Tag Archives: makerBot

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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).

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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.

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(Source: MakerBot)

BMW is 3D printing finger cots

BMW is reportedly 3D printing a limited number of flexible finger cots for workers on certain production lines to prevent excess strain on thumb joints.

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According to 3DERs, the cots were designed in cooperation with the Department of Ergonomics at the Technical University of Munich. Fabricated in-house with 3D printing, each of the flexible assembly aids is a unique piece, precisely customized to the match the form and size of a worker’s hand.

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“In order to prevent the unnecessary overstretching of the thumb joint, the company developed the finger cots made of thermoplastic polyurethane which are put over the thumb like a second skin,” 3DERs reported.

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“Thermoplastic polyurethane is perfectly suited to making flexible orthotic devices. As a rule, it is elastic, but forms solid and rigid combinations at higher material strengths. The mechanical tensile strength is high, ensuring that the material can resist also strong, continuous strains without tearing.”

According to a BMW rep, the initial feedback from workers is quite positive. As such, the company says it is evaluating how the cots can be applied as standard tools in addition production areas.

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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 spherearchitectural arenascience lab and even on the battlefield.

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.

EELive! Conference a big splash in Silicon Valley

I went to the EELive! Conference in San Jose last week and it was a blast. This is the new incarnation of the old Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). Last year it was branded Design West, but I suspect that was too generic, since it is not aimed at mechanical engineers that might read Design News. Another problem with the word “design” is that in the semiconductor industry, only IC engineers are considered “designers.”

I was delighted to hear that UBM, the folks that run the show are considering moving it to Santa Clara convention center next year. I like Santa Clara better since the parking is free, it’s easier to get to, and its right near my house.

So following are some snaps I took on the show floor. Bear in mind that another big part of the EELive! is the conference part, where you can learn about the latest secrets and tips and tricks from technical experts. You have to pay for the conference, but they were nice enough to give a single-class pass to regular shmucks like me that were just attending the free show on the exhibit hall.

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As you entered the show floor there was this great theater (or should I say theatre) set up. Here we see show runner Karen Field and EETimes editor Max Maxfield doing a fun give-away. I ran into Max later that evening and he gave me his business card, which lists his title as “Editor of all things fun and interesting.”

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There was always a healthy crowd at the theatre, and they were always having a good time. It’s really great to see this combination of social and technology at technical conferences.

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If you work with RF, you know that Rohde & Schwarz makes some of the best test equipment on the planet. They are best known for their spectrum analyzers, but now they are making oscilloscopes and hand-held instruments.

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Where Rohde & Schwarz really stands out in my mind is network analyzers like this baby. They have some of the lowest-noise units in existence. A network analyzer is like a spectrum analyzer that also measures the phase change of a signal. So rather than just read the spectrum, the unit sends out a signal you connect to your circuit, and then you can get a gain-phase plot, or in this case, you can see a Smith Chart displayed right on the screen. Note the frequency range for this instrument—9 kHz to 6 GHz. That is 9,000 to 6,000,000,000, or nearly 6 decades of range. That is quite an accomplishment. Those N-type connectors on the front belie what a fast beast this is. BNC connectors are not suitable for multi GHz frequencies.

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Here is Rhode & Schwarz account manager Steve McMoyler in front of a display of a bunch of cool test equipment he sells. I complained that Rohde & Schwarz stuff is so good we can never find a cheap deal on eBay. He laughed, and pointed out a lot of their new stuff is really cost competitive. I put this to outfits like Rigol selling 400-dollar scopes that, while not the greatest, will actually trigger and show you a waveform. These cheap scopes have put pressure on all the test equipment manufacturers. Then again, the Maker movement has increased the market for these inexpensive products, so the manufacturers can archive high-volume cost efficiencies.

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National Instruments had a great booth at EELive! this year. This pic was as the show opened on Thursday, but before long, the booth was swamped with engineers interested in everything from Labview visual programming to the MultiSim Spice simulation program so loved by colleges around the world.

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Element14 was at the show, the folks previously know as Newark Electronics. Everything from game controllers to motor control was on display.

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One nice feature of EELive! are these little classes put on in glass booths throughout the show floor. You can see this one was packed, standing room only. There is a real hunger to learn the expertise to design and program embedded systems.

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The Segger folks were there. Atmel uses Segger debugging technology in a lot of their eval boards. Here we see James Murphy and Shane Titus ready to answer any questions.

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Here is the Atmel SAMA5D3 evaluation board with Seggar technology running their emWin graphics library.

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The PCB fab companies were there, including the PCB-POOL folks my buddy Wayne Yamaguichi liked so much.

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Here we see Tony Shoot from PCB-POOL showing some of their capabilities, as they segue into a full prototype shop.

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The LeCroy folks were at the show. I can’t get over how beautiful the display is on these modern scopes. I bought one of their $60k units when I was at National Semiconductor. The engineers used to Tek or Agilent would complain the user interface was weird, but once they bothered to learn it, you could not tear the LeCroy scope out of their hands. I myself have a LeCroy 9360 digital scope at my home lab.

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Here is a LeCroy serial data analyzer on the left and a HDO4000 scope on the right. Its got a 4k screen and 12-bit resolution. Those big 12-inch screens sure can spoil you. Note they have a web-cam perched on top of the scope with a real-time video displayed on the top right of the screen. They are piping the scope screen to the TV, talk about reducing eye strain when you debug. Sweet.

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The Screaming Circuits folks had a booth. These are the people that will assemble small quantities of your circuit boards. They have special machinery so they don’t need 3 feet of tape and real parts for any build. You can send them your Digi-Key cut-tape parts and they can feed them into their tape and reel machines. That way you can check out your insert file and assembly drawing and have circuit boards made in a real IR reflow oven. Here Scott Pohlmann was ready to answer any questions about protying and their partnering with Sunstone and other fab houses, as well as Digi-Key. They can even have your designed kitted up, get the boards fabbed at Sunstone and delivery you assembled boards.

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Atmel had their giant Tech on Tour trailer at right on the show floor. Michelle would buzz you in to checkout all the demos and give access to Atmel applications people that could answer your questions or help with your next project.

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One demo that people loved was the MakerBot, which would make items like this while you watched.

Here is a little movie of the Makerbot in action. It is hypnotizing to watch.