Showing posts with label Consumer Printer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Consumer Printer. Show all posts

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow...

"Tomorrow" has played a significant role in so many dramatic productions, from Shakespeare to "Annie".  But, today it's playing a significant role in the drama that is unfolding as the first true consumer focused 3D printer is released.  Tomorrow is the day that the Cube 3D printer is finally leaving the warehouses and being shipped to consumers all over the world.

So, what will be receiving when the delivery truck shows up at our doors?

First, we will be receiving one of the most precise and well designed 3D printers in the under $2,000 category... the new Cube 3D Printer.  This printer has something that most RepRap printers do NOT have... a heated bed!  This heated bed, along with something else that will be in the box, "Magic Glue", allows us to use tough ABS plastic instead of the PLA I've been using.  ABS has qualities that PLA just cannot match.

Cube 3D Printer

Secondly, we'll be getting the Cube software that turns any STL file into a printable CUBE "p-code" file that the printer understands.  It not only does the conversion. It allows you to re-size and re-orient the print object.  But, for me, the best news is that I understand that it also allows YOU to choose to print or not print raft and support.   That is a HUGE deal for me.

Cube 3D Printer Software
Thirdly, we will be getting a Wireless Interface built into our Cube that allows us to communicate from our computer without a wired connection.

Cube Wireless Connection
Fourthly, we receive an EZ load Cartridge, containing the ABS plastic filament needed to print your 3D objects.  I've already got a backup of items that I want to print, so in addition to the cartridge that comes with the printer I ordered a 3-Pack of additional cartridges in 3 different colors.

Cube EZ Load Cartridge

Fifthly, we will be getting a USB flash drive holding at least 4 printable objects so that we can begin using our Cube immediately after activating it!  But, that is not all.  Additionally, we will be receiving either files or links to 21 more print files.  I assume that these will be made available to us via the Cubify web site.  

And, of course, all the necessary power cables will be there for us to plug our new Cube in, turn it on, activate it and start printing!

So, to paraphrase Annie's famous song... 
Tomorrow, Tomorrow.  
I love you Tomorrow.  
You're ONLY a day away!
OK... maybe FEW days away when we take into account the time it takes to reach us.  But, tomorrow, for many of us, it will mean our Cube will be on its way to us.  And, THAT is GREAT news.

Monday, May 14, 2012

From Point & Shoot Camera to Cube Printer

Some time ago, long before I knew about the Cube, I became interested in a program by Autodesk that purported to turn a series of 2D images into a 3D object.  When I began using it, the program was called PhotoFly.  They later folded the PhotoFly project into their 123D initiative, which is a suite of 3D programs designed to be easy for users.  It's now called 123D Catch.  Right now it can be downloaded as a beta.

In experiments, while the technology was a lot of fun, it turned out that the mesh that it created wasn't absolutely clean.  So, there was some question as to how useful it would be for the real application that I'd hoped to use it for... 3D printing.

Last week, the topic came up in the Bits From Bytes forums and I decided to give 123D Catch an opportunity to see if I could come up with a way to use it with a 3D printer.  This post is about that experiment. 

First, let me show you 123D Catch in action and explain how it works.  It starts with a series of photographs like this one...

And then we bring all of the photographs into 123D Catch.

123D Catch Application
At the bottom of the 123D Catch application you see the series of photos.  At the risk of further confirming to my neighbors that the guy next door is more than a little nuts, I set up a hairstyling manikin head on the rail of the porch of the back yard studio and shot a series of images while walking around the head.  (I know what you are thinking.  But, it's all innocent enough.  I used the head to perfect studio lighting techniques many years ago. LOL!)

Bringing the series of images into 123D Catch, the program calculated the position of the camera for each shot and then stitched together the images to create a 3D model.  From the front it looks like it did an excellent job.  But, that is only partly right.  As seen from this rotated view.

Holes in the 123D Catch Mesh
The problem is that 123D Catch has issues with dealing with hair.  It cannot seem to find stitching points because hair just does not give it enough differentiation.  This is a problem.  Here is a side view that shows the confusion.

The hair has confused 123D Catch so much that it maps grass onto the head!  Obviously, this is NOT going to do all that well in a 3D printer.  A 3D Printer needs a "Watertight" mesh to print well.

Fortunately. we have a solution.  We export the 123D Object into a format that can be read by a wonderful free program called NetFabb Studio Basic.  NetFabb's job is to find and fix problems with mesh and to export a clean STL file for printing.  When we bring it in, the offending holes are clearly visible.

NetFabb on Entry

A huge warning sign tells us that we have a problem that needs to be fixed.  Clicking on the "+" sign brings up a dialog that allows us some options for fixing the mesh.  Here is the resultant fix.

NetFabb Fix
As you can see, the hole in the back of the head has been filled.  It's not perfect.  But, at least it allows us to export an STL that we can print.  And, that is pretty remarkable considering how big those holes were!

So, how did it print?  Take a look.

Original Photo
RapMan 3.2 Print of 123D Catch Object
Frankly, I was skeptical so I first printed it very small to see if it was even usable.  I was astounded by the fact that it so closely resembled the original!  So, I printed it out much bigger and was even more impressed.

