2015 is well underway, with the Consumer Electronics Show‘s news so last week, and a stream of new stories that continue to captivate us regarding 3D printing’s evolution as an innovative technology with unlimited applications. This week’s stories we missed revolve around bringing 3D printing to your favorite hobbies — such as solving puzzles, playing video games, and knitting — and using 3D printing for important applications in the development of musical scores for blind musicians, massive bronze sculptures, full human body prints, and even a Christmas tree made from 3D printed connectors and vacuum parts. Here you will see the vast range of contributions 3D printing makes in the hobby world and the arts, so if your New Year’s resolution involves spending your time more constructively, there are any number of ideas available simply from this week’s 3D printing news.
“Over the Top” 3D Printed Cube is Solved
We begin our weekly “Stories We Missed” with a puzzling story about a Dutch puzzle designer, Oskar van Deventer, and his extremely elaborate “Over the Top” 3D printed variation of that oh-so-frustrating Rubik’s Cube. But Deventer’s foot-long cube, with 17 tiles on each side that can be scrambled over 66.9 quinquagintatrecentillion ways, makes the old Rubik’s Cube seem like child’s play. The puzzle was solved by Kenneth Brandon (RedKB) in 7.5 hours, which is documented in a real time YouTube vide for your own cube solving enjoyment.
If you want to try it for yourself, the cube takes more than 60 hours to print — and so it will cost you thousands and can be ordered from Shapeways in one print of part one and 24-26 prints of part two.
3D Printed Sentry Gun for TeamFortress2 Game
While solving an incredibly complex puzzle is a noble past time, many still prefer the tried-and-true video game hobby. But sometimes video games can spill over into the 3D printing world, as plot lines, accessories, and characters serve as their own kind of inspiration for 3D prints. This is the case for the multiplayer, first shooter video game,Team Fortress 2, which has inspired a 3D print of an Mk2 sentry gun. (As part of the game plot, The Engineer creates sentry guns for deployment in map areas that are strategically central.) Designed by Riddellikins and printed by Kilobyte, this gun features almost all of the same moving parts from the game’s own sentry gun. After the gun was 3D printed at .2mm resolution with PLA, Kilobyte used super glue to assemble the parts and he he painted it to match the sentry gun in the game. Now those are some dedicated gamers!
Knitting Machine is 3D Printed
Beyond solving cubes and playing video games, another time consuming hobby that can whittle your day away is knitting, but if you are like me, I love the knitted look but have no patience for the process.
The new 3D printed Knitic knitting machine is just up my alley, then. Created by Varvara Guljajeva & Mar Canet, and on display at the Etopia Center for Arts & Technology in Zaragoza, Spain, the Knitic is dektop-sized and open source (see files here), powered by Arduino, and constructed from 3D printed parts in RepRap. So, if you have been forgoing your dreams of knitted woolens because you don’t have the patience or time to embark on your own hand-knitting project, the 3D printed Knitic may be just what you’ve been waiting for.
If you are planning on starting a desktop knitting company with your 3D printed Knitic, why not feature your items on 3D printed full body scans, which are now available through an upgraded itSeez3D2.0 3D scanning application. This new application has a higher resolution and it can be used with Structure Sensor and an iPad.
Blind Music Student Inspires 3D Printed Music Scores
Using a high quality Selective Laser Sintering 3D printer at the University of Wisconsin’s Polymer Engineer Center, an amazing collaboration between blind PhD music student and pianist, Yeaji Kim, and mechanical engineering graduate student, William Aquite, has yielded 3D printed music scores. Usually scores are printed in braille, yet Kim notes that complex pieces are very difficult to transfer to braille. 3D printed music scores fix that problem, and also allow for blind and non-blind musicians to work from the same scores — which, for the blind, feature music sheets with raised notes. This collaboration bridged different academic disciplines, and it helped Kim, who has returned to her native South Korea, earn her music PhD.
