Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Replicator Gen5 and Other Fun Things

One of the great revolutions that we are in the midst of is personal fabrication of all its various flavours. The rise of the 3D printer as an affordable service or in the office/home device means we can now craft highly detailed and complex objects right there on the desk. Despite the high-profile exceptions where the printed components are actually used for medical or engineering applications - the vast majority of 3D prints are made for prototyping and models.



Here at UNSW Built Environment we continue to explore and expand our in-house options. The new Digital Fabrication Lab (pictured above on a nice quiet morning) has another suite of student access machines above what we already have in the Workshop comprising 6 x Replicator2s and 2 x LaserCutters. The same space has a few staff and research machines as well: Replicator2, Replicator2X, Up Plus2, Mcor Iris and the Zund Cutter. Around the faculty you will find more machines of various sorts in people's offices - particularly the Industrial Design staff who just love this tech.


Anyhow, I was admiring the new 5th Generation Replicators that Makerbot have released/announced. It looks like they have addressed many of the little issues we have with the machines and that should make for a far more reliable and friendly machine. The new filament feed system and extruder looks the business and along with assisted leveling and a nicer reel holder I am hoping it will be more approachable and reliable than ever. The inclusion of the camera is very cool. I was starting to explore options for adding cameras to our Replicator 2 machines so we could do several things at once: Monitor a build's progress, Easily create timelapse video of builds for people, help stop people doing stupid things and feed cool footage to a status page so people can see if there are free machines. I am not sure if the Gen5 machine's camera can do all of this, but having it included is the first step.


Oh and would it not be simpler if they called them Replicator 3s or Replicator 5s even rather than just Replicators. That is just plain annoying - like Apple - sigh.

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OTHER FUN DIGITAL FABRICATION THINGS

The robotic arm driven plastic extruding printer created by Petr Novikov and Sasa Jokic during their internship at the Joris Laarman Lab is fascinating to watch and is yet another option in the expanding world of digital 3D printing. See the Full article on DeZeen.



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Yep, just as it says the Big Rep is, well Big and that is a real bonus. One of the things about almost all the 3D printers available is that they are relatively small. Great for hand-held product design or models, but requiring clever construction in many smaller parts for anything larger. So Lukas Oehmigen created his Big Rep which you can see here in action via the Wired Article - a groovy 3D printed table would be awesome (plus, I like the infographic animated video as well)




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Maybe I should mention a couple of other pieces of tech that I have my eye on. First the Form1 3D Printer that uses a resin set by laser in true Stereolithography style.


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And lastly how cool would it be to have one of the full-colour powder based printers like the 3D Systems Projet360 and its cousins.

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