Thursday, March 8, 2012

The eCraft tearing problems revisited

I have watched from the sidelines as the tearing problems persist. 

Yes, there are work arounds.  And, at least some of the problems deal with cutting points that have dulled.  But, the majority of problems are related to a behaviour in the eCraft that causes the paper to be lifted up by the cutter until it is above the cutting edge of the blade.

I know this because I spent a considerable amount of time observing tearing using a high-speed camera to catch the action in slow motion.  And, I sent these videos to eCraft for their engineers to study.  I didn't say anything because I felt a team that could come up with such a wonderful design in all other respects would figure out how to stop the paper lift.   I wanted to give them the time necessary to do so.

Here is a slow motion video that demonstrates exactly what is happening just before your paper rips.   Notice how the blade lifts the paper!

As ripping still seems to be an issue, I am going to do my best to used what I learned in that research to try to see if I can come up with a solution.  All I can do is to promise to try.  And, at long last, I think I have the means to do so, now that I own a 3D Printer with which to experiment.

One of my goals with my new 3D printer is to come up with a solution to the tearing problems if at all possible.  I'm going to attempt to design a foot that holds the paper down as the eCraft cuts, much like the foot on a sewing machine.  I will let you know if the idea works!

Wish me luck for ALL of us!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Show me the love!

And, I'll show you a CONTEST!

One of my greatest experiences has been becoming acquainted with the craft community through my early blogs about the eCraft cutter.  What I came away with out of that experience is that this community does what it does out of a deep love of family, friends and creativity.

I FINALLY found a fun way to give something back to at least a few of the fantastic followers of this blog.  I wish I had enough money to send something to everyone.  But, I don't.  However, I CAN recognize the work of every one of my followers.

Here is what I'd like you to do.
  1. Add your name as a follower, if it's not already there.
  2. If you have a blog, photo site, Facebook page, Twitter account or other social media where you have images of your work, I would like you to send those links to me by March 15th, 2012.
My email for this is:   tmeeks[at sign]

I will moderate the links to make sure they are family friendly.  Those that pass that test will be featured in a future article on how the heart plays such a huge roll in the craft community.

My gift also has a second goal.  I think people who love crafts and family will love 3D printing.  So, I'm hoping this contest will introduce all of you to the potential of 3D printing to expand the ways you create to show love.  One of the best ways to become acquainted with 3D printing is to create something and have it created by a 3D printer.  And, right now, among the most fun and best 3D experiences that my granddaughters and I have had was when we created some robots together,

Here is a video of the robot building process created during the MyRobotNation's beta test.

I've ordered 5 gift certificates from My Robot Nation to be given away through this blog.

The first My Robot Nation certificate will be going to a person that I REALLY appreciate enormously.  When events took me out of eCraft blogging, she more than picked up the slack.  And, I know that many, many of you have been helped by her.  So, our first recipient will be Denise O'Connor of Purple Paper Paradise.  I can hardly wait to see her first robot creation.

Don't tell her... It's a surprise!!!  :)

I will then pick 4 additional followers at random, from those that have sent me links, and send the 4 winners a certificate that allows them to create and ship a robot from   If a winner is outside the U.S.A., I will have to add funds to your gift certificate for the shipping.  So, I will contact each winner to try to ensure that you pay no shipping costs.

This is the first time I've tried something like this.  So, I hope that my rules are clear and all goes well.  This is meant to be a fun thing for everyone.   And, that is where the 3rd rule comes in.  When you have created your robot, we'd like to see it and hear how your first 3D experience went.

In the meantime, have fun with this short video!

I don't work for MyRobotNation.  Nor do I have any ownership stake.  It's just my kind of fun!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A great Example of 3D Printing and PopPop/Grandchildren Quality Time!

3D Printing has been around for a while for businesses.  These days, some shoe manufacturers won't manufacture a line of shoes until they've have shown the buyers of the bigger stores that shoe in a 3D model.  Here are two views of a sample that I saw on my visit to the 3D Systems headquarters.

Even standing right next to them, they appear to be made of leather with rubber soles.  It isn't until you pick one up that you realize this a 3D print.  They look that real.  It's very cool.

Now, that same technology is beginning to be available for consumers.  3D Systems will be selling a home 3D Printer that does single color printing.  But, they will also be offering the ability to print with the very same technology that created the shoes.  They've dubbed this "Printing in the Cloud".  You design the object you want printed.  Upload it to the 3D Systems "Cloud".  They print it and send it out to you.  This means 3D printing in a wide range of materials and unlimited colors.

But, we don't have to wait until 3D System's Cloud is fully functioning to experience what it will be like.  My Robot Nation premiered late last year.  I can tell you from experience that this is one fun web site with a great user experience from start to finish.  My granddaughters and I did the whole My Robot Nation experience together.  It was a collaborative effort.  I supplied the credit card and they supplied the designs!

It was amazing to see how easy and fun it was to design each robot.  The online user interface is excellent and very well organized.  You get to chose the parts for your robot and then color each part.  They even wrote their names on the back of their respective robots for a real customizing experience.

Once the order was placed, a series of emails tracked the progress of the robots through manufacturing and shipping.  But, it was just the fact that they communicated.  It was the enthusiastic wording that made me love their attitude toward their customers.  Each email extolled the awesomeness of that particular robot and they sent an image of the robot right out of the printer before shipping.

I think we enjoyed the emails as much as we enjoyed making them! 

Amazingly, the robots arrived in just 7 days.  We had ordered them on a Saturday and they arrived the following Friday.  Here they are in all their AWESOMENESS!!