Holland Auctions Off First 3D Printed Guitar
For other 3D printed music news, we turn to Holland. To raise money for an annual event focused on women and girls who have suffered sexual and wartime violence, a 3D printed guitar is being auctioned off. This significantly reworked Les Paul Gibson guitar is designed with many allusions to the city of Haarlem, where the 3FM Serious Request event and auction takes place. The guitar was printed in nylon, coated in iron powder, and topped with iron paint. It took 76 hours to print it on an SLS printer.
Best of all, several well-known Dutch musicians had the chance to play the guitar, so the instrument got raves reviews in that category as well. The future looks bright for 3D printing and music, and this is yet another example of this fact from this week’s news.
Massive Sculpture Artist Aided by 3D Printing
From music to the visual arts, 3D printing helps facilitate artists’ genius while eliminating pesky obstacles. Sculptor of massive wildlife pieces Richard Loffler used foam to carve full-scale mockups, but 3D printing now saves him time as he moves from initial idea to 3D printed and sectioned model to final detailed bronze wildlife sculptures for all to enjoy.
Loffler’s design process, described by his son here, takes a smaller design and translates it into a sectionally-divided and marked larger model for easy assembly after being 3D printed. After printing, the sections are then reassembled into the bronze sculpture’s shape and covered with clay for detailing purposes. Sections are then divided again for the purpose of casting molds in bronze: the final bronze sculpture gets welded, sandblasted, and spray painted to the desired effect. 3D printing helps a process that once took years take months instead, and Richard Loffler’s massive sculptures provide an excellent example of using 3D printing in a larger artistic process.
Another kind of sculpture might inspire you if wildlife isn’t your thing. If you remain in denial that the holiday season has passed, or you want to begin planning really early for next year’s festivities, the vacuum company, Dyson, has a project to share with you. This week we learned that the Dyson vacuum people celebrated their holiday spirit by constructing a 12 foot tall tree out of vacuum parts using 3D printed connectors printed with glass filled nylon. If you look closely, there’s directions for making an easier version of the tree, so if you are already looking for a new hobby, and this week’s other projects covering 3D printing forays into puzzling, gaming, knitting, playing music, or sculpting wildlife, has sparked your interest, you can always start planning for the next holiday season early by getting started on your very own Dyson tree!
Cresco Lab Develops 3D Printed Furniture Components
In the DIY spirit of this week’s news, an Italian company, Cresco Lab, is making it easier to print, build, dismantle, and rebuild functional furniture. Based on the Meccano construction set which functions like Legos, but predates Legos by about 51 years, Cresco has resurrected Meccano designs for reusable and renewable furniture. Think large interlocking pieces that can be arranged in different ways to construct furniture and you are on the right track. Cresco Lab’s adaptation of Meccano design components is realizing an effort that has been tried before, but since potentially weight-bearing pieces used for large structures need to be precisely designed using complicated calculations, it has proven difficult to develop — until 3D printing.
Cresco Lab has been greatly aided by 3D printing’s rapid prototyping capabilities. 3D printing makes it much easier to test the components which are made from fiberglass-infused nylon, aluminum, wood, steel, and nylon composite boards; and various wood, nylon, and aluminum connectors and finishing items. Printing and building your own furniture is a brilliant and practical idea, and Cresco Lab is making that vision a reality.
Plastics Extruder Developed by Studio Under
Finally, some of the less flashy 3D printing news can have the most impact on the technology in the long run, and that is definitely the case in our next story. Israel-based Studio Under has collaborated with Amsterdam’s Droog Design Institute to create a custom extruder that 3D prints granulate plastic. This may seem small, but consider the ramifications of 3D printing plastic materials without needing filaments. The extruder, which extrudes 1mm to 3mm plastic pellets that can withstand up to 350 degree Celsius heat, was designed from scratch for a Makergear M2 3D printer. The group is also experimenting with natural plastic — shellac — also with great success. There are currently no commercial plans yet in the works for these creations, but this is obviously big news for the 3D printing scene as it moves forward.
Let us know if you have any feedback on any number of these stories in the January 17th Stories We Missed forum thread on 3DPB.com.