DIY in action at MIT

Ponoko’s own Derek Elley talks DIY with some serious thinkers

There’s a lot to talk about at the MIT Media Lab, particularly during the Spring Sponsor Meeting where a host of researchers, invited speakers and sponsors will be sharing their personal insights.

This time around it is all about the world of DIY. From workshops and updates on research projects through to open houses; attendees will be well and truly ready for the day-long DIY symposium that wraps up the event on Thursday April 14.

Ponoko’s own Derek Elley will be knocking heads with other invited speakers under the banner of DIY in action. For those who can’t make it to the event, selected talks will be webcast from the MIT website.

MIT Media Lab’s Spring Sponsor Meeting runs from April 12-14, 2011.

MIT Media Lab: DIY

Interview with Rick Pollack of MakerGear

A small business pioneer of DIY 3D printing talks about his work and hints at an upcoming project

Rick Pollack of MakerGear

First, a quick introduction to me – I’m Derek Quenneville, one of the new 3D printing bloggers here at Ponoko. I’ve been the proud operator of MakerBot #169 for a while now and came to 3D printing like many others: “Oh my god, we can do that?!”

My background is mainly in software and web stuff over at and I am all about making sure that people know about personal 3D printing. I’m the guy at your party with a bag of whistles, mustache rings and bottle openers. :)

This week I spoke with Rick Pollack of MakerGear, who popularized a number of things in the hobbyist space like printing with PLA, and using heated build platforms to reduce ABS curling.

Here’s our conversation: (more…)

3D Printing Big and Small

When CNCing gets you down, try 3D printing

Taylor Alexander is no stranger to 3D making.  His job involves running a CNC machine shop, where he can make pretty much anything he wants, provided he has the time and energy to program the equipment and machine the parts – something that can take all night or even multiple nights.  At the end of last year Taylor had a light bulb moment when he realised that this Ponoko platform thingy he kept reading about in Sparkfun! had a US hub which would conveniently service his San Jose location.

With Ponoko 3D printing Taylor can take design shortcuts that aren’t a possibility with machined parts.  The time saving is made even greater when the only other task to be done is uploading, ordering and waiting for the part to arrive, so no more depressing “late nights spent getting dirty running the CNC machines”.

One of the pleasant surprises Taylor came across when his first order arrived, was the quality of the print.  He’d tried 3D printing in college seven years ago and found the process pretty neat, albeit expensive.  However, time certainly advances technology, and Taylor was amazed by the improvement in the fabrication result.

More from Taylor after the jump:


Money in making things; how Germany is bouncing back from the economic crisis

Cash is back in manufacturing

At the onset of the 21st century, manufacturing was the old-school economy.

After the dot com bubble burst, countries like the UK and US saw rapid growth in the real estate boom.

(For a hilarious relic of this recent past, check out a few episodes of National Open House where the intro motion graphics depict houses propelled upwards like rockets and dollar signs explode like fireworks from the roof.)

But one EU country kept their focus on manufacturing.

According to a recent article in the Guardian, Germany is climbing out of the economic bog miring the rest of Europe — largely based on their “industrial bedrock.”

Martin Zell, deputy prime minister of Bavaria, is quoted saying “All the countries that have kept the nucleus of their industry are more successful.”

Just how successful? The head of communications at automobile manufacturer Audi reports, “2010 was our best ever year.”

Read the full article for an in-depth look at how what many believed were Germany’s “weaknesses flagged up in the 1990s and 2000s have turned out to be strengths.”

It goes to show that manufacture isn’t dead; there’s money in making things.

Exploring the technical and aesthetic potential of 3D ceramic printing

research in 3D ceramic printing at Bowling Green State University

We first mentioned the 3D printing research lead by BGSU School of Art professor John Balistreri back in 2008.

In a video from late ’09, Balistreri explains the evolution of this research project from tinkering with powders to filing patents to securing a research grant.

He shows off some pieces that demonstrate the ability of 3D printing to create complex forms that are impossible to create with traditional techniques as well as the ability to duplicate handmade objects by using a 3D scanner.

“There’s some intriguing kind of fascination of how the digital world is interfacing with this analog world,” remarks Balistreri.

He closes the video citing several examples of how 3D ceramic printing could affect a range of industries including architectural design and medical.

Related articles:
• Ceramic 3D printing at Unfold~fab
3D printing clay like an archaeological process

Gadget Guru’s talks about Ponoko Personal Factory, lip synchs Namu Namu

Gadget Guru’s Episode 42

High school sophomores and down to earth techies Nick Jones and Jacob Roberts host a weekly internet show called Gadget Guru’s.

