All posts in “manufacturing”

Beheld is a new startup that lets you scan, send, and print yourself


Kat Kinkead and Peter Weijmarshausen met at their old company, Shapeways. Weijmarshausen recently stepped down as CEO and was looking for something cool to do when he and Kinkead realized that the most popular application of 3D scanning and printing was in 3D figurines. These tiny action-figure-like representations were wildly popular print subjects back at Shapeways but they were notoriously difficult to capture and print.

Now, thanks to improvements in scanning, color printing, and software, they’re surprisingly easy. Thus Beheld was born.

Kinkead, the CEO, has an MFA in industrial design and has worked in the 3D printing industry for half a decade. She helped build 3D printing procedures for places like Michael Kors and they founded Beheld in January 2017. They’ve raised a small amount of angel funding.

The system is simple: you enter a booth-sized scanner and strike a pose. The scanner takes multiple pictures of your body in 360 degrees and then stitches them together, creating a 3D model that you can share with your friends for free. If you want to print yourself, however, it will cost you about $40.

“What separates us from others in the industry is: We are making 3D scanning an experience,” said Kinkead. “We’re taking the components which already exist, and neatly tying them together to create a truly fun and memorable experience for consumers while simultaneously creating a turnkey experience for businesses. We’re placing scanners in an environment that makes them accessible to everyone.”

The vision is to have 3D scanning kiosks in malls and other high-trafficked places. Because the service is free to try the pair think that they’ll get quite a bit of upsell in the process.

It wasn’t hard convincing users that they wanted to scan themselves. It wasn’t even hard to convince them to pay a few dollars for a 3D print.

“Once the idea comes to mind that they, themselves, could actually be 3D printed, that’s when I would see the true excitement in people. Whether it was simply to have a 3D print of themselves or to use a 3D scan of their body to make items that were customized to fit them perfectly — that’s when the true sparks would fly,” said Kinkead.

The team plans to roll out 3D scanning kiosks in spots across America and Europe. They’ve also created special effects that can make you appear and disappear in fireworks and clouds of smoke, the better to please the Snapchat generation. After all, who wants a selfie when you can make yourself appear and disappear into a cloud of particles?

Markforged raises $30 million from industrial investors


When Greg Mark takes his 3D printer to VCs he gets blank stares. The Boston-based CEO of Markforged, a 3D printing company that specializes in printing carbon fiber and metals, has found that few of them could understand his technology.

“The composite business is profitable, and we are scaling at 300% year-over-year,” said Mark. “We have an incredible product roadmap, and raised this round to help us bring these new printers to market even faster.”

“All of our rounds have been oversubscribed. We were in the fortunate position to choose our investors,” he said. “We selected leading global manufacturers at the cutting edge of technology and product development because they are a great fit with our mission to dramatically shorten the time it takes to go from idea to product. We spoke with regular VC’s as well – given our hyper-growth, profitability, and efficiency with which we’ve scaled, there was a lot of interest. As one VC said, ‘we don’t see C round companies that have numbers like this.’”

In the end we choose strategics for the reason stated above.

That’s why he turned to Microsoft Ventures, Posche, and Siemens-backed Next 47 for his next $30 million for his Series C. These industry-backed VCs understood the problems associated

The company is currently delivering a system for complete metal forging. The system, which involves putting metal into a very powerful microwave, is a hit with industrial partners but is confusing to those who think 3D printing is basically teaching a robot to squirt out Yoda heads.

The company has raised a total of $57 million since launch. The company is profitable and is selling printers faster than it can make them with revenue growth at 300 percent.

There are a number of other metal solutions on the market including massive systems from 3D Systems designed for industrial use. Markforged makes a nearly desktop-sized 3D printer and has discovered that its customers are printing finished parts in metal and factory jigs for CNC cutting and part holding in carbon fiber. By integrating both metal and plastic into the workflow they are able to reduce the time it takes to get to a finished part.

