Tag Archives: 3D Printing

making technical thoughts

Not just 3D Printers

So first thing Yesterday morning I went  to Hair by Fairy  and took part in a one on one, interactive, subtractive manufacturing bio-hacking workshop. Ok I had my hair cut, i mean really cut.  But after that and a coffee I headed over to the mini Maker Faire at the London School of communication at Elephant and castle.

Picking up a guide i saw a talk about Berg Cloud was about to start. I’d heard of Berg but not sure what Berg Cloud was so went in. Nick Ludlam  CTO of Berg was talking about the development of the Little Printer ,the change of direction going from a company only doing client work to having a product to sell and how the Little Printer is planned to lead on to other things . Was interested to hear Matt saying he didn’t think that the term ‘internet of things’ really describes well what is happening with technology but he prefers the term ‘connected devices’ to explain that physical objects will be useful to us. Would loved to have heard more about this and it was a shame the talk was only 20 mins.

Next up was the  learn Surface mount Device soldering. I hadn’t registered for any of the workshops,but this was running as drop in all day.  I understand what surface mount soldering is but have only come across it professionally working at companies that have pcbs fabricated in large volume using robots and fully automated processes, so was keen to find out how it could be done.

The process is really simple:

Take your pcb and position a metal stencil that has cut outs for all the solder pads on it.

Using a metal scraper, wipe solder paste over the top of the stencil, ‘a bit like grouting tiles’, making sure that all the pads are fully covered.

remove the metal stencil and check pads are covered and the solder isn’t touching between the pads. Two of the really tiny transistor pads had the solder paste bridging across on mine, i tried to clear it up but it just made it worse. So had to clean off the paste and start again. Everything worked well second time around.

Very carefully with tweezers, place the components on to the solder pads.Managed to get this done ok.

Thats all the tricky bits. Next stage is to put the pcb into a toaster oven connected to an electronic controller that can step up the temperature in stages. That would take about 20 minutes so time for a look around.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I would see.I knew from Twitter that a few of the interesting companies that are selling Arduino and raspberry pi stuff would be there, but it was all the other projects that i came across which i found most interesting

So in no particular order, and I wasn’t taking photos to start with so don’t have photos of everything i saw.

The 1st area I went into was 3D printing,wasn’t surprised to see those. Good to see small companies popping up to support the ecosystem and looked at a few interesting projects. But not actually having my own 3D printer yet, and i’m not currently shopping for one or needing the consumables this was nice but not a must see for me.


Going upstairs to see the majority of the exhibits was where it really came alive.

The Sugru stand was good, never thought of using it to repair jeans.


Seeing some really cool projects image

Some Weird Stuff


Some Stuff for Dummies


Well not actually Dummies, good that this stuff is been opened up to a Wider audience and not trying to keep it exclusive.

Then Down to the Well to look at Art projects. My favourite was this projector pointing at a reflective sheet being filmed by a digital camera which then fed back into the projector


Then projects interesting patterns onto the adjacent wall


Completing a Circuit to start some guitars in the cloud playing



Time to pop back to the Workshop to pick up my completed SMD Robot.


Just needed the battery clipping in and its all working

So chance for another look around. Some projects encouraged touch

Others didn’t



So it wasn’t just the projects that were cool and interesting.  Danny from Orion Robots was there demonstrating his explorer robot.  I met Danny a few weeks ago at London Arduino Group. The robot I built that night is still going Strong and is now Danny’s demonstrator.

Bio Hacker Raphael Kim was demonstrating building things with agar that will then be used to grow Bacteria.

I didn’t have chance to talk to Kate Sicchio but remember her from a Yorkshire geek Girl Dinner when she did a dance piece using a Kinect camera.  Was interesting seeing her hacking the body project .

Good to see the air pi  project. Have been thinking about something like this as a way of developing my weather app into something more physical. Was tempted to buy one but decided to leave it a while as pretty busy with other stuff at the moment.

And finally bumped in to suzy one of our Antenna team who was also there checking out the interesting projects.

Hope there is another one next year,already looking forward to it and thinking of the possibility of having something  to show off.

EDIT: Correct the Speaker from Berg. It was Nick Ludlam not Matt Webb


life stuff thoughts

3D Printing,this time its personal

There is a lot of Hype around 3D printing at the moment. Some of it is really good such as 3D Printed Solar Cells and some of it is a lot more controversial .

My opinion is that like a lot of new technologies we aren’t quite there yet, prices are coming down,software is getting better and people are finding more and more interesting and innovative uses for 3D printers but I don’t think yet anyone has hit on the killer app. That one thing that will really embed 3D printing in everyones consciousness and be the tipping point that takes it from cool interesting technology to something that is on sale on every high street.

But as well as the growth in mainstream 3D printing there is also more specialist uses. I found out a few days ago that Scientists can now print Human bladders and reading about them on the internet there is a lot of research going on into 3D printing organs that are either difficult or impossible to transplant.

The reason I care about this is because my dad died of bladder cancer.  I don’t know if he would have been able to have a 3D printed bladder if they had been available back in the late 1990s, I don’t know if it would have cured him as I think it was too far advanced by the time he was diagnosed and despite having his bladder removed and then further treatments of chemotherapy  he wasn’t able to recover.

The discussion about 3D printed Bladders did remind me though it is really important that Science and Medicine get the funding that they deserve and that research and treatments keep getting  pioneered and  that schools and universities  are properly resourced to teach next generations of Doctors, scientists and Engineers.

Who knows how long it will take for 3D printed organs to be common place but hopefully soon they will become a practical reality and be able to save lives and remove pain and suffering.