May 31, 2015

Antimony CAD is something different!

Antimony is new open source CAD developed by Matt Keeter. Design in Antimony is done by connecting nodes in a graph, each node is defined by a customizable script and nodes usually represent a primitive shape or transform.
It is still under development and it is not meant as a professional CAD software for higher level applications. It will be interesting to see how it will develop in the future.
If you are enjoying OpenSCAD or any other programmatic CAD (and probably have a slight masochistic note) you will want to try this as an alternative.

It is described as:
Antimony is a computer-aided design (CAD) tool from a parallel universe in which CAD software evolved from Lisp machines rather than drafting tables
... but you will understand it better when you watch the video:

It currently runs on Linux and Mac but you can get it on Windows with help of a virtual machine.

Antimony homepage:

Antimony GitHub repository:

May 30, 2015

DIY soldering robot for home manufacturing

Brian Dorey developed this low cost home manufacturing robotic solder cell. Total cost to build this machine is around 860 £ and he made all the files need to make it publicly available.

We are witnessing a strong growth in DIY production machines like 3d printers, CNC mills, robots, pick and place machines and other digital manufacturing tools.
There will be a DIY micro factory in your neighborhood soon ...

Soldering robot working:

Project homepage:

All the files to build it and software to run it can be found at:

Lewihe Play 69 Euro 3d printer kit from Spain

This must be the cheapest 3d printer in the world! 69 euro! BUT WAIT! It comes without some essential parts like motors, hot end, electronics ...
What is the point of this concept? I'm not sure ...
Maybe if you already have all the steppers and other parts or you salvage them you can easily get the frame ...
People are interested in it since the first batch is sold out so it must be a market niche for it ...

Technical specifications:

Kit includes
  • Iron plate structure
  • Extruder support
  • Print surface
  • Metal shafts
  • Complete assembly video
  • File with all printed parts (also extruder)
Not included
  • 3 motors Nema 14 and 1 motor Nema 17
  • Standard metric screws 3 and 4
  • 6 units 624zz bearings and 10 units LM6UU bearings, pulleys and belts gt2
  • Electronics. Ramps for example.
  • Hot end between 0,2 y 0,8 mm
  • Power external supply 12V 4A
  • Print Technology: Fused deposition modeling
  • External dimensions: 210 x 210 x 250 mm.
  • Build Volume: 105 x 105 x 130 mm.
  • Filament: 1.75 mm
  • Print rigid and elastic filaments
  • Compatible with almost all extruders and hot ends
  • Software: Cura, Repetier, Pronterface, Octoprint and others
  • 3D Model File Types: .stl, .gcode, .obj
  • Supported OS: Windows (7+), Mac OS X (10+), Linux
  • Ultra compact system H-bot
  • Weight full assembled: 2.5 kg.
  • Power supply: External power supply DC 12V 4A
Lewihe Play in action with all the non-included parts:

Company homepage:

Video about NASA and 3d printing buildings on Mars

Video description:
Rob Mueller, Lead Senior Technologist at NASA Swampworks answers some questions about his project to 3D print on Mars and other space objects! Interview by Philip Schlenoff at GEOSET Studios before the Stacking Layers II conference

Cookware filament spool holder

... sometimes you just need a spool holder ...

Source: Robert Gremillion at Facebook group 3D Printing Club

His friend used a cooking pot almost as big as M3D printer to make a spool holding compartment :-) work of genius ...

May 27, 2015

SinapTec ultra cheap DIY 3d printer controller board

Here is a very simple open source controller board you can make yourself even with low skillset.

SinapTec description:
SinapTec AT328.02 is a 3D FDM printer controller board of very low cost, its operation is based on an Arduino Nano running a version of Teacup_Firmware. The board layout is designed so that it can be manufactured by any hobbyist, it is a simple face plate with through-hole components. The board was designed by: vdirienzo. SinapTec its fully open source.
Technical details:
  • 1 Arduino Nano socket.
  • 4 Pololus sockets (X,Y,Z y E)
  • 3 Line in for X_MIN, Y_MIN and Z_MIN endstops.
  • 2 Line in for Hotend and heated bed sensors.
  • 3 Mosfets outputs for Heater, Fan and Bed (this last with independent power supply).

Development forum:,499849

Detailed wiki: page:

Hexify openSCAD script

Jan Koniarik made an openSCAD script which will change a solid model to haxagon lattice infilled model. It will have similar structure to honeycomb.

Hexer script can be found at:

May 26, 2015

TeeBot folding suitcase 3D printer

TeeBot is a new folding 3d printer that folds into a suitcase.

Key features:

Auto print bed leveling

Using high precision proximity sensor and an aluminium print bed, TeeBot now boast of auto bed levelling. It means you do not have to worry about calibrating the distance of the print nozzle to the bed, it implements these automatically.

Stand alone printing

TeeBot comes with a smart controller equipped with an LCD display, SD card reader and a rotary click encoder. These feature enable you to operate the 3D printer with out the need of a PC or laptop, allowing you to adjust print speed, flow rate, temperature, change filaments and more while printing.

Open software

TeeBot has been tested and calibrated with most major 3D printing software like slic3r, pronterface, CURA and more.

