Tag Archives: MakerBot Replicator 2

3D printing your own crossguard lightsaber

Have you seen the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer yet? If not (*spoiler alert*), the recently released teaser introduced a different kind of lightsaber. Not only did its revealing elicit some excitement amongst its die-hard community, the weapon’s reconfiguration has also spurred quite a bit of controversy as well.


Like countless other fans, the crew over at France-based Le FabShop watched the trailer, explored the controversy over the new lightsaber and decided that the best way to test the design was to make one of their own. And so, that’s exactly what they did by 3D printing a replica using an Atmel powered MakerBot Replicator 2.


“As Makers, we couldn’t help but try to find out by ourselves if this ‘crossguard’ design was a good configuration or not,” the team explains.

While several other 3D-printable lightsabers have already been made available for download across the web, Le FabShop sought out to create one that would be completely customizable. Once a Star Wars lover prints out each of its parts, the lightsaber’s modularity enables the Maker to mix and match these components to create weaponry that is unique to them. And, those who aren’t keen on the crossguard can now just remove it!


Instead of waiting around for the Disney flick to hit the box offices, the Le FabShop has made the files available on Thingiverse, while a step-by-step breakdown can be found on InstructablesFor those who may recall, the same crew last year worked with Renault to transform an ordinary electric car into a mobile 3D printing lab.

Creating a zoetrope with a 3D printer and Arduino

When it comes to music videos, artists today are not only getting more creative but are spending less. Proof of just that, a Maker by the name of Michael Lainé recently used 3D printing to create a unique sculptural animation (also known as a zoetrope) of himself in a project he calls “Silvia.”


To begin, Lainé scanned himself with a Microsoft Kinect. These images were then 3D printed with the help of an Atmel powered Makerbot Replicator 2.


“After correcting and cleaning up the model of myself in Maya, I took it into the motion capture plug-in to get the animation. From there I took a snippet of animation along the timeline and exported each frame as an .OBJ file to bring into Makerware for printing,” Lainé tells 3DPrint.com.

After printing 30 models for his zoetrope, the Maker affixed each of them onto a 300mm wide disk, equally spaced around the outer edge to ensure optimal results. In order to get the zoetrope functioning properly, Lainé employed an LED array as the light source, a stepper motor to drive the disk, and an Arduino Uno (ATmega328). The Arduino was programmed by technician James Thomas to strobe one beam per head for every full rotation of the disk, 3DPrint.com reveals.

3D printing instruments to measure oxygen levels in newborns

Design that Matters, a Massachusetts non-profit focused on developing countries, recently developed prototypes of an instrument to measure oxygen levels and diagnose pneumonia in infants using an Atmel powered MakerBot Replicator 2.

Brigham Slide Show

Created by a team of MIT and Rhode Island School of Design students, the Pelican pocket pulse oximeter is an affordable and durable tool that can be used to help detect pneumonia in newborn babies in developing countries such as Haiti and Rwanda.


In true Maker fashion, the MIT and RISD students took to Indiegogo earlier this spring to raise funds around the pocket pulse oximeter. Unsurprisingly, the team garnered $22,000 — well over its original goal of $10,000. In the months that followed, Design that Matters conducted demonstrations at hospitals, including the Brigham and Women’s Intensive Care Unit in Boston, and a series of interviews with hospital physicians and staff to gain valuable insights into how to improve the Pelican prototypes, ranging from basic ergonomics to display preferences.


“Prototypes are even more vital when we perform research in locations with a different culture and language. They take abstract ideas about what could be, and quickly make them tangible to enable us to move beyond words and see how people actually would or wouldn’t use them,” Design that Matters writes.


Last September, Design that Matters also brought the newborn pulse oximeter prototypes to hospitals in Haiti, in collaboration with Partners in Health and the Saint Boniface Haiti Foundation, enabling the team to gain even greater insights into how the Pelican is currently and could be used to improve healthcare infants in the facilities.

Now this is what we call making a difference! To learn more about Design that Matters, the Pelican and all surrounding efforts, head on over to the organization’s official page.

Upload and pick up your design with this 3D printing vending machine

Unveiled at the University of Texas, Cockrell School of Engineering students have launched a cutting-edge 3D printing vending machine. The Innovation Station is believed to be the third machine of its kind at a university in the U.S., following in the footsteps of both Virginia Tech and UC-Berkeley.


