re:3D installing Terabot and Terabot X at the Autodesk Technology Center in Boston, MA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

re:3D installing Terabot and Terabot X at the Autodesk Technology Center in Boston, MA

Boston, MA – re:3D, Inc. is delivering large-format filament, pellet and granule based 3D printing to the Autodesk Technology Center in Boston. A Texas and Puerto Rico based manufacturer, re:3D’s printers are beta units of Terabot 4, a filament extrusion 3D printer with a build volume of 915 x 915 x 1000mm (36” x 36”x 39.5”) and Terabot X 2, a pellet and granule extrusion 3D printer with a build volume of 892 x 908 x 830mm (35” x 35.75” x 32.75”). The 3D printers are available for residents of the Autodesk Technology Centers Outsight Network for large format 3D printing using both virgin and recycled or reground thermoplastics. Visitors to the Technology Center can view the Terabot 4 in action now after a successful installation over the last week. The Terabot X 2 installation is forthcoming.

As part of Autodesk Research, the Technology Centers catalyze new possibilities for making through the power of connection. They bring together a global network of innovation leaders, data-enabled fabrication workshops, curated experiences, and forward-thinking ideas to empower innovators in achieving the new possible, together.

The Outsight Network is Autodesk Research’s global innovation network. It includes resident teams from industry, academic, and entrepreneurial sectors who are passionate about accelerating and researching design and make processes. Teams in the network are connected with industry experts, the diverse and vibrant Technology Centers community, resources, and if applicable, have access to advanced fabrication machinery and training.

“We are thrilled to share this technology with Autodesk and its partners at the Boston Technology Center,” says re:3D Co-founder and Catalyst, Samantha Snabes. “Enabling 3D printing from waste plastics at scale has the capacity to make real-world impact and empower local communities. We’re excited the cutting-edge designers at Autodesk Technology Centers will be researching and innovating using re:3D 3D printers, putting sustainable 3D printing to great use.”

To learn more about how Terabot and all the 3D printers in re:3D’s portfolio are built, re:3D is offering live, monthly virtual tours of its Houston, TX factory. The next opportunity is Monday, September 19, at 10:00am CT. Attendees can register at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3d-printer-factory-tour-virtual-edition-tickets-123094640383

About re:3D
re:3D, Inc. consists of a group of explorers committed to decimating the cost & scale barriers to industrial 3D printing. Having pioneered the world’s first and most affordable, human-scale industrial 3D printer, re:3D likewise is creating large scale, affordable 3D printers printing from pellets, regrind, and flake plastic waste. Beyond creating 3D printers for customers in over 50 countries, re:3D offers 3D printing contract services, consulting, design and education services. For more information on re:3D, visit www.re3d.org.

About Autodesk
Autodesk is changing how the world is designed and made. Our technology spans architecture, engineering, construction, product design, manufacturing, media and entertainment, empowering innovators everywhere to solve challenges big and small. From greener buildings to smarter products to more mesmerizing blockbusters, Autodesk software helps our customers to design and make a better world for all. For more information visit autodesk.com or follow @autodesk.

A Terabot large format 3d printer with a 3d printed rocket sitting on the bed.
Terabot 4 installed at Autodesk Technology Center, Boston, MA

Gigabot Engineering Updates – April 2022

Hi Gigabot family! It’s been a few months since we posted an engineering update, but re:3D’s engineers have been far from idle. We’ve made some further improvements to the new Metal Body Extruders and created an entirely new hot end to keep pushing the Gigabot to produce better and better results and improve your user experience. See below for details on what has changed. Current Gigabot®, Gigabot® X, Exabot® and Terabot® owners can order these as replacement parts that are upgradable from previous versions.

New Parts

Gigabot® 3+, Terabot®, Exabot®

  • Series 20 Hot Ends – Replacing the Mondo Hot End, the re:3D 20 Series Hot End was created by our engineers and machinists to increase the max flow rate of polymer deposition. With a greater flow rate, parts can print faster, reducing production time and cost. The Series 20 Hot End achieves this with a 20mm long heater block wrapped in Nomex® insulation. It comes standard with an A2 hardened steel nozzle for printing with abrasive materials like carbon-filled polymers. You can select either 0.4mm or 0.8mm nozzle size for your application.
  • 20 Series Fan Mounts – Fan mounts specific for the new 20 Series Hot End, these direct airflow to your prints for cooling.
  • Terabot only: Bed Frame Stands – an accessory for Terabot to aid in resetting the bed leveling.