Wireless control

TeeBot can be controlled over a network connection. Start and monitor your printer with an attached camera over the internet or local network. TeeBot has been tested to work with OctoPrint and Doodle3d. (Extra hardware required)

Easy to fold

TeeBot can be easily folded for storage while not in use, or for easy transporting, the folding is done in simple steps.

Technical specifications:
  • Frame: Aluminium frame.
  • Maximum print size: 20cm x 16cm x 20cm (LxBxH)
  • Extruder type: Specially built Teestruder_V2.
  • Hot-End: Original E3D - Lite6 all metal hotend!!
  • Print resolution/Quality: From 0.1mm layer height upwards.
  • Firmware: Marlin.
  • Print platform: Aluminium: RepRap ALU Heatbed MK3 from "".
  • Print speed: Up to 140mm/s.
  • Filament size: 1.75mm.
  • Print Materials: PLA (recommended), ABS, Flexible filaments or any material that prints under 260 degree centigrade (please follow outlined safety caution when printing material other than PLA).
  • Dimensions: Box closed: 550mm x 400mm x 250mm; Unfolded: 550mm x 400mm x 500mm.
  • Price: starts at 450 USD for a DIY kit on Kickstarter 

Demonstration of TeeBot auto leveling:

Kickstarter campaign:

TeeBot is developed by Emmanuel A Adetutu, who sucessfully developed and open sourced TeeBotMax in the past:

Kidraulic open source 3D printable toy modules

KidRaulic is an innovative open-source toy project developed by Idan Zilzer in which anyone with a 3D printer can download the basic building blocks and easily design and create with them any toy you can imagine. It uses syringes to change air pressure and move parts of a toy.

Here is video of it in action:

You can download the files for it here:

May 25, 2015

RepRapPro Fisher Delta 3D Printer

RepRapPro launched their new 3D printer and it is a low cost Delta! It is named Fisher Delta and it is priced at £199.00+VAT

Printer description:
The latest 3D printer from RepRapPro. Benefits from simple assembly, auto calibration and very fast motion. We are currently offering these kits as a beta version, for a discounted price. The machine is fully functional, but the design is likely to evolve a little before a full release.

Basic specifications:
– Build volume 150mm diameter, 180mm height
– Nozzle diameter 0.4mm

– 12.5um resolution in all axes
– Removable print surface
– Spring loaded kinematic locations, 1um repeatable positioning and bed probing
– Direct drive extruder with all metal stainless steel nozzle

– Duet electronics
– 32 bit ARM cortex microprocessor
– Ethernet and USB interface
– On-board microSD storage

– Automatic calibration of print surface and delta parameters
– Smooth realtime motion
– Internal webserver for access via ethernet, with DHCP and netBIOS

– Machine controlled via web interface
– Prints gcode files provided by Slic3r and other open source slicing software

Delta homepage:

Here is Fisher Delta printing:

We are still waiting for third party reviews and tests.

May 22, 2015

Make your own aluminum frame Ultimaker 2 clone

Jason developed Ultimaker 2 clone made with aluminum extrusion frame and 3d printed parts. According to his posts it work very well.

He describes it as:
This is not The Greatest UM2 Clone, no.
This is just a tribute.
This project began as a fun way to learn AutoDesk Fusion 360. I started by importing the entire Solidworks CAD file into a new Fusion 360 project, dropped the frame (walls) from the printer, built 20x20 Misumi aluminum extrusions to wrap the printer guts and then worked to build brackets to support all the parts that previously attached to the frame.
I've been printing nonstop on this new printer with the same precision and quality as my real UM2. In fact, I can use the same GCODE in either machine with identical results.

Video of this UM2 clone in action:

All the files and instructions can be found at:

GrabCAD CubeSat Challenge

Here is a great contest for all you guys interested in 3d printed satellites and space. It has some great awards also.

One of the contest entries. 

The contest is organized by Stratasys, MakerBot and GrabCAD.

About This Challenge

The goal of this challenge is to design a small satellite frame optimized for additive manufacturing. By using the benefits of design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) principles:
  • Mass distributions and materials can be rethought to minimize weight 
  • Part count can be reduced to improve producibility 
and ultimately, cost can be reduced.

Awards for TOP 10 places:

1st Place

- $2,500 cash
- Your design printed by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
- Makerbot® Replicator® and material pack.
- Featured story in Stratasys online communication and use of your design as an example part in Stratasys trade show and conference appearances.

2nd Place

- $1,000 cash
- Your design printed by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
- Makerbot® Replicator® and material pack

3rd Place

- $500 cash
- Makerbot® Replicator® and material pack.

4th - 10th Place

- $100 cash
- Makerbot T-Shirt
- 3D Printed Sample Part

Challenge homepage:

also don't forget about NASA 3d printed habitat contest:

Good luck people! 

So, WHAT is 3d printing?

... well it is different things to different people ...

Do you have similar experiences? :-)

Published by reddit user Flux83 on:

May 19, 2015

DIY digitizer with detailed construction guide

Nikolaj Møbius from Fablab RUC developed a simple and cheap DIY digitizer 3d scanner that can record points in a physical space and convert them into a 2D vector drawing for laser cutting or 3D printing.
It is made with three rotary encoders and gets a points measures controlled by Arduino. Since it currently does only measures more suitable for 2D capture it is ideal for CNC or laser cutting with very good results.
Since the software is in early development phase we can expect better 3d scanning or 3d point cloud capture soon.

