Made in America: Rapid Prototyping with “GiggleBot”

Below is a re-post of a blog women-owned small business Acoustics First wrote about their Gigabot experiences in Virginia. More information about Acoustics First is available on their website. We’re also honored to feature them on the stories tab of our website. The original post can be accessed here. 

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As the summer of 2015 winds down, we here at Acoustics First thought we’d share our latest acquisition with our readers.

The GigaBot™ by re:3D. Or as we call it "The GiggleBot!"

The GigaBot™ by re:3D. Or as we call it “The GiggleBot!”

Meet the Gigabot™ (or as we call him “Gigglebot”).

This amazing large format 3D printer was developed by re:3D, an outstanding company whose principals come from varied backgrounds which include experience working at NASA, among other things.
The eight cubic foot build volume of this beast makes it ideal for the rapid development and prototyping of our industry leading sound diffusers! We look forward to using this wonderful device on many projects in the years to come.
Watch this short video we made during one of our trial runs. For this calibration test we chose to print a scaled down version of our patented Model D Art Diffusor®.

Who said manufacturing was boring?!?!

~Acoustics First

info@acousticsfirst.com

Gigabot in the Classroom: Phoenix Charter School

Our head of sales, Morgan, recently caught up with CJ Bryant, the Advanced Technologies Teacher and Coordinator for Phoenix Charter School, a 190 student high school in rural Oregon. Their program features Gigabot and has quickly become a hot item at the school.  CJ tells the story below.

I’ve been here for about nine years. I started off as the transitions teacher, gearing students to be job- or college-ready when they graduated. It was about making sure that they wanted to go to college and had all the necessary things completed to do so.  Then our technology coordinator left, and I moved into that position.  I was teaching a few technology classes, but quite frankly, Microsoft Office is really boring to teach.

I talked to our Executive Director about getting a virtual reality simulator.  We taught the class as a computer-based graphics and a programming class, and then you’re also designing buildings, which is geometry. Then about four years ago, when drones were in their infancy, I went to our Executive Director and said, “This is really cutting edge stuff.  Soon there’s going to be hundreds or thousands of these things around; we could teach students to do useful things with them.”  We were ahead of the curve.

Being in western Oregon, our school has long-standing partnerships with the US Forest Service, and before I knew it, our quad rotor was in the woods with agency staff and students to learn if we could assist with tree vole nest surveys high up in the tree canopy.  That experiment led to changes we needed to make in our quad rotor: it needed to be bigger, faster, smoother, and more stable.  We thought, “If we had a 3D printer, we could print a new body and use all the components that we have.”  I went to a couple different teacher workshops, and they had all these really small 3D printers, and to me, that was useless.  I don’t want to make miniature chess pieces, I want to do something useful.  I saw the Gigabot and went, “That’s it! Two feet cubed?  That’s what I want.”

View More: http://chenowethphotography.pass.us/re3dphoenixhighschool

In Oregon, charter schools get about 64 cents on the dollar for every dollar that public schools get.  We have a lot less per student.  But we are fortunate to have a 30 year reputation that has built up many generous community donors, and our staff writes lots of grants.  I wrote up a proposal for the Executive Director, listed all the things Gigabot would enable us to do, and we got it.  One of the reasons we get some of the grants we get is that we’ve shown a pattern of success and increasing use of different technologies in learning, service, and employment — it’s a virtuous cycle.  When you show what you’ve done and you’re able to demonstrate that over and over again, that opens the doors to more support.

For us, Gigabot was the gateway technology.  The first piece of technology we had was the VR simulator.  Next was the quadcopter.  When we wanted to expand the size of our quadcopter, we got Gigabot.  Since Gigabot we’ve gotten a CNC vinyl cutter, a large-format 2D printer for blueprints and posters, and we’ve built a vacuum former.  Our next piece will be a CNC laser cutter.  There’s not much we can’t do right now.

What we’re doing here has opened doors for our students that I never expected.  We are building partnerships with different businesses. The Fixed Base Operator at our local airport, a trailer manufacturer, a metal fabrication shop, as well as local startup businesses are coming to us looking for students who can use AutoCAD and run a CNC machine or a 3D printer. The owner of a local trailer manufacturing company cannot find employees who can operate the high-tech equipment — there is one person in his shop who can run their CNC plasma cutter.  One.  Our CNC vinyl cutter works on the exact same principles and uses the same design software, so any of my students could go and run his process.

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The most exciting thing I think we’ve done was when the symphony had a fundraiser at the school, the culinary arts department came to us wanting us to make chocolate molds for the fundraiser dessert.  We printed out musical notes on Gigabot, and students built a vacuum former so we could make the molds in-house.  It was a learning process.  When we can do things like build a vacuum former, now we’ve taken what we can do with our Gigabot to the next level.

