Queensland State Library to 3D print replica of rare braille globe

Oct 11, 2017 | By Julia

It’s been over 60 years since Richard Frank Tunley created his original braille globe in Queensland, Australia. Known as “the fairy godfather of blind children,” Tunley dedicated his life to improving the lives of visually impaired children and adults by producing braille globes, maps, models, doll houses and games. Among those creations, Tunley’s original braille globe stands out as an important learning tool, and an invaluable heritage item in Australian history. In recognition of Tunley’s work, the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) and the Queensland Library Foundation have come together to recreate the heritage globe ‒ via 3D printing ‒ for a younger generation to enjoy.

SLQ technicians will replicate the rare globe, which Tunley created by installing metal plates on a wooden sphere, thanks to recent technological advancements and a $10,000 state funding package. The individual landmasses were originally shown by raised shapes and labels inscribed in braille, a unique “Tunley touch” that SLQ staff plan to recreate through photogrammetry.

High-fidelity photographs will be taken from all angles, and then virtually pieced together using 3D modelling software to make an exact digital rendering. “That then gets made into plans that are printed out on a 3D printer,” SLQ content manager director Margaret Warren said. “[The globe] won’t be the same as the original because it will be in a 3D resin or plastic.”

Still, the 3D printed replica will allow the new globe to be touched, handled, and explored just as the original was intended, allowing Tunley’s vision to come to life once again. Accompanying digital plans and learning notes will be shared internationally as well.

The fragile 1950s version, on the other hand, will be rescued from storage, treated by SLQ preservation staff, and placed on display as part of a State Library of Queensland exhibition starting in December.

Richard Frank Tunley

SLQ State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald noted that the original Tunley globe remains a marvel of Queensland ingenuity, enterprise and skill. “The Tunley globe is a truly remarkable creation and a unique, perhaps unknown, Queensland story,” McDonald said.

The $10,000 funding package was recently awarded to the project at the SLQ’s annual Crowd Giving event. There, a room full of heritage lovers and philanthropists debated and discussed three new SLQ projects before voting that the Tunley globe’s restoration and replication was most worthy of their collective financing.

“SLQ is immensely grateful to the donors who have put their money behind making this fascinating piece of Queensland history discoverable and accessible for a new generation of Queenslanders,” McDonald said.

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3D models at State Fair created in Huntington

HUNTINGTON – As 3D models blow up microorganisms to 3,000 times their original size, they look a bit like movie monsters and are sure to catch the attention of visitors to the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg.

Capturing the attention of children and adults was the intention of Aimee Figgatt, district manager of the Capitol Conservation District, when she asked to work with the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing in Huntington for a “Soil Tunnel Trailer” to be debut at the fair, which started Friday and continues through Sunday, Aug. 21.

Inside the trailer, the models are in portals behind glass, giving visitors a sense of looking at the microorganisms through a microscope.

“I wanted to include technology, in this case 3D printing, because that is where education is going, and that is what kids like,” she said. “I want everyone to understand the importance of protecting the soil beneath their feet. Soil is not just dirt on the ground. It’s actually alive, and that really surprises people.”

Figgatt has been working on the trailer project since 2012.

“She worked with RCBI on developing designs for the microorganisms, and then RCBI staff members printed them on different 3D printers,” said Jamie Cope, deputy director at RCBI.

Cope said an intern from China, Dengyue Sun, created the 3D models from sample pictures from Figgatt using RCBI’s computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software and mini-robots.

“This is the same type of software I use in China,” Sun said. “Each model takes about a day to make.”

Sun is a professor at Yanshan University’s National Engineering Research Center for Equipment and Technology of Cold Strip Rolling in Hebei, China.

“We’re excited to participate in the State Fair by contributing customized, 3D printed organisms,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director and CEO. “While the fair’s audience may expect to see common livestock, our larger-than-life ‘soil creatures’ should encourage children and adults to take a closer look at microorganisms.”

Following the State Fair, the trailer will travel to other sites and events around the state.

Cope said RCBI has had a 3D metal printer in South Charleston for the past 10 years.

“3D printing has been happening in this region for a long time,” he said. “I think it took a while for industry to embrace the technology, but today we are doing lots of various types of 3D printing work for businesses and industries in our region and beyond.”

The microorganisms were made with a “makerbot” 3D printer.

“This is the same type of 3D printers many of the local schools have,” Cope said.

Cope says 3D printing is very good for prototyping. A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from, he said.

“3D printing can be the most cost-effective way of doing this,” Cope said.

Cope says often times the cost of making plastic molds can exceed $50,000 or more.

“So it might be more cost effective in a short run to use 3D printing technology,” he said.

Cope said RCBI has also done prints of Marshall University’s President’s House, historically known as the Campbell-Staats House, at 1040 13th Ave., in Huntington.

“When it was remodeled, we used those prints as mementoes or souvenirs,” he said.

