University LightWalk at Abilene Christian Illuminates LulzBot 3D Printer Possibilities

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Abiline Christian University (ACU) in Abilene Texas was looking for a way to showcase their newly renovated quad area, a place on campus that exists literally at the juncture of the arts and the sciences. To do this, they engaged the university community and created an interactive light installation that showcased both technical and artistic skills. The piece looks like a reed filled marshland and consists of 20,000 LEDs distributed across 350 of these electronic reeds. It’s not just a display, but also an invitation to participate as a web app, which you can try out at home, built specifically for this project allows visitors to customize multiple effects that are either triggered by actions or that simply create patterns.

The university had just two months to create the entire field of light and so they turned to Viget, a company of designers, engineers, and strategists, for help bringing their digital concept out of the computer and onto the quad. Viget, in turn, relied upon the tried and true LulzBot 3D printer to get the production rolling. The reason for their choice was simple, as explained by Justin Sinichko, hardware developer at Viget’s Boulder, Colorado office:

“We chose LulzBot because the Mini and TAZ printers can produce production-ready components even while running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The parts we produce satisfy two needs: quick turn, production ready parts, and low-volume, cost effective parts as an alternative to rapid injection-molding.”

LulzBot has made a name for itself by providing superior products as part of Aleph Objects, an open source hardware company, and the popularity of its printers is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the 2,782 percent three-years sales growth numbers. Its product line of printers, parts, and plastics are utilized by tens of thousands of people in 85 countries around the world and has received numerous awards for its capable performance. This philosophy of free and open software was important to Viget when it decided to use LulzBot as it gave the company access to a comprehensive range of built-in filament slicing options, profiles, and settings using Cura LulzBot Edition.

The software platform gave the computer science students the ability to write code and test it on a small scale, as well as provided a fleet management dashboard that sends updates to 35 computers in order to control the full display. Meanwhile, the printers were able to produce custom power supply mounts, pcb standoffs, washers, gaskets, and weather proof enclosures in order to build the functioning parts of the display. As time was limited, the importance of using LulzBot products remained clear to Sinichko:

“We’re able to design very specific solutions that can be implemented in real-time and alongside a natural product development cycle. LulzBot 3D printers are simple and easy to maintain…it’s easy to find disassembly instructions and quickly implement a fix that keeps everything running without much downtime. LulzBot has, as far as I can tell, the largest and most active community. Pair this support network with their own Technical Support Team and you’ll be able to run print, after print, after print.”

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The end result is a field of interactive lights that both beautifies the new quad and serves as a testament to what the combination of art and science can do when given the power of 3D printing.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below. 

[Source/Images: LulzBot]


University of Michigan medical residents use 3D printed surgical models to practice reconstructive …

Apr 12, 2017 | By Tess

Residents from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor have been using 3D printed surgical models and training tools to practice and hone their surgical skills in a hands-on way. The practice has reduced the need for human cadavers.

Cher Zhao, who is currently a resident at UM, took part in the innovative surgical simulations and was given the chance to practice reconstructive cartilage grafting using a 3D printed model made from a realistically textured material. The procedure, which involves cutting cartilage from the patient’s ribs to be used as grafts elsewhere in the body, relies on meticulous and exact carving. Having adequate training is therefore crucial.

Traditionally, surgical training required real bodies, whether in the form of actual patients, anaesthetized animals, or most commonly, human cadavers. As one can imagine, these are not only difficult and complicated to come by, but—in the case of cadavers—are also expensive to store and preserve. Lifelike 3D printed models, based on actual human anatomies, have provided a more than suitable alternative.

“3D printing is bringing a whole new meaning to hands-on experience for surgeons in training,” explained David Zopf, M.D., pediatric head and neck surgeon at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “Hands-on experience is critical for acquiring and improving surgical skills, especially of new and complex procedures. This is an exciting tool that not only offers trainees exposure to opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have but that also allows them to demonstrate proficiency of skills before being performed on children.”

A recent article published in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, for which Zopf was a senior author, outlines the ways in which 3D printed surgical training models are beneficial, offering practical experience to trainees in a cost-efficient way. At the Mott Children’s Hospital, 3D printing has been used as a tool for nearly six years now, and its applications within the hospital are continuing to grow.

