Amazing Homemade 3DPrinted Drone >

When Mitre Corporation, a McLean-based defense contractor announced that they were looking for summer interns, University of Virginia engineering student Steven Easter and his brother and lab partner, Jonathan Turman applied the job. They got the assignment: to build an unmanned aerial vehicle, using 3DPrinting technology.

Luckily they got support from Professor David Sheffler, a 20-year veteran in aerospace engineering. Between May and August the team has been working on designing and building a plane entirely from parts from a 3DPrinter.

The plane has a 2 metre wingspan and all the parts were printed in layers in plastic. During four test flights in August and early September at Milton Airfield near Keswick, the plane achieved a cruising speed of 70 kilomertres per hour.

There are seven 3DPrinters in the Engineering School’s Rapid Prototyping Lab. These 3DPrinters allows students to design, modify and print the parts until they get exactly what they want…

(The unmanned aerial vehicle, “dressed” in U.Va.’s colors.)

(Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor and project adviser David Sheffler, left, with the “printed” plane’s creators, Steven Easter, center, and Jonathan Turman. )

This is “the third 3DPrinted plane known to have been built and flown.” notes in UVA Today’s news. The technology also allows students to take on complex design projects that previously were impractical.

“To make a plastic turbofan engine to scale five years ago would have taken two years, at a cost of about $250,000,” Sheffler said. “But with 3DPrinting we designed and built it in four months for about $2,000. This opens up an arena of teaching that was not available before. It allows us to train engineers for the real challenges they will face in industry.”


The students work impressed Mitre Corp. representatives and Army officials, they got a new task – “to build an improved plane – lighter, stronger, faster and more easily assembled.”

Besides creating an attractive and operational unmanned airplane, this is also a valuable experience for the students. “The students sometimes put in 80-hour workweeks, with many long nights in the lab.”

“It was sort of a seat-of-the-pants thing at first – wham, bang,” Easter said. “But we kept banging away and became more confident as we kept designing and printing out new parts.”

Source: UVA Today


Pulling A Rabbit Out Of A Printer > > >

Liz Neely, Director of Digital Information & Access at the Art Institute of Chicago, had been one of those experimenting with 3D Printing and 3D Scanning. Here is a Q&A session between she and Seb Chan of Fresh and New:

Q – What has Art Institute of Chicago been doing in terms of 3D digitisation? Did you have something in play before the Met jumped the gun?

At the Art Institute before #Met3D, we had been experimenting with different image display techniques to meet the needs of our OSCI scholarly catalogues and the Gallery Connections iPad project. The first OSCI catalogues focus on the Impressionist painting collections, and therefore the image tools center on hyper-zooming to view brushstrokes, technical image layering, and vector annotations.

Because the Gallery Connections iPads focus on our European Decorative Arts (EDA), a 3Dimensional collection, our approach to photography has been decidedly different and revolves around providing access to these artworks beyond what can be experienced in the gallery. To this end we captured new 360-degree photography of objects, performed image manipulations to illustrate narratives and engaged a 3D animator to bring select objects to life.

For the 3D animations on the iPads, we required an exactitude and artistry to the renders to highlight the true richness of the original artworks. Rhys Bevan meticulously modelled and ‘skinned’ the renders using the high-end 3D software, Maya.

We often included the gray un-skinned wireframe models in presentations, because the animations were so true it was hard to communicate the fact that they were models. These beautiful 3D animations allow us to show the artworks in motion, such as the construction of the Model Chalice, an object meant to be deconstructed for travel in the 19th century.

These projects piqued my interest in 3D, so I signed up for a Maya class at SAIC, and, boy, it really wasn’t for me. Surprisingly, building immersive environments in the computer really bored me. Meanwhile, the emerging DIY scanning/printing/sharing community focused on a tactile outcome spoke more to me as a ‘maker’. This is closely aligned with my attraction to Arduino — a desire to bring the digital world into closer dialogue with our physical existence.

