Saying ‘I Do!’ To 3D Printing For A Wedding

It’s that lovely time of year again where love is all amongst us as weddings are galore! More than a handful of our teammates have utilized the power of 3D printing with Gigabot to create wedding decor that reduces costs while optimizing creative expression & personalization… so we thought we’d share their applications in hopes to inspire 3D printing for your special day.

4 Ways To Utilize 3D Printing For A Wedding (& Why You Should)

3D Printed Wall Decor Lighting Up The Dance Floor 

Jeric 3D printed and assembled an LED sign for his sister’s wedding. The printed parts took 14 hours in total to make using a combination of PLA & PETG – PETG for the front, translucent part of the sign and PLA for everything else. He used super glue and hot glue to hold everything together. He also installed LEDs throughout the inside – the LEDs are RGB and have a transmitter connected, so they can use a remote to control the color and light-up patterns. Check out the photos from the full build process in this album.

Why use 3D printing?

“3D printing gave me amazing flexibility in the design, but also let me quickly build a functional 3D design.”
Jeric Bautista

The 3D Printed Icing On Top of the Cake: 3D Printed Wedding Toppers

Alessandra designed & 3D printed ‘Mr&Mrs’ wedding cake toppers and table decorations for Samantha Snabes’ sister’s wedding. They took about 1 hour to design and model for each print and the wedding cake topper took approximately 1 hour to print while the table decoration took about 43 hours to print using silver PLA. The prints were then spraypainted with gold. Access the wedding topper designs for free here on our Sketchfab

Why use 3D printing?

"Weddings are expensive but custom wedding items are extremely expensive. With 3D printing, you can literally shape your dreams without having to go bankrupt. Time-wise, I was able to get a specific picture from the customer's Pinterest and generate a 3D model under 1 hour. Even if one of the models takes 43 hours to print, you can leave Gigabot in charge while you go home, watch series and take a nap, so you virtually save those 43 hours of possible manual work.”
Alessandra Montano
3D Printed Wedding Cake Topper

A Trove of Treasures In A 3D Printed Chest: 3D Printing Gifts

Mike B. 3D printed a Zelda treasure chest for a Zelda themed wedding. The chest had a slot at the top to drop in gift cards. He also 3D scans newlyweds when he goes to weddings and ships them print-outs of themselves a few months later. For the Zelda treasure chest, he used hinges from the hardware store, a bit of Bondo to give a wood texture, acrylic paint, and a clear coat. The design took 2 hours, and Mike kept changing it to look more authentic to the game. The portraits were printed in white PLA and scanned with a Structure Sensor. Scans were cleaned up a bit in MeshMixer.

Why use 3D printing?

"For many fabricated items, the materials inform the design but with 3D printing, you can make virtually anything if you can model it. A treasure chest would traditionally be made with wood and metal. You can mimic lots of different fabrication methods all with the same two tools, a CAD program, and a Gigabot. The Zelda treasure chest needed to look cartoony so in this case, it was actually easier to prime/paint than a metal/wood fabrication would have been. 3D printing is indispensable for prop design! For the scans, someone would have had to sculpt them; this was more of a portrait captured at the moment which I think is special.”
Mike Battaglia

3D Printed Accessories: A Life-Sized Diamond Isn’t Tough

Tammie 3D printed a diamond to be a light within a large diamond ring to further accessorize the wedding. She used natural PLA and it took 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the print using Gigabot and didn’t do any post-processing work on the prints.

Why use 3D printing?

“I would have never found a diamond this large to display for the day! Thankfully for the size of Gigabot and the versatility of 3D printing, it was made possible.”
Tammie Vargas

There you have it! Four special 3D printing applications for very special days. Don’t forget to check out the pics above and free downloads on our Sketchfab! Also, we’d love to know – what have you printed for weddings & special occasions? Don’t hesitate to share on our forum! Until then…happy printing ever after 🙂

D&D Helps Kids Level Up Their Social Skills

“But will you guys be mad at me if I don’t?”

