The Wonderful Connection between Cooking and 3D Printing

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If you are a parent who enjoys cooking with your children, we are totally convinced you will also enjoy 3D printing with them as well. After playing around with 3D modeling software for the last four years, and more recently posting videos on social media with my daughter about 3D printing with kids, I can say without a doubt that the steps to cooking any dish follow the same process as creating a 3D print. You can think of both having “recipes.” Given this, I believe 3D printing can and will be a new type of family activity!

If you are still unconvinced, check this out.

1. Cooking ingredients as 3D modeling tools. Every dish you cook needs ingredients; every 3D model needs tools. You can’t make an omelet without eggs and you can’t make a 3D print without tools that can create or shape the model. In our “recipe” to make a simple table in Tinkercad, for example, you can examine the list of tools needed next to the table.

2. Cooking method as design steps. As any cookbook with show you, after you identify the ingredients, you need to follow the recipe steps in order to create your dish. Here are the steps to our Table.

 

There is a certain step-by-step order that you should follow to reach the final goal. When frying an egg, for example, you should add oil before adding the egg, not after. For our Tinkercad Table, you want to create the legs first because you need to see the squares in the Workplace to make sure all the legs line up, before creating the tabletop. Both cooking and 3D modeling should run in a quick and logical order. Check out this video, which shows you how we created the Tinkercad Table.

3. Your stovetop/oven as the 3D printer. Many parents and students I come across who are new to 3D printing expect 3D printers to produce a model as fast as a 2D paper printer. One day, the technology will get there. But for now, in order for a 3D printer to create a relatively thin 15 cubic centimeters (6 cubic inches) design, it would take almost an hour, which is about the time it takes to bake a cake. So both in cooking and 3D printing, you need some patience.

4. You can personalize! Ultimately, recipes are general guidelines and everyone can have their own version of a dish. Just think of many types of burgers or dumplings that are out there! So you can have a version of your own table, or any 3D model. The 3D modeling software, many of which are free, gives you that total freedom. For me, I love personalizing designs with my daughter because I can connect with her at logical and emotional levels as I have explained in a past blog. We personalize every model that we work on to our own tastes and preferences, like this video shows.

So, if you like cooking, give 3D printing a try! Your children will thank you for it!

 

 

Recipe for a Fun Plane in Blender

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Check out our new recipe for designing a fun plane in Blender, which you can make with your children!

Tools:

A computer

The Swiss army knife among 3D software: Blender!

A few minutes

1 brain (or more)

 

Ingredients:

2 spheres

2 cones

Salt, pepper…

 

Here we go!

  • Delete the cube (Right-click on it and press X + Enter).
  • Add the first sphere (Shift + A and select the UV Sphere in the Mesh list).
  • Rotate it 90° following the X axes (R+X+90).
  • Quadruple the size following the Y axes to create the fuselage (S+Y+4).
  • Go to Edit Mode (press the Tab key).
  • Select and delete the two extremities of the fuselage (in side view, Press B to activate the “Box Select” tool).
  • Go back to Object Mode.
  • If you want, you can decrease the size following the X axes (S+X+0.5) to make the fuselage narrower.
  • Give some thickness to the fuselage using the Solidify Modifier (thickness value = 0.2).
  • Add the second sphere (Shift+A and select the UV Sphere in the Mesh list).
  • Decrease the size by half (S+0.5).
  • Make it longer in the Y axes (S+Y+1.5).
  • Move it upward (G+Z+1 or more).
  • Move it a little bit toward the front of the fuselage (G+Y+”-1”). Only the top half of your second sphere should be visible.
  • Add the first cone (Shift+A and select the Cone in the Mesh list).
  • Rotate it 90° following the X axes (R+X+90).
  • Quadruple the size (S+4).
  • To create the wings, decrease the height of it (S+Z+0.2 or 0.3).
  • If you want wider wings, increase the width (S+X+1.5 or 2).
  • To create the tailfin of your plane, duplicate the first cone (Right-click on it, press Shift+D, press Enter).
  • Rotate your new “flat cone” 90° following the Y axes (R+Y+90).
  • Decrease the size (S+0.5).
  • Move it backward until the vertical part of the tailfin and the horizontal back part of the wings create a perfectly flat cross along the X axes (G+Y and move your cursor toward the back of the plane).
  • Move the tailfin upward until you get a nice fin.
  • Select the fuselage, the cockpit, the wings and the tailfin together (Right-click on the first one, while holding the Shift key pressed, Right-click on the three other parts).
  • Press “Control J” to join these four parts together to form a unique object.
  • Your plane is ready and looks like it is made of many facets, like a cut crystal.
  • If you want it with a smoother surface, use the Subdivision Surface Modifier (View value of 2 or 3 should be ok).

