Posts Tagged ‘3D printing’

3D printing future
1Jørgen Henrichsen

Jørgen HenrichsenFebruary 15, 2015

What’s Next for 3D Printing?

Industrial 3D printing has been around since the late 80’s, originally used as an easy way to make prototypes, also called Rapid Prototyping. These industrial 3D-printers was costly systems not minted for the average consumer in any way. Various 3D-printing techniques is still widely used in the industry today as prototype makers and for producing parts for different products. For the next two decades commercial 3D printing never really hit home, but as we will see, during the first decade of the 21st century, a lot of things happened.

I would go as far as calling it a revolution for small startups and entrepeneurs, as well as for the industry. There’s no doubt the ability to make protoypes of your ideas in the safety of your home is tremendously useful. Some even call the 3D-printing technology an industrial revolution. The question is; where will it end? Is it a gimmick hyped by the media? Will 3D-printers become as normal of a household item as normal paper printers?

RepRap and some basic history of 3D-printing

In late march 2005 an open source project, calling itself RepRap was founded. It is based on the idea of open source and the ability to use a 3D-printer to print parts for new 3D-printers as a cheap way to bring 3D-printing to the people. In 2006 the RepRap prototype successfully printed a part for itself. This snowballed and two years later it was reported that at least 100 RepRap machines was created by various people around the world. In 2009 the first commercial 3D-printer was released, and it was based on RepRap, coming in kit form, ready for assembly. Not much later the same year MakerBot, one of the most renowned makers of commercial 3D-printers today, released its first model.

Makerbot prototypes

Makerbot prototypes

From here the availability of printers have increased rapidly, with several more brands of printers showing up in the market, quality and precision improved on for every new model. Today, the commercial printer usually have a minimum of 0.1 mm layer height. That means that each layer of the plastic the printer adds is 0.1 mm thick, resulting in high-resolution prints with a lot of detail.

What does it mean for startups and small businesses?

For startups 3D-printing is a gateway into realizing and visualizing ideas, making prototypes fast and cheap and speeding up the rate of realization of a finished product. Think of it this way; without your own 3D printer, you have to send specs for a prototype to a company who can make it, and they will for sure not do it free. Then you have to wait for the company to make it, pack it and ship it. Then it’s picked up by the postal service, thrown into a lorry, sent to an endless amount of post-terminals, eventually making its way to a place near you.

Say this whole process will presumably take a couple of weeks, imagine making that very prototype in 5-6 hours on a 3D-printer. Of course, you have the “startup-cost” of buying the printer itself, but with saved costs for further production of prototypes and all the time you will save, it is worth the price.

I would also make the statement that it helps you, by boosting your creativity. When you have this direct and fast way of going from idea to something physical I would dare to say it’s easier, more rewarding and more fun trying different concepts and solutions. So not only does it speed up the process of prototype-production from idea to physical object, but makes it more fun, rewarding and in general, less of a hassle.

Some Applications

3D-printing does not only empower us with the ability to make prototypes for our ideas, it has a lot of other applications, blasting through borders in for example the medical industry. One company, calling themselves Organovo has set out to print functioning human tissue for medical research. It also opens new gateways for prosthetics, as a cheap way to manufacture them. Think of a child that lacks a limb, they grow pretty fast and constantly buying new prosthetics will be expensive. The ability to 3D-print cheap ones are a wonderful way to help people in that situation.

Another company, WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, have made a 3D printer that can print houses. In a 24h period it managed to set up 10 single-story houses, the machine however took the company over 12 years to make. Each house had a cost of around 5000$ to build. They also built a 5 story apartment complex and a villa. 3D-printing turn the impossible into the possible and the expensive into cheap in a lot of industries.

3D printed house

Building construction with 3D-printed parts

What will 2015 and the future bring?

Will 2015 be the year for 3D-printers to break through into the mainstream market? No doubt, we will see more advanced models, and models with more bang for the buck. They will most likely be more precise, cheaper and more available, but they will definitely not become a normal home appliance to find in most households. For that I think there isn’t enough applications for it to be attractive and worth the cost for a common guy/girl that isn’t especially interested. I think it will still be a product for enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and startups for the next few years.

Nobody can say accurately where the 3D-printer will be in five years though, and what machines will be released is left for anyone to guess. What I am sure of is that we will see development, and the big brands in 3D-printing will continue to improve and innovate. I don’t think 3D-printing is a gimmick, it is here to stay.

Into the looking glass

Jon us at Technoport 2015 – Trondheim’s meeting place for innovation – as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset on 18 & 19 March 2015. Tickets are available now.

