Oxfam launches VR film, trials 3D printing and sensor tech

Evelyn watches the Oxfam film, which she stars in, using a Samsung Gear VR headset.

International charity Oxfam is leveraging new technologies to spread the word about crises happening around the globe, as well as exploring the use of 3D printing, drones and internet of things sensors as new ways of delivering aid and solving problems in the developing world.

On Tuesday, Oxfam is set to launch a virtual reality film called Evelyn’s Story, allowing viewers to experience the arduous journey of an 11-year-old Kenyan girl searching for water in the drought-ridden Turkana county.

When Oxfam filmed the short film (which was made in conjunction with the Sydney-based production company Flimgraphics and Alt VFX), the young girl’s family could only get access to clean water for about two hours every eight days, so were often forced to risk diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera, using whatever they could find.

Oxfam Australia director of public engagement, Pam Anders, told The Australian Financial Review it was the first time it had used virtual reality, but if it goes well it will continue to use them to help show what it is trying to achieve.

“Virtual reality is something that’s become more accessible in the past 12 months in terms of people being able to access headsets off the shelf, so it was a great opportunity for us to look at because it gives the viewer an amazing opportunity to be virtually connected,” she said.

“It’s like you’re there. It’s very disorienting when you first put the headset on and you’re able to direct what you see. You can look beyond the subject to see what’s above or behind you. Many of my staff and myself were emotionally moved.”

Inspiring experience

Watching the film in virtual reality, the viewer feels like they’re in the bare, arid desert of northern Kenya desperately searching for water alongside Evelyn. Ms Anders hopes the immersive experience will inspire people to donate more money.

Besides virtual reality, Oxfam has also been utilising new technologies in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Since the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the organisation has been trialling 3D printing of water pipes and fittings in partnership with the not-for-profit Field Ready and a local 3D printing company. 

“What we’ve found is it’s been a much quicker way to produce the spare parts. We want to keep doing this, but the challenge now is how to get the right materials locally, so it’s more sustainable and weather-proof, and how to keep the costs low, and where along the chain of vendors it’s best to introduce 3D printing. It’s going well so far, but there are still elements to resolve,” Ms Anders said.

In Sri Lanka, Oxfam has also been placing sensors in dams and water pipes to measure the amount of rainfall in real time. This is helping farmers to make insurance claims during floods. If rainfall hits a certain level in the dam, farmers in the region receive an SMS generated by the sensor.

“One of the problems this was trying to solve was that local insurance schemes were really difficult for farmers to access because they didn’t have evidence of the rainfall or flooding. Since we implemented these sensors there’s been an increase in payouts to farmers – last year there was over 110,000,” Ms Anders said.

Other charities adopting new tech

Oxfam’s use of cutting edge technologies is just one example of ways that not-for-profit and inter governmental organisations are using new-age tech to help tackle problems in developing nations and countries plagued by internal conflict.

In May the United Nation’s World Food Programme concluded a trial using the ethereum blockchain, giving Syrian refugees resources by giving them cryptocurrency-based vouchers to be redeemed in participating markets.

Oxfam’s 2014 Even it Up report found that seven out of 10 people live in countries where the gap between rich and poor is greater than it was 30 years ago. Oxfam has also found that over the last 25 years, the top 1 per cent has gained more income than the bottom 50 per cent put together.

World Vision has also been building up its technology capability and has partnered with US companies Fieldworker and Intermec to build the Last Mile Mobile Solution (LMMS), which helps the charity to register and verify aid beneficiaries, distribute food, prevent duplication errors and reduce inventory losses.

The LMMS devices work in remote locations without electricity or internet access, but let aid beneficiaries register and receive their own barcoded ID card.

The system has let World Vision deliver materials like food, tents, hygiene kits and mosquito nets in up to 50 per cent less time than through manual methods.

Techniplas launches 3D printing division headed by former 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental

Jun 16, 2017 | By Tess

Techniplas LLC, a plastic fabrication company based in Nashotah, Wisconsin, has announced plans to establish a 3D printing center. The facility will be used to accelerate product development through the digitization of the company’s operations. 

