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Blokify the @Cubify iPad app to get young pupils into #3DPrinting

Personally I'm not all that into games on computers or tablets, I see these devices as being more for “doing” things with. But a can see that these programs and apps have great appeal to youngsters. So why not use them as a way to introduce kids to designing an making with 3D printing?

Well that's just what 3D Systems and Cubify have done with the new app “Blokify”. It's available for iOS and Android. Here is the link to the Apple App Store.

The app is a bit like “Minecraft” in that simple blocks (bloks?) can be assembled into all sorts of structures… Castles, forts, etc. And then of course exported or in this case emailed as a .stl file.

Even for an oldie like me who has never played with computer games the app proved to be extremely intuitive to construct my castle…. A colleague of mine commented that even her 4 year old was able to use Blokify, so it doesn't really say much about my skill level :o)

Anyway, here is a screenshot from the Blokify app that I have exported and is currently printing on my CubeX 3D printer…. I'll post another picture when it's completed.

The app is free to download and comes as standard with a few different building bloks but it's an in app purchase to unlock some extra different bloks using “diamonds” as currency (note that as this is mainly an app for kids safeguards are built in to help prevent them running up big bills on your Apple store account)

Here is a quick picture taken mid print…. Love the texture that is showing up on the castle walls!

Anyway, I'm really impressed by how well this all works. So congratulations Cubify on a great app to encourage creativity in 3D printing for youngsters!


And here it is…. My first mini Blokify castle!



@Cubify Draw app for #3DPrinting with iPad

I stumbled across Cubify Draw app for iPad earlier today… Just had to download it!

My initial thoughts were that it is very simple… Perhaps too simple but maybe this will develop over time. I then went on to start thinking about how this could be used in schools. And my thoughts instantly went towards primary school age children. What a fantastic way to get them to doodle an idea and start 3D printing on a Cube or Cubex printer within minutes of getting started… And no complicated CAD to get involved with.

Being so simple it will be necessary to think carefully about what the kids can design but instantly I was drawn towards the idea of personalised bespoke biscuit (cookie) cutters and the like. (I must be hungry whist writing this for my mind to wander towards food again!)

Anyway, I've had an initial try out with the app and can't wait to try printing some objects.


Buggy wheels… #3DPrinting with a Cube (time lapse)

I have just put together a Picaxe (microcontroller) buggy for use with my students next term… Needed some better wheels! So….

I decided to go through the complete process to design and make some new wheels. I started with creating a design using the Cubify Invent CAD software. This software is really looking good, no frills and simple enough for students to get the hang of. The stl file was processed in the Cube software (only 7 mouse clicks!) and sent by Wi-Fi.

20 minutes later….

And I couldn't resist using my iPad to record the whole process in a video… Including a time lapse sequence of the actual print taking place.



Another great project for my students in school?!

Cubify Invent and 3Dprinting

A few days ago I was lucky enough to be given a copy of the Cubify Invent 3D CAD software to try out.


I’m pretty familiar with a variety of CAD packages (Creo2, Inventor, 123D Design, Sketchup and some iPad apps too) so trying this out didn’t pose too many challenges.

The program size is pretty small to download so I wasn’t expecting too much sophistication in the program. But how wrong could I be?… having tinkered around a bit and created a few objects I’m pretty impressed. Ok it doesn’t have the full feature set of one of the full CAD packages but virtually everything you need to create objects for 3D printing can be found in it…. my only problems were with manipulating the objects on-screen, all the CAD packages behave slightly differently, so for example to “orbit” the object I have to remember to press both mouse buttons whilst moving it (in other programs it might be right drag, middle click and drag or shift and drag… or should that be ctrl???)

The whole feel of the program is clean and uncluttered and like so many programs involves a work area, a part/feature explorer or tree and dynamic ribbons/menus. Like most CAD programs objects are created by extruding, revolving, sweeping or lofting with similar features to remove material from the shapes… so again I found myself well along the learning curve.

OK, so I found that I could get along quite nicely with Cubify Invent but I did wonder how a complete novice or student might find it. I explored the built-in help file…. seemed to be a good starting place, but then I found the tutorials and found these to be excellent and pitched at just the right level. And the online videos on Cubify.com are excellent too. Anyone who has dabbled a bit with sketchup or 123D Design will be up and running very quickly.

I can’t help feeling that 3DS have just about got the balance right between the simplicity of use and the powerful features to create objects for 3D printing. As mentioned before there are some bits “missing” such as the ability to create “assemblies” of objects, but for the vast majority of school/home/small business users the program is absolutely ideal for pairing up with a RapMan, 3D Touch, Cube or Cubex 3D printer.

And at $49 (£31 approx) it looks to be fantastic value. If you don’t want to commit straight away you can download a 14 day trial.

More details  click here

Designing, prototyping, 3D printing… and augmented reality.


3D CAD is fantastic and students using it can use it to design their products with relative ease. Even better if they output their designs to 3D printers or CNC machines. But there are times when visualising the designed object in the “real environment” can be difficult. Visualising the object “in situ” before committing to printing or machining can be useful in determining whether the design is correct, suitable for purpose or “looks right”.

Ok so it is possible to “Photoshop” an image of the CAD design into a photo of the environment but wouldn’t it be better if this could be done in 3D?…. With augmented reality this is possible and using an iPad and a suitable app relatively easy to do.

The photo attached to this post only shows half of the story… Its not possible to show a 3D scene using 2D media! The object (a model 3DTouch 3D printer) is 3D, moving the iPad around this virtual object does actually allow you to see it from above, sides, front, back, etc.

Yes the object viewed using augmented reality is still a “virtual object” but as a method of “testing” ideas before actually prototyping or making the object is another tool available to designers… Used in isolation I’m not certain how useful augmented reality actually can be, but as a first check in an iterative design process I can see some potential for some students in some design projects.

I have a feeling that teaming augmented reality with 3D printing could be a powerful combination. I hope to try this out with students soon and intend to get them to design objects, test them with augmented reality and modify their designs before 3D printing them.

If you fancy giving it a go then you might be interested in trying the iPad app “Augment” https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/augment/id506463171?mt=8 For a free app (at the time of posting this) it is really powerful, a range of 3D formats can be imported (.stl, .3ds, .obj etc) and of course these can be designed in CAD or downloaded from sites such as Thingiverse. Imported objects can be scaled, rotated, moved, photographed etc. And to get you started there are a number of lovely sample files available in the app too.

Cubex A new 3D printer


Introducing the new 3D printer from 3D Systems … The Cubex (big brother to the Cube printer).
It has a huge print bed (just like its predecessor the Bits from Bytes 3D Touch). 3 colour printing and new software.

Cool!…. I’ll have to start saving for one of these!

Further details from the Cubify website http://cubify.com/cubex/index.aspx?tb_cubex_learn

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


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