Frankly, I'm astounded by the result.  It even got the hair flip!  The nose probably could be a bit better.  But, who's complaining.

What this means is that we will be able to create 3D prints on our Cube 3D printers of our loved ones!  I plan to capture my grandchildren this weekend.  Because the 123D Catch engine has issues with hair, I will try to add something that gives the engine something to lock onto like a colorful hat or ribbons.  This is no small deal and it is capabilities like this that will go a long way to winning over the 3D printing skeptics!

I'm certainly a believer.  :)

NOTE:  I expect the Cube print to be noticeably cleaner than what you see in these images.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Utilizing ALL the Cube's Printing Space

When we design our objects, it's easiest to orient them horizontally or vertically.

But, sometimes we want to print an item that would not fit into the Cube's build space with the original orientation.

There are two solutions.  The first is to scale the object to be small enough to fit.  The second option is to re-orient the printed piece so that it remains the same size; but, still fits into the build space of the Cube.

Let's take the "ANNA" pencil box from the previous post as an example.

I have marked the Cube's build area using a box that is 140mm x 140mm.  (Those of you in the United States may not believe this; but, it is far easier and more precise to work in metric when designing for a 3D printer.  It is easy to find any conversation using a wide variety of web tools that are freely available.)  As you can see, the box, at 168mm wide does not fit the build area.

While we could simply scale the box to make it smaller.  But, to reduce the size of the box would also reduce it's usefulness. 

The answer, in this case, is to simply rotate the box.

The same 168mm wide box now completely fits into the build area of the Cube.  The 3D printer could not care less about the angle of orientation.  The only difference that might be seen in the finished product is in the normal pattern and direction of the print lines common to all 3D prints.  But, that has no practical effect on the part being printed.

While the part can be oriented in the software that converts the original STL file into a Cube file, it is probably easiest to perform the rotation in the original software package.  I have not seen the conversion software for the Cube as yet.  But, I assume that it is much like Axon that comes with the RapMan 3.2 printer.  Axon lets you know if the part will fit into the available build space and lets you easily scale to correct the problem.   But, rotation isn't one of Axon's strong points.  So, we'll have to see how that is implemented in the Cube version.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 25 is the Cube Ship Date!

I've been an early adopter of many, many cool products for more than a quarter of a century.

But, I don't know that I have EVER anticipated the arrival of ANY product like I am anticipating receiving the new Cube 3D Printer.

Perhaps that is because I already own a 3D printer and know how it can enhance a life.  Or, perhaps it's because I've actually seen it in action and know what a great design it is.  Or, perhaps it's because I will be able to pick it up and carry it anywhere because it is beautifully compact and rugged.

I could continue that last paragraph for a lot more sentences.  Because there are many, many reasons why I love 3D printing and am particularly looking forward to the Cube 3D printer specifically.

I recently told my wife that of all the technologies I've embraced since the 1960's, 3D printing has to be the most personally rewarding.  Having a 3D printer, along with a wonderfully easy 3D package, Moments of Inspiration, has been a real joy.  There is nothing quite being able to turn abstract ideas into concrete, physical reality.  Not only does it satisfy the creative instinct in us that have existed for years; but, I can tell you, personally, that it exponentially spawns completely new ideas.

I've spent the last few years researching the plasticity of the brain.  Science has learned that we can GROW our brains.  Learning and creativity, literally, ADDS molecular structure to our brains.

If you are a parent or grandparent that wants to encourage creativity in the lives of your children and grandchildren, then I highly recommend that you take a serious look at the Cube 3D printer.  It's not just fun.  It's not just artistic.  3D modeling and printing is more than the sum of its parts when it comes to expanding the mind and growing the brain.

I don't expect my head to explode from an out of control expanding brain.  But, I do expect my creative ability to grow even more with the addition of the Cube.  And, I expect my grand children's creativity to also take a positive leap as they come up with new ways to use 3D printing for school projects and their lives in general.

So, as you can imagine, hearing that a date has been set for the Cube to be shipped was more than a little bit exciting for me.  And, after I receive it and have been able to test the designs on the Cube, itself, expect a flood of posts showing you some of the things I've enjoyed making and testing with my RapMan 3.2 3D printer.

I can hardly wait!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Cube Cube will be hard to miss!

There one thing for certain about the Cube Odyssey as it treks across the U.S.A.  It's going to be VERY difficult to miss!  LOL!

3D Systems just posted preliminary images of the Cube Cube by Galpin Auto Sports.

Check this out...

Hmmmm.... is it any mystery how Mad Mike got his name!  

Wait!  What if Mad Mike isn't the designer?  Does this mean that Galpin Auto Sports has MORE than one slightly "mad" employee???  If so, that is my kind of place!  LOL!

Kind of makes me wish I wasn't FAR too old for a road trip of that magnitude!  This is bound to be a fun trip meeting some fantastically creative and innovative people at each and every stop.

You see, I KNOW the kind of people that are going to be interested in the Cube.  You are people able to not only think outside the box; but, WAY outside the box.  (No pun intended? )  You are the kind of unique individuals that... well... think like Mad Mike and the Galpin Auto Sports guys.  As my granddaughters would describe you, you are FUN and SPECIAL!  :)

I was with a video game company over 30 years ago and I had the privilege of traveling the U.S. and Europe meeting our users... people just like yourselves,,, fun and special.  The memory of those contacts is still sweet after 30+ years.  Each time I think of the many wonderfully creative and enthusiastic people I met, a big smile spreads across my face.