That earnest and open-hearted question was posed by a student participating in D&D@CLCE, an after-school skills group at Clear Lake City Elementary School (CLCE) in Houston, TX. They were role-playing a situation with a difficult choice: should I give up something I own and care about in order for the whole group to benefit? As the student contemplated his decision, his peers, in turn, responded with how they felt. This form of social skills group therapy has been around a long time, aiding those who struggle socially to learn and develop those skills in a safe and moderated group setting. Kari Euker, the Counselor at CLCE debuted a program this year to combine skills training with the tabletop fantasy roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Those unfamiliar with D&D may have seen it recently reflected in pop culture on the TV shows Stranger Things or The Big Bang Theory. In a nutshell, one plays by gathering a group of people who then create characters with certain sets of skills, be they wizards or rogues or fighters, and together they explore an imaginary world narrated by the game’s lead storyteller and referee, the dungeon master. It’s improvisational storytelling on steroids.

In the case of the student’s conundrum, he wasn’t mulling over the consequences of keeping a football to himself in the schoolyard, he was trying to decide whether to give up a sparkling magic crystal by placing it on a wall with crystals belonging to the rest of his adventuring party. If he placed his crystal, the wall would absorb the crystals and open a portal leading the team onto a new escapade. If he kept it to himself, the magic wouldn’t take hold, the team would be stuck, but he’d still have that beautiful crystal. What to do?

Ms. Euker didn’t discover D&D on her own. It was her high-school aged son Christopher and his friends who caught her on to the idea. Christopher’s enthusiasm for D&D opened Ms. Euker to the possibility that D&D could provide a fun and imaginative setting in which to practice life skills in a low consequence environment. As she wasn’t an expert in playing the game, they worked together using the older boys’ experience with D&D and Ms. Euker’s knowledge of skills training to craft artful scenarios where the CLCE students could flex those social skills muscles. The older boys served as dungeon masters, the younger kids were the explorers, and Ms. Euker was there to facilitate each session. What they discovered is that the fantasy elements of their role-playing helped the kids contemplate the consequences of their actions from a safe distance and therefore allowed for critical thinking and deep conversations that are hard to achieve in real-life scenarios.

Ms. Euker approached re:3D about helping the students’ characters come to life, and re:3D was more than happy to support the team’s innovative problem-solving. In D&D, dungeon masters will often use real maps and tokens to help keep track of where adventurers and their foes exist in relationship to each other. The students designed minifigures in Hero Forge, selecting the race, armor, weapons and accessories that best fit their whimsical characters. re:3D took those 3D models, and with a little bit of slicing manipulation and custom supports, printed out the whole group of minifigures in one batch.

Though we at re:3D are known to Dream Big, Print HUGE, in this instance we made an exception. Utilizing Gigabot’s highest resolution of 0.1510 mm layer height, we printed these tiny 48 mm tall figures, miniscule accessories and all, with PLA and water soluble PVA supports. After an overnight bath, these creative creations were ready to join the fray.

The older boys were so invested in this project that they took the time to paint the minifigures by hand, and the CLCE students were thrilled to see their hard work rewarded with a physical representation of the character they built from their imagination. And the kid who was hesitant to give up his treasured crystal? He listened to his peers and then chose to add the crystal to the wall. Away they journeyed, onward to the next adventure.

*This project was supported through re:3D Houston’s Community Engagement Team. Are you a school or non-profit with a passion to explore 3D printing? Reach out to us at discover@re3d.org to schedule a tour or workshop!*

FFF1: Our FFF1rst Polymer Derby

On April 9, 2019 re:3D hosted the first annual FFF1: Polymer Derby!  You may be wracking your brain trying to figure out what we are talking about here, so let me explain:

We challenged each other to a gravity car racing competition.  Quite similar to a Pinewood Derby (in fact we borrowed a pinewood derby track from local Cub Scout Pack 595) – each competitor designed a car, printed it on Gigabot, attached some wheels – and we were off to the races on derby day!

As a distributed team, with competitors in Houston, Austin, Puerto Rico, and New York – we established a rule from the start that you must design your own car  and if you require help with your design (since not everyone is a 3D design wizz) you had to reach out to someone in a different location from your home office.

We thought this was a great opportunity to not only get everyone designing and printing in 3D – but to also make sure that our distributed team members interacted with someone from a different office on something fun that wasn’t just work related.

Almost immediately after announcing the competition, (in mid-January) we had questions, everyone wanted to know the rules, which admittedly didn’t yet exist, and our engineers were particularly interested in finding loopholes in said rules so that they could cheat the system.  I promised the team that I would write-up an entire tome of rules and got to work, we started with the basic size parameters (borrowed from the pinewood derby to fit their track), and then added layer upon layer of bureaucracy and ridiculousness on top of what should be a relatively straightforward idea (I will post rules examples at the very end of this post).

