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Tag Archive: 3D printing


Four artists are helping a UK company’s bionic arms become the functioning hands of many with the benefit of stylish designs.  Open Bionics is an entrepreneurial company that has created and fitted hundreds with its advanced, multi-grip bionic arms since their release this April.  Called the Hero Arm,  it’s the next step toward true borg technology and it’s been called a game-changer in health technology alongside genome sequencing, Fitbit, and smartphones.  From kids as young as nine years old who haven’t had arms and hands since birth to amputees of all ages, the 3D printed devices go beyond prosthetics of the past.  With the slogan “We turn disabilities into superpowers,” the company is doing that in more ways than one.  Instead of making the arms look like real arms, they are adding eye-popping designs–a feature praised by their users, who have remarked, “This is a cool way to stand out for all the right reasons.”  Instead of asking “what happened to your hand?” those seeing the Hero Arm on a person for the first time ask “how does that work?”  “Can we shake hands, can we do a fist bump, can I have a photo?”  The difference is a big one for wearers.

Open Bionics boasts the Hero Arm as “the first medically approved 3D printed arm.”  The Hero Arm is a lightweight, powered bionic hand controlled by the wearer’s muscles.  Because muscles generate small electrical signals when they contract, electrodes placed on the surface of the skin can measure muscle movements.  A full suite of tools provides feedback to the user, including posable wrist, posable thumb, and a freeze mode (for use when holding something like a glass), plus proportional control for varying tasks.  Comfortable, adjustable and breathable, the arm can lift more than 15 pounds of weight.  According to the company, the Hero Arm is half the price of its closest competitor.  Still, Open Bionics has stated that it has received donations to be able to provide free Hero Arms for qualifying children residing in the UK–the only place the bionic arms have been approved for sale.  They aren’t covered by the nation’s healthcare system yet and can cost about U.S. $2,500 on up.  Compare that to similar functioning U.S. electrical prosthetics with a cost upward of $50,000 to $100,000, and anyone can see why this product looks like the future of cybernetics.  (You can help a woman get her own Hero Arm via crowdfunding.  Learn more about her story below).

Hero Arms can also be worn with swappable custom covers.  And now Open Bionics has four new styles for wearers to get a Hero Arm that best fits their personality.  Each work shown (above, top, in order), was designed by an artist in Bristol: “Handala” by Daniel Bowler, “Tree Rex” by TRex, “Palette of Patterns” by J West, “Nebular” by Cheba, and “Open Bionics Doodles” by Kid Crayon.  Even more covers are available for the Hero Arm, like the futuristic Deux Ex design (above).  The Deus Ex video games explore human augmentation in a near future world.  Open Bionics partnered with Eidos Montreal, basing the Deux Ex cover on the game’s protagonist Adam Jensen.  (But they issue a disclaimer: It won’t give you the power to smash through walls!).  Check out the future of this technology at the partnership website AugmentedFuture.com.  Candidates for the Hero Arm can see customization options at the Open Bionics website here.

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Last week Disney and Lucasfilm released information on a new line of Star Wars: The Force Awakens replica props and helmets from PropShop Studio Editions for sale at this link.  These are high-end replicas taking advantage of current 3D scanning imagery, an idea I suggested in an article on 3D printing posted here at borg.com four years ago.  The new line of Star Wars generated plenty of press because the new costume pieces are fairly pricey:  a melted Darth Vader helmet is selling for $3,500 (limited to 500 units), a Kylo Ren helmet is $2,000, a Finn Stormtrooper helmet is $1,750 (limited to 500 units), and Poe Dameron’s X-Wing pilot helmet is $1,500.  The props are similarly priced: Chewbacca’s crossbow is $2,500, Rey’s staff and lightsaber and Kylo’s lightsaber are each $1,500.

VH-stand

Sound like the holy grail for cosplayers?  Hold that thought.  Here is the description for Finn’s helmet:

  • Created using the original 3D digital data from the actual FN-2187 Stormtrooper Helmet featured in the film in combination with advanced digital manufacturing processes, and then hand-finished by a highly skilled artisan. The original blood marking has been laser scanned and projected onto this helmet, and a special paint effect process has been applied to identically recreate the surface texture pattern.
  • Made of a composition of 3D printing materials, forged items, and cast items
  • Includes a chip to authenticate the serial number that is printed on the Certificate of Authenticity
  • Delivered in an exclusive, custom wooden crate inspired by the packaging used for the original prop
  • Limited Edition of 500
  • Certificate of Authenticity and Authenticity Medallion included

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empire-strikes-back AT-Ats

Whether you’re a fan of the all-terrain armored transports of AT-ATs from their first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back or you’re new to the Star Wars universe and your only contact is the damaged AT-AT turned Rey’s desert planet home in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you can now build your own thanks to 3D printing technology.  Designer Kirby Downey has uploaded his own plans to build a fully-articulated 1:75 scale model.  And it definitely looks like the real thing.

