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3D Printing: The Stories We Didn’t Cover This Week — March 14, 2015

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This week brings us some exciting news in 3D software, hardware, materials, designs, and printed objects. We have a printed melodica, an improved quadcopter design, a printed classic zoetrope animation device, new state of the art cycling pulleys, a fab lab project at a Syrian refugee camp, a new printer that prints recycled plastics, software that explores living cells in 3D, CAD software in a cloud, and, finally, a new adhesive for the glass plates of your 3D printers. No matter what your specific interests within the 3D printing scene are, there’s certainly news here for everyone in this week’s edition of “The Stories We Didn’t Cover.”

British Composer Designs 3D Printed Melodica

mel1Let’s begin on a high note, with news of a 3D printed melodica. Melodicas are instruments that combine the harmonica concept with piano keys. Traditional melodicas are very difficult to make, since they have many small pieces. Daren Banarsë, a British musician and composer, decided that he wanted to 3D print one based on his own design and so he took some CAD lessons and attempted to print one out on his own 3D printer. The outcome was not optimal, so he sent his files to 3D Alchemy, which printed the whole instrument in resin, on a Stratasys Eden 500V. The results were much better, and you can see a video of the making of the instrument and hear how it plays here.

Classic Zoetrope Device is 3D Printed

zoeAnother fun 3D printed project from this week’s news is Providence, Rhode Island-based artist, Kelly Egan, and his 3D printed version of the classic, nineteenth zoetrope animation device that was the first way to animate objects– even before electricity. In Kelly’s description on his blog, he explains that a zoetrope is a “pre-cinematic animation technique where a series of animation frames are placed inside a spinning cylinder.” The cylinder can be hand-powered moving frames quicker than the human eye can see. If viewed through slits in the drum, the animation frames become visible for a fraction of the second. If used with successive frames, one after the other, the illusion of animation is created. Kelly designed his 3D printed zoetrope for on display at the World Maker Faire in New York.

Professional Cycling Gets Boost from 3D Printed Pulleys

pull1While musical instruments and art are categories of great promise in the 3D printing scene, professional cycling is another field benefiting from 3D printing, as companies explore ways to improve upon traditional parts with 3D printed versions. The latest example of this is the new bicycle pulley wheels from CeramicSpeed. These wheels were recently introduced at the National American Handmade Bike Show, and they are designed to meet professional cycling criteria. Developed with the Danish Technological Institute, these pulleys are light and hollow structures, lasting up to three times longer than other parts. It took CeramicSpeed four years to design them, which involved an extensive prototyping process. The pulleys ended up as perfectly accurate shapes that are light hollow structures made using laser sintering technology on titanium powder.

Suitable for in-, tri-, and off-road cycling use, the pulleys are compatible with Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo, 10 and 11 speed. For now, the company is only making 10 sets of pairs available for a whopping price tag of $1,000 for two.

Hovership Introduces Improved MHQ2 Quadcopter

quad1In the same way cyclists can be rather obsessive about their gear, 3D printed quadcopters are developing into their own little obsession for people who can’t get enough of printing their own little hovercrafts. is a site devoted to all things DIY copter. The MHQ2 Quadcopter frame has been improved upon with better functionality, durability and stability in the frame. The MHQ2 frame uses the same hardware and arms from the MHQ with more 18mm screws and 4x locknuts added to this design. Also, the new design sees improved landing gear, more modular options, and the camera and battery have been moved to a lower gravity center. Perhaps most importantly, the new frame protects your hardware better during crashes, which are inevitable from time to time. The design is available on the website, and also on Thingiverse.

Jordanian Fab Lab to Help Syrian Refugees with 3D Printed Prostheses

row1It is estimated that the Syrian conflict has produced up to 200,000 amputees, and Refugee Open Ware (ROW) a 3D printed prostheses project, is doing something about this grave fact. ROW has teamed up with Dutch 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker, which has contributed two portable prostheses factories (i.e., Ultimaker 3D printers) to establish an on-site fab lab in the Jordanian border’s Za’atari Camp, which hosts 85,000 Syrian refugees. This lab will eventually offer vocational training, educational programs, business development, and psychological treatment through interactive art. The aim is to establish an Open Innovation Center, but, for now, this project will focus on fitting 3D printed prosthetics onto patients injured in the Syrian conflict. The ultimate goal is to scale up this project to be a disruptive healthcare innovation lab within the Royal Rehabilitation Center in Amman.

Harrods Carries 3D Systems’ New EXOCYCLE Cube 3D Printer

3Ekocycle-3d-systems-3d-printer-2D printing is represented in a vast spectrum of spaces, from Middle Eastern refugee camps to the London-based department store Harrods. The EKOCYCLE Cube 3D printer is now available exclusively at a Harrods EKOCYCLE shop, and this printer is a project between The Coca Cola company and, the Chief Creative Officer of 3D Systems (and singer from the Black Eyed Peas). The collection, which will be introduced at Harrods, emphasizes the recycling of post-consumer waste and lifestyle sustainability. The filament is recycled, post-consumer plastics and each EKOCYCLE branded cartridge can turn the equivalent of 3 assorted recycled 20oz PET plastic bottles into 3D objects. The Cube is very user-friendly; it is a plug-and-play device featuring a red, black, white and natural color palette, instant load cartridges, and mobile printing using the Cubify app for iOS and Android.

Nanolive’s 3D Cell Explorer

cellNanolive has introduced a 3D Cell Explorer that claims to be able to microscopically explore living cells in a process that uses unique (and proprietary) software employing holographic algorithm technology similar to MRIs. The 3D Cell Explorer produces sharp 3D images of entire living cells in seconds, with a higher resolution than a conventional microscope. The way it works is that the device makes photographic slices by taking photos at different depths and then recombines them using holography software. This software digitally marks and labels the different cell parts with the same or different colors, leaving the user with “a 3D image of the cell that can be rotated and explored in depth.” An infinite amount of colors can be used since digital processing is quantitative. This real time tracking of changing cells allows users to investigate changes as they occur. And guess what else? A photo of a cell can also be 3D printed!

Onshape’s CAD Software in a Cloud

onshapeIn other software news, the team that brought us Solidworks has released Onshape — a new CAD software that is designed for working on large CAD files with different teams and many individual files. It renders complex CAD files by relying on the cloud and your own processor. Multiple teams can work on the same model at the same time; like a Google document, you can watch others edit files in real time. Onshape works in your web browser with any operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome… Now, your CAD system and data can travel with you, and you are no longer harnessed alone to your computer while using CAD software. They also have an exciting Onshape mobile phone app, and offer a slightly more limited free version of the software.

Airwolf’s New Wolfbite Nano Adhesive Solution

wolfWe’ve reported many exciting software and hardware developments this week, but there have also been some developments on the materials side of 3D printing as well. Airwolf 3D has introduced a new adhesive solution — Wolfbite Nano — that will bond polylactic acid (PLA) plastic parts to a glass 3D printer build plate while avoiding warping and enabling smooth release of objects after printing. This solution works on all kinds of 3D printers with glass printing surfaces: this includes heated and non-heated beds.

WolfBite Nano eliminates the need to use tape on a printer’s glass surface; it is applied with an applicator brush straight onto glass and printing can commence immediately after application. You may have to immerse the glass plate in water for a short period of time after printing to remove parts, but this new low-odor adhesive solution avoids the damage associated with removal of your printed object from a taped glass surface. What more could you ask for?

That’s this week’s roundup of some of the goings-on in the 3D printing space! Let us know which of these piqued your interest in the Stories We Missed forum thread for this week over at


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