Now that is a loaded question! The end of the COVID thing? Self-driving cars that actually work? A $20,000 electric vehicle with 450 mile range? [I’d go for a Mr. Fusion like Doc in Back to the Future]
No doubt 2022 will continue to bring some new innovations to meet the challenges of these days. How about the focus of much of this blog: Additive Manufacturing?
I suspect that 2022 will be more incremental improvements, especially in novel materials. I don’t expect a $500 3D metal printer for home use, but I do expect that prices of 3D metal printing will continue to become more affordable from vendors such as Shapeways and Xometry. New novel polymeric materials could also be an important aspect of even home-based equipment.
Anyway, I’d suggest looking past the news of pandemic problems to stories of problems solved in 2022!
So this is not additive manufacturing per se, although it was used to prototype the device early on by the developers.
In 2018 I backed a project on Kickstarter for a metal detector that showed a lot of promise – Air Metal Detector – which used a smartphone app to run the system through a Bluetooth connection. The basic idea was to reduce the cost to just the active components in the coil and support structure while providing the option for more sophistication with the application. OTA updates of application and embedded coil software would permit fixes and improvements. Along with this was the potential to reduce weight but the final weight of course depends on the choice of phone. Promised delivery was for November 2019.
Fast forward to June 2021 – just as I was going on our first out-of-town vacation to a New Jersey beach resort, I got an email from FedEx stating that a package was being delivered the following day that required a direct signature. Thankfully FedEx now has package hold options at DollarGeneral stores, so I picked the one that was going to be on my return trip path home! But the sender listed made no sense to me and I had no direct notice that this was going to be the long awaited Air MD unit, though some weeks earlier I got a request to confirm my shipping address from the project.
In going back to the Kickstarter project page I soon realized I was in a very unique position at least for now – apparently I’m one of 3 or 4 to receive this out of 299 or so folks who pledged for it. Thus this hasty post (with more details to come) to prove I’m not making this up!
It did connect to the app on my iPhone and a quick test with a 25c piece worked as expected, but this is just a quick “all systems go” outcome. I’ll be working on more extensive tests and collecting some user experiences to share in the next day or so. If you have questions you’d like answered in all that, leave it in the comments. Two quick things from me already – the charging port is magnetic like Apple products and is unprotected from the elements. And there is no changing out an eventually defective battery – the head is sealed to IP65 standards they say, and I see no way to service anything inside.
Stay tuned for updates! I plan on comparing this to a Nokta Makro Simplex, which is my current favorite detector.
A bit of an update – I was waiting for the Android app to become available as it was not on the Play store or downloadable through their web site. But I continued to check. It did get out recently. I had some connectivity problems with Bluetooth – it would try to connect then shortly lose the connection with a cryptic error message. This did not happen on my iOS device – an iPhone 5. I am inclined to use the Android option because of a much bigger screen. My first test was on an LG G3 Stylus. However, after trying it on another Android phone I got the same response. The app installed on both Android platforms without any error or warning messages.
Weather here in the last 2 weeks has been lousy and wet, and whenever I’ve had an opening for a test I’ve been discouraged by all that. But I’ve turned on comments for this post, so please suggest things for me to try. I was out to a very rural wooded site using the Nokta Simplex to find old iron pins for a property survey – not exactly treasure hunting, but still valuable to the owner. I found all of them in quick succession, except for one that by rough measurement was under a large snowplow blade! Too much iron for sure.
And one more impression – I had occasion to try some comparisons with my Nokta unit at the end of the summer, in between rain and other chores needed when it wasn’t! If I had to choose one or the other I’d pick the Nokta. Both were pretty reliable in the simple stuff like coins thrown into my yard tests but I found the Air MD unit a bit “fussier.” While I want to do some “calibrated” tests at depth, time for that has eluded me so far. I have not found any of the major commercial vendors of metal detectors selling or reviewing it as of November 2021, but I’ll add any I find here. Plus, sooner or later I’ll probably find a more specific use for testing – or if you are reading this, please suggest one!
Currently Formlabs has a referral program that provides you, if you are a new customer, a $500 discount on their machines. Yes, this code does provide me with credit for materials and supplies, but you get a $500 credit directly on your order. It is valid only for orders from North America. And, I don’t know how long this will last, so you might want to act quickly. In fact, this was reduced to $250 a while ago, but has been returned to $500. As I understand it, there are no limits on how many times this discount code can be used, but only one $500 discount, once per new customer.
