Category Archives: 3D Printing

Creative Commons NC clause and 3D printing

I was browsing through some 3D printing files today, STLs that both I produced and were produced by others. For example, I designed and uploaded a 3D case for a LibraryBox that others have downloaded and printed. It is CC licensed, specifically CC BY-NC. I was looking at other STL files that had a CC NC license applied to them, and it made me think what that NC is really protecting.

Obviously, at the very least, the license prevents others from selling the STL files. Does it, however, prevent someone from using the files to create the physical object (that is, using a 3D printer to print the box itself out) and then selling the object? My instinct says yes, as the physical object is an instantiation of the digital file. But let’s scale the example up…what if someone built a house based on CC NC licensed plans? Could they ever legally sell the house?

This is purely theoretical. To my knowledge, no one is selling my designs, and I’m not planning to sell anyone else’s. But I am curious where the line between licensing a digital file and the resultant legal implications of the physical instantiation of that file might be.

The only case and real discussion I can find online is this case that was written up by Make, US Legal Lessons from Canada’s First STL IP Infringement Case. The discussion there indicates that Make’s author, Michael Weinberg, doesn’t believe that, once printed, there is any protection for a utilitarian object under copyright law (and since that’s what underpins Creative Commons, nothing there either).

Anyone want to weigh in on this?

3D Printers for Libraries

I spent yesterday hanging out at the GigTank Demo Day, listening to 3D printing startups pitch their ideas and companies at investors. It was a fantastic event, as is normal for things that the Company Lab is running, and I had a good time listening to the excitement around 3D printing as a technology.

It made me want to look back and see how long I’ve been following this technology, and I was dumbfounded to discover that the first mention of 3D printing on this very blog was in 2006. In October of 2006 I posted about a company called Fabjectory that was way ahead of the curve in providing 3D printing as a service for people. Then, not quite a year later I held the first 3D printed object that I’d ever touched, and it happened to be a print of myself as a Nintendo Mii. That was in August of 2007!

In 2011 I was asked to record a video by the LITA Top Tech Trends committee as an experiment for doing some information updates on technology between ALA Annual and Midwinter, and the trend I pointed to was 3D printing.

There’s a lot more that I’ve written over the years, ranging from my interviews with Bre Pettis (CEO of Makerbot Industries) about libraries and 3D printing to reporting last year for American Libraries on the 3D printing news from CES 2014.

3D Printers for Libraries

All this time and interest in the technology is coming to head in the publication of a new Library Technology Report that I have written on 3D printing, called 3D Printers for Libraries. In it I explain all of the varieties of 3D printing and 3D printers, from the inexpensive fused-deposition printers that most libraries are installing to the highest end Electron Beam Melting printers that are used to produce medical-grade implants. I go through the pros and cons of a variety of manufacturers, and make suggestions for libraries who are just getting started in offering 3D printing as a service.

If your library is looking at starting to offer 3D printing, this is a good reference work to help you make some decisions about types of printers and pitfalls and problems you may see with them. If your library would like some help in making decisions like this, or in figuring out how  to offer 3D printing to your patrons, feel free to contact me (griffey at gmail.com or @griffey on Twitter). I’d love to help you get to a place where your staff is confident in offering 3D printing as a new technology offering from your library.

CES 2014 and American Libraries

Once again I will be venturing forth in the first week of the new year in order to try and wrap my head around the largest consumer electronics convention in the world: CES 2104. Last year I tried a sort of crowd-funded coverage model, but this year I was approached by American Libraries to cover it for them! That means this year you’ll be getting my take on the newest tech over at the American Libraries Scoop blog, as well as here on Pattern Recognition. For anything that I think is of interest to libraries, I’ll be doing some video, photos, and write ups over on The Scoop, and then general tech stuff will be folded in here at PatRec. I’ll do some cross-linking so that people don’t miss anything, though. If you’d like to see the sort of coverage I’ve done in the past, you can take a look at the archives.

Here’s the bit where you can help! If you have any particular tech you’d like me to take a special look at, or company that you’d like some more info about…really, anything you’d like to know more about, let me know! You can leave a comment here on the post, or follow me on Twitter (@griffey) and let me know there. I’ll be tweeting pretty aggressively from CES, so it’ll be easy to follow along with what I’m seeing.

Let me know what you’d like to hear about, and I’ll do my best to find some information and share it.

Chattanooga Maker Day 2013

Chattanooga Maker Day 2013This past Saturday, I and Bo Baker represented the UTC Library by taking part in the 2013 Chattanooga Maker Day. Held on the 4th Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library, this event was the first in what I hope to be many examples of the awesome tech potential and talent found in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga Maker Day 2013The theme of the day was a “3D Throwdown”, with Makers bringing their 3D printers and printed objects, setting up demos of 3D design, local businesses that were related to 3D technology doing demos and answering questions…it was like a mini-Maker Faire just for 3D printing. And the turnout of people was incredible. From 11am until 4pm when we closed up, it was a non-stop parade of people, kids and parents and grandparents, all who came out to ask questions and see how this tech works.

I will say, from my perspective, the most amazing moments at the event were the kids who were just wide-eyed at the objects these printers could create. The printers themselves whirring and beeping and generally sounding like droids from Star Wars made the kids aware of a part of their future they didn’t know existed, and it was incredible to see their mind light up with the possibilities.

As far as MPOW, we had dozens of UTC students come through, all of them with the same two exclamations on their lips. First was “You guys are from _the Library_?” and second “The Library is gonna have _this_ for us to use? NO WAY!”. It was a great way to show off the direction that the library is taking, moving into the creative spaces that are so ripe and ready to bloom. We’re still 9 months from opening the new building, but I’m so excited about what that space is going to enable us to do with and for our patrons.