Fit and Strength Part Adjustments

The below parts have had geometry changes or other additions to make them stronger or fit more precisely.

Gigabot® 3+, Terabot®, Exabot®

  • Metal Body Extruders- transitioned the new Metal Body Extruders from an aluminum frame and plastic inset to a complete aluminum piece. 
  • Light Strip Cover – redesigned to fit new LED light strip with on/off switch 

Gigabot® X

  • Gigabot X Extruder Cover – fit and tolerance adjustments. more secure mounting
  • Motor Spacer – added wire management clips for all connections to the extruder
  • End Rail Caps – covering the ends of the aluminum extrusion on the X cross rail.

Firmware

Gigabot® X 4.2.4.2 Reg

This release is GBX 4.2.4 with some bug fixes discovered after the release of GBX 4.2.4. The fixes are:

  • Updating the GBX Regular build volume in the X, Y, and Z dimensions
  • Updating the GBX XLT build volume in the X, Y, and Z dimensions
  • Adjusting the minimum temperature for the heat sink fan from 18C to 60C

Check out additional update on our Forum. Want to chat with an engineer to share feedback on your Gigabot & re:3D design priorities? Email info@re3d.org.

Happy Printing!

~Your Gigabot Engineering Team

How To Make a 3D Printed Concrete Stamp

A section of concrete stamped with the phrase "Macklin Manor. Est 1989"

Pressed into the concrete outside the newly remodeled Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Youngstown, Ohio is a distinctive embossment, “Macklin Manor, Est: 1989.” The notation was added to honor the church’s long-serving pastor, Reverend Lewis Macklin II, a much-beloved community leader in Youngstown. What isn’t obvious about that marker however, is that the concrete stamp that made it was 3D printed.

Concrete stamping has been around since the 1950s, and the earliest stamps were made of sheet metal or even wood. Modern concrete stamps are made from molded polyurethane and have patterns that can make concrete look like brick, tile, or stone. Custom stamps are traditionally used to add company logos, building numbers, etc., but the lead time to create one is upwards of one to two months. What do you do if you need a concrete stamp and only have a few days before the cement trucks arrive? You call someone with a really big 3D printer, and in Youngstown, for Holy Trinity Church, that person was Pam Szmara.

We recently spoke to Pam Szmara with Pamton 3D Printing about the Macklin Manor project, and she shared this how-to, modified from Formlabs instructions, for how you can make your own custom concrete stamp.

Here's Pamton 3D's advice:

We recently completed a project that required us to design and 3D print a stamp capable of personalizing a concrete stone at Macklin Manor in Youngstown, Ohio. We enjoyed the project and are excited to have the capability to make small or large personalized concrete stamps for our clients’ residential and commercial projects.

So, how do you do it? How can you use additive manufacturing technology to help you personalize or preserve the history of your buildings, projects, or events?

Here’s a quick rundown of the process.

1. Draw your stamp digitally using a vector file format. You can use a software program like Adobe Illustrator or a free program like Inkscape to do this. When you have the design complete, save it as a Scalable Vector Graphic (.SVG) file, which can be imported into a CAD software to make the 3D model. Alternatively, sketch the drawing directly in the CAD software.

– The final design must be mirrored so that the stamp itself is the reverse of what will appear on a stamped surface.
– Use large, widely-spaced lettering and thick details so that the features read well in concrete.

2. Convert the vector design into a 3D model. Using 3D modeling software like Fusion 360, Onshape or Tinkercad, convert your two-dimensional .SVG file from a curve to a mesh. Then, extrude the mesh to make a 3d shape.

3. Add a backing plate. Add a rectangular backing plate to the shape. This will give you a flat, sturdy surface to stand on as you press the design into the concrete. We recommend the design fill up 80% of the rectangle.

"...it will take half a day or more to print your stamp, so crack open a beer and relax."
Pam Szmara

4. Optional: Add a stamp handle. A handle will help you easier position and remove the concrete stamp, however it will make your stamp require support material when you print it, so this is why it’s optional. The handle should be a C-shape attached to the opposite side of the backing plate from your design. Make the handle thick and robust, so it won’t snap when it has to resist the suction of the concrete.

