Monday, December 31, 2012

Cubify - A World of Designers and Manufacturers

This blog is almost a year old.  The first entry is dated January 11, 2012, shortly after the Cube 3D printer was announced.

I knew from the start that the Cube was the 3D printer that was going to open up 3D printing to a whole new group of people.  It was, and continues to be, the first real consumer 3D printer on the market.  But, a consumer 3D printer WITHOUT a community is not nearly as powerful as a driver for good as a 3D printer WITH a community.  And, it was clear, with the release of the Cubify web site, that 3D Systems also understood this.

If you will notice, this blog is called "CubifyFans" and not "CubeFans".  That is not to demean the Cube.  I pride myself on being one of its greatest fans.  It's what makes Cubify possible.  But, the Cube printer is just the first of what I hope will be a long line of ever more powerful 3D printers aimed at the consumer marketplace.  At some point in the future it will be seen as archaic and quaint as the first 1970's Pong game.

1970's Era Super Pong Game System
Few remember the very first 1976 Apple computer was, like many RepRap 3D printers, a 'bare bones' kit meant for hobbyists...

1976 Apple 'Kit' Computer
It wasn't until the release of the Apple II, a true consumer model, that the Apple really made it's mark on our culture.

Apple II -The First Consumer Apple
At the time of its introduction it was heralded as a major technological breakthrough. But, even that is crude by today's standards.  And, so it will be for the Cube in 40 years.

What will remain and grow is the 3D community as represented by

Each of you reading this blog, when you come to own a 3D printer or begin creating a 3D design that can be printed, are founding members of that community.  You are on the ground floor of an inevitable explosion of personal 3D manufacturing that will ultimately cover every corner of the globe.

I have said it before.  But, it remains worthy of repeating...
Through distributed design and manufacturing via Cubify (and other peer-to-peer sites), every Cube (or other 3D printer) owner has the potential for being a manufacturing site having a worldwide stable of designers. And, every 3D designer has the potential for feeding a world-wide network of manufacturing facilities.
The minute you buy a Cube and begin to explore Cubify, YOU are a part of that world-wide dynamic.

On January 26, 2012, I talked about the tremendous potential of being a part of a world-wide network of geniuses. (See: Surrounded by Geniuses ) If you have purchased, for yourself or another member of your family, a 3D printer, then I assume you are among those astute enough to recognize the potential for 3D printing for creative people.

In that article, I mentioned a gentleman in Goa, India named Sid Naique.  At the time, he only had a handful of designs in the Cubify store.  But, even so, it was clear that he was a skillful 3D designer.  I'm happy to say that he is now a featured artist on the Cubify Store where he has specialized in scale model furniture.  As of now, he has at least 47 designs on the Cubify store!

Sid Naique - Kitchen

But, that was just the beginning.  From those first days, just one year ago, Sid Naique has created his own web site to showcase his wondeful creations and wide ranging design skills.

So, thanks to the community that is Cubify, a Cube owner in Kensington, Maryland is not only able to enjoy the work of a young artist in Goa, India; but, 'manufacture' it as well on my own 3D printer!

This is what Cubify is all about!  And, THAT is why I am a Cubify Fan!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Creativity Run Amuck! Photo Pop by BitBox

Blogging is a mind expanding pursuit.  And, that is especially true when blogging on a subject that attracts creative people.  This morning, I got a "Friends" message from Facebook from Ana Vaz Ferreira, a name I did not recognize.  I am certain that the request came about because of this blog.

I am VERY cautious about answering Facebook "Friend" requests.  I always go out of my way to research the person before deciding what to do.  In this case, my search lead me to a site called BitBox that makes apps for the iPhone and Android.  And, THAT lead me to an app that is loads of fun.

The nice thing about iPhone and iPad apps is that they are generally free or inexpensive.  Noticing that it had to do with photos and art, I decided to give their app, called Photo Pop, a try. And, THAT, was the beginning of a few minutes of hilarious fun with my grandchildren.  We had a ball.

It's definitely an app that draws out the insanity in us.

The idea is to take a picture and then add POP to the photo to create the REAL you.  Here's our first sample.

Greta Pop

Now, if a 13 year old can make herself beautiful, then surely a 69 year old can do one better.  So, here is my try,  Ain't I a beauty?

Pop with POP!

It seems to be a new app for the iPad and there are a few kinks to iron out.  One hint,  If you take a picture and it does not immediately show up in the edit window, leave the app and come back in,  The photo will be there.

Other than rhat, it's a LOT of fun and in just a few minutes my granddaughters and a friend created these Photo Pop results.

Roughing it!

And, of course, the others felt my YOUTHFUL view of myself was completely out of character and decided to create their view of me.

Old 3D Guy

Hmmm.... maybe Photo Pop is more dangerous than fun!

Thank you Ana!   We had a great time:)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope you found a Cube under your tree!  If not, I still hope you found a 3D printer.  Because, there is nothing quite like a 3D printer to begin another year of wonderful creativity.

