Tag Archives: makerBot

Disney uses store-bought conductive thread to build robot muscles

Researchers have developed an inexpensive way to make artificial muscles using off-the-shelf supplies.

They say Disney World is the most magical place on Earth, but we’d argue that it may come second to their research lab. From 3D-printed plush toys to autonomous sand drawing robots to bipedal droids that walk like animated characters, the Disney Research team continues to dream up some impressive innovations that blend fantasy with the real world.


In an effort to make robotic arm automation more lifelike, a group of Disney engineers have found a way to develop strong, artificial muscles using inexpensive, store-bought conductive sewing thread coiled into a shape that resembles somewhat of a DNA helix.

“Natural muscles exhibit high power-to-weight ratios, inherent compliance and damping, fast actuation and high dynamic ranges. Unfortunately, traditional robotic actuators have been unable to attain similar properties, especially in a slender muscle-like form factor. Recently, super-coiled polymer (SCP) actuators have rejuvenated the promise of an artificial muscle,” the researchers write.

Movement is facilitated through the heating and cooling of the off-the-shelf strings. As the strands fluctuate in temperature, the cables contract and expand like a human muscle, which in turn, pulls the fingers causing the artificial hand to close. While the researchers initially set out to find a low-cost way to create artificial muscles, their project yielded controlled forces in less than 30 milliseconds — actually outperforming the capabilities of a human muscle.


“The average human skeletal muscle has a twitch cycle of over 100 ms, and reaches a steady-state force in hundreds of milliseconds. Furthermore, the peak power- to-weight ratio of mammalian skeletal muscle is 0.32kW/kg, whereas these actuators have been shown to generate up to 5.3kW/kg,” the team adds.

For their demonstration, Disney Research employed a 3D-printed robotic hand — which had been crafted using an AVR powered Makerbot Replicator 2 machine — comprised of four fingers and a thumb with actuators on each tendon enabling a full range of motion. The muscles were strewn along the forearm of the robot to mimic the physical locations of a human arm, while four small computer fans were used to cool the actuators during relaxation. As for its electronics, the arm was driven by an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) along with some simple MOSFET PWM-switching supplies.


“The robot arm was able to perform various grasping maneuvers. The grasps were performed in under a second without the benefit of any feedback sensor, using a lead compensator to improve the speed of finger motions. Each finger can be manipulated individually, and there was no noticeable crosstalk between actuators.”

Does this mean that in the future we’ll see more realistic movements by Disney automations at its parks worldwide? As we wait to find out, you can read its entire paper here.

Puppy given the ability to walk thanks to 3D printing

3D printing lets another two-legged dog run around with his four-legged friends.

A 3D-printed wheelchair has enabled a dachshund puppy, born without front limbs, to walk again. This heartwarming story is just the latest example of how the additive process is helping our friends from the animal kingdom get a second lease on life. Last year, we saw an adorable Chihuahua nicknamed TurboRoo roll around in his 3D-printed cart, while fellow canine Derby was given modified front legs that let the husky run for the first time.


In this case, the six-month-old dog’s owners Trevor Byers and Elissa Smoak decided to build their beloved pup a wheelchair in an effort to help Bubbles get around in a much easier manner. To do so, the couple used a “combination of carbon fiber, model airplane, and 3D printed parts with the hope that others would be able to utilize the same design for their own dogs in need of a wheelchair,” 3ders.org writes.

Byers uploaded the life-changing design to MakerBot’s Thingiverse for other pet owners in a similar situation seeking assistance. “Bubbles is the reason I bought my printer in the first place and she loves the freedom it has given her,” the Maker explains.

The design features a torso support combined with an axle and two wheels. Once again, the prosthetic creation proved to not only be a more affordable option, but is more accessible than existing wheelchairs on the market today. Additionally, a pet owner can customize the size and weight of the contraption depending on the dog’s needs.

So, whether it’s a seven-year-old boyStumpy the turtle, or Quack Quack the duck, 3D printing has the potential to change the lives of humans and animals alike. The latest string of projects merely scratch the surface of the technology’s wide-range of uses, and more impressively, how localized manufacturing will only require one person to create a model and for the entire world to benefit.

Doctors create a trachea using a MakerBot 3D printer

3D printing has helped Feinstein Institute researchers create cartilage designed for tracheal repair or replacement.

It’s not so much a question as to if 3D printing will be an integral part of medical procedures in the future, it’s more so when. And apparently, we are closer than ever before. While we’ve seen everything from 3D-printed splints to prosthetics to organs, a team of researchers at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research has made yet another medical breakthrough using a MakerBot Replicator 2X.


This time, the scientists created cartilage designed for tracheal repair or replacement. Also known as the “windpipe,” the trachea is the tube that connects the upper respiratory tract to the lungs. Never before has a regular PLA filament been used to print custom tracheal scaffolding, not to mention combined with living cells to create a tracheal segment. Traditionally speaking, there has been two traditional means of reconstructing a damaged trachea — both of which present a number of constraints. Both treatments have involved removal of the affected tracheal segment.

As a solution to the growing problem, Feinstein Institute investigator Todd Goldstein along with Dr. Daniel A. Grande of the Orthopedic Research Laboratory inquired as to whether 3D printing could be a suitable alternative.

“Three-dimensional printing and tissue engineering has the potential for creation of a custom-designed tracheal replacement prosthesis in the lab so that the affected tracheal segment can be ‘swapped out’ instead of removed,” explained Goldstein. “Our results show that three-dimensional printing can be combined with tissue engineering to effectively produce a partial tracheal replacement graft in vitro. Our data demonstrate that the cartilage cells seeded on the graft retain their biological capability and were able to proliferate at the same rate as native cells.”

Similar to earlier efforts we’ve seen around bioresorbable splints that have saved the life of infants, The Feinstein Institute’s research combined two emerging fields: 3D printing and tissue engineering. Tissue engineering is like other kinds of engineering, except instead of using steel or computer code to make things, living cells from skin, muscle or cartilage are the raw material. Already knowing how to construct cartilage from a mixture of cells called chondrocytes, nutrients to feed them and collagen, a 3D printer can craft scaffolding, which can be covered in a mixture of chondrocytes and collagen, which then grows into cartilage.


“Making a windpipe or trachea is uncharted territory,” noted Goldstein. “It has to be rigid enough to withstand coughs, sneezes and other shifts in pressure, yet flexible enough to allow the neck to move freely. With 3D printing, we were able to construct 3D-printed scaffolding that the surgeons could immediately examine and then we could work together in real time to modify the designs. MakerBot was extremely helpful and consulted on optimizing our design files so they would print better and provided advice on how to modify the MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer to print with PLA and the biomaterial. We actually found designs to modify the printer on MakerBot’s Thingiverse website to print PLA with one extruder and the biomaterial with the other extruder.”

Demonstrating the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of Atmel based desktop 3D printers, The Feinstein Institute had previously sought out a number of machines that could extrude living cells; however, such devices run upwards of $180,000. This would be fine and dandy, except for the fact that the researchers hadn’t even proven the concept nor confirm it would indeed be a viable option. Luckily, the MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer only set them back $2,500.

“The ability to prototype, examine, touch, feel and then redesign within minutes, within hours, allows for the creation of this type of technology,”  said Lee Smith, MD, Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. “If we had to send out these designs to a commercial printer far away and get the designs back several weeks later, we’d never be where we are today.”

Originally, the team thought that a special PLA would be required in order to maintain sterility and be dissolvable within the body. However, in light of time, they decided to try regular MakerBot PLA filament. Through testing, Goldstein found that the heat from the extruder head sterilized the PLA as it printed, so he was able to use ordinary MakerBot PLA Filament.


The process consisted of extruding bio-ink he bio-ink to fill the gaps in the PLA scaffolding, which transforms into a gel on the heated build plate. Once the bio-ink adheres to the scaffolding, it goes into a bioreactor to keep the cells warm and growing evenly.

