All boxed up, ready for launch

Rocket designed by Brooks Protzmann, printed on loaner Replicator.

Today was packing day. The packers called at 8am and said they were downstairs; we had not gotten the pre-pack call from the central office to warn us of their arrival time. Springing to action, we labelled some last minute areas as “pack” / “don’t pack”, herded cats, and made breakfast using up as much of the frozen breakfast items as possible. By 2pm the packers were walking out the door, leaving a trail of full boxes in their wake.

Thus marks the end of my 3D printing, and blogging, for a few weeks; next week is driving 2300 miles with a wife and four cats, and the delivery of all of our stuff is sometime the week after.

In the past several weeks of downtime:

  • I’ve been able to evaluate options in 3D modeling software with an eye towards 3D printing (Bonzai 3D is quite good, Cheetah 3D is a “no”);
  • design and 3D print a few versions of objects I needed to help gel some of my thoughts related to my new job;
  • work out that making hexagonal tubes that lock together while keeping constant thickness to all walls is near impossible with a 3D printer;
  • and make some minor repairs to my Thing-o-Matic.

Once I’m back up and running, I have a few concepts I’m going to 3D printing and writing about, and talk about options for my next 3D printer 😉

Bonzai 3D as replacement for SketchUp?

[ UPDATED 5/18/2012 – See Below ]

After the announcement of Google selling SketchUp to Trimble, there was talk (here, and here for starters) about what to do if SketchUp goes away (or at least the free version). I mentioned on one of the threads that I was going to look at Bonzai 3D (B3D) when I had a chance, and well, I’ve had a chance! I couldn’t find any first-hand use reports of B3D for making things for a Makerbot (or other at-home 3D printer) so I’d take a crack at putting something out there.

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From Novelty to Necessity

Electro Tennis at the frog SXSWi opening party

Electro Tennis at the frog SXSWi opening party

For the past 14 years, the company I work for, frog, has been hosting the SXSW Interactive opening party. For the past three of those years I’ve played a role in it: brainstorming installation ideas, and building/coding really cool experiences for our thousands of attendees.

This year the core concept was turning digital experiences into analog ones, and vice versa. Additionally, one of the consistent themes of our party is to play with scale. So one of the experiences we set out to build was “Electro Tennis” (an electro-mechanical version of the classic Pong video game). But we decided to build it on an enormous scale — two 30′ x 25′ playing “courts”, each with a 12″ cube for a ball and 4′ x 3.5′ water tank for a paddle. In other words: giant.

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A tool for the people

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I just wanted to express something that makes me happy. I was going to tweet this, but I couldn’t get all the right words into 140 characters.

I’ve talked to a lot of people about 3D printing, across all ages and across all genders, and I get nothing but excitement about the possibilities.

What’s important is that it isn’t just the “yeah, yeah, people are excited about 3D printing” part, but rather that this is one of the few instances where a tool that you use to make something at home doesn’t have a gender-specific stereotype attached to it. What other tool can both the man of the house and the woman of the house fight over to make something on?

Sadly, one doesn’t get the same response across the board with, say, talking about a circular saw, or conversely, waxing poetic about a sewing machine; there are pre-conceived notions about who can/should use what tools in the world today.

What I like about MakerBot, as opposed to some other DIY 3D printer companies out there, is that they seem to get this. You see Bre showing off the latest Makerbot with giant geared hearts, fantasy play sets, blue rabbits, red robots, and brightly-colored remote control vehicles. Go to other companies’ sites and you’ll see lots of gears and boring parts to make more printers. They seem to be very short-sighted in what they see the use of their printers as being, or who their users are.

The community handles it very well. Take a trip over to Thingiverse. Yes you’ll see gears and parts to make more printers, but you’ll also see jewelry, robots, swans, sunglasses, and so many other things that are appealing to young and old, boys, girls, and even animals! This is what makes 3D printing so exciting to so many; anyone and everyone can make whatever they can imagine. Imagination knows no age, class, or gender bounds.

Personally, I hope it stays this way.

3D printers – toys for the surrealist’s playground

Apologies in advance: this post is more scattered than normal as there is no story here, just passion and feeling. And some pictures.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 3D printers can, more easily than almost any other tool out there, turn dreams into reality. The barriers to the physical manifestation of almost any idea have been greatly reduced, and there is no reason that every thing one can envision shouldn’t be 3D printed, regardless of how silly it may seem.

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Food trailer? No way – a 3D printer trailer.

So, shortly after I got my Makerbot Thing-o-Matic, and while I was thinking about what the “killer app” of 3D printing was going to be, I had an idea. I shared this idea with several friends under a Friend-DA (“shhhh – don’t tell no one”) because I had considered it a viable start-up option, and one that I would pursue. It got lots of positive feedback.

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