Cope said each RCBI Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center has its own focus to meet the needs of manufacturers in the region.

“The RCBI Huntington Center, the first of the statewide facilities to open, primarily serves the biomedical, metal, energy, aerospace and education markets, as well as the emerging markets of 3D printing, prototyping and reverse engineering,” he said.

The Advanced Manufacturing Center features a variety of state-of-the art manufacturing equipment with leading-edge technologies, Cope added.

“In addition, the center offers the design works lab where innovators, entrepreneurs and others can turn their ideas into reality through additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing,” he said. “Members of RCBI’s experienced and knowledgeable staff provide expertise to help manufacturers and others use the equipment and technology offered by RCBI.”

Prototype Projects launches state of the art 3D printing suite

Royston-based prototyping experts Prototype Projects has opened a specialist 3D Printing and rapid prototyping facility at its Royston base. The suite was opened by local MP Sir Oliver Heald, who toured the advanced prototyping facility with managing director Justin Pringle.

Developed in response to growth in demand for the company’s range of industrial 3D Printing services, the facility includes a specialist medical material 3D printing unit, where new designs of prototype medical and drug delivery devices can be made in a controlled environment.

“We have experienced a steady growth in demand for our rapid prototyping and 3D printing services over the last couple of years,” said Pringle. “The new dedicated medical material area for medical device prototyping is particularly exciting, because many of our clients are at the forefront of medical and drug delivery product design.”

The 2000ft2 suite more than doubles the overall size of the Prototype Projects facilities in Royston and combines an existing suite of high quality 3D printing machines with new capital investments. It also extends the range of services and capacity offered by Prototype Projects across four different specialist 3D printing technologies.

Heald said: “It was fascinating to see the work of this pioneering company and the new investment, which has greatly expanded its operations. I was delighted to open the new facility and wish them well.”

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Cincinnati State awarded grant for 3D printing training

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College was recently awarded a $200,000 state grant, which it will use to expand training for students in skills related to “additive manufacturing.” That includes the use of industrial 3D printers.

The university said it’s as part of a larger initiative to “bolster course and training opportunities for students interested in the field of additive technologies.”

Cincinnati State is part of a regional consortium dedicated to supporting growth in the additive technologies sector by improving the education and training. The college was awarded the grant by Chancellor John Carney of the Ohio Department of Higher Education to support this initiative.

State officials are targeting this sector as a result of many large manufacturing firms moving towards 3D printing processes.

General Electric is using laser-powered 3-D printers, 3-D “inking” and “painting” machines, and other advanced manufacturing tools to make parts and products they thought impossible. It’s aviation branch alone is projected to produce 100,000 additive parts by 2020, and already has more than 300 3D printing machines in use.

GE said it sees advanced manufacturing as “the next chapter in the industrial revolution” on its website.

Cincinnati State cited a 2015 study by the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, stating “the region needs to improve its capacity to train future designers, engineers, machinists and manufacturing technicians in 3D and related disciplines in order to realize the full potential of the field.”

It found many manufacturers have purchased printers over the past few years, but are struggling to find and maintain skilled personnel to run them.

That’s where the region’s colleges and universities, such as Cincinnati State, come in.

The Ohio Manufacturing Institute recognized that additive manufacturing education is increasing, but said additional initiatives and degree programs, particularly in industrial, mechanical, and material science, are needed to take on the explosive growth in the field. It encouraged the use of trade schools, additive manufacturing certification and adult education as valuable assets for hiring specialized employees.

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State of the art: how Victoria is developing its design courses and credentials


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Designing a snowboard binding

Deakin University design students demonstrate the process of taking an idea, building a concept, and taking it out into the real world. (Vision courtesy Deakin Universirty)

Milliner Richard Nylon is all about the pushing the design envelope. When he was commissioned to make a Minnie Mouse headpiece, he turned to technology.

“Millinery is an applied art that most people think is frozen in 1950. It isn’t, and I encourage my students to explore new technology when creating hats,” says Nylon, who also teaches millinery at RMIT.

It’s the design department that adds the value. If you’re not designing right, then you’re not manufacturing anything that people want to buy. 

Dr Paul Collins, director of the Bachelor of Design Technology course, Deakin University

The innovative designer says millinery has to employ modern technology to be relevant. His students have explored digital printing on fabrics, and 3D printing, but if they are using technology to create a hat it must add something. “I want them to make sure that  it can’t be done any other way.

Modern mouse: milliner Richard Nylon used new technology to design his Minnie hat.

Modern mouse: milliner Richard Nylon used new technology to design his Minnie hat.

“If students are using 3D printing, I want them to push the medium, otherwise what’s the use? Yes, 3D printing is (great) for prototyping and speedier product manufacture, but as an artist, how can you add to that? I encourage students to explore and push the medium, and let’s see what happens. Technology allows students to carry their visions further.”