The cars had to:

  • Weigh no more than 5.00 oz
  • Length shall not exceed 7 in
  • Width shall not exceed 2.75 in
  • Car must have 5/16″ clearance underneath
  • Wheels must be unmodified (we gave everyone a standard set of wheels)

Ultimately the designs were up to each individual’s creativity.

Come derby day, there was an amazing diversity in designs.  The track was setup in the front showroom of our Houston HQ.  We had an official weigh-in and measurement period to check that all cars conformed to the rules.  We made up t-shirts to memorialize the day.  And then we started the competition.

Each competitor chose a number from a hat – to get randomly assigned a place on our competition bracket.  We then competed best out of 3 heats, with racers switching sides (there were only 2 racers at a time) after each heat. As the day went on, the biggest determining factor in the fastest cars was the weight.  Any racer that was below 5.00 oz was at a distinct disadvantage, and all of the cars in the quarter-finals and beyond were at the target weight exactly.

When all was said and done we had a winner! Technically we had two winners – the Fastest Car – won the racing piece of the competition.  The Flyest Ride – was voted as the best looking car by all of the competitors.   Congratulations to Samantha (fastest car) and Mitch (flyest ride).

Stay tuned for more Polymer Derby fun, as this will definitely become an annual event at re:3D, and perhaps across the world?!  Sign-up for our newsletter to always be up-to-date on what’s happening at re:3D.

Looking forward to next year's competition!

International Polymer Derby Congress Rules & Regulations (These are just a small sampling of the rules for this competition):

  1. Cars shall be 3D printed – in any material that is currently able to be 3D printed.
  2. The majority of the car shall be printed on an FFF/FDM style 3D printer, but does not have to be printed in one piece.
  3. The car must be free-wheeling, with no starting or propulsion devices

Inspections:

The day of the race, while style voting and race seeding is taking place, race officials will open the Inspection Zone:

  1. Cars will be Inspected individually for conformity to all rules of the IPDC and the Polymer Derby Championship Racing Series (PDCRS).
  2. Each car will be weighed (see weight requirements Sec. 1.2 A-I. above)
  3. Each car will be measured for length, width, ground clearance, and wheel clearance (Sec. 1.2B – I-IV).
  4. Each car will be thoroughly inspected for any potential safety or hazard violations
  5. Each car’s wheels will be gone over with a fine tooth comb, as modification of stock wheels is strictly prohibited (In accordance with Sec. 1.2 C – I & II)
    1. Any car found to have illegal modifications to the wheels is subject to being gleefully smashed with a hammer by a race official (viewer discretion is advised)

Failed Inspections:

  1. Any competitor’s car that is found to not pass inspection will have an opportunity to adjust/fix their vehicle and have it re-inspected. An explanation of why the car failed inspection will be given to each competitor and the racer will have 10 minutes to make the proper adjustments to bring their vehicle into conformity with the race rules.
  2. If the racer fails to bring their car into conformity within 10 minutes, fails to present their car for re-inspection before the 10 minute time period is up, OR fails the inspection for a second time – the car is no longer eligible for the Fastest or Flyest awards (Sec. 8 Subsec I-III.), but is eligible for the Junker award (Sec. 8 Subsec. IV.).
    1. Cars that fail the secondary inspection may still participate in the tournament for fun, but will not be eligible to win.
    2. If you make illegal modifications that go undetected by the judges, but manage to make your first run before judges take notice, you may continue using your illegal car without reprimand. Gamble at your own risk.

Style Voting:

While the fastest car down the track is the ultimate winner – there will be style points given out for the car that looks the best.

  1. Subjective voting will take place by each competitor at the beginning of the competition.
  2. The voters/competitors may use any method of determining the best “looking” car that they see fit.
  3. Each competitor will fill out a secret ballot to determine their favorite car.
  4. Each competitor will vote only once and can not vote for themselves
  5. Bribes for style votes, while not illegal, are harshly discouraged.

Grievances:

Official grievances may be filed.

