Since New York City has become our #1 community in the world, we decided to open an office here.  Well, to be fair, we were planning on opening the New York office anyways in order take part in America’s 3D printing revolution. Marvin was also getting a little claustrophobic in Amsterdam and expressed interest in the Big Apple.  

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We landed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s New Lab.  A former US Naval shipyard with a history as long as the battleships that were once produced here, the Navy Yard is owned by New York City and is currently undergoing its largest expansion since World War II to make way for the companies which will shape the future.  With views from our office of the entire Manhattan skyline and a city beneath us that may be the center of 3d printing for decades to come, we are stoked to be up and running in New York.

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Our trusty co-founder, Bram de Zwart, will be in NYC for meetings over the next few months, so if you have any jet lag advice, he would love to hear it. We’ve expanded the team by bringing on Zach, the company’s first business development member and Alex, for community support in the US. We are looking for our US Marketing and Community Manager as we speak (or write), so if you know anybody great, we would love to hear from them.

We’re kicking things off right by hosting an event at the office this Friday with one of New York’s brightest companies, Quirky, and are heading off to the Maker Faire this weekend to showcase everything 3D Hubs has to offer.

Office - Edited.jpgStop by and say hello anytime.

“I want to be a part of it…New York, New York” - Frank Sinatra

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Students of the ENSCI, L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in France, have been developing a 3D printer. Not your average FDM printer, but one that can make you a tattoo!

The brains behind this ingenious project are Pierre Emm, Piotr Widelka and Johan Da Silveira. Their hope is that one day it will become the standard for tattoo salons. We caught up with the gang to discuss the future of their concept.

How did you get the idea for such a machine?

We were just cycling when it came to us! Of course, the idea didn’t come out of thin air, we all have a close relationship with the tattoo community.

How has the tattoo community reacted to the printer?

We are thrilled each time we receive a mail from a tattooist: they seem to really enjoy the idea of having a new tool to bring their ideas into physical reality. The funny thing is that the machine can inspire people to get tattooed. Because our printer helps bringing two different worlds together, tattooing and 3D printing, art and making, more people are attracted to it.

How does your printer work?

We use a Makerbot as a ‘base’ for our creation!

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Instead of the extruder, we place a dermograph.

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The movements of the dermograph are determined by a 2D drawing that is converted into a 3D surface, as vectors.

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We haven’t built a ‘one time finished printer’. The machine always evolves, even if we use the same elements to build it.

What is the main difficulty?

Keeping things simple. Tattooing is a real science, there are a lot of different techniques, skin textures, and ink types available. All those factors are obstacles for making our machine usable by anyone. The road to launch might still be long, but it’s exciting to keep evolving. In a sense it’s actually quite similar to the RepRap project.

What is your best memory with your printer?

Definitely the first time someone got tattooed. It was amazing to see the printer mark a perfect circle on someone’s arm! And there are more to come: we’ll soon be at Saint Petersbourg to present our project! 

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After 9 hours, 8 hands building and a few finger-nails left, the 3D Hubs stand is up and looking great and ready for the event day.

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We had a great time at the print show, so we thought it would be good to fill everyone on journey from the canals of Amsterdam to the hussle and bussle of Old Billingsgate, London. The chance to meet so many of our Hubs from all around the world and showcasing the amazingly talented London Hubs on our stand was wonderful to see. There was the Google Campus Meet-up with inspiring talks from both Colorfabb and UltimakerGB and introducing the new well informed public as to what our vision for the future is not to be forgetting one award nomination and one award win. Overall, a jam-packed weekend full of fun!

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When designing the stand we were trying to come up with ways of showing the true core of 3D Hubs, so we decided what better way than giving the opportunity to our Hubs based in London the chance to be on the stand with us? Not only did this mean the Hubs got exposure,  but if someone had questions in regards to what being a Hub was like who better to hear it from than a Hub themselves. We had some truly skilled Hubs with us on the stand with a variety of prints from a wide breadth of printers, talking to them allowed us to gain insightful feedback about the platform to takeaway after the show. So thank you Joe’s HubMakersAffairTrupti (it is 3D)Z-axis PrintingJameshsxCinter2052Marc’s Hub and Philip’s Hub

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The first section we instantly were attracted to was the food printing area, we saw Choc Edge’s amazing new printer which not only prints chocolate amazingly well, but actually tastes better than most on the market. Further down the line we encountered something even more space age that we now call the reverse blender - the Dovetail Food 3D Printer takes fruit-juice-like material and converts it into berry structures, so you can put strawberries and cream in and produce a raspberry shaped fruit with that flavour.

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The Manufacturers section really opened our eyes even further at the innovative ways manufacturers are now mixing it up technically. Z-morph had a revolutionary interchangeable printer head idea working extremely well that combines the ability to print ceramic, plastic, cake mixture, milling/laser engraving options; truly showing the possibilities are endless. BigRep had brought in their hulk of a machine that prints on a print bed of over 1 meter with uses in engineering to interior design. Meeting Printrbot CEO and 3D Printing guru Brook Drumm was a delight, as we talked over 3D Printing and his journey from his first Printrbot to what we have today.