“The research being done at the Feinstein Institute is exciting and promising,” noted Jenny Lawton, MakerBot CEO. “We are continually amazed by what is being created with 3D Printers. To know that a MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer played a role in a potential medical breakthrough is inspiring.”

The results of the study illustrate how the 3D printed windpipe or trachea segments held up for four weeks in an incubator. According to Mr. Goldstein’s abstract, “The cells survived the 3D printing process, were able to continue dividing, and produced the extracellular matrix expected of tracheal chondrocytes.” In other words, they were growing just like windpipe cartilage.

While the work still remains a proof-of-concept, the researchers still have their work ahead of them before establishing a new protocol for repairing damaged windpipes. According to Dr. Smith, at least one patient comes through the North Shore-LIJ Health System each year who can’t be helped by the two traditional methods. What’s more, he expects in the next five years to harvest a patient’s cells, grow them on a scaffolding, and repair a windpipe. This customized approach may prove to be especially useful for treating children.

“Do you remember the Six Million Dollar Man?” Dr. Grande asks. “The Bionic Man is not the future, it’s the present. We have that ability to do that now. It’s really exciting.”

The Maker Movement has used Atmel powered 3D printers, ranging from MakerBot to RepRap, for quite some time now — but it is abundantly clear that the next-gen technology is quickly entering a new and important stage. Interested in learning more? You can read all about the project on MakerBot’s official blog, as well as watch the video below.

This modded 3D printer teleports physical objects

Researchers develop a way to relocate physical objects across distances using destructive scanning, encryption and 3D printing.

The catchphrase “Beam me up, Scotty” made its way into pop culture in the late 1960s thanks to the debut of the incredibly-popular Star Trek series. It originated from the command Captain Kirk gives his chief engineer, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, when he needs to be transported back to the Starship Enterprise. And while quantum teleportation of data is now a realistic possibility, unfortunately apparating from place to place Harry Potter-style is not… yet.


Well, a team of Hasso Plattner Institute researchers in Brandenburg, Germany may have developed the next best thing: a machine capable of teleporting inanimate physical objects across a distance. The device itself, aptly dubbed Scotty, consists of an off-the-shelf 3D printer, like an ATmega1280 powered MakerBot, which the team had extended to include a 3-axis milling machine, a camera, and a microcontroller for encryption/decryption and transmission. The unit is driven by a Raspberry Pi, while Arduino Uno (ATmega328) handles the milling machine.


The process is comprised of destructive scanning, encryption and 3D printing. How it works is relatively simple: Users place an object into the sender unit, enter the address of a receiver unit, and press the teleport button. The sender unit digitizes the original object layer-by-layer by shaving off material using its milling machine, capturing a photo using the built-in camera, encrypts the layer using the public key of the receiver, and transmits it. The receiving unit then decrypts the layer in real-time and immediately begins the printing process. What this means is that users will see the object appear layer-by-layer on the receiver side as it disappears layer-by-layer at the sender’s side.


“Scotty is different from previous systems that copy physical objects, as its destruction and encryption mechanism guarantees that only one copy of the object exists at a time,” one of the project’s co-creators Stefanie Mueller explains.

Although the prototype is limited to single-material plastic objects, it allows the team to present a pair of application scenarios: Scotty can help preserve the uniqueness and emotional value of physical objects shared between friends, and Scotty can address some of the licensing issues involved in fast electronic delivery of physical goods.


“In the future, there will be laws enacted preventing patented designs from being shared; however, what if you simply wanted to transfer ownership of that design/object? This is where Scotty comes into play,” 3DPrint.com notes. “Not only is Scotty able to more thoroughly scan the interior of an object via a destructive scanning process, but at the same time that it’s destroying the original artifact a copy is being sent to another location and encrypted to ensure that this copy is only accessible at the receiving computer, where it can then be refabricated via a 3D printer.”

