A functional mini plotter made with cardboard, glue, wire, and tape

Mechanical inventiveness at its best.

If you want to see if you truly understand how a mechanical system works, try making it out of cardboard. Artist Niklas Roy led the construction of a series of cardboard computers, including this plotter, as part of an electronic media class at the School of Art and Design, Offenbach. Watch the video above to see the remarkable sophistication of this mechanical computer.

The $250 Arduino-powered prosthetic hand made by a teen

Arduino, 3D printing, and clever engineering result in an affordable prosthesis.

Easton LaChappelle has made a series of continuously improving robotic hands. The first, which he made at age 14, won 3rd place at the Colorado state science fair, and the second, which we previously covered, won 2nd place at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the top science fair in the USA. At the Colorado fair he met a little girl who wore an $80,000 prosthetic arm, and he was convinced he could do better.

An air-powered robotic tentacle using Processing and Arduino

Soft robotics at home.

Matthew Borgatti of HAR.MS made this slightly disconcerting yet undeniably fascinating prototype of an air-powered robotic tentacle. The tentacle itself is made of silicone, and an Arudino and three solenoid valves control the flow of air that make the tentacle bend and twist. Borgatti also made a simple visual user interface with Processing to operate it.

“Soft robotics” like this have several potential advantages over the more traditional “hard” systems. A soft arm is more gentle with far fewer moving parts, and is, in some ways, more resistant to damage that a typical robotic arm.

How to use an old Nokia to send text messages from an Arduino

Put one of those old cellphones lying around to good use.

Most people have at least one or two old cellphones sitting in a drawer somewhere. Now you can use one for your next Arduino project. Alex of insideGadgets has kindly posted a detailed tutorial showing how to hack and old Nokia 6110 (or any derivative) to send text messages from an Arduino. Even if you don’t have one of these sitting around, old technology (aka project materials) can be bought at absurdly low prices.

Via Arduino blog

Making a bioprinter from an old inkjet

Welcome to the early days of DIY biofabbing.

Instructables user Patrik has put together a guide for making a simple bioprinter out of and old inkjet print and a couple old CD drives. He has successfully printed bioluminescent E. coli in the form of readable text (image after the jump). Bioprinting is still largely in the research stages for medical and industrial purposes, but DIY enthusiasts are close behind.

3D print your own humanoid robot

It picks up objects, talks, and obeys your voice.

An open source, 3D printable humanoid robot is in development and available for download from Thingiverse. Right now only the arms can be downloaded, but the head and torso are promised as soon as the design has been refined.

InMoov is a project by Gael Langevin, a French sculptor (Thingiverse user hairygael). Langevin has been working on InMoov since early 2012 and has gone through numerous design iterations and discarded 3D prints since that time. The progress is nothing short of outstanding. As you can see in the video below, this is a fully articulated humanoid robot, a rarity outside the research labs of corporations and universities.

Daimler funds the development of a large-scale 3D printer for metal

A giant laser sintering printer with a tiny 20 micron layer thickness.

The German automaker Daimler AG has funded a research partnership between the Fraunhofer Institute of Laser Technology and the German company Concept Laser. The result was the X line 1000R system with a build volume is 630mm x 400mm x 500mm (23.6 inches x 15.7 inches x 19.7 inches) and a layer thickness of 20 to 100 microns.

This would be a significant achievement for a plastic or resin printer, but it’s remarkable considering that this is a laser sintering printer for fusing powdered metal. The machine was developed to aid in the production of complex metal parts that are traditionally made using a time- and money-intensive sand casting process.

Via Design News

A tour of the Form 1 3D printer

Explore this controversial stereolithography machine.

Fabbaloo made this video tour of the Form 1 stereolithography-based 3D printer at CES 2013, a technology convention.

The Form 1 is notable both for its wildly successful Kickstarter campaign and the subsequent lawsuit by 3D Systems against both Formlab and Kickstarter. But lawsuits aside, this is a remarkable machine for the very reasonable price of $3299. The Form 1 ships in May.

The new CubeX 3D printer has an unusually large build area and up to three print heads

The newest desktop 3D printer from 3D Systems.

3D Systems has announced their newest entry into the desktop 3D printer market: the CubeX. The most notable thing about the new printer is the unusually large build volume of 1030 cubic inches or 10.8” x 10.45” x 9.5”. By comparison, the Makerbot Replicator 2 has a build volume of only 410 cubic inches, although that is still respectable.

MakerBot announces the Replicator 2X experimental 3D printer

The most advanced MakerBot yet.

MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis announced the Replicator 2X 3D printer at the CES technology event. The new printer is equipped with a heated build platform, dual extruders for multiple colors, the ability to print both PLA and ABS, and a 100 micron layer print resolution. It also has a fully enclosed build area with clear plastic windows (that oddly don’t appear to be shown in the above image).

This is arguably their most advanced 3D printer yet. It’s also their most expensive at $2799, clearly reinforcing the transition of MakerBot as a company from inexpensive hobbyist 3D printers to more professional-level machines.

Via Cnet