Geek Projects Special: 3D Printing

Project #3 (hard): print a new pair of specs

Learn how to rustle up the world’s geekiest face furniture

1 Lens be having youArchives such as Thingiverse have lots of 3D-printable glasses frames. But as there are no standards for frame sizes, you might struggle to find lenses that fit. That’s wear Eyewear Kit (eyewearkit.com) comes in. It specialises in delivering lenses for 3D-printed frames, from £24 (RM135) a pair.

2 Order your frames… Got your lenses? If you don’t own a 3D printer, head to shapeways.com or sculpteo.com and search for ‘eyewear kit’. You’ll get a choice of a few frames (like the ‘Wire’ glasses above) that will be 3D-printed in your choice of colour and sent to you. If you do have a 3D printer, go to step three…

3…or print your framesInstructables has designed a pair for 3D printers –you can download the files at bit.ly/3dprintedglasses – or if you fancy designing your own, scan the lenses with Autodesk’s 123D Catch (RMfree / iOS, Android, Windows) and follow the instructions. Warning: this requires 3D modelling skills.

4 Welcome to the future Going a step beyond its 3D rivals is the Formlabs Form 1+ (€2,800 (RM11,555) / formlabs.com), which can now print in clear resin. This opens the door to printing lenses, and a Formlabs staffer did just that. Once it was printed, his monocle just needed sanding down and delivering to a hipster.

I build: 3D-printed cars

John B Rogers Jr / localmotors.com

Most vehicles contain over 10,000 parts, making them a very complex jigsaw puzzle. The creation of a new one typically requires seven years of development and billions of dollars of investment. 

We wanted to pit a computer-controlled machine against the complexity of building a car to reduce the number of separate parts needed, which in turn makes the process faster. We call this ‘direct digital manufacturing’. Our first 3D-printed car, the Strati, was assembled at Chicago’s International Manufacturing Technology Show last September.

The Strati has a vastly reduced part count: we only need to add 49 components to the 3D-printed body in order to have a running and driving car. It was created in three stages: additive 3D printing, subtractive milling, and rapid assembly. Currently, the Strati requires 40 hours to print, ten hours of milling and approximately one day of assembly. Soon we’ll be able to do the whole process in a day.

To design and engineer vehicles, Local Motors uses a process called co-creation. For the Strati, we held a competition called the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge. It was a crowd favourite, and the winner Michele Anoè came to America to see it made live at the IMTS show.

Everything on the car that could be integrated into a single material piece has been printed. This includes the chassis/frame, exterior body and interior features. The mechanical components of the vehicle, such as the battery, motors, wiring and suspension, are sourced from Renault’s Twizy, an electric-powered city car.

The first moment I saw the full 3D-printed car was incredible. It made me feel like a hundred years of complexity melted away, leaving room for ingenuity, local manufacturing and rapid tech adoption. I then knew flying cars and other machines would someday be available to everyone… but now much sooner!

READ MORE: The lean, the mean & the green: three electric supercars put to the test

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