If you’re intrigued like us, you can find a much more in-depth explanation of the project, its technical details and applications here.

Man saves his wife’s sight with the help of 3D printing

After a misdiagnosis of a brain tumor, one Maker turned to 3D printing and imaging. 

Without question, 3D printing is rapidly evolving. All you needed to do was take a look around CES 2015 to note that the technology is inching closer and closer to mainstream popularity. One area in particular making great strides is the medical space, as we’ve seen everything in recent months from 3D-printed splints to prosthetics to organs, helping humans and animals alike get a second lease on life. The latest success story comes out of Pittsburgh, where a man was able to save his wife’s sight by 3D printing a replica of her tumor.


As MAKE: Magazine’s Sara Breselor first revealed, during the summer of 2013, Pamela Shavaun Scott began to experiencing frequent, severe headaches. That December, doctors confirmed that the pain was a result of a three-centimeter brain tumor lodged behind her left eye. Immediately, Scott’s husband Michael Balzer requested her DICOM files, which is the commonly used standard digital format for medical imaging data. Following another MRI a few months later, the radiologist came back with a horrifying report: The tumor had grown, indicating a far more severe condition than originally diagnosed.

Balzer — who is a 3D imaging expert behind the website AllThings3D — used Photoshop to layer the new DICOM files on top of the previous pictures in an effort to compare the radiologists’ findings. It wasn’t before he realized that, in fact, the tumor hadn’t grown at all. Instead, the radiologist had simply measured from a different point on the image. Once his relief subsided, a furious Balzer was more determined than ever to stay in control of his wife’s treatment, MAKE writes.


“I thought, ‘why don’t we take it to the next level? Let’s see what kind of tools are available so that I can take the DICOMs, which are 2D slices, and convert them into a 3D model,” explained Balzer.

The 3D imaging aficionado wanted a tangible model of Scott’s cranium so that he could get perspective on the tumor’s size and location, then think about what kind of treatment to pursue. Doctors had instructed that the removal process for a tumor of this nature — which is commonly known as a meningioma — is sawing open the skull and lifting the brain to remove the mass. This, of course, comes with several risks ranging from potential cognitive damage to blindness.

Subsequently, Balzer began experimenting with 3D imaging tech from other parts of the world. Using open-source software called InVesalius, which uses DICOM, MRI and CT files to visualize medical images, along with other imaging tools like 3D Slicer, he was able to create renderings of his wife’s tumor.

The couple sent them out to hospitals across the country around February, Balzer told MAKE. “Then he uploaded the files to Sketchfab and shared them with neurosurgeons around the country in the hope of finding one who was willing to try a new type of procedure.”

A neurosurgeon at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center agreed to consider a less invasive operation, one where the meningioma would be accessed and removed through Scott’s left eyelid via a micro drill. Balzer had adapted the volume renderings for 3D printing and produced a few full-size models of the front section of his wife’s skull on his [Atmel based] MakerBot. A few weeks prior to the surgery, he went ahead and sent those renderings over to the surgeons to provide them with a better idea of the area they were working with.


Lo’ and behold, the surgeons were able to remove 95% of the tumor, and Scott was back to work in a matter of just three weeks. While Balzer’s 3D renderings may not be the only reason the procedure went smoothly, it does illustrate the tremendous potential of 3D printing technology. Those wishing to learn all about the experience and procedure can read the entire write-up from MAKE: Magazine here.

Hack the world: How the Maker Movement is impacting innovation

In March 2011, an earthquake and following tsunami rocked Japan, culminating in the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. While the government focused on stabilizing the situation, the people of Japan were terrified of radiation, unaware whether it was safe for their families to stay in their homes.

(Source: Sean Bonner)

(Source: Sean Bonner)

A group of Makers out of Tokyo Hackerspace found a quick solution to lack of information by building a cheap and easy-to-use pocket radiation detector using an Arduino (a pint-size computer that’s relatively easy for anyone to program). They began making them, and most importantly, sharing the instructions online for anyone to reproduce. Through a partnership with Safecast, they were able to get the radiation data off of people’s phones and onto an online platform. Within a month, thousands of data points had been picked up, and people could determine whether they should evacuate. Even today, people all over the world are building these radiation detectors, iterating on the original design for new purposes. Fikra Space, a hacker group in Baghdad, has amended the design to track Depleted Uranium pollution in their region.