Good job!

To get the best result with your printer, print your plane the nose upward and its rear part on the bed of your printer. Enjoy!

How to protect your and your child’s product design ideas

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OK! After reading my recent posts where I laid out the idea that you and your family can use your children’s creativity to prototype product designs, you now need to know how you can protect your ideas so that you can potentially gain royalties for your children’s college funds. Here are five key ways.

Doing some homework

  1. Pick the right manufacturing company. My last post discussed industries that practice the concept of Open Innovation, where firms are willing to share profits with you provided you can help them design a better product. Are there companies that will try to steal from you? Of course! But that doesn’t mean you can’t find reputable ones either. Tap into a social media network, such as LinkedIn, that can shed light on how the company does business. At the least, find out if they’ve been sued. As there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of companies for each industry, there is no reason to tie yourself to any one of them unless you can trust them. Remember, it should be a win-win scenario for both sides.
  2. Understand how manufacturing works. The more you know how manufacturers in a particular industry produce and make money, the easier it will be to talk with them. Although you are not officially part of their R&D team, thinking and speaking as they do, especially in their own jargon, will give you a great advantage over other product designers who didn’t take the trouble to learn this. Remember that all manufacturers need to know how much your idea is going to cost them. If your idea doesn’t improve their bottom line, they have less of a reason to sign you up no matter how good your relationship is. Knowledge really is power and here, and knowing how manufacturing works will allow you to understand how your idea fits into the company’s overall strategy, thereby offering you a solid ground to stand on and hence a real form of protection.

  1. Create a paper trail. From the day you and your child come up with your product idea, take written notes on all improvements or modifications, all meetings with all relevant parties, and store them in a safe place. If a dispute or even a misunderstanding arrives, especially related to idea ownership, your written notes can provide an additional layer of protection. Consider it your “creativity diary” which you can write with your children, which I’m sure they will enjoy creating.
  2. Share your idea on a need-to-know basis. Until you apply for a provisional patent (see below), your idea is up for grabs. However, unless your idea is absolutely ground breaking in every field imaginable, I think most people are unlikely to take your specific idea to market given how this is not a sprint but a marathon. Nonetheless, you can protect yourself by just sharing your idea with those who can help you take it to the next stage.

  1. Apply for a Provisional Patent. This is a big topic that can fill a book because it also extends to full patents, not just a provisional one. For now, just be aware that anyone can file a Provisional Patent on-line in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a very cost effective USD65 to protect yourself for 12 months. This means if your product is made and sold, it can have “Patent Pending” stamped on it. This also means you could be getting a royalty fee for you and your child’s design work. I’ll discuss more on this topic in the future but you can start with this USPTO link targeted to families!

 

The Not Yet So Obvious Benefits of 3D Modeling for 3D Printing

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3D printing technology makes progress every day. It reaches more and more areas in our lives. In the years to come, it will be a common thing to get something through a 3D printing service. Today I would like to spark a new idea in your mind and the mind of your children.

3D printing just a few years from now

Imagine for a minute your kids have grown up a little bit. You are about to build a new house in the countryside, on the seaside or in the mountain (or anywhere else you would like to have your new house). You are having a meeting with your architect to decide how to design your house. He tells you all the requirements for energy efficiency, comfort and safety. Suddenly, he looks at your child and asks him:

“Do you know how to create 3D model for 3D printing?”

You are surprised. The architect goes on:

“As you probably know, building technology has improved greatly these last years. I was wondering if your child could design his own living area, so we can 3D print his model for him. You too could model some parts of your house to make it unique.”

Two scenarios

Now, dear parents, you have two possible situations:

Situation 1: Your child and/or yourself have never created anything in 3D. Needless to say, something specifically for 3D printing.

Situation 2: Your child and you have already practiced several times 3D modelling for 3D printing. You had lots of fun and have already several Family Made 3D printed objects at home.

In which situation would you like to be? 1 or 2? I would personally prefer the second situation.

Maybe you are telling yourself:

“Patrick is a nice guy, but it will be long before we can do this kind of thing, like modeling all or parts of our living area.”

Really? Think about it. Building constraints have considerably changed. New concrete allows funny shapes as strong and durable as reinforced concrete without iron rods. 3D printing technologies specifically for the building industry are popping all around the world. They progress quickly. Sooner than you think, you will be able to 3D print the house of your dream.

My advice for today

Begin as soon as possible to think about your new house in the shape of a concert grand piano or the shape of a delicious mango.