If you were one of those lucky individuals to receive your own brand new 3D printer, let me point you to the Cubify web site where you will find some great apps to get you started.

Recently, I was privileged to be invited to introduce 3D printing to a great group of young people at the Freestate Challenge Academy in Aberdeen, Maryland.  And, one of the things they enjoyed was making there own ring designs using the Cubify Ring App.

Cubify Ring App - Step 1
Each student was able to create their own personal ring design.  When they return to pick up their certificates, the ring will be there for them. 

Mentioning the  Ring App is a great time to point out that one of the design goals for the Cube was to make it portable enough to be carried to friends homes for 3D printing parties!  Of all the 3D printers of which I am familiar, the Cube is the most appropriate for these kinds of social gatherings.  And, having apps that require absolutely no 3D CAD skills is a great way to begin enjoying 3D printing for everyone!

So, here's wishing you a magnificently creative year with your new Cube or other 3D printer.  Now, the fun begins! :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Gift - Thread Cutting Tool

Before I left the house this morning, to visit my grandchildren, I finally created that long promised thread cutting tool tutorial for Moment of Inspiration.  And, before retiring this evening, I edited the video and posted it on YouTube.

I have NO idea why it took me so long to get it done because it is a piece of cake to do in Moment of Inspiration!  Maybe I was just waiting for a grand occasion, like Christmas Eve to release it.  Whatever the reason for the delay, I hope that the second part of the tutorial on designing bolts and threads in Moment of Inspiration will come a LOT faster.

Have a GREAT holiday/  And, for those of you that will be fortunate enough to have received a Cube 3D printer for Christmas, I want to welcome you aboard and hope that you will find these pages helpful to you.  This is going to be the start of a wonderfully creative adventure!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cube Features I Have Most Appreciated

I probably should have gotten around to this post a lot earlier, when parents might have been considering a 3D printer for their child or themselves.  (It's OK to be self-serving on this one!)

It's no secret that I continue to love and appreciate my Cube 3D printer.  But, I thought it would be useful to list specific reasons why I continue to believe that the Cube 3D printer is not only a great buy; but, a great long-term investment.  So, here is a list of things I most appreciate about the Cube's design and function.

1)  The Heated Printing Table

Those who have a Cube and another 3D printer can relate to why I REALLY appreciate the fact that the Cube has a heated printing surface.  With my Cube in the hands of the staff of Freestate Challenge Academy last week, I tried printing some hangers the students had specified on a printer not having a heated bed.  My basement is colder in winter and while I had not problems printing PLA with my second 3D printer during the summer months, I had to abandon the task due to warping.  Even in summer I was unable to print in ABS on my second printer due to warping.

Warping is very rare with the Cube since the bed is always heated to the optimal temperature to reduce it.

2)  Compact Size

I love the size of the Cube.  It travels well.

In fact, it is the perfect size to carry around in a fabric rolling cooler that I'd purchased at Costco or Sam's Club.   It looks something like this one... without the beer and soda, of course!  LOL!


The Cube and 2 cartridges fit perfectly.  The padded sides of the cooler are more than enough protection.  The rolling function is convenient; but, the Cube is light enough that even with the added weight of the cooler, it's easy topick up and carry.

3) Ruggedness

Unlike some personal 3D printers, the Cube is ruggedly built to withstand the rigors of travel.  I can confidently loan it out to people that have no experience at all with operating a 3D printer.   It can be carried from home to school or to friends homes with little likelihood of a breakdown.  In fact, in just this past 6 months, my Cube has traveled to in 3 states to1 museum, 2 conferences, a fundraising event, a school setting and at several homes... outside of my control and without a single failure.  THAT is an impressive record for a 3D printer.

4) Printing in ABS

Most personal 3D printings use either PLA or ABS as their source material.  PLA is easier to use.  But, it doesn't quite have the strength of ABS.  The fact that the Cube prints in ABS is a HUGE advantage and a very big deal to me.  In fact, I have used the Cube to print parts for my other 3D printer since my other printer does not have a heated bed and ABS warps without that feature.

5) Reliability 

The only difficulties I have had with the Cube are an occasional clog when changing cartridges due to my own impatience. And, that was only in the early stages of my learning to use it.  They have changed the messages on the LCD screen related to removing old filament and installing a new cartridge and those additional directions have helped to reduce the potential for clogging.  The only time I had a print job fail in the middle of a run was when I let the outside studio temperature get too high on a hot summer day.  Other than that, this printer has been a flawless performer.

From time to time, I get emails from new users telling me about some issues they have with a newly arrived Cube.  But, invariably, the Cubify team has been able to sort out the issues early.  There have been one or two users that have unreasonable expectations for a 3D printer.  But, for the most part, I get very positive feedback from users about their Cubes.  So, I am confident that I can tout the Cube's reliability not only from my own point of view; but, that of others who have contacted me.

While these are the 5 major things that I most like about the Cube, I can assure you that there are other things that make this little 3D printer a real winner.

Growing the Brain in 3D!