All this interest aside, I hadn’t planned anything for the Art Institute.

Mad props go out to our friends at the Met who accelerated the 3D game with the #Met3D hackathon. Tweets and blogs coming out of the hackathon-motivated action. It was time for all of us to step up and get the party started!

Despite my animated—wild jazz hands waving—enthusiasm for #Met3D, the idea still seemed too abstract to inspire a contagious reaction from my colleagues.

We needed to bring 3D printing to the Art Institute, experience it, and talk about it. My friend, artist and SAIC instructor Tom Burtonwood, had attended #Met3D and was all over the idea of getting 3D going at the Art Institute.

On July 19th, Tom and Mike Moceri arrived at the Art Institute dock in a shiny black SUV with a BATMAN license plate and a trunk packed with a couple Makerbots.

Our event was different from #Met3D in that we focused on allowing staff to experience 3D scanning and printing first hand. We began the day using iPads and 123D Catch to scan artworks. In the afternoon, the two Makerbots started printing in our Ryan Education Center and Mike demonstrated modelling techniques, including some examples using a Microsoft Kinect.

Colleagues began dialoging about a broad range of usages for education programs, creative re-mixing of the collection, exhibition layout planning, assisting the sight impaired and prototyping artwork installation.

Q – Your recent scan of the Rabbit Tureen used a different method. You just used existing 2D photos, right? How did that work?

In testing image uploads onto the Gallery Connections iPad app, this particular Rabbit Tureen hypnotised me with its giant staring eye.

Many EDA objects have decoration on all sides, so we prioritised imaging much of work from 72 angles to provide the visual illusion of a 360 degree view like quickly paging through a flip book.

It occurred to me that since we had 360 photography, we might be able to mold that photography into a 3D model. This idea is particularly exciting because we could be setting ourselves up to amass an archive of 3DPrintable models through the museum’s normal course of 2D sculptural and decorative arts photography.

This hypothesis weighed on my thoughts such that I snuck back into the office over Labour Day weekend to grab the full set of 72 image files. Eureka! I loaded the files into 123D Catch and it created a near perfect 3D render.

By ‘near perfect’, I mean that the model only had one small hole and didn’t have any obvious deformities. With much Twitter guidance from Tom Burtonwood, I pulled the Catch model into Meshmaker to repair the hole and fill in the base. Voila-we had a printable bunny!

The theory had been proven: with minimal effort while making our 360 images on the photography turntable, we are creating the building blocks for a 3DPrintable archive!

Q – What do you think are the emerging opportunities in 3D digitisation?

There are multitudes of opportunities for 3D scanning and printing with the most obvious being in education and collections access.

To get a good 3D scan of sculpture and other objects without gaping holes, the photographer must really look at the artwork, think about the angles, consider the shadows and capture all the important details.

This is just the kind of thought and ‘close looking’ we want to encourage in the museum. I’ve followed with great interest the use of 3D modelling in the Conservation Imaging Project led by Dale Kronkright at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum.

Q – Is 3D the next level for the Online Scholarly Catalogues Initiative?

A group of us work collaboratively with authors on each of our catalogues to determine which interactive technologies or resources are most appropriate to support the catalogue. We’re currently kicking off 360 degree imaging for our online scholarly Roman catalogue. In these scholarly catalogues, we would enforce a much higher bar of accuracy and review than the DIY rapid prototyping we’re doing in 123D Catch. It’s very possible we could provide 3D models with the catalogues, but we’ll have to address a deeper level of questions and likely engage a modelling expert as we have for the Gallery Connections iPad project.

More immediately, we can think of other access points to these printable models even if we cannot guarantee perfection. For example, I’ve started attaching Thing records to online collection records with associated disclaimers about accuracy. We strive to develop an ecosystem of access to linked resources authored and/or indexed for each publication and audience.

Q – Has anyone from your retail/shop operations participated? What do they think about this ‘object making’?