I use this anecdote as an example frequently as a glimpse into the power of the Maker Movement. A term that’s been widely popularized by technologists as of late, Makers are not necessarily persons with huge engineering prowess. Neither are they hackers with malicious intent. Instead, the term Maker defines a movement combining simple technology with the right culture of innovation and collaboration, to have impact at a scale that most startup founders, corporate innovators, and city legislatures only dream of.

What is a Maker?

Makers represent a subculture of tinkerers, artists, and engineers. It’s a culture that is akin to punks and Goths – it represents not just a style, but a lifestyle. It has crossed decades and countries effortlessly. It is an ethos: a fundamental belief that the world is made better by building, and taking things apart.

(Source: Kyle Cothern)

(Source: Kyle Cothern)

Makers thrive on several things:

1. Finding novel applications of existing technology

They are interested in breaking or hacking things to make them better, more efficient, or just more fun. ArcAttack is a band of musicians using massive Tesla Coils, alongside live and robotic musicians to create a spectacular show of musical prowess and technological innovation. Anouk Wipprecht, fashion designer and former Autodesk Artists in Residence created a Faraday Cage dress for this past Maker Faire in San Mateo, and people watched in awe as she performed alongside ArcAttack as bolts of lightning struck her on all sides without doing any harm.

2. Exploring the intersections between seemingly separate domains

Because the barrier-to-entry to be a Maker is so low (read: nonexistent), new domains of expertise and collaborations are the process on which they thrive. 3D printers, once an expensive technology allowed for the elite few companies that required them and those who knew how to operate them, is now at a price point and skill level that many can afford. Similarly, this technology is being used for everything from printing clothing to live organs and skin. The opportunities are endless.

3. Curiosity and voracious appetite for continued education and Do-It-Yourself

Why buy something when you can build it? Why not learn how to solder? (Think of the possibilities!) These are the fundamental questions that drive Makers. From craftsmanship to electronics, Makers build things that are inherently valuable to them at that moment, whether it’s building a smart coffee maker to building a table. The pride that you feel from learning a musical instrument or a new language is the high that drives Makers to learn more, and do more.

Community (Makerspaces, Hackerspaces, FabLabs, Oh My!)

(Source: Mitch Altman)

(Source: Mitch Altman)

Makers rarely work alone. Instead, they interact with an ever growing global community of hackerspaces, makerspaces, fablabs, and other collaborative spaces to share ideas and resources. Makerspaces have cropped up all over the world to give people access to tools, education and collaboration normally reserved for universities and corporate environments. These membership-based organizations range in size and structure, but share common tools such as 3D printers, CNC machines, electronics components, and more. These gyms for your brain have grown from several hundred to over 2,000 globally in a few short years.

(Source: MakerBot)

(Source: MakerBot)

Makers in collaboration can lead to some advantageous financial results. In 2008, Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer and Zach Smith schemed up a small, inexpensive and easy-to-use 3D printer within New York’s hackerspace, NYC Resistor. Later that year, they released their first version for consumers. 6 years later, MakerBot has sold over 44,000 printers, built a leading brand, and was recently acquired by Stratasys for $403M. A company born out of the Maker Movement, MakerBot has ushered in a new industrial revolution, characterized by collaboration and open-source culture. They’re not alone in this endeavor, companies like Adafruit IndustriesArduino, and countless others are blurring the line between play and profit.

The Art of Playfulness (or, How to Fail Often)

When communities are built on resource-sharing and experimentation, there is considerably less stigma around failing. You simply try again, plus some well-earned knowledge and battle (soldering) scars, along with the thousands of others within the community.

