The Makers Phenomenon and Future Mobiles

Locally we have the Nottingham Hackspace in recent years seemingly appear from nowhere and continue to enthusiastically expand (with friendly cross-over with NLUG). Around the world, “Makers” are gaining greater prominence in the news media (including dedicated magazines such as Makezine). All the more so with the phenomenal success of the Raspberry Pi aided by fertile enthusiasm from hackspaces around the world.

Another significant development is the recent introduction of home-built (‘homebrew’) “3D printers” or “Makerbots” and “RepRaps“… Any self-deserving hackspace has one or a few, or members with one or a few!

We already have various examples of “open source hardware” such as the Arduino and others.

And often all powered by GNU/Linux!

And now… Openly tapping into the ‘Open’/’Maker’ enthusiasm, we have a whole new Marketing angle for the fun benefit of all openness:

Nokia backs 3D printing for mobile phone cases

Nokia is releasing design files that will let owners use 3D printers to make their own cases for its Lumia phones

Files containing mechanical drawings, case measurements and recommended materials have already been released by the phone maker.

Those using the files will be able to create a custom-designed case for the flagship Lumia 820 handset.

The project makes Nokia one of the first big electronics firms to seriously back 3D printing. …

… In the future, he said, 3D printing was likely to bring about phones that were “wildly more modular and customisable”.

Nokia might just end up selling a phone template, he said, allowing entrepreneurs to use that to produce handsets that satisfy the particular needs of their locale.

“You want a waterproof, glow-in-the-dark phone with a bottle-opener and a solar charger? Someone can build it for you – or you can print it yourself,” he wrote.

He added that, in his view, 3D printing was a technology that justified its hype and said it was “the sequel to the Industrial Revolution”. …

Add with that “wildly more modular and customisable” the “software radio” and the future FLOSS mobile becomes yet more open beyond even CyanogenMod! 🙂

9 comments to The Makers Phenomenon and Future Mobiles

  • Martin L

    A good summary of the hobbyist 3D printers available has recently appeared in The Register:

    Ten 3D printers for this year’s modellers

    Product Round-up You may not know why but you probably want a 3D printer. These are intrinsically cool devices: A mix of engineering, electrical engineering, material science, chemistry, electronics and software.

    As an emerging technology…

    • Martin L

      And for 3D printing on a whole new (large) scale:

      3D-printed canal home takes shape in Amsterdam

      It sounds like the ultimate do-it-yourself project: the print-your-own-home.

      In place of bricks and mortar and the need for a construction crew, a customisable building plan which transforms itself from computer screen graphics into a real-world abode thanks to the latest in 3D printing technology. …

      … the KamerMaker – is a marvel in itself. The name translates from Dutch as “room-maker”.

      With a shiny metallic exterior, built from the carcass of a shipping container, it is 6m (19ft 8in) tall and would easily fill the average sitting room.

      Using different types of plastics and wood fibres, the device takes computer-drawn plans and uses them to make…

      • Martin L

        And now for the respin in China:

        China: Firm 3D prints 10 full-sized houses in a day

        … used four 10m x 6.6m printers to spray a mixture of cement and construction waste to build the walls, layer by layer… “We can print buildings to any digital design our customers bring us. It’s fast and cheap,” says WinSun chief executive Ma Yihe. He also hopes his printers can be used to build skyscrapers in the future. At the moment, however, Chinese construction regulations do not allow multi-storey 3D-printed houses…

  • Martin L

    3D-printing now goes out to the wider hobbyists scene with:

    UK’s first commercial 3D printer on sale in Maplin for £699.99

    Electronics retailer Maplin will sell the first 3D printer for home use in the UK, available in stores from July 9 and priced at £699.99.

    The printer in question is the Velleman K8200 (see below for a promotional video), which will arrive in kit-form for customers to assemble (Maplin suggests that this will take around 10 hours) and comes with 5 metres of polylactic acid (PLA), the basic building material for the printer…

    … “Until now, the cost of 3D printers limited their use to the professional market. However, the Velleman K8200 kit has enabled us to introduce 3D printing to the mass market.

    “We selected this model primarily because it offers high performance printing at an affordable price, making it accessible to our customers. In addition, it requires assembly before use, which fits with the ‘build it yourself’ ethos so central to Maplin’s heritage.”

  • Martin L

    And now, there is a consumer-grade 3D scanner newly available:

    Makerbot Digitizer: Desktop 3D scanner goes on sale

    A desktop device that can quickly scan objects so they can be replicated using a 3D printer has gone on sale. The Makerbot Digitizer … (£900), will be shipped to the first buyers in October.

