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Robotics, 3D Printing, Lifetime Achievements: 12 of the Best from Pacific Design & Manufacturing

Design News - Tue, 2018-02-13 04:00



Read More Articles on Pacific Design & Manufacturing

3D Printing of Metal Parts Is on the Rise, Expert Says

Software Helps Answer the Question: Is Industry 4.0 Right for You?

Robots Are Displacing Manual Labor Jobs

How Desktop 3D Printing Is Moving from Makers to Pros

Design News Honors Winning Companies at 2018 Golden Mousetrap Awards

Manufacturers: Invest in Training for Digital Manufacturing Jobs

At 95, John Goodenough Is Still Searching for Next Big Battery Breakthrough


Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.


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Using Simulation to Test a Last Jedi Theory

Design News - Tue, 2018-02-13 03:49
WARNING: Last Jedi Spoilers Ahead

While watching the latest Star Wars movie, I couldn’t help but wonder: What ripped apart Luke’s lightsaber?

I came from the Rey realm of thought – the Force lets you move things with your mind and control people. Luke and the Force nuns convinced me otherwise, but I still couldn’t turn off my engineering brain as I watched Kylo Ren  and Rey struggle over the lightsaber. How did they rip the lightsaber apart, and why did it cause an explosion?


The Math

The only lightsabers I have lying around are LEGO-made, so no physical testing for me. So, I chose the path of finite element analysis (FEA), using a SOLIDWORKS-generated lightsaber and SOLIDWORKS Simulation to test its strength.

SOLIDWORKS Simulation, and other FEA programs in general, need inputs of materials, restraints, loads, and mesh.




The hilt of a lightsaber is usually made of metal, or wood from a Brylark tree. I have run Star Wars analyses before, so I had Durasteel handy in my material library (a custom material I made by modifying AISI 4340 steel). I used this for the casing.


Restraining the lightsaber was a more difficult task. Finite element analysis doesn’t understand the physical reality around the object, and if a model is not properly restrained, even a small imbalance in applied load can cause rigid body motion. Add that requirement to the fact that only the equal yet opposing strengths of Kylo and Rey were preventing Luke’s lightsaber from moving, so I had a conundrum.

Fortunately, once I’d realized the forces (Forces?) were equal and opposite, I knew to activate the inertial relief option within Simulation. This option creates a state of static equilibrium by applying inertial forces at all mesh nodes, and with a final tweak to prevent rotation, I was ready for the next step.


How much weight can Kylo and Rey control? Mostly I’ve seen quarterstaffs and human bodies flying around, but near the end of the movie Rey lifts a wall of boulders. (Yes, I did watch the movie a second time specifically to carefully observe the boulders.) I counted approximately 50 with an average size of 18 in. floating around her. At about 200 lb per 18-in. boulder, we’re looking at a total of 10,000 pounds.

The Theory

After a quick mesh and run, I got a radial deflection of 0.02 in. inward.



I also got some stress peaks that likely would have fractured the casing, but that still doesn’t explain the explosion. After some research on Star Wars wiki Wookieepedia, I came across a diagram of the internals of Kylo’s lightsaber.

Based on the diagram and the shape of Luke’s lightsaber, we can expect the diatium power cell running through the center of the conductor coil to attach to the Kyber crystal exactly where we see the deflection.

So, my hypthosis: The force applied by Kylo and Rey caused the crystal’s mount to misalign, causing the Kyber crystal to fall into the nearby focusing crystals, ultimately causing a cataclysmic explosion.

Obviously I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Jedi, and I equally enjoyed utlizing SOLIDWORKS to prove my fan theory. So, to all the other fans out there …

May Simulation be with you.


Shivani Patel is an elite-certified Application Engineer specializing in the SOLIDWORKS and Simulation products. She graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington's Aerospace Engineering program, and now works for GoEngineer in Houston, TX. She enjoys seeing how customers apply FEA and CFD tools, and teaching customized classes.