As completed the model is about one foot tall.  All you need is a 3D printer, 560 grams of Formfutura light grey PLA filament, and about 65 hours to print the 70 component parts with minimal support required.  Although you can build it without glue, Downey uses glue in his YouTube video as well as a metal rod for more support.

3D AT-AT model

The final piece has 15 points of articulation.  Check out Downey’s video of the build here:

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Rocinante concept art

It’s National Hobby Month!  Now in its sixth episode, the new sci-fi series The Expanse has already been renewed for a second season and to celebrate the folks at Syfy have given fans the opportunity to make their own ships and props at home for free.  Syfy released digital design plans via Thingaverse for fans to use to print scale models from the series via their own personal 3D printers.

You can print the show’s spaceships The Canterbury, The Rocinante, The Knight, and The Donnager.  When complete The Canterbury will be almost 14 inches long, The Rocinante more than eleven inches, The Knight nearly ten inches, and The Donnager measures 12.5 inches.

model rocinante syfy

The easily downloadable digital files also include designs for station logos and other cool emblems found in the series.  You can also print a non-articulated action figure of a character sporting the show’s spacesuit.

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Jo Kamm 3D figures

It almost looks like a hall full of cosplayers at a comic book convention, doesn’t it?

Once these figures get painted that’s exactly what it will look like.  As we mentioned four weeks ago in our coverage of Kansas City Comic Con, the latest, greatest, newest addition to the Comic Con front is 3D photography turned into 3D printed figures.  Specifically, it’s artist Jo Kamm’s new concept called The 3D Photobooth.  The end result is an approximately 8-inch figure, the next thing every cosplayer will be clamoring for.  (Note: the sheen is in the photo, not the figure, which follows the 3D photography quite well.  Once painted, these will look like the real thing).

3D Radagast and Gimli

It starts with a turntable and the cosplayer being still for up to two minutes while the camera records every detail:

3D Photobooth Gimli Jo Kamm KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

Then the software records the images, later to be cleaned up back in the office:

3D Photobooth rendering Gimli KCCC 2015

The result is a near perfect image that can be rotated 360 degrees and viewed from any angle.

3D rendered Radagast CJ Bunce

Jo uploads his images to Sketchfab.  You can see the best gallery of cosplay anywhere here.  Make sure you click “more” to bring up hundreds of his 3D images.

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Miss Fury Dynamite Comics

We tried on for size almost every new book that was released from comic book publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Archaia/BOOM!, and Image.  We tried to sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics had to offer, too, and although we didn’t have enough time to review everything we did try to put out there for your consideration those titles we thought our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro bent.  Our pull list included issues from Afterlife with Archie to Django Unchained, from Liberator to Larfleezeand from Velvet to The X-Files.  This past month we have reviewed the year-long run of the best of these titles, as we narrowed our selections to 21 of the very best entries in genre entertainment outside of TV and movies, which we revealed here yesterday.  So here are the rest of our picks for the Best of 2013.

Kane Starkiller borg by Mike Mayhew

Best Borg Appearance — Kane Starkiller, The Star Wars.  Borgs showed up everywhere this year, from the lead characters on Almost Human, to Doctor Who, to countless comic book series including Justice League and RoboCop.  Our favorite appearance came from the young mind of George Lucas as he created the original script that would later be edited into the original Star Wars trilogy.  And through Dark Horse Comics’ The Star Wars monthly comic book event we learned one of his best ideas was merged into other roles and one of his best characters entirely cut.   That character was Jedi Kane Starkiller, who would reveal his cyborg chest implants that kept him alive, later to heroically give up this life-saving technology to save his friends.

MissFury001-Cov-Renaud

Best Comic Book Series — Miss Fury, Dynamite Comics.  A uniquely crafted tale, a compelling and seductive superhero, great action panel after panel, sourced in a long-shelved classic character of the Golden Age of comics.  Rob Williams and Jack Herbert’s Miss Fury is a carefully rendered update that rings true to the edgy spirit of the world’s first female superhero.  Beautiful panels set up an ever-changing time and place and pull readers along for the ride.  And stuck-out-of-time Marla Drake and her alter ego Miss Fury could not have looked better, whether carving out her place in the 1940s or as she was teleported into the future.  It’s a series no one should miss.

Clint Barton Hawkeye by Fraction

Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Fraction, Hawkeye.  Last year revealed one of the best comic book series we ever read, focusing on that “other” superhero archer, the second tier Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye.  Matt Fraction gave us the most interesting set-up and look into the daily life of a superhero who isn’t Captain America or Iron Man.  This year he kept up the momentum in his Hawkeye monthly series, providing stories that challenged readers, each issue taking a different peek into Clint Barton, another costumed superhero called Hawkeye, and their trusty dog.

