paper Christmas decorations

Print Hi-Tech: September & October

Printing, digital, and marketing convergence

Interesting news and case studies involving printing and digital technologies covered in my regular ‘Hi-Tech’ category.

Today: sewn books are better; adorable paper Christmas decorations; 3D printing making inroads into Red Dot Design Museum; 3D printed device for regaining fine motor skills.

Sewn is Better: promoting sewn books

I simply loved this series of short commercials by Meccanotechnica, the Italian supplier of book finishing solutions.

The videos promote qualities and properties of sewn books. A high-quality sewn book lays flat when open. You can open it at 360° and hold it easily with one hand. Moreover, the sewn book lasts for generations.

It is not a matter of machine settings or operator ability but an intrinsic quality of thread sewn books. Enjoy your reading experience!

Paper is Better: Christmas ideas

Paper is a great choice for DIY ideas. Using paper decorations for the holidays is easy, affordable, and creatively freeing.

Take a look at these adorable paper Christmas decorations with tutorials. Most of them take just a few minutes, and many are kid-friendly, too. Feel free to choose any colours you want, and make as many or as few as you like.

Need even more ideas? This origami-style collection is sure to contain a piece or two that you’ll love!

Christmas paper decorations

3D Printing is Better: A difference in making

From September 27 to October 30, 2016, Red Dot Design Museum in Germany presented the exhibition “Making a Difference / A Difference in Making”. Marta Malé-Alemany, architect and researcher of digital fabrication technologies, brought together pioneering 3D printed works of art, design, engineering and science.

The exhibition showed how 3D printing can help individuals, enable social changes, and contribute to a better environment. In other words, how 3D printing is making a difference. The exhibition was curated by and produced by Materialise.

Each year, design experts from around the globe decide, which products to exhibit in Red Dot Design Museum. The venue has a long tradition. Back in 1955, the Permanent Show of Elegant Industrial Products opened in the Villa Hügel, the world-famous seat of the Krupp family in Essen.

Bonus: Made in Ukraine

Alexander Shumsky, born in Ukranian Dnipro, invented a hand device that helps to regain fine motor skills after stroke. An ergonomic Holdon gadget priced under $500 is 3D printed with further customisation options. You can put it on without help to make the damaged hand work as usual: to use it to get dressed, make tea, and perform other everyday tasks.

The patented system consists of two components. A hand glove for the healthy hand contains a sensor and a 3D printed part generates electrical impulses to activate motor neurons of the damaged hand. The sensor monitors movements of the forefinger and transmits signals using Bluetooth. The muscle does not feel any difference between an impulse generated by the brain or by the device. Thus, the damaged part of the brain uses another part for guidance.

Alexander started his work while studying at a university in Italy. To make this device a reality, he had to learn related sciences, to consult Italian medics and bioengineers. He has also launched another project aimed at creating low-cost devices for people with special needs.

Holdon gadget to regain fine motor skills

Print Hi-Tech: November 2015

Print Hi-Tech: November

Printing, digital, and marketing convergence

Interesting news and case studies involving printing and digital technologies covered in my regular ‘Hi-Tech’ category.

Today: Amazon goes brick-and-mortar; amazing paper sculptures born in Canada; Local Motors makes its first 3D printed car; nursery rhymes and kid songs created in Ukraine for English-speaking audience.

Amazon: combining online and physical worlds

After twenty years of selling books online, Amazon opened a ‘traditional’ shopping centre  in Seattle’s University Village, with printed books on real shelves. Jennifer Cast, Vice President of Amazon Books, stated that the store is meant to be an extension of their website, and a place where customers can try out their Kindles and Fire Tablets. It could be the beginning of a whole new era in online business – big data as a supplement to human insight, not a substitute for it, writes the Forbes magazine.

It is clear that Amazon relies heavily on its data. But what else is the company planning? According to the Seattle Times, Amazon says the store won’t be stocked solely on data. “It’s data with heart,” said Jennifer Cast. “We’re taking the data we have and we’re creating physical places with it.”

