Windows 10 3D printing support brings Minecraft creations to real life

Early on, Microsoft checked a feature off its Windows 10 list that many had seemingly glossed over because the barrier for entry at the time was a bit pricey. When Microsoft announced that Windows 10 held support for 3D printing, I, like most, gave a concerted shrug and moved on.

However, with the price of 3D printers coming down and a market for handmade toys, memorabilia, and gadgets growing, perhaps it’s time to revisit the world of 3D printing.

Going after some low hanging fruit, Microsoft recently announced that Minecraft players can now port their in-game creations to the real world thanks in part to Windows 10 3D printing support.

Aside from the digital creation of a Minecraft object, the process is fairly simple. Porting is done by placing a printing (or special) block in-game, next to an object or sculpture. Windows 10 does the rest by exporting that selected object to Remix 3D where fans can then polish it up a bit before hitting the print button.

For a handful of beta testers, the feature may seem like old news, but for the majority of Minecraft fans, being able to do all the heavy creative lifting digitally and then allowing Windows 10 to transfer those creations into the real world could be a major selling point for both the game and Microsoft’s OS.

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3D Printing Brings Movie Characters to Life Like Never Before

Anime fans everywhere are going crazy for the new fantasy, cyberpunk movie, Ghost in the Shell. What makes this production so intriguing is the way it draws in the philosophical questioning of what makes us human and displaying the struggles we endure daily through the bodies of characters. It features a futuristic world that is halfway to post-human status with the majority of citizens having some form of cyber enhancement to their bodies.

Bringing to life these characters to star in a blockbuster movie was no easy feat. But, with the help of Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop for backup, everything worked out quite well indeed. Weta Workshop is New Zealand’s top prop, and special effects company and their involvement stretched far beyond the realms of simple hair and makeup; extensive prosthetics were needed too. Jane O’Kane, the movie’s hair, and makeup designer said, “We wanted everything to feel real. We tried to stay on point and honor the aesthetic of the original.”

More than 20 specialized looks were designed by O’Kane and her prosthetics supervisor, Sarah Rubano while trying to achieve real looking, yet still holding on to that visually compelling character design. To make all of this possible the team carried out extensive research on cutting edge prosthetics currently being developed, future design websites, and the body-modding community. Once the design was in place, a complicated build process was to follow. “The design was done early on, but then once we had cast our actors, which was often significantly later, the design was altered to suit the cast visually, aesthetically and also practically to see what they were able to endure prosthetic-wise,” said Rubano.

Throughout the whole 3D printing process, Rubano and O’Kane worked very closely with Richard Taylor, Weta’s creative director. Taylor explained that to sculpt and build is a slow process and to try and overcome that he and his team worked as quickly as possible to “get to a point where we could sculpt onto the actor’s face/body castings and test completed prosthetics on stand-ins at the Workshop.” During the process, adjustments are made for practical reasons as well as aesthetics and what may have looked good in theory, just didn’t work in reality. ‘Kane commented, “That was probably one of our biggest challenges, actually making sure that the result used to work for the actual person it was going on.” Unfortunately, what this meant was that for any actor who had to fight in their prosthetic augmentation they would spend many hours going through the refitting phase.

There’s no special way to prepare a prosthetic for this sort of work, you just need to make sure everything you create is versatile enough for the actor to cope with,” said O’Kane. The reality with prosthetics is that it’s an additive process: You can build up easily, but you can’t take away. That means that if a design calls for the removal or diminishment of a part of the actor’s body, CG becomes critical,” confirmed Taylor.

One of the best examples of this kind of work and the combination of techniques used can be seen in the character Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt). A great deal of our concept design for Kuze was based on the Japanese practice of Kintsugi – the repair of old, broken pottery. As a philosophy, Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as an intrinsic part of the object; rather than something to disguise, it’s something that adds clarity and character,” said Taylor. But Kuze is simply one very small aspect of the movie that demonstrates how these special effects allow characters to come to life. To really appreciate it in its full glory, why not check it out now and see what you think.

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Xbox DogBot brought to life by Robo Challenge

The real-life Mack seen in the video above, was 3D printed by the creatives at Robo Challenge using the original CAD models created for the game.

Thanks to 3-D printer, statue of Tacoma icon Ivan the gorilla coming back to life

It took 110 pieces of pulverized acrylic to assemble a life-sized gorilla.

The parts came out of the 3-D printer in all shapes and sizes, but it was the head — of Tacoma’s iconic Ivan the gorilla — that made an impression on the crowd that gathered to watch.

“I was a little skeptical about what he would look like,” said Ron Irwin, whose family owned Ivan for the 27 years the gorilla lived at the circus-themed B&I mall on South Tacoma Way.

“The things that gets me, it looks like Ivan. They got it perfect.”

Ivan died in 2012 after spending his later years at Zoo Atlanta. Almost immediately, efforts began to create a memorial for him.

Three years ago, Portland-based Form 3D Foundry agreed to do the job of digitally molding Ivan’s image and printing it in three dimensions so the gorilla can be cast in a bronze statue.

