New Guide: Make Your Own Cosplay Fireball Props with Motion Sensing

Cosplay Fireball

Check out the latest tutorial from Erin St. Blaine: make a magical floating fireball prop for your Cosplay character. A snap of the wrist makes the LED flames flare up brightly! This is a fun beginner project, with no soldering required. The code is done in Microsoft MakeCode, with a drag-and-drop code block editor, so it’s easy to change colors or animation triggers.

From the guide:

Complete your cosplay with this Magical Item: a floating fireball that flares up at your command. Whether you’re portraying Kael’thas Sunstrider from WoW or trading flaming shots with Super Mario and Luigi, this fireball will push your outfit over the top. This is a very easy project, with no soldering required. The Circuit Playground board makes motion-sensing programmable lights a snap. Customize your colors and your animation speed with Microsoft MakeCode’s drag-and-drop code editor. You’ll be stopped for so many photos that you’ll never make it to that panel discussion at DragonCon.

Full tutorial:

New Guide: Build a NeoPixel Crystal Chandelier with Speed & Brightness Control

DIY crystal chandelier

Take a look at the latest guide from Erin St. Blaine: build a three tiered chandelier with hanging DIY paper-craft crystals that light up with pixels inside. Easily add your own custom animations using CircuitPython and the LED Animations Library. This guide takes animated lights a step further, adding a rotary encoder knob that controls the brightness or the animation speed of the pixels, and also acts as an on/off switch. From the guide:

Floating crystals and glowing lights are a match made in heaven. This project combines a wide variety of skills and tools into one lovely project. Make a gorgeous hanging lamp with sparkly beads, glowing crystals, live edge wood and of course, lots of NeoPixels.

My chandelier is unique, and designed to show my personal style. Since you, dear reader, have your very own unique style, this tutorial will focus on giving you the tools to design and create your own one-of-a-kind bespoke hanging lamp. This tutorial will provide source files and ideas, and give guidance on how the electronics fit together.

This tutorial will also get you started with customizing your own software animations. The sample code uses CircuitPython and the delightfully easy to use LED Animations Library by Kattni Rembor. This code gives you a framework that allows speed and brightness control using a rotary encoder knob, so you can adjust the lighting to suit any environment or mood.

See the full build tutorial here:

crystal chandelier

We can’t wait to see the creative lamp you build with NeoPixels and Circuit Python!

3D Printed Camera Mirror for Showing Print Documents on a Laptop

I love this simple 3D printed mirror adapter that clips onto your laptop and feeds the image of a document placed beneath it into your camera. Perfect timing for remote back-to-school teaching.

The Thingiverse file is here.

 Strathclyde University and NMIS secure £15.8m in funding for 3D printing project

Scottish-based Strathclyde University has secured £15.8 million in funding as part of a collaborative project with National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS). Working with NMIS, Strathclyde University will train staff from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to integrate 3D printing into their businesses. The aim of the project is to de-risk innovation by providing companies with […]

Make:able Challenge: Design & 3D Print Assistive Technology for the Disabled

Service bureau PrintLab is partnering with Autodesk for an exciting new competition for schools. The make:able challenge represents what should be a remarkable technological journey for students and teachers as they are invited to use either Tinkercad or Fusion 360 software  (both options are products of Autodesk) and 3D printing to make free, assistive technology with the following directions:

“Design and make a product or prototype that improves the day-to-day life of someone who struggles with mobility in their hands.”

This comprehensive challenge—and learning experience for students—is centered around an online toolkit provided for students, including a teacher’s guide and accompanying lesson plans. Students are expected to team up into smaller groups and use the toolkit as a foundation for increasing their design skills, especially in 3D—with the use of Autodesk products. More importantly, though, the competition is designed to help them find meaning in their communities, whether locally or online, as well as learning about how individuals must cope with disabilities and can use assistive technology for a better quality of life.