The guys about to embark on that tour may have a little bit of clue as to how much fun it's going to be to meet people enthusiastic about what they can do with a 3D printer.  But, what ever they can imagine now is going to pale in comparison to the reality and the memories that they will carry with them for a lifetime.  And, those memories will be all about YOU.

So, give them a warm welcome when they come your way and, PLEASE, let me hear about your reactions as you see the Cube in action for the first time.  I might not be able to travel with them.  But, I sure do want to experience some of your excitement over what you can do with one of these wonderful printers.

Have fun guys!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Worldwide Community Grows

In past posts we featured a designer from India.  In fact, I think we have featured TWO designers from India.  And, now we travel to Europe to meet another designer in our worldwide community and have an opportunity to learn from their 3D printing experience.

The designer is Trompevenlo and the featured model is called "Lady Justice".

While "Lady Justice" is the sole design uploaded so far, it is actually one of a set of original figures created by Trompevenlo.  

What struck me as I viewed the images for this design, was that it is obvious that it is a picture of an object that was printed by a 3D printer!  Let's have a closer look.  Notice the texture.

This was intriguing!  So, it was time to find out more about this artist!  :)

Using the key words "Bubble men", it wasn't long before I arrived at this delightful site originating in the Netherlands.  Even the logo is delightful.

But, it doesn't stop there.  I could show you some of the other pieces in the "Bubble Men" series along with another series called "The Scrappies".  But, I'd much rather you visit their site and enjoy ALL of their work, which is definitely worth exploring.  While there are areas still under construction, that will not stop you from enjoying the trip.  And, I'm sure that you will join me in hoping ALL of the designs find their way to the Cubify site.

As my granddaughters would describe them "They're FUN and SPECIAL!"

But, there is another good reason for visiting  And, that is a very informative video that shows how their designed are currently turned into bronze sculptures.  I found it fascinating.  I hope that Trompevenlo will share their experience at turning designs into printed objects.  I'm sure there is a lot we can learn from them.

Oh!  I almost forgot.  Check out their video showing the conversion of a 2D image into a 3D Cameo!

Thank you Trompevenlo for a nice trip to a nice site!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Insight from a Different Technology

Alan Gregerman, who I mentioned in an earlier post, "Surrounded by Geniuses" encourages us to cultivate the genius that resides in all of us through developing a sense of Curiosity.  If we are curious, we will cast a wide net in search of ideas that can help us with our specific interest or problem.

The Cube is an "Additive" technology.  That is, we create object by ADDING plastic in layers.  There is another technology that precedes the technology used by the Cube.  And, that is "Subtractive" technology that is generally called CNC.  CNC mills use bits to CUT AWAY material to reveal the target object.

I thought it would be instructive to nudge our curiosity in order to see if we can find some creative genius by taking a little field trip down the "Subtractive" road to see where it leads us.  In particular,  I'd like to see if looking at other technologies can help us appreciate the capabilities of the Cube and other 3D printers.  But, we won't stop at the machines.  I'm hoping we can also find some things that might be helpful in making the Cubify web site THE most satisfying it can be.

First, the machine...  The iModela from Roland.

First, I want to say that Roland has been making desktop milling machines for many years.  And, they are rugged and excellent.  I have been using an associates MDX-15 milling machine off and on for probably 10 years and it's still going strong.   It is, however, a much bigger machine than the iModela and also functions as a 3D scanner, of sorts, using a probe.  Here is an image of the MDX15 for comparison.

Based on my experience with the MDX-15, it is very apparent that Roland has upped their game on an already good product.  First, they now include a sound dampening cover.  While all current 3D machines make some noise, these things are really loud.  And, as you can imagine, they throw some dust.

So, lets see the iModela in action...

As you can see, if you make it through the video there is a lot of set up to prepare the iModela for action.  In particular, adjusting the cutting blade is still a pain.  What is not clear is if they have fixed the problems of absolute repeatability from one session to another if there is an interval between sessions.

On the positive side, the resolution of the iModela is going to be better than that of the Cube and, if it follows the MDX-15, it can cut aluminum quite easily.

What is CANNOT do is create complex shapes in one pass.  Here is where the Cube really outdoes the iModela.  Now, they SHOW some apparently complex shapes on the iModela web site.  But, these are not created in a single pass.  And, Roland should be credited for clearly showing potential users what they have to do to create those more complex objects.

There is a fair amount of filing and glue that is used!   Now, we can paint Cube parts.  And, we can glue Cube parts.  But, that is not necessary in order to create a very complex shape, like this marvelous item from designer Aryan called "Ball in a Cage" which can be created on the Cube as one printing session in one piece!  (Nice job, Aryan!)

And, consider this model title "ED209" , also by Aryan...

I'm sure that we can agree that it would take a LOT if gluing together components if all one had was a CNC mill.  Yet, a 3D Printer, like the Cube can create this in a single session as long as we want it as a static model.  It's even possible to design it so that parts can move and still print it as one item.