We call this project-based learning.  Kids may be sitting in an algebra class thinking, “What would I ever need this for?”  Then they come to my class to create something and go “Whoa, how did you do that?”  In teaching them the math behind it, it clicks — this is what the math is for.  What we are doing is using a real-world application to teach math.  It’s far more engaging.

To get into teacher lingo: every state has standards that students have to meet.  Rather than teaching standards using a textbook, worksheets, and tests, I cover the same standards with projects. Students can check off several standards in one project.  Do the students know that they’re polishing off standards?  Not so much.  When do they find out?  When they go through the list that they need in order to graduate, and they realize they’ve already checked all the boxes. Project-based learning has several distinct advantages, the largest being that students can take you step-by-step through their project.  This ownership of their project makes education real, relevant, and lasting.

We are a charter school, and our target is to help with the community’s at-risk students — students at risk of not succeeding academically for whatever the reason.  We have students who have not had success in any of the other schools in the county.  What we do is teach them to be successful, to create that pattern of success.  By the end of it, you’ve got juniors and seniors who are taking community college classes at the same time that they’re here. 75% of the students who graduate here go up to the community college and enroll.

This is enabling them to be successful.  The job readiness skills they learn, the communication skills, the attention to detail, following instructions.  The process is entertaining for us, it’s fun for them, and project outcomes make a meaningful difference in our school and community.

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One of my students asked me why we got the Gigabot.  I told him, “Think outside of the box for 30 seconds.  Now I want you to trample the box, because we’re never going back. Look at it.  What if we expanded it to the size of our classroom?  What could we print at that scale?”.  He just froze in his tracks.  That’s why we got the Gigabot.  What if we could take that giant printer down to New Orleans to the 9th District to people who still don’t have houses, and we print — using 5000 lb spools of filament the size of your arm — a house, complete with the conduit and the drain lines and everything, in 4 days?

The student said, “But nobody is doing that!”

Exactly!  Why would we want to do something that everyone else is doing?  It’s been paramount to getting students to think outside the box, to think about needs that need to be met, and where to go to solve big problems on a big scale.

I truly believe that we’re still in the infancy of 3D printing.  3D printing is still a toddler. What we can do with a 3D printer is going to so quickly expand, I think the size of it is going to be huge.

What Gigabot has done is much bigger than 3D printing, and that is releasing the imagination of students.  Inspiring them to genuinely learn, solve problems, and not just do worksheets and take tests.

I feel my job as a teacher is not asking students what they want to be when they grow up or what job they see themselves doing; now I focus my students on problems they want to solve.  What is the change you want to make, whose lives do you want to impact?  If you could create anything, what would you create first, and why? Tools like the Gigabot allow students to enter this mindset confidently. This makes my job the best in the world.

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2016: Stories Made in America

Over the past 3 years our company and community have seen a ton of changes. Through a shared vision to make industrial 3D printing more accessible, our team rallied from multiple locations across the US, scaled our idea in Chile, and later established headquarters in Texas. Since launching in Santiago, we’ve opened two offices in Houston & Austin, which is complemented by a remote sales presence in San Francisco.  Although our team is centralizing operations in the USA, re:3D remains thankful to our Chilean roots and the $40K in funding that gave us the opportunity to make an idea a reality.

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3D Hubs/ re:3D Meetup in Houston
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Houston customers 3D Kinkos pose w/Gigabot, Terabot & a 15lb filament spool they won for sharing their 3D printed stool
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Our Austin office is christened by Mike’s 3D printed guardian squirrel

We also recognize that through our 2 crowdfunding campaigns that Gigabot’s reach has expanded to new frontiers around the world.  We will always attribute our 2013 Kickstarter success to the thoughtful insight, organization, and advertising enabled through the Start-Up Chile program. However, since leaving Santiago after 7 months, customers and suppliers throughout both North America & South America have emerged in Texas and beyond.

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Visiting Mkerstudio MX / Impresión 3D Gigabot & team in Mexico City

With this in mind, we’ve invested considerable effort into analyzing how our community and resources have evolved over three years. For example, you can view a breakdown of where our customers are located in the map on our website. In our examination of where re:3D has impact, we’ve discovered that over 80% of the materials we source for Gigabot, 100% of our labor, and 78% of Gigabots in the field are in North or South America.

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In 2014 & 2015 we also sent out surveys to our community, interviewed over 50 customers in person and attended events throughout the US that allowed us to engage with up to 500,000 people to hear your thoughts on human-scale 3D printing. Undeniably the biggest request of all of our road-trips was that we share stories of our personal adventures printing huge and those of the 300+ Gigabots worldwide. We’ve also had a strong demand for a more robust forum, which Mike is hoping to launch next month- more to come!

