What if Your Kids Were Right?

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PART I: THE ORIGINAL IDEA OF A 6 YEARS OLD BOY.

On April 26, 2016 I published an article about some discussions my son and I had frequently about the Moon and Mars and how we could use a 3D printer there (if you can read Moliere’s language, french, here is the link to it). The main subject was to, one day, use a 3D printer with recycled material made from things that became useless or from raw material directly collected on the surface of the planet or deeper in the crust. Why doing that instead of using new material especially made for the printer? Well, let’s say that because 1 kilo of freight still requires more than 8 kilos of propellant for a little trip to mars, it makes the freight cost quite expansive.

PART II: SCIENCE PROGRESS TOWARD THE REALIZATION OF HIS IDEA

In April 2018, I wrote another article around the same topic: How can we get cheap material to 3D print what we would need once arrived on another planet (As this article is in Shakespeare’s language, it should be easy for you to read it following that link). Researchers in the Canadian University of Calgary had found a way to transform the production of your digestive track into a solid material that will work very well in a SLS 3D printer.

Markus Kayser and his great invention, the Solar Sinter, was in my article too. Using the energy from the sun and the sand from the desert to 3D print objects was genius.

PART III: WE NEVER GOT CLOSER

And the story just got one more chapter thanks to the great work at the Tethers Unlimited Company. These guys created the Refabricator. A few weeks ago, it was delivered to the International Space Station (ISS). The name of the machine speaks by itself. Something useless that was fabricated before can be transformed in raw material to re-fabricate something with it. In the size of a refrigerator, you get together a 3D printer and a recycling machine that can feed directly the printer to re-use, for example, the packaging of the scientific equipment you just got from the delivery boy on his space scooter.

PART IV: THE REFABRICATOR II CAN ALSO 3DPRINT USING CRUSHED ROCKS

Of course the Refabricator II doesn’t exist (yet…). But someday, in one or two years from now, I will write a fourth article about the concretization of an idea my son had when he was about six years old. The title will be “From a little boy’s dream to reality”. He will be reassured that having creative ideas is a good thing. Great ideas rarely comes from following the main road.

I encourage you all to foster the creativity of your kids and discuss any topics they find interesting to them, even the craziest ones. It will be good for them and for us, parents.

“Open Source 3D creation. Free to use for any purpose, forever”. What is that???

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What a great statement for a title. Do you know what is it? Read bellow for the answer.

THE UB IWERKS AWARD 2019

One of the “Creative Tools for the Mind” our kids and us use just got a special reward: the Ub Iwerks Award (Ub Iwerks created, among others, the character of Mickey Mouse). It is given to honor individuals or companies for technical advancements that make a significant impact on the art and industry of animation.
Past recipients of this award include Dr. Ed Catmull for his breakthrough technologies at Pixar, Scott Johnston for his innovative work in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Digital Domain, Inc. for their groundbreaking innovations in Titanic, and Eric Daniels for the development of the ‘Deep Canvas’ process for Walt Disney’s Tarzan.

TON ROOSENDAAL, A VISION DRIVEN LEADER

This award was given to none other than Ton Roosendaal, the genius creator of Blender. Of course the amazing Blender community of developers, artist and users of almost any age you could imagine made this 3D creation suite what it is. But if it has survive since the 90s and grew up to become one of the most look after software in the 3D animation industry, it is mostly thanks to the leader of the “Blender tribe”, Ton.

BLENDER 2.8 = 3D MODELING + 3D PRINTING + 2D & 3D ANIMATION + VR + AR…

Imagine that our kids can learn from 3D modeling to 3D printing and even 2D and 3D animation, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality without paying anything for the software. Even if a beginner can easily found his way through Blender (especially the last version Blender 2.8), more and more big animation studio use it among their tools. Artists, engineers, scientists, schools and many others use it as well. If it is good for them, it is good for our kids.

Dear parents, the vision we share of a World with proactive, open minded and creative kids just got rewarded.
Have a great day!

3D Creation Apps Recommended for Aspiring Designers

3D Creation Apps Recommended for Aspiring Designers

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It is clear now that doing 3D modeling on a computer is a great and beneficial activity for the development of the brain of our kids (very effective for adults as well!).

Autodesk alone in the sky.

Tinkercad main screen

Until recently, Autodesk was somehow alone in the sky with no real competition to challenge its Tinkercad web-based 3D modeling software. And Tinkercad is great. Very intuitive and simple to use. Kids love it. But being unchallenged is not very healthy in the long run. Some real adversity is good to stay sharp and give the best it can.

A real competitor is arriving on the “3D Modeling Software for Kids” market (and it is a big player!)

Many among you will know, and maybe have used, another really powerful software named Solidworks, used mostly by professionals around the globe for more than two decades. Like Fusion 360, it is awesome to do parametric modeling (you create your model following precise steps and parameters like size, shape…). As it is not at all for beginners, kids would have a hard time trying to use it to create a model of their own.