My granddaughters have names that are NEVER on the cups, etc. in gift shops or toy stores.  But, this time they WERE able to buy an item having their name on it.  That is because they were able to do it themselves!

These robots were printed with the exact same materials and methods that create the shoes above.   By the way, some people actually created robots as cake toppers for their wedding!  While I think that's kind of cool, I don't think my wife would have been quite so thrilled with that idea.  But, it won't be long before we can create things like these with our own images and then I think she would see the value in that.  It's only going to get better!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Interview of Cathy Lewis at CES on Purple Paper Paradise Blog

Denise has added a video of Cathy Lewis, of 3D Systems, being interviewed at the Cubify booth.  Ms. Lewis does a great job of quickly introducing the concept and the Cube printer in a very short time.  There are some nice shots of the Cube 3D printer making an object.

It's heartening to see that people for whom I have a great deal of respect in the paper crafting community also see the potential for other ways to enhance what they are really all about, which is making things that demonstrate a real appreciation for family and friends.

Thanks, Denise!!!

In the meantime, I have created a new blog in which is dedicated to and the Cube 3D printing community.  That may seem odd, since there IS no community as yet, as far as I can tell, since noone that I know about has a Cube printer and the Cubify site is just days old.

But, I expect that to change very, very quickly and I want to be there for that creative community just as I wanted to be there for early eCraft owners.  Here is the link for the new site.  I hope you will become followers if only to keep up with what's happening.

Cubify Fans Blog

I hope to see you there!  In fact, given the level of creativity I have come to admire among the readers of this blog, I would be very disappointed if I didn't see you there so that all of us can benefit by your observations and creative contributions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Images of Objects Printed by the Cube 3D Printer

As the days go by at CES more and more images of 3D objects printed using the Cube 3D printer are beginning to show up.

Here, for instance, are a number of images on Flickr.  Some are official images from 3D Systems and others appear to be images taken by attendees at CES.  Flickr's rules prevent me from linking to individual images.

Flickr Search for Cubify

I stumbled onto another site having some great images that are very useful.  Again, until I have sought permission to show an image here, I will simply link to their site.  The images of the shoes by posted by ZPrinting are especially nice.

The Verge's Cubify Gallery

The Verge images are especially useful.  As I look at these images, the following observations come to mind.

Image #1:  Chess Pieces

We can see that we are probably not going to be able to print perfectly smooth objects with the Cube.  But, what is really important about this image is to observe how the design of the Rook masks some of the uneveness as compared with the design of the Knight.  This means that we can actually design objects with the moderately low resolution in mind.   The brick patterns on the Rook work WITH the limitations and minimize them.

Images #2 & 3:  iPhone Skin

The material seems to be strong enough to allow for designs that minimize material use.

Image #4:  Cube 3D Printer

So far, this is the first image that allows us to get at least a glimpse of the LCD display screen.   We need more! 

Image #5:  iPod Holder(?)

Again, we can get some idea of the effective resolution of the printing stratification.  I also notice that from time to time a stray strand, like a spider's web is dragged along.  I have no idea if these are production models.  But, the strays seem minor and easy to deal with.  It's interesting that the holes in the side of the object don't appear to need support materials.  That's good news!

Image #6:  Frog Printing

This last photo needs a LOT more study than I can give it right now.  It demonstrates the support materials that most 3D printers, and certainly personal 3D printers, require.  Note the loose fit at the places where the actual body and the supports join.  And, look inside at the top of the frog to see how the supports are built up as the frog is printed.  We will pay a lot of attention to supports and removing supports.  But, I like what I see so far.

I'll keep you posted as I find new things and get permission to link directly to photos.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Same Community - New Direction!

Well, it's not really a new direction for me.  But, it will seem so to you.

You know that my heart has a passion for creative people like you.  And, I hope that you know that I REALLY want to do those things that will be a positive force in your ability to show your love through your creative skills.

I was first drawn to electronic paper cutters because of my desire to support my daughter in her art.  But, along the way, I learned a lot about a wonderful community of people that go out of their way to personalize their expressions of caring for family and friends.

Frankly, I've felt a bit guilty about essentially abandoning eCraft users.   The first impediment to continuing to explore the eCraft was an unfortunate and exhausting court battle into which my wife and I were forced to protect her elderly parents.   Then, by the time the court case was over, my daughter's artistic interests had returned to sculpture. 

But, to be honest, the real reason for my not picking up where I left off was that my real passion, when it comes to creative tools, is in 3D, not 2D.   It is something that has long fascinated me.

For many years I have dreamed of personal 3D printers becoming a reality.  In fact, I started several blogs on 3D software and 3D printing long before the eCraft was introduced.  And, now, what I have longed for so many years is finally a reality.  In the last few days, 3D Systems as announced Cubify, the first 3D printer for the home.  Over time I think it is going to of very great interest to many of you.

So, I am going to devote some serious time and energy to introduce the arts and crafts communities to the vast potential of 3D printing to permit you not only to make 3D objects for use in your projects; but, also customized tools that will free you to design, make and use your dies to emboss and cut.

For now, however, let me just point you to the only videos that I have found so far related to a product for which I am VERY excited! 

So, yes, I'm back.  I hope all of you that expressed so much appreciation for my eCraft videos and observations will tag along as I go in a little bit different direction.  If you do, I can promise that it going to be a fantastically interesting ride!


After initially posting this entry, I came across a brand new video from the Consumer Electronics Show that shows the Cube 3D printer at work!  I think this will clearly demonstrate why I am so excited about this new product and web site.