I had a wonderful afternoon visiting Makerbot Industries in Brooklyn.
This was my fifth visit over the past two and a half years. Every time the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity seems to have been cranked up by at least another order of magnitude.
Sublime (Brad) at Tantillus.org printed a fully functional hobby lathe using PLA plastic capable of cutting metal parts. Each of the parts necessary to build the lathe was small enough that they could be produced on an affordable 3D printer within the budget of most robot hobbyists.
The lathe design was the result of contributions from many people, though Sublime added his own touches/improvements. The surprising thing for me was that it is definitely possible to bootstrap from a low-cost 3D printer to create other tools that most robot hobbyists want for their home workshops.
I'll be posting more about Sublime's work and the creation of the Tantillus 3D printer in subsequent videos.
Designing and producing robot parts with 3D printers has become a reality with the advent of affordable devices like the MakerBot, but after you create the necessary parts, how can you attach them to each other in a reliable, robust way that will withstand actual use in the unforgiving real world?
Our friends over at I Heart Robotics have come up with practical solution - brass inserts that install in most 3D printed plastic parts using a soldering iron. According to their tests, the insert holding strength should be more than sufficient for most applications.
There's an old saying that "Politics makes strange bedfellows." Apparently that's true for 3D printer startups as well. According to an article in the online edition of Monday's Wall Street Journal, Makerbot Industries will soon be sharing building space and rubbing elbows with the likes of Morgan Stanley and the Goldman Sachs Group.
’Makerbot and Wall Street – Strange Bedfellows?’ continues
OK- all the buzz and furor about small 3D printing technology, like the Makerbot, is great, and it will be wonderful when all of us have the ability to create any necessary, or unnecessary, object at home, at will. But, what's at the other end of the scale - bigger, better, and even more ecological? How about a 3D printer robot that recycles waste of all types and uses it to print big stuff, like furniture? Wouldn't that be cool?
Michael Overstreet has been a good and respected friend since the first time we hooked up several years ago at RoboGames in California. So, I hope he doesn't mind if I make some frank, and well deserved, comments.
When we first met Michael seemed like a typical robot geek, very talented with lots of expertise, but a bit shy and withdrawn. You really had to push him to get him to tell you what he thought. I'm sure he had lots of valuable and useful things to share, but they didn't flow easily.
Over the years, with experience, learning, and success, Michael has really blossomed and come out of his shell. He's become a key member of the Cowtown Computer Congress - Kansas City's leading hackerspace, a frequent exhibitor and participant in Maker Faire events all over the US, and a strong proponent of the DARwin-OP humanoid robot platform.