For instance, the technology is being used to make 3D printed splints, which have helped to save the lives of infants suffering from tracheobronchomalacia, a condition that causes the child’s windpipe to collapse, resulting in breathing difficulty. 3D printing has also been used to create models of fetuses, which have helped doctors prepare for tricky birthing situations, and even to make a replica of a patient’s skull to carefully plan a tumor removal operation.

Reconstructive cartilage grafting is the latest procedure that is benefitting from the use of 3D printed models. As Zopf commented: “Currently, a surgeon in training has scarce opportunity to carve cartilage graft for this type of procedure. We want to see if 3D printing can accelerate and enhance surgical training.”

Zhao was one of eighteen surgical trainees who participated in a UM otolaryngology head and neck surgery dissection course last year, which involved a 3D printed model of a human cartilage graft. The 3D printed model was based off a CT scan of a young patient’s rib, and was used as a mold to make cornstarch and silicone based models (which have a more realistic texture).

According to the trainees, the course offered them valuable insight and helped to advance their surgical skills. As Zhao said: “You only get one chance to carve a harvested graft from a patient’s rib, so you have to do it perfectly the first time. It takes years of practice to learn the technical skills to do it. This was a very realistic experience and what’s great is you can keep printing dozens of these models at a time so you can practice over and over again.”

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Diverse art made by 3-D printers featured in University Art Gallery

The University Art Gallery is featuring three-dimensional art in the “Materialized” exhibition to broaden horizons about the different forms art can take, featuring artists from across the country.

Three national artists won a Juror’s award at the art show reception, from 4 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 12. Pieces entered in the competition will be showcased in the gallery until Feb. 11, and open to the public.

The exhibit intends to promote and celebrate the Makerbot Innovation Center in Wightman Hall, Central Michigan University’s 3-D printer lab, said Gallery Director Anne Gochenour.

“The show is called Materialized, so the idea is that (when) you have an idea now you can make in to an actual substance,” she said.

Joshua Harker, who is calls himself a pioneer and visionary in 3-D printing and sculpting, juried the competition.

“People are being more experimental with it (3D printing) and doing more creative things rather than the very straight forward kind of industrial design engineering kind of stuff,” said Harker.

When picking art show winners, Harker explained his process was to first pick pieces to be contestants in the show, and then to assess whether or not 3D printing was necessary and how strong the pieces were overall.

After the reception, he spoke at the Charles V. Park Library auditorium.

Many students and faculty members said they were impressed by how artistic 3-D printing can be. “I feel like I’m walking into the future,” said Watervliet junior and gallery employee, Joshua Coffin.

Jonathon Russell, the Art and Design chairperson, said the different approaches and methods to 3-D printing are fascinating.

Sam Blanchard, from Athens, Ohio, won a Juror’s Award with the piece “Crowd Sourced Sculpture Series.” A video was displayed at the reception, showing how he used different photos of “David” by Michelangelo to create a layout for a 3-D printer. The piece was printed with nylon and marble materials.

Taekyeom Lee from Boone, North Caroline, was also a Juror’s Award winner. In his series called “ME IN FULL PRODUCTION,” Lee built his own tools, including a desktop 3-D printer and paste extruders. The piece description states, “The most exciting feature of these Do-It-Yourself 3D printers is that you can build your own machine and customize it for your creative practice.”

Andrew Noble, from Phoenix, Arizona, was the final award winner. He had three pieces showcased, called “Wait a moment”, “Can I wear my Canadian Tuxedo?” and “I hate Jalapeno chips…” All were sent through a powder based 3D printer after going through several post-processing steps.

None of winners were present at the event.

Ann Arbor native Nick Clark has art in the “Materialized” exhibition. He said his piece was self-inspired and is part of a study he’s involved with at Eastern Michigan University, where he sat in a room repetitively scanning himself, creating a catalog with about 500 scans.

Graphic Design Professor, Larry Burditt, made a chess board in the Makerbot Innovation Center, which is also displayed in the gallery.

“I’m interested in how design can affect the setting of diversity,” Burditt said. “The chess set can be played two different ways. You can play it like a normal chess set, (or) you can play it where if you land on one of the gender squares (white spaces), the next move is like checkers.”

He said the intention of his piece is show the limitations of gender roles. 

Purdue University professors give new life to printing press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – A group of Purdue University professors is bringing old-style printing techniques back to life and into their classrooms.

The Purdue Honors College and the College of Liberal Arts, along with faculty in the Purdue Libraries, recently teamed up to create a print laboratory in the newly built Honors College and Residences building.

The lab revolves around a newly refurbished mid-20th century Vandercook printing press that was once housed in the Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts. So far, the lab contains the Vandercook and a small tabletop press, but faculty have big hopes for how it can grow and accommodate a wide range of disciplines.

“To give your students a hands-on experience of what it’s like to print really drives home the whole notion that a book or a newspaper or any sort of print is a piece of technology. It’s not just part of the natural world,” said Kristina Bross, associate dean for research in the Honors College and associate professor of English. “People had to know how to do this to change the world with print.”

Bross said she and a colleague in English were discussing their interest in the history of the book and had mulled over the idea of a print studio but had put the conversations on hold. Shortly afterward, she heard news that the visual and performing arts school was looking for a new home for a Vandercook printing press that a retiring faculty member had purchased a while ago. CLA didn’t have room for it but she knew the Honors College’s brand new facility did.

After movers managed to get the clunky, 6-foot by 3-foot machine into a spare space, the partnering colleges brought in letterpress expert Paul Moxon from Mobile, Alabama to refurbish it and provide training.

The first piece of paper it printed on Oct. 18 read, “PURDUE PRINTS AGAIN.”

Since then, several people across the university, from math to biology, have expressed interest in taking part in the project and using the press to complement their lesson plans.

“I didn’t think we’d have this many people involved,” Bross said.

Peter Moore, a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the Honors College, was quick to find use of the lab.

One of his classes next semester, titled “Gutenberg Galaxy,” will design and construct a working replica of a Gutenberg press – Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press in the 1400s – that will be added to the lab.

“We’re going to get a hands-on approach to thinking about print and its impact on culture,” Moore said.

Moore’s ties to print stem back to his father, who worked six days a week in a printing press. His father will come from Nashville, Tennessee, to be a guest lecturer and teach students about the building process and the print industry, he said.

“This is not ‘Intro to Boring Class 101.’ This is like, ‘OK, well, this might not fit totally in my major, I don’t know what skills this is going to provide me with for job x, y or z, but it looks cool,’” Moore said. “And I don’t think that that’s an awful way to get an education.”

Moore and Bross anticipate that the lab, which will also someday include a 3D printer, will be used by people across Purdue and the outside community. From band posters to playbills to wedding invitations, the possibilities are endless.

“That’s what you start to think about with print,” Moore said. “It’s such a great thing because it shoots into so many disciplines.”


Source: Lafayette Journal and Courier,


Information from: Journal and Courier,

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Waikato University researchers push the boundaries of 3D printing

Waikato University's Professor of materials Kim Pickering and her students are doing world-leading research looking at ...


Waikato University’s Professor of materials Kim Pickering and her students are doing world-leading research looking at everyday applications of 3D printing using sustainable and waste material.

​Imagine driving a car with a steering wheel made out of New Zealand flax.

Or sitting in a chair where every surface and curve is designed to accommodate your body’s unique form.

Pioneering research at Waikato University is looking at everyday applications of 3D printing using sustainable materials such as hemp and harakeke (flax).

Waikato University Professor of materials, Kim Pickering, and engineering students have also been experimenting with waste material and using it to reinforce plastic filaments that are then fed through a 3D printer.

3D printing is a broad term encapsulating a range of printing techniques.

Pickering and her students’ work has focused solely on using fused deposition modeling (FDM).

“There is a vision that every home will one day have a 3D printer,” Pickering said.

“I’m not sure if it will go that far but, certainly, the advantage of FDM is it’s affordable and you can put the machines together yourself.”

Students’ research projects have been informed by advice from the Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council on materials they would like diverted from landfill.

Masters student David Stoof received council funding to carry out work incorporating building waste into a 3D printing filament.

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“What’s also been really important is the feedback we’ve been getting from the commercial sector about customer demand because obviously it’s better to be market pulled rather than market pushed.”

One of Pickering students is in contact with an Indian company that is looking to incorporate sustainable materials into buses.

3D printing holds the dream of creating a world where everyday products are tailored to the specification of individuals.

It also promises to transform the world of commerce.

“If you have a 3D printing machine and the filaments, you can take that on the first Mars trip, or to Antarctica, and create everything you want there, rather than having to take things with you,” Pickering said.

