3D Printed Hubs are the Centerpieces of Visually Stunning Geodesic Dome Shade Structures

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3D Printed Hubs are the Centerpieces of Visually Stunning Geodesic Dome Shade Structures

byDebra ThimmeschMay 27, 20153D Design3D Printing

Theres no better, more direct metaphor for the work that Michael Gates and Toby Vann ofArchimedes Designdo than the hub. Its both the literal center or core of what they do and the driving force behind their venture. Gates and Vann are the founders of a truly community-centric, grassroots effort to provide one of lifes fundamental necessities: shelter. However, like most everything this creative duo does, they do it with an artfulness that blends form and function until the two are essentially indistinguishable from one another.

The Scout model, full kit includes rain fly

To say the dome structures they design and build arose from a grassroots ethos isnt quite accurate. Quite literally, its dust, the fineand some would say, insidiousdust of the Nevada desert. Longtime attendees ofBurning Man, the annual mass gathering that has become legendary by now and whose fundamental principle of community infuses their work, Gates and Vann saw a need and they responded to it with the kind of creativity and energy that exemplifies the structures they stand behindor beneath, as it were.

Drawing from a variety of resources, including 3D printing and 3D design, Gates and Vann began conceiving of shade structures that would withstand the intense conditions of the desert yet adhere to the temporal nature of the yearly festival. As any Burner knows, when you leave the festival, the environs of the infamous Black Rock City, you leave no trace.

When considering how to design something strong enough to provide shade from the sometimes relentless sun or the chill winds that cross the desert as soon as the sun has set, Gates and Vann began small. With slender cocktail straws, they constructed their first version of the structure that Gates explained is a tesselated geodesic dome.

Its basically icosohedral, he elaborated. Its the classic dome structure with triangular facets approximating a hemisphere.

Think jungle gyms, Epcot Center, Buckminster Fuller.

Although they began with more rudimentary construction methods, looking to tradition for examples like bent-pole supported structures, they realized that what they and their customers really wanted was something safe as well as sturdy. Bent poles can, after all, break. Furthermore, the shape of the dome itself spoke to the overall function of a shelter destined for the bustling but expressly temporary city that arises at the end of each summer. The city itself is laid out in concentric circles with lanes between camps and larger avenues leading to the Playa, the hub of life in Black Rock City.

It was that circular, inclusive civic structure that Gates and Vann wished to emulate with their domes. Knitting together the alternating hexagons and pentagons of the domes are star-like harness systems that can be adjusted to maintain the necessary tension to hold the poles, spokes in a sort of angular wheel, to the crucial hubs at each connecting point.

To assert that the hubs were the critical component of the Archimedes Design project is not an understatement. Gates recalled the trial-and-error process of the hub design:

We were making our own hubs with the prototyping process and we realized through field testing that they were not strong enough. They were the weak link in the structure itself.

Neither Gates nor Vann was a novice with respect to various methods of construction. Theyd essentially built their own three-story Brooklyn home from the skeleton of the previous structure. They also knew that to produce a hub of the quality they had in mind they didnt have to reinvent the wheelor, more accurately, the hub. Thats when they turned to 3D printing to create a prototype for the cast hubs that they felt would meet the high structural standards of their domes.

Cast steel hubs created using the 3D-printed prototype

While Gates had CAD experience and produced a preliminary design for the hub usingSketchUp, they turned to an experienced designer who, based upon their specifications, usedRhino 3Dto create a model to be 3D printed and, ultimately, cast. While they were aware that, as an ambitious but fledgling start-up they couldnt afford to 3D print the hubs in metal and in great quantity, Gates and Vann knew that once they had a working, full-scale model of the new-and-improved hub, theyd have something concrete to show a foundry as well as potential investors. Thats been one of the essential selling points of 3D printingits capacity to facilitate rapid, cost-effective prototyping for small businesses with big ideas. Gates and Vann took the 3D model, uploaded it toShapeways,and a few days later the most ingenious iteration yet of their award-winning domes was in full-scale production.

The Day-Glo version, which Gates and Vann unveiled at taBURnac in Montreal this past winter

Since that time, Gates and Vann have sold multiple domes in three different sizes, customizing them to individual users via the colorful, spandex shade panels that stretch across the open expanses between hubs and supports, including a black light-enhanced version of beautiful, riotous color and a distinctive red-and-blue variation in honor of their recent appearance atMaker Faire 2015 in San Mateo, California. At last years Burning Man, Gates and Vann showcased several of their domes, which they delivered personally to fellow Burners and customers. In the spirit of community that so distinguishes the yearly festival, special delivery included a tutorial in constructing and deconstructing the domes.

While no traces of the eye-catching, smart, and efficient dome structures remained after the last bit of MOOP (matter out of place in Burning Man vernacular) was removed late last summer, word of Archimedes Design and the versatile, artful domes continued to spread. As Gates and Vann persist in perfecting the domes and branching out to create domes suitable for different environments and purposes, they welcomein keeping with the festivals philosophy of collective creativitynew ideas, novel iterations, forward-thinking investors, and, above all else, real-life stories of their domes as they inspire new communities and enterprises as creative as their own.

Let us know what you think of these designs in the3D Printed Domes forumthread over at .

A colorful Archimedes Design dome provides an intimate interior space within a larger interior

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3D Printing in 3 Steps (Yes Only 3!

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Staples ContributorAugust 19, 20163D Printing in 3 Steps (Yes, Only 3!)

Since it gives computer users the ability to produce tangible objects in a variety of materials and colors right from their desktop, 3D printing seems as if it would be technically complicated (or just magical). But in reality, its not all that different from printing in two dimensions on paper.

To produce a printed page, all computer users need is a document, a computer and access to a printer and, of course, ink and paper. Likewise,printing in 3Donly requires three similar things. Sure, the technologies differ, but thats the basic gist, as these three steps explain.

If you were to open a document file on your computer, hit some random keys on your keyboard and press Print, youd have a paper printout though it wouldnt make much sense. With 3D printing, you cant make a shape that easily, not even a poor one, so its worth beginning the process by putting some thought into your object.

Start by knowing what youd like to print in three dimensions. If you dont have an idea or concept, there are plenty of free suggestions online to get you started. Web sites offer a library of pre-designed objects that you can print with any 3D printer to gain experience. Or you can be inspired by people who are already using 3D printing technology.

Phoenix-based sculptorKevin Caronuses 3D printing to refine his artwork before making full-sized versions. Mostly what Im doing is proof of concept designs. You know, will it stand up, does it look right and are the proportions correct on it? he says.

And Chris Considine, CEO and founder of Los AngelesbasedCXC Simulations, uses 3D printing to prototype custom-designed parts for racing simulators that are so realistic, they are used by professional race car drivers. We need 3D orienting to see if the part feels exactly how we want it to feel, he says. We went through about 30 versions before we found the one that was perfect for us. Other than 3D printing, theres truly no way you could have done that without building it over and over again.

Once you know what you want to produce, its time to sit down at a computer and make it happen. 3D prints are most commonly generated from an STL or .stl file. Standing for stereolithography (what 3D printing was named when it was first invented), this file format is to 3D printing what the .doc file is to document output.

To open and manipulate an STL file, youll need computer-aided design (CAD) software. For decades, these programs have been used by everyone from architects to product designers, so there are many kinds ofCAD softwareavailable.

SketchUpis a free modeling program designed to be straightforward and allow anyone to create three-dimensional renderings, whether simple or complicated. Likewise,Tinkercadkeeps the design process easy by providing just three simple tools. It also runs in a Web browser and offers step-by-step design lessons to demonstrate how easy 3D printing can be.

Meanwhile, programs likeAutoCADare favored by many experienced professionals, having been used in the design and prototyping of millions of products throughout the years.

To run these programs, you dont need a particularly powerful computer. Caron uses anHP desktopmachine to create his digital sculptures. Its not a big screaming gaming computer by any means, he says. Its just a small office computer and it handles the CAD program just fine.

Most people assume they need to own a 3D printer to produce digitally rendered objects, but that isnt true. Sure, owning adesktop 3D printercan put your designs within arms reach. But driving across town to pick up your objects at aStaples 3D printing servicelocation or having them delivered by mail can be just as convenient for some businesses.

For example, Caron owns aCubeX™ commercial 3D printer. With the ability to print objects up to the size of a basketball, this device produces designs in plastic and in more than 4,000 different colors. Hes also used print-on-demand services to produce sculptures that he couldnt make on his offices machine.

Theyre breathtaking when you see them, he says of the two acrylic sculptures. The detail that I could view on the computer came out in the print it just blew me away. Caron is planning to scale his designs down and turn them into jewelry to sell. Ive gotten one back in a polished glass and its stunning. You cant tell it from gold other than by the weight.

If you are interested in using 3D printing but need help with these steps, visit one of our stores that offers 3D printing services (currently inLos AngelesandNew York City). There, we can help you with all the steps, from getting in touch with designers to actual 3D printing. You can even get in our 3D printing photo booth and have your face put on a figurine.

Some businesses would argue that 3D printing, whether its done in the office or at an outside service, is worth its weight in gold. I can go from concept in my head to holding the part in sometimes as quickly as an hour, says Considine. Its a very powerful thing for an engineer to have. Its liberating.

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3D Printing in The Hub

Kalamazoo Public Library strives to offer community access to new and emerging technologies. Explore the technology involved in printing small three-dimensional objects in plastic with a 3D printer.

The expectation is that the 3D printer will inspire interest in design, will contribute to the growth of user-created content and digital literacy, and support individual entrepreneurship.

The printer is based inThe Hub, KPLs digital lab (Central Library, 3rd floor). Other locations may be used for special programming.

download this instruction sheet(PDF)

1. Make sure the extruders and bed are clean before calibration. Have whoever is working in

The Hub, and knows how to 3D print, clean the extruders for you. DO NOT TOUCH THE RED

WIRES OR THE PRINTER WILL SHUT DOWN.

2. To Calibrate the printer go to UTILITIESCALIBRATEYES. All the numbers must be near each

other in order to work. The X axis is located in the upper left, the Y axis is the upper right, and

the Z axis is located in the back. To calibrate correctly, turn the gears to the RIGHT to go UP,

and the LEFT to go DOWN. Have whoever is working in The Hub assist with this step if you are

1. Download an image from upload one, if you already have it picked

out, and save it to the desktop. The image must be an STL file in order to print.

2. Open the XYZ software and IMPORT the STL file. You can resize and move the image around.

3. To glue the bed down where your object will be printed, go to UTILITIESJOG MODEZ AXIS

and click the down arrow until the bed is low enough to glue. Also glue down where the test

strip will go depending on what color you chose to use. Left side for the left extruder; Right

4. Click the Print icon. Make sure the following settings are in place: daVinci 2.0 ABS Good

auto repair. The extruders and bed will take a minute to heat up.

5. Let the printer cool down before removing your object.

1. Once the printer has cooled down and the object has been removed, placed a damp paper

towel on the bed for about 5-10 minutes, and wipe the glue off. Wipe once more with a dry

2. Clean the extruders for the next person by going to UTILITIESCLEAN NOZZLE. Use the wire

toothbrush to clean the extruders, like in the beginning. Be sure NOT TO TOUCH THE RED

WIRES connecting the extruders, the printer will shut down.

3. Log out of the computer and turn off printer when you are finished.

3D printing prototypes at Jamies Hub in Dublin

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Jamie Tully 3D printed us this little castle as we spoke, all images via Luke Maxwell

Listed as the No 1 printer in Ireland on 3D Hubs, Jamie Tully shows us how Arduino electronics, open source blueprints and a collaborative industry makes for an innovative time in printing.

3D printing is strange. People think its becoming normal due to its marked growth in the past couple of years, but its strange. To be honest, the first time I saw my brother use a standard printer with our awful computer in the early 1990s, I thought it was weird.

Why do you need to make a tangible copy of whats on screen, I thought? Who knew that my adolescent mind was
predicting the coming of the cloud  I hate cloud computing, I hate my adolescent prescience.

Then I saw aTomorrows Worldepisode many years ago that took the concept of paper printing and looked at adding a dimension. A big giant machine sat there beside the presenter, gradually 3D printing something awful looking.

It was the size of a room, it took ages, but he said times would improve, printer sizes would contract and, just like most technological advances, it would soon become the norm.

So when we got in touch withJamie Tullyand found out that he had made his own 3D printer, then 3D printed parts to make two better versions, it was a TV prediction come true.

I had an interest in Linux computing and Arduino electronics. I did a few projects and found out the same format was used in 3D printers, so I thought Id try to make one, he says, as his latest contraption gets to work on a little castle behind him.

The technology isnt actually advancing much anymore, says Tully, claiming the architecture behind the printers has been pretty stagnant for the past couple of years.

Its in the filament used to print things like handles, prosthetic arms and pop culture busts where the real innovation is.

For example, the copper mix filament used in this Groot model a character inGuardians of the Galaxy means this little figurine is much heavier than the plastic bits and pieces he shows us.

There are filaments that come out like a paste, then you bake them afterwards and they give a sort of a metal-finish product, he says, but using anything out of the ordinary takes an oppressively long time to print at the moment.

Having worked with standard PLA and even a copper mix, Jamie has risen up the 3D Hubs rankings and is the go-to guy when people want a prototype dummied up quickly.

Citing websites like Thingiverse or My Mini Factory, he showed us thousands of designs, ready for you to download, tweak and print our castle, for example, was designed by userDutch Mogul.

So if, say, the knob for your cooker broke and youre getting charged something oppressive to get a replacement sent out, you can pop online, find a replica and get it made for next to nothing.

Or, if youre working on a project, or a device, and you want to try plastic frames for it, shop around for someone to quickly make you a few options.

To do this, you head onto 3D Hubs, put in your location and it rates the nearest people. Spoiler alert, if youre in Ireland youll end up onJamies Hub.

Outside of this prototype printing, weve seen some crazy advancements on an industrial scale. Last year, there was the company seeking funding for a 3D printer that could build the frame of a house in 24 hours,concrete and all.

Then theres the scary liquid net-type construction thatthis printerworks on. But on the smaller, trivially useful scale, Jamies the guy to talk to.

Its really only people like myself in houses doing this type of service. Things, printed quickly and cheaply, this suits people well.

Related:3D PrintingprofilesMakersentrepreneurs

Gordon Hunt is senior communications and context executive at NDRC. He previously worked as a journalist with Silicon Republic.

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hub bitkom trendkongress

How 3D printing is changing the industrial sector

New 3D printing techniques are revolutionising the manufacturing industry. From spare parts for aircraft engines through to human organs, products that used to be highly complex can now be made at the push of a button.

Industrial manufacturers are aware of these opportunities too. Overall, 9 out of 10 industrial companies in Germany (89 percent) expect 3D printing to hold advantages for them. The biggest advantage seen by the companies in 3D printing is the possibility of manufacturing customised products, a benefit mentioned by two thirds of businesses (66 percent). Almost as many (63 percent) expect 3D printing first and foremost to provide greater flexibility in production overall.

The principle of manufacturing goods is being reversed: in the past, objects have primarily been shaped by removing material, for example by milling, grinding or turning a piece of metal or wood by hand or by machine. In 3D printing, by contrast, products are made from digital building plans by applying layer after layer of the material.

This additive procedure allows objects to be manufactured quickly and cost-effectively, even in small numbers. Other advantages seen by companies in this method are freedom of design (23 percent), less stockpiling (9 percent) and a reduction in weight (4 percent).

Even today, many companies are already using 3D printers to develop prototypes and increasingly also on the production line. But the potential for private households is also large. In a few years time, it could be normal to print out spare parts for household appliances, or even foods, using digital blueprints downloaded from the Internet.

Notes on methodology: These figures are based on a representative survey carried out by Bitkom Research on behalf of the digital industry association Bitkom, in which 559 industrial companies with 100 or more employees in Germany were interviewed.

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3D Printing at Marks Hub

Do you need something printing but dont have your own 3D printer? I amavailableon3D Hubs, a great service for connecting people to 3D printer owners near them. If youre not sure where to start, simply connect to me using 3D Hubs and we can chat about your project or ideas. I can offer print pick-up in person (Fleet, Hampshire), local drop-off, or delivery via Royal Mail. If you have an STL file and are ready to order, click the button below to place an order with my hub in Fleet, Hampshire.

In March, I will be moving from Fleet to Aldershot and my hub service will be moving along with me. I anticipate services being unavailable for around 2-3 weeks during the relocation but normal print services will be available afterwards.

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