Check out the project homepage with very detailed build guide and software:

It looks very easy to build even for the beginners.

Here is the description of current limitations:
So far the system is designed to record a 2D surface and convert it into a PDF vector file. The Z axis is simply ignored in the output. Since the system actually records in a 3D space it is possible to export a 3D object for post processing. This is mainly a matter of implementing a another export method.
However, since the arm is not able to reach around an object in a 3D space it will not be possible to record all the points necessary to make a full 3D object (Update: In the source files we have a version with a rotating platform now). One possible workaround would be to implement a rotating base which would enable the arm to approach the object from all sides. Further, the software is only a usable prototype, but could be evolved into a much more solid tool.
I like the plywood frame arm!

For a similar (but less documented) project look at:

For a really cheap laser and webcam based 3d scanner see Sardauscan:


I was wondering how to convert point cloud in some solid mesh by using free software and I found this tutorial with Meshlab:

DIY 3d printed hand exoskeleton

The first thing that came to my mind was: CAN YOU PUT SOME MOTORS ON IT AND GET SUPERSTRONG? The project was developed by from Australia (two words: MAD MAX) ...

All the files needed to print it can be found at:

Testing 3D printed DIY arrowheads

Here you can see a video of a test featuring DIY 3d printed arrowheads and their effect on 3d printed chain mail and fruit :-) While 3d printed compound bows seem functional, these arrowheads seem completely useless.

Two arrowheads were tested:

NASA 3D Printed Habitat Competition

Here is a great competition with some big prizes. NASA wants you to help them explore and inhabit the space with help of 3d printing! I wish you the best of luck if you are going to compete!

Competition details from the NASA page:
NASA and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as America Makes, are holding a new $2.25 million competition to design and build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars.

The multi-phase 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge, part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program, is designed to advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond.

The first phase of the competition runs through Sept. 27. This phase, a design competition, calls on participants to develop state-of-the-art architectural concepts that take advantage of the unique capabilities 3-D printing offers. The top 30 submissions will be judged and a prize purse of $50,000 will be awarded at the 2015 World Maker Faire in New York.

The second phase of the competition is divided into two levels. The Structural Member Competition (Level 1) focuses on the fabrication technologies needed to manufacture structural components from a combination of indigenous materials and recyclables, or indigenous materials alone. The On-Site Habitat Competition (Level 2) challenges competitors to fabricate full-scale habitats using indigenous materials or indigenous materials combined with recyclables. Both levels open for registration Sept. 26, and each carries a $1.1 million prize.

For more information, rules and to register for the 3-D-Printed Habitat Challenge, please click here.

May 17, 2015

This Blog was Voted Third in 3D Printing News Category by CGTrader Community

Thank you people! You made my day! It's a big motivation to improve my work and develop this blog further! 

More info on CGTrader Awards anf full infographic with other awards:

CGTrader asked their 180 000 community members to vote for the best 3D online resources, software, tools and designers. Qualitative and quantitative surveys were answered by 662 designers and they chose their favorites in the industry.

How to convert G-Code back into STL?

I've been researching methods to convert pure G-Code back to STL / .OBJ, and it seems that there are not many options but it can be done.

G-Code Reverser by MakePrintable

Even in its beta version it looks the most developed out solution.

Here is the Reverser description:
The Generated G-Code commands represent horizontal layers “slices” of the 3D model, sliced as the model was placed, scaled, and rotated in the slicing software’s platform, those commands are generated with user and printer-specific settings, all of which makes the G-Code almost impossible to modify in order to retarget different printers, let alone modifying the original model itself.
Our Reverser interprets the G-code, and collects the details and data needed from the commands, then it regenerates the 3D model which represents the outcome of the printing process using the respective G-code file.
This feature allows users to reuse G-code, by regenerating the G-code using the Reverser’s outcome, and simply changing the settings, or even target other printers than the one targeted in the G-code file.
Power users and 3D designers would get the chance to modify the model once more, as the outcome of the Reverser would be in .OBJ or .STL formats, which means they can import it into 3D editing software and start with their editing.

Blender GCode Reader Add-on and GCodeImport

New version:

There are some solutions that enable G-Code visualization and / or printing simulation like but not conversion or export to STL:

GCode2Vtk that displays g-code like VTK 3d model.

GCode Analyzer/Visualizer

CNCSimulator can simulate 3d printering out of g-code

Repetier Host seems to be able to simulate g-code in 3d model bu I'm not expert on it.

If you know any other methods to convert g-code back to STL let me know so I can update this post.


Could this be used to hack 3d model streaming services? A kind of a workaround?
There are services like Pinshape that use "streaming" as a sort of DRM that enable you to print an object without downloading it in order to preserve the original .stl object and prevent sharing or piracy.
Theoretically you could us a sort of custom Marlin that only reads the g-code and records it and you could use g-code reverser to make an original STL.

Here is an example of streaming service:

Source blog post about streaming function:

DRM systems always fail and punish only a paying customer.

IndieLC compact DIY 3d printer with linear bearings

IndieLC is a compact DIY 3d printer that uses linear bearings. It is small in footprint but has relatively large print volume for its size.

