Category Archives: Reviews
iPhone 3D Printing: How about a 3D printed Easter?
With Easter coming this weekend, there is an iPhone app that lets you design and 3D print custom Easter eggs. The app is called Magic 3D Easter Egg Painter by Vishal Srivastava and uses the Shapeways 3D Printing API to 3D print in full color sandstone.
Your iPhone becomes a Movable Window that allows you to see and paint all sides of your Egg from every possible point of view.
When you’ve finished creating your Egg, you have the option of ordering a 3D printed figurine of your creation from inside the app. They make great keepsakes or can be hidden in Easter Egg hunts!
In November, 3D printing startup Mixee Me launched their public beta. As one of Mixee Me’s first customers, here is our review. Our 3D printed model appears in the photo above standing next to an iPad.
What They Offer
Mixee Me offers a free, online design tool to create your own avatar-like character. There are a range of hair styles, clothing, and expressions to choose from. Once you are finished with your design, it is uploaded to the Shapeways marketplace where you can purchase a 3D printed model for $25 + shipping.
Pros: Designing the avatar was easy and quick. No 3D modeling experience was necessary. Plus it was free!
Cons: The options for hair styles and expressions were relatively limited. You could upload your own design but that requires some graphic design knowledge. This can easily be addressed as they add more styles.
Pros: The model was automatically uploaded to Shapeways and available for checkout. We received an email to notify us that it was ready.
Cons: The model was placed in the MixeeMe account rather than a personalized account.
$25 seems fair given where 3D printing technology is today, but expensive compared to a similar toy one could purchase at retail.
From a distance, the quality is great. It is a cute little character that can be placed on any shelf or mantle. Our character is posing on a piano keyboard in the photo below.
Close up, the 3D printing lines are apparent in the sandstone material which suggests that the resolution is not very fine. We don’t know if this is a design flaw or a limitation of Shapeways.
All in all, it’s a fun keepsake.
In summary, Mixee Me is a fun new service where you can make little characters to adorn your office or house. We hope to see more options and flexibility in the future, as well as natural price declines to make the purchase more appetizing to consumers.
You can design your own at mixeeme.com.
Forest Higgs, a self-proclaimed “technocratic anarchist”, has written a detailed review of the UP! 3D printer, a compact desktop 3D printer from China.
Forest explains how he first was introduced to the UP! 3D printer.
Some months ago, a long term technology friend of mine acquired an UP! While Peggy has been a inspired developer of educational technology for years, she did not, to the best of my knowledge, have any prior knowledge of the ins and outs of 3D printing on personal printers. In spite of that, Peggy whipped her UP! printer out of the box and did a brilliant print first time out. That really caught my attention. I’d been working on the Reprap project for years and still, when I bought a Rapman, a greatly enhanced Darwin-derivative, several years ago it had taken me the better part of a month to get used to the quirks of printing on it to the point that I could get reliably good prints.
Later he walks through specific features and functionality, with detailed photos and comparisons to other printers in the market.
Out of the box, one thing that immediately struck me was the tiny size of the UP! The 140x140x135mm print volume reminded me a lot of the old Makerbot Cupcake. It took me about half an hour to get out of the box and set up, ready for operation. While the manuals indicated that I might have to level the print surface, this was not necessary. Calibrating the printhead height took about ten minutes. When I ordered the UP, I was very worried about print adhesion to the print surface. Delta Micro offered three solutions; perforated printed circuit board, painted glass and Kaplon tape covered glass. I had had so much drama with prints peeling off of the print table with the Rapman over the years that I ordered all three options.
Forest concludes: the UP! is a meaningful competitor from China.
Finally, it appears that Delta Micro is going for the throat of the manufacturers of Repraps in the US and elsewhere. They are now offering a slightly smaller printer, the UP! Mini! with a 120x120x120 enclosed print volume which uses standard 1.75 mm filament for less than $1,000. The UP! Mini appears to be a serious challenge to both the Reprap variations and to the 3D Systems Cube system. It strikes me that unless the quality and ease of use of UP! competitors makes a rather quick quantum leap they could easily find themselves to be a historical footnote in the history of 3D printing rather than a new paradigm of virally diffused technology.
Read the full review by Forest Higgs, who says on his blog, “If I wasn’t supposed to take it apart, it wouldn’t have screws in it.”
UP! 3D printer photo by donjd2 used under Creative Commons license.
Want your digital photos to come to life? Try BumpyPhoto, a new service that combines photo and 3D printing for unique results.
How does it work? You upload your flat photo file and BumpyPhoto’s skilled designers create a 3D depthmap based on the colors and contours or your image. Then, using 3D printing technology, a 3D relief sculpture is made that brings your subjects to life.
Here is a video showing the process and results.
Try it out for yourself at BumpyPhoto.com.