Some of that data include reviews from the millions of Amazon customers. Below each book on the shelf is a card with either a review or a rating from the site. The company also has offered a corporate favorites section that will be updated. In November, the section included a few of Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ favorite titles. Some of them are “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, and “Traps” by his wife, MacKenzie Bezos.

Amazon goes brick-and-mortar

Paper Sculptures from Calvin Nicholls

Canadian paper sculpture artist Calvin Nicholls creates awesome low relief reproductions. An extremely detailed piece can take from a few weeks up to two years depending on scale and complexity.

For those who would like to try and make their own pictures capturing all of the shapes and shadows, the artist gives a number of recommendations. Cuts are made with scalpels and x-acto knives on a plastic cutting mat or cutting board. Small scissors can work if you go slow and cut in very smooth motions. Use a very small amount of glue on a toothpick. Attach the pieces starting at the tip of the tail and work up – just like shingles on a roof.

Have fun developing your own style. Maybe you could even make your own snow-white greeting card — just in time for Christmas!

Paper Sculptures from Calvin Nicholls

3D Printed Cars Made a Reality

American Local Motors founded by Jay Rogers and best known for its $100,000 off-road Rally Fighter crowdsourced vehicle announced one more innovation. Its new LM3D Swim road-ready vehicle is 3D printed and crafted using a design sourced from the creative community.

According to Jay Rogers, they hope that cars may really become “safe, smart, and sustainable.” To turn an aesthetic crowdsourced concept model into a functional automobile, Local Motors’ product development team relied on the so-called synchronous design based on Siemens’ Solid Edge software.

The LM3D will likely be shipped in 2017 as both a highway-ready model and as a low-speed electric vehicle. The announced price tag is $53k for a car. Partnering with IBM and other tech companies, Local Motors is going to implement new technology with every new car off the line. Jay Rogers is sure that this will make the cars smarter and safer.

Bonus: Made in Ukraine

Recently, an animation studio from Ukrainian Lviv created a new 3D animation project for English speakers. After one and a half months, Dave and Ava YouTube channel with animated nursery rhymes and baby songs has got more than 15 million views in North America.

The smartphone app will be ready to download soon. The team is working hard to make their animations available on iOS and Android devices, so you can enjoy Dave and Ava Nursery Rhymes offline.

The 100% Ukrainian project, from ideas to music to 3D animators and actors, is funded by local investors.

Rich media MOO Cards

Print Hi-Tech: October

Printing, digital, and marketing convergence

Interesting news and case studies involving printing and digital technologies covered in my regular ‘Hi-Tech’ category.

Today: testing your eye for colour with a free iPhone game; paper business cards with embedded chips from MOO; 3D printed device for getting drinking water; new online gang printing services.

Specimen for iPhone: make fun getting colours right

Most online applications for testing colour perception (like the Munsell Color system) are a bit tiresome. Try Specimen, a free-to-play iPhone game by Sal Randazzo, Erica Gorochow and Charlie Whitney, to add fun to colour tests.

According to its authors, the game appeared as a kind of diagnostic test with a timer. Colourful amebas floating in a petri dish should be matched across the background colours. And quickly!

You’ll be going through levels with more and more difficulty, which are all unlike. The engine randomises amebas’ hue, saturation, and colour value. “We found there was a human perceptual limit that we had to guard for, but I’d say in later levels we get pretty close to that line,” Gorochow notes.

Rich media MOO Cards: paper plus digital

MOO Business Cards+ connects paper business cards and digital technologies with the help of an embedded NFC (Near Field Communication) chip.

Adding new dimension to a traditional product, the chip is able to perform various actions—just tap a MOO card to an NFC-enabled smartphone. Actions are assigned via the Manage paper+ platform: you can link your card to a website or connect it to your social profile. An action can be an application download, a call, a message or saving contact details.

MOO has already announced partnerships with Spotify, LinkedIn, Appear.in and Citymapper for programmable actions, and users can also make their own actions outside the MOO platform by using IFTTT.

3D printed steam turbine: a low-cost way to treat salty water?

