Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Sam went to iMakr..

I got involved with 3D printing in any substantive sense earlier this year. However it was two or three years ago when I briefly investigated using a 3D printer to develop the embryo implantation system I was working on during my doctoral studies.  I wanted to develop an accurate (down to the micron-scale) PLA or other polymer based system in which surface morphology could be directed to influence and understand embryo development (all in the lab setting).  Ultimately 3D printing at the time wasn't going to work, and I achieved success using another method.

I mention this, as now I'm properly involved with 3D printing, I get to think about what I'll do with my printer once it's built  (the building of which is a subject of a future set of blog posts).  My mind often wanders back to science, and needing better resolutions, and what I could do scientifically with a 3D printer now.

To that end, I was in London, and wanted to see the type of printers available on a shop floor side-by-side at iMakr's store.  I was particularly interested in the Felix 2.0, a printer supposedly able to go down to 0.05 mm resolution, or 50 ┬Ám resolution in different 'money'.

They didn't actually have it on show, but I did get an eye-full of the MakerBot Replicator 2X. I can confirm, it does look good, but I'm not convinced its worth nearly £2k!  They had a few other printers on show, but ultimately the star was their MakerBot.  I shall stick with the printer I'm building, and see how I can upgrade the resolution!

All in all I found the iMakr guys enthusiastic, and the London crowd likes to watch printers making 'things' as much as the Manchester passers-by do too.  This gives me a chance to plug the MadLab shop that's being developed as we speak. #3DPM are looking to have our shop space at least once a week on the corner of Edge Street in Manchester.  We'll be offering printers, consumables and 3D printed wares from local makers for sale. Watch this space for that!

Sam :)

#3DPM@MadLab 26th August 2013

So our bank holiday meeting went really well. Yet more new members, this time from a local ham radio club. We did end up sharing the space with the Sanctuary Gamers, who were having a bank holiday building sized meeting!  We started the night with quiet focus, and finished the night with the gamers getting a touch raucous! They couldn't help but look at what we were doing though, 3D printers attract everyone, from ardent RPG'ers to passers-by who couldn't help but look on - beer in hand :)

#3DPM had three events going on during the night:
1. BCP Labs showing off their highly modified and rigid model - the 01
2. The launch of the #3DPM 3D printed art installation
3. Our usual problem solving, skills building and general 3D printing japery!

BCP Labs are a new 3D printing outfit headed up by founding members of #3DPM. Their printer is as good as the MakerBot replicator 2, comes with one years warranty, and is available in any colour you can see in Faberdashery.

Keith the chief engineer of BCP Labs (they've got a materials scientist, electronics guru, and coder extraordinaire on board too), has re-engineered a Mendel to make prints faster, quieter and smoother.  He says that this means his printing is more accurate and repeatable, and he has run his printer 24/7 without breakdown for over fifteen months.

 He'll swap out any broken parts for a year of purchase, and any of the plastic parts, he'll offer good will for a much longer period.  We here at #3DPM were happy to let him show off, as for every printer he sells, we get £50 into #3DPM coffers. This would go some way to cover the cost of plastics and other consumables we go through, not to mention being able to give something back to MadLab for their hospitality.

BCP Labs will have their website up and running as soon as possible, and they're setting up their printer to be sold as a kit as well. You can contact them by emailing: until they're website is up and running!

Big P.S. to all! We're open to any other 3D printer makers to come along and show off their wares!

Keith of BCP Labs showing off 3D printing with a cup of tea on the BCP 01

We here at #3DPM@MadLab have been looking for our huge group project to really move the group forward, so cue drum-roll......

Just do it! Get Involved!

Our group spent some time brain-storming, what could we do? Something that would stretch our Sketch-up skills, and our 3D printing skills! What to do?! Well, it hit us like a brick wall! Theo Jansen's 'Strandbeest' was our inspiration. His work has been to take the natural physical forces mediated through organic and inorganic materials to create new 'species', that react to the world around them, powered by the wind.  This we can do! We are going to create a wind-powered kinetic structure that hangs suspended between the roof-tops in Edge Street, Manchester.

We've emailed Theo Jansen to see if he can give us some idea where to start, and we've emailed all the local art colleges and engineering departments to get them in on the action! Time to get this out there! Next session we'll begin work on what we want from the design, and perhaps if we've time start to think about how we'll achieve it through design and printing!

A brief moment in between art project brain-storming to trouble shoot Steve's .stl to print problem

Steve (another new member) came along. He designs components that make manufacturing processes more efficient, and he came along to see what 3D printing could do for him. By his own admission he was really happy, and he left with tips, tricks and software to help him achieve more of what he wanted. This is what the group's about, advice exchange and to support members' hobbyist and commercial ambitions!Next meet is the 9th of September, at MadLab, from 6 to 9 pm! We're going to see someone else show off their wares for sale, work on the art installation, and be there for all with their 3D printing problems!
See you all there! 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Manchester Mini-Maker Faire at MOSI

  It was an easy decision to make a visit to MOSI on Saturday when I heard that #3DPrinter’s would be among the exhibits, it wouldn't have be hard to make a visit in any case because for me it’s such an interesting and inspiring place.  My objective was to find out if there were any great developments in the technology; but that was actually a bit of a disappointment, because I didn't see anything that I haven’t already got in my current printer the ‘Mendel90 Dibond’ or what we have already decided to build into our next machine.

   However, it was far from a lost cause because I had other reasons to be there. Talking with Chris who sold me the Mendel, I was able to get more insights into how my machine can be developed further. Also I had in the beginning issues of printed parts not adhering to the bed correctly, a common problem Keith helped me resolve using PET tape and Hairspray, but this hadn’t been a problem for Chris, who printed directly onto glass and was getting a superior finish.

   Patrick Fenner of is developing the TLRN Trilateration a wire supported delta robot; it is an obvious concept for large scale #3DPrinting, we discussed how the printer head would be stabilised to apply for example concrete, and it’s so simple it will be coming to a building site near you soon.
It is okay you are seeing a levitated cardboard box, it is one of many demonstrating the process. Just think of them as bricks; sorry I didn't take many photos.

   For new types of sensors and printer heads, David & Benjamin from have expressed interest in helping #3DPM, I am expecting them at the next meeting. Jim from, Andrew & Chris of and others are potential pioneers

   Barry showed us his human sized #3DPrinted robot in action but one of the arms was disabled by those damn pesky meddling kids, who were all over the place learning, screaming and having fun. Barry is one of the Hackerspace-rs who were there in force doing what they do best, hacking!

   I met Tom, one of the BBC’s technology advisers doing research; along with his kids who were having a lot of fun, poor Tom :-)

   Competition for local entrepreneurs was in the form Sculpteo who are a French company doing a bureau service similar to Shapeways; they had some good products and I got a mini alien. I asked Rachel of how she would decorate similar mono-coloured plastic creations.

   The process of developing a group such as #3DPM is not an easy task, just ask Sam. I was looking for ideas to take us forward faster and may have found it in the way of Ugo (see top photo) the co-founder of the restart project; people who want to find ways to economically fix those items like TV’s, fridges, i-pads, i-phones etc,  made by companies to be difficult for your average Joe and Josephine to access and hack.  

   Afterwards I walked around the shed where they keep the big steam engines, to remind myself how Manchester has kept up with technology and often been the centre of great world changing events.

   I personally want to see #3DPM be at the heart of a new maker revolution, there is no doubt that we have access to the talent; we have a direction in the form of new manufacturing; we are getting  organised; and there is passion, you can see that at MOSI.

If you want to know more? Then get down to our meetings at madlab!

Best Regards
Mark the #3DPrinter of