The Pirate Bay now lets you download physical objects

introducing Physibles

The world’s larget BitTorrent tracker, The Pirate Bay, has just announced the addition of a new category of downloadable files — Physibles.

Physibles are described as “data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical.” And it’s The Pirate Bay’s belief that “the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form.”

They are talking here of course about digital files that can be sent to fabrication equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, Jacquard looms and so on. And with the continued improvement of such technology and it’s increasing adoption, The Pirate Bay believes that “You will download your sneakers within 20 years.”

Physibles is currently classified as Other in the line up of available torrents: Audio, Video, Applications, Games, and Other, but perhaps one day we’ll see the addition of Objects to the main categories.

We mentioned the possibility of The Product Bay two years ago, and today it’s officially happening. “We’re thinking of temporarily renaming ourselves to The Product Bay – but we had no graphical artist around to make a logo. In the future, we’ll download one,” concludes today’s announcement. (I’ve taken the liberty of throwing one together.)

Although there exist a handful of sites to find downloadable product files, including them in such a hugely popular file sharing site is a significant step in the personal fabrication movement. And just the beginning of what could make 2012 the year of the product design copyright fight.

via @golan via @bre

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OpenVSP: parametric aircraft modelling tool

NASA embraces the open-source philosophy

NASA kicked off this year by greatly expanding their commitment to open source, launching their new site

Ultimately, our goal is to create a highly visible community hub that will imbue open concepts into the formulation stages of new hardware and software projects, and help existing projects transition to open modes of development and operation

Some of the projects they’ve opened up are way over my head, but the one that caught my eye is OpenVSP:

OpenVSP is a parametric aircraft geometry tool. OpenVSP allows the user to create a 3D model of an aircraft defined by common engineering parameters. This model can be processed into formats suitable for engineering analysis.

How cool is that? Maybe you don’t have access to an aerospace facility, but with this tool you can invent your own far-out aircraft designs and print out the models in 3D from your Personal Factory.

[Someone should make an app for that...]

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5 products from 2011 that you can download

Best of the Blog 2011 – Downloadable

They’re not quite as common as music and video files on the internet, but the mainstreaming of digital fabrication means that design files for physical objects are being passed around more than ever. Here are some of the coolest downloadable items covered on the blog in 2011:

1. A table with the digital design file built in

Download the design straight from the object!

This is my favourite of the bunch. There’s a project on Thingiverse for making QR code tags to stick on your creations, but this goes way beyond that by enabling downloads from the object itself! The QR code on the table in the picture is not a link to a website but instead the actual files necessary to make the table yourself!

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Sculpteo 3D printing iPhone app

Make a vase from your own profile

For those who enjoy a novelty gift, the new iPhone app from Sculpteo might be just what you’ve been looking for.

A free download onto your favourite i-device is all that it takes. Use the app to snap a picture, and then with just a few simple manipulations the resulting data is prepared for printing as either a vase, a bowl or a coffee cup.
It’s not all about putting your pointy-nosed mug on a mug – the app can also be used to model your twitter statistics or customize an iPhone case.

With access to the Sculpteo community, this app is a great way to introduce people to the world of 3D printing and the possibilities that are enabled by the technology that we carry around with us in our daily lives.

Sculpteo via Engadget

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Stead i Cam: laser cut handheld camera crane

DIY project to keep your footage smooth and steady

Professional looking handheld footage sometimes takes more than just a fancy camera. If you don’t want to make your viewers seasick, a camera crane is an essential tool to keep the picture gliding along.

Uploaded to Thingiverse by Frits Stam en Koen de Greef, this laser cut version can be whipped together using the supplied cutting pattern along with a few readily available off-the-shelf components.

Being able to achieve professional-level results by taking advantage of this open-source project will really cut costs for the film enthusiast. This kind of equipment is usually out of reach unless you have a huge amount of cash to burn, so it is great to see high-end tools becoming more accessible through the DIY movement.

