Tag Archives: Ben Millstein

3D printing a T-Rex skeleton

Did you know that fewer than 60 actual specimens of the once mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex have ever been unearthed? Fortunately for scientists and students, 3D printing technology can now be used to faithfully reproduce the bipedal carnivore’s skeleton.

Indeed, MakerBot’s recently unveiled T-Rex Skeleton is a meticulously crafted piece of 3D art comprising 70 distinct pieces.

“Dinosaur and collectible lovers will both covet this magnificent print, but we’re just as excited to see how the T-Rex Skeleton will be used in the classroom. Having a 3D printed T-Rex Skeleton for students to play with is a great way to get them excited about paleontology,” MakerBot’s Ben Millstein explained in a recent blog post.

“From tail to teeth, this model was created in the exact image of the original lizard king. No details were spared, from its intimidating skull and delicate rib cage to its laughably small arms. 20 times smaller than the average T. rex specimen (approximately 40 feet in length), the 3D model is anatomically accurate down to the last vertebrae.”

In addition to introducing the T-Rex Skeleton, MakerBot has launched a contest challenging 3D aficionados to remake the intricately-detailed T-Rex Skull from MakerBot Academy.

The winners (three) will receive spools of MakerBot PLA Filament, have their design printed and displayed at the MakerBot Retail Stores, as well as on Thingiverse. They’ll also be entitled to a free download of the 79-piece T-Rex Skeleton model from the MakerBot Digital Store.

Interested in learning more about the contest? You can check out a detailed run-down of the official rules here.

3D printing the great pyramid of Giza

MakerBot Academy has introduced a content pack that allows students to catch a glimpse of ancient Egypt by re-creating the great pyramid of Giza, which stood undisputed as the world’s tallest structure for 3,800 years.

According to MakerBot’s Ben Millstein, the content pack includes a two-part print of the pyramid and a lesson plan that explores the engineering, design and construction process behind the legendary structure.

“Three walls of our 3D printable model represent the pyramid’s modern appearance. But the fourth wall presents the ancient wonder as it would’ve looked in 2560 BC, gleaming with polished limestone that was later stripped to build other pyramids,” he explained.

“Students will learn how erosion and human interference created the worn, jagged look the pyramid is left with today. [They can also] open the model to reveal a detailed diagram of the multi-chambered tomb and guide students through the most complex internal structure ever discovered in a pyramid.”

As Millstein notes, MakerBot’s lesson helps bring Egyptian culture to life by showing how it influenced the mummification process, burial customs and of course, the pyramids themselves.

Interested in learning more? You can download the Great Pyramid of Giza content pack from Thingiverse here.

Atmel-powered MakerBot helps take the pulse of climate change

Adam Wolf is a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University who studies how different types of plants respond to changes in water availability. From Modeler to Maker, Wolf once relied on mathematical models to predict how plants grow, but soon realized this paradigm was mostly “agnostic to species.”

According to Ben Millstein of the official MakerBot blog, Wolf is a co-founder of Princeton’s Low-Cost Sensors for the Environment (PULSE) Lab. PULSE bundles sensors collecting climate data with a cell phone transceiver – allowing the data to be sent as a text message to the project server.

“The original plan was to make everything out of extruded aluminum,” said Wolf, who prototyped the PULSE pods on an Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.

However, Wolf had a difficult time getting the attention of metal fabricators, as “even a run that would cost us a couple of thousand dollars is chump change for them.”

Ultimately, Wolf and the PULSE Lab decided to 3D print its own pods (see picture above) out of PLA filament, with the cost of the material weighing in about the same as aluminium: $5 per pod. Since then, the pods have been deployed in various locations including southern New Jersey, Burkina Faso and Zambia.

“Next we’re going to try in a tropical context… There’s a lot of money in monitoring agriculture production,” added Wolf, who envisions a system like traffic monitoring on Google Maps, only for the natural world.

Unsurprisingly, Wolf also teaches a class in 3D printing with Kelly Caylor, a civil engineering professor.

“I’m near the mechanical engineering department. They’ve got a $50,000 3D printer, you give the design to this other guy and they’ll make it. With the [Atmel-powered] MakerBot, there’s an immediacy: ‘You mean I can make a design and press go?’ I’d love the students to go into milling and lathing, but the 3D printer – this 3D printer in particular – is the easiest way to get them making.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the DIY Maker Movement has been using Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for some time now. However, 3D printing recently entered a new and important stage in a number of spaces including the medical spherearchitectural arenascience lab and even on the battlefield. So it comes as little surprise that the lucrative 3D printing industry remains on track to be worth a staggering $3 billion by 2016 – and $8.41 billion by 2020.