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Sam poses w/Steve Forbes before the 3D Printing Panel at the Forbes Reinventing America Summit
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Katy & Patrick Launch OpenGB live on Kickstarter at SXSW Create in March
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Sam reunites w/Start-Up Chile Alums & Staff after speaking on their SXSW panel
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Ernie travels w/Gigabot to share his insights at SXSW, the Austin Mini Makerfaire and UBM Minnesota

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lara pitches at the National Hardware Cup Semi-Finals in Austin
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Matthew tours the US teaching onsite classes to Gigabot customers such the Boy Scouts at E-Motion
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Jake takes his massive 3D printed scythe to RTX in Austin w/Gigabot and the local team
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Katy, Sam & Matthew drive from Houston to San Fran demoing Gigabot & visiting customers (and a few national parks)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tammie, Mike, & Customer Micah exhibit w/Gigabot at the Seattle Art Faire
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Katy pitches at Inside 3D Printing NYC
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Matthew, Katy and Sam take a selfie w/Tony Hsieh after winning Collision PITCH
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Matthew speaks at CTEA in Austin
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Katy preps for her talk at DoUSA in California. Credit: Justin Tyler Close

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tom & Todd visit with Oil & Gas experts at the Houston Expo
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MAKE’s Dale Dougherty takes a seat on our 3D printed stool w/Morgan & Sam at MakerPro
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Mike’s 3D printed bench is featured at the Big Medium East Austin Studio Tour (self-driving car for scale:)
Todd & Robert demo the Surface Pro on Gigabot at the Microsoft Store at Baybrook Mall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chris unveils his Solar Powered Gigabot at the Houston Mini MakerFaire
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Gigabot goes to the Houston Comicpalooza
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Sam pitches at Detroit Homecoming after spending 2 weeks visiting schools and doing Gigabot demos w/Todd
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Matthew publishes our 1st peer reviewed paper on filament grip
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Working w/our interns we began designing functional use cases and testing them w/the community

As we’re still proudly bootstrapping, it struck us that we have an enormous opportunity to immediately leverage the dense community around us to photograph, video, and document the customers we encounter. We’ve devised a list of questions to capture information we’re told you want to hear:

  • Longest print
  • Biggest print
  • Application/ reason for printing huge
  • Materials tested
  • Favorite print
  • Challenges, feedback and requests
  • Cost and Time Savings
  • Your Gigabot Workspace
  • Your workflow

We hope this is only the beginning of building stronger relationships with all of our customers personally. We aspire to eventually meet all our customers, and are focusing first on sharing the stories of those closest to our operations first. We’re hoping to socially engineer affordable ways to ultimately canvas the globe, but for the short term we’d like to intentionally focus locally.

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With this in mind, we’re pleased to announce our Made in America campaign. Each week, beginning next week, you can anticipate a blog, video and photographs that share the experiences of pioneers like you, who #dreambigprinthuge as we hit the road to engage with our American clientele.

To ensure we are fulfilling your requests for more curated content, we’d love your input. What questions would you like us to ask customers? Who would you like us to visit? Are there any National Parks we should check out enroute? We welcome your suggestions at marketing@re3d.org as we embark on an adventure to explore what’s being #madeinamerica on Gigabot.

Happy Printing!
~Samantha & Katy

 

 

re: 3D Printing Furniture

My first attempt at 3d printing furniture went pretty well. The stool I designed (now available on Sketchfab) and later printed on the Gigabot ended up on-stage with Samantha Snabes, Co-Founder of re:3D, presenting to 5,000+ attendees at Web Summit in Ireland. Somehow along the way, Prime Minister Enda Kenny struck a pose with it. What an honor!

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re:3D won 2nd place out of the Beta Pitch group and the 3D printed stool made it into several of the pictures that ensued; very exciting to watch the twitter streams.

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Here’s one that I don’t quite understand, but I like it!

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For my next project, the goal was to create a piece that combined 3d printing with existing materials. I had been saving a slab of walnut purchased from eBay and thought, why not turn it into a bench? It was a pleasant challenge designing the base to follow the feel and flow of the live-edge slab. I wanted technology and nature to seemingly merge. It’s a beautiful slab and I needed to do it justice! There’s a great book out there about how loads are distributed in nature which helped to inspire the bench; it’s called “Design in Nature: Learning from Trees” by Claus Mattheck.

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The piece required a two-part print due to the large size so it was split it at an inconspicuous angle down the middle. The base was designed with pocket-screw holes and once lined up, was secured to the live-edge slab with pocket-screws. While the print itself was structurally sound, I coated the entire bench in clear epoxy just for some added strength. The gloss finish on the base was sanded back down to satin using 200 grit sandpaper. The indicators on the bench represented spots that I had missed with epoxy; they pointed out where I had to touch up on a second coat.

I was very pleased with the result and honored to have been included in Big Medium’s Austin East alongside many other great artworks.  Even Google’s self driving car stopped by to see what’s up. I think they look good together.

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Having access to a Gigabot has opened up so many more doors due to it’s scale and precision. Can’t wait to start my next project which I will be sure to post about in the next couple of months.

Happy Printing!

~Mike