Writing a book:Digital Crafts: Industrial Technologies for Applied Artists and Designer Makers.

I was commissioned to write a book and my part is almost done. The copy editor sent me all her corrections, amendments and suggestions so the whole content had to be gone through with a fine tooth comb. Now there are 4 new images and their captions to collect together to fill gaps the editor would like filled! The publisher has started on the design of the pages so I ‘m looking forward to seeing the first roughs pretty soon.

'Coral' brooch by Elizabeth Armour

3D printed ‘Coral’ brooch by Elizabeth Armour

And what you ask is the book about? The title gives a pretty big clue. It is about how designer makers use digital technologies for their creative practice, technologies such as laser cutting and 3D printing. I want to inspire more designer makers to exploit the amazing potential these can provide and offer the information to understand the barriers and how to get around them.

This 3D printed brooch by Elizabeth Armour demonstrates this potential for both design and making. She used Cloud9 3D modelling software and had the piece 3D printed at the MAKLAB in Glasgow.

I intend to use my blog to share some of the information that didn’t get into the book – I was commissioned to write 30K words and did 74K so had to cut a lot out.

I am unsure how often I will get on to blogging as I am getting more and more interest in the courses we have started to run at Anarkik3D. Designer makers are wanting practical knowledge and experience of 3D modelling for 3D printing and we have different programmes for different levels of expertise. We cater especially for those who have no CAD or 3D modelling experience at all by using our haptic 3D modelling software, Cloud9 and having small classes of no more than 5 people.

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World first – 3D printed titanium wedding ring?

Could this be a world first – a wedding ring in 3D printed titanium?

Kari's wedding and engagement rings

Kari's titanium wedding ring and gold engagement ring


I designed and made my elder daughter Kari’s wedding ring for her marriage to Rob this last June in a beautiful setting in the Scottish countryside. It was a perfect day. It didn’t even rain.
Rob proposed to Kari. She wanted a specific engagement ring, one I had designed and made in titanium, machined and hand carved to flow around an oval diamond in a gold setting. This is now hard for me to remake but in January this year i-materialise announced their new service – 3D printing titanium (see http://bit.ly/hHMMnL) and Kari and Rob agreed enthusiastically to have it made this way. Personally, this was perfect as I am a 3D print evangelist (since a Stuart Devlin Masterclass at the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London in 1990) and I could 3D model it in Cloud9. The design would be super fluid with titanium flowing around the diamond of an interlocking gold engagement ring.

With this general concept my daughter and I visited London’s Hatton Garden to look at diamonds before she and Rob chose one – a beautiful square corner cut one.

3D printed titanium with nylon prototypes

3D printed titanium with nylon prototypes


Jeweller friend, Teena Ramsey, and I then finalised the designs for both rings which were then 3D printed as prototypes nylon for Kari and Rod to see, check ring size, how they slotted together, and for Teena to work with.
With all checked and approved an .stl file of the wedding ring was sent to i.materialise and in 2 weeks I was working on the titanium! Once finished we fitted them together – it looks as though the diamond is floating within the flowing titanium bands.
Kari’s 3D printed titanium wedding ring and gold and diamond engagement ring

Kari’s 3D printed titanium wedding ring and gold and diamond engagement ring

 Mum, having made my wedding ring has given us a unique and special gift and our rings are now all the more precious to us.’  Kari

The wish for easy 3D modelling for access to 3D printing …

It has been an amazing year for 3D printing and there are some interesting threads on various blogs to follow on through.

A year ago Fabbaloo posted their “wishes for 2010” and one was for Easy 3D Software as the packages on offer do require a lot of learning to become fully capable. My issue with most is that they have un-needed complexity. With too many functions also cluttering up the interface many are put off by the steep learning curve and thereby exclude from access to 3D printing.  In Fabbaloo’s wish list  there were 2 developments in 2010 they noted that improve the position:

  • Google Sketchup 8 was released, including some interesting features. This free tool is the gateway for many people introduced to the technology.
  • Anarkik3D released version 2 of their haptic-based 3D design software. While not yet widely used, this approach cou

    Anarkik3D: Cloud9 interface and design for bangle

    ld make things a lot easier for 3D modellers.

