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The 3D Three: MakerBot Downsizing, Disney Prosthetics, & Homemade Railguns

A rapid round-up of all the news that's fit to 3D print.
A rapid round-up of all the news that's fit to 3D print.

On the third Monday of every month, we are going to quickly recap three vastly different news stories from the 3D printing industry. We hope to show you this technology has the ability to alter not only how things are made, but how we live. At the very least, we’ll give you something to talk about at the dinner table or your next party.

Subtractive Manufacturing

 makerbot.com

 

For all those futurists who thought 3D printers were going to be the next microwave, hate to break it to you, but it might be more akin to a Panini press. They are both capable of making amazing objects, but the interest soon fades. Then you realize someone can do it for you and it probably tastes better. So you move it to the basement, the cluttered dungeon where geek dreams go to die… and gather mildew.

As the novelty wears off, MakerBot  is scrambling to stay viable. Earlier this month, the company announced its “reducing” its staff by 20%, which shrunk by 20% just last April. That’s also when CEO Jonathan Jaglom joined the company.

How much can change in less than two years. In a 2013 blog, MakerBot wrote that its company saying was “Full Speed Ahead!” This referred to the “unstoppable momentum of our team as we develop 3D printing technology that will transform industry, design, and everyday life as we know it.”

The company’s motto seems now to be “All Stop.”

Jaglom announced the R&D team will move four miles closer to the corporate HQ in Downtown Brooklyn to improve communication. And a “Chief of People” has been hired to create a new culture.

The problem is, 3D printing isn’t at a point where it should be marketed like an energy drink. Hopefully MakerBot can right the ship before it becomes a casualty of its own hubris. And maybe I'll get a Panini for lunch.

Armed and Ready

openbionics.com

Did I just write that 3D printing was a novelty? My mistake. It can turn children into superheroes, so it’s still amazing!

A UK-based company, Open Bionics, can 3D print prosthetics strong enough for Iron Man or Luke Skywalker, but made for kids. Looks aren’t everything for these cool bionics. The LEDs illuminate based on arm movements to show the children what muscles are being activated.

“Now kids can get excited about their prosthetics,” the company website says. “They won’t have to do boring physical therapy, they’ll train to become heroes.”

The project is part of the Techstars Disney Accelerator, which allows different startups to leverage the House of Ideas’ properties, which now includes Marvel and Star Wars, for new entertainment and technology. This, of course, means we will soon be writing about 3D-printed web shooters and know-it-all protocol droids.

Rail Blazer

Wait a minute. I might now be terrified of 3D printing. One guy used a six capacitors, some cables and a 3D printer to build an actual rail gun, which fires projectiles using electromagnetic pulses. The Navy has one that may be able to fire at Mach 7, and could hit open waters next year.

This guy, known as Xtamared on YouTube, uploaded videos of his “WXPR-1” firing carbon projectiles from three feet away into a plywood board. Take a look:


It barely makes a dent, but the bullet was allegedly traveling 820 feet per second.  I'd say, "Let’s hope this design doesn’t fall into the wrong hands," but some random guy on the Internet already has it. And he gave instructions on how he did it on Imgur.

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