Monday, September 30, 2013

World Maker Faire 2013 (NYC)

World Maker Faire 2013

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the World Maker Faire in NYC and participate in various other activities while visiting friends in the area.  It's been a while since my last visit to the East Coast and I've been long overdue to visit so I used the Maker Faire as a prime opportunity to "kill two birds with one stone" so to speak and make the most of my visit.

Ultimaker 1 printing a globe from 2 colored materials

I wrote about my attending the Seattle Mini Maker Faire earlier this year and how small the event was...  Well, the World Maker Faire in NYC was quite the opposite to put it lightly, the event was absolutely bustling with exhibitors and attendees.  The "maker movement" is definitely growing by leaps and bounds.  One thing that wasn't in short supply at the Faire was 3D printing-related "stuff."  The event was seemingly dominated by 3D printers, technologies, printed objects with very little spread in variety of other Maker-related things.  While a lot of individuals seemed to be overwhelmed with all the 3D printing stuff, I believe we haven't even come close to reaching the tip of the iceberg with regard to the growth of 3D printing being a mainstream product--next year's World Maker Faire will probably have an even larger 3D printing presence.

Ultimaker 2 - a new printer announced at the Maker Faire

For example, the patents to create 3D printed METAL parts using laser sintering processes are expiring in 2014 which will likely give birth to desktop metal 3D printers (probably through KickStarter) shortly.  Personally, I think metal 3D printers should be left to industry consumption as they are a potentially incredibly dangerous technology for a variety of reasons, but we'll see what the future holds!

There were a lot of cool things to see at the Maker Faire, and a lot of cool gadgets and toys to purchase or pre-order.  I'll let a select few pictures do the talking:

The ShopBot, a really cool mobile CNC tool

Woolbuddys loose felt plushies and kits

Mini moss-"biospheres"

Zoa Chimerum rubber-based jewelry designs inspired by nature

VR welding training tools

Coffee-making robot

Formlab's featured prints display

While staying with a friend, we went on a variety of fun adventures, like visiting the MoMA, ate at Japanese restaurants, checked out various sights & popular tourist destinations, and more.

Towards the Times Square area

Ippudo, a nice ramen place, almost as good as the real deal

Cool street art under a bridge in Brooklyn

Opposite side

Also, as I mentioned in the last post I said I was going to paint the Slardar-headphone covers.  The completed results are below--hand painted using acrylic UV-fluorescent paints.  I'll try to get a photo of them under a UV lamp to show off their glow!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

3D Printed Modular Headphone Design "Slardar Ears"

I'm a really big fan of modular design, and have long had an idea to combine modular design with common / everyday wearable objects.  Headphones in particular are designed and intended to be fashionable straight from the factory, and consumers can be seen everywhere going about their day-to-day activities wearing earphones, ear-buds, or headphones--listening to their favorite music.  However, people typically own just a single pair of headphones (this makes sense, we only have one set of ears after all), limiting the range of compatibility with an individual's everyday outfit or fashion sense.  A modular (headphone) aesthetic design could open up an infinite range of possibilities toward enhancing one's sense of individuality in this regard.  A different headphone attachment (module) could be worn not only to complement one's appearance, but also to reflect one's state of mind or emotional demeanor, or to act as a outward display of one's taste in entertainment, hobbies, or other (/designer lingo).

This idea doesn't have to be limited to headphones, but could be applied to each and every facet of one's life.  Cars for example, are often seen as a blank canvas to enthusiasts and tuners who attempt to gain a sense of identity by differentiating themselves from other vehicles of the same make and model through aesthetic modifications (paint, light, spoilers, etc.).  

In this way, I feel that 3D printing can more easily facilitate these customizable modular designs.  As a proof of concept, I took a pair of my headphones and designed a set of detachable aesthetic "ear pieces" to be a fun experiment and provide one of my visions of modular design.

Slardar the Slithereen Guard

The source of inspiration for the ear pieces again came from Valve's DOTA 2.  More specifically, from Slardar, a hero or playable character in the game that I feel (among others) has a cool and unique design.  Slardar's fin-like ears are one of the focal points of the character's appearance--I wanted to isolate this element and incorporate the design with my headphones such that I could have my own pair of Slardar's ears--being almost like a mini-cosplay of Slardar.  

CAD/CAM designed

Sent to the printer

Using a portrait of Slardar taken from the game, I modeled one of Slardar's ears in CAD, which was built as an offshoot of a cylindrical cup designed to fit over each headphone ear piece like a sleeve.  The headphones were precisely measured with digital calipers and the dimensions were translated to the modeled ears as they were being constructed.  The "cups" could have been made a little more "organic" as opposed to being obvious cylinders, however, they were left as is because the design is just a proof of concept as mentioned before.  The parts were then printed on the Form 1, taking about 12 hours for each piece (!) and were cleaned up by washing and removing the support structures.  

Freshly printed

Cleaned up

The printed pieces look pretty amazing and I'm really happy with how they came out.  The fitment with the headphone ear pieces is absolutely perfect as well--snugly tight.  They look really nice as is in a transparent finish, however, I have a plan to make them more like Slardar's ears by giving them a coat of paint.  I hope the idea in my head can be implemented well and do the pieces justice.  Updates to come later.

Finished product

Monday, September 2, 2013

3D Printed "Blueheart Spotter" (PAX Prime 2013 Update)

The latest 3D printed object I created was inspired by attending PAX Prime, one of the largest gaming conventions in the world, which took place here in Seattle last weekend.  The last time I attended PAX was back in 2011, and the event has grown substantially every year since--it being one of the most fun and entertaining conventions I've ever attended.  I spent a good amount of time at the Wacom booth (Cintiqs on display) and met a lot of extremely talented artists and 3D modelers and watched them perform their craft in real-time.  They were able to perform some amazing "wizardry" turning simple spheres into complex organic creatures in ZBrush and Mudbox--it was definitely really impressive and inspiring to watch.

Reference image used

As a result, I wanted to recreate an object from a game and picked the Blueheart Spotter vision ward from Valve's DOTA 2.  The vision ward is based off the aesthetics of the Crystal Maiden which is sort-of a frosty / ice crystal-like character in the game.  As a result, the ward has a lot of crystal-like features built into its design.  I recreated the model as best as I could from a simple photo reference and then sent it off to be printed on the Form 1.  After printing, the model was lightly-sanded in areas to smooth out the support-attachment bumps, washed, and then photographed.  The printed model prototype is only about 5 inches tall.  I'm thinking about printing a larger scale version with a base plate / stand and wiring it with an arduino-controlled LED lighting setup, in addition to a transparent colored paint job to better recreate the ward aesthetically.

Completed 3D model

Finished and cleaned print

PAX was an incredibly fun event this year and one of the highlights was getting to play a really creative and innovative game called Johann Sebastion Joust, which involves up to 18 players each holding PS3 a motion controller wand to move smoothly and steadily, as sudden movements of the controller will knock you out of the game.  However, it's a "last man / team standing" type of game so players must "joust" and attempt to "jostle" the controller of another player while keeping theirs' steady to win.  All this is also affected by the tempo of the music that's playing in the background.  The game is brilliant, hilarious, and insanely fun.  I believe a version of the game along with a few others were funded through KickStarter recently.  The best way to fully understand the game is to check out the video below.  I hope JSJ really catches on and becomes more popular.

Also while at PAX I randomly bumped into some YouTube celebrities, Jimmy Wong & Clinton Jones, from various YouTube channels but probably best known through Freddie Wong's channel--Freddie being regarded as essentially the "face of YouTube."  They were a great bunch and it was awesome to get to casually meet them in person too.