5. Export the file as an .STL file and slice your print. For the Macklin Manor project, we used a good quality PETG to print the stamp. You can also use a TPU filament like Ninjaflex Cheetah, to make the stamp flexible, but that does have a higher material cost. Whatever you go with, position the STL to print with the handles down, and the design facing up. Slicing at a standard resolution (0.3mm layer height or similar) is perfect for a concrete stamp.

A Simplify 3D slice of the Macklin Manor concrete stamp 3D model.

6. Start the presses. It’s go time. Print your stamp on a large format 3D printer, like the re:3D Gigabot 3+ we use at Pamton 3D. Depending on the size of your stamp, it will take half a day or more to print your stamp, so crack open a beer and relax.

The 3D printed stamp on a Gigabot 3D printer

7. Start stamping. Now’s the time you’ve been waiting for. When pressing it into concrete, stand on the stamp if necessary, and if you mess up, pull it out, hose it off, and try again! You can use your new concrete stamp for whatever you want. You’ll be able to make your mark on all kinds of business or personal projects. 

Not wanting to make it yourself? Next time you need a custom stamp for your concrete project, we’re ready to help. Get in touch with Pamton 3D for a free quote or to talk about your 3D printing needs (but maybe give us a bit more than a couple days’ notice!)

Not in Ohio like Pamton 3D? re:3D Design and Contract printing services ship worldwide, and we’re always available to provide you 3D printers, 3D prints or 3D models to meet your needs.

"Macklin Manor. Est 1989"

re:3D Receives CTA Company of the Year Award

November 11, 2021 –  re:3D Co-founders Samantha Snabes and Matthew Fiedler were honored to accept the CTA Company of the Year Award in a ceremony held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City.

Samantha Snabes and Matthew Fiedler pose with Gary Shapiro and the Company of the Year Award.
From Left: Gary Shapiro, President of the Consumer Technology Association with Samantha Snabes and Matthew Fiedler, re:3D Co-founders

The following is a repost of an article written by Cindi Stevens which can originally be seen on CTA’s website here.

CTA Names Seven Industry Leaders to the 2020 CT Hall of Fame, will also Honor Three Innovation Entrepreneurs

The Consumer Technology Association® (CTA) announced the new class of honorees into its 2020 Consumer Technology (CT) Hall of Fame created in 2000. The program celebrates technology leaders who advance innovation and develop, create, market and promote the technologies, products and services that improve consumers’ lives.

“We are thrilled to honor these industry luminaries,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “We honor the entrepreneurial spirit of these leaders who inspire us by taking a great idea and transforming it into a unique product or service to enhance consumers’ lives, and those who promote these new technologies in the marketplace.”

The 2020 CT Hall of Fame class includes:

Vinton Gray “Vint” Cerf, along with Robert Elliot “Bob” Kahn – dubbed as the “Fathers of the Internet,” – led the development of TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), the fundamental communications protocols that enable data to be transmitted over the internet.

Frank Conrad, a radio engineering and broadcast pioneer, designed the first factory-produced consumer electronics product, the RA-DA radio, in November 1920, which inaugurated the consumer electronics business.

Peter Fannon played a key role in the development of HDTV as president of the Advanced Television Test Center, then spent 20 years promoting the consumer technology industry as VP of corporate and government affairs for Panasonic.

Kazuo Kaz” Hirai led the effort that made Sony PlayStation the dominant video game console platform, then, as president, CEO and chairperson of Sony, led the resurgence of the company in the 2010s by bringing together its electronics and entertainment divisions.

Jim Meyer, an RCA/Thomson product management executive, played a central role in the launch of direct-to-home satellite TV, and as CEO led SiriusXM to be U.S.’s largest audio entertainment company, including music streamer Pandora and podcasting pioneer Stitcher.

Robin Raskin, an industry journalist, was a columnist for USA Today online, editor of PC Magazine, started FamilyPC Magazine, was one of the founding contributors of Yahoo! Tech and has written six books. She also is the founder of Living in Digital Times, that produced tech conference tracks at CES.