GE scientists Doug Hofer and Vitali Lissianski are creating a 3D printed device that could make drinking sea water possible. To implement their idea, they chose steam engine turbine principle. “‘In traditional steam turbines, steam condenses and turns to water,” Hofer explains. “We thought maybe the same principle could be applied to water desalination.”

The turbine is meant to freeze sea water separating the salt in solid form from clean ice. Then the ice can be melt to get drinking water. “Freezing seawater to treat it is nothing new, but the way we are doing it is very different. We’re tapping into our wealth of technical knowledge in turbomachinery to devise a cost-effective solution.” said Vitali Lissianski. A handheld 3D device could reduce desalination costs by up to 20 percent.

Supplies of clean drinking water continue to decrease. 97.5 percent of the global water is in salty oceans unsuitable for consumption, while a fifth of the planet is in dire need of fresh water.

3D printed steam turbine: a low-cost way to treat salty water?

Bonus: Made in Ukraine

Flyer.center, an American startup project for B2B and B2C segments co-owned by Ivan Dubrovin and Konstantin Puppo from Ukraine, attracted more than $1 million in combined investments. A gang printing service for American market uses upload2print technology with full process automation, from job upload to final output.

The startup is based on printonline.tech e-commerce platform provided by Tisk na Spletu, a Slovenian software company developing online solutions for the print industry. Earlier this year, the developers have successfully launched a similar druq.eu platform aimed at the European market.

According to Ivan Dubrovin, the main competitive advantage of gang-run print services is distributed printing. The print service provider just reallocates job flows while the printer can be located anywhere (the closer the better still as the distance affects costs and terms).

gang printing services

Komubook croud publishing platform

Print Hi-Tech: September

Printing, digital, and marketing convergence

Interesting news and case studies involving printing and digital technologies covered in my regular ‘Hi-Tech’ category.

Today: ‘The Drinkable Book’ that purifies water; a beer bottle turned into interactive canvas; 3D food printing for luxury dining; the first Ukrainian croud-publishing platform.

The Drinkable Book

Thousands of people still don’t have access to safe, clean water to drink. Finally, scientists have developed a special paper for water purification, which they hope will help people to solve this problem.

The pages of ‘The Drinkable Book‘ can be used to filter out the dirt from water. Each page contains special ingredients—silver and copper—to remove the germs that could make people unwell. To use the book, you need only to place the page inside a simple filter holder and then pour the dirty water into it. Tips printed on each page educate people about importance of drinking safe water.

The book’s been tried out in Africa and in Bangladesh, and people are really pleased with the results. Each sheet can be used up to 100 times. One book will do for a person’s water supply for up to four years.

The Drinkable Book

Scratchbottle: Instant customer engagement

The German beer brand Beck’s developed an interactive packaging. The company turned the bottle into a canvas in its latest advertising campaign to make its product more appealing to a younger, party loving audience.

For now, the scratch bottle remains a “dummy” for internal purposes. According to Beck’s, there are no plans to mass produce the scratch bottle. Still the packaging is intriguing because it creates instant customer engagement with the product. Humour, another key to successful marketing, is also present.

The campaign doesn’t imply cultural context, since Beck’s beer is sold in 90 countries. And it may be one of the reasons behind strong social media buzz it created.

3D Printing: Is it viable for fine dining?

Forbes published a 4-part series examining how the future of luxury dining would be affected by 3D printing making its first strides into the food industry. At the 3D Printshow 2015 in London, Michelin-starred Chef Mateo Blanch from La Boscana, Spain creating the first 3D printed, 5-course meal attracting many attendees.

The menu included a starter snack of caviar cookies with lemon and strawberries, hummus and a dish of guacamole. The main course was a Framed octopus and a Caprese pasta with basilicum and pestofolowed by a strawberry and jelly carpaccio, and a dessert featuring the word “London” printed in chocolate. According to Blanch, the technology has made him “capable of a level of precision that would have never been possible before.”