Some folks are selling their discount codes on ebay, but I would rather help you get a great laser-based SLA unit (Form 3 or Form 3L) to make incredibly precise parts. And better yet are all of the material options that Formlabs has calibrated to their equipment.
So here is the code – really – no purchase necessary from me for the coupon!
You can contact Formlabs through their sales department at 617 702 8476 or at formlabs.com
Or how my personal additive manufacturing lab was turned into a PPE manufacturing facility.
It was the second week of March 2020 as we closed out the first half of our Spring semester and sent the students home for their traditional week of Spring Break. Lurking already in the background was the spread of the COVID-19 infection. Situated as we are in a largely rural area, such a threat seemed at best a distant problem. But at the end of spring break we extended the students’ return out one more week. And then we were on a permanent hold until May. Maybe we could get in one last week of labs and teaching during our normal finals period, but that was quashed too. Thankfully 93% of our courses were able to complete online, in some fashion or another, but from my own experience not in an ideal manner. But these are not ideal times. And as of this post there are still about 10% of the student body left waiting to know how to complete incomplete Spring semester courses perhaps this summer.
Switching immediately to an online format for a materials science class and a class in additive manufacturing — both with “hands-on” lab components — meant doing some serious modifications. Thankfully I was somewhat already into the technology of video production for teaching. And then the “fun” began.
We do teach our manufacturing students in the 4-year program all sorts of logistics, planning tools, productivity concepts, and more. The strain on the supply chains from panic buying (“where’s the toilet paper??”) honed some of our points often seen as unimportant – but these students were living it. And as for me, seeing the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) was crucial to the safety of healthcare workers and others, the shortages were unacceptable.
So what has been the output? I’ve honestly lost count, but somewhere around 300 face shields, 800 “ear savers” and several hundred other adaptive items (door handle grabbers, key chain sanitizers, cloth mask clips etc.). Among the PPE were some odd items for class. Everything was donated to the recipients – including visiting nurses, nursing homes, dentists, child care centers, etc.
And while it has slowed down, I’m not completely out of the business. I’m sure my work has helped in a small way to contain the spread.
If you’d like to help me pay for my personal materials and wear and tear on my equipment (besides supplies, my MakerBot Replicator+ needed a new extruder and my Flashforge Adventurer crashed a nozzle and build plate) just use the PayPal donation button on the left menu! Even a dollar or two would be a wonderful acknowledgement.
Talk about being totally distracted! This past year professionally and personally was filled with all sorts of new things. To catch up with everything will be difficult, but from the last post, yes, I did get the new Prusa SL1 last fall (but still under construction, however). Our new college Makerspace is fully up and running, and I’m the faculty-in-residence this year to assist with all sorts of things maker. Because my teaching schedule is now reduced, there is much more time for adding to this blog – hopefully things of value that somebody will tap my “Donate” button! 😉 Feeding me caffeinated drinks is the best way to ensure more technical content here!
As is obvious from date of this post and the last one I was not doing much blogging here – and for a good reason. I was still very immersed in additive manufacturing problems and solutions, but my own personal life was so overloaded with family needs that blogging just didn’t happen.
Well, I hope to fix this several ways. I have some neat project information to share involving additive manufacturing in the restoration of several antique automobiles. This will definitely be the year of the liquid SLA printer – just take a look at Josef Prusa’s first UV/LCD unit the SL1:
Expected to be shipped end of January 2019, and yes I do have one on order. I will also be posting a review of the Anycubic Photon too – it is a very nice unit that works well for me. And I picked up a used Formlabs Form 1 – main issue dirty mirrors (that seems to be a common issue) and Formlabs nicely sent me a replacement set even though I was able to restore the ones in the unit. Plus an upgrade to the SparkMaker’s system to increase resolution through a parts kit and a test run of T3D’s phone / tablet unit. Maybe OLO / ONO (the much late phone based 3D printer) could appear!
I also expect to see some new breakthroughs in scanning. I’ll be posting a review of Qlone (tablet / phone app) that recently got upgraded to 4K.
And as my college has opened a new Makerspace, I’ll devote one post to showing you how our design team of faculty and students created a unique facililty.