In addition to these seven honorees, for the second year, the program will also recognize CTA’s Innovation Entrepreneur Award winners – a top executive leading a company with revenues under $30 million, an exceptional small business and a startup that demonstrates innovation in the consumer technology industry. The honorees are:

Executive of the Year: Vicki Mayo
Mayo founded TouchPoints in 2016, using its patent-pending BLAST (bi-lateral alternating stimulation-tactile technology), which alters the body’s “fight or flight” response caused by stress. When she was 20 and in college, she adopted two boys and today mentors’ young women at the Boys and Girls Club.

Company of the Year: re:3D, Inc.
After traveling with Engineers Without Borders-Johnson Space Center and while still working for NASA in 2013, Samantha Snabes founded re:3D, Inc. The company manufactures Gigabot, an affordable industrial 3D printer that can directly print from plastic waste, allowing anyone worldwide to access their own personal 3D factory.

Startup of the Year: Nuro
Nuro was founded by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu in 2016, using their expertise in self-driving vehicle technology. Focused on delivery rather than carrying passengers, Nuro is building a new class of safe self-driving vehicles, built for goods delivery across multiple verticals and has partnered with CVS, Domino’s, Kroger and Walmart.

The honorees for the CT Hall of Fame and the Innovation Entrepreneur Awards were selected by two separate panels of media and industry professionals, who judged nominations submitted by manufacturers, retailers and industry journalists. The annual awards dinner, originally slated for November 12 in New York City, is postponed until 2021 due to restrictions with COVID-19. Complete inductee bios will appear in CTA’s It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, as well as online at CTA.tech/i3.

For more information, visit CTA.tech/events.

Introducing a New Kind of Paddle Board

A man sitting on a paddle board back to the camera. He is rowing with paddles attached to a track.

In 2014, Guy Chaifetz of West Palm Beach, FL had an idea: what if you combined the versatility of a rowing machine, with the full body workout from cross-country skiing, all while being able to enjoy ocean breezes outdoors on your paddle board. He’d been exploring this product idea for the last seven years, forging through multiple design iterations, overcoming investment hurdles and production stalls until recently, when he successfully launched the Supski Paddle System.

The Supski System attaches to a standard or inflatable paddle board and uses a sliding rail mounted with a modular pole and paddle. The versatile design allows the user to row their paddle board in a variety of positions, modifying their stance as needed to isolate muscle groups and achieve a full body workout. While producing his final prototype, Guy reached out to the re:3D Contract Printing team to 3D print a part he was finding too difficult and expensive to manufacture elsewhere: the Quad Rail Track.

Using the extra large bed of our Terabot 3D printer, re:3D manufactured the 64” rails in a series of 23 hour prints with white ABS filament.

A paddle board with a supski paddle system on it.
Supski Paddle System by Guy Chaifetz

It’s been a long journey for Guy Chaifetz, whose professional background is in video editing and production. He debuted an earlier prototype at Surf Expo in 2015, but despite the positive response from attendees and beta testers, manufacturing hurdles held him back from releasing his product until now.
Guy believes that with the success of the Supski launch, he’ll be able to share it in paraplegic communities to increase accessibility to paddle boarding. Additionally, a future add on includes a sliding chair for regular rowers. Guy hopes to host annual Supski paddle board races, and his ultimate goal would be to have the Supski be part of the Paralympic and Olympic Games.

Want a Supski of your own? Click here to find out how to order.

re:3D salutes Guy Chaifetz for his persistence and tenacity in bringing his dreams to market. If you have an idea you want to transform into reality, our Design and Contract Printing team are here to help you.

Happy Printing!
~Charlotte

Gigabot Engineering Updates – September 2021

An aluminum dual extrusion extruder for a 3d printer

re:3D engineers have spent the last few months making some exciting changes to our product lines. re:3D 3D printers are shipping with some great new enhancements. Current Gigabot®, Gigabot® X, Exabot® and Terabot® owners can order these as replacement parts that are upgradable from previous versions.