Key features:
  • Lightweight and Portable – To be transportable I wanted to keep the weight as low as possible though still keep the functionality of the printer. For this reason I decided to base the design around the smaller Nema 14 stepper motors that provide more than enough torque. I also designed the printer so that it can be flat packed by splitting it down to the 3 main axes to be safely stored in a case for transport.
  • Versatile – To be able to increase the adaptability of the printer for use with different types of materials (PLA/ABS etc) and allow further development of the use of these materials I wanted to incorporate a heated bed so decided to incorporate the RepRapPro heated PCB. This would also alleviate any potential bed adhesion problems.
  • Stable – With each printer I have previously built the weakness has been the stability of the Z axis as a result of the motion of the X axis. With the crane style design only having one Z axis support I wanted to minimize the weight being transferred across this axis and so I incorporated the use of a Bowden system with the RepRapPro hotend.
  • Neat – Having gained experience with routing wires, and finding that due to repetitive motion of the axes failed joints or broken connections interrupted the use of the printer, I decided to use flat core cable like I first saw used on the Mendal 90. This has proved a much more reliable method for wiring.
  • Noise – After using Linear Bearings for motion on all my other printers I decided to try using wheels and bearings to reduce noise and found Openbuilds V-slot system to be a suitable choice.
  • Efficient – Larger flat plates are made from laser cut acrylic as it provides a good balance between accessibility, strength, cost, weight and aesthetics. It reduces build time as to 3D print these would take a lot of time and I didn’t want to spend ages printing what were essentially 2D parts! The 3D printing is saved for the more complex, intricate designs. Additionally I feel people have greater accessibility to laser cutters versus other manufacturing options.
  • Print Area – The printable area of the printer is 140x140x140mm which is large compared to the overall size of the printer – making the most of the space available.

Here is the IndieLC in action:

Project homepage:

Autodesk releases files for Ember 3d printer

Autodesk made all the mechanical files for their Ember SLA 3D printer publicly available making it open source. It comes shortly after they have open sourced the PR48 resin for it. The Ember itself proved to be very hackable.

Why did they do it? Maybe to gain market for their Spark platform? As a sort of move against competition? Who knows ...  How will other companies like FormLabs react? That will be interesting! I see that SLA is the new field of growth and competition and we can certainly hope for much more new machines and materials coming soon.

Here is what Autodesk team writes about this move:
With these design files, you can conceivably make your own Ember. However, many of Ember's parts are injection molded, and while it is possible to 3D print these parts (many of Ember's first prototypes were largely 3D printed -- there's a certain beauty in a 3D-printed 3D printer), it's probably more work and ultimately more expensive than buying an Ember. The same is true of the projector -- having a Fusion model of the projector won't help you make your own, but that's not the point.
Our thought is not that you would duplicate Ember, but extend it. The design files allow you to make your own modifications and enhancements. For example, we'd love to see Ember used as a research platform to explore the next-generation of stereolithography.
All the mechanical files can be found at:

Source and more information:

May 16, 2015

Large volume Printrbot Pro and Printrbot Crawlbot CNC

Brook Drumm of Printrbot published information on two new machines:

Printrbot Pro 

Technical specifications:
  • Around 2' cubed build volume. 
  • Heated bed.
  • Dual extruder (all metal Ubis hotends, v2 Alu extruder, Alu gear head extruder in the works... Print in any material available today)
  • Optional enclosed build chamber.
  • LCD panel
  • SD card slot
  • Dedicated heatbed controls
  • LED lights
  • Actually fits through most doors ;)

Here is what Brooks writes about it:
I have wrestled with this monster for over a year. I build 5 prototypes from scratch and hated them all. The last one was too ambitious with servos and ballscrews... That last one printed beautifully after, oh, SO much work, but I tore it down the next day and went back to the drawing board... Hacking together a totally new design in a couple days from spare parts lying around-- #6. That served as the model for this fine specimen - #7. Thanks again to Steve, Nick, Mark and Caleb.
The Printrbot Pro is aimed at those who want a very large build volume but don't want to pay the big bucks for other options out there.

It's also the most expensive printer we have ever made, but will be less than the MB Z18. But, not gonna kid ya, shipping will kill you.
We will post pics, video and details immediately. We won't have it at Makerfaire, though. After reviewing it today, I have some details to refine after we get back... Then it's ready for prime time.

We will sell this bot a bit differently... Doing a waiting list and making them one at a time. I may actually interview the potential buyers to be sure of a good fit. We hope to keep a slow steady pace with this one since the market is presumably small. I have a handful of clients already lining up... Really interesting to hear what people plan to do with them! It is intended for businesses and education.
The shop is a buzz about what we all want to print on this thing. The next one we build is for me ;)
Printrbot Crawlbot CNC

Here is what Brook writes about it:
Printrbot Crawlbot lives. It’s big and it’s small. A Cnc router that cuts 4x8′ material, yet occupies a small footprint in your garage. CAD/CAM software included.
Details, pics and video soon to follow. See it live at Maker Faire in a couple days. Price not yet set.

It's still early, but the world will see it in a couple of days anyway. Even though there is a punch list of things to refine, I wanted to share it on the first day I saw it cut with its own software.
That's right, Printrbot makes software, thanks to Mick and Sean - the two newest members of the Printrbot family. Mick is the coder / maker in the pic.