Led by Associate Professor Carolyn Seepersad, a team of mechanical engineering students designed and constructed the Innovation Station, with hopes of providing students the opportunity to build objects for a variety of purposes through a web-based portal and queue system. UT students can use the machine for free by simply uploading their own CAD designs to the printer and then receiving a message to pick it up at a public bin.

“The vending machine lowers the barriers to 3D printing,” explained Seepersad. “It will help encourage all UT Austin students to take their ideas from the classroom and their extracurricular activities and bring them to life. This tool will inspire our students to think like entrepreneurs.”

The team built the Innovation Station by modifying a pair of Atmel powered MakerBot Replicator 2 printers, adding several unique components and hardware of their own, and optimizing it to print two jobs simultaneously. The team also developed the infrastructure that holds the 3D printers, as well as the mechanisms that make it operate like a vending machine.


“The Innovation Station gives students the opportunity to create. There are few feelings as rewarding as coming up with an idea and making that idea a reality,” Kuhn said. “It has been amazing to see the Innovation Station start as a cool concept and transform into a project that students can really benefit from. I really enjoyed the experience of taking a concept, prototyping, testing and then manufacturing the final product.”

Created to provide on-demand 3D printing, the concept hopes to remove barriers to learning about 3D printing, inspire innovation and creativity, and ultimately encourage future Makers and engineers.

After an object is printed and before it is moved into a retrieval drawer for the creator to pick up, the object is removed from the surface using a patent-pending process that the team created. On a typical 3-D printer, objects are printed on an acrylic surface that allows the design to stick firmly in one place. As a result, removing a finished product from the printer can require a lot of manual force. So, Seepersad and her team discovered a solution that allows parts to be safely and automatically removed from the printer without manual assistance.

According to the university’s website, Innovation Station designs are printed on a glass surface with an aluminum panel underneath, rather than an acrylic surface. The aluminum heats the glass during printing, and once the design is finished, the aluminum separates from the glass surface. A fan cools the glass and the object so quickly that the object pops off the glass and is ready to be pushed into the retrieval drawer.

“Moving forward, we expect that students will be able to save and share their designs with one another. I hope the Innovation Station serves as a way for all students to collaborate, inspire one another and spark conversations about new ideas for designing and creating,” Seepersad concluded.

Don’t forget to join the Atmel team in Queens this month for the 5th Annual World Maker Faire. Undoubtedly, this year will be amazing as an expected 750+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees head to the New York Hall of Science to see the latest DIY gizmos and gadgets, as well as AVR Man in the flesh. Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will put the spotlight on everything from Arduino and Arduino-related projects to the latest in 3D printing. See you soon!

3D printing a working DC motor

A Maker by the name of Pitrak recently created a fully-functional DC motor using an Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer.

To develop the working brushless direct current (DLDC) motor, the Maker 3D printed each of its parts, excluding the magnets, solenoid wrapping wire and hall effect sensors, and used an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) to control the motor itself.


According to Pitrak’s Instructables page, the design features four distinct parts: the bottom enclosure, the top enclosure, the rotor, and the solenoids. All of the parts can be printed at once on most 3D printers; however, during the print, it must be paused in order to add in certain components.


“The magnets and hall effect sensors were inserted into assembly by designing a correctly sized internal void in the appropriate place, printing to just below the top of the void, pausing the print and inserting the device, and then continuing the print,” Pitrack explained.


The final product was printed in clear PLA plastic at 20% infill with a 0.20 mm layer height. “It was found through trial and error that pieces meant to join together without sliding such as the top and bottom enclosures should be printed at 0.25 mm added on all sides, while pieces meant to slide freely such as the rotor should be printed at 0.4 mm space on all sides,” the Maker notes.

Once printing is complete, each of the components can be removed from the MakerBot and pieced together after removing excess plastic from the raft. The pieces should fit together smoothly without much effort.

The Maker says future improvements to the motor can be broken down into four main categories: mechanical optimization, efficiency improvements, control improvements and applications, which he explains in more detail here.

Interested in learning more about this project? You can find the steps in more detail on Instructables, and access the program written for Arduino on github.


From Shanzhai to OSHW: The Maker Movement in China

Although the Maker and open source hardware movements are a global phenomenon, the DIY culture in China can actually be traced back to the ancient concept of Shanzhai. As Gabrielle Levine, the newly appointed president of the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) notes, China is going to be a huge driving force in the open source hardware landscape.

“There are many similarities between [the local concept of] Shanzhai and the open source hardware community,” Gabriella Levine told OpenElectronics in February. “Both Shanzhai and open source hardware projects borrow information, tools, source code, CAD files and techniques; both improve upon other’s work to accelerate development.”

