Alexander Evans, a maker and software engineer, could have the answer to completely immersive VR with his motorized shoes that feature mostly 3D printed parts, made on his Prusa systems. The shoes allow users to move omnidirectionally—each one has a track of horizontally facing wheels, and another track of vertically facing wheels. Each battery-powered shoe also features an attached motor, to help control movement.
“I’m making motorized shoes to be used with virtual reality games. The shoes keep you in the same spot as you walk, like a treadmill. You can walk infinitely in the game while staying in the same spot in the real world. The shoes are omni-directional so you can turn, strafe, and walk in any direction,” Evans wrote in his blog.
When wearing the heavy shoes, users can glide in multiple directions, and don’t even have to lift their feet off the ground. But, in order to wear them to play VR games, Evans says you also need to wear a safety harness that’s mounted to the ceiling or a strong, stable structure; this way, you don’t have to worry about rolling into a wall or, God forbid, out of a window.
First test with sideways motion
“These are basically roller skates that you wear with your eyes covered,” Evans commented on his Reddit post about the shoes. “If there is no safety structure in place, the user will fall and get hurt.”
They’re not so much shoes as they are motorized, wheeled platforms onto which you can strap your shoe-wearing feet. It would probably be pretty uncomfortable to put your bare feet on top of all that metal.
The way the design works is really interesting. Check out the image below:
The darker rectangle denotes a foot that is on the motorized platform, while the lighter rectangle signifies that the user is bringing the shoe forward or to the side with their foot. When the right foot is moved, a sensor in the platform detects an acceleration in the Y direction, which then triggers the motor on the left platform to turn on. The second shoe will begin moving backward at the same speed the first is moving forward.
“The speed to use can be calculated by using the accelerometer data (integrating to get the velocity) or by using motor encoders,” Evans wrote. “…When the user takes a step forward with his right foot, the left foot is moved at the same speed in the opposite direction.”
In terms of braking, when the user is standing still, both feet on the platform, the motors should resist any motion until one of the shoes is moved again. Check out the blog post if you want the nitty gritty details of the algorithms Evans is using for these shoes.
Right now, an Android app manually controls the shoes, but Evans is currently tweaking the software so movement can be automated and integrated within VR games. In the future, he hopes to add support for crouching and jogging to his design, though doesn’t believe that the shoes will be able to handle full-speed sprinting.
Evans doesn’t plan on licensing or patenting his shoes, though he wouldn’t mind selling them in the future once he’s perfected the design. In fact, he is a fan of the open source movement, and has added all the 3D printing files for the shoes onto GitHub, so others can download them and try to make their own pair of motorized shoes for immersive VR play.
“I plan on continuing to develop an open-source prototype while I build a YouTube channel. Once I have a sellable version, I plan on using the version for a couple months to see how well they last,” he explained on his blog. “I need to look into any safety regulations I need to meet, and get product liability insurance. I can produce a small batch of DIY kits and sell them. If they sell well, I can get another 3D printer or two and continue producing small batches and continue to build a 3D printer farm.”
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Our 3D Printing News Briefs this week are indeed brief, but no less important. We’ll tell you how 3DEO has reached an important production milestone, and also about the newest member of the 3MF Consortium.
3DEO Reaches 150,000 Production Parts Shipped
Monthly shipment of 3500 pieces to a 3DEO customer
Metal 3D printing company 3DEO, founded in 2016 for the purpose of competing against conventional manufacturing with high-volume metal additive manufacturing, recently announced that it has reached a major milestone: it’s shipped out 150,000 production parts for end-use applications. The California company’s mission is to make metal 3D printing available for mass production through its digital industrial platform, and this announcement is excellent evidence that it’s well on its way. 3DEO has an interesting business model – instead of selling its 3D printers, the company has focused on becoming an expert user of its own patented technology, and built an automated end-to-end industrial platform, to which its customers then have access.
“150 thousand parts is a terrific milestone for 3DEO. It validates our patented technology, our unique business model, and our mission to break metal additive manufacturing (AM) into high-volume production. Today, we routinely win bids against traditional manufacturing because of our competitive cost structure and material performance,” said 3DEO’s President Matt Sand.
“150,000 parts shipped is only the beginning for us. We are scratching the surface of what’s possible with metal AM in the $130 billion U.S. metal parts market. With our additive and automation software and hardware, combined with our world-class R&D team and quality systems, we are primed to scale metal AM into millions of parts next year.”
