Directly from the founder and CEO of Tinkercad is word that they are being bought by Autodesk, and there are “exciting plans for Tinkercad.” The shutdown of Tindercad has been rolled back, people can again sign up for accounts.”
We like TinkerCad because it most of the basic features from SketchUp but has an even lower learning curve and can create “watertight parts” more easily (the parts need to be mathematically solid if they are to be 3D printed).
One can sign up for a free account at http://tinkercad.com/. Best practice is to save your work and export it from any cloud service like Tinkercad soon after completion (just in case the service changes).
As a collaborate project between University Communications, CTLT, and Boatwright Library, we developed the largest 3D print to be printed on a UR CTLT printer for inclusion in a video that documents the night culture in the library. The cubic prop measured 180mm (over 7 inches) in its largest dimension and paves the way for large academic 3D printed objects. The Solidoodle 3 printer can print an object up to 8 in. x 8 in. x 8 in., so we expect it will get more use for printing everything from large molecular models to student 3D design sculpture.
Communications developed the typography and provided a sample to the CTLT for further refinement and extrusion into a 3D shape. The CTLT imported the design into SketchUp from an Adobe Illustrator intermediary file format. SketchUp allowed us to create the solid object with some hidden support structures to give the letters more rigidity during filming, and we could model the final look and feel of the object for approval. We conducted a couple scaled test prints and iteratively developed the design for optimal printing. We then set up the 3D printer in such a way that it could execute the 50+ hour print job while allowing time lapse photography of the printing process to be included in the video project.
SketchUp 2013 was released this week and represents a slight improvement over past versions. The most notable changes, however, are that Trimble has furthered their effort in creatnig an identity for the product after they acquired SketchUp from Google in 2012. The new free version of SketchUp is called SketchUp Make. Beyond more intuitive feature icons, the software has mainly added an Extension Warehouse to provide simple discover and installation of plugins for extending what SketchUp can do (see earlier post for the SketchUp plugins that we recommend). A list of all the additional features are available at the SketchUp web site.
SketchUp is a great tool for doing 3D design. It has a very low learning curve and can be used to create accurate designs. Moreover, there are many plug-ins for use with the app to increase functionality and interoperability.
SketchUp is available for download from their site, but it is also available on the computers in the Technology Learning Center located on the 3rd floor of Boatwright Library.
We were visited today by Richmond’s own WTVR senior reporter, Wayne Covil. He interviewed me as part of a story about the 3D printing of guns (see earlier post for background). Bottom-line, current low-cost 3D printers are not quite ready to print guns, but they are coming.
Both sides of the gun control debate and the 3D printed gun debate, more specifically, could discuss the issue all they wanted in a theoretical framework until now.
Cody Wilson, the UT Austin law student who made a lot of press regarding the controversial development of 3D printed guns (starting with an AR-15 lower receiver), has printed his first successful gun in the way of a single shot pistol named Liberator. He posted a Youtube video demonstrating the firing of the gun as well as promotion of his Defense Distributed organization’s 3D design sharing site, defcad.org .
It is difficult to imagine the academic purpose for printing a weapon, but I am sure we will work with university administration if/when a 3D printer is added as a production service on campus to prohibit such creations. For context, the current CTLT printers (two Solidoodle printers and one Makerbot printer) are not going to be used to print a weapon, and more importantly, it should be noted that anyone with a low-cost printer should refrain from printing or trying to use a 3D printed gun. If nothing else, the manufacturing tolerances for low-cost 3D printers is insufficient for producing anything more than a deathtrap for the operator let alone anyone in the line of fire.
Furthermore, our research into online printing services such as Shapeways and i.materialize show that their sites prohibit such weapons.
Of course there have been ways for people to make firearms without a factory for hundreds of years, but 3D printing is reducing the barriers to fabrication. The prediction is that 3D printing will become more commonplace, cheaper, more reliable, and more accurate. Therefore, Mr. Wilson has opened up a can of worms that needs to be addressed as this test demonstrates a time in the near future when people will be able to 3D print fairly dangerous objects.
Many in the low to medium-cost 3D printing world are cautiously optimistic to the initial hype for a printer that is promoted by the makers to print full color objects. The manufacturer, botObjects, will be releasing more information in June, but for now, there is just enough to tease. Solidsmack has an interview with the two company founders that provides a little more information than the company web site.
Basically, the printer will use five colors (probably cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and white) of PLA plastic in cartridges, mixing the colors to get the true color needed in the object in the spot currently being printed. This is hardly built upon current 3D printing technologies and basically becomes its own category. The most popular method currently for producing full colors is to print the object with powder and glue and run an color ink jet process over the printed object to apply the coloring. To those in low-cost 3D printing, they will also quickly note from the product information that the printer will be able to self-level the print bed. This is a tedious chore that current printers require the operator to do, and in most cases, it is completely done manually.
Shane Hope, “Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs and Qubit-Built Quilts,” installation view. Photography by Etienne Frossard at http://www.winkleman.com/exhibitions/782/images/27451
The Winkleman Gallery in New York is currently exhibiting works that integrate 3D printed forms into more traditional art. To the 3D printing expert without artistic training, I can at least see a good opportunity to repurpose the plastic parts from unsuccessful 3D printing jobs.
This is honestly not a late April Fools joke. TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits gave a TED talk to describe the research and development partnerships his MIT lab is making to develop 4D printing. What is 4D printing? Well, you should watch his TED talk below, but basically, the first 3 dimensions are the normal ones for 3D printing (X, Y, Z for Cartesians among us), while the fourth represents an automatic change in the object that is built into it while printing but takes place later. So you might say the dynamics or flexibility of the object causing the object to re-form over time suggests time is the fourth dimension here.
The idea of printing something with the constraints of the 3D printing process that could later deform and form into a target configuration has great opportunities. However, the software tools are in their infancy in this area, needing much work to be done by hand and there are relatively few printers that can use multiple materials in the process.