New Parts

Gigabot® 3+, Terabot®, Exabot®

  • Metal Body Extruder – 2 pieces, left and right. The metal body extruder replaces the unibody extruder on re:3D filament-based, dual extrusion 3d printers. High-strength aluminum housing and tensioner arm for a long-lasting, industrial extruder.
  • Terabot Magnetic Catch – Magnetic latch for Terabot enclosure doors

Fit and Strength Part Adjustments

The below parts have had geometry changes or other additions to make them stronger or fit more precisely.

Gigabot® 3+, Terabot®, Exabot®

  • Filament Detection Covers – Improved fit for easier removal
  • LED Light Cover – Redesigned to fit new led strip, plus improved durability when used in enclosures 
  • GB3+ X Axis Cable Carrier Support – Strengthened for greater durability
  • GB3+ XY Upright – Revised to fit larger wiring, better print quality and durability of interface with cable carrier
  • Mondo Hot End Fan Mounts (Left & Right) – Revised fan placement for better part cooling

Check out additional update on our Forum. Want to chat with an engineer to share feedback on your Gigabot & re:3D design priorities? Email info@re3d.org.

Happy Printing!

~Your Gigabot Engineering Team

re:3D Supplies Parts for Testing America Makes AMCPR Exchange

A gigabot 3d printer, printing a black 8 inch coupling.

re:3D had the honor of helping to stress test AMCPR, America Makes’ new exchange for enabling rapid additive manufacturing production responses during times of crisis, like we did at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

America Makes developed the AMCPR exchange to be a long lasting solution to host design files, review them for safety, and, when needed, distribute them to the US’s additive manufacturing community for production.

Part way through the development process America Makes reached out to members seeking participants to help test the exchange, and re:3D answered the call along with our peers in the 3d printing industry.

We took part in a mock-crisis scenario called Earthquakes Earn Enmity, designed to simulate a response to an earthquake which crippled water delivery systems, otherwise known as pipes!

Ironically just as we were kicking off the mock-crisis, we were faced with a real crisis here in Texas: A hard freeze dropped temperatures to record lows all across the state, and many lost power as the power grids failed to keep up with demand. Pipes burst and created a shortage of plumbing supplies. It illustrated in very real detail how important this AMCPR exchange can be where additive manufacturing can step in during crisis to quickly increase product supplies when traditional manufacturing has to wait to retool their factories.

We met over the course of two month to walk through testing. The first step was to design pipe couplings that could be successfully manufactured with 3D printing. This work was done by a team at the University of Texas at El Paso. The designs were reviewed by America Makes and validated by a separate team at UT El Paso who had not been involved in the original design work. They used the AMCPR exchange to submit and review and finally approve the designs for use on the exchange.

Gigabot 3+ 3D Printing AMCPR Couplings

After the design process, re:3D stepped in as a supplier along with Rapid Application Group, IC3D, Stratasys and Markforged to 3D print the requested couplings. We downloaded the technical data package from the AMCPR exchange, reviewed it with our contract printing team, sliced the included stl files according to their required parameters, and produced three example couplings on Gigabot 3+ XLT out of ABS filament. The three couplings measured 2”, 4” and 8” in diameter. To complete the scenario we each mailed the printed couplings to ASTM International, who was acting as the requestor in our case.

Throughout the process, we advised America Makes on clarifications and revisions the AMCPR exchange needed to improve the usability and accessibility of the system. Things like the variables that different industrial FDM 3D printers have as far as materials, size, and slicing, as well as enhancements to communications and troubleshooting.

One of the highlights for us of helping test the system was participating in some final testing walkthroughs with our customer and fellow America Makes member Pampton 3D. We got to observe how the improvements that had been made in only a few short months eased Pam’s experience first using the AMCPR exchange.

Now that this testing is done and the AMCPR exchange is live, We invite you to join us on the exchange by creating an account to be a designer, supplier or a requestor, so that together with your skills and ingenuity, when we face our next crisis, we’ll all be ready.

To read more about the AMCPR scenario testing, view the America Makes press release and presentation.

Gigabot Engineering Updates – February 2021

CoverQ1

2021 is going to be an exciting year for re:3D, and we have multiple product releases in the works for you. First, however, we want to update you on upgrades to our current offerings as well as highlight some new products now available from re:3D. As of January 1, 2021, re:3D 3D printers will ship with some great new enhancements. Current Gigabot®, Gigabot® X, and Terabot®, owners can order these as replacement parts that are upgradable from previous versions.