Both additive and subtractive systems have their strengths and weakness.  But, having used a CNC, dollar for dollar, I'd choose the Cube for the kinds of things I want to to do.  The benefits of "Additive" technology simply outweigh the benefits of "Subtractive" technologies for those things that I envision making. Still, that does NOT diminish the obvious usefulness of the iModela and it's great to see the improvements.  And, that includes the fact that they seem to have vastly improved the software for this new product.  And, that brings us to my real reason for wanting to go on this little field trip.

With rare exception I REALLY I like the iModela Home Page as a portal for consumer customers.  They really seem to have hit the bulls eye when it comes to hitting their target market... hobbyists.  I love the color and the action of the scrolling panel that covers just about every aspect that one would want to know about the product, the software and what it can do.  They demonstrate the capability with a wide variety of bright and vividly colorful objects.

Then, just below the scrolling panel they present a number of videos that further demonstrate the iModela experience.  I have a love/hate response to some of the videos.  First, most have music that may or may not go over well if I want to explore this site in places other than home.  Secondly, while I appreciate Roland's honesty, some of the videos actually demonstrate why I DON'T want a CNC machine.  As I said, there is a LOT of filing and gluing.

But, what the iModela site lacks is very important to point out!

It is very, very difficult to find a single USEFUL item on their page.  I see a lot of plastic trinkets.  And, a lot of painted funny characters.  But, do they REALLY think all we want to do in 3D is create dime store trinkets???

I think the design goals of those interested in creating 3D objects are a lot more diverse than that.  Yea.  I DO want to create SOME funny creatures.  And, I DO want to create some stamping tools or key chains.  But, I want to create a LOT more than that.

I want to create USEFUL things.  And, while I KNOW that the Roland is perfectly capable of creating some of those useful things.  I want them to acknowledge the fact that desire by including a few.

And, that brings me back to the Cubify site... where 3D Systems has done just that.  Based on the fact that the item Mark3DS uploaded has the 3D Systems logo, I'm guessing that he works for them.  Here is a an elegantly simple and very useful "Smart Phone Prop".

By the way, Mark3DS also provided us with the perfect way to leave our little field trip by giving us "Helical Art", the perfect example of something an "Additive" system can do that a "Subtractive" system can only dream about doing!

Designers like Aryan, Mark3DS and the Cube are why I'm DEFINITELY a Cubify Fan!!!

February, Love, the Taj Mahal and 3D Printing

Long ago at a far away place (at least from where I'm sitting writing this in Maryland) lived a beautiful woman who was deeply loved by her husband.  Her name was Mumtaz Mahal .  And, by all accounts she was a very beautiful and kind woman.

She was married to the rich and powerful Mughal ruler Shah Jahan.

Their love is legendary.  But, one of the things that has made it one of the greatest love stories in history is that it was a union cut short by death and punctuated by the deepest grief.  Imagine being the richest, most powerful man in your kingdom and being completely helpless as life slipped away from the one you loved so deeply.

Shah Jahan, could have simply spiraled down in his grief.  But, instead, he did something so remarkable and beautiful that, today, both he and is wife are remembered and their love celebrated by people around the world.  He constructed a building in her honor and as a testament of his great admiration and love for her.  This building is the famous Taj Mahal.

It's fitting that we should remember this couple on the first day of February.  And, it's also fitting that we do so on a blog devoted to the Cube, Cubify and 3D Printing.  And, that is because one of the first printable 3D designs that were uploaded into the Cubify Store is this tribute to Shah Jahan's wonderful achievement by designer Rameshjadhav.

I don't know about you.  But, I'm very happy to be reminded about Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal by this design.  As a teacher, this is a marvelous project to print in the classroom.

We're also reminded of Valentine's Day and love by another designer on Cubify.  Cre83D is to be credited with being the first person to get my wife really excited about 3D printing.  She knew is was cool.  She knew it could do useful things.  She knew it could be valuable to our sculptor daughter.  But, the finally "Got it!" when she saw the designs that Cre83D had uploaded.

This one is called "Double Love".

But, it was his other design that might end up costing me some serious money!

It's called "Sweet Heart".

The reason for my concern is that she had me post a comment asking him to create a new design that incorporates prongs for a stone!  Remember, we can print in plastic and send that plastic to be printed in precious metals!  And, my daughter is a jeweler!!!  So, I'm thinking that this might end up being a serious drain on my income!!!  Yikes!

And, of course, she will point out that if Shah Jahan could build a Taj Mahal for his wife,  it's the LEAST I can do to buy her a ring!  :)

I have spent some time with the 2D craft community and I know that making things that show their love to family and friends is probably THE biggest driving force in their creations and projects.  So, I'm convinced that the same will be the case in the 3D Printing community.

So, I am very, very happy to feature the work of  Rameshjadhav and Cre83D  on this first day of February.  Thanks to both of you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Be Surrounded By Geniuses

Recently, through an innovation initiative at my day job, I had the privilege to meet Alan Gregerman, a fascinating author and speaker.  His latest book is called "Surrounded by Geniuses" and if you want to really soar in life and work, I heartily recommend it.

Beyond his books, he also publishes a blog.  On his blog I learned he is also a big fan of Derek Sivers!  Timely, isn't it???  :)

In the linked blog entry, Mr. Gregerman explains how he became sold on the CDBaby experience!