Make:able toolkits also offer inspiration through the following:

  • Stories and example solutions
  • Worksheets and a variety of activities designed to encourage a human-centered approach and teach empathy
  • Methods for encouraging design-based thinking for creating concepts and opportunities
  • Directing students to tell their story through their work
  • Designing, 3D printing, testing, and making changes to products

“Having supported hundreds of schools with 3D printing curriculum, we have witnessed firsthand some amazing student talent across the globe,” said Jason Yeung, Co-Founder of PrintLab. “It is our belief that this talent should expand outside of the classroom and be put to use on real-world challenges that have a positive impact on society.”

The key behind PrintLab and Autodesk partnering was to create an integrative program for schools to help encourage students in design and 3D printing, highlighting their work in both digital and AM processes.

“By participating in the make:able challenge, students will experience The Future of Making to help design and make a better world,” said Steven Parkinson, Education Manager at Autodesk.

Students ages 18 and under are eligible to participate in the make:able challenge, to be included in the following types of educational courses:

  • Design and technology classes
  • Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lessons
  • After-school programs
  • Workshops
  • Distance and remote learning opportunities

Teachers who register for the make:able program will receive challenge toolkits on September 1st. The teacher’s pack includes development resources and guided lesson plans. Entries are to be judged by a panel of experts in April 2021, with prizes including 3D printers for winning teams.

Challenges like make:able stress both the importance of using innovation and 3D printing to do good in the world, as well as the importance of STEM education for the younger generations. Many projects are designed to interest more girls in 3D printing—a powerful tool for STEM—as well as creating workshops and specific STEM apps for kids.  Find out more here.

[Source / Images: PrintLab]

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Moscow Spanish Quarters: Progressive Logika School to Offer 3D Printing

Students in the Novomoskovsk district of Moscow can look forward to a state-of-the-art new school opening this year, with construction to be completed by August. The A101 Group of Companies—one of the largest housing development builders in Russia—is constructing the school in an area known as the Spanish Quarters.

The Logika school will offer space for 1,300 children, while the White Rabbit kindergarten has capacity for 350 youngsters. A large, progressive laboratory area will be provided with equipment available for 3D printing, the study of robotics, and virtual reality. This is a unique feature built into all A101 Group of Companies schools, with the lab also expected to be available for a range of scientific experiments.

A101 is on the right track with the emphasis of STEM learning within the school—and especially with access for younger students. As the need continues worldwide for designers, engineers, and other professionals within applications centered around 3D printing and robotics, many colleges and universities are offering more advanced programs and majors in STEM.

As men continue to dominate areas like engineering, however, there is also a continued movement to begin STEM learning earlier and engage all students. This means concentrating efforts in encouraging a greater love for math, science, and coding, as well as moving forward to learn more about technology like digital fabrication—often accompanied by robotics and both virtual and augmented realities. Leaders in the manufacturing of 3D printers, accompanying software and materials, have been quite active over the last five years especially in supplying equipment to schools worldwide—with a variety of inspiring programs offered through resources like GE and Makerbot.

Overall, the “Logic” area will be made up of three wings, with the first—conveniently adjacent to the playground—housing the elementary school. Teachers will instruct the Russian students in universal classrooms, espousing a concept of learning meant to consider all children and their educational needs. Primary school students will have exclusive use of an amphitheater on the second and third levels, while the left wing of the building will be designated for all other classes.

In the center of the facility, two amphitheaters will be available for school events and class preparation areas for teachers. There will also be a regular library and a video library, along with an assembly hall which is now in the process of being built. The roof is being installed with materials made of modified bituminous components—a style meant to offer better resilience and strength, along with protection against climate. It is also designed for high-performance acoustics, and accessibility for “theatrical light.”

The school will be espousing numerous progressive new teaching ideals, from universal design to combining both play and sleeping areas in the classroom—streamlined with modular furniture—allowing for an exponential number of play/teaching areas. There are even plans for a swimming pool.

