The Information Age is glorious. At no other point in history have humans had such easy access to enormous amounts of information. Movies, books, music, and more are all at our fingertips. With the advent of 3D scanning, we can even experience objects we might otherwise never see, from museums and collections around the world.
The Smithsonian is on top of the digitalization of information. In addition to the massive amount of written material that has been digitized, the museum has added 3D printing to its arsenal, allowing easier examination or “lending” of exhibits. Now, with the new Smithsonian X 3D Collection, users can take a close-up look at history, or even print out replicas to educate and impress. Continue reading
The US has been the leader in additive manufacturing (AM) ever since Scott Crump designed Stratasys’ first 3D printer, but that may be changing. Both the UK and China have invested serious amounts of money into the technology, and the EU, with partner ESA, isn’t far behind. The US does have its own investments in place as well, such as America Makes (formerly known as NAMII), but with the turmoil in Washington, getting funding for new projects isn’t always easy.
MakerBot is hoping to help return the US to the forefront of AM with its MakerBot Academy program. The program would like to put a 3D printer in as many classrooms as possible to educate students about AM, and generate interest for the technology in a new generation of engineers and designers. MakerBot Academy represents a partnership between donorschoose.org, Autodesk, America Makes, and, of course, MakerBot (now a subdivision of Stratasys). Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) may end up being one of the most versatile tools to ever hit the shelves. The technology can produce food and assist operations, along with providing rapid prototyping and end-use capabilities for manufacturing. Researchers in any number of scholarly disciplines have found ways to use AM to improve their studies, and now geologists have joined their numbers.
The ability to visualize information in three dimensions is a necessity when studying many different aspects of geology, including topography, flow research, and strata. Geologists have been building their own scale models of key geological structures for years, eventually turning to three dimensional designs on computers when they became widely available. The GeoFabLab at Iowa State University (ISU) has begun experimenting with AM to build extremely accurate geology models that students and researchers can be see and touch. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) has become an important tool in the product development cycle, and its use is only likely to increase over time. Future engineers and designers will be expected to understand how AM systems work and how to design for 3D printing. Education is the key to understanding, particularly education in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.
Recognizing the necessity for education in AM technology, the UK launched a pilot program in 2012 that brought 3D printers to 21 primary and secondary schools. A year later, a report on the success of the project has led to a further £500,000 investment, adding AM systems to 60 additional schools. Continue reading