Chattanooga Maker Day 2013But Maker Day was about more than just our patrons. It was about showing people the potential of Chattanooga in this new manufacturing space. It was about showing them the building blocks for the future of the community. Chattanooga has The Gig, it has incredibly talented people, and it has a chance to be one of the great technology hubs of the United States. We just have to put all the pieces together the right way, and the groups that put on Maker Day (the Public Library, Co.Lab, and many others) are printing those pieces of our future.

Makerbot CES 2013 Announcements

Bre Pettis with Makerbot Replicator 2XSome great news from Makerbot Industries today at CES 2013. Everyone’s favorite 3D printing company had three big announcements earlier today,and I was lucky enough to get to speak with Bre Pettis again (video on the way).

First up was the new hardware, the Makerbot Replicator 2X. An updated version of the Makerbot Replicator 2 that was announced late in 2012, now optimized for ABS plastic printing with an enclosed build area, heated build plate, dual extrusion, and a newly-redesigned build plate that Makerbot promises is thicker, flatter, and easier to maintain than ever. The original Replicator 2 was optimized for PLA plastic, a much more forgiving and easier to work with material. But serious hobbyists were really disappointed in the lack of ABS support, and it looks like the 2X is Makerbot’s answer. It’s coming out of the gate at $2799, available to order now.

The second announcement was an update to their new printing software, Makerware. The update will include support for dual extrusion in the layout process, enabling users to place multiple objects on the virtual build plate and choose the color for each on the fly.

The third announcement is one of the most interesting for libraries, I think. Makerbot’s online resource for printable objects, Thingiverse, has been updated to include an API. The Thingiverse API comes complete with a demo app, the Makerbot Customizer, a webapp that allows for easy, on the fly, in the browser altering of existing 3D objects. Very exciting stuff can be done with this moving forward, and I’m really interested to see how it might be used.

Making things

It has been far too long since I posted here, but it’s been a very busy month. I’ve been busy working on an update of LibraryBox, making it fast, more stable, and most importantly, far easier to install. The code for LibraryBox v1.5 is on Github, and the installation instructions are forthcoming. One of the reasons that I’ve not published the current set of installation instructions is that I am working on a feature for Make Magazine on LibraryBox, and I want to ensure that they are as thorough as possible before they go to them, and up on the LibraryBox site.

I’ve also been playing around a bit with a MakerBot Replicator that we purchased at MPOW, figuring out its idiosyncrasies. Part of that process has been finding the easiest way to do simple object creation, so in that attempt, I designed a box to hold your LibraryBox:

You can edit one for yourself, or download and print. It’s also in place over at Thingiverse, if you want to download or comment on it there.

So the silence here isn’t to be taken for inactivity. :-) A new version of LibraryBox, an article for Make, and my first object on Thingiverse counts as a pretty good month.

Mineways – 3D printing from Minecraft

Fire and IceMineways is a program that translates Minecraft models into object files that can be printed on 3D printers, resulting in you being able to hold in your hand something that you designed in a game. This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has been available…one of the very first instances of 3D printing that I reported on (way back in 2006!) was the ability to print your character from Second Life. In 2007 I had a chance to hold my first 3D printed object that I designed…my Mii from my Nintendo Wii system.

So printing from games isn’t new, but the popularity of Minecraft and the free-form creativity of it is certain to lead to some really interesting stuff. How can you incorporate this into what you offer to patrons?

3D printing video for Top Tech Trends

I was asked by the LITA Top Tech Trends committee to help them test out a new idea for TTT…having a Trendster talk about a single tech trend on video, and throwing it up on YouTube. I agreed, and the result (after a little editing on my part) came out really well. Take a look:

If this is the sort of thing you’d like to see more of from LITA, please…leave a comment! Let us know what you think.

Fabjectory

Check THIS out:

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It’s Mii!

A long time ago, I blogged about a company who would take your Second Life avatar, and create a little 3d render of it using a 3d printing process. Then, a bit later, I blogged about getting a Wii.

Unbeknownst to me, the president of the company, Fabjectory, had noticed my blog posting, and had been reading me (or at least skimming my feed) since then. When he saw I got a Wii he emailed me to let me know that Fabjectory was now making mini-statues of Mii’s, and he offered to make me one gratis. After a few emails back and forth to assure me he wasn’t joking, and for me to assure him that I wasn’t guaranteeing that I’d blog about it, etc…I took him up on it.

The process was really simple: for a Mii, you just take a few full-body shots of your Mii right off the TV screen. You can do that from the Mii edit screen…here are the two I sent in:

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From that, the Fabjectory guys recreated my Mii, printed it using a Z-corp color 3d printer, and shipped it my way. My only negative about the process was that my initial discussion with them was in March, and while I checked in a few times to make sure the photos came through ok, it’s August now…better than 4 months since my initial order. Still, it’s a freebie, and almost certainly wasn’t given the priority that a paying customer would be given.

I’m really impressed with the detail of the fig…it’s so well done, with the colors being dead-on. Overall, it’s just amazing to see this once virtual piece of me now as a physical item. I would definitely recommend this as a cool gift…Betsy nearly fell over when I gave her the one of Mii, and I think it will be quite cute on her desk at work. My fig is one of the 3 inch figures, and at a retail of $50 is a bit on the steep side to order on a whim. On the other hand, it’s a great little object d’ arte, and if you’ve gotten as many comments on your Mii as I have, it might be a small price to pay.

Here’s some detail shots of the figure:

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I’d recommend Fabjectory after seeing the quality of the work, and just the intrinsic coolness of holding your Mii. I’m considering pushing my Dean to pony up for a SketchUp model of the new library, once the plans are finalized…how cool would it be to show off a model to the students?