Before launching into the real meat of this post, permit me a moment to rant about one of the claims often made by personal 3D printer manufacturers.  I cringe every time I hear a 3D printer manufacturer claim that their product can "replicate itself".  First, the claim is demonstrably false.  At present, all any personal 3D printer can do toward the goal of replicating itself is to print out a few plastic parts.  Secondly, it is such a narrowly inferior goal that it actually demeans the value of 3D printing rather than enhancing it.

Now having declared the "replicate itself" claim as false and puny.  I am going to go W-A-Y out on a limb with a claim of my own that will surely invite declarations of FALSE or MISLEADING.  I'm going to claim that a 3D printer, while not able to replicate itself, CAN contribute to something FAR more important... GROWING OUR BRAINS.

Of all the recent discoveries that should be meaningful to all of us... from youngest to oldest... it is the understanding that we can, literally, GROW our brains.  

For most of my life, it seemed to be believed that we started life with a finite brain structure that deteriorated in old age as we lost brain cells.  But, in recent years, there seems to be a growing consensus that our brains structure is NOT static and that we can actually grow our brains!

This remarkable fact first came to me through the writings of Dr. Caroline Leaf, a South African learning specialist.  Her writings launched me on a quest to either validate or repudiate her claims.  And, that turned out to be a true and remarkable adventure.  

In my last post, I alluded to the fact that I believe that the Cube 3D printer is much more than a simple gadget builder.  At some level, it is a key that helps us unlock the potential of our brains by allowing us to realize, in concrete form, the ideas that used to tantalizingly fly fleetingly by. 

Just visit the Cubify blog and scroll through some of the latest articles to witness the power of ideas made real!

How do I think the Cube (or any 3D printer) helps us grow our brains?

First,  let's start with a fun article, by Lulu Miller, that introduces the concept.   A more academic description of the new field of neurogenesis can be found at this link.   

While my own observations about the link between 3D printing and neurogenesis are completely anecdotal, I'm convinced that the link is there.  Now, that could mean that I'm simply crazy.  But, it may also mean that my own personal experience, and the experience that I've seen in others can be explained by neurogenesis in action as the brain finds a feedback path in the real world of tangible objects.

The DREAMS LAB - Virginia Tech

Now, I'm not sure that the professors at Virginia Tech would go as far as I do in claiming that there may be a connection between a 3D printer and personal neurogenesis; but, it sure is interesting that they named their Additive Manufacturing center, THE DREAMS LAB.

It's also interesting to me that every single person I met, during a recent visit to their facility, would fit my personal description of being a "Renaissance Person".   By "Renaissance Person", I mean one that has remarkably wide ranging interests and accomplishments.  While they are rare, I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by such individuals... Dave Nutting and Bob Ogdon  while I was with Astrocade,... Don Komai with Time Life Software (Time Life Books) and Frederick "Mike" Slay with my current employer.   But, the world of 3D design and printing seems to teem with them.

The Dreams Lab - DreamVendor Kiosk

Perhaps nothing demonstrates the professor's confidence in the value of 3D printing to the creative process, for all students, than the DreamVendor kiosk which allows any Va Tech student to print out their designs completely for free.

I'll let you read more about this terrific idea on Gizmag.  Be sure to watch the video!  Very Cool.

Inviting Cube Owners or 3D Printer Users to Chime In

If you own a Cube I would love to hear if you believe that owning and/or using a 3D printers has unleashed your creativity and grown your brain.  I know that it has been true for me.  I've certainly witnessed it in others.  But, Has it been true for you?  

This should be interesting.

The Cube in Review - 2012 at 6 Months

This is going to be a very short post.  That is because it's being typed on my granddaughter's iPad.  The iPad is terrific.  But, my skills at typing on a screen are not.  However, I thought that this post was important enough to give it a try as I travel.

BOTTOM LINE - The Cube is Every Thing I'd Hoped it Would be and MORE

It's been almost 6 months since I opened my Cube's box.  In the subsequent months, between then and now, it has performed extremely well, traveled well and spawned lot's of creative ideas in myself and others.  And it is the latter idea that I want to communicate this morning.

Right now my Cube is in the hands of the staff of Freestate Challenge Academy.  I had the privilege of introducing 3D printing to 9 eager students and witnessed exactly what I'd expected to witness... An explosion of creative ideas that always seems to happen when individuals finally grasp what they can do with a 3d printer, and the Cube in particular.  The clean design of the Cube seems to remove any barriers or intimidation and invite an almost instant free flow of ideas.

Ideas came quickly.  but, actually printing those ideas takes a bit more time than a single day.  So, the Cube stayed for a while as I returned home.  There was NO way I was going to deprive those students of the chance to see their designs printed.

Parents.  This past six months with the Cube has convinced me, beyond ANY doubt that there are few gifts that you could give a child that would spark their creativity and grow their brains like a Cube printer.  I.know that it's not cheap.  But, six months of watching it work it's magic with scores of people tells me that it is well worth the investment!

I have more to say on Freestate Challenge Academy and their YouthQuest project when I have an actual keyboard to type.  You are going to love what they have planned.