Like a traveling salesman I show up at every meeting with 2 or 3 printed replicas and an iPad with pictures and videos of all our current projects. At one meeting where I had an impromptu show and tell of the printed Art Institute lion, staff from our marketing team prompted a discussion about the feasibility of creating take-home DIY mold-a-ramas! It was decided that for now, the elongated print time is still a barrier to satisfying a rushed crowd. But in structured programs, we can design around these constraints.

At the Art Institute, 3D scanning and printing remains, for now, a grass-roots enthusiasm of a small set of colleagues. I’m excited by how many ideas have already surfaced, but am certain that even more innovations will emerge as it becomes more mainstream at the museum.

Q – I know you’re a keen Arduino boffin too. What contraptions do you next want to make using both 3DPrinting and Arduino? Will we be seeing any at MCN?

This should be interesting since MCN will kick off with a combined 3DPrinting and Arduino workshop co-led by the Met’s Don Undeen and Miriam Langer from the New Mexico Highlands University. We will surely see some wonderfully creative chaos, which will build throughout the conference.

These workshops may seem a bit abstract at first glance from the daily work we do. I encourage everyone to embrace a maker project or workshop even if you can’t specifically pinpoint its relevance to your current projects. Getting your hands dirty in a creative project can bring and innovative mindset to e-publication, digital media and other engagement projects.

Sadly I won’t have time before MCN to produce an elaborate Arduino-driven Makerbot masterpiece. I’m currently dedicating my ‘project time’ to an overly ambitious installation artwork that incorporates Kinect, Arduino, Processing, servos, lights and sounds to address issues of balance…’

Adapted from an article by Seb Chan

Kinect 3D Scan with ‘Skanect’ >

Scan it. Watch it made for you… Microsoft Kinect purchase Skanect takes 3D scans and turns them into designs for 3DPrinting.

Skanect is a low-cost 3DScanner based on Kinect. While the Kinect is moved around, it captures new views of an object or a room and automatically computes a metric 3D model, in real-time. Skanect can detect planes, such as floors and walls, and perform automatic ground alignment.

Skanect’s output can be imported into popular 3DSoftware further examination, measurement and refining.

Skanect 0.2 can be downloaded for free and is available for Windows (32 & 64 bit) and Mac OS X 10.6 & higher:

COMPARISON: ReconstructMe, KinectFusion & Skanect…

A quick demonstration of different software with Kinect to gather 3D spatial data. The first software is ProFactor ReconstructMe, then KinectFusion, and finally,  Skanect…


Manctl is one of 11 startups that won $20,000 (£12,300) of funding and support from Microsoft as part of its Kinect Accelerator program, the same as startup-in-law Ubi Interactive, and similarly remains independent as a business.

French startup Manctl has created a working answer to the question, “Have you ever wanted to produce a full-colour 3D model of your house?” Its solution was to use Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows, coupled with its own 3D mapping software.

Manctl’s first product, Skanect, allows anyone with a Kinect to rotate it around a room, providing the Skanect software with visual information that it stitches together to form a complete 3D image. Much like a Computer Aided Design (C.A.D.) drawing, the user is then able to zoom in or out of, rotate and navigate an on-screen 3D version of whatever was scanned.

“Our mission is to enable the masses to capture the world in 3D,” said Burrus “We’re working on a scanner that lets you scan people, objects and rooms,” co-founder and CTO Nicolas Burrus explained to previously. (

‘Manctl is a startup comprising CTO Burrus, who holds a PhD in computer vision technologies, and CEO Nicolas Tisserand, formerly a software architect working with computer DJ applications. “We’ve been friends for ten years,” said Burrus, “after meeting at university.

“We’re still figuring out our best business model, but what we definitely want to provide is a free version for consumers and enthusiasts to start scanning their children, their house, their animals and share it with their friends.

“It’ll be limited to online sharing; you can’t post-process it, as that’s for another category of people, like those in the prototyping industry, artists and people working in robotics.”

