MRRF: Repables, The Nonprofit 3D Object Repository

Repables

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, []. We’re everywhere, it seems.

3D Printering: The Problem of Thingiverse

printering

Most makers, I’m sure, enter into the 3D printing world with a goal in mind. Whether that’s printing enclosures for projects, Warhammer figurines, robot chassis, or even a mechanical computer, there is usually some obvious utility in having a 3D printer at home. 3D printers are a machine tool, though, and any time it’s not being used means it’s an investment with a lower return, or at the very least a really cool toy gathering dust.

Where then do you find new stuff to print that you don’t design yourself?

For the longest time now, Thingiverse has been the largest repository to share, browse, and download object other people have made. Even I have some very stupid stuff up on Thingiverse and have made use of a few random objects I found on there. This does not mean the 3D printer community particularly likes Thingiverse, however: Last year, Makerbot, the people behind Thingiverse, changed the terms of use so (allegedly) Thingiverse owns everything uploaded to their service. Couple this with completely unsubstantiated rumors of things being removed from Thingiverse that compete with Makerbot products, and you have a perfect storm of people unsatisfied with an online repository of 3D objects.

There is a huge market for an online repository of user-submitted 3D objects that isn’t controlled by Makerbot, and many have attempted to enter the fray. Defense Distributed, the guys behind the 3D printed AR lowers and all-plastic handguns launched DEFCAD, a Thingiverse clone, made an attempt by mirroring thousands of Thingiverse objects, removing the attribution in violation of these object’s licenses. Shady, yes, but at least it’s an option. There are other repos such as Cubehero and the newly launched YouMagine, a repo developed by Ultimaker. the Luke Skywalker to Makerbot’s Darth Vader.

But here is the problem with Thingiverse: even if you would like to get away from using this Makerbot service, it’s still the largest collection of 3D printed objects on the Internet. It has the most users, and is growing more each day than any of its competitors. Putting your objects anywhere else only means fewer people will see them, and fewer still will incorporate your designs into their new designs.

There are a few tools for you to ‘roll your own’ object repository. Github has a great new tool for viewing diffs between different versions of objects. There’s even a lot of work in making the Github landing page more like a Thingiverse page. This doesn’t address the core value of Thingiverse – if all the objects aren’t catalogued in one database, searchable by anyone, it’s just not as useful a site as Thingiverse.

I’m simply not smart enough to offer up a solution to this problem. Therefore, I’m turning it on to you: how should the 3D printer community retain the great value Thingiverse offers while still making something as usable as the now-malagined site? Should any new site mirror objects already on Thingiverse a la DEFCAD, only with proper attribution? Who should control the portal to all the objects, if anyone?

If you have any ideas on how to solve the problem of Thingiverse, drop a note in the comments.

RepRap Simpson puts a new spin on delta RepRaps

Just when you think you’ve seen it all in the 3D printer world, something new pops up! [Nicholas Seward] posted a video of RepRap Simpson, his latest project.  Simpson is a delta robot – but unlike any delta we’ve seen before. Previous offerings vertical rails on which the arms travel. As you can see, this design mounts three articulated arms directly to the base of the printer, using steel cables as part of the joint mechanism.

Judging by [Nicholas'] posts on the RepRap forums, Simpson’s grounded delta design has already gone through a few revisions. The basic geometry though, has remained the same. [Nicholas] calls this edition a “Proportional Gear Drive Joint Simpson”. The name may not roll off the tongue, but the movements are incredibly smooth, organic, and fast.

As with any delta design inverse kinematics play a huge role in the software. [Nicholas] is trying to simplify this with an optical calibration system. For the adventurous, the equations are posted on the forums, and a python Gcode preprocessor is posted on Thingiverse.

Even Simpson’s base received special attention.  It’s built from a water jet cut piece of basalt.  We like the use of opposed helical gears on the large joints, as well as the guitar machine heads used to tension the cable drive. One thing we are not sure of is the longevity of system – will cable stretch play an issue? Will the printed parts suffer wear from the cables? Only time will tell.

Continue reading “RepRap Simpson puts a new spin on delta RepRaps”

3D printed prosthetic hand helps out for about $150

3d-printed-prosthetic-hand-on-thingiverse

We know that there are already 3D printed hips and knees in use in the medical field, but it takes a story like this one to really bring home the idea of how this technology changes lives. 5-year-old [Liam] is missing parts of his right hand, and this open-source prosthetic hand has given him a jolt of increased function. The video clip after the break shows him on the third day with the device. He’s practicing picking up coins from a stack using the hand. Just $150 in parts, combined with the hard work and good nature of the developers, made this possible.

The design is available on Thingiverse. In addition to the 3D printed parts the prosthesis uses off-the-shelf hardware store items like bungee cord and fasteners. The tips of each finger and the thumb are given some flex and grip by covering each with a rubber thimble.

We love seeing this life-changing technology wielded by basement and garage hackers. Another great example is this scratch-built leg from last May.

