Monthly Archives: June 2019

Heart Mod

Suddenly I regret that I’m donating a coffee table. Had the project been a chair, the title could have been about “chairity” and I could have dies happy. Oh well, I’ll have to continue to plug along, I guess.

Anyhow, what you’re looking at is the “Heart Mod.” It’s a version of the Mod coffee table that I give away on this site that has a heart cut into it? Why you ask? I’m donating it to the Colorado AIGA (16th Annual) 2010 Heart Art auction. Part of the money benefits AIGA, but more importantly, half goes to Project Angelheart, who provide nutritious meals to people with life-threatening illness.

The Heart Mod is made from FSC certified 3/4″ bamboo plywood. It still needs its low-VOC finish and to have the edges knocked down. The CNC cutting time was generously donated by the Industrial Design department at Metropolitan State College of Denver. Thanks for Terry Dreher for doing the cutting and Ken Phillips for making the call to donate the table time.

One of the cool things about the Mod is that it assembles without hardware or glue and it packs flat. It’s one of the first products that will be available from my future (next month or so) online retail outfit.

Make sure if you’re in Denver to come to the event. And then bring lot’s of dough to buy yourself one awesome table.

3D printing Technology

So Replicator isn’t very excited about HP and Stratsys making nice nice and announcing that they’re joining forces to bring 3D printing to a desktop near you. I gotta say that I’m more inclined to agree with Joris Peels over at Shapeways. I think this that is HUGE. 3D printing represents our chance to move away from a world of asian mass production where a product run has to be 50,000 or more just to justify the cost of the injection molds. It allows for on-the-fly customization and production quality one-offs. It is our future: as long as we don’t let it get passed by.
HP gets into the coffee maker business

This technology is great. Anyone who sees something that has been 3D printed is impressed, sometimes even after they’ve heard how much it cost. It helps that, as an ambassader to 3D printing, I wear a printed stainless steel ring. That’s technology that is beyond what people imagine is possible. Then I tell them it cost me less than $7 to have made. Great. Cool. Except that the costs need to keep coming down and there is only one way for that to happen: more 3D printers and more 3D printing. While 3D printed parts don’t benefit from the efficiencies of scale, like mass-produced objects do, the printers do. They are made in a factory. The more that are made, the cheaper they are to make. The more that get sold, the cheaper they will become. I remember my families first Apple ][e computer. It cost something like $2500 in 1986. It didn’t have enough RAM to be able to copy a floppy in one swap. My cell phone blows it away. This is because people kept buying computers.

Replicator points out that Desktop Factory gave the industry a little PR boost and then fizzled. This is supposedly the same effect that HP will have. Except that this isn’t how it will go down. Raise your hand if you had heard of Desktop Factory before their big announcement. “Reading this blog is supposed to be passive,” you say, “what’s with making me raise my hand?” You and I both know you didn’t have to, so quit complaining. In fact, you probably hadn’t even heard of Desktop Factory until I just told you they existed and died. I won’t make you actually move, so we’ll assume you’ve heard of HP. HP has a huge customer base who up until two days ago hadn’t heard of 3D printing. Now they have. Without doing anything more, the industry has already been affected by this partnership. There are now a lot more potential customers for 3D printing. Not just for the printers, but for services that do all the work. Done.

Another point on Replicator is that HP will become attracted to the technologies of Stratasys’ competitors and the partnership won’t last. Who cares if HP becomes fickle? Let every 3D printer company try to be her date to the ball. As long as there is a company as big as HP (and who needs to find a new niche as badly as HP does) pushing this stuff, everyone wins. Every company that sells 3D printers, whether they’re getting the attention from HP or they’re HP’s most recent cast-off, will see more sales. Heck, HP may even make multiple arrangements (I’m not going to take the analogy there) with multiple companies for different technologies. All that matters is that the public knows what 3D printing is and that it is actually available to them. Everyone wins. In the comments on his post on Shapeways, Joris mentions that tomorrow he will compare this to the pizza industry. I will leave it to him to explain, but he’s dead on. So check out his blog tomorrow (I’ll add a link once he’s written it) and this thought will be better developed.

