3D Printing + Vacuum Forming

February 12, 2017 | ProgressTH 

Vacuum forming is a process involving heated, flat sheets of plastic placed over an object, and pulled around it using the suction of a vacuum. It is used on scales large and small, to make everything from handheld projects, cases for electrical equipment big and small, and even things as big as refrigerator liners.

Creating your own vacuum forming system is fairly simple, and lots of hobbyists around the world have been doing it for years.

With 3D printing, even if you lack a place to do wood or metal working required to make a vacuum forming box, you can print out and assemble one, which is what we did. That box is now up on Thingiverse here.

3 Things to Know When Getting into 3D Printing

February 10, 2017 | ProgressTH 

3D printing is the use of computer controlled machines that build up three dimensional objects layer by layer through a variety of ways, the most common being extruding hot plastic (ABS or PLA) in layers until the entire object is finished.

While 3D printing has been around for a long time as a tool for larger businesses within their R&D departments, in recent years regular folks have gotten their hands on them through projects like RepRap and the myriad of companies the opensource 3D printer project inspired — everyone from MakerBot to Ulitmaker and many in between.

Today, you can find these printers in classrooms, makerspaces, small design studios, and even in what you might call a microfactory where highly customized, small-run production is done for clients.

Have you been interested in getting into 3D printing? If so, here's a few things for you to consider.

1. Learn 3D Modelling 

While this may seem daunting at first, there are capable (and free) 3D design programs out there you can pick up in less than a week. SketchUp is one of them and the one we personally use. While it does have some limitations that require work-arounds, once you learn it, you can apply it professionally to everything from as a large as urban planning and architecture, to interior design, right down to product design and 3D printing.

3D Printing Brings the Museum to You

January 30, 2017 | ProgressTH 

Museums are great places for people to connect with history. Seeing the physical objects otherwise only learned about in distant classrooms can make an impact on people young and old alike.

And while there are interesting museums almost everywhere you go, wouldn't it be nice if you could sometimes bring the museum to you?

3D printing is now making that possible. Many museums are 3D scanning objects in their collection and posting them for free online. This allows anyone with a 3D printer to download and print out the objects.

Depending on what the object is, you can either print out a scale model of it, or a full-sized version.

And that is precisely what we decided to do to put this concept to the test.

The British Museum, located nearly on the other side of the planet from our office, is home to the Gayer-Anderson Cat, an Egyptian statue cast in the Late Period some 2,600 years ago. The museum 3D scanned the statue and uploaded it to MyMiniFactory, an online 3D model library, alongside a large number of other items.

Without the base, the model is 340 mm tall, too tall for most 3D printers. Using Netfabb Basic, a free software tool, we cut it in half and began printing it. In one day the Gayer-Anderson Cat materialized in our office, full-scale.