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Protos Eyewear Creates 3D Printed Glasses, Turns to Crowdfunding

Protos Eyewear 3D Printing

Protos Turns to Crowdfunding for Next Evolution in Eyewear 3D Printing

Protos is an eyewear company based in San Francisco that combines computer-aided personalized design with 3D printing to create the perfect pair of frames. We featured Protos last fall and recently caught up again with founder and CFO Richart Ruddie.

Protos is turning to crowdfunding to take the company to the next level. With 24 new designs and advancements in its 3D printing process, the company hopes to raise $25,000 in pre-orders for its custom frames.

Go check out the Protos campaign and pledge if you like their project.

Below is our interview with founder and CFO Richart Ruddie.

On 3D Printing: What’s new at Protos since we last spoke? How have you further developed your 3D printed eyewear?

Richart Ruddie: We have designed 24 new frames. We have taken on a new partner who is an expert in the eyewear industry. We have refined our material and finish to be smooth, comfortable, and strong. We are able to custom fit glasses to an individual user’s face in a semi-automated fashion.

On 3D Printing:  Why are you turning to crowdfunding now?

Richart Ruddie: We have reached a point where we want to offer our custom fit service, but don’t have the funds to develop it into a web application to be put on our site. We have the back-end programming worked out for it; all we need to do is integrate it into an attractive and easy-to-use interface. To do that takes a lot of development time and a mild barrier to entry in terms of funds that need to be spent.

On 3D Printing: Any plans to expand beyond eyewear in the future?

Richart Ruddie: Yes. We hope to leverage the properties of this new manufacturing for many other products. Eyewear is just the beginning.

Below is a gallery of the design process at Protos.

3D Printing On Demand – The UPS Store Launches Nationwide Test

UPS Store 3D Printing

UPS Launches Nationwide Test of 3D Printing in Retail

The UPS Store  announced it is the first nationwide retailer to test 3D printing services in-store. Select UPS Store locations will be offering the services to start-ups, small businesses and retail customers, beginning in the San Diego area with locations in additional cities across the United States in the near future.

A recent poll of small business owners conducted by The UPS Store showed high interest in trying the services, particularly for those needing to create prototypes, artistic renderings or promotional materials.

“Start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners may not have the capital to purchase a 3D printer on their own, but they may have a need to show prototypes to their current and potential customers,” said Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and small business solutions at The UPS Store. “By offering 3D printing capabilities in-center, we’re able to help further our small business customers’ opportunities for success.”

UPS Store 3D Printing

The UPS Store is testing the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus printer, which according to Stratasys is most well-known for its ability to print detailed objects more accurately than home 3D printers. Stratasys notes that this is particularly important when parts need to fit into each other or fit some other object. With this printer, The UPS Store locations will be equipped to produce items like engineering parts, functional prototypes, acting props, architectural models, fixtures for cameras, lights and cables.

In addition, The UPS Store locations offer a range of services tailored to meet the needs of small businesses in all stages of the business lifecycle. Not only can small business owners receive well-recognized services like packing and shipping, printing, faxing, direct mail and mailbox services, but The UPS Store locations also will work with business owners to develop custom solutions to meet their unique business needs.

Below is a video explaining how 3D printing will be integrated at The UPS Store.

3D Printed Fashion: From Fantasy Gowns to Accessible Couture – Inside 3D Printing Chicago

3D Printed Fashion Dita Von Teese

3D Printed Fashion Stuns in Chicago

As part of our coverage of this week’s Inside 3D Printing Conference in Chicago, On 3D Printing brings you an industry perspective on the latest developments in 3D printing for fashion and retail.  In addition to providing an in depth review of their successful collaboration with Shapeways in creating the first fully-articulated 3D printed gown, designers Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti encouraged the 3D printing industry to continue its pursuit of applications in the fashion industry.

Schmidt and Bitonti’s articulated gown was custom designed and famously worn by burlesque star and style icon Dita Von Teese, and unveiled this past March during a showcase event at the Ace Hotel in New York City.  Describing the dress as a “flight of fantasy” inspired by Fibonacci’s golden ratio, Schmidt welcomed the opportunity to work with 3D printing technology.