Beyond Expectations, October 12,2009

Alan Gregerman's conclusion says it all...

"We win in business when we imagine the most remarkable customer
experience--an experience that captures the imagination of those we have
the privilege to serve.  Maybe it's time for you and the geniuses
around you to let your imaginations take flight.

While it may not be obvious yet, since is still in development, I fully expect that ALL Cubify members will realize, in short order, that ALL of us are surrounded by geniuses simply by being a part of such a creative community fostered by such a creative company.


I'd like to recognize one of these geniuses now,   The Cubify user name of the designer is Sidnaique.  I find their designs elegantly simple and immediately useful! 


Some other interesting designs by this designer are... an escalator sign.. 

An elevator sign... 

And, something completely different... 

Yep!  This is going to be a fun adventure and one in which we are surrounded by genius in every direction we look!  And, that is a GREAT position in which to find one's self.  Nice job Sidnaique!

By the way, I believe that Sidnaique is from Goa, India.  (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)

Cubify isn't even fully operational yet and example after example of our world-wide collective genius is already shining through.

Alan Gregerman is RIGHT!

It IS great to be surrounded by Geniuses!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Make Your Own Future - Rise Above the NOISE!

We talked about the fact that Cubify Fans are destined to be the vanguard of a massive movement of epic proportions.  Experts expect that 3D printing will be as great a Disruptive Technology as the original printing press.  Those in the field of Supply Chain Management are taking the implications very, very seriously.

Normally, we think of something "Disruptive" as a bad thing.  But, as in the case of the printing press, the word "Disruptive" simply means that it will result in completely new ways of delivering product.  It will disrupt the old ways and replace them with new ways.

Any time there is this kind of disruption, there are opportunities for creative and innovative people.

In the case of the Cubify community, there will be opportunities for designers to offer their designs to an ever growing network of 3D printer owners.  To be sure, the numbers at first will be relatively small compared to what they will be in the future.  But, wise people will recognize that gaining experience early in the game should pay big dividends in the future.

First, any design that one uploads to is probably going to be available for a long, long time.  On a personal level, at my age, I expect any items I design that fit the criteria for usefulness to be available for my entire lifetime.  And, over that lifetime, the opportunities to sell will continually grow as the number of 3D printers inevitably grows.  So, while we can't expect a huge return early on, there is some reason for optimism over the long term.

If you are a writer or software designer that has ever been fortunate enough to enjoy royalty income, you know exactly what this is like.  Royalty checks are a bit like having money fall down from the sky.  The money keeps coming even though the work that produced the royalties is long past.  It seems to show up like magic!

Bringing this back to, it means that we work on a design today and upload it.  At first, we may not see a big response because of the initial numbers of 3D printers will be relatively low as people become familiar with what they can do.  But, if we are patient and if our designs and marketing efforts are worthy enough, the income should gradually increase.

Think of what this can mean to us.  If we get sick, we could still have income.  If we lose our skills due to the ravages of age, we could still have income.  All, based on the efforts of the past where we diligently used our minds to design objects that others could use and enjoy.

It won't be true of everyone.  But, that does not mean that the opportunity is not there.

Remember that I mentioned CDBaby in the last blog article?  It is a site where any musical artist can upload their music and CDBaby facilitates making that music available through a wide variety of distribution channels.  Some artists are wildly successful.  Others barely make a blip.

Those that fail usually do so because they rely on the music or the wide distribution opportunities to sell their album.  Big mistake.  They fail to take into account the "Noise" of so many choices.  So, they fail to promote their album so that it rises above the noise.  CDBaby is NOT going to make a budding musical artist a star.  It's simply going to give one a means of fulfillment, that is delivery, of the music once it becomes known to the public.

It is up to the artist to plan how to rise above the noise and shine above the clutter.

And, the same will be true for designers that hope to sell their work on  Just as we must be creative in coming up with our designs, we must also work equally hard at being creative about helping those designs be found by standing out above the noise of, potentially, tens and hundreds of thousands of other designs.

It begins with doing little things, like creating a blog that not only highlights your own work; but, provides information of value to the broader community.  Those who give to the community will be embraced by the community.  A few other ways to help bring attention to your work are:
  • Making sure that a full description of the design and its value are included
  • Making sure that accurate and complete tags are available to search engines
  • Making sure that a hierarchy of categories precisely lets searchers drill down to your work.
We don't yet know precisely how's final categorization and classification system will work.  But, it is up to us to make sure that, where we can, WE provide the information to the search engine in a way that ensures that those looking for an object like that we've designed will find ours.  It's every bit as important as making sure the item is the best of it's kind out there.  For, it doesn't matter how good your item's design is if potential buyers can't find it.  And, the more items available on, the greater the "NOISE".

Rise above it!

Catch the Opportunity!

What can the Cubify community learn from a former clown?

A LOT!!!

Especially when the clown in question is Derek Sivers, the founder of CDBaby, a hugely successful site where thousands of musicians sell their music.

Consider this short talk titled "How to Start a Movement"

We are about to embark on a movement.  A HUGE movement.  A REALLY HUGE movement!  And, if we are to be leaders in that movement we need to recognize that every person in that movement is critical to its success.  You can't have a crowd without participants as witnessed by this video!

