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Tour of 3D Systems Industrial Design Development

  • May 28, 2014 · 7:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

Next Meetup at 3D Systems, Wednesday, May 28

Hello everyone.

We will be having our second meetup at 3D Systems in San Francisco for a tour of their Industrial Design Development facility. Gustavo will be giving us an inside look at the lab and their cutting edge 3D printers being used to develop the tool chain for the Ara module covers.

Notes from the May 14, 2014 Meetup

We had an excellent kick-off meeting with Gustavo Fricke presenting his work on the Ara Module Covers. User customizable color schemes and textures were shown.

We learned that 3D Systems will be testing their high volume dedicated 3D printing system for Ara, with 18 material and full color capability, in the very near future. The materials are deposited as a thick ink which dries and hardens into its final form.

The materials include rigid and elastomeric compounds, with opaque, translucent, and clear optical properties. They may have opaque or translucent colors embedded in a clear overall volume, like marbled glass, covering an opaque substrate. The user customizable portion of the module will be feathered and blended into the curved surface along the module edges. Rigid and flexible material may be interspersed throughout the piece.

Gustavo and his associates are working on an interactive touch interface and API where the customer can design a custom design of color, pattern, texture, and feel. The demonstration included pattern and texture generation with Grasshopper, , a Rhino plug-in, and Processing, , a free and open source programming language and development environment for 2D and 3D art creation. Code examples and their results were shown in Processing. 3D Systems will be making the interface available for developers to create apps for customers to create module designs. This will be introduced at the second developer conference in July.

This volume process with individually customized parts promises much more in the future beyond Ara, in the way of engineered materials combining properties of component compounds into synergistic optimized structures for a given application. It is evolving into Cafe Press type manufacturing into any shape the designer chooses. Greg suggested the clear materials may be printed into shapes for optical effects. Gustavo mentioned a polishing process is being developed to leave a smooth, optically clear surface free of the contoured steps left from 3D printing.

Future Meetings

Locations and times of future meetups were discussed. The overall consensus was to continue with the Millbrae location at 7 PM on Wednesday every other week for now. Locations at some start-up incubators in San Francisco, along with South and East Bay will be looked into. We will attempt to locate meetings near mass transit, preferable rail. A poll for members will be taken online for alternate times and locations since those present at the kick-off meeting were a self-selected group able to make the 7 PM Wednesday Millbrae time and location.

Thank you to everyone for your interest and for participating.


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  • Rikhil

    Expected a lot of diversity, but not many people showed up. I think that had to do something with the easy availability of 3D printers to the masses.

    June 1, 2014

  • Colyer D.

    Absolutely fascinating and wonderful

    May 29, 2014

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