New Products

New Parts

Gigabot® X

  • Extruder Cover – covers and protects extruder area of GBX
  • Hopper Gantry – puts the hopper on a mobile gantry system which improves pellet flow 
  • For additional details on GBX Updates, see our Forum Post

Fit and Strength Part Adjustments

The below parts have had geometry changes or other additions to make them stronger or fit more precisely.

Gigabot® X

  • [11384] Thrust Bearing Plate – Improved fit with extruder body 
  • Extruder Body – Improved material feeding
  • Feed Throat – Improved material feeding
  • Feed Tube – Revised for compatibility with new gantry
  • Hopper – Revised for compatibility with new gantry
  • Motor Spacer – Revised for compatibility with new extruder cover

Terabot®

  • Viki Enclosure – Improved wire routing to electrical box

Firmware

Gigabot® X

  • Adjusted Change Pellet Routine extrusion speed and resolved bug
  • Fixed build chamber dimensions for XL and XLT sizes
  • Updated preheat temperature options
  • Added capability for ditto printing with a motorized auger as a second extruder
  • Firmware installation instructions are available in our Knowledge Base

Check out additional update on our Forum. Want to chat with an engineer to share feedback on your Gigabot & re:3D design priorities? Email info@re3d.org.

Happy Printing!

~Your Gigabot Engineering Team

ISS Mimic: a Link to the International Space Station here on Earth

When computer programmer Dallas Kidd was growing up, she wanted to be an astronomer.

“But I realized as a kid,” she said, “that I didn’t know what that meant, because I didn’t know any astronomers. So I decided I couldn’t do that.”

In high school computer programming classes, when other students were creating financial programs for banks, she again felt discouraged. She thought, “I didn’t know how to do that, so I guess I can’t have a career in this.” It took a long, circuitous journey to get where she is now. “I spent years figuring out what I wanted to do, and if someone had just been there to say, ‘Hey! I’m an astronomer,’ or ‘Hey, I’m a computer programmer. You can do this and here’s how!’ to make it real. I would have done this forever ago.”

Now an engineer at Skylark Wireless, LLC, Kidd is committed to offering those opportunities to students. Recently, she joined a special project that offers eager young learners hands-on experience in applied computer science, electrical engineering, 3d printing and mechatronics and encourages them to focus on space innovation: the ISS Mimic.

Five years ago, on the 15th anniversary of continuous human presence on the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing engineer Bryan Murphy proposed a STEM outreach project to his colleagues who work on the real space station. The idea: to create a 1% scale model of the ISS, complete with moving parts, that mimics in real-time the telemetry data of the space station that circles the earth every 90 minutes.

A poster with the title "ISS Mimic Physical Model Replicating ISS Real Time." A flowchart is labeled "Actual ISS," arrow "Live ISS data pulled from web," arrow "Cheap embedded processing & I/O," arrow "Interactive display," arrow "articulating model of ISS," arrow "Elements illustrate when crew wakes, sleep, perform tasks," arrow "Projection of earth behind model," arrow "Motors rotate 12 joints to match real-time ISS."
A poster created by Bryan Murphy explaining the ISS Mimic project.

Murphy wasn’t the only one in the group who had discovered that NASA was constantly broadcasting live, publicly available data from ISS back to earth via ISS Live. The vast collection of data, including details on battery levels, solar array rotations, air lock pressure, and much more was available for anyone to use. Murphy and his teammates figured: why not bring the station down to earth in a desk-sized model that anyone could interact with? They decided to go for it.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the ISS. For over two decades, Boeing’s ISS team has provided round-the-clock operational support, ensuring that the full value of the world’s most unique and capable research laboratory is available to NASA, its international partners, other U.S. government agencies and private companies. So, for three and a half years following the conception of the ISS Mimic, the off-hours project progressed slowly alongside the engineers’ work supporting the space station and the mind-blowing scientific achievements emerging onboard. The primary project goals were keeping cost and complexity down to be educator friendly while maintaining the essence of ISS.

"...that was the major obstacle that inspired us to either give up the project or fight with everything, with all of our arsenal, to get it refunded."
Sam Treadgold

ISS Mimic steadily took shape, but it wasn’t until February of 2019 before they felt it was ready for public demonstration. They took ISS Mimic to a local high school to show students the moving model. But something was wrong. The live data stream – that important information ISS Mimic relied on to represent its big sister in the sky – had disappeared. “Everything worked until we got there[to the school], and we were like, ‘what’s going on?,’” recalled Craig Stanton, Murphy’s fellow Boeing engineer and ISS Mimic teammate. Without the data, they couldn’t demonstrate the live syncing, but could still show off the mechanics, control screen, LEDs, and 3D printed parts, so in true fail-forward fashion, they pressed on.

The interest from teachers and students was palpable. Though they’d done some small in-house show-and-tells, “it was the first time for us to take it anywhere,” shared Murphy. “For me, it was very motivational to finally be out there.” The team knew they wanted to move forward and get ISS Mimic in the hands of more teachers and students, but what had happened to the data from ISS Live?

ISS Mimic, a 100th scale model of ISS, sits on a table. You can see 3d printed tubes, wires connecting to motors and large, foil covered solar arrays.
The ISS Mimic model includes 3D printed modules and motorized solar arrays. Not pictured is the Raspberry Pi interactive display screen. Photo curtesy of Bryan Murphy.

The team went searching for answers, and the news was not good. Sam Treadgold of Boeing’s ISS team phrased it succinctly, “ISS Live got defunded – the public NASA telemetry suddenly shut down, and that was the major obstacle that inspired us to either give up the project or fight with everything, with all of our arsenal, to get it refunded.”

They thought the project was toast. It would have taken a major decision from NASA leadership to reverse the funding decision, but the tenacious team wasn’t ready to give up. They contacted everyone they knew who had vested interest in the STEM engagement and outreach benefits of the now defunct program. After a string of touches with decision makers, a fateful meeting with William Harris, the CEO of Space Center Houston, the public visitor center next to NASA-Johnson Space Center, brought forth Harris’ support, and the collective efforts were enough to get the funding restored. The data stream turned back on.

ISS Mimic uses real-time data from the International Space Station to control its movements. Photo by Estefannie https://www.youtube.com/user/estefanniegg

“Once we passed that hurdle, it was like the floodgates opened. Let’s go. Let’s do it!” shared Susan Freeman, who also supports Boeing’s space station program. ISS’s 20th anniversary was approaching, and NASA was interested in promoting the project to encourage public interest in ISS. The ISS Mimic itself was in a development state that it could visualize interesting changes on ISS in real time. “One of the data values is the pressure in the U.S. airlock. We monitor that data so our program can recognize when a spacewalk is happening,” said Treadgold, “ Last year, when a hole formed in one of the Russian vehicles, the pressure in the whole ISS started dropping, and our lights started flashing [on ISS Mimic]. There wasn’t a spacewalk going on, and we were aware of the leak.”

“That’s not usually publicly known when that’s happening. It’s usually announced a few days later when NASA makes the public report,” shared Stanton, “but this way, you’re looking at the live data stream, and all of a sudden, you’re just as in the know as the people in the operations room. How cool is that for people and kids at home!”

re:3D donated highly detailed 3D prints of the ISS Mimic solar arrays for the project. The solar arrays are printed with PLA on Gigabot using a 0.25mm nozzle.

And it was becoming more than just an outreach project, they were discovering that this scale model was helping them understand the work they were doing on the real space station with more insight and more collaborative understanding of the challenges and quirks of the flying football-field sized spacecraft. “ISS is massive,” said Freeman, “I know only these tiny little pieces. That in itself is a humbling thing, to realize and accept that I’m not expected to know all of this vehicle. There is so much work done on ISS, and a lot of time you’re so focused on your little, tiny detail, that you don’t necessarily know what else is going on around you.”

Boeing’s Chen Deng, whose day job focuses on supporting the experiments on ISS, explained looking at ISS Mimic helped cut through misunderstanding about thermal needs of payloads. “By looking at [ISS Mimic], we realized it was at an angle where the payload was not getting any of the sunlight needed to keep its warmth or input from the station itself, and that really helped.”

Six people, four men and two women stand in front of a display of the earth with the ISS floating above their heads. All of them are wearing tshirts that read "ISS20"
Some of the ISS Mimic team posing inside of Space Center Houston. From left: Doug Kimble, Craig Stanton, Bryan Murphy, Sam Treadgold, Susan Freeman, Chen Deng. Photo by Estefannie https://www.youtube.com/user/estefanniegg

The ISS Mimic team is in the process of building a second model for Boeing’s internal team in charge of “pointing” the solar arrays. The ISS Mimic can rotate its solar arrays 60 time faster than the actual space station, allowing the engineers to test and visualize their code before using it on the real thing. ISS Mimic can also “replay” previously collected data engineers use to assess and understand anomalies. “This is better than numbers on a screen or even CAD animations,” reflected Treadgold. “You see this and know exactly what’s happening.”

But beyond the functional model, of which they’ve replicated 80-90% of ISS, the team wants to use ISS Mimic to make the interface intuitive, easy to understand and exciting to build for students. To make it so easy to pick up that it’s like a LEGO build, and so inviting that it draws people in to an interest in science or space. “The hardest part to get right is STEM outreach,“ shared Doug Kimble of Boeing’s ISS team. “We need to get more students involved and excited about ISS. We need future astronauts; we need future female astronauts. We need more kids excited about STEM, and science and math, and this is one of the ways we can do it.” Showing students that the robots they’re crashing into each other in competitions use the same encoders, the same programming, the same motor drivers that are on the ISS Mimic makes it accessible and reinforces for students their own capabilities.

“We want these ISS Mimic models everywhere, in every airport, in every museum, in every school. Big dream,” declares Freeman.

“So people can see that they’re capable of this,” explains Murphy, “and have a real chance to play in this domain. It’s a means to let every disadvantaged kid know they can do this stuff, tinker in this field and see if they may want to turn this into more than a hobby one day.” It circles back to Kidd’s experience with a lack of role models. If the team can introduce the ISS Mimic to a student who hadn’t been exposed to the space program before, they might spark an interest the student didn’t even know was there. It might just set them on a path to a career which, for the members of the ISS Mimic team, is challenging, thrilling, and celebrates humanity’s greatest collaboration.

The ISS Mimic team includes:
Chen Deng
Susan Freeman
Dallas Kidd
Doug Kimble
Bryan Murphy
Craig Stanton
Sam Treadgold

Want to volunteer? ISS Mimic is looking for programmers, 3D modelers & educators to join the team! Reach out to them at:
email: iss.mimic@gmail.com
fb: https://www.facebook.com/ISS.mimic/
ig: https://www.instagram.com/iss_mimic/
twitter: https://twitter.com/ISS_Mimic
discord: https://discord.gg/34ftfJe

re:3D offers 3D printed ISS Mimic parts available at shop.re3d.org

Gigabot Engineering Updates – October 2020

re:3D’s Research and Development team never stands still, and while we’re developing the next generation of your Gigabot® and Gigabot® X 3D Printers, we’re continually looking for ways to refine the current iteration’s user experience, precision, and quality. As of October 1, 2020, all new Gigabot® 3+, Terabot and Gigabot® X 3D printers ship with the below enhancements. Current Gigabot® owners can order these as replacement parts that are fully compatible with previous versions.

New 3D Printed Parts

All Models

  • [12007] Fan Filter Base, [12008] Fan Filter Attachment,  [12074] Filter – Prevents buildup of dust in electrical box 

Gigabot® X

  • [12077] GBX Feed Tube Mount – Reduces slack in feed tube for better feedstock flow

Fit and Strength Part Adjustments

The below parts have had geometry changes or other additions to make them stronger or fit more precisely.

Gigabot® X and Gigabot® 3+

  • [11158] Gigabox Magnet Bracket 4 – Revised for better fit with linear rails
  • [11352] GBX Motor Driver Enclosure & [11354] GBX Motor Driver Enclosure Lid – Revised fit for easier assembly
  • [11336] GBX Feed Throat & [11986] GBX feed Throat Stopper – Improved pellet flow
  • [11484] GBX Hopper & [11529] GBX Hopper Lid – Improved seal and durability

Check out additional update on our Forum. Want to chat with an engineer to share feedback on your Gigabot & re:3D design priorities? Email info@re3d.org.

Happy Printing!

~Your Gigabot Engineering Team