I hope you realize that if you are reading this blog, that you are going to be able to look back twenty years from now and proudly point out that you were there at the beginning of a wide open opportunity for untold numbers of people and you were smart enough to be a part of it.

Few things could validate your genius more than joining the community and then encouraging others to join.  As our numbers grow so will the enthusiasm and realization of the full scope of the importance of what we are doing in a way that I doubt any of us can appreciate just now.  But, as author Malcolm Gladwell explains so well, at some critical moment the Tipping Point will be reached and an explosion of creativity and opportunity will be unleashed.

That is what this blog is all about...  helping each of us realize the incredible opportunity coming our way through both a new technology and our new peer-to-peer community. 

I urge you to subscribe to Derek Sivers by going to his site.  His marketing observations will be a big help to you as you come up with 3D designs to offer to others in our community.  His CDBaby experience will be invaluable to you.  Reading "The Tipping Point" is another great way to prepare as we wait for the release of the Cube and final version of

Finally, I love to see and point out the work of creative people.  So, I'd like to urge you to create your own blog where you can highlight your work and make contact with your own fans.  And, please  send me a link so that I can enjoy it as well!.  Working together is what a community is all about.

I met Denise O'Connor, the first follower of this blog, through the blog that she writes about paper crafting. She's new to 3D printing.  But, I doubt if she will be new very long. She's an incredibly talented and helpful person.  Check our her blog, Purple Paper Paradise, and see why she's a well respected leader in the paper craft field.  I'm sure you will pick up some ideas about how to make a site that people want to visit.

By the way, I fully expect Denise to be THE key person that introduces the crafting community to the wonderful benefits of being able to enhance their work through 3D printing.  I'm proud to knw her and I'm very glad that she's here.

In the coming days we will explore some other possible ways to set your designs apart from the noise as Cube owners, and others, search out items to meet their needs.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

CES - Some and Cube 3D Printer Videos

My granddaughters (9 & 12) and I spent some time this weekend checking out the videos from CES that show the Cube 3D printer in action.  They are as excited as I am at the prospect of being able to print real objects in 3D in their very own home and school.  What's not to like about that!!!

By the way, the Nano bracelet was a huge hit since the oldest got a Nano for Christmas.

Here are some of our favorite videos.  I thought it would be a good idea to bring five of the best of them together in one place.  The "Views" indicates the number of YouTube views that were reported at the time this entry was composed. 

I hope this is helpful to you in your quest to learn more about and the Cube 3D printer.

1..  Submitted by:  Cubify3Ds          Views: 36,900

The initial introductory video produced by 3D Systems.  Excellent overview of both and the Cube 3D printer.

2.  Submitted by:  Hak5Darren Views: 3,045

Probably the most comprehensive video thus far. It's a live interview with Cathy Lewis of 3D Systems.  You have to endure some ads.  But, it's worth it,

3.  Submitted by:  TechReviewChannel09           Views: 309

An excellent introduction to the Cube by Rajeev Kulkarni, General Manger of the Consumer Solutions Div., 3D Systems for C/Net

4.  Submitted by:   HotelGansevoort          Views: 835

Another excellent interview of  Cathy Lewis, VP International Marketing of 3D Systems. presenting an introduction to and the Cube.

5.  Submitted by:  PCPro          Views: 4,459

A short, but very clear, view of a Nano bracelet being printed.  Good video for catching the printing strategy used by the Cube printing open spaces without support materials.

Here are some links to additional Cube videos we watched...

Submitted by:  cfinley          Views: 183
A very short video by that shows a closeup of the Nano bracelet being printed.

Submitted by:  Isaiah4115          Views: 524
A very quick scan through the Cubify booth at CES 2012 showing several objects being printed.

Submitted by:  PCWorldVideos          Views: 2,454 
A more thorough look at the Cube printing a rocking horse.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Apps Don't Have to be Complex to be Useful

In thinking about the possibilities related to the invitation to create and upload apps to Cubify, it dawned on me that stating the obvious might not be a bad thing to do.  

Apps will not have to be complex to be extremely useful.

In fact, having a large number of single purpose apps is probably MORE useful in encouraging home users to consider 3D than a handful of comprehensive 3D applications that might be difficult to learn.  Let's use our imaginations to see just how simple an app might be and still be, potentially, wildly popular. 

First, lets examine the output of the app.  All it would do is create a simple heart shaped pendent with a partially customized message.  We'll call our imaginary app "HeartExpressions"

The customization, in this case, can be as little as having the user enter a name.  That's it.
The user opens the app, enters the name, presses "Print" and the 3D Object could be ready to be printed.

The important thing is to remember that developers don't have to feel that they must deliver comprehensive applications that do all things for all people.  Sometimes it is the little things that mean the most.  And, I can guarantee you, that if you create an app that I can use to create custom messages in little pendents for special occasions, I will DEFINITELY buy it!

I would like to encourage app developers to ponder the many benefits of simple extrusion in creating 3D Objects that will have broad appeal to consumers.  The heart, above, is just one example.  For inspiration explore the world of paper crafting.  A good place to start is Denise O'Conner's Purple Paper Paradise Blog or Nicole Boucher's Nicki's Cardstock Creations blog both of which are full of creative projects that can give app developers ideas for some very nice single purpose apps that would appeal to the crafting community.