Crawlbot will feature cloud-powered project sharing-- software that runs in your browser but works offline too. Tinyg and raspberry pi team up to run the show here. Mick been working on the software for months. The hardware idea was the usual Brook and Brian brainstorm followed by boots on the ground making it a reality. Thanks to Steve (lead), Mark, Nick, & Caleb.

Designed completely in Fusion 360, btw.
We think you are gonna like it.

May 14, 2015

Vulcanus V1 DIY 3d printer for under 300 Euro

New day, new machine project is published. Vulcanus was developed by 16 years old Vulcaman. Nice work mate!

Technical specifications:
  • Based on CoreXY
  • Aluminum extrusions frame
  • Dimensions: 44cm x 44cm x 60cm
  • Build Volume: 20cm x 20cm X 26cm
  • Print Speed: 300mm/s tested but you can also try higher values
  • Resolution: up to 0.05mm
  • Electronics: Ramps 1.4 with TMC2100 1/256 microstep motor driver, Arduino Mega 2560
  • Updates coming soon: 32bit electronics, enclosed build chamber
  • Price: under 300 Euro depending on your preferred source
Detailed build instructions can be found at:

3d printed parts:


Vulcaman developed a much cheaper 60 euro Cherry 3d printer:

GE has 3D printed a working small jet engine

New advancement from GE where they managed to 3D print fully functional small metal jet engine. It runs up to 33,000 RPM. Soon someone will make open source version of it. That would have some interesting implications.

Read more about it at:

Laser sintered jet engine parts

May 12, 2015

How to make a DIY Stewart Platform with 3d printed parts

Stewart platform is a multi-purpuse robotic platform that is movable in six axis. This machine could be used in all sorts of project where you need multiaxial kinematics. I could see it even being used as part of a 3d printer.

Nicholas Pajerski made a tutorial on Instructables describing how to build a desktop Stewart platform with lasercut and 3d printed parts. It is controlled by Arduino and uses linear actuators enabling it to carry heavier loads.

Detailed build guide and all the parts files can be found at:

I have a feeling that a field of home manufacturing robotics is entering a very rapid development phase. 3d printers were just the initial phase. 

Here is a much larger MOOG platform controlled by IPad used for flight simulations:

And here is a smaller version doing some balancing:

3D Printing for Mars Exploration and Colonization

Sure you can print a working version of Mars rover but will 3d printing ever be used on MArs? Sure it will!

Here is a talk by Aavron Estep at 2015 TEDxOStateU event, April 10, 2015, on the Oklahoma State University campus.

News article about the project:

NASA is already using it to create its Desert RATS manned Space Exploration Vehicle rover prototype:

More info on:

Space Exploration Vehicle prototypes Source: Wikipedia

Rise of 3D Printing Factories and a Future without Work

CloudDDM is a company that operates like most 3D printing services where you can order parts through a web interface, but they're able to produce any part at high volumes and speed. They've recently opened a 3D printing factory inside UPS international hub in Louisville USA with one hundred 3D printers and plans to increase to a thousand. The machines run 24/7 and all the logistics are handled by UPS. They print in several materials like ABS, Polycarbonate (PC), Polycarbonate-ABS (PC-ABS) and ULTEM 1010 with several color options.

CloudDDM 3D printers. DDM stands for "Direct Digital Manufacturing". Image source: CNN

Now the truly amazing (or frightening) thing about this factory is that it is highly automatized and operated by only THREE WORKERS! 3 people! 3! One per eight-hour shift! Is this a new trend? Factories without ANY workers?

Lets see what other players are doing...

GE is a well-known aerospace 3D printing manufacturer and here is how they see future of work:

Lots of 3d printers and robots producing and only a few people designing and carrying furniture. They look out of place and almost like a decoration. I'll write about future of design work in the future post about this topic ... but don't think machines can not design stuff also ...

Materialise has a 3D printing "factory" facilities with what looks like more people working:

But this is not a pure "factory" but more diverse design and production center with design, product development, and engineering personnel. Another point is that they probably displace many "traditional" workers as they use cutting-edge technology and logistics. Maybe even several orders of magnitude more than they employ. If you look closely you will find that even some of the workplaces showed in this video could be automated now or replaced by machines in a couple of years.

Are we seeing a start of 3D printing factories replacing industrial workers? In the '90ties during the first dot-com bubble, people predicted that the postal services will disappear because of email communication but they were wrong since they took over the much increased package shipments due to the rise of e-commerce. Could this happen again with increased volume of 3D printed products? Probably not. 

Because the whole transport logistic sector is getting automatized! Deimler just presented their autonomous truck and the state of Nevada is supporting it with new autonomous vehicle legislation. Even the company said it will take some 10 years to have fully autonomous trucks on the roads with major regulatory obstacles but they are moving in that direction with most of the other tech companies like Tesla and Google. Do keep in mind that "truck driver" is the most common profession in the USA with more than 9 million employed in the trucking industry or 1 in every 13 employed Americans.

Is this onset of technological unemployment unfolding in real life? Technological unemployment (or desourcing) is defined as a process of unemployment being caused mainly by technological advances. It is a controversial theory that has yet to be confirmed or disproved.