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Awards night allowed some down time from all the craziness (good craziness) we got to talk to lots of different people from the industry who all had interesting ideas for the future. We were nominated for Best Online Service and graciously lost out to TinkerCad, but we love their software so could not complain. Then suddenly to our surprise we were announced as the Best In Show thanks to our stand design and Hub involvement. So we would like to dedicate our award to all those that helped design, build and man the stand for making it what it was at the show. After we received the award we were taken to a scanning booth and scanned with the award which then would be printed and would be our real award which we are excited about receiving.

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In conclusion we had a great time and enjoyed engaging with the 3D Printing community on another level, but more than that the ability to appreciate all the activities of our users all around the world really touched us. To see the look of surprise on a New Zealanders face when he saw a Hub on a farm in a remote network of islands off the coast of New Zealand he recognised or seeing the Hubs being able to showcase their talents was worth the trip alone.

Images are one of the most memorable parts of our favorite childhood fairy tales. Imagine if you couldn’t see them? The Tactile Picture Books Project is a community of students and researchers that is developing 3D printed storybooks for blind children. The project is based at the University of Colorado Boulder and is currently using our platform to produce its second round of prototypes. This week, we had a chance to talk to Jeeeun Kim, one of the students leading the project.

Making tactile storybooks accessible to all

The goal of the Tactile Picture Books Project is to make the books accessible to visually impaired children and their parents, all over the world. The team is currently creating a digital library with a collection or free STL files. For now, parents can find Goodnight Moon STL files on Thingiverse or submit a request to receive a copy on the project’s website.

“We have received dozens of inquiries from Australia, Russia, Poland…even the Kingdom of Tonga,” says Jeeeun. “I never imaged how enthusiastic the community would be. Some parents have even sent us video recordings of their children reacting to the book. Our hope is to launch the digital library and eventually enroll a few publishers to help us meet the demand for more book variants.” 

Re-imagining visual storytelling  

Goodnight Moon was the first prototype created by the UC-Boulder team. A favorite among American families, the story follows a young rabbit as he says goodnight to all of his surroundings. To create a 3D model of the story, Jeeeun’s team selected a number of images and rendered them using SketchUp. Afterwards, the team contacted PHYSI3D’s Hub in Denver to print the images in dense PLA sheets. Using these sheets as examples, the project members have started offering workshops for local parents and teachers. The workshops revolve around the following 3D modeling methods:

1. Designing models in SketchUp or Maya - for parents with little to no experience with 3D design software, the team is offering SketchUp and Maya workshops. If you want to try this at home, Jeeeun recommends that you start by creating grouped polygons. You’re also welcome to use some of the team’s designs by downloading them from 3D warehouse.

2. Designing models in OpenSCAD - parents with programming experience can try OpenSCAD to modify or design their own book models.

3. 3D scanning LEGO blocks - this approach is currently in a testing phase. The idea is to let parents 3D scan 2D visuals made with lego blocks, allowing for a bit of playfulness and flexibility in their books’ design. The team uses 3D digitizer from MakerBot to scan the blocks. For parents, they recommend 123D Catch, a mobile app powered by AutoDesk.

So far, the preferred material for printing is PLA, since it is less toxic, but the team is also considering food-safe materials to make sure there are no safety hazards for young toddlers.

Want to get involved? Contact Jeeeun and subscribe to the project newsletter to learn more.

VisiJet Crystal vs ‘Frosted Ultra Detail’

VisiJet Crystal is becoming a firm favourite amongst the maker community. Its ability to print particularly fine detail makes VisiJet perfect for miniatures, jewellery and anything with delicate embossing. Known as ‘Frosted Ultra Detail Crystal’ by Shapeways fans, VisiJet Crystal can be found at many hubs worldwide. We asked the community to send in snaps of their VisiJet prints. Our inbox was bursting with examples; here are a few of our favourites in this magic material…

Prism-like Prints

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MakeReal’s hub in Riyadh generously sent it over this awesome Beethoven bust to our Amsterdam HQ. Printed on a ProJet 3500HD Max, the print is angelic with light illuminating intricate features. Beethoven’s looking as good as he sounds in crystal!

Multi-Jet-Moulding (MJM)

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VisiJet enables designers to print awesome ideas such as these ‘futuristic poppy’ earrings by Moscow Hub 3DPrintus, designed by artist Sonia Vaganova. Designs like these are possible in MJM printing which uses wax supports, easily melted and cleaned, to allow for seemingly impossible prints.

VisiJet’s superiority allows for highly detailed, durable and watertight prints such as this by Toronto’s Rapid Fab - definitely some of the most delicate prints we’ve seen.

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Amsterdam Hub Vlad has had success printing complex prototype parts like this. This part had its wax supports melted in a custom oven before swimming in an ultrasonic oil bath and later meeting a dehydrator.

Design Tips

Here are some top design tips from our ‘VisiJet Hubs’ to ensure stunning results:

  • Smallest layer height is 0.032mm (HD) and 0.016mm (HD Max). Its worth bearing this in mind when designing!

  • Wall height should be no lower that 0.5mm to ensure strong prints.

  • Unsupported wall thickness should be greater than 0.6mm.

  • Clearance between parts of at least 0.1mm will avoid fusing.

  • You can create awesome interlocking parts as the prints are UV cured!

  • If your print will need to withstand pressure, increase the thickness of your walls.

  • Position of the print is vital. Any area touching the max support material will have a translucent texture.

Print in VisiJet Crystal

If you fancy printing in VisiJet Crystal follow this link, upload your STL and pick a hub near you! (Tip: You can increase the search distance to improve results!)