Sunday, October 5, 2014

The RepRap Community Hub experience at TCTShow 2014...Part 1

To truly gain new experiences you have to step outside your comfort zone. I knew I was doing that when I informed RichRap on the RepRap Forum, that I’d be willing to help out at the RepRap community hub at this year’s (2014) TCTShow in Birmingham, England. I had no idea how amazing an experience this would actually be!
Above, RichRap and one of his amazing creations, the Sli3DR in the background.

For me, one of the simplest satisfactions would be in helping and interacting with community members and visitors to the show. The side benefit would be the opportunity to meet some of the legends of the 3d revolution, the “virtually famous” of the RepRap world! Sad, I know! :-)

Also, having observed and experienced the rapid development and evolution of desktop 3d printing from a virtual and remote perspective for many years, I felt it was time to engage in a more real way. What better way than to fly into Birmingham and participate in what is now becoming an annual gathering, the RepRap Community Hub at the TCTShow!

(Above, Chris and Mary Palmer, of Mendel90 fame, working on Huxley90, and lots of vases!)

For sure there would be more to gain from interfacing directly. You can’t beat face-time for knowledge and experience exchange, and I knew the opportunities would present themselves, if all I did was show-up!

Having scratch built my own Mendel 90 over a year ago now, it was indeed an honour to meet the team behind the design, Chris and Mary Palmer (Below). With my silly t-shirt on, the ice broke quickly and the rest of the show was filled with gems of wisdom from Chris and good humoured banter and fun from Mary!
During the show, Chris worked quietly on a small machine in his area. but what had gone mostly unnoticed and without fan-fair was that we were witnessing the first public viewing of a brand new printer. To the passer-by it looked like another of the many many printer designs to be seen at the show, but to the 3d print Anoraks out there this is actually a portable version of the robust Mendel90. Chris indicates he's calling this one the "Huxley90".  It will offer the performance and reliability of the Mendel90 but combine it with portability, for those times when you just have to bring your printer with you! Expect to hear much more from Chris on this one.
(Above, Mendel90 and Huxley90 side by side.)

Have you ever made a copy of yourself? It's the latest in "selfies". It's a peculiar experience and worth doing once. I was tickled when Justin Carpenter of Active3D offered to scan and print me. It gave me a chance I've been looking for to explore the process and assess the workflow of scan to print. Justin made the operation of the hand-held scanner look easy, and I'm sure with a bit of practise anyone could manage it. He used a consumer level scanner called the Sense. It has encouraged me to research scanning in more depth, as I think ease of input is a great enabler to 3d printing work.

Head tilted back so no support needed. Printed in wood filament for good matt finish. One of the first things I printed when I got home was a second copy of myself. Good fun!

You just don't know who you are going to meet! I was introduced to Mark Drubin (MakeALot on Thingiverse),  an accomplished designer and user of OpenSCAD, a gentleman and another of the virtually famous of this 3d printing world! Check out his work...

The people... the prints... the machines... There are so many photos worth sharing that I just had to do collages to publish them more quickly! Have a browse!

Quite honestly, between all the exhibitors, the volume and quality of printed examples was facinating. So many to admire, examine and enquire about. Below is just a small flavour, and just too many to individually credit, so if you see your creation below, thank you for sharing!
The myriad of desktop sized printers was equally fascinating.

Hopefully at this point you have a small insight to my experience at this event! If I continue with a single post it's likely never to get published, so I'm going to hit "publish", and return with further posts to explore many more topics that interested me and are related to the show, such as:

3d printing/printers in schools/colleges. 3d content and the education sector.
Next year... how can the Community Hub be improved? Become a better experience for visitors?
What's happening on the filament front.
Is there diversity or convergence going on at a desktop 3d printer level?
The hot-end space...
New kids on the block... Nectar, others.
Who visited the RepRap Community Hub and what type of questions were asked.
Other stories from around the exhibition... as I occasionally wandered around, each stand and encounter had it's own story! I'll try pull some examples together!

Thanks for viewing. More to follow!

1 comment:

  1. Very nice write up, Ivor, and some lovely pics too. Great to finally meet at the show. Looking forward to next year already!