In 2014 Pew Research surveyed 1,896 technology professionals and economists and found a split in opinions: 48 percent of them believed that new technologies would displace more jobs than they would create by the year 2025, while 52 percent maintained that they would not. The implications of it being a reality would have a HUGE societal impact on a global scale. What jobs are future proof?

Future will be interesting. Stay smart and think about all the possible scenarios!

As I live in a country with very high unemployment I have a very personal interest in this topic and I think it is very important to investigate it and stay informed about it.

Do you think your job could be done by a machine or software? Share your opinions in comment section

Since this post drew a lot of attention and there were many interesting developments, I've decided to try to document further developments and new 3D factories being built:

Update (07.02.2016.):

Siemens opened first European 3d printing factory in Sweden.  The €21.4 million facilities, located in Siemens industrial plant in Finspång, Sweden will have 20 employees and multiple industrial grade metal 3d printers. The factory will produce prototypes, end-product parts and replacement parts for repair focused on gas turbines.
Thorbjorn Fors, global business director for Distributed Generation at Siemens, said of the facility:
“With this investment, we can develop new and improved components and repairs, for example burner tips to serve our industrial gas turbine SGT-800, significantly faster. Using this innovative approach, we will shorten repair times from months to weeks. It is an important step in our ability to respond to the needs of our customers.”
Full press release in Swedish.

As we see there are more 3d printing factories being built with a very small number of workers. This is also a start of the change in the Europe.

Siemens 3d printing factory in Sweden. Looks very clean. And empty of people. 

Update (15.04.2016.):

There are more 3D printing factories and production/prototyping centers being opened all over the world:

Airbus opened one in the Ludwig Bolköw Campus near Munich.

From the source:
The Aerospace Factory, as the new 3D printing center at the facility is being called, will be based out of the Ludwig Bolköw Campus, an industry and university collaborative venture located on-site. The location will be used to research the 3D printing of endparts for use in aerospace through work performed by a number of important players including: Airbus Safran Launchers; metal 3D printer manufacturer EOS; engine maker MTU Aero Engines; the Technical University of Munich and its Institute for Machine Tools and Industrial Management; Airbus Group Innovations; the Fraunhofer Development Center for X-ray Technology (EZRT); Industrieanlagen-Betriebsgesellschaft mbH (IABG); Airbus subsidiary APWorks; virtual prototyping firm the ESI Group; and the Airbus Endowed Chair for Integrative Simulation and Engineering of Materials and Processes (ISEMP) of the University of Bremen.

GE opened 200 M USD advanced manufacturing center in Pune, India.

From the source:
In 2015, GE unveiled its $200 million, Multi-Modal advanced manufacturing facility in Chakan, Pune, part of the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Dubbed a “brilliant factory” by its creators, the facility was established to produce jet engine parts, locomotive components, wind turbines, and a host of other additively and traditionally manufactured components for a number of GE companies. The facility now employs around 1,500 workers, responsible for operating 3D printers and other machinery. "The idea is to service a multitude of businesses—from oil and gas, to aviation, transportation, and distributed power—all under the same roof," said GE's Amit Kumar, overseer of the Multi-Modal facility, via TechRepublic.
The Multi-Modal facility provides GE with several advantages. By bringing a number of interconnected operations under one roof, the company will allegedly save up to ten times as much money than if it had established individual facilities for separate business lines. The facility is also helping to bring plastic and metal additive manufacturing technology to its India operations, an advancement which offers the company huge flexibility and cost-saving potential.

Eventually, the Pune facility will produce critical end-use components such as the jet engine fuel nozzle, but it will first service a more urgent need: 3D printing replacement parts for broken machinery—parts that would otherwise have to be made in bulk and stored, or sourced from an external supplier. Replacement parts, especially for older appliances, can be incredibly difficult to source when those appliances are discontinued or simply made in small quantities. 3D printing these replacement parts is much faster than producing them using traditional manufacturing techniques, with previous timescales of three to five months reduced to around one week when additive manufacturing is implemented
Can you spot a single human worker?


Update (27.06.2016.):

GE Oil & Gas is opening new 3D printing factory line with advanced robotics in Talamona, Italy. It is investing some 10 million USD in new production lines to 3D print burners for gas turbine combustion chambers and other advanced components such as nozzles. These new advanced manufacturing lines establish this site as a center of excellence for the oil and gas industry. It also used advanced production software to manage the factory.
“The use of automated production and new techniques like additive manufacturing allow us to develop parts and products more efficiently, precisely and cost-effectively, accelerating the speed at which we can bring product to market,” said Davide Marrani, general manager for manufacturing for GE Oil & Gas’ Turbomachinery Solutions business line.

“The opportunities for the application of additive manufacturing and 3D printing in the oil and gas industry are only just starting to be explored, and it will require an ongoing rethink of component design and production approach,” said Massimiliano Cecconi, GE Oil & Gas Materials & Manufacturing Technologies Executive.

