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Jason Griffey's Posts

3D Printing Software

Submitted by Jason Griffey on November 26, 2014 - 11:42am

Editor's Note: This is the fifth of a series of posts excerpted from Jason Griffey's Library Technology Report "3D Printers for Libraries."

Let’s start with a high-level overview of the process FDM printers follow, which is similar regardless of printer. You start with a digital model of your object, in STL format, either created with one of the  software packages described below or downloaded from a website. You open the file in a plating and slicing program, like Makerware, Repetier host, ReplicatorG, or Pronterface. The program will show how the object sits on the build platform, and you can manipulate it to some degree (scale it up or down, rotate it for a better fit). You will then choose a number of settings for slicing, things like layer height, infill, and extrusion temperature. Once you have your settings, you will either print directly from the computer over USB or export the STL file as a gcode file and move it to the printer on an SD card. The STL will be sliced into hundreds of layers, and the 3D printer will get instructions on how to build it one layer and a time. Read More »

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Not only FDM: Other Types of 3D Printing

Submitted by Jason Griffey on November 20, 2014 - 10:36am

Editor's Note: This is the fourth of a series of posts excerpted from Jason Griffey's Library Technology Report "3D Printers for Libraries."

As noted in earlier posts in the series, FDM (fused depostion modeling) printing is by far the most common inexpensive method of 3D printing. In this post, we’ll look at alternatives.

We are starting to see stereolithography (SLA) printing move downmarket into the affordable-for-libraries zone. I’m aware of a couple of libraries that have already purchased stereolithography printers. Read More »

The Plastics of 3D Printing

Submitted by Jason Griffey on November 13, 2014 - 9:41am

Editor's Note: This is the third of a series of posts excerpted from Jason Griffey's Library Technology Report "3D Printers for Libraries."

The substrate for FDM printers are almost exclusively some form of thermoplastic that is delivered in an extruded wire-like form on a spool. It is usually called “filament” in the generic. The two common diameters for use in FDM printing are 1.75mm and 3mm, and a specific diameter is called for by the print head being used for the printer in question. A printer that uses 1.75mm diameter filament won’t be able to use 3mm without retrofitting the hardware for the difference, and vice versa. Slightly more common, the 1.75mm diameter is used by Makerbot Industries, the most popular manufacturer of FDM printers. Read More »

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Types of 3D Printing: Fused Deposition Modeling

Submitted by Jason Griffey on November 5, 2014 - 12:44pm

Editor's Note: This is the second of a series of posts excerpted from Jason Griffey's Library Technology Report "3D Printers for Libraries."

Fused deposition modeling defines 3D printing for most people, as it’s by far the most common and in many ways the simplest technology for 3D printing. Fused deposition modeling uses a variety of plastics that fall within a range of melting points and that fuse when melted and resolidified, the most common of which are ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and PLA (polylactic acid). We’ll discuss the specifics of these and other print substrates below. Read More »

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How 3D Printing Works

Submitted by Jason Griffey on October 29, 2014 - 8:04am

Editor's Note: This is the first of a series of posts excerpted from Jason Griffey's Library Technology Report "3D Printers for Libraries."

The simplest way to understand a 3D printer works is to imagine it as a machine that makes bigger things out of smaller blocks. In some cases the “blocks” are a powder, in some they are melted plastic, or they may be a ultraviolet light sensitive resin, but always the process is large things being made from smaller substrates. A 3D printer is a simple sort of robot that understands how to manipulate the raw material it’s working with in three dimensions rather than just two, as an inkjet or laser printer does. This type of manufacturing is also called additive manufacturing, as opposed to more traditional subtractive manufacturing, where material is removed from a larger sample to create custom shapes in a process like milling, lathing, or CNC (computing numerical control) machines.   Read More »

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Two Alternative Inputs Coming Soon: How will you use them?

Submitted by Jason Griffey on March 1, 2013 - 11:10am

I've seen some interesting alternative inputs technologies that will be coming to computer users this year. I'll share video demos of two that I’m most excited about are: the Leap Motion and the Myo armband.

The Leap Motion is a small camera-based sensor that connects to your computer and “watches” an area above your desk for hand movement, translating that movement into control of your computer. You can, for example, wave your hand to scroll a page, turn your fingers to control volume, and pinch and zoom images by literally pinching the air. Most of the gestures seem to be translated from current touchscreen technology, but I’m very excited about the opportunity to develop a new language of interface with a product like this. The Leap Motion should be available for purchase this May, for $79.

Here’s a quick video to demonstrate how it looks and works. Read More »

An Even Bigger Month for Technology Announcements...

Submitted by Jason Griffey on October 31, 2012 - 9:53am

We thought that September was a big month for technology announcements, well... then October happened. I would bet that there hasn’t been a busier month for new tech hitting the streets in a long, long time. Here’s the rough summary of what came out this month.

Apple announced a 7.9-inch version of the iPad, dubbed the iPad mini. A smaller screen brings a smaller price: the lowest priced version of the mini coming in at only $329...but even with the smaller screen, it has the same resolution as the iPad 1 and 2, which means that it will run all 275,000 iPad apps without any modification. Read More »

September's Harvest of New Tech

Submitted by Jason Griffey on September 28, 2012 - 8:56am

September has become the keystone month in the US for technology announcements. This eventful month featured two major and one minor (but interesting!) announcement: Apple and the iPhone5, Amazon with their new set of Kindles, and Makerbot Industries with the announcement of the Replicator 2. Read More »

Nexus 7 Review

Submitted by Jason Griffey on July 25, 2012 - 1:04pm

I have a not-entirely-undeserved reputation as a fan of Apple’s hardware and software. And it’s true that I think that Apple is charting the future of computing with the iPhone and iPad, and that no one has built a tablet that I could possibly recommend that ran anything except iOS.

Until now.

Yes, you can collect whatever wagers there were on the table as to when I’d like an Android device. Because I really, really like the Nexus 7, the 7 inch, Google-backed-and-Asus-built Android 4.1 tablet. It’s fast, it’s pretty, and Android 4.1 puts it far ahead of other Android tablets for the time being. Did I mention that it’s also $199? 

Read on for my full review... Read More »

Retinas, Mountain Lions, and iOS 6

Submitted by Jason Griffey on June 18, 2012 - 8:25am

Once a year, Apple holds its World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, the highlight of which for non-developers is the Monday keynote. In prior years, the keynote was the Steve Jobs show, where Steve got to be his most Steve-ish, taking digs at competitors and talking about how awesome things are and will be for Apple over the coming year. This year there is no Jobs, but there was an absolutely deluge of news from the keynote, hosted by CEO Tim Cook and starring the main players in Apple’s current corporate structure.

Practically every news outlet in the world will have a summary of the news coming out of WWDC, so I’m going to focus on the things that I think are important to libraries. Apple had three main announcements: updates to their laptop line, which is their most popular type of computer sold; and what to expect in the two new operating systems launching this year, OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6. Read More »