THE HOT THREE: Top 3D print creations of the week (8th November)

3. More brainy teens push 3D printing forward

smartphone 3d printingWhile there may never be a 3D printer in every home, it is safe to say that, as the technology improves and becomes more reliable, the devices will become more prevalent. Yet, as has been pointed out elsewhere, to use a 3D printer you require a Personal Computer and PCs are facing a huge downturn in sales. As tablets and Smartphones dominate the market, the poor old PC is no longer the ubiquitous domestic item it has been for the last decade.

So, to truly popularise consumer 3D printing PCs may need to be cut out of the equation completely. That was the thinking behind the app created by South African teenagers Gerhard de Clercq (15) and Pieter Sholtz (15). After building their own 3D printer, the boys decided it had to be flexible enough to be controlled via Smartphone.

From any Windows based phone, their application will allow the user to upload an STL, slice the file and send it to the printer via Bluetooth.

Watch the lads explain their invention below.

The app bagged them a deserved Gold Award at the Northern Gauteng Region’s Eskom Expo for Young Scientists 2013. After Wednesday’s story of the pupils over at East Hampstead Park Community School who knocked together a 3D printer between classes, this again shows that this era’s teenagers, with their ultra-practical, second-nature approach to technology, may well be the true driving force in the additive manufacturing revolution.


2. Stick Filament offers multicoloured 3D printing

Stick Filament

Stick Filament is a new filament system that makes creating multi-coloured and multi-material objects possible via a 3D printer. The pieces come in sticks, each one 48 cm in length, that hook together at their ends and they work with most FDM/ FFF printers. You simply fit the colours and materials that you want together and send them through your device.

This way, you get a printed item in various colours, made from various materials in a single extrusion.

The Italian team behind the innovative system currently offer Styrene and PLA in 3 mm diameter, though they are currently hard at work on 1.75 mm filament plus scent, glitter and phosphorescent versions. To check out their prices and packages, head to the website here.


1. The James Dyson Award winning Titan Arm

The James Dyson Award is an international design award created to encourage young, up and coming engineers and designers. This week, it handed out its gongs for 2013 and the winner was an ingenious, 3D printed device that originated from a team of four engineering students in the University of Pennsylvania.

Titan Arm 3D printing

The Titan Arm is designed to help manual workers to lift heavy objects without putting undue strain on their back. With a rigid back brace that keeps posture perfect and a small motor that powers the metal cables, it improves your lifting strength by 20 kilos, while also ensuring you keep the pressure on you legs and arms as opposed to your spine. It’s also hoped the Titan Arm can be used to help rehabilitate people with back injuries. All that, and it weighs a mere 9 kg.

The award bags the team a cool $30,000 to develop the device further, plus 10 grand for the University’s engineering department. Being the bright, hopeful young things that they are, the team plan to release an open-sourced version of the Titan Arm to encourage further experimentation from other engineers and designers.

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