[Source / Images: RIA Real Estate]

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University of Greenwich set to hold online course on AM powder handling

The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology, part of the University of Greenwich at the Medway campus in Kent, will be hosting a week-long online short course on AM powder handling set to take place from 13 – 17 July. Aimed at professionals working in powder processing, the comprehensive course will deliver the skills […]

3D Printed Plastic Geoboards Teach Visually Impaired Students about Geometry

Geometry is the branch of mathematics that relates to angles, geometric shapes, lines and line segments, and rays, and you use geometry concepts to measure lengths and areas of 2D shapes and calculate the volume and surface area of 3D shapes. I was never any good at geometry (or any mathematics, to be honest), so I can’t imagine how hard it must be to learn when you are visually impaired. Three researchers from Thailand wrote a paper, “The Designation of Geometry Teaching Tools for Visually-Impaired Students Using Plastic Geoboards Created by 3D Printing,” about making 3D printed teaching tools for visually impaired students – a concept we’ve seen before.

Visually impaired students must interpret 2D shapes through a sense of touch.

“There are several teaching tools available on the market that can serve this purpose effectively; however, the imported products are too expensive,” the researchers explained.

Traditional wooden geoboards.

A geoboard is a great way to teach visually impaired students geometry, as it helps them better understand geometric reasoning, terminology, and theorems. It’s a physical board with rivets half driven in, and rubber bands are wrapped around the nails to teach plane geometry concepts and polygons.

“According to the difficulty of wooden geoboard making and carrying, we propose to replace the existing model with the unlimited design of light and colorful geoboards,” the team wrote.

Using 3D printing to make lightweight geoboards out of plastic costs less money, and they can be customized to fit user requirements. The researchers created colorful geoboards to teach visually impaired elementary students in Bangkok about angles, circle components, line segments, shape areas, and 3D geometric shapes, like prisms and cubes. They also made additional teaching tools, like arrowheads, protractors, and 3D object models, for lessons about 2D and 3D shapes and geometry.

The SketchUp model and 3D printing of geoboards.

SketchUp was used to create the colorful 20 x 20 cm geoboards, which were printed out of PLA on a Flashforge Creator Pro over 18 hours. Two patterns were made – a 10 x 10 grid on the x-axis and y-axis with a square edge, and a 4-quadrant graph with a circular edge and 24 circumference scales. Braille scales are included so the students can identify 0-10 on the x and y axes, and the top right corner of the boards have two columns of three dots to show that they’re upright.

“Z-axis pillars with different heights, identified by braille, were also created for 3D geometry teaching,” the team explained.

“There were 24 points identified by the letters A to Y on the circumference with a 15-degree angle difference for teaching about circles and tangents. The central point was identified by the letter O and the circle diameter was 13 cm. Raised grid lines 1.5 mm in height were also generated for exploring direction by blind touch.”

Plastic geoboards with square and circle edges, learning accessories, and segments of 3D objects for spheres, cones, cylinders, pyramids, and cubes.

15 visually impaired fourth graders and three experienced teachers participated. The experimental group and the control group each completed 15 one-hour periods of different learning activities. After a pre-test, the control group continued with traditional geoboards, while the experimental group switched to the 3D printed ones.  You can see teaching and assessment contents with related exercises for the experimental group in a portion of Table 1 below.

“The coordinate points of 2D geometry were explored by blind touch on braille scales and raised grid lines, while z-axis pillars were used for 3D geometry by connecting rubber bands to the plane,” the researchers explained.

The students in the experimental group used the 3D printed geoboards to learn about 2D geometry. For example, they stretched rubber bands across rivets on the square board, connecting two points to draw a straight line and “an angle of 2 lines from 3 points on the coordinate plane.” To learn about straight and parallel lines, rays, and right, acute, and obtuse angles, arrowheads could be attached to the ends of the lines.

Teaching about straight lines, parallel lines, rays, and angles.

They used the circular geoboard for learning angle measurements and circle components, like radius and diameter, and 2D geometric shapes, like squares and triangles.

Teaching about angles, circle components, squares and triangles.

The geoboards were also used to teach 3D geometry with plastic pillars on the z-axis. Once the students had the basic concept down, pillars on this axis “with different heights of 4, 5 and 6 units can be used to teach 3D geometric shapes and volumes.” Multiple pillars were used to create prism, and pyramids with differently-shaped bases.

Teaching to create 3D geometric shapes for pyramids and prisms, similar to 3D object models.

