and colorFABB nGEN.

“We’re working hard to make our prints not that solid, so we don’t use a lot of material at all,” Goralczyk said. “It’s really affordable because it’s a really high-quality machine. … [LulzBot 3D] printers are just really well-built in general, so I think it’s definitely worth it and the price is great.

“I’ve used various other printers before, so I think right now the LulzBot [3D printer] just beat them all in terms of ease of use because I’m a big fan of the auto-leveling and the prints are really easy to remove and there’s virtually no maintenance right now. It’s been really smooth [and] I’m totally impressed.”

lulzbot_mini_3d_printer_1The open source LulzBot printers also fit in nicely with the Blender Institute’s open, collaborative philosophy. So much of the 3D printing industry has been built on the sharing of information, and it’s what the Blender Institute and the wider Blender community thrive on.

“The 3D printing community is really big right now, and there’s lots of people making tutorials with 3D printing and specifically with LulzBot [3D printers],” Goralczyk said. “I’m really amazed to see what people can get out of it, and the community is so strong and powerful right now. That’s one of the big driving factors. People should go into 3D printing because it’s a community effort and we can all just collaborate.”

Check out some of the Blender Institute’s recent work below:

Discuss in the Blender Institute forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source/images: LulzBot]

 

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