SeeedStudio founder Eric Pan expressed similar sentiments during a recent interview with Atmel’s official blog, Bits & Pieces.

“MakerSpaces will likely enable a new wave of tech startups in China as in the US,” he confirmed.

“Clearly, hardware development is becoming a more agile process with the aid of [open source] prototyping tools like RepRap and Arduino boards – both of which are helping to facilitate innovation across the world and particularly in China.”

Similarly, David Li, co-founder of Shanghai’s first Maker Space, told The Economist that the DIY movement has inspired the creation of legitimate and innovative products, with socially progressive Makers teaming up with more traditional manufacturers in China.

We at Atmel are at the strategic heart of the international Maker Movement, with a comprehensive portfolio of versatile microcontrollers (MCUs) that power a wide range of Maker platforms and devices, including 3D printers (MakerBot Replicator 2 and RepRap), the vast majority of Arduino boards, as well as Adafruit’s Gemma, Trinket and Flora platforms.

Indeed, Arduino boards are currently used by millions of Makers, engineers, schools and corporations all over the world. At least 1.2 million Atmel-powered Arduino boards have been sold to date, with the ATmega328-based Uno being a particular Maker and prototyping favorite. Of course, stand-alone AVR microcontrollers like the tinyAVR lineup are also popular amongst the DIY crowd.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, an increasing number of Makers are kicking off project prototyping with Atmel-based Arduino boards. Concurrently, we are also seeing a jump in professional engineers relying on Atmel-powered Arduino boards to create initial models for their devices, platforms and solutions.

According to Gartner, 50% of companies expected to help build the rapidly evolving Internet of Things have yet to coalesce. This is precisely why Atmel views China’s Maker Movement as one of the primary tech incubators for future IoT companies and devices, many of which will undoubtedly use Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs) to power their respective platforms.

Atmel will proudly be attending Maker Faire Shenzhen this year on April 6-7. Our booth – #4 – is located right next to Center Stage. We’ll be showcasing a number of Atmel-powered products including a Zigebee-based lighting demo, robotic model car, various Seeeduino boards, the Rainbow Cube (LED light controlled by Atmel MCUs) and an e-ink badge.

I’ll also be giving a presentation about Atmel microcontrollers, the IoT and Makers at 2PM on April 7th at the Center Stage. Hope to see you there!

3D printing at Brookhaven Hospital

Steven Jaworski is a biomedical technician at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Patchogue, NY. As Blake Eskin of the official MakerBot blog reports, Jaworski does everything from outfit Brookhaven’s new cardiac health lab to replacing critical ER cables.

“Those cables are essential, since they set off an alarm when your heart races or your blood pressure plummets,” Eskin explained.

“They are also expensive: $294.85 for a set of three, which adds up. If you had to replace cables once a year for each of the 315 beds at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Patchogue, NY, it would cost $92,877.75.”

Jaworski says he had to replace so many cables that he ended up ordering cable tethers from a medical supplier for $24.50 per cable, or $73.50 for a set of three. Unfortunately, surgical scissors are able to easily cut through the tethers – forcing the hospital to step up its purchases of additional tethers.

That is, until Jaworski asked for an MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer to solve his cable problem. Using the Atmel-powered platform, the technician designed a tamperproof cable tether with a dense black PLA and thick wire. The total cost? $7.94 for a tether that holds three cables. Simply put, Jaworski’s cable tethers saved Brookhaven Hospital a grand total of $60,000 in three months.

According to Jaworski, the best thing about having a MakerBot Replicator 2 is its versatility.

“It’s not a Phillips-head screwdriver when you need a flathead. It’s basically a solution that has paid for itself many times over… You don’t know when you’re going use it, you don’t know what you’re going to use it for, but you’re always going to need it,” he added.

Teaching Earth Science with 3D printing

Ryan Cain – who teaches Earth Science to second graders – wanted to finish the most recent semester with a special, interactive project.

To help his class emphasize with hurricane victims, Cain decided to teach his students how to design their own buildings using 3D modeling software and MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers. The structures were then placed along the banks of a simple model river consisting of a water pump and a sandbox.

“By turning up the power on the water pump, Cain unleashed a flood on his class’s model city,” MakerBot’s Ben Millstein explain in a recent blog post. “This gives students a memorable visual on the effects of soil erosion.”

Erosion is the process by which soil and rock are removed from the Earth’s surface by exogenic processes such as wind or water flow – and then transported and deposited in other locations.