 “You can either use complex modeling software that’s used by the movie industry, or use a capturing device such as a laser scanner. This works, but costs [up to] $40,000 (£25,500), so it’s not for the mass market.” ‘

Reuters: ‘3DPrinters bring hi-tech manufacturing to the home’ > >

‘Not so long ago, harried moms and dads would brave the holiday season crowds at the mall to buy those Lego accessories or that Star Wars battle cruiser.

Now, with increasingly cheap and easy-to-use three-dimensional printers, they can turn out such gifts in the comfort of the family living room or garage.

3DPrinters — which use a process called additive manufacturing to make objects from a digital model by laying down layers of material — aren’t new. They’ve been used to make manufacturing and engineering prototypes for more than 25 years.

But printer makers are now turning their attention to the consumer market, and have been rewarded with soaring sales and stock prices — as well as the prospect of lucrative buyouts.

Some printers capable of churning out simple items such as keychains, wine bottle holders and missing board game pieces are already selling for as little as $350. That’s cheaper than a high-end version of Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) Xbox 360 with Kinect.

“The consumer segment in the next few years will potentially devour everything else that we do,” said Abe Reichental, chief executive of 3D Systems Corp (DDD.N), the biggest listed U.S. 3D printer maker.

Shares of Rock Hill, South Carolina-based 3D Systems, now trading around $38, have more than doubled since it launched its first printer for home use, the Cube 3D, in January.

Demand is three times more than expected, Reichental said, although he declined to give exact numbers.

Shares of Stratasys Inc (SSYS.O), the other major listed 3DPrinter maker, have more than doubled since the start of the year, to around $65 as investors sense the next big thing.

Privately held MakerBot, which released its first plug-and-play 3DPrinter, the Replicator, for $1,749 at the start of the year, faces a problem of too much demand, CEO Bre Pettis said.

“We expected our orders to double from our previous machine, Thing-A-Matic, and instead orders quadrupled,” Pettis said.

Brooklyn, New York-based MakerBot, founded in 2009, has shipped 13,000 printers so far.

About 80,000 3D printers of all sizes have been sold in the United States since 2007, research firm Wohlers Associates Inc says.

“If someone develops a very inexpensive and safe 3DPrinter for children, then I could envision maybe more than half of homes having 3DPrinters in them, as a toy,” said Wohlers President Terry Wohlers.


Part of the reason for the elevated share prices is speculation that traditional printer makers such as Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) and Lexmark International Inc (LXK.N) may see 3D as the way forward and seek to buy out a listed 3DPrinter maker, said Paul Meeks of Saturna Capital.

“Somebody may come in over the top to boost the prospects of their own printing groups,” said Meeks, whose firm holds a small stake in 3D Systems.

Michael Puryear, managing director at Howard Capital Management, said fundamentals are very strong.

“And in this economic environment, a small company that’s growing top and bottom line somewhere between 50 and 60 percent should be rewarded a premium,” said Puryear, whose firm holds stakes of about 1.5 percent in both 3D Systems and Stratasys.

But how much investor enthusiasm is too much? The rapid growth in the share prices worries some analysts.

With a market value of about $2.1 billion (1.3 billion pounds), 3D Systems stock trades at 30.2 times its 12-month forward earnings while Stratasys, with a market value of $1.4 billion trades at 42.6 times.

“I worry as it (3D Systems) continues to rise, that at some point, the valuation gets ahead of the hype,” Meeks said.

Grandeur Peak Global Advisors LLC, which sold its stake in 3D Systems in June, said the company’s acquisition spree could be dangerous. 3D Systems has made six acquisitions this year, and eight in the last 12 months.

The company’s revenue rose 52 percent to $83.6 million in the second quarter but organic revenue growth — stripping out the acquisitions — was just 20 percent.

“My honest belief is that they’re going to have a misstep,” Grandeur’s Spencer Stewart said.

3D Systems reported a net profit of $8.3 million for the quarter ended June 30, a fall of 38 percent from the same period year earlier. But the company’s market value jumped to $2.6 billion from $1.68 billion over the same period.