Why the "FAN" in CubifyFans?

How in the world could someone begin a blog announcing that they are a FAN of something when (1) they just heard about it a few days ago, (2) have never even seen one in person and (3) have no idea WHEN they will see one, let alone use one?

Good question.  But, one that I hope can be explained by years of envisioning what it would take to FINALLY be the answer to my dreams for a vehicle that can unleash a new wave of creativity across multiple generations... from children to the retired.

I have tremendous respect for the RepRap community.  They are the true pioneers of 3D printing.  And, that feat is remarkable.  It is rare to have a cross section of people working in homes, small labs and garages to start a new technological revolution.  Video recording didn't start that way. Neither laser printers nor ink jet printers were developed in that environment.  But, perfecting the concept of using extrusion to build 3D images has come from a remarkable grass-roots effort.

But, part of that development was driven by the goal of building a machine that could reproduce itself.  And, of course, this very important goal, affected the nature of the design where we see a framework  maze of rods and connecting parts.  Most do not even have a case covering the framework.

For a 3D printer to cross over from the "experimenter" community to the "consumer" community a different goal had to drive the design.  Over the years. as I pondered what this would take, some basic things came to mind.

Form should not obscure function

The best way to illustrate of this concept is to watch videos where designers and users of RepRap machines try to capture the machine building an object.  It is very clear that the framework gets in the way.  This is a case where the form of the 3D printer can obscure the function of the printer, making it appear more complex than it actually is.  Part of the initial appeal of 3D printing is seeing one's creation come to life layer by layer.

The design of the Cube 3D printer is wonderful in this regard.  Everything is right out in the open for the user to see.  And, this not only adds excitement to the process of using it; but, has another critical benefit.

Form should not be intimidating

Let's face it.  New things are intimidating enough without the structure adding a level of intimidation.  I'm not an Apple computer user because it did not exist when I first faced the hurdle of learning to use a computer.  But, had my introduction to computing come later, then I would probably be an Apple user.  A part of Steven Jobs' genius was the ability to provide interfaces and form factors that allowed people to do complex things with simplicity.

The smooth contours and clean lines of the Cube are incredibly important contributions to reducing  intimidation for first users.  Gone from site are the gears, pulleys and maze of support rods.  It draws the focus onto one little area... the print head.  To find acceptance in the consumer community lowering the intimidation level is critical.  And, the Cube does this beautifully.

Consumables should be simple to find and replace

I love the cartridge idea introduced in the Cube 3D Printer.  Sure, open rolls of plastic feedstock are perfectly functional.  But, the Cube Case concept is a far better way to deal with consumables for consumers.  Consumers are used to plugging refill cartridges into a wide variety of items they use on a daily basis.  Again, it takes away some of the intimidation factor that would be a barrier to wider acceptance in the consumer and school marketplace.

The printer design should discourage tampering

As a former teacher, I know first hand how enterprising some students can be when it comes to "modifying" classroom tools.  The fewer parts that present themselves as enticing targets of opportunity the more likely the tool will survive for more than a week.  All it takes is one creative student with a wrench to wreak a bit of havoc with most RepRap machines.  The enclosed design of the Cube certainly minimizes that potential.

The design should make one proud to own and display

In the mid-1980's I was privileged to be associated with a beautifully designed PC called the Mindset Computer.  In fact, it was the first computer to be put on display in the  Museum of Modern Art.   It is an example of a product that was an asset to the decor of the office.  For the home, my favorite example of a beautiful and functional design is the Keurig coffeemaker.

Every model of the Keurig, from the smallest personal version to the largest commercial brewer is designed to be enhance the environment in which it sits.  No one is ashamed to have one in their home or office... as demonstrated by their phenomenal success.

Take another look at the Cube with the all of the above criteria in mind...

Isn't it apparent that it's easy to be a FAN?  I think so.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Exploring the Cubify Store

Having no idea where 3D Systems is in terms of the development and testing of the Cube 3D printer, we have to look for whatever clues are available to us.

And, for now, that means exploring every nook and cranny of  It turns out that if you enter a zip code on the Community Page that it takes you to the Cubify Store.   Here is a partial screenshot of the store.

Remarkably, it's already stocked with around 450 items.

To be sure, this is going to grow well into the thousands in a very short period of time.  So, the current organization is probably going to undergo some significant changes as the offerings grow.  While there are a few bugs and bumps in the road when trying to use the store right now, it's certainly off to a good start and shows great promise. 

Currently, the basic organization allows one to search by Type, Price and Top Five Accounts.  Each of these categories has an "ALL" option.

Interestingly enough, this is very similar, on a very basic level, with the search system use by mega-successful B & H Photo, my favorite photo products reseller.  I hope this is intentional and that the designers are familiar with the search organization used by B & H Photo because, in the end they are going to need to refine their current categories if the site is to truly enable us to hone in on exactly what we want.

For now, however, the current system is a good start and quite easy to use allowing us to narrow our search well enough for the introductory period.