Still, there are few other reports on Michelin-starred chefs adopting the technology. The reason 3D food printing is particularly challenging is that you often have to mix more than one material to create a conceivably good dish. But today it is relatively difficult. What’s more, 3D food printers are generally expensive. The better models such as 3D Systems’ Sugar ChefJet would cost $5,000 to $10,000.

3D printing for luxury food

Bonus: Made in Ukraine

Recently, the first croud-publishing platform called Komubook was launched in Ukraine. Introducing the concept of crowdfunding to the publishing world, the closely-curated platform will work with famous books and authors not translated into Ukrainian yet.

The platform model is quite simple. You can choose and pre-order any of proposed books (currently, these are Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, A Scanner Darkly, Junkie, and Mrs Dalloway). As soon as funds are acquired, the book is published and sent to people who have invested in the project.

In fact, crowdfunding isn’t anything new. Unbound author Paul Kingsnorth describes, “The idea of funding books by subscriptions is actually something that was very popular in the 18th century. We’re really going back to a time before we had big, central publishers who were able to give writers big advances, and using the web to attract readers to a project.”

Komubookthe croud-publishing platform

3D Printing a Steel Bridge

Print Hi-Tech: June & July

Printing, digital, and marketing convergence

Interesting news and case studies involving printing and digital technologies covered in my regular ‘Hi-Tech’ category.

Today: Pizza and movies with a cardboard projector; a speaker made of recycled paper; 3D printing of a fully functional steel bridge; Ukrainian bank starts to use 3D printing.

Movie Nights Packaging

Pizza Hut Hong Kong offers their customers both pizzas and movies for an iconic night. You can turn a Blockbuster Box from a pizza delivery device into a small film projector in just a few minutes.

Created by Ogilvy & Mather Group, the unique pizza box comes with a ready to remove hole, a lens, and a smartphone stand. Customers are welcome to scan code printed on the side of the box to unlock some exclusive movies and enjoy them together with their pizza.

Pizza lovers can choose one of four boxes depending on the kind of movie they want to watch: horror Slice Night, sci-fi Anchovy Armageddon, romantic Hot and Ready, thrilling Fully Loaded. For now, the box is only available to customers in Hong Kong.

PizzaHut-Blockbuster

Recycled Paper Speaker

To demonstrate the endless possibilities of paper, Arjowiggins Graphic launches a campaign based on a music speaker created from Cocoon, 100 percent recycled material with the qualities and appearance of virgin fibre paper.

The flat packed speaker box made from cocoon offset 350 gsm is combined with a compact portable speaker system called the Mighty Boomball, which can turn literally any surface into a speaker offering on a new music experience.

All you need to enjoy your music anywhere is simply make up a Cocoon 100% recycled speaker box, pop the Mighty Boomball on top of it, plug it into a headphone socket and watch the box transform into a high volume speaker.

3D Printing a Steel Bridge

MX3D, a company specializing in research and development of robotic 3D print technology, is going to 3D print a fully functional steel bridge with intricate design over water in the center of Amsterdam. The bridge will be designed by Joris Laarman with the help of new Autodesk software, a research project in itself. “I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production, in ‘the new craft’. This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form,” Joris says.

According to Tim Geurtjens, CTO MX3D, the difference between their technology and traditional 3D printing methods is the ‘Printing Outside the box’ principle. Using 6-axis industrial robots, the process is no longer limited to a square building box.

From September 2015, the progress of the project can be followed in MX3D visitor center. Project partners: Autodesk, Heijmans, Air Liquide, ABB robotics, STV, Delcam, Within, Lenovo.

Bonus: Made in Ukraine

PrivatBank, the leading commercial bank in Ukraine, started to 3D print gears for its extensive ATM network consisting of more than 8,000 terminals across the country.

According to its IT director, ATM gears for were earlier supplied by third-party manufacturers. Now, a 3D printer makes it possible to produce the necessary batches of gears in-house. The reported price per unit has dropped 20 times. Moreover, the bank does not need inventory any longer as gears are printed as soon as they are needed.

Due to reduced ATM downtime, in-house 3D printing means real benefits both for the bank and for its customers.

3D gear printing