Images care of SOLIDWORKS

An Interview with Michael DiTullo, Part 2: How He Overcame the Setbacks All Designers Face

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-02-12 18:54

In Part 1 of this interview, we followed Michael DiTullo's career path from unruly student to principal of his own firm. It wasn't an easy-breezy path; you don't rise to the position of Design Director at 30, then Chief Design Officer before your 40s, as DiTullo did, without encountering difficulties and setbacks. And just like when you're designing an object, when you're navigating a business environment you have to understand how things really work and how the parts fit together in order to achieve a successful outcome. 

Here in Part 2, DiTullo speaks frankly and honestly about some of the BS that designers have to face and how he dealt with these issues.

DiTullo did a bunch of work for Jonathan Ward's Icon 4x4.Core77: Another topic I wanted to touch on is the setbacks designers encounter, and how to get around them. Can you talk about some of the more difficult setbacks you've run into and how you solved them?

Michael DiTullo: Yeah. I think I learned early on--we talked about that one from school [in Part 1 of this interview]--that I'm going to have to take things into my own hands. There is no benevolent force that's going to help you. You've got to do it. And you have to seek help; [no one's going to bring it to you,] you yourself have to get it.

I'm always open to feedback from other people. And if somebody has a good idea, I'm going to steal that idea. I have absolutely no problem with being like, "I'm going to use that," and I credit that person. I don't have an ego, it's about making the thing as good as it can be.

But on the flip side, I also have absolutely no problem with rejecting input, if I think it's wrong. I think that's one of the biggest challenges that a lot of designers face. Early in my career at Nike, I saw this shoe the company had produced, and it was a freaking disaster. I was curious and went to the guy that designed it, he was a Senior Designer. I'm looking at his original sketch, which was cool, and I compared it to the real thing and asked him "What happened?"

"Oh, marketing made me do this, and marketing made me do that," blah blah blah, he said.

"But how did they make you do it?" I asked.

"What do you mean, how did they make me do it? They just tell me to do it."

"Yeah, but you report to the Design Director, who reports to the Creative Director, who reports to the Head of Design. You don't report to Marketing. How did they make you do it?"

"I don't understand the question."

"Well, did they threaten you? What did they do?"

So it dawned on me: I don't have to listen if it's not a good idea. He knew that Marketing's suggestions weren't any good but still felt compelled to listen.

What can you do if you're that guy, in that kind of situation?

I remember being in a similar situation where a marketing guy was like, "Okay, you have to do this, this, this and this to the shoe."

I said "I don't think those are the right things to do to the shoe. I don't think that's going to make the product better."

"Well, you have to do it."

"Well, if you can prove to me that it will sell more, I will certainly do it. But that's really your value in this equation. If it's just like you want it this way, that is a design decision, and I'm going to make that decision, because I went to school for it."

He turned bright red and said "Fine, I'm going to cancel the whole program."


He says "So you would be okay with canceling this program just because you won't make a change I want to make?"

I told him "I'm not canceling the program. You're the one that wants to cancel the program over a design decision that you won't let your designer make. If you cancel this program, please do, I will set up a meeting with us and the VP of Product. And please bring a box, because you will explain to him why, over a grudge, you canceled an entire program that revenue was assigned to. And you will get fired. And then I'll never have to listen to your input ever again. If that's what you would prefer to do over this design decision, if you'd prefer to lose your job rather than listen to the expert that you have working with you, I'm totally fine with it."

In the end he was like "Okay, we'll keep it the way you want to do it."

And the shoe went into production and sold well. You have to know when to dig in. And I wasn't trying to be a jerk about it, but was just trying to frankly lay out the situation. I'm like, "Yeah, you do have the power to cancel the whole program. But that comes with a consequence. And I'm not going to be threatened by that, because, guess what, I've designed a shit-ton of shoes. And next season, I'll design more. My whole career doesn't rest on this. But yours might, if you lose this much revenue over a grudge."


I had this thing with an engineer, we were developing a new cushioning technology. (That's a big deal in the industry and was another one of my goals.) The testing was coming back with good results, and Marketing had put an aggressive timeline on it to bring it to market. But the lead engineer didn't feel comfortable, he was really nervous. To his credit, he had worked on cushioning technology 15 years prior that had been rushed to market, and it failed because it had been rushed.

But this [iteration] was going fine. And I was pushing hard for it and siding with Marketing's aggressive timeline. I told the engineer "Dude, it's testing and performing great. There's no issues. And there's strong utility patents on it."