Net profit at Stratasys, which is based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, fell 24 percent to $3 million for the quarter ended June 30, but its market value grew 51 percent to $1.08 billion.

Others see market growth bringing the valuations into line.

End-markets are opening up so growth will continue in the near future, said Dougherty & Co analyst Andrea James.

There are those who think 3DPrinters may even be able to someday produce food — or, more worryingly, guns.


Worries about stock valuations are of little concern to consumers like Tom Nardone of Birmingham, Michigan who bought a MakerBot Replicator for $2,000.

Nardone, who runs a marketing company, believes these printers hold great potential for making homemade toys, or as toys themselves.

“Some company will launch this device and it’ll be $199 and your kids will be begging you to buy them.”

3D Systems operates an online design platform, (, that works like Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iTunes and Google Inc’s (GOOG.O) Android app store.

The owner of a printer can download patterns for jewellery, toys, lamp shades and more — many of them created by independent developers.

Taking a cut of those sales generate recurring revenue for 3D Systems, as does the sale of consumables and a service where users can order a printed product and get it delivered.

Others have gone a more open route. MakerBot offers open source design and software downloads for free on its Thingiverse online platform ( as it focuses on sales of printers and printing materials.

Copyright holders will cringe, but people are already using printers to make Star Wars battle cruisers…’.

By Sruthi Ramakrishnan and Neha Alawadhi, Reuters, Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:38pm BST, Editing by Rodney Joyce and Ted Kerr:

Autodesk Augmented Reality Plugin > > >

Autodesk Labs has released a free technology preview of a new augmented reality plugin for Showcase 2013 which will operate until 31 October 2012.

As a work-in-progress technology, it’s possible that it might make it into DS Max Design. According to a YouTube user comment the software can use any image as a marker when dropping a 3D object into a live video feed: most existing plugins require specific marker types.

Augmented Reality allows the ability to overlay semantically in context information (graphics, text, video, sound) on to a live video feed of the real-world in real-time. With the Augmented Reality plugin, Showcase scene environments can be more dynamic, allowing you to Imagine, Design and Create in a real world context

Autodesk Showcase has photorealistic 3D real-time rendering, but Autodesk reports that the plug-in makes it easier than ever to visualise showcase 3D models in the real-world as viewed through your web or video camera.

Paralympics 3DPrinted Wheelchair Seat > > >

Paralympics GB basketball champion, Ade Orogbemi trying out one of the new seats (Courstey of SA Images).

3DPrinting technology is being used to support the performance and achievements of disabled people in at the 2012 London Paralympics – for the first time innovative customised seats will be used, by the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Team.

Paralympic wheelchairs are individually moulded for each player by taking the individual’s size, shape and particular disability into account. For example, a player with a spinal cord injury will have a seat that provides additional support around their lower back.

Dr Gavin Williams, project leader says: “Within any wheelchair basketball team, both the nature and the extent of the players’ physical abilities vary considerably, traditionally players have had a very limited choice of seat designs and a tailor-made approach was not possible. The new seats, which include part of the back rest, are made specifically to accommodate each individual’s needs”.

In total 8 players, four men and four women will be using the new seats at the Paralympics this year. The seats were developed with UK Sport funding at Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Institute, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Team members initially underwent 3D scans to capture their bodies’ biomechanical movements and their positions in their existing wheelchairs. A moulding bag containing small polystyrene balls (similar to a bean bag style seat), was used to capture the shape of the player when seated.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) capabilities were then used to refine the shape of the outer layer of the seat to suit each individual player and help position the seat onto the frame.

3DPrinting technology helps to reduce the weight of seat by a kilo, and with the overall chair being two kilos lighter than the chairs that were used in Beijing because of other modifications to the chair itself. Such individualised seats could reduce the problems with pressure sores currently experienced by a great number of wheelchair users.

The event is held at the Basketball Arena in the Olympic Park and the North Greenwich Arena between Thursday 30th August and Saturday 8th September.