    … The machine is designed to allow the replication of objects without any need for the user to learn any 3D modelling software or have any other special expertise. It works by pointing several lasers at the object and detecting contours in the surface. …


    Also in the news but for 3D scanning on a somewhat grander scale:

    (News Video) The gallery which lives on in time and space

    The Science Museum is transforming its largest exhibition space into a new gallery dedicated to the information technology revolution.

    The exhibition will replace the museum’s Shipping Galleries which closed last year after almost 50 years.

    Here, Science Museum staff describe how the outgoing collection has been captured using 3D laser technology, and how the new exhibition, Information Age, is coming together.

  • Martin L

    Wherever next? 3D printer to go into space in 2014!

    Nasa plans first 3D printer space launch in 2014

    US space agency Nasa is planning to launch a 3D printer into space next year to help astronauts manufacture spare parts and tools in zero gravity.

    It will be the first time a 3D printer has been used in space and could help reduce the costs of future missions…

    “Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3D printed when they needed them?”…

    Nasa is also experimenting with 3D printing small satellites that could be launched from the International Space Station and then transmit data to earth.

    Additive manufacturing, as 3D printing is also known, builds up objects layer by layer, commonly using polymer materials. But laser-melted titanium and nickel-chromium powders are now being used to build much stronger components…


    The Register makes for a much more fun read for the same news item, along with some pretty “Vomit Comet” pictures 😉

    NASA finds use for 3D printers: Launch them into SPAAACE

    Aims to fab spare parts for space station out of squirty plastic

    … The printer has been designed by Made in Space, an American startup, and is being tested on parabolic flights to make sure the printer can lay precise rows of material without the effects of gravity. Testing is still going on, but Made in Space CEO Aaron Kemmer confirmed the device has been certified to be sent into orbit next year…

    … “We’re taking additive manufacturing technology to new heights…

    • Martin L

      Indeed a year later, one special example is go!

      NASA clears zero-G 3D printer for mission to SPAAAAACE

      … The snappily named 3-D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration is a microwave oven–sized 3D printing unit that was commissioned by NASA last year. The device is designed to print plastic parts and can either be controlled from within the ISS or have parts uploaded by NASA’s ground-based engineers.

      “This means that we could go from having a part designed on the ground to printed in orbit within an hour to two from start to finish,”…

      … If all goes according to plan, the printer will be lofted into low-Earth orbit on a SpaceX rocket on September 12…


      Not to be outdone, The Register have their continuing adventures to loft their very own 3D-printed space plane:

      … full coverage of The Register’s audacious Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator mission…


      We have the age of plastic 3D printing… Full metal next?…

  • Martin L

    Going from big and cement to Raspberry Pi controlled finely small and resin, we now have in the making on Kickstarter:

    iBox Nano – Worlds Smallest, Least Expensive 3D Printer

    Created with the home based user in mind, the iBox Nano is the worlds smallest, most affordable 3D Resin Printer…

    The iBox Nano is:

    * The worlds smallest Resin printer
    * The worlds most affordable Resin printer
    * The worlds only battery powered (option) Resin printer
    * The worlds first production LCD based UV Resin printer
    * The worlds quietest 3D printer
    * The worlds lightest 3D printer

    … Browser based 3D Printing … you can print from any browser… If it has a browser you can print to the iBox Nano…

    … 3D Resin Printing has evolved… we use UV LEDs rated at 50,000+ hours…

    With a very fine resolution of better than 0.3mm over a work volume of 40 x 20 x 90mm, this looks rather good for some truly mobile non-costly 3D printing!

  • Martin L

    We’ve had the Evil Mad Scientist genius of 3D-printing Candyfab, big American-style, using an X-Y positioned heat gun and a bed of sugar… That was years ago. Has it really taken this long for 3D-printing with squishy foods to hit the mainstream news?

    How 3D printing is shaking up high end dining

    … The centrepiece of the dish, the “coral,” is made of a seafood puree in an intricate design that would have been extremely difficult to produce by hand. But it has been piped on to the plate by a new kind of 3D printer.

    Mr Perez is delighted with the results and the capabilities of the machine.

    “It’s very interesting what today’s technology is contributing to gastronomy” he says. “Creativity is shaped by what technology can do”…

    Star Trek style replicators come next?… 😉

    (We thus far have a NASA-style food replicator for a first taste 😛 )

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