3D printing a white Christmas with the Atmel-powered MakerBot

Who doesn’t love the Plaza in New York City? Over the years, the hotel has hosted a number of famous visitors in its hallowed suites, including The Beatles. More recently, a MakerBot-made Christmas Tree topper made an appearance in the Plaza’s lobby when the hotel proudly unveiled its annual holiday tree.

“The striking evergreen is crowned with a gleaming twenty-four-inch snowflake printed on an [Atmel-powered] MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer using [the company’s] True White PLA Filament,” MakerBot’s Ben Millstein explained in a recent blog post. “The tree topper is just one of the artfully crafted snowflake designs curated by Saks Fifth Avenue for their own flagship Manhattan store and the lobby display at The Plaza.”

Indeed, Saks Fifth Avenue tapped award-winning graphic artist and longtime creative collaborator Marian Bantjes to create the unique snowflake ornaments for the holiday season. According to Millstein, Bantjes brought her signature style to the ornate, hand-drawn snowflake designs.

“For our collaboration with Saks, the MakerBot Design Team reinterpreted a selection of her designs as 3D printable models,” he added.

Readers interested in seeing more 3D printed snowflakes and a Replicator 2 demo can visit the MakerBot kiosk on the fourth floor of the original Saks Fifth Avenue department store on 611 Fifth Avenue.

Video: MakerBot helps NASA explore the final frontier

MakerBot’s Atmel-powered 3D printers have been helping innovators and DIY Makers transform their ideas into physical objects for quite some time now. Of course, it isn’t every day that 3D printed objects or components make their way into space.

However, when NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2018 it will carry parts made with the help of an Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator2 Desktop 3D Printer. That is definitely one small step for MakerBot – and one giant leap for mankind.

“In 1993, four years after the launch of the Hubble Telescope, NASA began contemplating the next generation of space observatory. 20 years later, the James Webb Space Telescope has come a long way towards meeting its 2018 launch date, with MakerBot playing a growing role in the development process,” MakerBot’s Ben Millstein wrote in a recent blog post.

“The new telescope promises never-before-seen images of our universe using the NIRCam (near-infrared camera), the first space telescope camera optimized for near-infrared light. That means the Webb Telescope will be able to capture infrared wavelengths that cut through cosmic dust and gas clouds.”

According to Millstein, NASA enlisted Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to build the device, with the ATC team using a MakerBot Replicator 2 to get the job done. John Camp, a former mechanical engineer at ATC, led the initiative to streamline 3D printing for the NIRCam development process. After Camp acquired his first MakerBot Replicator 2, he was flooded with requests from engineers interested in (3D) printing various parts.

“Many of the systems for the Webb Telescope have to go through lengthy cryogenic testing to make sure the machinery holds up in the freezing vacuum of space,” Millstein continued. “MakerBot gave John the ability to test part ideas using 3D printed replicas, while the actual metal components being sent to freezing vacuum of space were put through their paces in a cryogenic test chamber.”

The Webb Telescope is currently slated to kick off three years of intensive testing and tweaking at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX before its eagerly awaited launch later this decade.

“Come 2018, we’ll be on the lookout for spectacular new images of our universe as they beam down from the Webb Telescope’s orbit – 1.5 million kilometers above Earth,” Millstein added.

MakerBot’s Flexible Filament hits the streets

MakerBot’s Flexible Filament for the Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer is hitting the streets this week.

The filament – PLA and ABS – create new opportunities to stretch the limits of 3D printing. Essentially, Makers can more easily create and design objects such as functional hinges, joints and items that can be shaped to fit the body. According to the MakerBot crew, Flexible Filament’s low melting temperature of 60 degrees Celsius allows designers to deftly adjust the prints.

“For example, we heated this model of a human hand until it became translucent,” MakerBot’s Ben Millstein explained in an official company blog post.

“In this state, MakerBot Flexible Filament gets smoother and becomes easily adjustable, maintaining your changes after it cools. We decided to teach this hand the symbol for ‘love’ in American Sign Language.”

In other MakerBot news, the company is also shipping its new Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, which allows users to quickly “transform” (scan) objects and items into 3D models that can be easily modified, shared and printed on 3D printers like the Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2.

Last, but certainly not least, MakerBot MakerWare 2.3 is now live. The update offers Makers a number of new features and optimizations including advanced dual-extrusion, multimaterial printing using MakerBot Dissolvable Filament, UI changes and print preview. Interested? MakerWare 2.3 can be downloaded here.