Techniplas, known best for injection molding automotive parts, will be venturing into the world of additive manufacturing under experienced leadership: Avi Reichental, the former president, chief executive officer, and director of 3D Systems (as well as a member of the board of directors for Nano Dimension), has been appointed as CEO of the new Techniplas Digital business unit.

“It’s coming to life as we speak,” said Reichental of the new additive manufacturing center. In fact, Techniplas has reportedly already set up about a dozen 3D printers at its facility in Ventura, California. The company says it will primarily focus its 3D printing efforts on direct metal printing for rapid tooling development.

Specifically, Techniplas hopes to leverage 3D printing for metal inserts used in standard mold bases, which will help to speed up the toolmaking process. “It’s the future of short-run manufacturing,” added Reichental, emphasizing that manufacturing in general is headed towards a hybrid of both traditional and new processes.

Avi Reichental

In addition to direct metal printing, Techniplas will also be using UV polymer curing 3D printing systems. These will enable the company to quickly and efficiently develop complex and lightweight automotive components from plastic.

The new additive manufacturing center is part of Techniplas’ larger effort to digitize its business, a goal that is being helped along by the company’s Digital division, established to accelerate “the migration of smart technologies from the edge of development to the company’s core operations.”

According to Reichental, Techniplas is prepared for the shift thanks to its long history of design and manufacturing within the automotive industry. “Through deep learning capabilities and generative design, the company has the capacity to make new products and services that are reshaping mobility,” the company says.

As part of its digitization process, Techniplas is aiming to expand upon its cognitive connective systems for auto applications. These include air and water management systems; smart grille shutters, which help to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency; and cognitive lighting systems, which are designed to improve communication between car, driver, and pedestrians.

“For decades, we’ve been designing and making some of the most complex and challenging components and assemblies for the automotive industry,” said Chief Operating Officer Manfred Kwade. “Now we’re applying this knowledge to the new age of automotive design and manufacturing to make our customer’s journey to digital mobility a reality.”

While the company is based in Nashotah, Wisconsin, Techniplas will be implementing its new digital technologies globally, including in Germany and Switzerland, where it has R&D centers. The company is reporteldy also planning a digitized, data-centric management system which will connect its facilities around the globe.

To aid in the digitization process, Techniplas has also partnered with a number of companies and institutions including Stanford University, ParaMatters, Rinspeed, Nexa3D, and XponentialWorks, which was founded by Reichental.

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Ultimaker launches Pioneer Program to bring 3D printing into K-12 and higher education

Aug 16, 2016 | By Benedict

Ultimaker has announced the official launch of the Ultimaker Pioneer Program, an online resource-sharing initiative which encourages educators in North America to share useful 3D printing content in order to advance the widespread adoption of 3D printing technologies in K-12 and higher education.

Dutch 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker is perhaps best known for its range of highly regarded, open-source FDM 3D printers, but the company is branching out into new territory with the launch of the Ultimaker Pioneer Program. The new initiative sees the Geldermalsen-headquartered company attempting to increase the presence of additive manufacturing in classrooms and universities across North America by providing a platform for additive-literate teachers to share resources, knowledge, and other useful content while maintaining ownership of their materials through Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike, and Non-Commercial licensing.

The Ultimaker Pioneer Program has already made its way across 21 states, with 58 educators—from elementary school teachers to college professors—now listed amongst the ranks of educational 3D printing “Pioneers.” By encouraging these contributors to share resources such as 3D printing lessons, programs, labs, and classroom experiences, Ultimaker hopes that the ambitious program will facilitate collaboration and innovation amongst educators, eventually culminating into a series of modern curricula which teachers can use to effectively bring 3D printers into the classroom.

