UP! Mini 3D Printer Arrives!

Ben Mininberg at Prometheus Rising Studios has been cranking out his Bounce Tortoise mech figurines like there’s no tomorrow, all in the name of the 3D printing accuracy science!

He’s got an awesome series of photographs comparing the quality of output of a consumer-grade FDM 3D printer (Up! Mini) with the same size model printed by Shapeways using laser syntered polyamide (nylon). Well, you should see the very nicely done pictures for yourself but I would say for small prints the FDM quality is just not there (yet?).

Still, having a printer right here and spending $3 and 3 hours on a print which may or may not be a successful model instead of $30+ and 2 weeks to get a great quality one from Shapeways makes a lot of sense, especially if you know that some intermediate prints may be required.
So, the ideal work flow for the 3D artists appears to looks something like this:

  1. Create the initial model (Blender)
  2. Print cheap/quick on a personal FDM 3D printer
  3. Verify the look adjust model as needed
  4. Print again on the personal FDM one
  5. If satisfied, get the model printed professionally (Shapeways etc.)
  6. Receive professionally printed model, smooth details, polish surfaces where required.
  7. Make an RTV mold from the finished professional print
  8. Cast yourself urethane resin pieces.
  9. Finish resin into product.

Hope I haven’t missed an important step!

Prometheus Rising Studios

On Monday I received a package.  I attended MakerFaire NYC back in September, and was blown away by all of the consumer-grade 3D printers being shown there.  I had been looking at Makerbot Industries’ offerings, which are something of a standard for the home level 3D printer market, but they are still out of my price range.  Makerbot’s machines also are a bit large for the space I ave available.  Then I saw the AC Gears booth, where they were showing the recently debuted UP! Mini from UP! 3D.  AC Gears is a tech retailer in New York City, and they had a coupon for UP! 3D’s two printers.  I was so enamored by the look, size, and quality of the UP! Mini that I went and ordered one as soon as they went live.

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3D Printed Cross Stich USB Drive

Intrigued by multi-color 3D printing? Wait until you see this multi-media 3D printed art(sy) object by Ashley Marcovitz! Sure, you could 3D print jump drive body before. And you could also buy tiny strips of plastic cross-stitch canvas and cobble together a body of a jump drive (copious amounts of hot glue would probably be needed to keep this all together). But 3D print yourself an ABS body that tightly fits over the jump drive electronics and has a built-in 5×6 cross-stitch canvas and you have a unique piece of technology that can be customized after it’s been 3D printed and still looks every bit a professionally made device.

I also think that the cross-stitch pattern looks like a physical representation of the memory arrays which is what the device is, but that’s probably because I’m a little predisposed towards tech rather than art. Another (also more practical than visual) application for the cross-stitch field might be to encode a simple PIN code or something like that needed to unlock the jump drive content. A 5-bit binary pattern can encode (almost) every letter and digit (or just stick to letters and you can have all 26 of them), and you can have up to 6 symbols encoded. Or flip that and encode 5 symbols with 6-bit pattern – there you can have all letters and digits for sure.

Great idea and pretty cool looking 3D printed object, Ashley!

Half Craft Studio

usb 1I talk a lot about 3D printing on this blog, and I’m long overdue for a bit of an overview for those who may be uninitiated. I’m going to share a bit of the process by taking you through how I made this USB drive. The USB component is store bought, it’s a standard USB drive that I bought and took out of its original casing. It looks like a tiny circuit board with a USB port stuck on the top. The case that I made is printed in ABS plastic, which is very durable and is good for everyday use. I made the case, a cap, and a small washer that fits over the case to sandwich the USB component inside. I wanted to make my drive special so I made a gridded area that I was able to do a little cross stitch in.

The process begins on the…

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Forget thermoplastics — Mcor says the future of 3D printing is in paper

It’s a shame Mcor Technologies website is pretty much disabled at the moment – only shows “Join Us at the Inside 3D Printing Conference & Expo, April 22-23 in New York City!” and “Prepare to be wowed!”.
Well, consider myself pre-wowed! I did miss the conference but would very much like to find out more about the paper 3D printing technology. Having a sculptor in you family exposes one to all sorts of materials that end up in a 3D design (sculpted by hand as it is now) and so I have seen how paper clays and Papier-mâché performs (when dry) and I would say if Mcor can produce similar strength/weight ratios art paper clays do, I would absolutely want a printer like this! Especially if it includes full color printing on the surface of the 3D model if I got the idea about the way they create colored 3D models right.

Looking forward to learning more about the Mcor 3D printing with paper!

Getting Mainstreamier: SkyMall Is Selling a 3D Printer

As much as I celebrate the fact that 3D printers are becoming more accessible, sitting cramped on a plane and feeling stupid for not bringing a book or some electronic entertainment device (and, really, what else can make you pick up that catalog) does not sound like the perfect time to make a decision to buy a 3D printer. Cube3D is not the best 3D printer out there for the price – I’d say it’s kind of small and I personally feel a bit uneasy about the moving table (which moves the part being printed with it). But, hey, there are even sillier ways to spend $1,300 by buying something from that catalog, so maybe it’s not all that bad after all.


If ever you needed a sign that 3D printing has hit the mainstream, look no further than SkyMall.