Nylon’s Minnie Mouse headpiece looks like the round ears we are used to seeing, but the ears are hollow and the outer shell constructed with the words ‘I love you’. “She’s always saying ‘I love you’,” says Nylon. “This creation could only be done using 3D printing technique.”

Design opportunities

Best foot forward: Deakin university students test design modifications they have made to snowboard bindings.

Best foot forward: Deakin university students test design modifications they have made to snowboard bindings. Photo: Supplied

Nylon and his students are an example of how technology and creativity are contributing to Victoria’s strong design industry, which is forging ahead to replace the vacuum of our declining manufacturing industry.

“Good design builds a better product,” says Dr Paul Collins, who worked for General Motors Holden and Ford, and is now the director of the Bachelor of Design Technology course at Deakin University in Geelong.

“The decline in manufacturing in Victoria is because we’re building stuff people don’t want. Commodores and Falcons were not selling because people had other options that suited their needs better.”

Despite closing manufacturing plants, Holden and Ford have kept their design departments, says Dr Collins.

“It’s the design department that adds the value. If you’re not designing right, then you’re not manufacturing anything that people want to buy. The success of Apple is that it’s a design-led company.”

Dr Collins predicts a strong design industry for Victoria. “That’s where the jobs are going to be.”

There is a shift to design, agrees RMIT design lecturer Simon Lockrey.

“Holden and Ford design teams in Australia are in demand worldwide. They are competing globally and winning work contracts against design teams In America, Europe, and Asia.”

Last year, Swinburne University of Technology opened its $100 million Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre.

The key word is “Advanced”, says Industry Innovation Projects coordinator and lecturer Dr Carl Turner.

“Design, at multiple levels, is an important strategic capability that complements advanced manufacturing. The Centre … will enhance Australia’s ability to develop an internationally competitive, highly productive and technologically advanced manufacturing sector.”

There are also lots of design opportunities with the many design engineering firms here in Melbourne, says RMIT third year mechanical engineering student Josh Gurtler, who leads RMIT’s electric racing car team.

Technology paves the way

Gurtler still hand sketches, but CAD (computer aided design) technology helps him to modify designs quickly, and make a realistic model of the car right down to minute details such as bolts and washers. The team uses Autodesk Inventor CAD.

“We can clearly see if the car will work. Will a component fit and work with other components?”

Computers design in ways that humans can’t, says Jeff Kowalski, chief technical officer at 3D design software company Autodesk, which gives design software free to students and educators.

“We define the outcome and let the computer generate the design. We’ve gone from telling the computer what to do, to telling it what we want to achieve. The designer starts with goals, and then explores permutations to solve the problem. We can give the computer the design constraints and it will make suggestions.”

For example, intelligence built into Autodesk Inventor tells Gurtler where in his racing car he can remove material to make the lightest structurally sound design possible.

“The computer is another designer in the room. It can also work out the thing you forgot to ask for,” says Kowalski.

User experience (UX) design

The user experience is becoming an increasingly important part of design. “All products we design come with human interaction,” says Dr Collins.

To inform their snowboard bindings design, Deakin students surveyed snowboard users to find out why and how injuries happen, and tried to understand how they use a snowboard. Students used the Quick Surveys online questionnaire. (Survey Monkey is another.)

After making modifications to existing designs, students sought more feedback and communicated directly to a few select users with skype, email, and videos.

At Swinburne’s Design Factory, part of the Design Factory Global Network, huge video-conferencing screens are used in design factories in kitchens and break out rooms all over the world for easy collaboration with students in different countries, says lecturer John Eggleston.

“Each design factory has live feeds that enable serendipitous communication. It’s like walking into a room and bumping into someone in another country.”

Swinburne also uses a telepresence robot (a video screen attached to a long stick on wheels) for international collaboration. For example, students in Norway and Australia can control the robot at the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva in Switzerland to see what’s going on, says Eggleston.

“It brings opportunity for different expertise and different perspectives to challenge the status quo in another country. And different cultural perspectives may provide a new lens to see design for a product designed in Melbourne.”

Project management and collaboration tools used by students and industry that suit the visual aspects of a design project include Invision, Basecamp, and Slack, says James Noble, who mentors students at Tractor design school, and founded Carter Digital, a user experience digital agency in Fitzroy. “Better than emails bouncing backwards and forwards.”

Business consulting firms PwC and Deloitte now have digital arms, says Lockrey, and are employing design graduates to design user experiences, for example, an insurance company designing customer services.

“Service design and digital user experience design are two of the new paradigms that industrial designers contribute to. Most products have digital elements these days, so you need to have design input to engage the user.”

Think of driverless cars, which could learn the experiences that different people may want when they are travelling, says Lockrey. “This could include the entertainment they may want, the food they may eat, the lighting levels they desire to sleep, the smells that they prefer, or the social interactions that they value, all in the act of driving from A to B.”

It may not employ as many as manufacturing, but clean and clever is an export industry many are keen on and Melbourne is in a good place to deliver talented and industry ready design graduates.





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