The 6-foot-tall statue, to be unveiled later this year, will be displayed at the entrance to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

Although the statue is modeled after a particular News Tribune photo of Ivan holding a flower, hundreds of other pictures showing him from all angles were gathered so the details would be just right.

The computer artists at Form 3D Foundry spent the most time focusing on the subtleties of Ivan’s mouth, his eyes, his expression and the way his hand would hold the pink magnolia blossom.

The changes were passed to Douglas Granum, a local artist tasked with bringing Ivan to life, and to the Irwin family, so they could decide whether it looked like the gorilla they knew and loved.

“The biggest challenge for me was discovering that what I was doing was more portraiture,” Granum said. “I was creating Ivan.”

Once everyone signed off on the digital photo after six months, the printing could start.

Form 3D Foundry announced it’s only company on the West Coast that has the type of high-performance printing system used for Ivan.

To create the 110 forms, a 20,000-cubic-inch tub holding the pulverized acrylic was placed inside the printer.

The machine, which runs for 60 hours at a time, pours a layer of powder over the tub’s contents and then binds them, repeating the process time and again.

For the sake of efficiency, the parts of Ivan’s statue were cut into smaller pieces so more could fit inside the tub.

When the printer was done, the tub was completely immersed in powder. Workers carefully removed the powder using a vacuum hose and small paint brushes.

In January, Granum and the Irwin family made the trip to Portland to watch Ivan’s head emerge from the printer. It was nestled in the tub along with his rib cage, buttocks and part of an arm.

Earl Borgert, Ron Irwin’s nephew, wielded a paint brush and helped the Form 3D Foundry artists slowly dust powder from Ivan’s nostrils and eyes.

“It was exciting but humbling at the same time,” he said afterward. “When does a person get a chance to go through an experience like this?”

Rob Arps, the foundry’s president and CEO, wondered the same thing.

He formed the company in 2005 and has worked on projects across the nation.

He built a 14-foot-long Adidas shoe for the company’s headquarters, a 25-foot-long whale for the state of Alaska and brought Ben Franklin’s likeness to life.

But working on Ivan has special meaning for Arps, a Lakewood native who often visited the gorilla growing up because his parents worked at the B&I.

“There are a myriad of renderings of great apes from King Kong to beloved Ivan, and I wanted something that was kind and beautiful and really showed his spirit,” Arps said.

  Port Orchard sculptor Douglas Granum, right, visits with the Irwin family as the form pieces of Ivan the gorilla were uncrated at Two Ravens Studio foundry in Tacoma. Ed Kroupa, right, of Two Ravens will use the digitally sculpted and printed form pieces that were created at Form 3D Foundry in Portland to create the bronze sculpture of Ivan. Dean J. Koepfler

Up until a few years ago, 90 percent of this kind of work was done as clay sculpture. Digital technology now speeds up the process, shaving off up to three years in the case of Ivan’s bronze statue.

“I’m able to do things I never could have done before,” Arps said. “We’re all in a choreographic mode to make this thing occur.”

When sculpting with clay, the artist is limited in what kind of changes can be made. With digital sculpting, changes can be made without affecting the overall project.

“We can solve a series of problems very quickly, where before it would have taken months,” Arps said.

Using a 3-D printer also saves money, which is important to Beloved Ivan Project, the group raising money, mostly through donations, for the $247,354 project.

On Tuesday, Two Ravens Studio, a Tacoma foundry, will pour the bronze head of the Ivan sculpture. The rest of the pieces then will be welded together and poured with 3/16s of an inch of bronze.

And with that, Ivan will be back home in Tacoma.

How to help

To donate, visit The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation at

Donors who give more than $1,000 will be able to attend the sculpture unveiling at artist Douglas Granum’s studio before the statue is dedicated at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

More online

The Beloved Ivan Project is asking people to share their memories of Ivan at

3D Printing Artist Gives New Life to Artifacts Destroyed By ISIS

3D Printing Artist Gives New Life to Artifacts Destroyed By ISIS

Posted 2016-03-25 23:12 GMT

Lamassu, an Assyrian winged bull.There are many different shapes and sizes of rebellion; whether they be emotional, physical, mental, or political.

But it takes an artist to rebel against ISIS and its careless destruction using the exact shape or size required for resurrection.

In a Toronto art exhibit titled “Material Speculation: ISIS”, Morehshin Allahyari has given new life to historical Assyrian artifacts and sculptures destroyed by the terrorist organization in 2015 by recreating the pieces using 3D-printing technology.

By collaborating with archaeologists and painstakingly pouring over files, analysis, and data, the Iranian artist collected photos and information on her native country’s treasures until she was able to recreate them exactly–beautiful works like the King Uthal piece and Lamassu.

At the center of each piece is a USB drive filled with all of the information on the artifact.

“Like time capsules, each object is sealed and kept for future civilizations,” Morehshin explains on her website. “The information in these flash drives includes images, maps, PDF files, and videos gathered in the last months on the artifacts and sites that were destroyed.”

King Uthal.

The artist believes that by refusing to forget her culture’s masterpieces, people can partake in a form of activism that will restore a nation’s history through memory, care, and appreciation for the past.