3MF Consortium Announces New Specification and Member
“In a modern cloud-connected world, data security and end-to-end encryption are playing an increasingly important role to mitigate the risk of leakages and data corruption in globally distributed manufacturing environments. Protecting the integrity and confidentiality of product designs, patient-specific biometric data, and other sensitive manufacturing content is critical to enabling additive manufacturing to scale into final part production in distributed, contractual, and highly regulated manufacturing environments,” stated Scott White, Software Distinguished Technologist at HP Inc. “We are thrilled that Viaccess-Orca joined the consortium and contributed their decades-long expertise to the design of the 3MF Secure Content extension. The final specification defines the payload encryption based on industry standards, and allows third parties to build their own key management ecosystems upon it. We believe this will allow it to be used to address a broad range of critical use cases simply and seamlessly.”
As a consortium member, VO will help address digital asset security aspects in the digital manufacturing industry. The company also announced the general release of its Secure Manufacturing Platform (SMP), which makes sure that digital assets are traceable and secure, in compliance with the new 3MF specification, across digitally distributed supply chains.
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I always enjoy a good 3D printed DIY project, whether it’s truly helpful or just for fun. These projects are even cooler when you add Legos into the mix, like Reddit user DIY_Maxwell did. He posted about his work using 3D printing, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Lego bricks to make an open source, motorized microscope. But, the microscope itself is not fully 3D printed – instead, the body was built with Lego bricks and some 3D printed components. What makes this project more awesome is the stop motion-style video he made showing the various parts of the project and how they all fit together to make a working microscope.
“I wanted to have a modular microscope, something I can easily modify for transmitted-light, reflected-light, cross-section, etc. My early prototypes did not have Legos, as I started making my own interlocking pieces, I realized that I was in fact printing lego-like designs, I thought buying legos would be less of an effort,” he wrote on Reddit when asked why he didn’t 3D print all the parts. “Then I found out about these “sliding” lego pieces, which are very precise for linear actuators. The other advantage is that, if I want to change the height of the camera let’s say, I simply add more bricks, it’s convenient.”
DIY_maxwell used FreeCAD to design the 3D printed microscope parts, which were fabricated on an Ender 3 system. All of the source codes and design files have been provided open source on GitHub, along with detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make your own.
Before you jump right in, do you know what exactly a motorized microscope does when compared to a regular microscope? DIY_maxwell explained that, at least for him, it needed to be able to tilt in order to take photos, from an angle, of “highly reflective surfaces (semiconductor chips),” and that it should quickly adjust the focus and magnification, and position of the sample.
“The microscope has a simple operation principle based on changing the magnification and the focus by adjusting the relative distances between a camera, a single objective lens and a sample. Briefly, two linear stages with stepper motors are used to adjust these distances for a continuous and wide magnification range,” the GitHub instructions state. “Four additional stepper motors tilt the camera module and change the X-Y position and rotation of the sample. A uniform light source illuminates the sample either from an angle (reflected light) or from the bottom of the sample (transmitted light).”
The main components of this modular, motorized microscope include a Raspberry Pi system, an 8 MegaPixel camera, six stepper motors, a keyboard or joystick for variable speed control, uniform illumination, and obviously plenty of Lego bricks. Depending on the specific features and electronics vendors used, the whole thing costs between $200-$400, and once you have all the parts in front of you, should only take a couple of hours to assemble.
The main body was built with individually-purchased Lego bricks, and DIY_maxwell designed custom actuators and 3D printed them, rather than using available motors and gears from LEGO Technic.
“This approach not only lowered the cost of the microscope but also gave me some flexibility in the design and implementation of precise linear and rotary actuators. In principle, the whole structure could be 3D-printed without using any LEGO parts but that would be less modular and more time consuming,” he writes in GitHub.
In addition, 3D printing offers you the flexibility of quickly changing the design for maximum optimization if and when it’s needed.
“If the parts do not match well, some minor modification in the original design file (e.g. enlarging the holes matching to LEGO studs) or polishing/drilling may be required,” he explained.
The contents of the motorized microscope are as follows:
You can find detailed instructions, images, slicer settings, tips, and more on GitHub, and a longer version of the assembly video can be viewed here.