  1. For a grievance about a particular heat/race the grievance will only be valid if:
    1. Filed within 180 seconds of the race ending, in written form, adhering to the following parameters:
      1. Printed, in landscape orientation, on standard sized paper (8.5”x11”)
      2. Comic sans font
        1. font size = 17.5pt.
      3. The grievance must follow the standard limerick format
        1. Five lines – 2 long, 2 short, 1 long,
        2. Rhyme scheme AABBA
      4. Sent via USPS standard mail, postage paid to:

International Polymer Derby Congress
Department of Rules, Grievances, and Dispute Resolution
re:3D, Inc
1100 Hercules Ave, Suite 220
Houston, TX 77058

Or hand delivered, with a bow/curtsey, directly to the Rules Czarina or Czarina designate for an immediate ruling

Awards:

  1. Fastest: Fastest car to win the final race, wins the Polymer Derby Champion Award
  2. Flyest: Top vote getting car for style wins the “Best-in-Show” – Flyest Car award
  3. Little Miss Fly-Ride Should the top style car and top speed car be one in the same – the title of “Champion of Champions” or “Little Miss Fly-Ride” will be bestowed upon the winner along with lavish praise and an award of at least one but not to exceed 100 cheap beers.
  4. Junker: The “Junker” award goes to any car that fails to make it down the track, or breaks at any point during the competition.  It is quite embarrassing.
  5. Flunker: The “Flunker” award goes to any car that fails the pre-race inspection, and is not eligible to win awards I-III of this section.

3D Printing Sustainable Energy Solutions After Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria left nearly all people in Puerto Rico without power for months, some places never to have access again and others on a minimum of a five-year timeline before reconnecting to the grid. It also exposed an even deeper problem – the lack of renewable energy alternatives fueling the island with less than 1% of all power coming from renewable sources. A particularly troubling statistic considering Puerto Rico is a place that sees sun and wind all year round. A problem that manifested itself as people waited in 18-22 hour lines at gas stations for Diesel fuel for their generators, cars, and homes to reboot their energy essentials. And for those without generators, lack of power meant lack of refrigeration for necessities like insulin, a major contributor to the 3,000 casualties of Hurricane Maria. The only silver lining is that this tragedy has motivated new renewable energy legislation in Puerto Rico announced this week.

Our team in Puerto Rico decided that Gigabot and 3D printing could get started on making a dent on this problem and set out to 3D print a portable wind turbine with the gusto to charge a cellphone. re:3D hired local maker we met through the Parallel 18 community, a 3D printing enthusiast, founder of MadEra and former Ice Blast HVAC technician, Jean-Yves Auguste Chapiteau, with the knowledge and the know-how to design and 3D print a solution to this challenge.

An Initial Drawing of the 3D Printed Wind Turbine

After 5 months, this 3D printable wind turbine takes 200 hours to print with PLA and costs $200-300 including the electrical components, a cost that is 70-80% less than similar sized turbines on the market. Not to mention, it’s designed for easy installation, it doesn’t require maintenance, and its unique vertical axis design optimizes for capturing omnidirectional wind flow and unpredictable wind patterns common to Puerto Rico. It has the power the power up things such as a tablet, cell phone, and small devices.

This 3D printed wind turbine takes 200 hours to print with PLA and costs $200-300 including the electrical components, a cost that is 70-80% less than similar sized turbines on the market.

While still portable, Gigabot’s large format, human-scale 3D printing capabilities expanded this wind turbine’s boundaries of what was possible to be created and empowered the creation of a bigger, more powerful wind turbine.

Watch the wind turbine in action!

Compared to his past experience 3D printing with desktop printers, Jean shared it was an impactful difference to print with such bigger parameters which led to bigger opportunities to 3D print not just a bigger solution, but a better solution for a difficult problem. But as Jean says, “There’s no difficult job if you have the right tools”.

“There’s no difficult job if you have the right tools”.
Jean Auguste Chapiteau

Convening Global Community: Thank You CES 2019

CES 2019 was jam-packed with activities and innovations that sprawled throughout Las Vegas with over 180,000 attendees, exhibitors, and speakers. The conference and exhibition activates across giant venues in Las Vegas including The Venetian, Sands Expo Center including startup innovation arena Eureka Park, and the Las Vegas Convention Center. Companies and innovators on the spectrum of industries and size exhibited their latest work, from life-size drone helicopters, robots beating humans in ping pong, pretty much anything “smart” you can imagine or yours truly, showing our large scale 3D printer printing from plastic waste. We posted some insights on our schedule and first day at CES and here is the remainder of our insights, adventures, and recap of our first CES experience. All in all, CES was about convening community from around the world to showcase and connect over their latest innovations and we wanted to write a recap and thank you note to our community who have supported ours.