“The raised grid lines with braille numbering are handy for identifying shape locations, measuring distance, and calculating areas or perimeters; and scales can be applied for measuring the diameter or radius of a circle on a cylinder, cone, or sphere and multiplying the area by the height to find the volume,” they wrote.

At the end, both student groups took another test, and independent two-sample t-tests were used to analyze and compare the differences in the mean scores of the pre-test and post-tests between the groups. You can see the mean scores (x) and standard deviations (SD) for the tests below.

The participants also completed a questionnaire, using a 5-point Likert scale, about how satisfied they were with the 3D printed geoboards. They evaluated the quality of the teaching tools and the benefits of the learning activities, and answered open-ended questions regarding areas for improvement and their personal opinions.

“The response showed that the new geoboards as a teaching tool were considered to be much more satisfactory than the traditional tool because the mean scores were very high (>4.8) in all areas,” the researchers noted.

All the participants agreed that the 3D printed geoboards made class more enjoyable for the visually-impaired students, and that they “enhanced the mental imagery and understanding of geometry.”

“The prototype testing showed that the experimental group had a higher mean score on the post-test than did the control group, indicating that the learning achievement of the visually-impaired students who learn with the new geoboards is significantly higher than that of the students who learn with the regular tools. The participants’ satisfaction with the geoboards in terms of learning about geometry was evaluated highly on the part of the teachers and the students because the tangible teaching tools were considered more effective for understanding geometry with good visual imagery than when using the traditional tools,” the team concluded.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts below.

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Addmio Kickstarter Campaign for ‘3D Printing for Entrepreneurs’ Online Course

As the 3D printing industry continues to grow faster, more accessible, and more affordable, it’s important that businesses continue learning about the many benefits it can offer them. We’ve seen classes on 3D printing for entrepreneurs before, but the application-focused, efficient course that the Netherlands-based e-learning company Addmio is soon launching will be easier to access because it’s on an online educational platform.

Robin Huizing, a former 3D printing engineer for Shapeways and additive manufacturing designer for Additive Industries, lives in the Dutch city of Eindhoven and ran his own design studio for nearly 12 years, before deciding to launch the Addmio platform. founder Robin Huizing

“I started Addmio to help the 3D printing industry flourish and to educate all of the entrepreneurs and creatives worldwide,” Huizing said. “I want to help them to create better products and businesses with 3D printing.”

Huizing trained and taught hundreds of people about 3D printing in his former jobs, giving lectures, master classes, presentations, and workshops to many large companies. But he realized that sharing knowledge in these ways was “not scalable,” and not making enough of a difference for entrepreneurs interested in learning more about AM. That’s why he decided to found Addmio.

Once things got started, he began researching existing courses and training programs, and found that the high-quality ones were costly, time-consuming, and only on-location. Classes that were more affordable provided, at best, general information about the technology, and did not offer attendees a quality experience. So Huizing determined that to really make a difference, Addmio should offer less expensive, higher quality courses that were focused on specific 3D printing applications.

“Because we can make our courses available for thousands of people at the same time, we can keep the costs very low. The value for money we’re able to offer is unparalleled,” he wrote in a press release.

The first course Addmio is developing is called 3D Printing for Entrepreneurs, which features three unique aspects:

  • extremely efficient: it condenses five years of work in the 3D printing industry into just three days
  • application-focused: the course provides many examples in showing users how to choose the right application
  • 100% online: it is a mobile-first, web-based course so learning can take place anywhere, at any time

“We’re developing the course “3D Printing for Entrepreneurs” for creatives and startups, to learn about all the opportunities 3D printing has to offer for your startup or side business. We want to make sure that you have everything you need to learn and start your business, all from home,” the website states.

Huizing will be the main instructor, and the course will provide on-demand, video-based lessons relying on knowledge from industry experts. In-course assessments are included, and at the end of the class, participants will receive a digital certificate. In addition to the course, Addmio will also be offering 3D printable files and a support program for 3D printing startups that includes a tailored advisory report with advice and tips to help startups get on their feet.

