Is it jewelry if there are no jewels?

Brooch front

I’ve said before that the aesthetics of the Form 1 make me want to 3D print artistic things, not mundane things. Over the past 6-7 months, as I’ve messed around with smaller, more refined 3D objects, I’ve inadvertently strayed into an area that I have had no previous experience with: jewelry.

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Unlocking the future. And gumball machines.

gumballOne way to keep morale up in a high-pressure, high-stress work environment is through candy. Lots and lots of candy. One of the guys at the office brought in several gumball machines he has and filled them with delicious sweets, mostly different flavors of M&Ms. Unfortunately while trying to unlock one of them he pulled the key out without it being aligned properly, thus making it impossible to get the key back in the keyhole. Co-workers tried all sorts of ways to get it working, but no luck. Finally one guy remembered I had 3D printers and asked if I could help and, well, I’m always up for a challenge.

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Tiny chairs with the B9 Creator

[ UPDATE 02/23 – Added new gallery of macro shots at end ]

The last couple of years was both crazy and cool–getting to be part of the process from initial ideation to final release of a major consumer electronics device was quite the experience. Over the past six months, while I had time to make things, I didn’t have the brain power to write much. Since I’ve recently moved to a different product division, back in the ideation phase, my “little gray cells” have had time to catch their breath and also given me time to start writing again.

The first thing to get out is something I meant to do a long time ago: talk about 3D printing tiny chairs with the B9 Creator 3D printer.

B9 Creator Tiny Chairs

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Formlabs Clear versus Shapeways FUD — a comparison

In certain circles, FUD means “fear, uncertainty, and doubt”. To others it means Shapeways’ “frosted ultra-detail” 3D print material. Yet to others FUD has an entirely different meaning. Today we’re talking about the Shapways 3D printer material, and how it compares to the Formlabs Clear resin.

A couple of weeks ago I printed a tiny robot pendent and a tiny mech pendent and posted them to Thingiverse. I posted pictures of the prints from my Form 1, which led to discussing the Form 1’s quality with Kacie Hultgren of Pretty Small Things fame. While she is able to print a number of her miniatures on her Makerbot, she also uses Shapeways for items with small details, and is considering adding a Form 1 to her workflow. We decided it would be great to test the Form 1 Clear resin and Shapeways FUD side-by-side and learn what was to be learned, so she emailed me three of the STL files she previously had printed by Shapeways and I got to work.

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Now there’s fun to be had!

Finally! After a month in cramped temporary housing, we’ve settled into a nice rental house in Redmond, Washington where I can once again begin my 3D printing journey. I even have a dedicated space in the garage for leaving my Thing-o-Matic set up! Yay!

Over the past month I’ve been amazed and inspired by the landscape, flora, and fauna of the Pacific Northwest; this place is definitely having an impact on how I look at the design of everything. The driftwood above even reminds me of the sliced cardboard assemblies of 3D models. Of course the cool temperatures should also make for a better quality experience (both living and 3D printing) than the 100+ degrees in Austin. 🙂

Updates soon!

Smart kids and 3D printers

Thanks to my co-worker Brooks, I had an opportunity to sit with my Thing-o-Matic and a loaner Replicator (thanks Makerbot!) at the ACE Academy Innovation Fair here in Austin yesterday. The Innovation Fair was kind-of like a normal school science fair, but included guest speakers, a proclamation from the mayor (officially it became “ACE Academy Innovation Day” yesterday), and more. Unlike normal science fairs where kids have dioramas of the earth’s layers, or maybe a hamster in a maze, these kids had exhibits like new, innovative forms of lightning rods for houses, cool robots, 3D LED matrix cubes, and a new type of “flame in a can” over which they were roasting marshmallows.

I knew the day was going to be awesome when as soon as we put the Replicator on the table, a tiny little girl (I say in the 6-year-old range – no lie) complete with plaid dress, bows in hair, and glittery shoes walks up and asks excitedly “Is that a 3D printer?” to which I, in shock, replied it was. “That’s so awesome! Well I’ll be back when you’re printing something.”

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