Several other Reddit users who routinely use microscopes related how impressed they were about the project; a geologist mentioned that “starting price can be anywhere between $500 to $1000 for something with that kind of quality” when DIY_maxwell said that his microscope could “easily resolve 10um features.” A pathologist expressed excitement about “a modular system to motorize common non motorized microscopes (Leica, Olympus, etc.).” While the compliment was appreciated by the maker, it was noted that “this microscope is not meant to replace a lab microscope used for medical assessment. No dark-field, no fluorescence, no aperture control, it suffers from chromatic aberration and other optical effects at high magnification, etc.”
“I hope this prototype persuades other DIY-enthusiasts to develop new designs of microscopes.”
If you’re interested in using 3D printing to make your own microscope, you can check out all of the relevant information on GitHub to build this one, or check out the OpenFlexture Microscope project on Wikifactory. This was created as “part of the Waterscope initiative, which by allowing for fast and affordable on-site bacterial testing of the water quality in developing regions of the world, is helping to cope with the diseases caused by bad quality water drinking.”
The OpenFlexure can be built in the classroom and used as an education tool for both students and teachers. Because the 3D printed microscope stage uses plastic flexures, the motion is free from friction and vibration, and the four-bar linkages in the stage can be 3D printed in a single job with no support material.
You can find other open source 3D printable microscopes on Thingiverse as well; happy making!
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The researchers created testing devices to refine quality control in radiographic and fluoroscopic imaging systems. Objects must be placed accurately, and such aids encourage greater efficiency and repeatability. During this study, they also created a device that can pinpoint the exact position of perpendicular rays. While such testing is important no matter what, especially in the medical field, it is also required and regulated by the state.
Currently, there are five different areas of testing:
Beam geometry tests
Beam quality, tube output, and patient exposure tests
Image quality tests
Testing aids are not always readily available, and sometimes medical professionals must improvise; with 3D printing, however, they can create affordable, custom devices on demand. For this study, the researchers created several different models, using OpenScad for 3D design, and then a MakerBot Replicator 2 or Replicator Z18 printer for fabrication with PLA:
“We have created tools that aid in collimation testing and for general positioning of test articles such as aluminum blocks used for dosimetric measurements and commercial radiographic and fluoroscopic image quality phantoms,” state the researchers in their paper. “Collimation test tools include holders for radiochromic filmstrips that allow for easy positioning on fluoroscopic image receptors, and a newly designed tool to measure the x‐ray perpendicular ray relative to the center of a radiographic image receptor or x‐ray field central ray.”
Polylactic acid test article setup for measuring half‐value layer.
PLA, derived from a vegetable base, is an organic compound, and was chosen as the material for 3D printing because of its similarity to tissue. The researchers were intent on preventing the presence of PLA in the X-ray beam as much as possible, but sometimes it was unavoidable; for example, holders for the dosimetry system detector must be in the direct beam during the process. The aids ultimately, however, were found to be lightweight and easy to move from one test site to another, and the authors reported that they have improved testing processes.
“Prior to the development of these tools, we had used improvised positioning aids such as cardboard boxes, blocks of foam, etc. These improvised devices were not very stable, and it was time‐consuming to position test articles and dosimetry sensors at a precise distance from the image receptor and with the dosimetry sensor centered on the phantoms,” said the researchers.
Positioning aids for (a) portable c‐arm fluoroscopes, (b) R/F rooms with under‐table x‐ray tube, (c) interventional c‐arms in the lateral position, and (d) an image quality phantom holder for use in fluoroscopy or radiography.
This project puts all the benefits of 3D printing on full display as the researchers were able to make affordable, customized devices that changed their workflow for the better. The researchers reported one other significant benefit too: the 3D printed test aids are much more hygienic, allowing for the prevention of infection with an easy wipe-down.
“There is no way to disinfect the porous surfaces of cardboard or foam devices to hospital standards,” explained the researchers.
The authors were able to create their models with two spools of PLA (at about $20 per spool). Their designs were also meant to be standard enough so that most users could replicate them if so desired.
“Additive manufacturing is a disruptive technology that has had a large and increasing impact in many domains, including healthcare. Medical Physicists can benefit from this technology in multiple ways, such as the manufacturing of custom QC phantoms, patient specific phantoms for dosimetric purposes, and for prototyping novel equipment‐testing devices,” concluded the researchers.