Schmidt and Bitonti emphasized printing process and material selection as critical to their success. Having ruled out a range of the available 3D printing technologies as incompatible with their design ends, they moved forward with laser sintering, which they felt would provide the necessary flexibility.  While it took several months to develop the concept and code for the dress, the printing process itself took only four days.  Because the dress applied the Fibonacci’s sequence throughout the design to create a truly custom fit to Ms. Von Teese, no two parts of the dress are alike.

All told, the dress is made of 3,000 printed nylon joints, which were printed in 17 sections using a selective laser sintering process, whereby layers of nylon powder are selectively fused together by a laser.  While most custom gowns require at least several rounds of fitting to ensure a perfect fit, Schmidt and Bitonti were pleased to discover that “the dress fit really well right out of the box.”

Illustrating the importance of post-processing and hand finishing, Schmidt and Bitonti indicated that the printed pieces were expertly extracted at Shapeways to remove the nylon powder residue from within each joint in the dress.  After the sections were printed and shipped to Schmidt’s studio, they were rip dyed, joined together by a hinged mechanism (also 3D printed) and hand encrusted with over 25,000 Swarovski crystals.

While Schmidt and Bitonti’s articulable dress stands as a testament to what’s possible, the designers also addressed the limitations of current technology.  ”We are limited at the moment to these fantastical garments.  We aren’t able to print in materials that have the qualities of a successful garment until we develop these materials to meet the needs of the body itself – that’s the holy grail,” Schmidt said.

One of the biggest issues in Schmidt and Bitonti’s view is the need to build fluidity of movement into the printing process itself, as the current selective laser sintering process renders the nylon powder stiff.  They also noted that current technology does not provide the option to print in organic materials like cotton or silk.  Both designers are hopeful for the future of the technology, however, and are currently developing a line of jewelry.

Below is a video of the 3D printed dress being displayed at the Inside 3D Printing conference in Chicago.


Authored by On 3D Printing contributor Lisa M. Pérez, co-founder of Heart Design Inc.


3D Printed Spider is So Life-Like It’s Scary (Video)

3D Printed Spider

3D Printed Spider is Guaranteed to Scare

T8 is a wirelessly controlled bio-inspired octopod robot made with high resolution 3D printed parts. It uses a total of 26 motors: 3 in each leg and 2 in the abdomen. It is powered by the Bigfoot™ Inverse Kinematics Engine which performs all of the necessary calculations for smoothly controlling the motions of the robot in real time.

For more information, visit http://www.robugtix.com

3D Printed Batteries Showcased as Future Energy Solution

3D Printed Micro Battery

In a recent Science Friday episode on NPR, the topic was “Aiming For ‘Wild and Crazy’ Energy Ideas“.  The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, backs energy technologies that are too risky for investors, but offer a potentially huge payoff—if they work. The agency has gambled on flywheels, compressed air energy storage, lithium-air batteries, even wind-energy kites.

One of the profiled technologies was a 3D printed battery. “The concept is to integrate form and function,” said Jennifer Lewis, Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. “Our batteries 1000 times smaller than the smallest rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that you can find commercially.” They are so small, in fact, that each battery can fit on a grain of sand.

Now don’t get too excited yet. You can’t 3D print one of these batteries on your MakerBot, Lewis explained, “We’ve custom designed and built our own 3D printers as well as the inks that allow you print the anode and cathode in interdigitated fashion.”

3D Printed Micro Battery

Applications of these batteries include autonomous sensors, micro robots, and biomedical devices. For example, 98% of hearing aids are 3D printed, at least the plastic molding is. But you have to hand pot the electronics and replace the batteries every 7 days. With Lewis’ 3D printed micro battery technology, it’s possible to 3D print both the plastic and the electronics.

In the video below, 3D printing is used to deposit a specially formulated “ink” through a fine nozzle to build a microbattery’s anode layer by layer. Unlike an office inkjet printer that dispenses ink droplets onto paper, these inks are formulated to exit the nozzle like toothpaste from a tube and immediately harden into thin layers. The printed anode contains nanoparticles of a lithium metal oxide compound that provide the proper electrochemical properties.

You can learn more about this research at Harvard’s website and read the work published in the journal Advanced Materials.