Renegade laser cutting

The Laser Cutter Roundup — a weekly dose of laser-cut love: #94

Hey, Sam here collecting the post from The Laser Cutter.

Above are laser cut book cover pendants from Molarchae who is now offering 15% off here (read her comment at TLC)

The race is still on to 200th follower on  TLC’s Facebook page and win a fabulous prize…

After the jump, the RCF… (more…)

EndlessForms: 3D printed evolution in action

“From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” — Charles Darwin


Kristen passed this web-based modeling tool to me last week. It’s a WebGL application called EndlessForms that enables users to evolve 3D forms. Users select “parent” forms whose traits will then influence the resulting “child”. The method of doing so is very interesting, taking cues from biological reproduction:

For each voxel (a small cube) in the allowable area, information about its geometric coordinates (e.g. its X, Y, and Z coordinates) are input into an evolved genome. The genes in the genome turn on and off in response to that information, creating new geometric patterns that affect other genes, etc. Eventually the output of the network is a single value, which specifies whether material should fill a voxel or not. The genome thus specifies where material exists based on geometric information, just as in natural organisms.

To try it out, I took an existing “wine bottle” model from the gallery and evolved it into (what I think) is a trophy shape. Here’s the original: (more…)

RepRap Progeny

Printing The Next Generation – Here’s How It’s Done

It’s all about taking a basic 3d printer, and using it to print a more advanced one. That’s the beauty of this technology… the beauty of the whole DIY 3d printer movement, in fact.

Watch the video as Gavilan Steinman neatly explains how his Darwin printer was used to fabricate a Mendel replacement, thus propelling him into a future where higher quality outcomes will be achieved with greater speed and efficiency.

From the humblest of beginnings, a device can be constructed that sets off a steady climb towards fabbing freedom. The original extruder was a handmade wooden contraption that Gavilan then used to create a better version of itself. This higher performing and more accurate component was then installed, ready to print out the next generation of components.

Not only do we get to see the whole process in this well composed clip, the tempting reality of Ponoko’s new hardware partnership with Sparkfun means that all of the other electronic goodies you’ll need to bring your 3d printer to life can now be sourced right here.

Combine this with the wealth of knowledge that continues to grow at the reprap community and you’ll soon be printing out a next generation of your own.

Via Hack a day.

Pricing Guide For At-Home 3D Printers

comparing the costs of 3D printers

If you want to get into 3D printing at home but haven’t decided which printer to choose, there’s a very helpful pricing guide on the RepRap Log Phase blog.

Neil Underwood has put together a list of several 3D printer options ranging from $60–$3185. (including the RepRap Darwin and CupCake CNC from Makerbot, available in the Ponoko showroom) CLICK HERE to check out the full guide on RepRap Log Phase.

And check back here for a 3D Printer specs comparison post, coming soon. Sometime soon.

3D Printers at Makerfaire

So many to choose from

We have posted about the various DIY 3D printers on Ponoko before so it was great to be able to see them in action at Makerfaire.

The Makerbot guys were showing off their new Frostruder and a couple of new ABS colors. The red was super cool, it kind of glowed. They had a new design for a container for the plastic spool which was good to see. The spool can get out of control if not properly looked after. Also on the horizon is a new Plastruder design (the part that melts the plastic). The new design looks a lot more robust which will be fantastic.

You can also check out the presentation given by Bre Pettis at Makerfaire about the Makerbot project and the cool stuff they are doing.

It was also nice to see custom cases showing up. Like this fluoro pink Bot by Eddy Vromen and of course the Vambot we had on display.


Ponoko Monthly Press Feed

November 2009


Word spreads and — thanks to Google Alerts — I’m keeping track. Be it shame or praise, Ponoko wants to know what people think. Introducing the Ponoko Monthly Press Feed. Got a complaint? Let it rip. Got a compliment? Don’t be shy. We want to share what the world is saying. And while Google will track down your blog and deliver it to my inbox, if you ever want to submit a user story/concern/etc you can email the blog directly: blog at ponoko dot com.

• In Good Company Workplaces names Ponoko in their list of resources for Unleashing the Inventor in You

• 5Magazine (the international coolhunting magazine) calls Ponoko “the future of manufacturing”

• Branding Strategy Insider lists Ponoko in 9 Digital Trends for 2010

• Business Day asks tips for online success from Ponoko founder David ten Have

• New progress on Russ Nelson’s Ponoko Darwin (you learn more about this Reprap project from a previous post)

• Gilbert Riedelbauch writes about his Ponoko-made lighting design over at his blog virtualterritory

• Mayka Mei visits the Ponoko studio in San Francisco and says our blog is “So cool. It’s like Kanye West’s except not ghosted.” THANK you Mayka!

• San Francisco Gate blog The Wallflower praises Ponoko as “a tinkerer’s dream”.

• EvilMadScientist mentions Ponoko as a way to create typographic coasters

• Canada’s The Globe and Mail talks about Ponoko’s popularity in the world of “micro-manufacturers”

• The Oakland Tribune lists Ponoko amongst the Bay Area’s growing number of “innovation incubators”

• James Harton shows off his Ponoko-made laptop stand and gingerbread toys

• More love for Ponoko-made Gaming Controllers from European gaming site The Sixth Axis and We Heart It

• December issue of Lucky magazine mentions Ponoko as “one of the more brilliant websites” (see page below)


Melbourne Design Guide

Your Guide to one of the Hippest City’s on Earth
Those of you who have read the past couple of posts on State of Design Festival and want to know more will be happy to know the Melbourne Design Guide is now available.
According to my source of all things hip and happening in Melbourne, Lucy at the Design Files
“It is truly the bible of Melbourne design – outlining not just design-focused retail, but also galleries, studios, snippets and recommendations from local designers, bars and cafes with a design-sensibility… anything and everything visually stimulating in this beautiful city!”

Reprap in reproduction shocker

According to the Reprap website, Reprappers at the University of Bath, UK, have succeeded in making a rapid prototyper reproduce itself for the first time.

University of Bath Reprap Success

Adrian Bowyer (left) and Vik Olliver (right) with a parent RepRap machine, made on a conventional rapid prototyper, and the first complete working child RepRap machine, made by the RepRap on the left. The child machine made its first successful grandchild part at 14:00 hours UTC on 29 May 2008 at Bath University in the UK, a few minutes after it was assembled. image:

The University of Bath’s press release states:

“The materials, plus the minority of parts that the machine cannot print, cost about £300. All those non-printed parts can be bought at hardware shops or from online stores.”

So if we’re going to be picky, no it hasn’t actually replicated itself in entirety – what has been achieved is that the Reprap design is now sophisticated enough to reproduce all its plastic parts, which were initially produced for the parent model by a conventional 3D printer. I like that the test of success is for the child Reprap to make the first component of its offspring Reprap – A highly accelerated world, this where generations are separated by just minutes! The successful reproduction was achieved by Adrian Bowyer and Vik Olliver, who also founded the Reprap project just 3 years and 2 months ago! Again, not bad as evolution goes, and I’m sure Reprap’s current namesake would be proud!

Now its time to make your own. Good synopsis of the project, as ever, at Wikipedia.

The parent and child Repraps will be on display from the 4th June (today) to the 8th June at the Cheltenham Science Festival, if you’re down that way.

Via Neel

UPDATE: Thanks to =ml= for pointing out Reprap’s own showroom on Ponoko where one can have parts for the Darwin Reprap cut and delivered by Ponoko.

Open Source is What All the Kids are Talking About

In the software world, open source is what its all about these days. From productivity programs like open office to full operating systems, like Ubuntu. Only in the past few years has the open source bug infected other disciplines, such as hardware and product design. The appeal of open source projects is undeniable; a dedicated group of enthusiasts working to create a product that benefits a much larger community without asking for anything in return.

Slashdot | The Modern Ease of 3D Printing

Slashdot | The Modern Ease of 3D Printing

An article in the New York Times that was sent through to me a few days ago from one of our friends is causing a bit of a storm on the tech mega-news site Slashdot. The NYT article itself is a review on 3D scanning technology. It focuses a lot on the scanning of objects and then printing them. My personal opinion is that it’s much more interesting to talk about designing objects and then using the fabricator to create; after all, scanning someone else’s creation and just printing it is pretty boring really – where’s the creativity in that?

The comments on Slashdot are pretty interesting though and it’s great to see the huge interest in the technology. Some of the comments include:

When you think about it, modern society is moving more and more to the production of “intellectual property” (i.e. an idea as something you can own) rather than the production of physical goods. A modern individual has the capability of mastering their own music and movies, post-processing and distributing their own photographs in both digital and physical form, creating their own PCB-based electronics, designing their own Microprocessors, building their own vehicles (airplanes are a big one!), and many other tasks that used to require massive resources and tens-to-hundreds of employees.
Intelligent Blogger

Now I know about the “never say never” line in technology, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that while the productive capacity of the home user will scale up, you will never get to the point where manufacturers of physical items will be squeezed out the way manufacturers of virtual goods (music, movies etc) have been. There’s a fundamental difference between copying Britney Spears’ latest warblings and copying a Ferrari.
Really, replicator technology instantly solves a vast amount of global issues. You no longer have hunger. You no longer have theft since there is no value in stolen objects. You no longer have a “drug problem” since everyone who wants drugs can replicate themselves into a stupor without harming anyone else, and darwinian processes will quickly weed people with those addictive tenancies into oblivion. Likewise, there will be little need for war since there are no resources to argue over, and even if there were you would be assured of mutual destruction since anyone can replicate any weapons they can imagine.

“In most cases, from the examples I’ve seen, the rapid prototyping tools can’t currently create a durable item– From my purchasing experiences in the past decade, it seems most items are not durable anyway.

You want to really stretch your brain…
Ask yourself, what would Nintendo do if they could build a game machine incorporating a 3d printer?
Custom trophies from virtual games.
3d avatars like the “Mii” that you can actually hold….


That’s just a few of the neat comments that the story has inspired. The idea of 3D replicators is one that really captures the imagination. I’ll admit there are a lot of negative comments too. There are issues with intellectual property protection, environmental issues and also fear over the economic implications. That’s natural with any groundbreaking technology, but ultimately I believe the benefits will outweigh the negatives. It’s going to be a fun ride to see how it plays out.