Rather than working with investors or banks to get the Addmio course up and running, the company is turning to crowdfunding “because it seamlessly fits our philosophy.” Its Kickstarter campaign launched this morning, so creators and makers from around the world can contribute. In return, the company will help startups create successful 3D printing businesses.

“This is why we came up with an online platform. This is the only medium that is ultimately scalable. Our courses can help people 24 hours a day, in 100 countries at the same time,” the campaign site states.

“All you need to follow our course is a phone, tablet, or computer with an internet connection. That’s it.”

The campaign goal is just €2,500, and there are multiple reward levels – for example, an early bird pledge of €82 means you can get the complete 3D Printing for Entrepreneurs online course for a discount of 40%, while a €137 pledge gets you the early bird course and STL files of objects used in the course.

Discuss this news and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

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Educational Resources for Students 3D Printing from Home

3D technology has become a highly valuable subject in schools. Its usefulness spans many different subjects, engages students through hands-on, active learning and provides them with skills that could turn into careers. (See our previous feature of 5th grade designers from Kansas; pictured above)

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools all over the world and left teachers with the challenge of providing home-bound students with productive education programs. Thankfully, there are online resources that teach 3D printing skills through distant learning and are especially geared towards students. These programs are perfect for teachers (and parents) looking for fun and educational programs during this time.

Don’t have access to a 3D printer through your community? Shapeways can print and ship to 130 countries worldwide, so your students can continue to create while practicing social distancing at home.

Ready to get started? Here are seven online resources, categorized by target age group, to help your students explore the power of 3D technology:

Activities for Pre-High School Students

Grades K-8: Makers Empire 3D Design App and Challenges

Australian-based Edtech company Makers Empire facilitates learning 3D technology for teaching STEM, Design Thinking and Project Based Learning to grades K-8. The Makers Empire 3D Modeling app is specifically geared towards this age range so that kids can continue learning at home during quarantine. They also released a series of design challenges like the Handshake Alternative and Cough Catcher to help students get creative in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

3D modeling in Tinkercad

Activities for 5th Graders and Above

Grades 5-12: Tinkercad – 3D CAD Design Tool

Tinkercad is a free 3D modeling program suited for students in grades 5-12 and beginners of any age beyond. It is used in a web browser and provides learning and teaching support depending on the user. People of all levels can also upload their design to share or tinker with someone else’s design. You can upload Tinkercad designs directly to Shapeways to print.

Activities for All Ages

Morphi 3D Modeling Tablet App

Morphi is another software that is easy to learn and caters to students of all levels. Their website provides tutorial videos for teachers and curriculum development for grades K-12. In the wake of the Corona pandemic they launched Morphi Design School, which consists of a series of video tutorials, a full handbook detailing each tool, and 3D modeling projects.

Leopoly 3D Creation Platform

Leopoly offers a browser-based program for beginners that allows you to start your own design from scratch, upload a previous design of your own or customize existing designs in their community library. The program offers three different ways of getting started from scratch, including Digital Sculpting, Formshifting and Cubecraft.

SketchUp for Schools

SketchUp for Schools is browser based so that students can access it from home. It provides curriculums and projects for different subjects including modeling a cell for Science class, building a set for Theater or a birdhouse for Shop Class. It also features a number of basic and introductory projects for those just getting started.

3D model of the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo source: NASA 3D Resources

NASA’s Printable Models

NASA’s 3D resources website currently hosts 105 printable models for students to download and print as visual learning tools. Models include the Hubble telescope, satellites, landing sites and more. Having access to physical models helps engage students more effectively than 2D images. Those who don’t have access to a 3D printer can print with Shapeways.

The Edgerton Center MIT – 3D Modeling Instructables

Instructables has a whole section devoted to 3D printing and features projects for all skill levels. The MIT Edgerton Center’s Instructables page in particular provides different 3D modeling activities for students grades K-12 with Tinkercad. Their website provides helpful resources for educators including tutorials, workshops and a newsletter. They also feature an Idea Gallery where other teachers have shared their projects.

Help your students bring their new 3D creations to life by printing with Shapeways!

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