Photo credits: Creative ToolsBre PettisWinSun

Innovation på syden
60David Nikel

David NikelJuly 28, 2014

Finding Innovation på Syden

Ah Syden! The place all you Norwegians spend your summers, winters and, well, as much time as you can, really! I’ve just returned from two weeks in Catalunya (when in Norway, do as the Norwegians do) with a plan to unplug from work and enjoy the sunshine. And I did, to a certain extent. But when you spend much of your working life surrounded by entrepreneurs and writing about innovation, you can’t help but notice things.

Spending time abroad can give you the distance from your projects you need to give you clarity and help decision-making. It can also provide new inspiration, by seeing how things work in another country with different priorities and different ways of working.

Here’s what’s going down right now in Barcelona…

3D Printing Hub

Hewlett Packard, the world’s biggest printer manufacturer, has committed to the concept and has chosen its Resarch & Development centre at Sant Cugat del Valles as the home of its global 3D printing business.

Barcelona is also home to Natural Machines, creators of the Foodini, one of the few 3D food printers on sale in the world today. The company’s MD, Emilio Sepulveda, told Barcelovers magazine that although the company currently works with restaurants, bakeries and catering companies, many in Asia, the future will “spark off a real revolution in our kitchens”.

3D Printing Food

Experiencing Data

The talented team at Domestic Data Streamers are hitting headlines in Spain and beyond, thanks to their innovative work in the field of data visualisation.

“Behance is one of the biggest creative communities in the world, a platform to showcase and discover new work in any creative field. We were invited to participate in the Barcelona Portfolio Review in order to create a voting system for the candidates for the last talk of the event. Seven panels were displayed with the work of each designer that could do the talk. By generating an ephemeral laboratory where data is literally turned into liquid, we were able to measure and visually perceive the votes made by the assistants”

Data visualisation

How cool is that!?

The Museum of Ideas

As a pale English boy, spending all day on the beach in Barcelona was never an option. When perusing the list of museums and other indoor attractions, two leaped off the list. For non-innovation reasons the chocolate museum was first on my list, but after I’d filled myself up I headed straight down the road to the superbly named Museum of Ideas and Inventions.

Despite its tiny size, it has to be one of Barcelona’s most interesting museums, with constantly changing exhibits showing off the best ideas Barcelona has to offer. Some ideas are useful, some are just plain fun. The museum is the brainchild of Pep Torres, a Barcelona native and professional inventor, musician, designer, writer, creative and TV and radio program collaborator. It’s especially relevant for inspiring kids and indeed hosts classes of schoolchildren for innovation workshops, but don’t worry dear Technoport readers, it’s perfectly suitable for big kids too!

MIBA exhibit  MIBA Exhibit

So the next time you’re “down south”, open your eyes and take a look around. You may be surprised what you see.

Motorbike HIGH RES
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesMarch 5, 2014

Crowdfunding Success Stories – 3Doodler

A couple of months ago we talked about some of the most exciting tech to come out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. One of those products was the 3Doodler, whose Kickstarter campaign in early 2013 smashed its target within days.

We thought the 3Doodler sounded so cool that we’ll be having a 3Doodler scribe at some of the sessions at Technoport 2014. In advance of that, we asked the 3Doodler creators to reflect on their crowdfunding success and share some insights.

What lead you to try crowdfunding for the 3Doodler?
All three co-founders have been users of CF sites for some time. Between us we have backed well over twenty projects in the past few years, and at the Artisan’s Asylum, where we work, we have been able to witness other CF projects from inception to execution. We knew that CF, particularly on Kickstarter, would offer a great platform to garner interest in the 3Doodler, test the concept, market to potential consumers, and create a vibrant and supportive community. It also came with the benefits of having all mechanisms, such as payment processing and community management in place.

Your Kickstarter project was almost an overnight success. Did that bring unexpected consequences?
We were prepared in the sense that we had the resources to cope with the emails and media attention. We also had a concrete sense of the goals and budgets of our project before going on Kickstarter, and before putting 3Doodler into the public eye.  That said, the pace of emails and messaged (each of which we committed to respond to) caught us off guard, with thousands coming in a day at one stage. That’s when having a flexible team, and a friend or two to lend a hand can really help.

Would you do crowdfunding again, or would you look to more traditional investors in the future?
Yes, absolutely we would, crowdfunding worked very well for us the first time around. The whole Kickstarter experience was a very positive one for us – we were able to get some fantastic feedback from backers and the community. And that’s why we would do it again – the fact that we get to build a community before 3Doodler had even hit the stores was awesome.

What are your thoughts on equity crowdfunding?
It’s great for feedback and getting your project off the ground, but you just need to be careful and make sure you have resources to cope with the emails and media attention. Make sure that you have a concrete sense of the goals and budgets of your project before going on Kickstarter, since you’re putting it into public eye. Crowdfunding not only allowed us to be financially independent and get proof of concept early on, it also allowed us to build a community out of the gate.