“Teaching 3D modeling and printing in our schools is a relatively new educational endeavor and faculty are on the front lines, figuring out the best methods of teaching as we continue to learn about the topic ourselves,” said Burton Isenstein, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. “It’s smart to tap into what’s already happening in classrooms throughout the world and the Ultimaker Pioneer Program will help educators build a base of knowledge upon everyone’s experience.”

Ultimaker Pioneer Burton Isenstein of the School of The Art Institute of Chicago

Throughout the course of the year, Ultimaker will be posting an ongoing stream of 3D printing content from the inaugural 58 Pioneers, as well as other updates and educational 3D printing news. The program will also transcend online content: next spring, Ultimaker will host the First Annual 3D Printing Educators Conference, where many of the Pioneers will be present for talks, panel sessions, and hands-on training workshops.

In preparation for the start of the new school year, Ultimaker has featured five special articles, written by select Pioneers, which teachers can get stuck into straight away. The articles cover topics such as: teaching students how to 3D scan and print museum artifacts, creating 3D printed prosthetics, and seeing a university 3D printing lab from a student staff member’s perspective. “We’re thrilled to facilitate this program, assisting in enhancing the way young generations create with technology,” commented John Kawola, President of Ultimaker North America.

Scanning and 3D printing museum arifacts, a Pioneer resource shared by Christopher Sweeney

As a proponent of open-source 3D printing technologies, Ultimaker should be commended for remaining principled in its creation of the Pioneer Program: the company has stressed that the educators and their resources will be supported “regardless of what kinds of 3D printers they use in their classrooms,” precluding any bias towards Ultimaker-branded products in the Pioneers’ content.

Although Ultimaker has never before embarked upon an educational project on this kind of scale, The Pioneer Program does not represent the company’s first movements within the education sector. Earlier this year, the Dutch company linked up with the University of Illinois and online education platform Coursera to provide 17 new Ultimaker 3D printers for the Illinois MakerLab and create a series of free online 3D printing classes.

Ultimaker is already looking to recruit the next round of Pioneers, and educators with a passion for 3D printing are encouraged to apply.

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Monoprice Continues Crusade to Bring 3D Printing to the Masses, Launches Four 3D Printers for …

August 9, 2016

New $199.99 MP Select Mini, $349.99 Maker Select v2, $399.99 Maker Select Plus and $699.99 Maker Select Ultimate Deliver Quality and Premium Performance at the Lowest Category Prices

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif., Aug. 09, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Monoprice, an online retailer offering high-quality and affordably priced consumer electronics and accessories, announced today the expansion of its 3D printing category to include four new solutions for consumer and commercial applications: the already-available $199.99 MP Select Mini 3D Printer and $349.99 Maker Select 3D Printer v2,  the now-available $699.99 Select Maker Ultimate 3D Printer, and the $399.99 Maker Select Plus 3D Printer, which launches in October. 

3D printing continues to be a high-growth segment with equity research analysts forecasting a reach of $7 billion by 2020. From automotive and aerospace to medical and consumer electronics, companies across a wide range of industries are developing and using 3D printing technologies for business prototyping and manufacturing—proving the category continues to be ripe for significant expansion.    

“From prototyping to model design, 3D printing puts incredible capabilities in consumers’ and prosumers’ hands; however, high pricing has always been a barrier to accessibility. Now the category has gained popularity and costs have dropped to enable businesses and hobbyists to use the technology for a broad spectrum of applications,” said Bernard Luthi, president of Monoprice. “Since launching our first 3D printer two years ago, we’ve focused on expanding this category to drive down category costs, improve ease of use and grow to the ‘pro’ market. With no category leader, we see an opportunity to drive market dynamics by offering a diverse range of quality, simple-to-use devices. Ultimately, our mission is to become the most trusted, reliable shopping destination for best-in-class 3D printers sold at affordable prices that customers can feel good about.”

Monoprice’s new products offer solid constructions, versatility, rapid printing speeds and affordability for professionals and hobbyists looking to expand printing capabilities or simply enter the dynamic world of 3D printing.