But, I have spotted something that I hope they fix right away.  And, that is setting some more stringent rules for those uploading items to require more complete descriptions.  For instance, the description for the very first item in the above sample screen is simply "button".  Now, that is perfectly OK if there are only a few buttons uploaded.  But, is this a shirt button, a replacement button for some electronic device or button for a weapon of mass destruction.  Once there are a few thousand buttons of various types this one is going to get lost in the noise.

On the other hand, right next to the button is an example of a model having a very useful description.  It is described as an "ElastomatiK Rubber gun firing mechanism" which in the first case is right up my interest alley and in the second case very well described with several different images breaking down the construction.

Aside from demonstrating the need for more comprehensive descriptions and a future need for more comprehensive search categories these two items also demonstrate another important thing about the Cubify experience.  One does NOT have to have a highly complex model to contribute something potentially useful to the Cubify community.  A button is an extremely useful object!  Yet, we are not limited to models having a single part.  Nor, are we limited to completely finished items.  The rubber gun firing mechanism, for instance, is meant to be an idea starter with the user deciding how that mechanism is to be used.  That's pretty cool.  And, I expect to see others contributing other parts that can be used to build a complete rubber pistol or rifle.

That is a far cry from the wooden rubber guns we put together as children that we used to shoot loops cut from automobile inner tubes!!   Ahhh,,,, but, I digress!  Back to the Store!!!

Aside from being able to download models for using in our own Cube 3D printers, the store offers images of 3D designs and products that can be ordered to be produced using professional 3D printers.  Here, for example is an $8887.00 Palm Chandelier.

Aside from the fact that most of us will NOT be ordering this particular object it does point out the wonderfully broad range of objects and products that will be available to the world through the Cubify Store.  And, THAT is a good thing.  Whether your budget leans more to the $5 items or $9,000 items, you should be able to find SOMETHING of both interest and usefulness.

This is going to be a fascinating experience.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another Excited Fan!!!!

Take a look at what the Snarkolepsy Blog has to say.

At Long Last! 3D Printing for the Rest of Us!

How long I have waited!  And, it's finally here.  The first true consumer personal 3D printer.  The Cube from 3D Systems.

Right now, all we have to go on is a few images and some press copy.  But, as sparse as it is, it is enough for me to jump on the Cubify and Cube bandwagon with full enthusiasm.

Why?  Because I have seen this day coming for years and what I see is the first 3D printer offering that meets my definition of a true consumer product.

Now, what I'm going to say may sound like I'm trying to puff myself up.  But, that's not my aim at all.  I just want you to know that there is experience behind my enthusiasm for this new product.. even if I know almost absolutely nothing about it.

The experience I want to convey is my history at spotting trends very, very early and being a repeated early adopter in once obscure technologies that are now commonplace.

In 1968 few people even knew small format video even existed.  But, I was rightly convinced that Sony, Concord and JVC were onto something.  True the fuzzy black and white images were atrocious.  But, I was convinced that not only would it get better; but, a LOT better.  It did.

Then, sometime around 1974, I purchased my first portable color camera.  It was the Akai VTS-150 two-tube vidicon color camera.  Again, by today's standards it was awful.  Getting a color image required so much light that one had to worry about peeling the paint off walls with the heat from the lights!  But, that little camera was borrowed by ABC News to see if video could be used to replace the film they were then using.  Now, NOBODY uses film.

In 1978 it struck me that computer graphics could be used in my videos.  Starting with a little Bally Arcade game system that included Tiny Basic, I began to experiment with creating computer graphics with a whopping 160x102 resolution.  And, graduated to a ZGRASS UV-1 with a luxurious 320x204 resolution with four colors from a pallet of 256 colors.

This led to my being hired, in 1981 by Astrocade, the company that came to market the Bally Professional Arcade.  Sure, those games were crude by today's standard.  But, we would not have the high resolution games we have now had it not been for those early, and admittedly crude, introductory innovations.

By 1984 it became clear that my intuition of 1978 was rapidly being validated and I, along with Steve Bress, designed what is most likely the first professional desktop video application for the PC, the JVC Video Titler running on the Mindset Computer.  That was followed by working on the design for Pinnacle Systems very first video product.  Now look where video has come!

Oh!  And, don't forget today's animation.  We could not have what we now have without the early adopters that used what was available to push the envelope.  This crude 1985 video may represent the first Lip-Sync animation ever created on a PC in REAL-TIME and mixed live video with computer generated overlays.  Be sure to turn your sound down a bit.  It starts with a jolt!

My first digital SLR camera, probably around around 1999, was a grainy 1.4mpx Olympus D-620L.  Now, just a bit over 10 years later, my SLR is a super-clean 21mpx Canon 5D MK II.  Each advance in capability was built on the previous advance.

Now, none of this is all that special.  Accept to point out that I do have a good track record in spotting seriously cool trends very early in the game.  And, in doing so, I do not expect perfection in the first offerings with which I work.

The secret to growth has been working with each of these early tools to wring everything I can out of them to be ready for what comes next.  And, what is coming next for me is an introduction to consumer 3D printing via the Cube 3D printer and

Not only do I enjoy these ventures into the new.  But, I enjoy taking these adventures with other brave and creative people.  And, this is where you come in.  I'm hoping that we can explore and learn together so that all of us advance much more rapidly than we might otherwise.  Let's look forward to having a huge load of fun!