So how does this work out well for ‘jerks’ like me. Well, hopefully we can use ‘jerk’ like it used to be used. You know, a soda jerk? That was a person who sold soda. I sell 3D design. I can deliver a file or an object. Either way, with a greater public knowledge of 3D printing and even with a proliferation of desktop printers, I will have more work designing things for people. So either I’ll be a design jerk for selling designs or I’ll be a jerk because I’ll be in demand enough that I don’t have to be nice. Either way, HP + Stratasys is awesome for me and other designers like me.

NOTE: I also see this as being HUGE for the open source 3D printer groups like Makerbot and RepRap. I also think that these companies are really where the desktop printer industry will grow from, but I’m an Open Design kind of guy.

my wallet hurts

This post is largely my apology for ignoring this site for a little while. I’ve been busing selling limbs to pay for some computer upgrades. I’m not down to 1 arm, one leg, and a single kidney (metaphorically).

Graduating is expensive. I’ve been sort of floating along until my student Solidworks license expired. It did. Oh boy, did this last week brought some expenses. I’ve now purchased a proper Solidworks license and am a subscriber. I decided to take the difference in moving to a Solidworks Professional package and invest that in some render nodes for Maxwell Render. I’ll let you know how that works out.

I’ve ordered the hardware for the nodes. They’re 2 i7-860 2.8 Ghz quad-core processors with the appropriate motherboards and CPU coolers to overclock them. So basically, right now at least, I’m going with two more computers along side my MacBook Pro. The funny part is that the render nodes will be actually faster than my main computer… just not as pretty. I am adding the cheapest Solidworks certified card to one of the nodes so that I can do my work on it if I so choose.

All in all, total for 2 very fast computers without monitors or keyboards came to about $1700. I spent a while calculating the cost of making 3 machines with Core 2 Quad processors or 2 machines with the i7s. Everything pointed to going with the two i7 because the hyper threading ability apparently makes a good difference when rendering.

I’ll be excited to share my results.

Also on the slate for last week: clean installs of Mac OSX and Windows 7 on the MacBook Pro. This was precipitated by the installation of a 500GB (7200 rpm) hard drive. It was time to move up from the 250GB (5400 rpm) drive that was in it. Fortunately, drives are getting cheap, even in the 2.5″ size.

Competitive 3D Print

This Year’s IDSA National Conference is themed DIY: Threat or Opportunity.

Seriously? Wasn’t the time for this about 4 years ago when talking about it could have actually made a difference in how things played out? We’re already at the “DIY: how to stay in business by not sucking” point. The answer to IDSA’s question is already here. DIY is absolutely an opportunity for anyone who is excited about the new technologies available to us and wants to experience what it’s like to help shape the future. It is only a threat to those interested in maintaining antiquated systems for getting ideas to users. If you like how things have been for the last 20 years (I know, it’s longer, but how much is open to interpretation), well, tough cookies. The good news is that you won’t be in business much longer anyway, so you won’t have to worry about what happens after that.

Ok. I’m coming off a little strong about it. And the changes won’t be overnight, but they are coming. And it’s a good thing. $3000 just became the entry price for a competitive 3D printer. I no longer need injection molding to get a plastic part run off. And now I don’t have to over-produce to hit a price point per item. Is there still opportunity for designers here? Oh, yeah. Now more than ever. Any of us with a good (or bad) design can get a product to market. The designers should have the advantage. We should be able to get better products to the market. If there’s a demand for it, it is risk free to move to a larger production run.

Tad Toulis told me this weekend that there is a kid in China that has an Alias seat and can do what I can do without my fancy schmancy degree. Sadly, I’m pretty sure it’s true. One of the biggest differences between a designer and an amateur is practice. Technology is getting cheaper and that means that the access to the equipment and tech to “practice” is becoming widespread. So what to do?

Figure out how to do more than draw pretty pictures. Don’t depend on the history of design to keep you employed, depend on your skills to keep you employed. Figure out how the new technologies are changing things and put yourself at the front of the industry. Or keep designing plastic trinkets for injection molding until you’re out of a job. Your call.

Pleasant Surprise

Groggily, I stumbled into my home office this morning and was confused by the number of inquiries I had from Etsy users about The Mod. Then Rasberry, my lovely wife, insisted that I take a look at the Etsy finds email. It clicked. Well, mostly. It took a little longer that I’d like to admit for me to put two and two together.

The Etsy Gods saw fit to include The Mod in their email. This is very nice. Anyhow, to see the actual mailer that went out, click here.

It’s a good way to start out a day. It made up for the tequillla headache that I probably shouldn’t talk about on this supposedly professional site.