Anarkik3D’s haptic based 3D design software is Cloud9 and our distributor (A1 Technologies) imports the Falcon haptic device from Novint in the United States, bundles the software and device together and markets the package as Chameleon.

Another blog (RPES blog) on August 10th covered the designer jewellery created by Farah Bandookwala during her Master’s Degree at Edinburgh College of Art. I have already written about Farah’s work in this blog as she had a residency with us in Summer 2009 to investigate using Cloud9 for her work and we have worked closely with her since then.

To quote from Rachel’s blog: ‘Using Chameleon alongside a traditional 3D CAD package, Rhino, Farah found that the differences between the two software packages were extreme. Most notable was that while the 3D CAD offered control and precision with surfaces, it just could not compare with the ability to freely sculpture the shapes by directly deforming and manipulating surfaces to create the desired morphing. Indeed it is the freedom of the software that is one of the greatest attractions for truly creative design, with no constraints.

Farah secured sponsorship with Shapeways and LaserLines to have her designs 3D printed, from concept stage where she experimented with constructions and fastenings, through to the dyed and finished pieces into which she embedded magnets as connectors.

Farah’s work proves that Fabbaloo’s ‘easy 3D software’ wish for 2010 is here already, as Cloud9 has levels of usability and functionality that are balanced, a rubust .stl format for 3D printing (of course) and compatibility with CAD, it is affordable (£495 with the Falcon haptic device) and it is available (A1 Technologies).

Replicator’s  blog on December 23, 2010 about ‘Who is Getting Interested in 3D Printing? Server Log Stories‘ by Joseph Flaherty says that, yes, ‘3D printers are an amazing technology, but haven’t yet broken into the mainstream. Largely because companies haven’t figured out a way to profitably employ them. Yet. However, based on my Google Analytics I can see some interesting companies are looking into the technology. These are big companies and if they apply 3D printing to their businesses it will make for some really awesome products.’

I am interested in Joseph’s focus on Fire Mountain Gems‘ an ecommerce powerhouse that serves the multibillion dollar home jewelry making market. Using their catalog and online shopping carts crafters crank out beautiful pieces of jewelry. It seems though that the folks at Fire Mountain might be interested in how 3D printing could expand their service offering’. How I agree, as I am sure would Farah, as 3D printing materials are developing fast with steel, ceramics and glass now available at Shapeways, expanding the plastics, nylons, and starches, the range of colours, and resolutions now on offer. We will watch with interest and expect to see a category for 3D printed beads in Fire Mountain Gems catalogue!

On Anarkik3D’s blog I am covering an Mcor/Anarkik3D project as Cloud9’s capability for organic forms, combined with 3D printing in layers of coloured paper using Mcor’s Matrix printer, will illustrate beautifully the potential their technology has for designers. I am particularly interested in the use of actual 3D printed pieces as end products.

Joris Peel’s blog at Materialise has a review of the highlights of 2010 and is well worth reading. His clips for November 23rd cover .MGX opening its flagship store in Brussels, the world’s first store for 3D printed goods.

This area of ‘off-the-machine’ making is now a very exciting, well established state of things, with great designs available from a growing number of companies and individuals. One major example –  see the FOC Collection

What would Fabbaloo wish to happen in 2011?

· A capable and assembled 3D printer for under USD$1500. Yes, especially for early concept work.

·  A consumer-oriented online market for 3D models. I agree with them that Thingiverse is oriented around makers, not consumers. Shapeways and Ponoko’s business models could be tweaked to develop a more consumer orientated online resource but Sculpteo has with its company name more potential to attract those customers who are seeking more ‘desirable’ less techie things to 3D print.

It would be good to have somewhere appropriate to put out some 3D Cloud9 designs as .stl that others can access and get printed – as Fabbaloo says ‘Things They Like. Not things that engineers like to print’. I have put one (my apple and worm) on our Anarkikangels’ website – maybe we should have more!