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3d Printing book cover

What merges borg technology, Kickstarter campaigns, and Maker Faires, bots, optical technologies, digital scanning and photography, gaming, cosplay, lasers and Tony Stark military applications?  What technology is bringing up age-old questions of open source vs proprietary systems, of outsourcing and economics?  We at borg.com have discussed 3D printing innovations multiple times, including efforts to create cybernetic parts via these modern printing machines.  The Obama Administration recently put $30 million into a research institute on 3D printing and NASA recently funded its own project.  The future is now, and in Christopher D. Winnan’s new primer on 3D printing, 3D Printing: The Next Technology Gold Rush – Future Factories and How to Capitalize on Distributed Manufacturing, Winnan not only offers the first comprehensive volume on 3D printing technology, he offers business innovators ways to take the new technologies and begin to earn profits sufficient to propel the industry forward.

Winnan’s book offers a college course-level text in 3D printing, giving an overview for the novice, while including a detailed history that would appeal to any 3D printing hobbyist or business person looking for a reference to become familiar with the field.  His 286-page work is easy to understand, asking both basic and advanced questions concerning the possible uses of the technology, and its interplay with materials science and other types of engineering study.   He provides an overview of modern technologies, current product on the market, photos of 3D printing innovations, and a history of the technology with analogies to the quick developments and pratfalls of other historic, fast-moving technologies.

The work of Samuel Bernier upcycled products

The work of Samuel Bernier–“upcycled” products.

Winnan includes a great section on future possibilities of using 3D printing with toy miniatures, cosplay, action figures, the 3D photobooth, doll houses, and creating special effects props for motion pictures.  Golf tees, buttons, virtually any product is a prospective target for the 3D printing entrepreneurial business.  Implications for printing prosthetic body parts for endangered species victims of tusk removal and similar uses are particularly intriguing, as well as “upcycling”–the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of a better quality or a higher environmental value.  Winnan also devotes much material to using developments in China and other Asian markets as sources for ideas for the rest of the world.

Actual eagle whose damaged beak was repaired using 3D printing

Actual eagle whose damaged beak was repaired using 3D printing.

Those new to 3d printing will be surprised at how much has been done and how many resources are available to experts and novices alike.  The book includes many citations, cross-references and links to other works to allow readers to pursue even more information about the technology.  Winnan also includes an in-depth discussion of global issues implicated by 3D printing, and in doing so he sets the framework for the questions countries should be asking as they develop laws allowing the promotion of large-scale 3D printing opportunities.

Dodecahedron lamp made by Bathsheba Grossman

Dodecahedron lamp made by Bathsheba Grossman.

The greatest takeaway from Winnan is that whereas the technology and scope of ideas for 3D printing is worldwide and growing, the fact is that businesses, investment, practical applications are not yet focused on 3D printing.  Like dot coms in the 1990s, 3D printing could be the next innovation like PC computing, data transfer, the Internet, and wireless technology.  As Winnan says in his book, “we now have this fantastic technology in our hands, but what are we going to do with it?”

3D Printing: The Next Technology Gold Rush – Future Factories and How to Capitalize on Distributed Manufacturing is available at Amazon.com.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

3D printer at Maker Faire KC

By C.J. Bunce

Last June we first reported here at borg.com on breakthroughs in 3D printing technology allowing scientists to begin creating actual borg replacement body parts–all printed via modern 3D printers.  This included organ printing–actually printing a human jaw bone and soft tissue 3D printed artificial human heart.  Princeton scientists have created a bionic ear via 3D printing, using calf cells, polymer gel, and silver nano particles.  Oxford Performance Materials has used 3D printed plastic to make artificial bones, to replace damaged bones in humans.

Researchers have used 3D printing recently for other novel uses.

King Richard III 3D printed bust

This year Caroline Wilkinson at the University of Dundee in England used a 3D printer to show the world how King Richard III actually looked.  McGill University’s Redpath Museum has used 3D printing to replicate women’s hairstyles from ancient Egyptian mummies.  One group even put together a rudimentary rifle this year that fired a small-caliber bullet.

Make no mistake–3D printing is the technology of the future and this week NASA showed its interest by funding a $125,000 study in printing food.  It’s not a lot of money for a project with such profound possibilities, but it’s a good start.  Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRD) of Austin, Texas, won the contract.  A NASA representative indicated they should be able to get through phase one development with the funds.  SMRD used a prototype to print chocolate via its food synthesizer.  For the sci-fi-minded, think food replicator.

Food printing is not new.  Some news agencies like Fox News have reported in error this week that the NASA-funded project will make the world’s first 3D food printer.  Not so.  The Los Angeles company Sugar Lab and Cornell University researchers have already used 3D printers to make desert products from printed sugar, batter and corn dough.  No doubt several creators demonstrating their 3D printers at Maker Faires have used food products in their printing.

Casein coated frozen pizza

Casein coated frozen pizza–yum!

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