Amazing inventions from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Inventions

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk” – Thomas A. Edison

I believe Mr Edision was suggesting that inventions are created when someone’s imagination sees value in something no one else perhaps would. 2011 was certainly an impressive year of bringing physical form to those imaginations.

As the inventions category fit within many of the other categories we’ve featured on Best of the Blog 2011 so far, you can expect to see some familiar favourites…

3D printed panoramic ball camera

The Panoramic ball camera is a playful exploration into novel ways of taking photos. You throw the ball up in the air – at the apex of its throw it takes a photo, or a lot of photos in every direction! Genius, where can I get one?

Chocolate 3D Printer

Chocolate printer
Yum, this is for chocolate lovers everywhere. Expect to see more 3D food printer developments this year!

Functional 3D printed drive chassis

Mechanical 3D printing is becoming popular quickly, especially for Makerbot owners, who can print any parts they want cheaply and quickly. Thingiverse member Marc Raiser has done exactly that – this vehicle uses over 54 3D printed parts, making it nearly 100% 3D printed!


Digitising sketching without a bulky scanner! Although Wacom’s Inkling was supposed to be released last year, there hasn’t been much word from Wacom about the Inkling, I’m still hoping sometime early this year we’ll be easily digitising our sketches. Stay tuned…


What list of inventions would be complete without lots of artificial intelligent robots?

“…a swarm-bot is an artefact composed of a number of simpler, insect-like, robots (s-bots), built out of relatively cheap components, capable of self-assembling and self-organising to adapt to its environment.”

Impressive little machines, but operators remain wary should Skynet become self aware…

Solar Laser Sinter

Again the Solar Laser Sinter has already been featured in the Best of the Blog: 3D printing already, but it seriously deserves another mention in this category for invention! This is nearly 100% closed loop manufacturing and not least in the arid conditions of the Sahara!

Quadrocopters team up

Another artificial intelligence article by Guy on the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab’s robot choppers. They are programmed to deliver and assemble parts for an autmated building system. Check out the impressive video!

David is an industrial designer from New Zealand. He contributes a weekly article on personal fabrication for Ponoko. You can follow him on Twitter @dizymac

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