GrabCAD offers a way for engineers to collaborate by providing easy storage and access to a huge library of 3D computer aided design files. I have written on their blog, and occasionally poke around their library for models of various uses. One feature it is good to see them focusing on is the mobile app. Viewing on a mobile app is important for companies that are looking to the future. Editing from a mobile device is still limited, they lack the software and processing power to run most existing programs, but maybe GrabCAD will be the ones to change that. Until then you can use their app for handy viewing of all their files (or your own, if you are logged in and sharing).
I was able to easily download the GrabCAD app from the Apple app store. Once opened you can immediatly browse the library of 3D files in the libraries, each uploaded by various other users. All public files are also downloadable to a embedded viewer that allows for simple zooming and turning of the model. The viewer can not hide parts, do section views, or edit the file but for a simple display it does the job nicely.
Signing in provides individual access to private files or those shared on a corporate account or with limited groups of others. The app does occasionally crash and could use additional features for commenting, marking up, and editing the models but overall it serves the need of having an easy and free way to share 3D files with a large group of people.
There are lots of ways to use 3D printing, but one of the more fun and flashy ones is getting a 3D print of yourself. A few companies and retail stores have already begun offering consumers the opportunity to see themselves created in miniature form. Below are just a few of the ways to print yourself
Printed in Carbonite (Disney Parks - Star Wars):The new Star Wars owner, Disney, started using the iconic Han Solo in Carbonite as reference to personalize your own piece of memorabilia. Guests could step into a 3D photo booth and be scanned in a moment of agony – just like Han. A technician handled the software processing and positioning and ultimately created a replica carbonite block.
Cubify 3DMe by 3D Systems:The largest 3D printing player, 3D Systems, recently started leveraging their Cubify creation system to open a new service, 3DMe. Everything from cake toppers, to graduation busts, to sports bodies are available. Just upload a few images and order.
Fabcafe Shibuya Tokyo Shop:Not to be outdone by action figure bodies and likenesses a shop in the popular Shibuya district of Tokyo has taken printing to a delicious new level. After getting a full body scan a plastic tray is made with a 3D printer, but that is not the end product. The tray works as a mold in which you can make delicious gummy versions of yourself. Using 3D printing as a step to create a fixture shows a bit more how versatile this technology is and hints at the impact it will have on manufacturing in general.
D-Tech Me Disney Princesses:
The D-Tech me offering from Disney, mentioned previously for it’s Star Wars Carbonite prints, also extends into classic girls properties. Using the same scanning technique a girl can have her own likeness made into a figurine of one of the classic Disney Princesses, complete with their gorgeous gowns.
Shapeways Pop Up Shop in New York:Shapeways, the online marketplace and service center for 3D models and printing, also got into the business of printing people. Though it was only a brief stint at a NY pop up shop the offerings included charms, figures, ceramic cups and even some more adult oriented items. The video from Mashable explains things.
Makerbot Retail Store NYC:Thingiverse and ordering a print for $20-$50. Sure the blue color is not all that flattering, but the process was super easy.
|View from the Inside 3D Printing Expo|
|Photo Credit Flickr : 621st Contingency Response Wing|
The new industrial revolution of 3D printing is already making itself a reality for some professionals. US soldiers around the world have used additive manufacturing and 3D printing to develop immediate solutions to problems that traditionally would have taken years. Contracts for new parts or upgraded devices can take years to work their way through the vast bureaucracy that controls defense spending. The Army’s Expeditionary Lab Mobile (ELM) can skip that process with their mobile engineering and production.
An article in the National Defense Magazine talks about one use of the ELM tech that solved a seemingly basic problem. Flashlights issued to soldiers had a power button that was prone to accidental activation. This is a problem that could give away a position or more commonly drain batteries leaving the user without any light. ELM designed and fabricated “a plastic guard that clips over the end of the flashlight, preventing accidental activation of the power switch”.
Other mentioned uses include the creation of thousands of adapters for USB charging devices. Given the remote location and inherent supply chain issues 3D printing was not only an elegant solution but arguably the most economical. These types of items are one of the reasons why President Obama made mention of 3D Printing and NAMII in his State Of The Union. No doubt this is only the beginning of what will become a whole new approach to manufacturing and development for an increasing number of parts and devices.