Tag Archives: 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.

Atmel @ EELive! 2014: Day 1

Atmel kicked off EELive! 2014 with a full schedule of well-attended Tech Talks across a wide variety of topics including the IoT, Maker Movement, battery management, embedded security and Cortex-M (ARM) SAM D20 microcontrollers (MCUs).

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Meanwhile, hundreds of EELive! attendees lined up outside of Atmel’s Tech on Tour trailer for the opportunity to pick up a free Atmel XMEGA-E5 Xplained evaluation kit and check out the following exhibits:

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Atmel, along with Xively, also co-hosted an Internet of Things (IoT) Engineering Summit at the event.

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Atmel’s very own Patrick Sullivan discussed a number of IoT-related subjects, including embedded processing, security, connectivity, interface, as well as software, tools and development.

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Stay tuned to Bits & Pieces for more EELive! 2014 updates.

Atmel’s ToT hits the road for EELive!

Atmel’s Mobile Training Center is heading to Las Vegas Nevada on March 26th and EE Live! in San Jose in early April.

We’ll be at the McEnery Convention Center on 150 W San Carlos on Tuesday, April 1 – Thursday, April 3, showcasing a wide variety of tech across a number of spaces 
including touchsecuritymicrocontrollers (MCUs), wirelesslighting and automotive.

More specifically, you can check out:

Atmel, along with Xively, will also be co-hosting an Internet of Things (IoT) Engineering Summit at EE Live! on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 @ 11:00 – 11:45 am. Participants are slated discuss the following IoT-related topics:

  • Embedded processing and security
  • Connectivity and interface
  • Software tools and development

You can register for Atmel’s ToT Las Vegas stop here and EE Live! here.

Interested in learning more about Atmel and the IoT? You can check out our article archive on the subject here as well as Atmel’s recent SoMa panel discussion on the IoT here.

Video: Modeling a 3D printed bristle dress

Ica Paru, an accessories designer and model, recently became the very first person to wear the Bristle Dress from Francis Bitonti Studio after donning the 3D printed garment at a Brooklyn photo shoot.

As MakerBot’s Blake Eskin notes, the two-piece dress is cloudlike, as much an armature that poses the body as a garment to pose in.

The Friday evening photo session, which yielded the striking images below, was the first time designer Francis Bitonti saw anyone wearing the dress.

“The computer is able to visualize everything accurately, I don’t really feel the need to do fittings,” Francis Bitonti told the official MakerBot blog.

“I wasn’t surprised about how it fit, I wasn’t really surprised about anything.”

Indeed, with the translucent top of the dress, Bitonti able “to bleed the body into the atmosphere.”

The Bristle Dress – made on an Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer – is Bitonti’s second work of couture developed in his New Skins computational design workshop. The Bristle Dress was printed using MakerBot Flexible Filament and MakerBot Natural PLA Filament, with fake rabbit fur lining the tessellated skirt.

Interested in learning more? The relevant Bristle Dress 3D files are currently available on Thingiverse. The top takes 160 hours to print, while the skirt takes another 135.

Atmel is ready to rock @ SXSW!

Atmel’s Tech on Tour trailer is on the road again and heading to Austin, Texas for SXSW. We’ll be at the Hyatt Regency Austin from March 7-9, 2014, so be sure to stop by during the show to see our latest demos.

We’ll be showcasing a wide variety of tech across a number of spaces, including touch, security, microcontrollers (MCUs), wireless, lighting and automotive.

More specifically, you can check out:

In addition, we’re proud to host a guest appearance by Autodesk, the very same folks behind the world famous Instructables and 123D Circuits.

With 123D Circuits, you can breadboard and simulate your AVR-powered Arduino-based circuits, while writing, compiling and running code right in your browser. When you’re done, you can have the circuit board professionally made and shipped right to your doorstep.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s tech on tour? You can check out our official ToT page here.

3D printing Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer during the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. According to Wikipedia, the holiday evolved into an occasion in which two people expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).



Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves and the figure of the ubiquitous winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards, although 3D printing offers Makers a new twist to a classic holiday.

Indeed, MakerBot is full of ideas for Valentine’s Day giftsWith Thingiverse Customizer, the MB crew is offering Makers the ability to personalize a token of affection for their loved ones.

Simply log on to Thingiverse, open the Monogram Pendant or Half Heart Monogram Pendant in Customizer and choose which letters you want to use. 

There are options for size font weight, and whether to join the initials with a heart shape.

Makers can also create an embossed monogram by opting for a backing on their pendant, then swapping the filament midway through the print.

Interested? You may also want to check out MakerBot’s 3D printed heart gears, candy heart box and heart ring, as well as the 3D printed Human Chromosome Jewellery Collection by Louise Hughes.

3D printing a city of ideas

Writing for the official MakerBot blog, Blake Eskin notes that buildings designed today may not open for well over a decade. As such, architects often create models to help people understand what the future structures will actually look like on the ground.

However, before presenting their ideas to clients, governments and communities, architects need to envision the final design themselves with sketches, computer renderings, animations and physical models.

“The earlier you can look at a physical object, the sooner you can understand a building and also make better design decisions,” said W. Scott Allen, an associate architect and designer for Perkins+Will, a global architecture firm that has 7 MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers in its offices.

Indeed, Allen recently set up more than 40 6-inch towers on an office conference room table to reimagine the space around the Bernardine Monastery in Lviv, Ukraine.

“You might have an entire set of models that are exceptionally functional and some that are wildly impractical but just look really awesome,” explained Allen, who made the models on a MakerBot Replicator 2.

“Rapid prototyping profoundly changes our own creative process. Making all of these on the MakerBot frees us up to test more ideas for clients and come at a nicer solution in the same timeframe. You can almost print at the same speed that you can draw.”

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. To be sure, the meteoric rise of 3D printing has paved the way for a new generation of Internet entrepreneurs, Makers and do-it-yourself (DIY) manufacturers. As such, the lucrative 3D printing industry remains on track to be worth a staggering $3 billion by 2016.