Ah, spring. The holiday season is behind us, the world is in bloom, and we’re all thinking of the delights of the warmer months. Mother Nature isn’t the only one with a sense of humor about spring, though, as it’s still snowing here in Cleveland; the tech world once again splendidly responded to the call to action that April Fool’s Day brings out each year. Now that the day itself is over, we’re happy to share some of the clever ways the 3D printing community sought to pull the wool over our eyes once again with good-natured tech humor.
In 2015, we saw 3D printed wine and moon dust, along with 6D printing. In 2016, Sculpteo introduced invisible 3D printing material. Last year, Formlabs brought breakfast to 3D printing while other companies looked to 3D print pasta and straight-up cash. This year, more companies than ever have been getting into the spirit, brightening up the daily trudge of dreary world news with some cheeky ‘innovations’ — from 4D whisky to more food prep, here’s a look at some of the cleverness of April Fool’s Day 2018.
Banana for Scale
Introduced a bit early, 3D Hubs saw an early lead in this year’s race to tickle the funny bone. A common measure of scale to gauge the size of parts and builds, bananas are often seen, or requested, in images shared among the maker community. Ensuring that scale could be understood throughout the build process, 3D Hubs introduced ISO 84N4N4. To showcase its use, the company provided a link to a preview part that integrates the banana — simply click the banana icon above the pre-loaded part to watch a digital banana plop down next to the bracket, allowing for a handy and immediate understanding of the bracket’s size.
3D Printed Distillery, 4D Whisky
Master of Malt is going all out on its end, introducing a full collection of whisky-themed technologies. A 3D printed distillery building, 3D printed stills with 4D printed valves, 3D printed casks, and 4D whisky round out the innovations that Master of Malt notes as being “set to shake up the spirits industry.” I love whisky; I love 3D printing. This was a great find in my inbox this weekend, and the detail and thought that went into Master of Malt’s full plan is to be commended. The team came clean after April Fool’s Day officially ended, leaving us continuing to dream of space-age whisky advances (though, no foolin’, we’ve seen space innovations already ensuring that astronauts don’t have to go dry in orbit).
Ancient Mayans Discovered 3D Printing
While most people are astounded to learn that the history of 3D printing traces back several decades, with early research being done in the 1960s ahead of the first patents in the 1980s, Sculpteo has revealed that the roots of additive manufacturing are far more deep-seated — indeed, back to ancient Mayan civilization, from a recently discovered city deep in the Guatemalan jungle. Research has emerged from archaeologists including the esteemed Polly Amide to show that a mysterious codex is — gasp! — a 3D printer. Sculpteo notes that, “These Mayan codices are dated between 250 and 1450 AD. If we believe these codices, 3D printing is quite an old manufacturing technique!” and goes on to quote Polly Amide:
“The Maya civilization was really advanced on many different subjects such as astronomy, architecture, mathematics… One thing is now sure: these new codices are the proof that they knew how to use a 3D printer! We are still analyzing these new elements, to get a better understanding of their use of 3D. We are pretty sure that they also invented some G-Code to use their 3D printers.”
Motorcycle Spare Parts 3D Printed On-the-Go
BMW Motorrad is using 3D printing already in its operations, adopting Carbon’s technology in its Thai operations last year; BMW on the whole has been using additive manufacturing for the better part of 30 years now. 3D printing for spare parts is seeing a major rise in adoption across the automotive segment, and understanding this, BMW Motorrad got into the April Fool’s spirit with the introduction of iParts for on-demand spare parts production. With on-site 3D printing at “250 selected BMW Motorrad sales partners worldwide,” and a Mobile Printer so users can bring their own spare parts capabilities on the road, BMW Motorrad has thought it all through, particularly extolling the virtues of SLS 3D printing for spare parts (though depicting an FFF-style unit for its BMW Motorrad 3D Mobile Printer). The thoroughly-tested setup was even stretched to its limits with the heat of the Australian outback and the frigid temperatures of the South Pole, where it also produced aluminum tent poles for the team’s shelter. The Head of BMW Motorrad iParts, Ignaz Druckmeyer, conveniently surnamed with ‘print’ part of his name (through the German ‘druck’), noted:
“Once again we were able to draw on in-house synergies and tap into the relevant preliminary development work carried out by BMW Automobiles. Ultimately the challenge was to develop a small, portable yet high-performance 3D printer for transportation on the motorcycle. We managed to achieve this in the form of the BMW Motorrad iPart 3D Mobile Printer. The SLS unit is equipped with its own power supply – a high-performance saline battery – and was subjected to a range of highly rigorous functional tests both in extreme cold and in blistering heat with a high level of dust exposure.”
