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Carbomorph 3D Printing with conductive polymer

My first 3Dprinting with Carbomorph… It’s the school holidays so I have a little bit of spare time to get down to some serious 3D printing!

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be contacted by Simon Leigh from the School of Engineering at Warwick University, he wondered if I would like to try out some of their new printable conductive polymer “Carbomorph”. At that stage the research hadn’t been published so it was all a bit hush-hush and a rather busy time in school meant that I didn’t have much time to play. With Simon’s permission I was able to discuss with some of my students how Carbomorph could be used and coincidentally one of my GCSE Product Design students is looking at designing new ways of controlling his iPad …. And an idea was seeded in my brain… Could Carbomorph control a capacitive touch screen? After some simple tests the answer was yes! So, after a quick bit of designing using PTC Creo2 and processing the files for multi material prints in Bits from Bytes Axon 3 I was able to print my first version of a touch screen stylus…. Although its not the most elegant or ergonomic design it does actually work.

Hopefully next term Simon Leigh will be able to visit us at Clevedon School and my students can share some of their ideas of how they would 3D print with Carbomorph…. And maybe Simon will explain to the students how Carbomorph was developed. We are really looking forwards to meeting up.

And finally I would like to thank Simon for letting us have some samples of Carbomorph… And letting us be some of the very first people to use it outside of the university.

The research paper can be found here http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0049365



Great 3D Prints from Satakunta University of Applied Sciences

On the BfB forum I came across some wonderful pictures of 3d prints from Satakunta University… Couldn’t resist reposting them here….

We’re the R&D department of Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, and we purchased a 3D Touch few weeks back. Here are some samples that we have created for testing purposes:

Computer case created for mini-itx PC, which will be a robot’s brain.
A 50 x 50 x 50 mm dice printed from ABS, and some small sample pieces. The smaller pieces were created in 15 minutes!
Led casing created for testing out prototyping qualities of the printer!
The logo of our University! 🙂
A moveable laser casing for machine vision purposes!
A candy cane holder! For creating those sweeeeeeet moments!

@ClevedonDT students visit 3DS / BfB

As visitors to my blog will probably know/realise I teach Design and Technology at Clevedon School in the UK…. my year 12/13 students study AS/A2 Product Design. Studying this course not only requires students to design and make products but also to know how they would be made in the “real world”… And many students incorporate 3D printing in their designs, so what could be better to combine all of this into a visit to 3D Systems (Bits from Bytes).

So earlier today we took the students to “BfB HQ” to have a look round. The guys from BfB did a fantastic job of making us welcome with Annabelle introducing the students to the factory with a brief history of how the business was set up and it’s development from the RepRap project at Bath University. Iain then gave the students a tour of the facilities including the business side of the company, how it fits in as part of the 3D Systems global company, how sales and marketing are managed and of course a tour of the production facilities. The students were able to see both the RapMan and 3D Touch production systems and how these differ due to RapMan being sold as a kit and the 3D Touch being sold as a “ready to print” machine. It was brilliant for the students to see all this happening “for real” and how the things we have studied such as “Quality Control and Quality Assurance” really do make a difference to the manufacture of products.

From a personal point of view it was also great to meet up again with the guys from BfB… Amazing how many were previously students at my school!

And finally a huge “thank you” to Iain, Annabelle and all the others at BfB for making us so welcome and for sparing their precious time especially when they are in the middle of the rush to get machines out to their resellers in time for Christmas.

Here’s what my students had to say…

Bits from Bytes visit

      Bits from Bytes are a UK based company owned by 3D Systems. They design and manufacture low cost 3D printers for rapid prototyping. The company was started in a garage, and has now progressed to two warehouses.

     We were first met by Annabel, who told us briefly about the history of the company. After that we met Iain. He first spoke to us about the marketing aspects of the business, and the admin and finance elements.

     We then went through to the board room, and saw how the machines have evolved and some examples of what could be produced on the 3D printer. This included some alternative materials such as ceramics.

     Following on from this we went down to the factory floor, and observed the different processes involved in production of the Touch 3D machines. He spoke about the different methods they have produced for storing materials, and how they buy materials using the “just in time” method. We also saw the jigs they have produced to make the production method more efficient. Iain also told us how they had recently had seasonal workers in due to a high volume of orders. All of the employees at Bits from Bytes who assemble the machines are trained in all aspects of production.  They each have a trolley which they wheel around the factory floor, and they are responsible for the completion of the machines they are working on.

     To show us a contrast to this, we saw how the kits are put together for the RapMan 3D printers. These are produced in batches and the put in shrink wrap. One employee then moves along the shelves and puts the required quantity of each part into a box, ready to be shipped out.

    At the end of the visit we were given the opportunity to ask any questions we had. We learnt about future plans for the business, and how the company plan to expand as the market does.

    Overall it was a valuable trip, and gave all of us the experience to see what we’ve learnt in our theory lessons in a real life situation.


