All posts by gdv

3D printing: 18 months after

By | 3D printing, Maker | No Comments

July 2013

When Edward Snajderat (@edinor) mentioned it at the OSCON conference in Portland, it was the first time I heard about 3D printing and the very first printer I saw: a RepRap. It was so amazing that I decided to buy one and explore the possibilities it seemed to promise.

October 2013

Source : https://www.flickr.com/photos/creative_tools/

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I conducted a rather long search before I ordered the Ultimaker 2. It was announced on September 20 of that year, and an endless queue of orders was already forming.

This printer is open source, precise, fully assembled, build in Europe, and good value for money. I had to wait until the beginning of January to find it on my doorstep. Imagine my excitement when I unwrapped my very first 3D printer, as if Santa Claus had just fallen a bit behind schedule.  

I tried it. I was delighted.

Inside the box was a small crumpled leaflet promoting a sort of club for 3D printers: 3DHubs. The goal is very simple: you may contact anyone owning a 3D printer at home to print your design.

At that time, 2,500 printers around the world were registered on 3DHubs. Thanks to this network, people can print anything, anywhere. I thought the idea was awesome, and I joined the community.

And after

I printed tons of objects from designed spoons, drone pieces, giant stamps, architectural objects, … It was a constant challenge to find the best way to print those things.

I solved wrapping problems using the brim feature and tried different tools: CuraMeshMixer for slicing STL files and Simplify3D, also an excellent tool.

I tested some beta filaments from Colorfabb, Proto-PastaUltimaker, Faberdashery, Laywood, Laybrick, etc.

3D scan with Skanect, printed with Colorfabb Bronzefill

3D scan with Skanect, printed with Colorfabb Bronzefill

However, I experienced troubles with residues from composite filaments. The atomic method was helpful but became inefficient once the nozzle got too old.

So I bought a new block with interchangeable heads from 3dSolex, which was the most awesome awesomeness I experienced.

Each type of filament has its own nozzle, and I had to change a lot of components because the heater and thermocouple got stuck. Still, I’m fully satisfied with my choice. Next step: add an alternative feeder as described by Robert L.  

Ultimaker 2 is a fantastic printer for every maker. If you add the interchangeable heads, alternative feeder and doodle 3D, you get an awesomely, perfectly pimped FDM printer.
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Totem won Startup Weekend Brussels Makers 2015

By | Maker, Prototype, Startup Weekend | No Comments

Startup Weekend motto states: “I created a company in 54 hours, what did you do last weekend?” Even though I can’t say I actually created a fully running company last weekend, I created a fully functional prototype called Totem.

How it all started

My kids are respectively 1, 3 & 5 years old. Last month I used to be woken up by my son at 4:30am. He can’t read the alarm clock and he was just too excited to stay in bed. Too bad.

So here is what I did. I created a proto using a Spark Core (now Particle Core) connecting LEDs to If This Then That (IFTTT) in WIFI. The principle is very simple: if something happens, then I want something else to happen.

For example: if my wife sends me an email, the LED turns red. Or, linked to a weather forecast app: if it is raining, it lights up in blue.

Sketch of Totem
Totem first sketch

I manage to get my first proto to work and make it light up in green when it is 7am. I told my son to wait until the green light shows up before racing to my bedroom and… Tada!

Now I no longer wake up in the middle of the night. He’s now my personal, fairly reliable, morning alarm clock.

The weekend

On Friday evening at Startup Weekend Brussels Makers, I pitched the idea of a connected device stacking various “floors” of different LED colors. I still didn’t know what it was going to be used for at that time. Applications seemed to be endless.

Totem Device Prototype
Totem first prototype

We formed a team of 6, among which a graphic designer, a project manager, a business manager, a product designer and a marketer. As I am an engineer, those profiles were bound to be quite helpful to develop a further strategy.

Team
Team

Together, we decided to focus on the reminder functionality. Totem was designed to stack various LEDs reminding different things like taking the trash out or bringing the umbrella.

We went out in the street to interrogate our future customers who were quite helpful in giving us insights and further ideas of development. Then we 3D printed various stacks for our proto.

The reward

Pitching is no piece of cake, and the other projects that were pitched were quite good. But in the end we made it: we won Startup Weekend! Totem got the Best Maker Prize.

Prize

The experience was entertaining, however tiresome. It was very interesting to work with a totally new team during a whole weekend. I strongly recommend you try it too.

Stay tuned for more news on Totem and on Twitter and Facebook.