fullsizeoutput_6811
Gigabot X @ CES

Our debut at CES 2019 wouldn’t have been possible without instrumental partners who gave us platforms to exhibit our new technology, Gigabot X. Gigabot X is a large scale (or large format if you prefer), affordable 3D printer printing from pellet or flake plastic. Pellet printing in and of itself drastically lowers the cost to 3D printing 10 times and prints up to 13 times faster than other printers. Even more so, after various peer-reviewed research with Michigan Technological University – Gigabot X has been validated printing from multiple types of plastic waste in pellet and flake form. To showcase these developments almost exactly a year after we won the WeWork Creator Award and received funding from the NSF SBIR Phase I grant as well as launched Gigabot X on Kickstarter, it was a huge privilege to have our hard work on display to the global community who convenes at CES – meeting industry leaders, makers, fellow creators, and enthusiasts from all over.

3D printing Caribbean coral on Gigabot X at CES

We also exhibited some Gigabot X and Gigabot  prints such as 3D printed coral (straight from 3D scans of the Caribbean), a skateboard 3D printed from recycled plastic, vases, trashcans, architectural pieces, our infill educational tool, 3D printed medical devices, coffee picking baskets, prosthetics, replacement parts and more real-world examples of the innovations around the world, across industry, all with the commonality of solving problems utilizing Gigabot and 3D printing technology . While we’re putting the final touches on Gigabot X before it’s commercially available, the positive feedback, inquiries, and pre-orders of Gigabot X were a major accomplishment of our time during CES. However, as a community-driven organization, this latest accomplishment wouldn’t have been made possible without a world of supporters (yourself included) and some of the major supporters who have gotten us to where we are today. This gratitude was proudly broadcasted across Gigabot X’s headboard (see below photo). Beyond that, we wanted to write a recap and thank you note to CES and those who made it possible for us to be at CES, get to CES and showcase our vision.

IMG_3544
Gigabot prints at the U.S. Government Startup Connection booth

Thanks to National Science Foundation, Small Business Innovation Research, and Small Business Association not only for making the NSF SBIR grants available like the Phase 1 grant that helped make Gigabot X a reality but also for the support and partnership to showcase Gigabot X at the U.S. Government Startup connection booth in Eureka Park and ongoing support. We also got to meet other amazing organizations co-exhibiting in the U.S. Government Startup Connection booth like Ampaire on a mission to provide the world with all-electric powered commercial flights that are affordable, quiet and environmentally conscious, and Hivemapper, Learn With Socrates, and Gen X Comm. Despite the government shutdown which created some curveballs, our partners at NSF and SBIR were integral to our CES presence and getting to debut Gigabot X to the community. Thanks to USPTO for being there!

Gigabot X's headboard thanking WeWork, Bunker Labs, MassChallenge, Alice, Chase, SBA, SBIR, Unreasonable, USAA, Startup Chile, PRSTR Trust, Parallel18, NSF, America Makes, Kickstarter & others who made it possible!

Connecting with WeWork and their Senior Construction Partner, Brian Ringley, at CES was another major milestone. The one year anniversary from when we won the $1M WeWork Global Creator Award occurred during CES and on the same day at CES, Brian met his new Gigabot X heading his way, one of the first to be delivered to Kickstarter backers from the successful launch last year. It was an amazing time to connect with Brian and celebrate this full circle collaboration: from winning the WeWork Creator Award to launching the Gigabot X prototype on Kickstarter to working together on Gigabot X’s the evolution from a beta bot to delivering it in person on perhaps one of the biggest platforms and convenings for electronics. We also got some great snapshots with Brian’s first print and his kickflips on our 3D printed skateboard from recycled plastic!

Samantha XTC3
Samantha Snabes pitches at the Extreme Tech Challenge Finals

Taking the stage as a top 10 finalist in Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge was another major highlight of our CES experience. We have so much gratitude and admiration for Richard Branson, the other companies in this competition, the judges who gave us feedback, and the team from Extreme Tech and Actai who have supported us along the way. Making the top 10 of this global competition was a huge honor for us and we extend a huge congratulations to the top 3 winners from Lynq, Elevian, and Active Protective who won a trip to Necker Island as well as other semi finalists who received a surprise invite to Necker along with us! We look forward to future collaborations with this community and grateful for the stage and the setting to share our vision and demo Gigabot X.