The Power Racing Series understands all too well the educational benefits of failure and have embraced it with a friendly competition. Power Racing Series was schemed up at Chicago Hackerspace Pumping Station: One by Maker and designer Jim Burke. The challenge: build a working electric vehicle, starting with a kids Power Wheels and $500. Race it against a dozen others at Maker Faires all over the country, and compete for both technical prowess and “moxie” points awarded by the crowd for the most creative and ridiculous teams. Chassis’ fly off, cars catch on fire, and general, hilarious mayhem ensues.

(Source: Anne Peterson)

(Source: Anne Peterson)

This race has gained tremendous traction as a friendly competition between makerspaces all over the globe , as a learning tool for engineering and imagination. Makers have competed from i3 DetroitNIMBY, and even MIT. While the teams are competing against one another, they also share knowledge, tools and tech between one another during the race. Currently the races are held at 7 Maker Faires in the US, and they are opening up a high school league to encourage use of the races as a STEM education platform for students.

Companies like Power Racing Series have grown organically from embracing the inherent silliness that is a result of constant, quick-fire iteration. They also understand that it offers a unique hands-on way to learn engineering sans classroom or textbooks. Similarly, littleBits has found a way to teach the basics of electrical engineering with magnetic Lego-like blocks that can produce anything from musical instruments to internet of things devices with a few snaps. Sugru has made an entire business out of fixing broken things with a fun new material with the texture of Play-Dough that fixes everything from soldering irons to motorcycle windshields.

Impact (Produce Locally, Share Globally)

Makers think big. They don’t think in terms of revenue or projected growth, they think in terms of impact. Unburdened by fear of failure or lack of resources, they make things because they are useful, or present a unique challenge. Because of this, and ingrained roots stemming from the open-source software movement, the technology created has the ability to be adapted and used all over the world, outside the bounds of traditional gatekeepers.

(Source: Eric Hersman)

(Source: Eric Hersman)

Makerspaces have permeated every corner of the globe, from Nairobi to Nicaragua, allowing access to shared resources not just within their individual spaces, but across borders. Just as Bre Pettis and team sought to solve the problem of expensive 3D printers, Makers are building things that are equally useful to them, and their communities.

BioCurious, a community of biohackers (yes, that’s a thing) in the Bay Area has found a way to make real vegan cheese by engineering yeast, raising over $37k on Indiegogo to fund the project. Two years prior, 4 girls in Lagos debuted a urine-powered generator at Maker Faire Africa, which provides 6 hours of electricity for every Liter of urine. While both projects are prototypes, both are reactions to clear, yet strikingly different needs of the individuals and communities involved.

Arduino, the pint-sized computer from Italy, is a tool for making an open-source micro-controller board and development environment that was inexpensive, cross-platform, and easy-to-use. Founder Massimo Banzi has succeeded in this endeavor, as Arduino boards have become the micro-controller of choice for Makers, and are used to power a variety of devices, from the previously mentioned bGeigie Nano to a variety of internet-of-things devices. The fact that Arduino is open-source allows anyone to iterate on the boards, whether creating smaller versions for wearables, or printing your own on paper.

DIY Drones, a website started by former Wired Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson, sought a way to bring UAVS (Unmanned Arial Vehicles) from military to hobbyists. In a few years he’s been able to bring together an impressive community of Makers building drones and drone parts for a variety of purposes. Matternet has taken this movement and applied it to a very specific problem: the 1 billion people in the world that do not have access to all-season roads. This means, even though many of them have advanced telecommunications infrastructure, they cannot get food of medicine during an emergency. Founder Andreas Ratopolous saw the potential in UAVs far beyond what was being explored by hobbyist and has turned it into a viable business with massive impact.

What’s Next for the Maker Movement?

The Maker Movement has garnered a lot of attention over the last 5 years, but it’s not without it’s flaws. Hackerspaces and makerspaces, though great places to learn and innovate are difficult to scale, and can come with a host of organizational and cultural problems. Though there are a whole host of success stories of profitable business by Makers, most of the innovation is still culturally insulated and doesn’t ever make it to a business. Large brands have been attempting to leverage the Maker community to encourage internal innovation, but with little success. Why? By being exactly what the Maker moment loathes: large, secretive, and profit-driven.