“We have made these models available for download at https://github.com/Upstate3DLab/3D-Printed-Radiographic-Test-Tools. We have posted the OpenScad code and the generated digital models in. stl format. Users may modify the code to customize the devices to address varying phantom dimensions and to accommodate differences in printer characteristics.”
(a) Radiochromic filmstrip holder sets, (b) a typical use case in an interventional room, (c) aligned holders shown fluoroscopically, and (d) the resulting exposed film. Note that the wires in this example were positioned roughly at the edge of the collimator and not at the edge of the image receptor so that they would be visible in the fluoro image.
(a) Dosimetry base unit stand, (b) base stand being used in a computed tomography scanner.
We’re bringing you the latest 3D printing business news in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, plus a little 3D printed art to round things out. FATHOM is partnering with SOLIDWORKS software reseller GoEngineer, while L’Oréal is working with INITIAL, a Prodways Group company. Kickstarter and Autodesk are releasing a new open source 3D printing test, and 3D LifePrints has renewed its collaboration with the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Fargo 3D Printing has formed a new spin-off business, a metal 3D printed parts bureau has purchased an EBAM system from Sciaky, and 3D Systems’ SLA technology is being used to deliver customized dental solutions. Finally, we take a look at some fun and creative 3D printed artwork.
FATHOM and GoEngineer Announce Strategic Partnership
SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software and Stratasys 3D printer reseller GoEngineer has announced a new strategic agreement with 3D printing company FATHOM. GoEngineer has purchased FATHOM’s 3D printing equipment reseller business, so that FATHOM can focus solely on its digital manufacturing services. Thanks to the agreement, the two partners will be able to scale their respective businesses in different, but significant ways, leveraging their strengths in order to create a large product development ecosystem of hardware, software, engineering, design, manufacturing, and training solutions that customers can use to drive innovation.
Michelle Mihevc, the Co-founder and Principal at FATHOM, said, “It’s exciting for our industry because both FATHOM and GoEngineer are uniquely positioned to meet the ever-increasing demand for advanced tools and services that enhance and accelerate a company’s product development and production processes.”
L’Oréal and INITIAL Increasing Development of 3D Printed Thermoplastic Parts
The cosmetics industry has a constant challenge in quickly marketing new products to meet the many specific demands of customers. That’s why L’Oréal is teaming up with INITIAL, a Prodways Group subsidiary – the two are ramping up development of 3D printed thermoplastic parts. More specifically, INITIAL’s new solution, 3D Molding, uses 3D printing to make plastic injection molds for “final material” parts at less cost and in record time. Recently, L’Oréal needed 14 resin test molds, along with 20 injection molding test runs and several hundred molded parts. By using Prodways’ patented MOVINGLight 3D printing technology and PLASTCure Rigid 10500 resin, the company was able to achieve accurate 3D prints in just two weeks.
“We produce the 3D Printing mould and the final material parts are then directly injection-moulded,” said Yvon Gallet, INITIAL’s Chairman. “With our 3D printing and injection expertise, we were best placed to develop this unique solution. It is aimed at designers in the development phase and complements our traditional machining and injection solutions. It is an innovative alternative that meets the needs of manufacturers, like L’Oréal, that could benefit from this technological advance to reduce their time to market.”
Kickstarter and Autodesk Releasing Open Source 3D Printing Calibration Test
Prints of the test file from Cubibot and Robo printers.
The evidence speaks for itself – Kickstarter is a great place for 3D printing. The popular crowdfunding site requires that 3D printer creators demonstrate the functionality of their systems through various means, but it can be hard to compare the performance of different machines, because not everyone shows off the same test prints, like the 3D Benchy. So Kickstarter is working at Autodesk to address this lack of a common standard for assessing FDM 3D printer performance, and will soon be releasing a new open source 3D printer test for Kickstarter creators, developed by Autodesk research scientist Andreas Bastian.
“We believe this test procedure will support greater transparency in our community,” Zach Dunham wrote in a Kickstarter blog post. “We started with FDM printers because they’re the most common model on Kickstarter. Our goal over time is to expand this calibration test to other printing technologies like stereolithography. Though this test is optional for creators to share on their project pages, electing to do so opens a frank conversation about quality. And backers of any 3D printer project can share images of their own tests by posting them with the hashtag #FDMtest.”
Creators can download the single, consolidated STL file and instructions to test their 3D printers’ alignment, dimensional accuracy, and resolution on Github.