Judges: Dave Hagan, CTA; Lisa Andrews, Ignite Alliance; Veronica Serra, Pacific Investimentos & Innova Capital; Shankar Chandra, Samsung Catalyst Fund; Larry O'Connor, OWC. #XTC2019 Companies: re:3D, Last of Ours, We Walk, Liven, Nyx Technologies, Active Protective, Elevian, Lynq, Einride, Bitlumens, Civic Eagle

Techstars likewise gave us a great platform on their #StartupStage to share our innovations in the robotics pitch competition in Eureka Park. After being selected as a top 10 from a number of applicants, we competed with a 60 second pitch and were humbled to take home 1st place and meet creators of cutting edge robotics and judges from Misty Robotics and Lynq.

WhatsApp Image 2019-01-08 at 1.04.03 PM
re:3D wins 1st prize at Techstars Robotics Pitch Competition!

If you know our story, you know it begins with Kickstarter – and Kickstarter continues to be a key community partner and powerful platform that supports us as we launch new evolutions of the Gigabot family such as Gigabot X last year to its first beta users. We were grateful to meet with the Kickstarter team, like Clarissa, and community at some amazing meetups after hours with a global network of creators and partners like Hackster and Dragon Innovation.

We are forever grateful for our friends and supporters who have gotten to where we are today! Arguably one of the proudest highlights of CES was reuniting with one of the first Gigabot owners, Doug Mockett of Mockett, who came to say hi to us at CES from California. Still to this day, their two Gigabots run around the clock and they lovingly call them their “workhorses”. We met up with some other customers (like one using Gigabot to 3D print entire life size inventory robots) and even suppliers like LDO Motors.

unnamed (21)
Startup Chile fellow entrepreneurs Waverly Labs exhibits at CES

We got to catch up with friends from former accelerators like Waverly Labs from Startup Chile, our first accelerator we joined when we launched in 2013. We met up with one of our mentors from Parallel 18, Alicia Syrett. We also said hi to fellow Unreasonable Impact alumni on a mission to create solutions and jobs in the green economy such as the teams from Heatworks and Breezometer exhibiting in Sands Halls.

We spent one morning getting to tour the local Afwerx office in Las Vegas, an organization creating innovative and crowdsourced solutions for the most critical problems affecting those in our Air Force and an organization especially close to our heart with two teammates Samantha and Kara actively involved in the military and Air Force. We also got to see our partners at IEEE and Finn Partners at an evening event, some great partners who share aligned values with their mission to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.

A huge thank you as well to partners and press who acknowledged us in their pieces, we can’t say enough how grateful we are for your recognition. Alice’s Elizabeth Gore included us in an Inc article with a major announcement on the bright future of diversity in tech, Jean Baptiste Su noted us in Forbes top 22 innovative technology startups to watch at CES and Beau Jackson’s 3D printing round-up at CES in 3D Printing Industry gave us a nod. Thanks for these platforms and writers for sharing our story! We hope to continue to share more on our developments, diversity, and problem solvers around the world breaking limitations with 3D printing.

Read Elizabeth Gore's Inc article
Read Elizabeth Gore's Inc article
Read Jean Baptiste Su's Forbes article

We are so grateful to CES for giving us a big platform to jump off of in 2019 as we dive into a year filled with new innovations, stories and leaps forward toward a world empowered by sustainable and locally driven manufacturing. Thank you and stay tuned for some more updates and footage coming your way. Don’t forget: #ReduceReuseRe3D

p.s. If you were following our road trip to CES and are curious about the adventures of re:3D after official CES festivities, we packed up Gigabot X in our beloved Uhaul and headed back to Texas the way we came: 1,500 mile road trip. We traversed from Las Vegas to Tucson, then on to El Paso where w dropped off a Gigabot at the University of Texas El Paso's W.M. Keck Center for (extremely rad) 3D Innovation in partnership with America Makes. We then took a break to rock climb at McKelligan Canyon in El Paso before heading back to Houston, Austin & San Antonio.

Medical Models For Disaster Response: Why We Designed and 3D Printed Flexible Vaginas

Nearly a year ago, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico with its Category 5  power. The entire electrical grid was destroyed, water systems were inoperable, 95% of cellular sites were broken and 400 miles of Puerto Rico’s 16,700 miles of roads were too damaged to drive on causing thousands of people and communities isolated from communications and disaster relief. 