In-Flight 3D Printing
When I was a kid, planes started to get in-seat telephones; swipe your credit card, pay exorbitant rates, and call the ground. It was high-tech, with calls from 20,000 feet. These days, WiFi lets us Skype from the comfort of Economy, and long-hauls are made more bearable by in-seat entertainment systems for those less inclined to pull out their laptops. But x3D-Print takes it a step farther with a new in-flight service. The company explains in their recent newsletter:
“Through a partnership between x3D-Print and few Skyteam members, including Air France and Delta Airlines, passengers will soon discover a set of nine 3D printers in the plane. Offering a 100x100x 50mm build-volume, those machines will safely 3D print your 3D models during your flight, in ABS-like plastic material. And in color!
Those machines are installed by a x3D-Print technician in the aircrafts and do not require any further attention to be operated. During the flight, passengers can access to the 3D printing services through their in-flight entertainment screen, where they will discover a library of millions of 3D files ready to 3D print. Or, they can upload their own from their USB stick.”
The newsletter concludes with a note that this is obviously false, but that they thank those quoted for the made-up words about the new service, which included:
Microsoft Founder Bill Gates: “This is the most disruptive service I’ve ever seen in the airline industry.”
Shark Tank star and investor Kevin O’Leary: “This is probably the most succulent business idea I’ve ever witnessed.”
Airbus CEO Tom Enders: “We should put one machine under each seat!”
Amazon Acquires Shapeways
The typically industry-focused 3D Printing Media Network couldn’t resist getting into the fun this year, bringing its own April Fool’s announcement in an eye-catching headline: “Official: Amazon Web Services Acquires Shapeways, Enters 3D printing Demand Semgent“. Oh, dear. Following the style of traditional press releases, going so far as to attribute the news source to Business Wire, 3DPMN announces that the move “represent’s the first venture into physical services for Amazon’s cloud platform.” The release traces an actual announcement recently released via Business Wire detailing another (actual) move from AWS, adjusting the content to bring additive manufacturing along for a fun ride that certainly made me catch my breath upon initially glancing at the headline, as Amazon has demonstrated interest in 3D printing. 3DPMN’s release quotes Mike Clayville, Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Sales at AWS:
“As a large, high-growth business with a unique experience in the high profile world of additive manufacturing, Shapeways will be able to leverage AWS to innovate for its customers around the world. Our industry-leading services will enable Shapeways to leverage emerging technologies like machine learning, quickly test ideas, and deliver new tools and solutions to their customers with greater frequency. We look forward to collaborating with Shapeways as they build anew in the cloud and innovate new solutions to help people turn their ideas into physical reality.”
Xoe the Quoting Voice Assistant
Instant quotes are a much-loved approach to streamlining project work, and Xometry is a fan of enhancing its services. So this April 1, the company introduced Xoe, its new voice assistant for quotes…because nothing can possibly go wrong in this age of voice assistants. Xometry explained:
“Forget 3D CAD files, clicking, or typing. Our new Quoting Voice Assistant allows you to describe your desired part, and Xoe will instantly tell you the price and lead time. Verbally.”
While those looking to learn more about Xoe’s myriad virtues will instead find Xometry’s redirect to its actual instant quoting platform, we can still learn all about Xoe’s voice service offerings (available in any language, as long as it’s English) here:
One Hot-End to Rule Them All
“We’ve listened to the community and the latest hot-end, E3D Medusa, is the answer to all your needs. Tool-changing is SO last week,” E3D explains of its latest introduction.
The open-source company recently introduced its approach to tool-changing 3D printing, unveiling their newest prototype at last week’s MRRF. Eager to outdo themselves and respond to a community that wants it all, E3D now showcases the E3D Medusa. Why bother with a tool-changing approach at all when without any changing, one tool can do it all? This hot-end has it all, with a variety of implements visible in its sole released imagery, but, like its namesake, look too long or too directly and it might not go well for you.
Open Source Solution to Mealtime
Who’s hungry? The well-known Original Prusa i3 MK3 3D printer now gets a Master Chef upgrade. The latest features are fit for a maker with an appetite, and are set to cover a full day’s worth of nutritional needs. It’s set to “change your life,” Josef Průša explains, as the versatile upgade for “high-tech gastronomy” includes:
- Scrambled eggs preparation
- Soup stirring
- Dough roller
- Five o’clock tea
MK3 Master Chef Upgrade contains
- Rotary spatula attachment
- Custom-design spatula
- Dough roller
- T.E.A.B.A.G. tea module
- Cookie cutter
The All-Ruby Ruby
Not to be outdone, Olsson Ruby takes its ruby approach to its sturdy 3D printing nozzle one step further, going all out with an all-ruby Olsson Ruby. The entire piece is crafted to a precise finish out of solid ruby, making every print precious. No word on pricing for this surprising amount of gemstone, planned for release April 1, 2019, but the company explains:
“The new All-Ruby by The Olsson Ruby, no worries, just one solid piece of ruby, ground to the finest tolerances possible!”
Each year we seem to see more clever and cheeky imaginings of high-tech tom foolery, and this brief roundup touches on only a few to catch our attention for April Fool’s Day 2018. As always, we love to see good-natured fun bringing technology to comedy!
Which was your favorite this year? Let us know at 3DPrintBoard.com or share in the Facebook comments below.