  • MP Select Mini 3D Printer ($199.99) – Ranked one of the top ten bestselling 3D printers on Amazon, this entry-level 3D printer comes fully assembled and ready to print out of the box in just ten minutes. The heated build plate and wide range of extruder temperatures allow this printer to work with any type of filament—from basics such as ABS and PLA, to more advanced specialty materials. Its compact design is ideal for even the smallest desk or print area, and it ships with a microSD card with preinstalled models.
  • Maker Select 3D Printer v2 ($349.99) – Ranked one of the top ten bestselling 3D printers on Amazon, this printer comes almost fully assembled—requiring only four screws to secure the frame to the base and two screws to attach the filament holder. The large 8″ x 8″ heated build plate and 7-inch vertical spacing allows printing larger, more complex 3D models. Ready to print out of the box, it can print with any type of 3D filament and includes a sample PLA filament and microSD card with sample 3D model files.
  • Maker Select Plus 3D Printer ($399.99) – The next evolution of the popular Maker Select, this printer now features a touch screen interface, compact one piece design, preinstalled print mat and guided calibration, making the printing process as seamless as possible. On the fly print setting adjustments allows changes to be made anytime during a print.  Available in October.
  • Maker Select Ultimate 3D Printer ($699.99) – Sleek and sophisticated for the professional, the commercial Maker Ultimate 3D Printer features ultra-high precision with layer resolutions as fine as 20 microns and speeds up to 150 mm/sec. This printer’s all-metal extruder and heated print bed can handle almost any filament type, from ABS and PLA plastics to more exotic materials, such as PVA, HIPS, flexible TPE/TPU, and even metal and wood.

Monoprice stands committed to introducing new models throughout the year and into 2017 to ensure a high level of 3D print capability at the lowest industry prices.  For more information on Monoprice’s 3D printing solutions, visit Monoprice.com.

About Monoprice, Inc. (DBA Monoprice.com)
Located in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Monoprice, Inc. is an e-commerce leader specializing in providing more than 6,500 high-quality yet affordable electronics and tech products. As an industry innovator, Monoprice fills a void in the consumer technology market by delivering exceptional products that are on par with the best known national brands at prices far below the retail average with incomparable speed and service. Maintaining a business philosophy that focuses on the needs of its customers, the company strives to bring simplicity, fairness and confidence to consumers and businesses shopping for big-ticket electronics and tech accessories. For more information about Monoprice, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. Monoprice is a subsidiary of Blucora, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCOR).

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Havas Formula

619.234.0345 / Monoprice@HavasFormula.com

Source: Blucora, Inc.

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Carnegie Mellon U Launches 3D Printing Initiative

3D Printing

Carnegie Mellon U Launches 3D Printing Initiative

A new consortium at Carnegie Mellon University will bring together researchers and representatives from industry, government and professional associations to collaborate on initiatives in the field of 3D printing, otherwise known as “additive manufacturing.”

The initiative will influence the work being done at the university’s NextManufacturing Center, a research division within the institution’s college of engineering. Among the corporate participants are GE, Alcoa and United States Steel. Government is represented by the Federal Aviation Administration and the United States Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. Also participating is SAE International, an association of engineers and related technical experts.

The center draws faculty and students not only from the college of engineering but also the school of computer science and college of science. The multidisciplinary approach is applied to projects in order to develop new ways of thinking about 3D printing for mainstream manufacturing and creating new tools and processes.

The emphasis on collaborative efforts is to pull together all the key players “to share knowledge, ideas and challenges,” said Jack Beuth, director of the center and professor of mechanical engineering, in an article about the consortium. “It’s an integral part of creating a thriving additive manufacturing ecosystem, and today, we get do that here at Carnegie Mellon.”

“Collaborating across disciplines and with outside companies has been a huge reason that we have been able to deliver such impactful results here,” added Anthony Rollett, professor of materials science and engineering and associate director of the center. “These collaborations will not only ensure that our research directly targets real-world problems, but that real-world problems directly influence our research.”

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.