3D LifePrints and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Renew Collaboration
The Alder Hey Children’s Hospital has signed a long-term collaboration agreement with 3D LifePrints, a UK-based medical 3D printing company and a founding member of the hospital’s Innovation Hub. The company has had an embedded 3D printing facility at the 1,000 square meter underground co-creation space since 2015, and was supported by the hospital for its first two years there, showcasing the impact of its work and establishing its unique 3D printed offerings. Under the agreement, the company will continue supplying the hospital with its specialized 3D printing services.
“I am really proud of this milestone in our ongoing partnership. Incubating a start-up company in a hospital, to the point where they have series A funding, a multi-year contract with the NHS and diffusion to other medical centres around the country is an enormous vindication of what the Innovation hub was set up for,” said Iain Hennessey, Clinical Director and a paediatric surgeon at Alder Hey. “I couldn’t be more pleased to see 3DLP help integrate this emerging technology into clinical practice.”
Fargo 3D Printing Forms 3D Printer Repair Business
North Dakota-based Fargo 3D Printing has formed a new business out of its 3D printer repair segment, called Fargo 3D Printer Repair. While its parent company continues to focus on multiple aspects of the industry, the five-person repair team at the new Fargo 3D Printer Repair can devote 100% of its time to providing 3D printer repair and service to individuals, schools, OEMs, and businesses. The new spin-off company currently provides production-scale warranty servicing, maintenance, and repair services for multiple OEM 3D printing companies across North America; service and repair requests can be made through an intuitive form on its website.
“We don’t sell any 3D printers ourselves, so we are able to remain brand impartial when recommending and performing 3D printer repairs,” said John Olhoft, the CEO of Fargo 3D Printer Repair, who started working in the original shop as a repair technician. “Original Equipment Manufacturers like that they can trust us to provide high quality repairs with a quick turnaround, and not push a competing brand on their customers.”
Sciaky Providing EBAM System to Metal 3D Printing Bureau
Metal 3D printing solutions provider Sciaky will provide one of its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) systems to Michigan-based FAMAero (Future Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace), a privately-owned metal 3D printed parts bureau. According to Sciaky, this custom EBAM system will be the largest production metal 3D printer in the world, with a 146″ x 62″ 62″ nominal part envelope that will be able to produce metal parts over 12 feet in length. FAMAero will use the massive new EBAM system to provide metal 3D printing services to customers in the aerospace, defense, oil & gas, and sea exploration industries.
Don Doyle, President of FAMAero, said, “FAMAero is entering the market as the first private, dedicated parts bureau in North America for large-scale 3D printed metal parts. Our Factory as a Service concept, combined with Sciaky’s industry-leading EBAM® technology, will provide manufacturers a new avenue to significantly slash time and cost on the production of critical parts, while offering the largest build platform and selection of exotic metals to choose from in the 3D parts service market.”
Creating Customized Dental Solutions with 3D Systems’ SLA 3D Printing
In order to make over 320,000 invisible dental aligners in a single day, Align Technology uses SLA 3D printing from 3D Systems. The company’s technology allows Align to create the unique aligner forms so that they are customized to each individual patient’s dental data. So far, Align has treated nearly 6 million patients, but using 3D printing technology is helping the growth of its business accelerate.
“What makes Align’s mass customization so unique is not only are we producing millions of parts every month, but each one of these parts that we produce is unique,” said Srini Kaza, the Vice President of Advanced Technology for Align Technology. “And this is really, as far as I know, the only true example of mass production using 3D printing.”
Ben Fearnley Uses SLA 3D Printing to Bring Artwork to Life
SLA 3D printing isn’t just good for use in dental applications, however. Ben Fearnley, a designer, illustrator, and 3D artist based out of New York City, uses the technology to, as he told 3DPrint.com, “bring my work to life from the 3D world to the real world.”
One interesting piece of 3D printed art Fearnley creates is Good Vibes Only Typography – script style typography lettering sculptures modeled in Cinema 4D and 3D printed on his Form 2. But my personal favorite are his Sculptmojis, which look pretty much exactly how they sound. These pieces, which are a combination of traditional sculpture art forms and modern emojis, originally began as a digital art project, and have now been brought to amusing, quirky life through 3D printing. You can purchase Fearnley’s unique 3D printed artwork here.
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