Friday, May 29, 2015

Designers build a modular 3D printed house in ABS that snaps together in minutes

Over the past few years the 3D printing industry has proven to be far more innovative than many had initially hoped; while the consumer-based market has grown spectacularly, many start-ups and even established businesses are still focused on developing a wide range of new and exciting 3D printing solutions. The biggest challenge among them (in terms of size, that is) must surely be the 3D printed homes. While usually problematic because of the sheer size of the printer necessary, two American designers have found a simple solution to that problem: why not just 3D print a home in modular ABS parts?

Now at first this might sound like a bit of childish solution. After all, other initiatives for the 3D printing of homes rely on gigantic concrete 3D printers, not on our desktop toys. But as you can see in the photos above, the results are quite impressive. While still in the prototyping phase, Zachary Schoch and designer compatriot Eugene Lee have already managed to construct a modular ABS wall part that stands over 10 feet tall and was 3D printed in ABS.
Of course these parts are somewhat bigger than what you or I can produce with a regular desktop FDM 3D printer. For as Zachary explains on his blog, he relied on his Euclid 3D printer, which features a print area somewhat larger than most: over 1m x 1m x 1m (or 42"x42"x44"). Completing three 3D printed pieces in total for this prototype, which was exhibited at the 3D PrinterWorld 2015 in Burbank, California, they took just 18 hours to complete in high strength ABS filament.

As you can see, its modular, it easily fits together and it’s easy to transport. ‘It fit into one car and took about 10 minutes to setup including unloading,’ Zachary writes on his blog. Snapping these three parts together took less than a minute, so you can imagine how easy it is to do build a whole home with these parts. ‘Because these components are built from such high performance material they should be constructible by hand, or for larger and more structurally elements only minimal equipment would be required. This property allows for investment in higher performance printing facilities due to the low cost of transportation to the building site,’ he speculates.
Now you might wonder if hollo ABS structures are right for a home, but Zachary argues that the S-layout is perfect for basic structures and for expanding on the house’s features. ‘With this construction system there is no fundamental difference between the traditionally disparate elements of floor/wall/roof. In this instance the floor literally becomes the wall, and the wall becomes the roof/ceiling,’ he says. ‘Because the s-wall system is hollow, mechanical systems can be integrated directly into it. Piping for liquids could be installed readily after assembly using flexible tubing, or pipes could be printed integral to the s-wall. Ventilation ducts would also be printed integral to the unit with vents being able to be printed simultaneously as well, in the floors, wall or roof depending on the need.’
What’s more, the parts snap together in such a fashion to create a water-proof connection (as the tension element is placed below the compression element). Additionally, sealing material could be inserted into the cavity after assembly to finish the home. In short, this prototype could be the key to affordable, transportable and easily-assembled homes of the future. Can you imagine living in an ABS house?

3D printed fuse assemblies teach locals how to remove landmines

Although it doesn’t need to be said that the effects of war are devastating, an often-overlooked side effect of war has been in the various weapons that are left behind in areas that are mistakenly deemed as ‘safe’.  
Among others, this includes areas that may be covered in landmines that are invisible to the naked eye.  Currently, the detection and removal process of  antipersonnel landmines is a serious problem from all sides of the political, economical, environmental and humanitarian spectrum.  While there are still thousands of landmines in existence, more than ever is being done to help rid areas of them and other explosive devices - thanks in-part to 3D printing.
The Golden West Humanitarian Foundation - an international nonprofit that focuses on clearing mines and bombs after a war - recently collaborated with both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design to develop a better and cost-effective way of training specialists in locating and disposing the explosives.  The result is a kit made up of accurate 3D printed replicas of the ten most common detonation fuses found in the explosives left behind after a war that they’re calling Advanced Ordnance Teaching Materials (AOTM).
The hallmark product in the lineup - the Standard Ordnance Training Set (SOTS) - includes all ten of the instructional aids that each demonstrate the mechanisms commonly found in ordnance fuzing - albeit scaled up from their original size to better illustrate the functions of the small parts.  Thanks to the ability to 3D print in multiple colors, the designers behind the kits were able to print specific components with unique color codes to help further streamline the learning process.  
Over 1,000 hours were spent creating the 3D models - particularly in translating the much-smaller fuses into larger-scale replicas through modeling hundreds of small pieces from scratch.  Because the models are reverse-engineered based on the real-world dimensions of the actual products, all of the mechanical functions including gears and pistons actually move while the final color scheme helps communicate similar pieces from one model to the next: blue is the fuse body, white is the arming components, red is explosive-inducing and yellow is the explosives.  Previously, 2D printed schematics have been used to help train those who defuse bombs and other explosives, however this method of learning can be problematic due to the 2D nature of the information that is ultimately used on a 3D object.  
Additionally, many of the locals who are trained to do bomb disposal work or are otherwise trained to better understand the explosives in their area don’t come from a formal education background and have difficulties learning the concepts presented in the printed schematics.  By utilizing the 3D printed models, Golden West is able to help teach these communities with more communicative examples that make sense.  
So far, the team has received two rounds of funding from the U.S. Department of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement - which has ultimately helped them refine their project into a high-quality deliverable not often seen with 3D printed products.

Canadian artist recreates 18th Century Native American tools

While the benefits of using 3D printing to aid in the development of modern day products have been told loud and clear, one of the less talked about - albeit probably more exciting - uses of the technology has been in replicating products that were made hundreds or thousands of years ago in their near-exact form.  
Previously, we’ve seen this method of 3D scanning various historical artifacts and archiving them with the possibility of 3D printing being used by museums and other historical archive institutions.  Now, an artist from Canada is using a similar method to recreate a collection of tanning tools that were previously made by her ancestors.    
The artist, Tania Larsson, is currently a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and recently completed an internship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian where she learned how to use modern 3D technologies to recreate objects in the museum’s collection.  
The process, which involves the use of laser scanning and photogrammetry techniques to create accurate digital 3D models, was used to recreate everything from tanning tools to fishing spears.  After the 3D models were made and optimized, they were then 3D printed out of sandstone and used as reference models to build identical tools using the traditional materials used in the original designs including bone and antler. 
For Larsson - who grew up in France but later returned to her native Canada to reconnect with her culture - the act of recreating the tools was more than just a way of putting modern technologies to good use - it was a way for her to reconnect with her ancestors in ways that previously might not have been available.  The 25-year-old’s, home in Yellowknife is in Canada’s Northwest Territories, where her native Gwich’in ancestors have lived for centuries as North America’s northernmost Athabaskan group.