Shape It from Solidworks Apps for Kids

Fortunately, at Solidworks, they worked hard to develop new tools especially for kids. They choose a different path than Autodesk. Instead of a complete software with many tools immediately available right after the child is connected to a web-based software, they developed a cluster of very simple and efficient apps. For example, if you want to create a new model, you launch Shape It. In an instant, you have the ability to model something with mostly a sculpting tool. You have very few options available. It is your imagination and some virtual clay at play. Which is wonderful for beginners. You just have to learn one simple tool to have fun. The interface is very clean with just a few buttons.

Cube Print to the rescue!

And if you are happy with the result, just launch Print it. You have the choice to 3D print it if you have a 3D printer available. If you don’t have it in your backpack, don’t worry, they get you covered! They have a funny surprise for you. You can Cube Print your creation. A regular 2D printer using regular flat sheets of paper is sufficient. Once printed, you just have to cut following the outer line around the model. You use some glue to stick together the faces. And you get a nice cube made of paper with a picture of the model on each face. The front face with the front view of your model, the top face with the top view, and so on. A marvelous idea to use 2D images to see in “3D like”. Your kids will love it.

Cube Print

Which one is the best for your kids?

As a 3D modeling enthusiast, I love them all. But for a complete beginner, I would recommend to start with the SolidWorks Apps for Kids. It will help your kids to be at ease with a 3D model on a screen. They will be much more comfortable to do more advanced models faster than you would have dream of it. Tinkercad would be the natural next step.

Encourage your kids to play with them all. The way to create a model in 3D is different but the goal is the same: allow our children to become creative masters, to think critically, to make mistakes and learn to persevere.

The road will be long for our children and with many bumps along it. If a simple and yet so powerful activity like 3D modeling for 3D printing can help them live an interesting and engaging life and see the world in a more creative way, let’s do it!

P.S.: www.swappsforkid.com has just been released and is at the beta stage of development (the last one before the official release). Try it anyway. It is a good one. I’ll tell you when it will be at full speed and will do a complete review at the same time.

The First Beer that will Make You Smarter

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Hi guys!

Would you like your child to become a designer? More specifically a product designer? OK, there are plenty of other activities that you will think about way before that one. But keep in mind that these guys can make your daily life a dream or a hell depending on the way they create and influence the objects and tools we use. Continue reading

Life is a Learning Curve

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Hi guys!

We all know what a learning curve is, right? If it’s a valuable thing you are learning, the beginning of the curve will be almost flat for a while (with small bumps). Then, when all the pieces you learned will start to match together, you curve will go up faster. It will become steeper and steeper and steeper. That’s the beauty of an exponential growth and that’s the beauty of learning design with 3D modelling tools.

At the beginning, you have fun. Then you start to think that you could model something fun and nice. Then you see yourself creating something fun, nice and useful. Then you hit the ceiling of your current knowledge…

And that’s when Thomas Edison comes in. This really creative mind is supposed to have said:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Think about it one minute. I am sure you had those moments when you wanted to give up because it was becoming too hard for you (at least, it was your feeling). But you decided to go on, found the right tool, the solution and finally conquered a new victory.

You will have that experience very often while learning a 3D modelling software, Blender for example. I still do from time to time. That’s the beauty of it. If you are never challenged by something you already know well, it starts to loose interest, it becomes boring. This situation will never happen with Blender.

The next time, I will show you what you can do with your learning curve using Blender. You will love it!

Stay tuned!

How to colorize the interface for Blender

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Check out how to add some color to the interface in Blender!

 

 

Note: these are ‘.txt’ files; please change them to ‘.xml’ files before installing them in Blender under User Preferences.

Download: Blender_2_79_for_Beginners

Download: Blender_2_8_for_Beginners

 

How to get a surprising material to 3D print while traveling towards Mars

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Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog (in French 🙂 ) with my son about the use of recycled material to 3D print on the planet Mars. The idea was to turn into powder anything we didn’t need anymore once arrived on Mars. It could be plastic parts, aluminum or other metal parts. I even mentioned that we could melt the sand we can found on the red planet to build shelters or buildings. Scientists are already working on all these ideas.

Researchers in the Canadian University of Calgary have found a new source of material to use in a 3D printer. It could even be useful during long space travel. They will recycle the “result” of your short stay on the toilets. That’s right, thanks to a special process and a hard working special enzyme, they will create a solid material that will work very well in a SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printer. If dogs are allowed for these kind of trips, we will get even more material 🙂 .

Modern Space Toilet

Going back to the use of sand, it reminds me of the 2010 adventure of Markus Kayser, an industrial designer and pure genius. He designed a 3D printer able to 3D print by melting sand. He did his experiment in the Egyptian desert. Solar cells were there just to deliver the energy for motors, the sun tracking system and the electronics.

Markus Kayser and his Solar Sinter

The melting energy was provided ONLY by the sun through a Fresnel lens. The concentrated sunlight, thanks to this Fresnel lens (like the lenses at the top of lighthouses), was enough to melt the desert sand in order to print objects like this bowl.

Bowl made of sand

As you can see, the kind of material you could use in your 3D printer is sometimes surprising. Thanks to the imagination and genius of some people, new possibilities are created all the time. These guys don’t limit themselves to the usual.

I encourage you to apply for yourself and your kids, my today’s take-away advice: Always look beyond your habits to break your limits.

Have a great day!