As always, a new round of technology is on display at the Winter CES show in Las Vegas. Given that temperatures are in the teens where I live, warm and sunny Las Vegas sounds rather enticing… However, from my research on the 3D printing space there it is clear that the economic downturn and “cooling” of the market is showing in the types of new offerings. XYZPrinting is there in force with some new selections, but other than the new Markforged desktop metal printer, there isn’t much to be excited about. For one thing, that machine will not be a consumer-priced offering (and as of this writing no price has been announced).
I do have some reviews that have been neglected: the Pixelio scanner table is here, a Mod-T 3D printer, and hopefully by early February a Uniz3D Slash LCD-SLA unit. The Tiko mini delta printer also came just last week, and I’ve managed to get some prints out of it, but nothing great so far. At least I got one! It also looks promising to get the PolyMaker Polysher unit by early February too. I’ve tested a sample of their PVB filament used in that process and had great results – even rough polishing it with IPA in a perfume atomizer. I’ve worked with some Monoprice IIIP units including the MakerSelect and the prints have been fantastic. I’m going to tackle these one by one with some video included too.
And now on to my predictions for 2017 and 3D printing: the consumer space will further consolidate – and educational (read more expensive) offerings will be the norm. I’d like to see a reliable resin printer for under $1000 with decent software (it is possible). And I’d like to see some better 3D scanners. 2017 looks to be the year of IoT, Virtual Reality, and maybe drones… so I rather think that the additive manufacturing space will see less development for now. However, I would not mind being pleasantly surprised!
In case you follow this blog and thought that I’d been abducted by aliens or worse — no I’m still much in the game and there are so many things to catch up on. Such as:
We’ll look at the new MakerBot SmartExtruder+, Tough PLA SmartExtruder, and MakerBot Replicator 5th Gen Plus. That alone is a lot. I have tested the new tough PLA in the heat of battle – 3lb battlebots to be exact – and the three parts made this way held up exceptionally well. More on that to come!
A review of the Mod-t printer is also in the works. And my experiences printing TPU (thermoplastic urethane) have been really fun. Again, some parts made for a recent 3lb battlebot competition held up so well they came out without a scratch.
Liquid resin printers are getting into the mainstream – check out this awesome new offering on Kickstarter: The Morpheus Morpheus 3D This machine is using the concept of an LCD screen and appropriate lighting, such as the ONO unit coming out later (we hope) this month. The ONO 3D printer uses “daylight” curing resin (probably deep blue actually) from the LCD / LED screen of your phone. The promise is of smooth layers and even clear prints if desired.
Scanning is also an area seeing new options. Smartphones have such incredible cameras these days it doesn’t make sense to use some other imaging part. The long-awaited Bevel from Matter and Form seems to be still long awaited… But I did get my Pixelio scan table and can say it works nicely. More on that later too. Check it out here: Pixelio
So stay tuned – by US Thanksgiving holiday I should have at least a few new personal reviews out there.
CO2 laser cutters have been around for a while, but they are either very expensive or just (like low-end imports) not well designed. A new offering that is probably the most consumer friendly device I’ve seen in this area is called the “Glowforge.” The basic unit comes with a 40W CO2 laser, continuous autofocus, a 12″ x 20″ bed and internal object recognition cameras that work to identify the materials and alignment.
And if you would like a $100 coupon off the purchase check here: $100 Coupon
This will cover the $99 shipping charge (if you are in the US) so think of it as free shipping!
Early orders go out in December 2015 but I’d guess that later orders will not be fulfilled until mid-2016 (just guessing).
UPDATE: Shipments have been delayed for at least 6 months due to an issue with the power supply – claimed to be a custom component – and that only now (4/16) have the first samples of properly spec’d parts arrived. Refunds are available if you do not want to wait…
First – a shameless promotion… MakerBot is running a coupon special. If you tap on this link $25 MakerBot Coupon you’ll get a coupon for $25 off your order on a MakerBot machine and supplies. The details will appear in a new window… Yes, I’ll get a small commission if you use this custom coupon, but any receipts go back into paying for this blog and purchasing machines and materials to test and review.
So while I’ve been quiet for a bit, here are some upcoming reviews that you might find useful:
DaVinci Nobel 1.0 SLA
iBox Nano SLA
Little RP SLA w/tilt option
SeeMeCNC Droplit SLA
And maybe by the end of October, a Peachy Printer…