Bett Awards 2011: Anarkik3D’s haptic Cloud9 (Chameleon Bundle) shortlisted!

Bett Awards celebrate the best digital products and technological companies supplying ICT for education. For Anarkik3D’s Cloud9 haptic sketch / modelling package just to get shortlisted is already an amazing achievement as version 2 of Cloud9 was released this last July. A1 Technology, who bundle ‘Cloud9’ software and the Falcon haptic device as ‘Chameleon’, submitted it for one of the awards which take place at a dinner at the Hilton Hotel in London on 12th January 2011.

Very exciting for us!

Great recognition for our innovative Cloud9 haptic software

Anarkik3D’s 2 websites

The most relevant Anarkik3D website for you to see first is probably http://www.anarkikangels.co.uk as this is about Cloud9, the haptic 3D sketch/modelling product, with info about release of version2, videos and pics, tutorials and an .stl file to download, play with and 3D print. http://www.anarkik3d.co.uk is our more corporate business site.

Extroverts ‘more creative’

Sjoerd of Monobanda at BeamLab trying Cloud9 and haptics

This was the heading of a short article in ‘The Scotsman’ on 4th August about research by Lorenzo Stafford at the University of Portsmouth and published in the journal ‘Personality and Individual Differences’. It was also in The Independant  the day before. I pick this up as Stafford says that ‘outgoing people in a good mood are more creative than those who keep themselves to themselves’. The reason I am very interested in this connection is that Anarkik3D’s haptic sketchmodelling software (Cloud9) is so enjoyable and fun to use and is for creative application. Will designers and artists therefore be more creative using Cloud9 because they are enjoying the experience of working in 3D with so few interface frustrations and breaks to cognitive flow? Now there’s a question wants answering! (www.anarkikangels.co.uk  is about Cloud9)

Using Cloud9 to create work for InsideOut

I have this piece of work in the Inside Out exhibition (http://www.insideoutexhibition.com/) which is a compelling international touring exhibition which opened in Australia last June and features forty-six miniature sculptures produced in resin using 3D printing technologies. The Exhibition illustrates how developments in virtual computer visualisation and integrated digital technologies are giving contemporary makers new insight and opportunities to create objects and forms which were previously impossible to produce or difficult to envisage.

I used Cloud9 (version 1) to initially explore ideas and had 3 different streams/themes and not particularly struck by one enough to take it further. But on my bike going home something went ‘click’ – which was to bring two of these together as the basis on which to form my mini sculpture.

I have since recycled this idea/piece for a bookend competition and now re-working it for a piece of jewellery. This intensive time I have had using Cloud9 has highlighted a couple of very interesting advantages our combined soft/hardware has, re. haptics and 3 degrees of movement (as against 6 degrees of movement – x,y,z and rotation in x,y,z). The default material ‘feel’ is rubberyness so that not only do you have touch to let you know where you are in the 3D space, the fact that the form you touch flexes with contact with the cursor gives a strong visual cue to see your exact position- and 2 cues are always better than 1.

The other insight is more interesting for me and I hope generally! From our Tacitus Research Project it seemed that 6 degrees of Freedom (6DoF = x,y,z and rotation in x,y,z) is superior to 3DoF and for some interactions this is true. With having only 3DoF, using the more affordable Falcon haptic device, we focused on programming and adding shortcut keys to provide greater usability. What I experienced during designing and creating my sculpture is that the combination of dominant/non-dominant hand actions for 3 degrees of movement and 3 degrees of rotation was sufficiently intuitive for working fluidly AND brought just the right measure of control to the process. So for working intensively there is an excellent degree of immersion experienced as well as effective control for reflective and purposeful actions. So I am feeling very elated by the progress we have made with version2 of Cloud9. I hope you can try it sometime!

(The InsideOut exhibition is the result of collaboration between the Art Technology Coalition, the University of Technology Sydney and RMIT University in Australia along with De Montfort University, Manchester Metropolitan University and Dartington College of Arts at University College Falmouth in the United Kingdom.  The exhibition opens in the UK in Sept and opened in Australia on June 4th.)