Features of the Stead i Cam include:

+ removable / adjustable camera plate
+ weight swivels to compensate for an unbalanced camera
+ air bubble for leveling the camera
+ light weight design

Click through to see a short video of the Stead i Cam in action.   (more…)

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Personal Factory Projects for the Holidays

Plus make-your-own Christmas decorationsThe time for giving is almost nigh, and the best kind of giving involves designing something yourself and beautifully crafting it, or finding something unique that wasn’t made by pre-schoolers in a third world dungeon.

We’ve got gift ideas, design inspiration as well as free files for making your own Christmas happiness.  There is the annual checklist: decorate the tree, decorate the house, decorate yourself.  Of course, some people decorate their pets also, but there’s something not quite right about puppies in acrylic tiaras.

Lots of designs under the cut:


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Print your own velcro

3D printed velcro from the Thingiverse3D printable velcro

I’ve recently been checking out the clever 3D printed designs being uploaded at Thingiverse. Thingiverse is a community of makers who upload digital designs to share with other members. What impresses me about the community is that people are constantly pushing 3D printing in new directions by offering suggestions or improving other’s designs…

Thingiverse user eried has created some 3D printable velcro adhesive which works relatively well given that it is coarser than mass produced velcro. As a first prototype it shows a lot of promise and is an excellent proof of concept. (more…)

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Global Village Construction Set

Another wildly successful Kickstarter campaign: 10 days still remaining

We first came across Marcin Jakubowski’s incredible Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) back in April, following his well-received TED presentation. The concept of GVCS is one of those super-simple, too-good-to-be-true proposals that has real potential to change so many lives.

What is it all about? Imagine a modular, DIY, low-cost, open source, high-performance platform. One that makes it easy to fabricate all of the 50 different industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization complete with modern comforts.

The aim of the GVCS is to lower the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing. Its a life-size lego set that can create entire economies…

Like all good farmers, Marcin and the guys from Open Source Ecology have certainly been busy.

Opening their project to the hands of the public with a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, things are looking good for the first set of prototypes that have been developed.

Click through for more information about the campaign, as well as a deeper look at the Global Village Construction Set.   (more…)

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200 pages of laser cut patterns!

Wood Marvels volume 3 is out!

If you’re a frequent visitor to the Ponoko Showroom, then chances are you’ve already come across the prolific works of Jon Cantin.

Operating under the banner of WoodMarvels, he has produced hundreds of laser cut designs featuring toys, games, vehicles and more.

WoodMarvels 3: Evolution of Wooden Designs is now available in print and download versions.

What sets this latest publication apart is the format in which the 3d designs appear. Each project includes 3d rendered step-by-step assembly instructions, as well as a pattern on a grid layout. By utilising the grid, Jon incorporates the material thickness – thus giving users a reference point at which they can scale the designs to suit whatever material they wish to work with.

The catalogue of designs is quite broad, from architectural and historical landmarks, creatures and vehicles of all sorts, through to desktop organisers and even a light-table. As is the way with most wooden toys, actual historical or anatomical accuracy is sometimes tweaked in favour of outcomes that simply work better using the technologies and materials at hand. Jon is always careful to ensure that the completed designs look just right.

One thing that is really nice about this publication is that each design can exist as a project in its own right. Along with clearly defined levels of difficulty, this means WoodMarvels Volume 3 is equally suited as an educational tool or as a project book for a hobbyist to work through at home.

Click through for some Q and A with Jon as he reflects on this particular milestone.   (more…)

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Minibloq: Arduino programming made easy

Become a Beta tester now

Making DIY programming more accessible to eager young minds, the latest iteration of Minibloq is now open to the public in its Beta phase.

Minibloq is a graphical programming environment specifically targeted towards helping primary students, kids and beginners learn more about DIY electronics and hardware.

With a drag-and-drop interface and gentle learning curve, the mysteries of Arduino programming unfold and the real-time error checking keeps everything on track. Much thought has gone into the extensive feature list, and it looks as though the application is shaping up well to match, and indeed exceed, expectations from the recent Kickstarter campaign.

A quick video tour through some of the features follows after the break.


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