You can see the factory grounds and some robotic machines with end products here:

As factories as growing so is the software ecosystem that connects them B2B and B2C. Fast Radius has developed "virtual inventory" software for their 3d printing factory. It enables companies to deliver parts "on demand" and "just in time". Rick Smith from Fast Radius said:
“On average, the rule of thumb for the cost of holding physical inventory is about 25 percent the cost of the part per year,” he explained. “There is a significant cost in terms of cost of capital, warehousing space, security and damage. The other major problem with physical inventory is that you’ve got to produce in large volumes to get the unit costs low. This works great when you’re producing iPhones and you know you’re going to sell 10 million of them. But, when all of a sudden you’ve got an essential part and you know you’re only going to need 15 of them per year—maybe it’s a critical part to a machine in a manufacturing operation that doesn’t break very often, but is extremely important when it does break—then it doesn’t make sense to go through the setup and all of the costs related to doing a larger-scale production.”
The centralized manufacturing model of the 20th century may not be done away with soon, but the shift is already under way. To introduce its 3D printing services to potential OEMs, Fast Radius has partnered with about a dozen companies that are looking to make the shift to a virtual inventory. “To start,” Smith explained, “the companies that we’re working with are identifying 1,000 or 1,500 parts that are excellent candidates for on demand production. This may be a small percentage of their overall inventory, but as costs drop precipitously and quality continues to rise over time, these companies know that a larger and larger percentage of physical inventory will be moved to a virtual inventory model.”

Update (16.11.2016.):

here is a vision of the digital manufacturing based future factory by EOS GmbH, a German advanced 3d printing developer, and producer. How many human jobs can you spot?


Update (03.12.2016.):

Here is an interview with a GE executive who claims that they will make 10000 3D printers in next ten years. Can you imagine what effect will that have on the industry and employment?

Update (02.01.2017.):

There is even an Elysium named future factory project. Elysium. Think about it.

Update (05.01.2017.):

Today I found out that Amazon company uses 45000 robots while entire county of Croatia where I live has 175 industrial robots.

Update (27.01.2017.):

Adidas is also starting a 3d printed shoe factory named the "Speedfactory":

Update (01.02.2017.):

How many 3d printing factories are there in China? Foxconn will fire many thousands of people and have robotic manufacturing lines but there is little info about 3d printers and additive manufacturing. I just found a random image of a Chinese production facility with massive 3d printers.

Update (11.02.2017.):

Swiss advanced manufacturing company Oerlikon have announced plans to build a new 3D printing facility in North Carolina. The company will spend $55 million on the manufacturing hub over the next two years and will create over 100 jobs in the long term. The state-of-the-art R&D and production facility will be located in Huntersville, Charlotte.

Source and more info:

Here is Goldman Sachs view on the factory of the future:

Update (23.04.2017.):

Voodoo Manufacturing developed a robot operated 3d print farm to be able to compete with injection molding. They are based in Broklyn.

Project Skywalker presentation video:

Medium post by Jonathan Schwartz, CPO, Voodoo Manufacturing with more details:

Carbon produced 10000 plastic parts for Oracle servers in very short time using their CLIP technology in what is basically a micro 3d printing factory. The efficiency of this production method is incredible. It will certainly "optimize" some jobs away.

Source post with a case study:

GE Aviation is building their "Brilliant Factories" with advanced 3d printing for aerospace industry:

Optomac is starting to print sensors on turbine blades with aerosol jet technology in cooperation with GE:

Update (28.05.2017.):

Siemens has developed revolutionary 3d printed metal blades for high-tech gas turbines:


Update (02.07.2017.)

Formlabs developed the Form Cell stereolithography (SLA) automation system. It is the first step towards decentralized smaller size 3d printing production cells. In their presentation, you will see that they actively promote reducing the labor cost and having a lights-off system that can work with minimum human action.

The Economist published an article about 3d printing factories and novel production processes:

Update (10.08.2017.):

3D printing service provider Forecast 3D has announced the opening of a new 3D Manufacturing Center for full-run, large-scale production using HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology. The 21,000-square foot facility features 12 HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D printers and opened in July 2017 at the company’s Carlsbad, California, headquarters.

With this center, Forecast 3D says it now offers a full-process HP 3D printing and manufacturing solution capable of producing more than 600,000 end-use production parts per week.


Update (02.08.2018.):

If you want to see a fully autonomous rocket factory, go check out:

MDFStrap wood frame RepStrap from New Zealand

Terry Bates published information about his project; he made a MDF board RepStrap. As I am a big fan of wooden 3d printers I had to re-post it.

MDFStrap links with build log and all the technical information:

May 11, 2015

Low cost 3d printable DIY DSLR shoulder rig and slider

Instructables user focamonca published two low cost DIY projects for you photography geeks out there. They are easy and very affordable: he made a DSLR shoulder rig and slider for some 200 dollars each.

Here is the shoulder rig demo:

Detailed build guide:

Here is the 3d printed DSLR slider for some 20 USD:

Build guide for it can be found at:

How to make DIY ultrasonic vapor polisher for 3D printed objects

Micheal, well known for his TestrBot made another useful and easy DIY project that enables you to build ultrasonic vapor polisher for your 3d printed objects.