Continue reading “3D printed prosthetic hand helps out for about $150″

Hackaday Links: November 9, 2012

Yeah, it’s like Twitter but actually cool

Thingiverse – still the best place on the Internet to find cool 3D models to print out – has gone all Web 3.0 with their new Dashboard feature. Basically, you can think of this as Thingiverse’s version of Twitter. The dashboard allows you to see the latest updates from people you like, follow people, categories, and tags, and check out your all-important ‘who’s following me’ stats. Yes, to the Hackaday crowd it may sound a little lame, but it’s a great way to winnow the (awesome) wheat from the (slightly less awesome) chaff.

Hey, we goofed. And not by using the same image twice

Remember when we jumped on the Occupy Thingiverse bandwagon? Well, there were questions about the Thingiverse Terms of Service and confusion that Makerbot actually owns everything uploaded to Thingiverse. That’s completely wrong according to Makerbot’s lawyer [Rich McCarthy]. The whole issue dealt with “Moral Rights or attribution” – a French legal doctrine that isn’t part of US law (or the law of any English-derived legal system as far as we can tell). Yeah, we goofed.

Now u cn snd SMS msgs wit n ‘ino & cell sheld

[Meir] sent in a cellular library for microcontroller projects that allows for simple sending and receiving of SMS messages. Yes, it’s been done before, but [Meir] hid all the hardware interaction with the cellular shield – a good design practice – to make the code nice and tidy.

And you thought PVC was bad…

Just in time for Thanksgiving, [Lou] shows us the fastest way to make mashed potatoes: an oxygen and propane powered potato gun. The build uses oxy and propane tanks you can pick up for a few bucks at any hardware store, steel pipe for the barrel, a grill igniter, and a few pipe fittings. It’s awesome, and we’ve got to hand it to [Lou] for this one. Now to build one and test it out on our indestructible test dummy.

It’s just like the Raspberry Pi! They’re that backordered!

Remember the Stellaris Launchpad, the very cool (and very inexpensive) ARM dev board put out by TI? Yeah, they’re shipping now. News of this comes from [Ryan Holtz] at Autodesk after the FedEx guy came knocking a few days ago. The good news is they’re shipping, the bad news is the price increased slightly to $13.

 

Makerbot, Occupy Thingiverse, and the reality of selling Open Hardware

Yesterday, Makerbot Industries introduced the Replicator 2, a very good-looking 3D printer that will is probably the closest thing we’ll see to a proper ‘consumer’ 3D printer for a year or so. There’s only one problem. The new Replicator 2 is rumored to be closed source. If that’s not enough, [Bre Pettis], co-founder and CEO of Makerbot Industries will be speaking at the Open Source Hardware Association conference next week with the suitably titled talk, “Challenges of Open Source Consumer Products.”

Of course, the Replicator 2 being closed source is hearesay, and we can’t blame them for closing up parts their product; they have investors to worry about and people are blatantly copying their work. There was another change in Makerbot’s operation at the press conference yesterday: Makerbot now owns everything you’ve put up on Thingiverse.

This news comes from [Josef Prusa], creator of what is probably the most widely used 3D printer in the world.

[Prusa] begins his rant with the history of the RepRap. The project began with a team of core developers headed by [Adrian Bowyer], and supported by [Zach Smith], [Adam Mayer], and [Bre Pettis]. [Boyer] gave the guys a bit of money to start Makerbot, and it’s something the guys at Makerbot have never been ashamed of. Makerbot went on to create Thingiverse, became the darlings of the Open Hardware movement, and acquired $10 million from investors.

All things change, of course, and Makerbot is no exception. Along with the (again, rumored) closed-source Replicator 2, [Prusa] pointed out the Terms of Use for Thingiverse say that Thingiverse – and thus Makerbot Industries – owns everything submitted by Thingiverse users. [Prusa] started an Occupy Thingiverse movement in response to this discovery.

Honestly, we hope [Josef Prusa] is wrong on this one. We hope the specific clauses in Thingiverse’s Terms of Use granting itself a license to do whatever it wants with uploaded Things is just a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo added in by lawyers to protect Thingiverse from being sued by crazy people. Still, if rumors are true, it may be a portent of things to come.

In any event, [Prusa] will be taking his Thingiverse things down. He plans on posting his stuff on GitHub, probably the most Open Source-friendly community in existence. You can do the same with this GitHub template for 3D printed objects.

So, learned reader of Hackaday, what do you make of this? Is Makerbot right to close up their projects? Are we finally becoming disillusioned with Open Hardware? What say you?

Eventorbot 3D Printer

Tired of 3D printers that use t-slot construction? The Eventorbot is yet another open source 3D printer,  but it’s built out of steel and 3D printable parts. The design also aims to minimize the effect of vibrations by using a single solid frame. All of the wiring runs through the steel frame, which gives the printer a professional look.

The Eventorbot page on the RepRap wiki provides details on how to build your own, along with STL files for all the printable parts. If you want to see renders of the parts, they’re all available on Thingiverse. The material cost is $300-$500, and the assembled cost is quoted at $799.

Like many of the open source printers we’ve seen, this one uses the RepRap Mega Pololu Shield (RAMPS) to control the actuators. This is attached to a Sanguinololu motherboard, which runs the RepRap firmware.

The Eventorbot Youtube channel has a collection of videos detailing the assembly of the robot. Check out a video of a test print after the break.

Via Make

Continue reading “Eventorbot 3D Printer”