The Maker Movement needs bridges, people who are passionate about everything that is at the core of the culture who are able to connect Makers to each other, and to the resources to translate ideas into tangible products.

As humans, we’re made to make stuff. It’s a fundamental part of our survival. The Maker Movement has built a culture on that core belief, and the creativity that it has unleashed has massive potential for the future of innovation across all domains, turning anyone from an engineer to a large organization into an entity capable of astronomical innovative potential.


Written by Madelynn Martiniere, this article was previously published on October 27, 2014 on Medium. 

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.

3D printing expands to 100 UPS Stores across the U.S.

If you recall, UPS announced plans to bring 3D printing to several UPS locations last year; now, the parcel service is expanding the program to nearly 100 stores throughout the United States.


The service, which first rolled out in San Diego-area locations, was marketed toward “startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners.” According to UPS, the 3D printing service will enable companies to quickly and inexpensively create models and prototypes of items they plan to produce.

Following a six-market trial period, the decision was based on a high-demand for 3D-printing options — which is certainly in line with growth in the industry. As previously reported in Bits & Pieces, 3D printing is set to soar with analysts forecasting the industry to reach $16.2 billion by 2018 – representing an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.7% from 2013 to 2018.

UPS’ 3D printing effort is a partnership between the shipping company and Stratasys, the parent company to the well-known MakerBot who first began using Atmel AVR microcontrollers in its early printers like the Replicator 2.


“We launched the pilot to evaluate if there was demand for 3D print and we’re excited to be announcing an expansion, giving even more small business owners access to high-quality, professional 3D printing,” explained Michelle Van Slyke, VP of Marketing & Sales at The UPS Store. “We look forward to being a part of the future of the 3D printing industry.”

While the UPS did not provide a timeline for when the 3D printing project would be completed, there are currently 45 stores nationwide up and running with 3D print services. Kentucky, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania are among the states first receiving 3D printer-equipped stores, while an entire list of all other future stores can be found here.


Evident by the sheer number of up-and-coming machines in Maker Faire New York’s 3D Printing Village, the movement is gaining traction with Makers, entrepreneurs and corporate giants all hopping aboard.

In May 2013, Staples began selling 3D printers in its stores across the U.S., while the Microsoft Store also invested in 3D printing last year by expanding its MakerBot partnership to 18 locations where shoppers were able to see, demo and even purchase MakerBot 3D printers. The United States Postal Service even looked into the next-gen technology, which could potentially serve as a financial boon for the government agency. Most recently, Amazon launched a 3D printing store back in July, which offered customers the option to customize various thingamajigs like bobble head dolls and jewelry, and then have them shipped.

Evident by the growth of large companies’ presence at recent Maker Faires, this trend will only continue. Unsurprisingly, nearly 60% of enterprises have already or will soon begin using or evaluating 3D printers — a majority of which are powered by AVR XMEGAmegaAVR and SAM3X8E MCUs.

Preview: World Maker Faire New York 2014

Are you excited? We sure are! Atmel is getting ready to take center stage at the 5th Annual World Maker Faire 2014 in New York City on September 20th and 21st. 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. Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will put the spotlight on everything from Arduino to Arduino-related projects.


Our team is en route to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, where you will soon find us setting up booth #EP24. (Program guide available here.) During this weekend’s show, we will be showcasing a wide range of projects, platforms and devices from the Makers and companies inspiring today’s DIY Movement.

Even better, you don’t need to wait until Saturday for the making to begin! On the evening of Friday, September 19th, Atmel and Arduino will be hosting a Maker Meet & Greet at the New York Hall of Science. Starting at 6:30pm, join the one-and-only Massimo Banzi and Atmel’s Reza Kazerounian for live demos, Q&A with guests, a paella dinner and… wait for it…. a special announcement! Space is limited and RSVP is required. Those interested may send a request to pr@atmel.com.

nyhallofsci 037a

So, what else will you find in booth #EP24?