Here is the project summary:

What's needed is a better solvent application method, and that's what this Instructable is about.
The current vapor polishing methods and their drawbacks include:
  1. Hot treat via boiling solvent in a crock pot or similar chamber (Potentially dangerous and very hands-on process)
  2. Cold treat via slow release of solvent from paper towels in an enclosed container (Very time consuming, can't observe parts during this process.)
  3. Spray canned solvent aerosol onto part. (Inconsistent surface finish, must be done outside)
  4. Dipping parts directly into liquid solvents (Unpredictable/inconsistent finish, Likely over exposure of part)
All I wanted is a machine that lets me quickly drop parts into a transparent container and be able to press 'go' and have the machine produce a predictable finish on its own. I do not want to have to put together a really involved setup that may be a fire hazard, fume hazard, or something that produces unpredictable surface finishes. Essentially I want something as convenient as a microwave. I'm also forgetful so I don't want my parts to be destroyed if I forget that I left them in the machine.
The Ultrasonic Misting 3D Vapor Polisher is the solution to all of these problems.
This key component of this machine comes from ultrasonic humidifier, which uses a piezoelectric transducer (like a speaker) to create a high frequency mechanical oscillation in a liquid. This vibration forms an extremely fine mist of droplets in a fog/mist. The density of the fog is controlled by varying the intensity of the vibrations via a potentiometer.
This fog mist is very dense and wont move far on its own, so I used an aquarium air pump to blow it from the misting chamber into the glass finishing chamber where it can condense on the 3D printed part. This airflow keeps the air moving inside the finishing chamber, which helps produce a consistent finish on the part. The airflow system is open by necessity but we do not want the exhaust air to become a fume hazard so there is a water bubbler on the exhaust to absorb excess solvent. (Note that this only protects you when using water miscible solvents such as acetone.)

Here is the video of machine in action and results of the treatment:

Detailed build guide can be found here:

Here are results of strength tests with lots of charts:

Conclusion was:
The vapor treatment resulted in a consistent overall weakening of the test specimens. Specimens that had not been treated with Acetone vapor had an average yield stress 24% higher than those treated with the vapor.
Solvents that can be used to polish different materials:
  • ABS: Acetone
  • Acrylic: Most Solvents
  • PLA: MEK or 'MEK Substitute'
  • PVA: Water
  • PVC: Most Solvents
  • Polycarbinate: Pretty solvent resistant
  • Nylon: Pretty solvent resistant
  • Polypropylene: Pretty solvent resistant
  • Polyethylene: Pretty solvent resistant

Stay safe people! Chemicals are dangerous! You can check this chart showing dangerous combinations:

Update (26.09.2016.):

Here is the upgraded PRO version of this vapor polisher made from simple plastic boxes:

Detailed construction guide can be found at:

May 6, 2015

OPAM water cooled metal hot end

OPAM is a new all metal jot end with water cooling from Singapore developed by Leong Khit. It will be open sourced when the Indiegogo campaign finishes.

The design is simplified by:
  • Combining the nozzle, heater block and heat sink into 1 single piece of SS304
  • Using water cooling as it is far more effective than air cooling
  • Removing any PEEK or PTFE material
The benefits of a One Piece design are as follows:
  • No leaks/jams between the nozzle and heater block's contact surface
  • No galling of the nozzle's thread (since it is built-in as part of the design)
Key Features:
  • 1 piece construction (the nozzle, heater block & heat sink is combined into 1 single piece of SS304) to eliminate jams
  • Water-cooled for high temperature extrusion of up to 350°C
  • Short & Sharp transition from cold to hot portion (just 4mm)
  • Built-in stainless stain nozzle
  • Compact design (Light weight of 40 grams) for high speed printing
  • Price: 60 USD for early-bird backers on IG

It is on Indiegogo now:

Here is a detailed review by well known Thomas Sanladerer:

Combining laser cutting and 3d printing for faster manufacturing

Platener is a project from team working in Hasso-Plattner Institute that combines laser cutting of simple surfaces and combining them with 3d printed complex curved parts to get very fast manufacturing or prototyping.

Project homepage with more information:

They have previously developed faBrickation 3d printing with Lego bricks and WirePrint for wireframe objects.

Kinda 3D printable DIY furniture connector

Kinda is a project developed sou you can 3d print simple connectors enabling you to make table or shelf tripod legs.

All the files and instructions how to put everything together can be found at:

How to design for dual extruders with FreeCAD

Here is a great video tutorial on how to use FreeCAD to design two colored (or dual material or support structures) 3d objects for dual extruders. It could be also used for other CAD programs.

Tutorial was made by Jurgen Gaeremny.

DIY contact 3D scanner with Arduino and FreeCAD

Here is a nice little 3d scanner made from various scrap parts and Arduino. It is a simple contact 3d scanner that produces a pint cloud in FreeCAD.

It uses only three potentiometers and two steel rods,  and the same potentiometers are also rotational joints. Arduino is sending the current value of the potentiometers to the python script, which calculates the mechanism position and draws the points inside FreeCAD.

This device was developed by Javier Martinez Garcia from Spain.

Here is the video of it in action scanning a toy car:

Project homepage:

Hopefully Javier will publish the more detailed plans for it.

Great work Javier!

May 4, 2015

Tower Simple XL 200 USD DIY 3D printer

Here is a new simple and low cost machine project by Almus Yang. It has laser cut plywood frame and acrylic structural parts, it has no 3D printed parts. It can be sourced for some 200 USD on low cost parts sites like Alibaba.

Very detailed construction guide can be found at:

All the files on Thingiverse: