3Dx2014 – DesignMakeTeach, Josh Ajima #3DThursday #3DPrinting

We invited a handful of members of the 3D printing community that we have been featuring for #3DThursday or on our weekly 3D Hangouts live show to share with us their thoughts about the past year, what they each shared, and what they are looking forward to for 2015.

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Josh Ajima (aka DesignMakeTeach) is a Technology Resource Teacher. His personal professional development journey started as an exploration of the possibilities of the Maker Movement in K12 education and led to an addiction to 3D printing, the creation of the popular DesignMakeTeach.com blog and a gig as a reviewer for Make Magazine’s 2015 Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing.

Here are a few of his recent projects:

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  • 3D Printer in Space: The launch of an FDM style 3D printer into space for use aboard the International Space Station has to be the top moment for 3D printing in 2014. The 3D printer created by Made in Space clearly demonstrates the utility of 3D printing to solve practical engineering problems. The benefits of sending an STL file rather than a part has tremendous values for space exploration but also points to applications that are just starting to be felt earthside.
  • Z-probes as Stock Feature on Consumer 3D Printers: I thought I was pretty good at leveling a 3D print bed until I went hands on with some of the 2014 3D printers. From my home Printrbot Metal Simple, to my school Makerbot 5th gen, to the Afinia H480 I reviewed for Make magazine, a Z-probe to detect and compensate for the print bed plane is a welcome step forward. I’m glad to be done with sliding a piece of paper under a nozzle and making adjustments. The widespread use of Z-probes on new 3D printer models in 2014 is part of a welcome trend to create more consumer friendly models.
  • New 3D Printing Materials: The introduction of new filament types and formulations that are easily printed on consumer 3D printers and are readily available to consumers, shows how material science pushed the boundaries of 3D printing in 2014. From Ninjaflex to bronzeFill, the properties of available materials that can be printed at home are readily expanding. One example, I was asked to do a blind test of a new type of PLA filament. I tried printing my Foldable Cube design (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:75093) using the new filament. Usually the sides of the cube break off after 20-30 bends using normal PLA but with the new formulation I could fold the model 100s of times without breaking.

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One of my most recent projects is The Incredible 3D Printing Gumball Gallery. It was awesome to collaborate with some of the world’s best 3D designers and artist to create an art installation.

MOM Gimbal Print In Place by DesignMakeTeach Thingiverse


I am most looking forward to advances in 3D printing speed in 2015. Claims of 10X speed increases in the research lab for commercial 3D printers are an awesome step forward for additive manufacturing, but a 2X or 3X increase in speed at the same or slightly better print quality would be a welcome step forward for consumer printers. Large print bed sizes are great but taking 20-40 hours to fill that volume is very limiting, especially in a school environment. I’ve had several projects this year that involved hundreds of hours of printing time. Cutting those print times in half would be a dramatic improvement.

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Foldable Cube Print Flat by DesignMakeTeach Thingiverse

Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

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