3D Printing

3D Africa Helps to Diversify STEM

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3d-africa/x/9504175 Script by Dianna Bai http://diannabai.wordpress.com Music by Travis Geer https://soundcloud.com/travis-geer

Right now, you can drop a few thousand dollars on a 3D printer and start making your own plastic trinkets. We've covered these awesome machines at various places such as the Consumer Electronics Show, your favorite library, and the homes of charitable folk. Wouldn't it be awesome if 3D printers were available to a wider audience?

3D Africa is a project of Nigeria's Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF). The aim of the project is to help give young girls the skills and confidence to succeed in STEM, as well as encourage their entrepreneurial spirit. CEO Njideka Harry told Techcrunch that "There are cultural biases that hold that science is the domain of males and that it is not important for girls’ future lives and that girls are not as capable as boys when it comes to science learning.”

Africa has been exploited throughout its history, and the current generation still bears the brunt of history.  There are children, especially young girls, who are not properly prepared for careers to take them to the next level. According to Ideas Lab:

"Just as personal computers and the Internet empowered individuals and organizations to create new types of information technology-driven jobs, so will 3D fabrication technologies change the way African entrepreneurs do business by allowing anyone to make (almost) anything. Africa’s economies are not industrial-based, but rely instead on the exploitation and export of the continent’s abundant natural resources. For example, the trade relationship between Africa and China, under which Africa exports raw minerals and imports manufactured goods, is estimated at about $166 billion. 3D printing technologies will help African citizens generate income independent of these kinds of relationships."

From the Indiegogo site, your donation will go towards the following:

  • Equipment costs (3D printers, scanners, classroom projectors)
  • Software, design tools & art supplies
  • Transportation subsidies for students and teachers 
  • Digital cameras
  • Key personnel costs  
  • Family/outreach days

Donate today!

#CES2014: Gaming, Printing, Excercising

Last week, I was lucky enough to break out of the balmy -20 degree Milwaukee weather and take a trip to Vegas to the Consumer Electronics Show. I had a great time at last year's show, and this year did not disappoint!  

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But let's skip the technobabble. Here are three things that will potentially change the way we entertain, build, and excercise in the next few years. 3D gaming, 3D printing, and fitness.


3D gaming

Imagine walking down a street in a video game, and being able to look up, down, left, right.  Now imagine being able to look in back of you. That's what the Oculus Rift. promises to bring to gaming.

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Looks stupid, right? It was. And I loved it.  Reminds me of the horrible virtual reality games in the arcades of the 80s and early 90s. Remember these?


Also. Display port had an amazing 3 monitor setup. 3 FREAKING HUGE monitors. I couldn't even fit this inside of my apartment, but I want it!

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3D printing

I've blogged about 3D printing in the past, and there was a huge showing at the conference. 3D printing is pretty much what it sounds like - a printer that can print a plastic object such as an action figure, a ball, or a mask.  Tons of cool companies like Makerbot, Kevvox, and Sculpteo were printing small 3D trinkets left and right. Some great examples are below.  3D printing is still a little too expensive ($2000+, plus printing material) to bring into the mainstream, but give it a good 5 years or so and we'll be printing our own toys at a reasonable price. Secret Santa will be even more awesome.

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I've been borrowing a Fitbit Flex from Verizon Wireless for review, and it's become my best buddy.  I leave it on my wrist (even in the shower - it's waterproof) and it automatically tracks my steps, active minutes, calories burned, etc.  

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I forget that it's on, which is exactly the point.  The only time I don't forget about it is when I have to charge it by removing a smal part and plugging it up to a computer, which is more often then I'd like (every day or two). For these things to really go mainstream, wireless charging would be a huge benefit. Imagine that I can just throw my Fitbit Flex on a wireless pad like a Powermat. Or even better, placing a wireless charger under my pilow (or make the whole pillow a wireless charger) so that going to sleep instantly charges the device. I know, big dreams, and I could fry my head ... but it would be awesome.

My favorite fitness gadget was the Infomotion 94Fifty - a basektball with a bunch of sensors in it that measure ball rotation, velocity, the arc of your shot, and tons of other variables.  As you dribble, shoot, and pass, you get instant feedback from the voice of a snarky coach.  

For example, when shooting a free throw, you shoudl shoot at an arc of 40 degrees, which is REALLY hard for the average person. All I heard most of the time was the coach saying "Get that arc up" and other remarks. If I had this as a kid, I might actually have been a good basketball player. Maybe it would have helped me grow to 6' tall to.


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Keep an eye out on 3D gaming, 3D printing, and fitness gagdgets in the next few years - things are gonna change!

Your Library May Have 3D Printing

Inside 3D Printing Expo

As I've blogged about before, 3D printers are awesome! They are a little expensive - Makerbot's 3D machines hover around $2000 - but you can print out small 3D trinkets and have a blast! The main store where you can see demos is the Makerbot store in NYC.  Luckily, some libraries are getting into the act and opening up their own 3D printing stations so that you can get in on the fun! 

According to the Washington Post :

Cleveland and D.C. are part of an expanding club of public libraries making 3-D printers available to patrons, often as part of a “maker lab” type environment. The Johnson County Public Library in the Kansas City suburbs debuted a “MakerSpace” in the spring with a MakerBot 3-D printer, iMacs, cameras and other equipment and software people might not normally be able to access at home.
The Westport Public Library in Connecticut launched a similar Maker Space with a 3-D printer this month after a successful “Maker Faire” showcasing the tech in the spring.   Ben Miller, director of the public library in Sauk City, Wis., called their acquisition of a 3-D printer in 2012 part of a larger move to “creation rather than consumption.”

Check out a video of the 3D printing area at the Harold Washington library in Chicago: