When 3D Printing and Nature Collide

The often strained relationship between humans and nature is no more evident anywhere else than in large cities. Trees and fields have been replaced with skyscrapers and roads, and often the little greenery that does exist is confined to highway medians or parks flanked by concrete jungles.

As the world population climbs steadily towards eight billion, our partnership with nature will become increasingly more strained – and more important. Strides have been made in recent years to better incorporate nature into urban life – the New York City High Line or vertical forest skyscrapers, for example.

This intermeshing of nature and technology/design is what excites Yarden Mor and inspired Symbio.

A graduate of a special joint program of computer science at the Hebrew University and industrial design at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, Symbio is her graduation project.

Her goal is to encourage symbiosis between humans and nature through technology. Symbio is a method to connect to existing natural foundations – like trees and rocks – and enable sustainable living preservation while maintaining the comfort we are accustomed to in modern life.

Yarden demonstrated the idea using a fallen portion of tree. Using 3D scanning to create a CAD model of the branch, she can create a design that fits perfectly to its shape. Parametric design simulates forces and optimizes the model’s weight and strength, and the complex digital outcome is birthed into the physical world thanks to 3D printing. Autodesk Tel-Aviv helped Yarden print her prototype on their Gigabot.

In the process of creating her prototype, Yarden researched technologies and materials, development of a system, and created prototypes of applications in urban design. This project is a proof of concept for larger-scale designs involving the same technology.

See more of Yarden’s work on her Instagram @yarden.mor.


Hair Dressing the World’s Biggest Hairy Lion Print

The Hairy Lion print is somewhat of a legend in the 3D printing community. It’s a fun one to do, in major part due to the fact that the mane portion of the print can be “styled” after printing using a hair dryer or heat gun.

So obviously we had to get in on the fun and blow the competition out of the water with the biggest hairy lion print — as far as we know — to date.

Download the file from Thingiverse and print it yourself!

Here are the specs of ours, if you’re up for the challenge:

Print time: 46 hours
Layer height: 0.6mm w/ 0.8mm nozzle
Infill: 9%
Material: PLA
Height: 22″ tall
Weight: 14.4 lbs before post-processing ; 10.2 lbs after post-processing

Investment Casting with 3D Printing

The following post was written by Todd Ronan. Todd joined the re:3D sales team after hearing a Co-Founder panel discussion on 3D printing & recyclable material at IEEE. From Michigan, parts Northwest, and now Austin (Portland’s si(hip)ster city) he is a Futurist, passionate about evolving technology, dreamer, and enthusiast of fine meade.

The thousand year old lost wax casting process has been revolutionized by the Human-Scale 3D printing of Gigabot

Several re:3D customers have augmented their foundries with Gigabot 3D printers because of the time savings, cost savings, and ability to convert more jobs into happy customers.

In traditional investment casting, a wax model is dipped into a ceramic slurry which is then allowed to dry. The resulting hard ceramic shell is then heated to melt the wax away, leaving a perfect model negative where the wax used to be.

Modern foundries however, have been making the move to 3D printing as a means of creating models for casting. With the ability to use  PLA prints in place of the wax models of old, 3D printing provides a cost efficient alternative method for producing investment casting patterns.

In layman’s terms: hot melted plastic can be printed in any shape, in any size, and allows for a cost efficient alternative to the traditional technique of lost wax casting.

In the past, 3D printers lacked the size to perform life-sized pieces and large format 3D printers, starting at $100K have been cost prohibitive. Enter re:3D’s Gigabot at 1/10th the price. A 3D printer with an 8 cubic foot build space for super-sized 3D printed parts.

Anyone lucky enough to find themselves outside of Austin in Bastrop will notice the beautiful, large bronze pieces of art around the city. These are courtesy of a high-point on the Austin Cultural Map tour, Clint Howard’s Deep In The Heart Art Foundry. Jamie and Clint Howard purchased the foundry in 1999, and have become the premier statuary design and manufacturing business in the state of Texas.

casting2With demand for large pieces the foundry added a Gigabot FDM printer to their arsenal a couple of years ago. Instead of the long curing process associated with wax models, their Gigabot can make any design using standard CAD program, and print HUGE in PLA. It just so happens that PLA burns out just as clean as wax! The cost savings was almost immediate – cutting months and thousand of dollars off traditional casting allowing for increased bandwidth for contract pieces, and substantial revenue increase. With increased demand for printing, Deep in the Heart ordered a second Gigabot printer to keep up with the demand.

Another re:3D satisfied customer: family owned and operated Firebird 3D, located in Troutdale Oregon, recently participated in the Columbia River Highway centennial celebration.  Parts on this Model A (shown below) were Gigabot printed and cast along with this Rip Caswell piece, Devoted Passion, a re-telling of the exploration and creation of this amazingly scenic Pacific Northwest highway.
At Firebird they still use their traditional processes of wax casting but can use wax filament or PLA to print larger bronze pieces. It burns out, leaving a small amount of ash in the shell mold, which can be removed with washing. 3D printed PLA plastic burns out cleanly and is a more durable and more easily handled than a wax part. Chad Caswell (shown below) checks the layer height of their next print. They are, literally and figuratively burning through filament with a cost savings up to 70% by reducing labor!


We just got word Deep in the Heart purchased a 3rd Gigabot to help with workflow and high demand, and now has three 8 cubic foot 3d printers printing (money) while their workers sleep.

re:3D urges: Try a FREE print on us. Find out if Lost Wax (minus WAX + PLA) works for you! Please contact Todd@re3D.org for additional info on Gigabot 3D printers and lost wax castings!

Architectural Decoration with 3D Printed Molds

The following is a story from Stockholm-based Gigabot owner Monsén Arkitekter

“We feel that contemporary architecture is now too minimalistic and the naked buildings have lost their storytelling aspect. In our latest project, we designed human figures demonstrating the anatomy of movement for the façade of a building. We quickly realized our small office 3D printer was too small for the job, which is when we found Gigabot.

Artist’s rendering

We have used Gigabot for producing decorative building components in full scale to be used for exterior and interior design. This could be 3D printing molds for concrete casting or using the printed designs directly on the buildings. We use 3D printing for what it is really good at for architecture: making fine details. And it doesn’t stop there. Concrete printing is developing more and more so hopefully at one point we will be able to print whole houses! For more information on this, check out Broowaha.

Everybody said it could not be done, but after a few very entrepreneurial weeks, we got a test plate made. The cost of the plate was 20% of what it would have been had we gone the other route and used a big industrial printer. Four hundred casted plates later, the building with the people on it is the talk of the town in Uppsala, Sweden where it is located.

Concrete panels cast from 3D prints

We invented a new architectural style which we like to call Super Deco, a fusion between super-modern buildings and 3D printed decorative elements. Gigabot gave us the opportunity to make this a reality and to bring character back into architecture. Our hope is that other architectural firms catch onto Super Deco and start to decorate our cityscapes again.”

The concrete panels in the real world

Made in America- Artist Micah Ganske

Over the past three years we’ve had the honor to connect with Micah Ganske, a New York based artist whose work challenges the frontiers of creativity & 3D printing. We first met Micah when he helped bring Gigabot to life in our 2013  Kickstarter campaign and we delivered the first Gigabot in North America to him live from the NYC World Makerfaire that fall.

Over the next several months, Micah blew our minds as he shared his vision for a large-scale art series titled “The Future is Always Tomorrow”, which was displayed during a solo exhibition at 101/Exhibit gallery in Los Angeles.


Two and a half years later, Micah continues to stun us with his human-scale gallery pieces. Last May, Morgan had the pleasure of witnessing his Augmented Virtual Reality work firsthand in San Francisco, which she described in this blog and is depicted in the video below:

A few months later, Tammie, Mike, and the rest of the team also had the privilege to meet up with Micah in Seattle where we printed his acclaimed wormhole design live at the Seattle Art Faire. Micah was a huge hit and Mike captured some of the highlights in his blog on the event.


We’re not the only fans of Micah’s talent. Recently he was featured in this video by Alex Amoling describing his creative process:

He’s also been highlighted by influencers including Adafruit and in multiple publications such as this feature in Nylon:

In addition to producing gallery pieces, Micah’s found time to have fun with his Gigabot. This Halloween he spooked our team with the most realistic 3D printed sculpture we’ve witnessed to date, albeit an incredibly creepy siamese head.

As for the future, you will have to ask Micah what he has in store.

Last spring he backed our Open Gigabot Campaign which will provide him a second large-scale 3D printer. Whatever he makes next is sure to impress!

Want more? You can view Micah’s work and contact him through his website at: http://www.micahganske.com/

Happy Printing!


Gigabot, Wormholes & the Seattle Art Fair

 Last week, two Gigabots, Tammie &  I headed over to the Seattle Art Fair to work alongside Micah Ganske and 101/Exhibit gallery from LA. As many of you know, Micah Ganske works with 3d printing in many of his pieces and the Gigabot helped to print one of his largest new works.
101/Exhibits graciously offered to fly us out to do some live printing of Micah’s famous “Wormhole Pencil Holder.”  A select few attendees were able to take one home for themselves!
It was really incredible to see the lines forming around Micah’s virtual reality console. We met a lot of artists and non-artists alike who were inspired by the possibilities of 3d printing as an art medium.

We also were honored to be mentioned in this great blog about Micah and Gigabot.
Thanks again to all who stopped by to talk to us!
Have additional questions about our experience at the Seattle Art Fair or wormhole printing? You can find me on twitter @MikeBattaglia or email me at mike@re3d.org.

How I 3D Printed RWBY’s Crescent Rose

For a long time, my best friend Mason has been bugging me to watch Rooster Teeth’s animated show RWBY. Don’t get me wrong, I love anime, but I was already watching too many shows, and kept putting it off. Then, one day, re:3D’s cosplay enthusiast Rebecca asked if there was some way we could print the Crescent Rose (the instantly recognizable, 6ft tall scythe from RWBY). I immediately said yes, which made me finally binge-watch volumes 1 and 2 of RWBY on Netflix. Much to Mason’s delight, I loved it! I was super excited to make the scythe, not just because of my inner fangirl, but for the creative challenge of creating a 6 foot tall 3 foot wide scythe!
Rebecca and I debated for many hours about how to go about the design for the scythe. As you all might know, the Crescent Rose has the ability to transform into a more compact gun. We discussed the viability of this option ,and ultimately decided that because of the plastic we would be using and the laws of physics, that we should pursue making the best possible scythe-version of the Crescent Rose, and not worry about it transforming.

So, I threw myself into research. I spent many hours pausing the show and sketching, as well as staring at various other interpretations of the scythe on google images. I finally decided on a plan of action, and started modeling the scythe in Onshape, a beta CAD software.

When using a 3d printer, it’s important to keep in mind how your piece is going to be printed. 3D printers start to print from a base layer up, and use supports for overhanging parts. Therefore, I modeled most of the scythe to be easily printed from a flat bottom. Although I could have modeled the piece completely true to the show, I gave up some minor design features so that my prints would be faster and use as little supports as needed. The Gigabot, because of its large print size of 8 cubic feet, allowed me to make the individual pieces much larger and easily create a life sized model of the scythe.

Scythe Model

I made the model into 11 different pieces that could be assembled after they were pulled off the printer. I then printed these pieces using PLA on a Gigabot. I used different infills and layers for different pieces, 2-3 layers depending on how much strength I was going to need from that piece and ranged 5-20% infill depending on if I need the piece to be light or not. I usually heat the plastic at around 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit.

When assembling plastic pieces, together keep in mind in order in which you want to paint your piece, and the different bond strength of the glues or tapes you are using. For the Crescent Rose, I mainly used just basic Gorilla Glue super glue. For more stress intensive pieces, I used Gorilla Glue epoxy and clear caulk to give joints a more uniform look.  




After we had finished printing all the pieces, the next step was to remove all the support material. Then, I sanded down and fixed the smaller print errors such as place where there is a slight over-extrusion on corners or small print-shifts. Finally, I started painting! A timelapse of the process is available below.

I used a basic white primer spray paint that sticks to plastic. This created a good base layer on the models that I could paint other layers of spray paints and acrylic on top of. For the majority of the scythe, I used red and chrome spray paints and then used black and red acrylics and a paint brush to finish detailing.


It’s starting to look good!





It’s Finished!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Crescent Rose actually ended up being a little too big, finishing at 6’10” tall and 4’4” wide. I had the outstanding luck to get to bring my scythe to the Rooster Teeth offices and, who should happen to walk by but the voice of Ruby, the very character who wields the Crescent Rose– Lindsey Jones!

its finshiedRUBYOMG
Everything was not all roses and sunshine though. I had some large problems throughout the course of making this scythe. Some pieces ended up being more fragile than I would have wanted, and broke a few times. The overall size and shape of the scythe creates its own unique problem. Even though the material is fairly lightweight, the scythe acts as a natural lever where the fulcrum is where the staff meets the blade, causing a large amount of pressure and tension right at the joint. My solution to this problem was more gorilla glue and wooden and metal rods drilled into the plastic and hammered through to help support the weight.

Another huge problem that occurred during the print of one of the pieces completely failed on us. The head of the Gigabot extruder got clogged 48 hours into the 55 hour print. Fortunately, when a print fails, the print usually has a flat layer at the point of failure. I was able to measure the print, and edit my model accordingly so, so I could print only what was missing. The end result looks just like a filament swap mid-print. I credit the ease of this fix to the great usability of OnShape.

Finally, the last and probably worst problem I ran into was the Texas Summer Sun… This is a problem that is unique to people in the south who use 3D printers. Even though the plastic melts at roughly 200 degrees fahrenheit, your print will warp if left in your car or your backyard too long. This happened on the largest piece of the scythe and caused my really nice print fix to be extremely noticeable. I had to reheat my piece and to try and warp it back to a usable condition– with limited success. I decided at the end that the condition of the piece after I re-warped it was good enough to merit not reprinting 55 hours worth of plastic.

In order to save you some work modeling, I posted the files on re:3D’s Sketchfab account, where you can download the stl for free. I also made them public on Onshape so that you can print RWBY’s Crescent Rose too!

I’m unveiling the files at RTX at the re:3D booth prior to our Panel today (Aug 8th) on 3D printing & cosplay. You can check out the panel at 1pm at the JW Marriott, Room 303.

You can find me on twitter @jacobelehmann or email me at jacob.e.lehmann@re3d.org to discuss the process in more detail.

Below are the sources I used to help me create my model.

  • http://i.ytimg.com/vi/rST5VxiZ_gE/maxresdefault.jpg
  • http://goo.gl/9XzVMq
  • http://goo.gl/SsO63J
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RWBY
  • http://goo.gl/r6x12t

Thanks for reading!


Bronze, Full-Scale Dinosaurs using 3D Printed Lost-PLA Casts

Deep in the Heart Foundry in Bastrop, Texas, USA

On Gigabot, we’re currently working on 16 dinosaurs – some up to 40 feet long. We’re directly going from printing finished panels to casting. 3D printing eliminates a lot of steps in the bronze casting process.  Normally the piece is sculpted at full scale, molded, and then cast through the lost wax casting process.

I’ve got our Gigabot running 24 hours a day now. When you’re a small business like us, spending $150k on a high-end 3D printer is a very hard decision to make.  For us, Gigabot was reasonable, we could afford to buy it, and in our situation, it’s putting out the quality level that we need.

Micah Ganske: 3D Printing and Virtual Reality

“The Future is Always Tomorrow,” the solo exhibition of artist Micah Ganske, was on display in May with the 101/Exhibit Gallery from Los Angeles at the Art Market San Francisco, a massive production in beautiful Fort Mason.  Being the San Francisco-based member of the re:3D team, I was lucky enough to attend the show and see our talented Gigabot-owner Micah’s work in person.

IMG_20281 (1)



The exhibit revolves around the theme of a futuristic space habitat: a spinning disk called an O’Neill cylinder, with an interior based on the landscape of Centralia, PA, a near-ghost town whose population plummeted due to a coal fire which has been burning underground since 1962.  As Micah puts it, Centralia was “felled by the very technology that once supported its population.”

The exhibit is a mix of paintings, drawings, and sculptures, and the show-stealer is the command center of a spaceship, life-size, with joystick controllers that move.  The entire piece, as well as his other sculptures, is 3D printed, in part by Gigabot and in part by Bold Machines.  This sculpture is paired with an Oculus Rift, and the real fun begins when the headset goes on.  With my hands grasping the controllers of the flight deck, the Oculus Rift transported me into the very world that Micah’s paintings and sculptures depict.  Micah has created a fully-immersive experience, uniting his pieces in one masterfully-crafted virtual world.


Micah refers to this as “Augmented Virtual Reality,” a combination of Virtual Reality (virtual experiences which replace the real world) and Augmented Reality (virtual experiences incorporated into the real world, laid over your field of view).  The joysticks of the flight deck serve the dual purpose of grounding the viewers in the real world and adding touch to the sensory experience while they soar through the virtual disk landscape and into outer space, while at the same time ensuring that they don’t involuntary tip over in the somewhat disorienting experience.

I was lucky enough to get to try out the experience before the crowds hit, and fortunately so, because once the show got into full swing there was a never-ending line to put on that Oculus Rift headset.   Micah prefaced my experience with the disclaimer that this was his first foray into virtual reality work – it was my first time experiencing it too – but the forewarning was unnecessary; I was completely blown away.



The roughly five minute session felt like an eternity, in the best way possible.  Floating through the air high above the interior of the space habitat, I slowly realized, like the VR newbie that I was, that if I swiveled my head around there was more virtual reality world to explore in my peripheries.  Below my feet, above my head, 180º behind me – I started pivoting around like a madman, trying to soak in as much as I could.  The purpose of the joysticks as a stabilizing handhold became apparent.

As I floated out of the circular landscape into what I can only describe as an airlock, I was sad to be leaving and didn’t want the experience to be over.  To my surprise, I continued floating, a door opened, and suddenly I was suspended, floating through outer space.

This is where I really lost it.  I’m a huge space junkie, and to truly have the feeling of being on a spacewalk was beyond cool.  Ahead of me was a colorful nebula, floating nearby was one of the sculptures of Micah’s exhibit, below my feet was a moon.  In that moment, I realized the potential that VR holds.  This is a technology that will enable people to do and see things that are simply not otherwise possible.  Wannabe astronauts can fulfill their dreams of walking on the moon, paralyzed athletes can climb mountains, aspiring Jacques Cousteaus can dive to the depths of the world’s oceans even with that sinus infection.  Suddenly the technology became an enabler, rather than the introverted crutch I had previously seen it as.

The biggest shock was when the music came to a stop and the headset came off to reveal that I was still standing in the same spot, in the festival pavilion of Fort Mason.  The feeling that came over me was akin to the post-movie depression that so many experienced after seeing Avatar in 3D.  I had truly been on a journey to space and back in just five minutes.  It really was an otherworldly experience.

Micah’s exhibit comes together with a uniting moral perspective: that we need to embrace our “techno-civilization” while also being “smarter about how we live.”  He references Elon Musks’s new Powerwall batteries as an example: they are “something that can change the world today if we are proactive…made possible by smart engineering and responsible industry.”

Although Micah’s exhibit implies that humankind is not able to manage this feat, that we destroy our home planet and are forced to retreat to manmade modules floating in space, he is hopeful.  “In the end I’m optimistic and confident that we will work things out and that the best members of society will make up for the worst,” he says.  “My new sculptures and drawings combine express my hope that we will further use technology to improve and evolve our very selves.  My vision of the future is one of cautious optimism.”

See more about Micah’s work: http://www.micahganske.com/

Check out the 101/Exhibit Gallery: http://www.101exhibit.com/

Read about Micah’s exhibit in the news:

Customer Story : Anything You Can Dream Of

Hi folks, I’m Dave Sanders of protatypical.com and  I’d like to introduce you to the “Flyfish” or at least that’s what it’s called for now and it’s my first project with a 3D printer.

This is just one of many proof concept prototypes that I’ve wanted to make but didn’t really have a good means to do so until now thanks to my Gigabot. The Gigabot’s large build capacity and ease of use allowed this model to be produced successfully as a second draft. As a matter of fact it was one month to the day after I received my machine that the first draft was done in grey (as seen above).

It is a testament to how straight forward re:3D’s assembly instructions are and how easy it is to install and use the software if you consider that I had absolutely zero experience with 3D printing. In the past my greatest design considerations when developing a prototype “what kind of materials can I use to get the desired attributes and how to design the model so that it can be fabricated out of those materials”. Now that I can make any shape I can think of out of plastic it is now possible to get the desired properties out of the design itself. For example the strength to weight necessary for a wing can be designed in through the use of thin skin and walls and an inner honeycomb. Previous prototypes had to be designed around the material used and often required external reinforcements which usually did not enhance the aesthetics of the model.

(A video produced for the patent examiner of this concept vehicle in a flight simulator can be seen here: http://youtu.be/zalwY5rkbKk)

With this new design approach it soon dawned on me that the caveat is that the parts have to be “designed to be printed”. For example the Flyfish which was the easiest of my prototypes to attempt because of its simplicity.

The rudder is a tube shape and when I first ran a print it came into Netfab on its side and then Slic3r layered it that way so the print did work but it wasn’t very good. Once it was rotated to a flat side in Netfab and then sliced that way it printed beautifully. So then it became obvious that the other parts would also need to be “designed to be printed”. The bottom part of the hull could be printed in halves which would lend itself to a good lay up and then glued together however they would need support material added in certain places.

The top piece, “the seat with the top of the shroud and handle bars” because of the overhangs would do best if  layed up longitudinally from front to back however it would also need a “printing stand” designed into the piece itself in order to do that. On the first draft you can see from the previous pictures the stand wasn’t really set up to cut off very smoothly so on the second draft that was taken into consideration as you can see in the images above.

Apparently the need to design the “build stand” into the piece may be unnecessary with this new software that Matthew at re:3D was telling me about called “Simplify3D”. I can’t wait to try it out because it is supposed to allow the user to customize the support material much more readily.

As for future projects the vertical flight capable aircraft is definitely on the list, but the next one on the burner is another concept vehicle that I’ve wanted to build for a long time and now can, have a look:

After that there is a design that I already have a model for in a 3d graphics program that was used to produce posters but would make an excellent show piece for a 3d printing portfolio. One of them will have to be imported into Solidworks, corrected with collision detection, modified to be assembled and then exported part by part to be printed. So sometime down the road when I have the different color plastics to make one it should be fun.

 Want to connect with Dave? Check him out at http://protatypical.com/