There were a few keynotes at this year’s Midwest RepRap festival, and somewhat surprisingly most of the talks weren’t given by the people responsible for designing your favorite printer. One of the most interesting talks was given by [Jordan Miller], [Andy Ta], and [Steve Kelly] about the use of RepRap and other 3D printing technologies in biotechnology and tissue engineering. Yep, in 50 years when you need a vital organ printed, this is where it’ll come from.
[Jordan] got his start with tissue engineering and 3D printing with his work in printing three-dimensional sugar lattices that could be embedded in a culture medium and then dissolved. The holes left over from the sugar became the vasculature and capillaries that feed a cell culture. The astonishing success of his project and the maker culture prompted him and others to start the Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute to bring young makers into the scientific community. It’s a program hosted by Rice University and has seen an amazing amount of success in both research and getting makers into scientific pursuits.
One of these young makers is [Andy Ta]. An economics major, [Andy] first heard of the maker and RepRap community a few years ago and bought a MakerBot Cupcake. This was a terrible printer, but it did get him involved in the community, hosting build workshops, and looking into 3D printing build around DLP-cured UV resin. At AMRI, [Andy] started looking at the properties of UV-cured resin, figuring out the right type of light, resin, and exposure to create a cured resin with the right properties for printing cell colonies. You can check out [Andy]’s latest work on his webzone.
[Steve Kelly] has also done some work at AMRI, but instead of the usual RepRap or DLP projector-based printers, he did work with shooting cell cultures out of an ink jet print head. His initial experiments involved simply refilling an ink jet cartridge with a bacterial colony and discovering the cells actually survived the process of being heated and shot out of a nozzle at high speed. Most ink jets printers don’t actually lay out different colors on a precise grid, making it unusable for growing cell cultures. [Steve] solved this problem with an inkjet controller shield attached to a RepRap. All of [Steve]’s work is documented on his Github.
It’s all awesome work, and the beginnings of both bioengineering based on 3D printers, and an amazing example of what amateur scientists and professional makers can do when they put their heads together. Video link below.
Continue reading “MRRF: 3D Bioprinting”
There’s a problem with online repositories of 3D printable objects: The largest repo, Thingiverse, is generally looked down upon by the 3D printing community. Thingiverse, owned by Makerbot, has seen protests, and calls for a an alternative repository. A few people have stepped up to provide a better Thingiverse, but these alternatives are either connected to specific 3D printer manufacturers like Ultimaker’s YouMagine, or have done some shady things with open source licenses; Defense Distributed’s DEFCAD, for example.
Repables, launched at the Midwest RepRap Festival this last weekend, hopes to change that. They are the only repository of printable objects and design files out there that’s backed by its own nonprofit LLC. It’s free for anyone to upload their parts and share, without the baggage that comes with an ‘official [company name] .STL repo’.
Just about everything can be hosted on Repables – .STL files for printable objects, .DXF files for laser cutter files, and even PCB files and Gerbers for circuit boards. Now, .STL files are able to be rendered in the browser, with support for viewing other formats coming soon.
It’s a really great idea that solves the problem of printer manufactures building their own hosting sites and the segmentation that ensues. It’s also headed up by a Hackaday alumnus, [Gerrit Coetzee]. We’re everywhere, it seems.
8-bit microcontrollers are the standard for RepRap electronics, but eventually something better must come along. There has been a great deal of progress with ARM-based solutions, and of course a few of these made a showing at the Midwest RepRap Festival.
First up is [Mark Cooper], creator of Smoothieboard, the ultimate RepRap and CNC controller. It’s an ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller with Ethernet, SD card, and up to five stepper drivers. It had a Kickstarter late last year and has just finished shipping all the rewards to the backers. In our video interview, [Mark] goes over the functions of Smoothieboard and tells us about some upcoming projects: the upcoming Smoothiepanel will feature a graphic LCD, SD card, rotary encoder and buttons, all controlled over USB by the Smoothieboard.
Next up is [Charles] with a whole bunch of CNC capes for the Beaglebone. By far the most impressive board was a huge I/O expander, motor driver, and everything controller for a Beaglebone featuring – get this – three parallel port interfaces. This was a one-off board costing thousands of dollars, but [Charles] did show off a few smaller and more practical boards for Beaglebone CNC control. Here’s a link to [Charles]’ capes.
Continue reading “MRRF: ARM-Based CNC Controllers”
Visiting the Midwest RepRap Festival, you will, of course, find a ton of 3D printed baubles and trinkets. A slightly more interesting find at this year’s MRRF was a lot of resin cast parts from [Mark VanDiepenbos]. He’s the guy behind the RotoMAAK, a spinny, ‘this was in the movie Contact‘-like device designed for spin casting with resins. At the festival, he’s showing off his latest project, 3D printed resin molds.
With the right mold, anyone with 2-part resins can replicate dozens of identical parts in an hour. The only problem is you need a mold to cast the parts. You could print a plastic part and make a silicone mold to cast your part. The much more clever solution would be to print the mold directly and fill it with resin.
[Mark] printed the two-part rabbit mold seen above out of ABS, filled it with urethane resin, and chucked it into his RotoMAAK spin casting machine. Six minutes later the part popped right out, and the mold was ready to make another rabbit.
Continue reading “MRRF: 3D Printed Resin Molds”
It is mid-day Saturday and the Midwest RepRap Festival is in full swing. Saying that there is a lot of 3D printers here is an extreme understatement. There must be at least 100. Out of all these, there are a couple that stand out from the rest due to their non-standard geometry. These are both creations of [Nicholas Seward], called the Wally and Simpson.
Both of these printers were designed to not use linear rails or bearings and be as reprap-able as possible. For example, the Simpson’s only non-printed custom parts are the two wooden base plates and the print bed. The rest of the parts are general hardware and standard 3D printer electronics.
[Nicholas] is showing off something new this weekend (less than 2 weeks new, actually). It is a new printer, currently code named CoreXZ. Unlike his previous designs, the CoreXZ does use linear rails and bearings. The frame is laser cut and is held together with zip ties. This new design uses an h-bot style setup for movements in the X and Z axes. The Y axis is a standard moving bed design with linear rails and bearings.
Continue reading “MRRF: CoreXZ”
Hackaday is settling in with the action at the Midwest RepRap Festival in Goshen, Indiana. Already it’s turning out to be a great weekend; an hour after the doors opened at 6:00 pm on Friday, with a freight train blocking traffic for half the town, there were more than 100 people through the doors. I have since stopped counting.
As far as who’s here, Lulzbot, the guy behind the Smoothieboard, Ultimaker, [Josh] from MakerJuice, [Jo Prusa], [Nicholas Seward], creator of the RepRap Wally, Gus, and Simpson, and the folks from MakerHive and Maker’s Tool Works.
Everybody is having tons of fun and I’m currently giving away Hackaday T-shirts in return for a contribution to the beer fund. The real show starts Saturday morning with a waffle breakfast, talks from famous reprappers, and hours and hours of fun.
Pics of some cool stuff below, here are two live streams, videos of awesome stuff up tomorrow.
Continue reading “Midwest RepRap Festival: 3D Printed Waffles”