Year 13 students


Poo, dead flies, rat whiskers, broken bones and creepy faces


It is a bit of a strange combination but the list of nasty stuff in the title are just some of the things that I came across at the new Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL) run by Bristol University and the University of the West of England.
So where does this list of nasties fit in? Well, they are all involved in the research they are doing there. The poo and dead flies are used to generate electricity to drive an Eco robot, the rat whiskers are sensors that can “feel” shapes and textures of objects, the broken bones were in a surgical “robot” that manipulates the bones to be repaired and the creepy face was able to move with realistic expressions…. And that was not all! … Helicopters, quad copters, 3D optical sensors, air muscles, etc, etc.
Getting my head around all of this has been pretty mind blowing and I must thank Dr Martin Pearson from BRL for showing me around and Iain from 3D Systems (Bits from Bytes) for inviting me to accompany him on the visit.
But where does this all fit in with 3D printing? … As the robots are experimental research machines they usually involve mechanical parts that are unique and are therefore produced by RP or 3D Prints. (I spotted a RapMan on one of the students workstations!) And here is where it all links to what we are doing at my school… Our VEX robotics group have 3D printed a claw for their robot (see some of the previous posts on this blog). I’m pretty certain they will be green with envy about my visit when they see my photos! I expect I’ll have to see if one of the guys from BRL can visit us when we meet after school.

D&T iPad apps

Ok, so not really about 3D printing but my school blog is “locked” for updating to a new platform/hosting service. My school has just launched into a new project for students to bring portable devices into school… Mainly iPads but other devices are allowed. So students setting up new iPads face a bewildering number of apps, here are a few suggested apps that I have tried out over the last year or so. The star rating is based on usefulness, price, etc… But just a guide! There are many other apps available.
Autodesk Forceeffect … Free *** Study the effect of forces on structures https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/autodesk-forceeffect/id476321600?mt=8

Forceeffect Motion … Free *** Study the effect of forces in motion https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/autodesk-forceeffect-motion/id512045820?mt=8

123D Make Intro… Free *** Design 3d designs for laser cutting https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/123d-make-intro/id513915986?mt=8
123D Design… Free *** Simple 3D CAD https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/123d-design/id567821620?mt=8

123D Sculpt… Free (model export £6.99 in app purchase) ** 3D sculpting https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/123d-sculpt/id446119510?mt=8

123D Catch… Free *** Scan objects in 3D https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/123d-catch/id513913018?mt=8

Sketchbook Express… Free ** Sketch, draw etc https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sketchbook-express-for-ipad/id410871280?mt=8

Pixlr-o-matic… Free ** Another photo edit app https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/pixlr-o-matic/id450263811?mt=8

Other apps
D&T app … 69p per subject or £1.99 for all 6 *** D&T textbook, revision etc https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/design-and-technology/id363449581?mt=8

Moodboard Lite… Free (limited) or £6.99 ** Create design mood boards https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/moodboard-lite/id369796813?mt=8

iDT HD…. Free*** D&T “dictionary” https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/idt-hd/id383058247?mt=8

Neu.Draw… Free *** Vector drawing https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/neu.draw/id392532294?mt=8

iDesign… £5.99 ** Vector drawing https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/idesign/id342790226?mt=8

iDraw…£2.99 ** Vector drawing https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/idraw/id363317633?mt=8

Adobe Photoshop Express by Adobe…free *** Photo editing https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/adobe-photoshop-express/id331975235?mt=8

Magic Plan… Free ** Create scale room plans https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/magicplan/id427424432?mt=8

Creo view mobile… Free *** Viewer for Creo 3D designs https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/creo-view-mobile/id560549930?mt=8

3D CAD Models Engineering by CADENAS GmbH… Free ** 3d cad models (downloads) catalogue https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/3d-cad-models-engineering/id522705054?mt=8

Idea generator…£1.99 * Random ideas generator https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/idea-generator/id293258418?mt=8

Ohm work… Free ** Resistor colour codes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/ohm-work/id406539017?mt=8

Design Museum Collection … Free *** Iconic designs https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/design-museum-collection-for/id510964197?mt=8

Dexigner… Free *** News of what’s going on in the design works https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/dexigner/id319785197?mt=8

Arduino Companion… Free * Arduino reference https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/arduino-companion/id501635254?mt=8

Spacecraft 3D… Free ** Augmented reality 3D spacecraft https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/spacecraft-3d/id541089908?mt=8

Maplin … Free * Electronics catalogue https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/maplin/id434388627?mt=8

Screwfix catalogue… Free ** Hardware catalogue https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/screwfix-catalogue/id531135973?mt=8


VEX claw


In an earlier post you may have seen that our VEX robotics group at my school made a bit of a mistake by starting to build a robot when we didn’t have all the parts… Oops!

So we 3D printed some parts instead using our Bits from Bytes machines.

Here is a picture of the first trial… Just to see if the parts fit together. A bit more “tuning” to make sure they move properly is needed, as the bolts are a bit oversize, before we try it out with a motor.

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