What does the future hold for 3D printing and the 3Doodler?
Tools such as the 3Doodler represent a new medium in 3D expression. This gets you closer to being able to take an image or idea from your mind and render it as a physical object in reality. If you can envision an object you can now create it. And it will facilitate the ability for us to communicate our ideas and visions to one another.

Finally, any tips for product designers considering a crowdfunding campaign?
Prepare, take your time, get it right – make sure your idea’s great, and you have the right people to launch it. The exercise of asking all the right questions up front makes the plan much easier. Don’t ask questions too late! The moment you have launched it’s very hard to correct planning mistakes.

Also, be responsive: Every backer is a key ally. They were there first. Reply to their messages, hear their comments, give them respect. They stick by your side if they do and they’ll let others know. Good communication is also a sign that you are on top of things and can execute. But at the same time, stick to your plan and keep the backer audience in perspective, you can’t change your whole app on the feedback of a few. Keep it balanced.

Image credit: 3Doodler

CES 2014
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 13, 2014

The Internet Of Everything Is Here: CES 2014

The “internet of things” was the cool phrase to say last year, as tech was smashed together with all sorts of everyday objects. It was only a matter of time before this evolved from innovate ideas to consumer products. Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show – surely one of the biggest geek-outs in the world – revealed the latest developments in this rapidly-evolving trend.

The internet of things has become the internet of everything, with all manner of mobile and wearable tech now being developed. The concept is basically connected tech that changes our lives, making them easier, safer, or simply more fun.

Here’s some of the media reaction:

“We went into this whole thing expecting very little in the way of amazing new products and we were pleasantly surprised. The big guys might be boring but it’s the little guys – like early mammals scuttling under the dinosaurs – that make the biggest impact”TechCrunch

“A phantasmagoria of light, sound, and electricity. Actual electricity, and the kind of spiritual, psychic kind that only happens but once a year”The Verge

What caused such a reaction?

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest announcements from the world of mobile and wearable tech:

Virtual Reality with Occulus Rift

Immersive virtual reality is coming on leaps and bounds. Occulus Rift presented their Crystal Cove prototype – an augmented virtual reality headset that puts you into a game. It fixes many of the niggles from previous versions and is the clearest sign yet that we’ll see something on the market this year.

“Of all the exciting, innovative products we’ve seen at CES this year, the Oculus Rift “Crystal Cove” prototype is unquestionably the best of the best”Engadget

Pebble Steel Smartwatch

Kickstarter graduates Pebble promised “something special” and they didn’t disappoint. The Pebble Steel does away with the lightweight “plastic toy” feel of the older models in favour of metal, leather straps, and a more solid construction. Together with a specialist store featuring over 3,000 apps, these are signs that Pebble is growing up fast.

The 3 Doodler

3D printing has up until now been an activity reserved for engineers and the technically-minded. Crowdfunded project 3Doodler opens up the possibilities to the rest of us with its fantastic 3D printing pen that really does let you draw in 3D. It works in a similar way to a 3D printer, by rapidly heating up and cooling plastic as it passes through the head.

But rather than talk, let’s watch. You can’t fail to be amazed!

Elsewhere at CES 2014, it seems the car is rapidly evolving from a means of transportation to our latest connected device. From laser headlights to driverless steering, technology in cars will be a big thing in 2014.

But that’s for another blog post :)

Photo credit: Daniel Incandela

11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalOctober 4, 2013

The New Digital Age

What will the future look like? Jared Cohen, the Director of Google Ideas, and Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google believes that four new technologies will contribute to change our lives in the next five to ten years.

The book “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business,” written by the two Google top leaders, has gotten a lot of attention since it was released this spring.

In the next 10 years, the number of people using the internet will probably grow from 2 billion to 7 billion. The Google executives do not paint a rosy picture of the future, when describing how the digital world will affect the physical world in issues such as the future of states, terrorism, conflict combat, citizenship and identity. Read more about the predictions here.

Future technologies
However, as it is Friday today, let’s not focus on the troubling predictions, but rather on some of the “fun” technologies that Cohen and Schmidt predict will contribute to change our lives in the years to come:
• Automatic simultaneous translation: This means that people with different languages could understand each other on the phone
• Intelligent pills: The pills can communicate via wifi with your phone, which automatically book an appointment with your doctor if something is wrong with your health
• Holograms: You will be able to see an Olympic exercise as if it was happening in the middle of your living room
• 3D printing: Printing technology will pave the way for new markets

Do you think these technologies will be in your life in five to ten years?

Photo by: Diavolo Qqta (CEO Eric Smith)