“Part of my inspiration is the sustainability side. How many times have you thrown something away because a little bit of it is broken, like a kitchen gadget? In the future you could simply download the file for the particular widget that’s stopped your coffee machine working and print it off at home. Companies might be resistant to making their products last longer but consumers could encourage that direction.”

Pickering said her students’ projects had been invaluable in demonstrating the potential value of natural fibres and waste material in 3D printing.

“It’s certainly given us food for thought for future research.”

 – Stuff

New Zealand's Canterbury University is 3D printing educational replicas of 3000-year-old artefacts

Aug 10, 2016 | By Alec

If asked what university faculties could benefit from 3D printing, Archeology wouldn’t be very high up on our list. But that’s exactly where 3D printers seem to be going (probably after the engineering departments). Just two weeks ago, the University of Queensland, Australia, started 3D printing archeological artefact replicas for educational purposes, and now the University of Canterbury in New Zealand is doing the same. Among others, they have already 3D printed replicas of a 3,000 year old Babylonian cuneiform tablet, a priceless terracotta artefact made around 1700 BC.

Fortunately for archeology students in New Zealand, the University of Canterbury owns the James Logie Memorial Collection, a priceless collection of fragile and ancient objects. Unfortunately, their state makes it quite difficult to study them closely. Many are around 3,000 years old, and cannot simply be left in the hands of students, after all. But starting the next semester, students will be able to finally touch the objects themselves, as a series of 3D printed replicas will be introduced into the teaching program for the Logie Collection.

This fantastic innovation is the result of a two year long 3D scanning project of Don Clucas and Paul Docherty from the Mechanical Engineering department and Logie’s curators Terri Elder and Penny Minchin-Garvin. They selected a series of artefacts which were 3D scanned and 3D printed by the Mechanical Engineering department.

Among them is this remarkable Babylonian tablet, which uses the syllabic script called Cuneiform to list land grants in ancient Babylonia. While a very interesting object, it falls apart very easily. “Cuneiform tablets deteriorate over time and as with everything else it is a case of dust to dust,” says UC Classics Professor Victor Parker. “So anything that can be done to replicate tablets in their three-dimensional form before they crumble is extremely important. Also, such replicas can be used for teaching purposes without risking increasingly fragile originals.”

The same can be said for the Greek cup made by the Logie Painter in 525 BC (the namesake of the collection). While impossible to handle, a 3D printed replica can be very useful for teaching high school students about archeology principles. “They will be able to handle the object and thereby better visualize and understand its use,” said Terri Elder. “The cup would have been used in a symposium (a Greek drinking party). It is one of the heroes of the Logie Collection, as there are only two other cups in the world by this painter, known to have survived.”

To ensure the best quality, a polyjet 3D printer was actually used for the tablet replica. While you could argue that some of the original quality is lost, the Artec Spider 3D scanner that was used actually records textures as well. A video of the process can be seen here. The result is a full-color 3D print that approaches the original object as best as possible. The 3D images are also shared online with students, allowing them to study the objects away from campus and even 3D print them themselves.

What’s more, the student response has been excellent so far. “They just light up when they are getting to handle the objects, even if they are replicas and not the originals,” Elder said. “Students that have interacted with the real objects, and the replica objects, tend to recall the information better and they tend to recall it for longer as well.”

Student Kate Tinkler, who had the opportunity to work with the objects already, called it a fantastic idea. “It’s so different to looking at something through the glass. You can feel the size and the weight of it and all those tiny details,” she said. “There’s never anything you can hold without gloves because half of the stuff is so fragile, you don’t want the oil from your fingertips eroding into the paintwork.”

According to Dr. Paul Docherty, a senior lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, they are already planning to greatly expand this initiative. “The project has been very exciting as it has allowed a new dimension of tactile interaction with the replicas of antiquities that would not be possible with the real thing. In the future, we hope to increase the number of scanned antiquities and put 3D representations of the collection online,” he says.

They are also already looking to expand the project to include the collections of other museums and universities, which could act as a huge boost for archeological research efforts. “It would open up the possibility for us to share objects with collections overseas, partially where the cost of freighting the original object would have been too much for us to bear,” Elder said. 3D printers are thus quickly becoming indispensable at universities everywhere.

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