Before I tell you about the latest episode which features us (yay!), let me give you a little more background on just how awesome Mr Jones and Mr Roberts are.

In late 2009, Nick founded PBCastTV, a content creation network for self-produced internet shows.

Jacob soon joined as a co-founder and regular host, and to date the two run three different live internet shows: Gadget Guru’s, PB@Night, and Tech Weekly plus a feature from the Consumer Electronics Show.

Yesterday they posted episode 42 of Gadget Guru’s which, after an incredibly talented performance of Namu Namu, features Jacob demonstrating his “useless machine” he made with Ponoko Personal Factory.

The machine is a lasercut box with a single switch that upon switching, switches itself back off. Useless, but nonetheless wonderful. Tech gratia techis!

After explaining the workings of his box, Jacob goes into more detail about Ponoko’s digital making methods and materials.

As a regular maker with Ponoko, Jacob offers an excellent and informative customer perspective on what you can do with Personal Factory.

Jump over to PBCastTV and check it out. (Ponoko talk starts around the 7:30 minute mark.)

All shows are available to stream 24/7, but don’t miss your chance to chat with the hosts during the live shows.

PopTech interview on the reality of 3D organ printing

Printing bio cellular structures aka regenerative medicine

With thousands of people in the U.S. in need of organ replacement, the need for healthy human organs is evident.

Could 3D printers be the solution?

We recently mentioned a 3D bio printer at Cornell University’s Computational Synthesis Laboratory that’s printing silicon tissue, but just how real is the potential to 3D print human organs?

For the answer, PopTech’s Emily Spivack interviewed Dr. Gabor Forgac, founder of Organovo, a company that sells “the world’s only commercial bioprinter proven to create tissue.”

Forgac describes two products his company is currently working on — vascular grafts (blood vessels) and nerve grafts.

“We are building blood vessels using the 3D printing technology but we’re not yet at the point where our vessels can be safely introduced into a living organism. We’re very close but we’re not yet there.”

He also explains that it’s not about replicating a human organ — “We will not be able to reproduce the heart that you have in your body one hundred percent. That is a structure that evolved over millions of years.” — but creating a structure that performs the same function as that organ and can be safely integrated into the body.

Read the full interview at PopTech.

100×100 – IBM Looks Back

Take a trip down memory lane as IBM celebrates 100 years

In an interesting reflection featuring a milestone for each year of the company’s operations, IBM have produced some fancy PR clips as a part of their centenary celebrations this year.

There are likely to be a few surprises in there for everyone, and if you like what you see, be sure to click through for an extra feature that takes a deeper look at the way this juggernaut of a company has contributed to shaping our modern world.  (more…)

Top Interviews, Thoughts & Opinions on the Future of DIY Design

Best of the Blog 2010 — interviews; thoughts + opinions

For our first annual Best of the Blog series, we’ve featured digitally fabricated design eye-candy, awesome materials to spark your creativity, resources like tools, apps, and tutorials, and a lot more.

To close out our 2010 Best of the Blog, here is a round-up of the top interviews, thoughts and opinions on the future of DIY design.

This top ten list provides you with an overview of the rapidly changing landscape of people and their relationship to products.

It also touches on the big debates going on in the maker community: Do digitally fabricated goods deserve to be called “handmade”? And is it true that one day every home will have a desktop 3D printer?

And finally, a look at what the future of making holds beyond the 3D printing craze.


Digital Fabrication Brings on a New Wave of Entrepreneurs

NESTA panel on personal manufacturing

The rise of digital fabrication and the revolutionary potential behind this increasingly accessible technology were the topics of a recent panel held by the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.

Three experts including a Fab Lab manager, a 3D printer inventor, and a start-up founder in the toy industry talk about how on-demand manufacturing technologies like 3D printing are creating an environment for a new wave of inventors and entrepreneurs.

Alice Taylor left her job in educational programming at UK’s Channel 4 to start, an online site for creating 3D printed, biodegradable dolls.

She talks about the closed world of the toy industry in contrast to the open world of gaming and why it’s time for that to change.

Taylor calls 2011 the year for personal manufacturing services taking note of major players like Shapeways, iMaterialise, and Ponoko and adding that there will be several new companies making their way to the market.

As for her own foray into the consumer world of digital fabrication? “Makieworld is brand, brand new. … I’m looking at how we might be able to produce dolls that come up to toy safety standards in a couple years time.”