According to Wikipedia, excessive erosion causes problems such as desertification, decreases in agricultural productivity due to land degradation, sedimentation of waterways and ecological collapse due to loss of the nutrient rich upper soil layers. Industrial agriculture, deforestation, roads, anthropogenic climate change and urban sprawl are amongst the most significant human activities in regard to their effect on stimulating erosion.

Unsurprisingly, teaching second graders how to design and 3D print an entire riverbank of model buildings isn’t the only impressive thing Cain has done with his MakerBot 3D Printers, as he recently:

  • Embarked on a “30 days of creativity” project, starting with 3D printing a replacement knob on his dresser.
  • Printed new buildings for his erosion model.
  • Taught his robotics students how to design and 3D print concepts for relief delivery drones that could reach victims in the wake of natural disasters.

“Cain has been a fan of MakerBot since the Cupcake CNC,” Millstein noted.

“He was also one of the first educators to bring MakerBot 3D Printers into the classroom. We can’t wait to see what this pioneering educator will come up with next!”

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 has clearly entered a new and important stage in a number of spaces including the medical sphere, architectural arena and science lab.

Indeed, the meteoric rise of 3D printing has paved the way for a new generation of Internet entrepreneurs, Makers and do-it-yourself (DIY) manufacturers. So it comes as little surprise that the lucrative 3D printing industry is on track to be worth a staggering $3 billion by 2016.

Transforming your smartphone into a stethoscope

Those who are new to the exciting world of 3D printing often choose to create a simple personalized smartphone case as their first project.

 However, Suman Mulumudi decided to take things one step further.

Using an Atmel-powered Makerbot Replicator 2, the high school student turned his iPhone into a stethoscope with a unique 3D printed case (Steth IO) designed to collect and relay low-frequency sounds. 

After 3D printing a number of Steth IO prototypes, Mulumudi founded a company known as StratoScientific, which applied for a patent to cover the technology and is currently eyeing FDA approval for the innovative device.

“People have tried to put the microphone over the chest, but that doesn’t work,” Mulumudi, a resident of Washington state, told Blake Eskin of the official MakerBot blog.

“Interestingly enough, that’s how the first stethoscope was invented.”

In addition to the Steth IO, Mulumudi has also prototyped the LesionSizer, which leverages the technology behind an optical mouse to help doctors performing angioplasties select the appropriate stent.

Mulumudi now attends Seattle’s Lakeside School, where Microsoft founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates went to school.

“People like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz — mostly Washington people — they all did one thing: They took an idea and expanded that concept into something that changed the world,” he added.

3D printing Robohands in conflict zones

Daniel Omar, who lives in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, lost both his arms at just 14 years of age when a government plane dropped a bomb near his village during the country’s protracted civil war.

“Without hands, I can’t do anything,” Daniel told Time Magazine. “If I could have died, I would have.”

Daniel – who is now 16 – only recently picked up a fork to feed himself for the first time in two years using a prosthetic arm with parts make on an Atmel powered MakerBot Replicator 2. The arm was designed by Mick Ebeling, the CEO of Not Impossible Labs, a California nonprofit devoted to technology for the sake of humanity.

Elliot Kotek, the chief of content for Not Impossible Labs, told the official MakerBot blog that the design for Daniel’s prosthetic arm was adapted from the Robohand, an open-source project designed by Richard van As, a South African woodworker who lost several fingers in an accident, and Ivan Owen, a prop maker in Seattle, Washington.

“Richard had already created the Roboarm and he also had modified the original Robohand so that it was enclosed at the top of the hand. This change will better protect the hands from the elements,” Kotek explained. “Richard is really out to make a difference on a humanitarian level. That spirit rubs off on us.”

Indeed, Not Impossible Labs recently transported two MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers to Mother of Mercy Hospital, near the border with independent South Sudan. Ebeling then spent five days in Sudan training seven local fabricators to make prosthetics. Using the two 3D printers, hospital staff can produce one prosthetic a week, with each new arm requiring approximately $100 worth of filament, medical orthoplastic, and metal.

“If Project Daniel can surmount these challenges and scale up, it could transform the lives of tens of thousands of amputees in Sudan, and others around the world,” writes MakerBot’s Blake Eskin. “If you are moved to help, Project Daniel would welcome donations. And if you’re not moved yet, watch the video [above] produced by Not Impossible Labs, which shows Daniel’s wounds and his new prosthetics.”