Everyone’s favorite way to pass the 15 minutes between when you’re told to turn off your electronic devices and when you’re allowed to turn them back on, the venerable seat-back catalog is now selling the $1,300 Cube 3D Printer, which is capable of printing out plastic objects up to 5.5 inches in size.

According to SkyMall, you can choose from 16 different plastic colors and “an average smartphone case takes about two hours to print.”

The 3D printer includes a Wi-Fi chip for a cord-free hookup to a PC or Mac, and is perfect for anyone between the ages of eight and 80, says SkyMall. Are you seven years old? Are you 81 years old? Sorry, this item is not for you. Are you the 83-year-old whose award-winning invention beat the…

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Viki LCD

The idea of computer-less 3D printing is very attractive to me and yet there’s still some interfacing to the printer that needs to happen even if computer is not involved. This is very reminiscent of the evolution of laser printers except these days laser printer are sort of regressing back to PC-only display- and button-less interfaces. Viki LCD featured in this Burnsed blog post even makes your 3D printer look and feel like a laser printer of yore – text LCD, menus and the iPod-like (of, this part is new) selection buttons. Makes a great addition to any RAMPS-enabled 3D printer!



Much like the Vision 3D printer, the Viki LCD did not come with any instructions or RAMPS firmware. The following are my notes for how I got it to work. Luckily most of the work was already done by others!

RAMPS 1.4 Connectors

See the RAMPS 1.4 image for exact placement. This RAMPS schematic was also useful to me.


  • 5V
  • GND
  • 20
  • 21

AUX-3 (SD Card):

  1. GND
  2. NC
  3. SCK/D52
  4. CS/D53
  5. MISO/D50
  6. MOSI/D51
  7. 5V
  8. CD/D49

ViKi – RAMPS Pinout

The Panucatt pdf for the Viki LCD has nice descriptions of the pins and their functions.

Mapping the Viki LCD to the RAMPS board

Viki Top plug – RAMPS 1.4:

  • 5V – 5V (I2C, +)
  • GND – GND (I2C, -)
  • SDA  – I2C 20 (I2C, 20)
  • SCL –  I2C 21 (I2C, 21)
  • ENC_B -(AUX4, D17) – requires update to pins.h
  • ENC_A – (AUX4, D16) – requires update to pins.h

Viki Bottom…

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What would *you* 3D print if you had an easy access to a 3D printer?

3D-printed Business Card

3D-printed Business Card

I thought this was an interesting and fun intersection of what people usually think of when they use the word “printing” with 3D printing which is not really a printing so much as it is “additive manufacturing”

The 3D printed business card idea came courtesy of Instructables   today. Is it practical? I cannot really say. Some people may even find it pretentious – who knows. But the fact that the  author – Instructables user ericm160 – came up with the idea speaks volumes about the fact that 3D printing is on the back of people’s minds when they consider objects normally created by absolutely different technologies.

I think that some kind of utility would have to be added for this type of 3D printed business  cards to be accepted by a “normal” (i.e. not a hardcore 3D printing enthusiast) person. Like ability to fold and create a holder for other business cards? Not sure but it looks like it needs to be able to do something a traditional paper card can’t do – and that’s where 3D printing technology really shines!

So, I’m sure we’ll see more of everyday objects take on some unusual functions when they are made by using 3D printing instead of the traditional methods

3D Printing and Online Communities

Local 3D printing communities are a great idea! I have used Shapeways before and their quality is outstanding but there’s something sterile and asocial(not anti-, just a-) about sending a 3D model to a site and just getting a couple of emails and the part 2 weeks later (unless you are in the Netherlands – then I would guess it’s quicker).

The guys at Memamsaa Blog (someone took Sanskrit 101 in college! 🙂 ) posted a link to MakeXYZ –  – a community that brings 3D printer owners together with people needed 3D models printed – what a great idea! I think Memamsaa guys are absolutely correct in thinking this will spur the growth of 3D printing, and perhaps not only because access to 3D printer will be easier. I look at it from the stand point of a 3D printer owner, too: your (still expensive these days) machine is actually standing doing nothing. If you can recoup some cost by printing for other people, you may be able to afford 3D printer upgrades (dual extruders etc.) and perhaps even a better printer thus adding to not only availability per se but also the quality of 3D printing industry.

More people print -> more people buy better printers -> more R&D done on 3D printing -> 3D printing becomes cheaper -> more people print. Looks like a very nice positive feedback loop here we’re all going to benefit from.


Thanks for the tip, Memamsaa!
P.S. Memamsaa – a Sanskrit for R&D?


Continuing the theme of finding innovation at intersections, this post takes a deeper look at the exponential growth of 3D printing services and the role of software and online user communities in driving this growth.

3D printing is becoming more than just a hardware phenomenon. The drop in prices and consumerization of the hardware, i.e. the printers, has certainly made the technology more accessible to the masses. But it the software ecosystem developing around 3D printing, fuelled by web, social, cloud and even mobile technologies, which has created the tipping point causing this technology to take-off. Author of an IBM research paper on this topic, Paul Brody states, “Not only are people collaborating around designs, they are sharing their printers as well, rapidly expanding public access to this technology.”

Who are some of the key players enabling this collaboration and sharing?

Thingiverse is a popular online design sharing community…

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