The Goliath CNC is an autonomous cutting machine


The phrase “autonomous cutting machine” may sound like something out of Terminator but this clever little robot, called the Goliath CNC, wants to help humanity, not harm it.

Created by Lorenzo Frangi, Alessandro Trifoni, and Davide Cevoli, the robot is basically a free-rolling CNC machine that can crawl over a surface and etch and cut lines into many materials. The machine uses a drill bit and multi-directional wheels and can automatically measure the size of the material you’re cutting.

The team has pre-sold over 400 machines and raised $814,000. It will ship this month. It costs $1,850.

“Goliath CNC can be positioned directly on the work surface: this innovative mode of operation makes it a machine tool with a boundless work area because it matches the workpiece’s surface,” said Frangi. “The user can design or download designs from online project libraries, then upload the drawing to Goliath and supervise the work progress by a computer, smartphone or tablet.”

Because the machine is portable you can build wherever you want and even drag it to job sites where it can cut out pieces automatically. It has automatic leveling so it doesn’t drill haphazardly.

“The concept of Goliath CNC was born at the beginning of 2014 as my thesis project for the Master Degree in Design & Engineering at the Politecnico of Milano,” said Frangi. “I wished to contribute somehow to the digital fabrication tools’ world, which together with the Maker movement pick my attention for the enthusiasm and great success reached – at least in Italy! – and especially dealing with 3D printing. I wanted to develop something able to manufacture real and quality materials, so I focused on CNC milling machines of a desktop size.”

While yes, this robot could become self-aware and start drilling everyone in its path, it’s clear that Frangi and his team have taken special care to only allow the Goliath to cut down through materials and not give it the ability to climb walls and zap our bodies… yet.

Watch the Tesla Model 3 assembly line in slow motion

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Tesla is delaying a major announcement to focus on improving the Model 3 production process — so Elon Musk just shared a video of the assembly line in slow motion so that we can see the company is actually working on the new cars. 

The automaker failed to meet its stated Model 3 production goals by a wide margin last quarter, so the car’s manufacturing process is being called into question. A Wall Street Journal report claimed production bottlenecks arose because some parts were still being made by hand, a claim Tesla has vehemently denied. 

Musk shared a new video of the assembly process on Instagram, showing his followers exactly how a Model 3 is put together in the factory. There were no human workers in sight, unsurprisingly, but the footage was much slower than you might expect from an automated assembly line. 

Musk said the video only showed off the process at one-tenth speed.

He added in a tweet that the video wasn’t edited to make the process easier to follow — the automaker actually slowed down the production process IRL. The line was being run at tenth-speed so that Tesla could develop better safeguards in case of a malfunction or other accidents.

One of Musk’s followers edited the video to show the actual speed once production is humming along at full power.  

Tesla hopes to ramp up the Model 3 production to meet its aggressive goal of producing 5,000 units per week by the end of the year, a tall order after only manufacturing 260 Model 3 vehicles from July to September. The Model 3 could be massively important as all-electric cars become more common — but Tesla has to actually get enough cars on the road to actually make a difference. 

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We talk about hoofed spiders with the founder of Outlier clothing


Outlier’s founder Abe Burmeister is a designer who joined the world of clothing manufacturing over five years ago. His clothing – creating with cutting edge fabrics – is touted as high-tech and very chic but what frustrates Burmeister is how slowly the clothing industry is moving.

His latest creation, a rolltop knapsack, uses a unique material to create one of the lightest and strongest backpacks available. The fact that Burmeister is even using this material – a “nonwoven composite of Dyneema brand ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE)” – is odd in an industry that hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years.

I asked Burmeister about trends in clothing materials, why he makes stuff out of UHMWPE, and what we can expect from materials in the future (including whether or not we’ll wear stuff made by spiders with hooves.) Enjoy.

Technotopia is a podcast about a better future by John Biggs. You can subscribe in Stitcher or iTunes and download the MP3 here.