Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Innovation in 3D print

Finally here are some really interesting innovative 3D printing projects. Both are linked by the use of employing micro processors in non conventional ways for 3D printing. The Peachy printer uses a sound card to drive a mirror and the other is some schoolboys from South Africa who are have written an app to print from a mobile phone to an extruding 3D printer that they built.

What is so great about the Peachy using a sound card is that the sound card is a highly developed piece of kit that sends small electrical impulses to an electromagnet that drives the speaker mechanism. It is such a neat fit for a device to power a tiny mirror. The elegance of this design solution elevates it to that exalted and over-baked description - awesome.

The Peachy also has a fantastic solution to the moving the build platform using a drip fed saline solution to support the body of resin. This means that the layer thickness can  be very tightly controlled.

This is a 3D printer with no motors! No vibration, no noise, energy efficient, does not require custom made electronics. This is revolutionary.  Well done Rylan Grayston and team.

In the second project, two 15 year olds, Pieter Scholtz and Gerhard de Clercq, from South Africa, created an app to slice and send data direct to their 3D printer from their mobile phone. Now I am not sure how unique this is. I know that some vendors have been talking about accessing 3D printers from mobiles and via html but you have to ask why would anyone ever want to do this? Well these guys have realised that in Africa mobile phones are widespread whereas computers are not. A good reason to build an app to 3D print from a phone. True most mobile phones in Africa are probably not smart phones but it would seem more likely that mobile device usage will develop where PC usage may not.

There has been some discussion of using 3D printers to make items in remote locations and this helps to progress this cause a little further on its way. Additionally with apps like Autodesk's 123D Catch a mobile could potentially capture scan data and then (possibly with some cloud data clean up) print it -  to allow on the spot reverse engineering.

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