At the end of last month we, along with just about every other tech news site on the planet, were captivated by the somewhat disasterful (yes, I made that word up) performance of a 3D printer which printed using an aerosol-like can of Easy Cheese. The creation was the brainchild of California College of the Arts (CCA) Hybrid Lab manager Andrew Maxwell-Parish. Maxwell-Parish had been trying to convince some of the students at CCA to create this machine for about two years now, and finally got tired of waiting, so he set out to create it himself.
The product, which we outlined in this piece last Tuesday, actually was an ingenious idea, although it didn’t quite work as well as Maxwell-Parish had hoped. In most cases failure usually leads to humiliation and perhaps even depression, but for Maxwell-Parish, the video he posted led him to become a star of the internet, even if only for a week. After all, the video he had posted clearly stated that this was only an initial test, alluding to the likely possibility that updates to the machine may be on their way.
After the influx of media attention, and in between trying to humorously capitalize on his successful failure by offering up autographed Easy Cheese cans on eBay, and answering the mountains of emails from fans and the media (sorry Andrew), Maxwell-Parish got busy upgrading his 3D printer. This time he added a whole slew of new interface options, which are currently not available on any 3D printer we have seen in the past.
“I take jokes very seriously,” he told us. “The intersection of humor and engineering is hugely untapped, which is unfortunate. I think if there were more humorous engineering projects, there would be more people excited about becoming an engineer. I understand that engineering is a serious discipline but there is no reason why we can’t have a good time while doing it.”
The first addition was that of a manual extrusion button. Instead of leaving the timing of the extrusion up to a computer program, Maxwell-Parish’s new component upgrade allows the user to start and stop the extrusion process by pressing a red button, similar to one you’d find on your favorite ’80s or ’90s arcade game.
The next step for Maxwell-Parish was to retrofit the printer with a Leap-Motion interface. This allowed him to control the printer’s every movement via his own hand, not physically, but from afar. When he moves his hand up, the extruder moves up along the Z-axis, and when he moves his hand to the side or back and forth, the extruder follows as well.
“Ultimately, the big purpose [for why] I post my projects is that I hope it generates new ideas from the people who view them,” Maxwell-Parish explained to 3DPrint.com. “Nobody is ever going to need an Easy Cheese 3D Printer, but interfacing a machine with the Leap Motion is a really interesting concept and could potentially be used in some sort of useful application. My hope is the person who realizes what that useful application is, will see this video.”
As for what he has planned next for the Easy Cheese 3D printer, he unfortunately wouldn’t reveal, but rest assured there do seem to be plans ahead. With that said, Maxwell-Parish was kind enough to reveal to us what his plans are this summer, outside of this unique printer.
“I’m heading back home to rural Minnesota for the summer,” he explained. “I’m hoping to teach free technology (Arduino, 3D printing, CNC mill) workshops in the communities out there. I’m really interested to see what ideas rural farming kids have with this technology. My hypothesis is that it could potentially become very powerful tools for a continuation of the tradition of self reliance of farmers. My hope is to at least expose and get people thinking about this technology early. If anyone in the area is interested, let me know. If anyone wants to help or has guidance on how to do this, please reach out to me.”
It’s always refreshing to watch young educators, who think outside the box, as they excel at spreading this incredible technology to individuals who may not have known about it otherwise. Maxwell-Parish’s Easy Cheese 3D printer videos have done just that, and he continues to do this as he modifies the printer in a part comical, part serious manner. Let us know your thoughts on the work being down by this inspirational individual. Discuss in the Easy Cheese forum thread on 3DPB.com, and feel free to place your bid on the autographed Easy Cheese can that Maxwell-Parish is offering up on eBay. As an added bonus here is the third video of the printer in action. This one has a catastrophic finale you won’t want to miss:
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