Bob Martin, also known as Atmel’s Wizard of Make and Warp Drive Propulsion Engineer, will be demonstrating uToT Robots and hacking Hexbugs.

Dan Ujvari, Atmel’s MakerBot Magician and Senior FAE, will be showcasing some of his latest creations from a MakerBot desktop 3D printer.


Arduino will be highlighting some of its latest boards, as well as exploring basic principles of electronics and programming. Booth visitors will have the chance to experience firsthand how easy it is to make LEDs blink, turn motors and make buzzers buzz.

Quin Etnyre, 13-year-old CEO of QTechknow, will be hosting his robotics challenge, “The Qtechknow Olympics.”

SparkFun will be joining us in our booth to run a number of soldering workshops, where participants will have the chance to solder new PTH SparkFun interactive badges! Once soldered, these badges will become a trivia game. The participant can put the badges into three small interactive stations which have electronics-based trivia questions on them. If the questions are answered correctly, the stations add points to the badges. Each point adds a new color to the LED on the top of the badge. Points add up to discounts at SparkFun.com!

littleBitswho just announced the launch of the “app store” for hardware store bitLab, will show off a number of their latest electronic building blocks — perfect for young Makers and those looking to hop onboard the DIY train.


AVR Manthe Maker community’s favorite superhero will be in attendance for the first time EVER!


Look who’s talking! Don’t miss Saturday’s Curiosity, Imagination and Motivation: The Natural Inclinations of Young Makers panel discussion on the MAKE: Live Stage at 5:30pm. Atmel’s Bob Martin and Daniel Ujvari will explore the how the STEM initiative and Maker Movement are influencing young Makers and helping to create tomorrow’s industry innovators. The panel will feature Arduino’s Massimo Banzi, Qtechknow’s Quin Etnyre, and littleBits’ Ayah Bdeir.

… and wait, there’s more! We’ll be giving away a number of Atmel Xplained Mini Pro Evaluation Kits all weekend.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Tweet a pic of you and @TheAVRMan using the hashtag #AtmelMakes.
Step 2: Once your tweet is favorited by AVR Man, come on by the Atmel booth.
Step 3: Submit your contact information and away you go with a free kit. (While supplies last.)

Aside from kits, you can walk away with an Atmel Maker Bag, flair, stickers or even a pair of Atmel Maker Converse (which are amazing… and available for purchase).


World Maker Faire will kick off at the New York Hall of Science on Saturday, September 20th, from 10am to 7pm and Sunday, September 21st, from 10am to 6pm. Can’t make it to the Faire? You can always follow @Atmel live on Twitter for the latest updates, trends and happenings from the show. Tweet #AtmelMakes!

A braille printer, a retro robot, a marshmallow canon, or perhaps even a prototype of the next big IoT device? If you’re feeling inspired this weekend go and make something, don’t forget to submit your 8-bit idea for a chance to win $1,500 in cash, social stardom and of course, some Atmel swag.

In anticipation of this weekend, here’s a look back at last year’s Faire. We can’t wait to see what unfolds this year!

MakerBot 3D printers go on sale at Home Depot

In a move that could possibly bring 3D printing one step closer to mainstream, Home Depot announced on Monday it will begin stocking its shelves with MakerBot 3D printers at select stores as part of a national pilot program:

  • Emeryville
  • East Palo Alto
  • San Carlos
  • Los Angeles
  • West Hills
  • Huntington Beach
  • Chicago (three stores)
  • Naperville
  • New York City (two stores)

As part of a 12-store trial, the 3D printers will be sold and demonstrated at the various locations throughout California, Illinois and New York. If you recall, Home Depot started selling the printers earlier this year. Home Depot joins other big-box retailers, like Best Buy, who are tapping into the Maker Movement.


(Source: MakerBot)