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Making the Fire Gauntlet

For anyone interested in animation and computer-graphics, the Siggraph conference always brings a host of interesting research to light, and features some of the best creative work ever expressed in the digital medium. It has been interesting to see the popularity of 3D printing increase over the past few years, as animators choose to bring their designs off the screen and into the real world.

I’ve both attended and presented at the show many times, beginning in 1995 when I was just 15 years old, when I presented a 3D display system with Dimensional Media Associates. Fifteen years later, in 2010, I joined Shapeways for their first Siggraph and showed some of my 3D printed designs. Among the work I showed was one of my first experiments with customized wearable 3D printing, the Fire Gauntlet.

The Fire Gauntlet grew out of a series of sketch studies I had made studying hand anatomy and mechanics. I was also interested in exploring the idea of printing hinges and other complicated mechanical devices in one shot using laser-sintered nylon. The theme of a classically styled gauntlet is also very appealing from a display perspective. There are many examples of stories and products in our culture of a mechanical hand or glove that confers special powers or is representative of new technology, such as Nintendo’s Power Glove, the Terminator movies, the robotic hand from Army of Darkness, and several well-known DIY Steampunk-styled gloves. I saw this as a great opportunity to explore some of the technical development issues, while also making a compelling display model that would convey the massive potential of 3D printing to the attendees at Siggraph.

The design was based on a 3D scan of my hand, which was then offset by 1.5mm to allow room for a cloth lining. I built surface patches over the mesh and converted them to shells of 1mm thickness. Hinges and joint pins were added afterward with proper clearances to just barely prevent them from bonding in production. Once the excess powder was brushed away, the hinges rotate freely.

Interestingly, one of the drawbacks of using printed-in-place hinges was turned to an advantage. Since the free-play in the joint  permits off-axis movement, the surfaces being hinged together do not necessarily need perfect alignment. The result is that sections with compound curvature can be joined so that they move easily, yet as the rotation becomes more extreme, the resistance to movement increases. This is exactly what is desired, since the glove should be compliant in a rest position but not allow extreme movement that might cause injury to the wearer when encountering large forces (in a hypothetical battle for example).

The glove model was bonded to a frame to support it during production and attach it to a base. I designed a base to cut by CNC out of mahogany to match the classically styled references of the piece. The base was cut in sections and bonded together, then lightly sanded to let the tool paths show through in the final design. Those features and the natural grain were highlighted by a natural oil finish. I also added magnets, set into pockets with epoxy, to allow the piece to be disassembled easily for transport.

The gauntlet was finished in silver to highlight the curvature and brass for the hinges and frame to bring contrast to the details.

It was a really memorable week presenting at the show and hanging out with the Shapeways team. At the time, Shapeways had not yet moved to the US, so most of the team was Dutch, but they were kind enough to keep most of the dinner conversation in English.  We stayed in Beverly Hills just north of the convention center and enjoyed a week of beautiful weather. The response at the show was enthusiastic and positive, and at the time far fewer people had been exposed to 3D printing.  I did several interviews to explain what I do and what Shapeways does, emphasizing the value 3D-printing has to create unique and customized objects. My presentation skills were not as polished at the time, but I am happy to have had the opportunity to share my work in such a great venue.

Here is one of the interviews:


“Well Dressed” – The 3rd Annual Fashion Law Institute Symposium

The Fashion Law Institute at Fordham is focused on a variety of issues that arise in the fashion industry.  As common as knockoff products are in the fashion industry, there is a lot of curiosity about the potential effects of new digital technologies.

On April 19th, the FLI held their 3rd symposium. There were speakers on many issues, but several panels were entirely about 3D printing. After the speakers, a reception in the atrium featured a show of 3D printed designs.

The models in the show wore Constrvct dresses with Nervous System prints, and a variety of 3D-printed jewelry and accessories.

Fortunately, the organizers of the show got in touch with me early enough to have one of my pieces re-fit and printed to match the measurements of the model, and the results were great. My Lotus Top, in black nylon, is being worn by Alona on the left. You can see many more images from around the event in This Gallery.

Presentations at MakeIt NYC

Explaining how Amandacera and I developed our printed corset.

The MakeIt NYC meetup group started by Jonathan Hirschman has grown to 350 members, and consistently fills the venue to capacity. The group normally features individuals and small businesses who want to share their creation or product, or sometimes representatives of companies that provide some useful tool or service for DIY projects. Last night I gave a presentation about my wearable designs and how I make them. This meetings theme was- you guessed it- 3d printing. I mostly tuned my talk to discuss the accessible photogramettry technology available to help people capture 3D shapes (roughly) for use in their 3d-printed projects.

Demonstrating the flexibility of printed products

We also heard from Shapeways, Solidoodle and from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) who, along with Mayor Bloomberg, has taken a great interest in the culture shift toward Making. During Maker Faire last fall, the week was officially deemed “Maker Week”, and a number of projects have popped up to support themovement. In 2013, leadership has started to again recognize the value of individuals in contributing to our economy. There are hundreds of examples of very small companies creating jobs, successful products, and generally a lot of return on any investment. NYC EDC got together with Challenge Post, along with sponsors like Shapeways, Adafruit, and Honeybee robotics to create an interesting maker-themed competition called “New York’s Next Top Maker“, which ask competitors to submit the products they’re working on, and funds six selected finalists. The award of of $4,000 budget for finalist and $11,000 for the winner is certainly shoe-string when it’s comes to product development, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing any advanced electronics or other complications, but there are still a lot of possibilities for small projects. I imagine it has not escaped the attention of the organizers that a small consumer product, light on electronics, is a perfect candidate for prototyping and short-run production using 3D printing equipment also made in New York.

