Ten sinteringly great 3D print articles of 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – 3D Printing

To celebrate the new year, we’re running a best of the blog 2011 for each category 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC routing, art, hardwear, materials etc. 2011 was an impressive year for 3D printing. It was a real challenge selecting only 10 from all the amazing articles. I think you’ll agree this snapshot of ten (in no particular order) showcase the exciting possibilities with the technology…

1. Solar Laser Sintering in the Sahara

This generated an enormous amount of buzz on the interwebs and is probably my favourite 3D printer so far. If the future is destined for a Mad Max-esque distopia this is what I’ll be taking to my desert island!

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Chocolate 3D printed advent calendar!

Who needs Santa when you can print infinite chocolate anythings?

Moving Brands' chocolate RepRap, by Ben Lambert

Moving Brands got themselves set up with a RepRap 3D printer and came up with the only correct answer to “how shall we use this for the holidays?” – delicious high resolution chocolates! The studio set about making models of things with personal meanings, then filled a company advent calendar with the results.

The project includes a gallery of models/chocolates, and details about each item:

Advent project website

And a video of the process:

According to Ben Lambert, the parts beyond the standard RepRap stuff are:

  • - Frostruder components minus wood w/solenoids mounted on top of the A frame
  • - A “big-ass” tank of compressed nitrogen
  • - A custom, 3D printed clamp for the syringe
  • - A pipe heater
  • - Chef’s cooling spray
  • - Lots and lots of milk chocolate!

I’m definitely going to look into doing something like this for the holidays next year… It would make for a great collaborative project with any group. Here’s where you can see more:

Moving Brands
Advent calendar project
Vimeo page


Derek Quenneville is a 3D printing evangelist who posts weekly on the Ponoko blog. Follow him on Twitter @techknight.

3D printable sustainable technologies design competition to win $1000

Using open source 3D printers to promote sustainable development.

Queen’s University in Canada is sponsoring a competition for the best sustainable technologies printable on an open source 3D printer. What does that mean? I don’t really know. The competition has been left open for anything you can imagine that fits “sustainable technologies that fit human development needs.” The only firm requirement appears to be that it is printable on an open source 3D printer, such as a RepRap.

The contest closes February 1st 2012 and winners will be announced February 15th. First prize wins $1000 (Canadian dollars so around $968 USD right now), second prize wins $250, and 3 runners up receive a mention as runners up. To enter, upload your design to Thingiverse with the tag “QAS Contest.”

For more information, there is a detailed pdf on their site.

Via BoingBoing

Printrbot, the people’s 3D printer

The latest kitset 3D printer, aims to be the most affordable.

Brook Drumm’s Printrbot is an original 3D Printer using FDM like many other kitset 3D printers such as RepRaps and Makerbots. Printrbot aims to be the simplest and most affordable kitset 3d printer available to home users.

This all-in-one 3D printer kit can be assembled and printing in a couple of hours.  Other kits will not only take you many more hours to build, they will also have hundreds more parts, and they will cost more.” Says Drumm (more…)

Teaching your mother-in-law about 3d printing

How do you go about explaining the digital manufacturing revolution?

Talking “shop” with a 3d printing enthusiast could go one of two ways. Either an excited exchange would ensue, with wild ideas thrown about as predictions of the Next Big Thing become ever more larger than life, or, eyes glaze over as onlookers get lost in specialized mumbo-jumbo that only the most dedicated of tech heads would be able to digest.

The following article from an Australian 3d printing evangelist does a fantastic job of de-mystifying the technology that we know and love, so that even the most uninitiated of listeners will soon be jumping online to download plans for a Makerbot or RepRap of their very own.

Click through to read the summary that followed a little show-and-tell that Andy gave at a recent family gathering…

via 3d Printing is the Future

Build a 3D printer at home (really)

Detailed instructions for a Stereolithographic 3D printer on Instructables.

Rob Hopeless has posted an Instructable showing how to build a Stereolithographic 3D printer at home as part of the Instructables contest to win an Epilog Laser cutter. If you read through the tutorial, I think you’ll agree that he is a serious contender in the competition.

He went all out on this Instructable. There is a parts list, including companies who sell every part, plenty of photos at every step, downloadable files for a CNC (ok, so you probably can’t do this part at home), and 3D diagrams explaining the assembly.
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Ultimaker: the new standard for DIY 3D printers?

Large, quick, high-quality prints. What’s not to like?

Ultimaker kits only started shipping in May 2011, but it has already gained a loyal following. Most recently, a dozen or so local hobbyists brought their Ultimakers to the 3D Printing Event during Dutch Design Week just to show them off (images below).

And who can blame them? The Ultimaker has a large build area and produces high quality prints remarkably fast. If that’s not enough, it’s open source (due to the fact that it’s an offshoot of the RepRap family). The only downside seems to be the fact that it’s somewhat more expensive than its most similar competitor, the Makerbot Thing-O-Matic, at 1200 euros (~$1625 right now) compared to $1299.
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Giant 3D printer LeBigRep from the 3D Printing Event

Meet LeBigRep, the RepRap’s big brother.

We recently posted a report about the first annual 3D Printing Event during Dutch Design Week. In addition to the many interesting speakers, who you can watch online, there were numerous booths showcasing the latest 3D printing related technology.

One of my favorites was LeBigRep, an enormous plastic extrusion printer based on the RepRap platform. The build window is approximately 1 meter x 1 meter x 1 meter (roughly 3ft^3), which makes this one big printer.

LeBigRep is a project by Thingiverse user krtcrkd, who has uploaded the in-progress files to Thingiverse for anyone who wants to try to build one for themselves.

Continue after the jump for more images.
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Digital Manufacturing Lab with RepRap opens at the University of Bath

A new lab to showcase open source 3D printing.

The Digital Manufacturing Lab recently opened as part of the Bath Ventures Innovation Centre at the University of Bath, England. The purpose of the lab is to showcase the potential of 3D printing with the RepRap for developing new product ideas.

One thing that distinguishes this initiative from others is the focus on using the RepRap technology for business. 3D printing tends to be divided into high-end printers for large companies and cheaper open-source printers for personal use. This project is somewhere in the middle.

Update: If you are interested in using this facility or in RepRap technology in general, the Lab is hosting their first networking event on November 1st.

3D printable laser cutter

Thingiverse user peter_ recently posted an update for his ongoing project to design an inexpensive laser cutter using primarily 3D printable parts and extruded aluminum. This is one of several projects occurring right now to make laser cutters more widely available in a similar fashion as the Makerbot and RepRaps did for 3D printers.
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