Battle Axe Barbie - A Crowdfunded Fashion Doll Outfit

For years toy designers have used 3D printing to flesh out different ideas and prototypes, but now one designer has taken to KickStarter to create a unique outfit for the worlds most popular fashion doll.

Battle Axe Barbie looks awesome. Sure she comes with a broad sword but "Broad Sword Barbie" just doesn't have the same ring to it. The best part is that this has to be a concept that Barbie designers have drawn up in a brainstorm at one point in time (I've been in Mattel Brainstorms, they are broad reaching) but the market demand for a Barbie suit of armor is certainly not enough to justify the tooling expense.

Nice job to Zheng3, the designer who is undertaking the project. The styling and focus on fit is great. It will be interesting to see what he follows this up with, especially if it is with one of the other current hottest toy brands (My Little Pony) as mentioned in his campaign.

$7500 Unlimited 3D Printing, 3D Scanning, and Machining - @Techshop

A few years ago I discovered an great new business and ever since have been waiting for Techshop to open a location that is more accessible to me. The concept, a subscription based workshop that is fully outfitted with more equipment that could every fit in my garage (or even the whole house), struck me as brilliant. Location one was opened in Menlo Park which positioned them well to be the proving ground for hardware startups. Monthly subscription fees were initally around $100-$200 per person but now there is a new offer. 

For $7500 an individual can get a lifetime membership to Techshop. This grants access to any current or future location. Of course the machine list and capabilities of each new location will vary but the current list of resources is quite robust and includes some marquee pieces that can almost justify the cost by themselves. A short (not comprehensive list) includes: 3D Printer, 3D Scanner, Injection molding machine, vacuum forming machine, laser cutter, welding machines, tube bending, sheet forming, milling, and more.

Floor Plan of a Techshop
With 8 locations the membership potential is not there for everyone but Techshop is looking to expand. Most likely the liftetime fee is part of that plan as the upfront funds will help them in thei current stated goal of raising $60 Million for expansion. Each new location is expected to cost between $2.5MM-$3MM to open, so if you have 400 close friends you can get them each a membership for life. Interestingly this seems like a very small fee all in, a large company with a decent R&D budget could fund an entire new location and give access to a large workforce, thought the IP issues would be a bit of a struggle.

Check out the video below for a more in depth look at Techshop. And if you have had any experience with one yourself please leave a comment and share!

What Will Protolabs Do With

In my inbox this morning was an email thanking me for attending Solidworks that also was offering a "Free Design Cube" (NOT an affiliate link, just FYI). The company sponsoring the cube is Protolabs or Protomold, a rapid prototyping service house that has been around since 1999. They specialize in quick turn injection molded parts and even their about us page states that their goal is to "radically reduce the time it takes to get prototype injection-molded plastic parts". The design cube is intented to showcase best practices in design (for injection molding). With the developments in 3D printing touted in the media you may wonder how they are still in business and when they will create a Design Cube for 3D printing.
Design Cube by Protomold - Showcasing boss design, coring, and other molding best practices

Final Inside 3D Printing Keynote Announced – Get 15% OFF

Inside 3DPrinting Conference & Expo, the largest 3D printing event worldwide is returning to NYC in less than one month. And with the recent announcement of three impressive new speakers, the conference is expecting to welcome more 3D printing industry and design enthusiasts than ever before.

After initially announcing a solid roster of speakers, including 3D System’s Avi Reichental and Autodesk’s Carl Bass, Mediabistro added two more speakers to the agenda: Paul Trani, Sr. Creative Cloud Evangelist at Adobe, and Jesse McGatha, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft. See the full speaker list here.

The event also confirmed their fourth and final keynote speaker, Curtis Carson the Head of Systems Integration, Centre of Competence Manufacturing for Airbus, the leading aircraft manufacturer. Carson will present his keynote speech titled “Print Me an Airplane: Airbus’ Vision of 3D Printing Applications” on April 4.

In addition to the conference’s B2B programming, sessions tailored toward the Maker and design community will be taking place concurrently at the event’s Maker Summit & Pavilion. Another first for the event, April 2 will feature a half day of hands-on workshops, some of which have already sold out.

3DEngr has partnered with Inside 3D Printing NYC to offer 15% off Full Conference Passes with code 3DENGR. The full conference pass allows you access to all conference sessions, keynotes, exhibitions, Maker Pavilion, and Summit sessions on April 3-4, and the event reception on April 3Be sure to register before March 12 to save an additional $450 with early bird pricing.

For those who are unable to attend the NYC event, additional conferences are scheduled internationally throughout 2014. Click here to see all upcoming Inside 3D Printing events.

Solid Edge Vs. Solidworks - Are They All That Different?

We recently published an article comparing SolidEdge to Solidworks. Jim, as mentioned in the article, makes his living utilizing CAD systems and teaching CAD. Although his primary tool is Solidworks he has looked at other options, and worked with other systems in the past. He is established enough to pass judgment on which tool is best equipped for his needs. That said his call of vast superiority by Solidworks seems inflated.

Solidworks is a wonderful tool, which has many advantages in developing great designs. There are two primary points that Jim makes in his comparison of Solid Edge and Solidworks. I will address each separately below, but the point is also made to compare Solidworks in their current form to ProE of the early 2000’s. First to address this issue:

Solidworks most certainly appealed to a new crowd and that appeal can be pointed to as one of the core reasons it succeeded over the years. That said a comparison of the user interaction from Solidworks to Solid Edge, or any other CAD software for that matter, is in my estimation misguided.

Thanks to their long-standing position as the market leader Solidworks has a vast user community that does most of the heavy lifting for them. Just take a look at their user groups, or this forum, where common users are significantly more active than the parent company. Certainly the cultivation of this community is due to the direct actions of Solidworks but smaller market disruptors should not be hindered simply based on their market share (a point that Jim makes, though pointing again at PTC of a decade ago).  As for the “arrogant jerk” comment I can safely say I have run into similar jerks at a variety of companies. Though an organization is at least in part responsible for the actions of their employees it is unfair to characterize an entire organization based on the actions of one sales representative.

As for the points made regarding why Solidworks “won” over ProE, these seem to be relatively subjective concerns. Personally I can attest to the Solid Edge crew being very straight shooters, fun, and above all very geeked out on their product. Through writing assignments I have had the privilege to spend time with a number of the Siemens staff and they have been simply fantastic. Further I’ve found their software to be just as easy to use as any other CAD program – though admittedly that still would not qualify it as “easy”.

As for Synchronous Technology (ST), the comparison to a wonder bra is incomplete. Solid Edge has all the same trappings of Solidworks and ST is better considered a feature add-on than an underlying principle. Yes it can remove some modeling history but this is not a default – Solid Edge also includes an ordered modeling system that is at least on par with Solidworks. ST as an addition is akin to the Instant3D capabilities of Solidworks and in my experience ST is vastly superior.  Some hesitation is warranted given the marketing behind ST but the software should not be knocked simply because the team has decided to showcase a point of differentiation in their marketing – who would but a system marketed as “On par with the market leader – with better additional features”.  It is surely easier to promote a message of simply “Better features than the market leader”.

Ultimately Jim and I agree. Solid Edge needs something more to jump ships. Considering the amount of time many users spend training on a new system making the change is a huge decision for engineers. Roll in that fact that both systems run in the thousands of dollars and it is going to take more than a few features to really change things.

With all that said, the CAD industry is ripe for a disruptor. A new system that changes the way designers think and model, a system that will make us all take a pause and likely say “that will never work” before ultimately succumbing to a new generation that is passing us by. At least that’s what my friends who used to work at drafting tables tell me.
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