3D Printing Classes at 3Dea in NY, December 22nd and 23rd.

I have been teaching 3D printing classes since September of 2011, mostly through Skillshare classes organized by Shapeways. This holiday season I’m holding extended versions of the classes at the 3Dea 3D-printing pop-up store. The two classes are “Foundations of 3D Printing And Modeling” and “Intermediate 3D Printing: Color and Complexity“. Both classes are held back to back on Saturday, then again on Sunday. With the newer intermediate class, I hope to share some of the most popular ways of creating high quality models for printing: Subdivision, Topological modeling, and color. Here are some images of examples made with the modeling techniques taught in the subdivision portion of the class.

Make magazine is sponsoring the event by providing a free copy of their home 3d-printer guide to everyone who signs-up for a class.

…and some animated GIFs:

3DEA Opening

The 3DEA 3D-printing pop-up store in Manhattan has launched and will be running until December 27th. With dozens of 3D-printers and computers loaded with 3D modeling software, the public can get exposure and hands-on experience with some amazing and fun tools of creation. I have several works on display in the gallery area, and I am teaching classes: Foundations of 3D Printing/ Modeling for 3D Printing on December 1st, 22nd and 23rd, and Intermediate 3D Printing later on December 22nd and 23rd.

At 3DEA, The "Doodle3D" app converts your sketch into an Ultimaker print.


After launching the store, the crew and guests relax at the after-party.

ThreeForm at World Maker Faire 2012

I just wrapped up an amazing weekend at World Maker Faire 2012. I had a booth for my ThreeForm apparel brand. Ten ThreeForm Hoop Troops promoted all around the event and helped out at the booth, and I gave a presentation on 3D scanning for wearable designs with the models wearing them live for the show! It was tons of fun and their were many awesome sights as is expected at Maker Faire. I’ll share more about this soon.

Pic From MFG4 Conference

At the MFG4 manufacturing conference a few weeks ago, there was (literally) tons of really interesting tools, tech and equipment on display. Most of the machines are marked with warnings showing stick figures operating the equipment incorrectly.

These devices clearly have a lot of room to grow in terms of user experience.

Back From Rapid 2012

I just returned from Rapid 2012 in Atlanta. I was closely involved in the Materialise fashion show, and also had some work in the gallery. It was a great experience, and the show was very well received considering the audience was mostly engineers! I will share more when I get a chance to edit some of the video together.

Enjoying the reception with Abby and the rest of the team after a successful show.

March 28th NYC Shapeways Meetup

I went to another Shapeways meetup in Manhattan on Wednesday. These have been growing rapidly in popularity, and the bars and venues that have been chosen as venues so far will not have the capacity if they grow any larger. There are always some great projects being shown, and I always take the opportunity to share and learn about new design and innovations in 3D printing. This months meetup was notable for two reasons. Mike Williams, a pillar of the Shapeways community, is joining the team in NY, so he was there to chat and show his designs. The bigger news is that Ana Hevesi, the community manager of Shapeways, is moving on to another community management role in NYC, so this is the last meetup she will be hosting with Shapeways. I have worked very closely with Ana for over a year, and she has done an exceptional job building momentum within the Shapeways community and being the public face of Shapeways at many gatherings. During the Skillshare classes I’ve taught in NY, she has been at my side to assist in the class and organize those and other events. She has shown incredible support for me and the other designers in the community.  I’m sure we’ll see her around, as she is very active in the NY tech scene, but Shapeways is not going to be the same without her!

A smirking Ana Hevesi does her best Flava Flav imitation with my giant Time Keeper (photo taken at the January Shapeways meetup).

Defining Design Management

Yesterday I gave a presentation on Design Management, along with the other members of the MPS program at SASD. Design Management is the next stage of development of the field of design. Historically, in many cases designers were relegated to the role of stylists, tacking on their contribution at the end of a project to increase aesthetic appeal. As industry has matured and the work of creating modern, successful business was split into increasingly specialized roles, awareness has increased about the need for higher-level planning that is conscious of the effects of design. Stylists became project managers, then eventually defined whole lines of products. As the importance of branding and marketing was recognized mid-way through the last century, design was brought in to address the companies communication with its customers. Now, in the age of global companies and fast-paced technological development, the most successful ventures in products and services have their goals set by design-conscious leadership, and it is the role of the Design Manager to figure out how reach those goals with carefully organized and executed design. Beyond defining the actual experience for a companies customers, design management also creates solutions within the company that increase efficiency, sustainability, and profitability, while also being aware of the social impact created by their activities. I chose to sum up the effects of design management on a company with the phrase “evolution through empathy” to emphasize the way that an understanding of people’s wants and needs influences the development of an organization.

The presentation was very successful, and in this new field my colleagues and I are not only learning how to apply Design Management, but also contributing to the meaning and value it brings to business.