While the island experienced many problems, many problem solvers stepped up to respond and local grassroots relief and recovery efforts formed immediately. One local organization, Colectiva Feminista en Construccion – a political organization advocating for women’s rights and protesting capitalistic and patriarchal oppression– opened up a fund and set up a center in an abandoned building in San Juan to distribute supplies to the community. But they didn’t stop there.“We don’t want to be just a band-aid,” shared one of the organizers, Maricarmen Rodriguez, “We want to help everyone and create a more inclusive society. Hurricane Maria cleared the makeup that was covering up problems that were already in Puerto Rico.” 

One of those problems surfaced while providing feminine hygiene products and realizing the need for medical models to teach about aspects of the vagina and how to use products like Diva Cups. More than that, Maricarmen wanted to find a way to talk about menstrual cups and sexual education that is often taboo in society. 

Could 3D printed vaginas be a tool for more grassroots sexual education?

When you look for your typical sex ed class medical models, they can cost hundreds per piece and the industry is monopolized by a small number of manufacturers. These models are made from unforgiving plastics that lack usability and plasticity to use to demonstrate with products like Diva Cups. Not to mention, in post-hurricane conditions, importing products like these would have been nearly impossible and taken months to arrive.

So Maricarmen reached out to re:3D in Puerto Rico and our teammate Alessandra set out to 3D print vaginas.

Right now, there are no open source vagina medical models so Alessandra started from scratch by creating a 2D picture by tracing from a medical book. She then used Rhino to create a 3D model.

The 3D printed vaginas – printed from flexible materials such as Ninjaflex and semi Flex making them more durable and less likely to break – provide more realistic and life-like medical models.

These 3D printed medical models have the ability to be just as realistic with attention to detail at a fraction of the cost: only $20-30 per print. The prints took about 3 hours on Gigabot – making body parts accessible nearly on demand.

This opens up new possibilities for schools, hospitals, and grassroots organizations to have access to affordable teaching tools – before a disaster and to aid in recovery and education after and beyond. 

Watch the 1-minute video of Alessandra explaining the 3D printed vaginas

re:3D had a #HurricaneStrong year in 2017 – our Houston team was hit by Harvey and our team in Puerto Rico withstood Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. June 1st marks the official beginning of hurricane season in Puerto Rico and in this series, we are highlighting stories of impact and insight to encourage #3DPrintedPreparedness this year.

Grand Opening of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Veterans Future Lab

On Monday of this week I had the privilege of attending the Grand Opening of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Veterans Future Lab in Brooklyn, New York.

A very special lineup of speakers graced the event, including New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Dean of Engineering at NYU Katepalli Sreenivasan, New York State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Barclays Group Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley, and one of the the engineering school’s namesakes, business-leader and humanitarian Chandrika Tandon.

Housed in Industry City on Brooklyn’s “Innovation Coastline,” the lab will be an early-stage startup incubator for United States military veterans.

More than a third of all returning military veterans have entrepreneurial ambitions, speakers at the event remarked, but just under 5% launch their own businesses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With some 18 million veterans in the country, that’s a lot of unrealized business ideas.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul told a story about a moment that left a profound impression on her on a visit she made to an American military base in Afghanistan. Sitting around a table with a group of soldiers, she asked them about their greatest fears. And in that tent in the barren, almost lunarscape-esque terrain of Afghanistan, in the heart of Taliban territory, the soldiers’ response stunned her. They were worried about finding a job when they returned home.

The Veterans Future Lab addresses exactly this fear.

The goal of the program is to provide business support and mentorship to a group of people who have given so much to serve their country, to enable them to be successful in this next mission in their lives.

With their first round of 15 companies starting in January, the program will offer participants 12 months of incubation, mentorship with New York City industry professionals and NYU faculty, and free legal services, among many more benefits.

One of the other perks of the program is the makerspace.

The businesses will have access to a bona fide buffet of prototyping equipment, from laser jets to water jets, injection machines to sewing machines, and – you guessed it – a Gigabot (among a list of other 3D printers).

As a veteran-owned company ourselves, we couldn’t be more excited to have a Gigabot available to the participants.

Split between the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Makerspace in Downtown Brooklyn and the Veterans Future Lab offices in Industry City, any physical design and prototyping needs the entrepreneurs may have are covered from all angles.

A big deal for not only veterans but also the city and state of New York as a whole, the lab was made possible with the support of Barclays and the Empire State Development Corporation.

As Lieutenant Governor Hochul put it, “This is a very good day in the state of New York.”