He felt I was really pressuring him, so he typed up this letter that said "Michael DiTullo is going to take full responsibility if this thing fails," that it was 100% my idea to bring it to market on this timeline.

I signed it right away and told him "This is freaking awesome."

And he's saying "What?" I think he thought I was going to back down.

I said, "You just gave me a document that says if we bring this to market and it succeeds, that you had nothing to do with it. And guess what? It's going to go to market, and it's going to succeed. And this says that you don't have anything to do it. Put me down." And he took the paper back and ripped it in half.

There's going to be uncomfortable moments in the process when you are trying to push a boundary. You just have to make it not personal. You have to be willing to have the uncomfortable conversation, and then immediately say "Hey, let's go get a beer." And make sure people know it's not you versus them. "I understand we both want the best thing for the project, but maybe we have some different views on how to get that done."

And in some cases I have been wrong. And that has resulted in product just sitting in the warehouse, and that's not a good feeling. I try to do post-mortems and learn from that, and talk to people who disagreed with me. There have been times where I have gone to an engineer or a marketing person and been like "You were right and I was wrong. And I'm sorry." So you've got to own that stuff too.

Sure. Speaking of tough conversations, when you are working with a team of designers under you, do you consider it their responsibility to inspire themselves? Or are you leading them and trying to inspire them from your position?

I'd say it's 50-50. I expect the designers I work with to want to be immersed in culture. I expect them to inspire me too. I expect them to bring me things like "Hey, have you seen this?" Awesome. And I will do that in return. I will mentor them, I'll expose them to something I've seen that they may have not because I've been around a little longer. Helping them understand that the work we're doing, it's part of a continuous stream of work, from before World War II until today, and we'll go beyond.

I think when you understand that it's not about what happened last year and what will happen next year--it's about what happened 40 years ago and what will happen 40 years from now. Then you can chart the trends very differently.

When designers work for me, I think the hardest thing for some is that there's this point in time where we're teammates. We're both designers working on a project together, I want your ideas, I want you to challenge me. But then there's another point in time where now we're reviewing the ideas, and I will make the decision.

Some people really get that, when to treat me like a peer and when to be deferential, because it's my name on the door. Some people struggle with that.

I became a director really young, when I was 30. I had a team working under me and this one designer happened to be a millennial. I don't believe in the millennial myths, but in this case he fit the type. So I tapped his input, and made a decision that went a different way.

He was like "I thought we talked about this, and I wanted to do it this way," and blah blah blah.

I was like "Dude, it doesn't work that way. I'm the director. You're the designer. You see that door over there? The other side of that door is where people that disagree with me get to stay, and they don't get paid. And on this side of the door is where I get to make the decision, ultimately. And those people get paid. Because at the end of the day, it's my ass on the line. If it doesn't work, I can't tell the CEO or the client 'Hey, it was a junior designer's idea. Sorry, it wasn't my fault.' I can't pass the buck. So I have to only go with things that I feel hold up to my scrutiny. It is why I only ever show concepts that I would feel comfortable with the client selected. We do not show filler. And I have to have a conversations with my team to let them know, "I was happy for your input, I want your input on a continual basis. Just know that I won't always go with your idea. When the time comes that I do, we will celebrate that."

I could share some horror stories here, but I better shift gears or I'll be accused of Millennial bashing. Can you tell us what you're working on next, or is that still under wraps?

I can tell you what's coming out soon. In February, there will be a line of pet toys that will be designed. I love dogs, and I know you love dogs too! Our studio dog, Enzo, is right next to me as a matter of fact. So that was a super fun project, never worked in that space before.

In April, a new e-bike is coming out that I worked on. It's a really cool bike, it was designed in collaboration with a legend and innovator in the mountain bike space from the '90s and early 2000s. It's got some really crazy geometry. The electronics are provided by a German electronics company, and it'll be the first e-bike with this German drivetrain, so that'll be exciting.

And then, I'm not sure when it will come out, but we did four vehicles for a Hollywood sci-fi movie that's currently in development. That was just bananas.

And then a really innovative concept vehicle for a large Chinese car brand. So, super diverse stuff.

Being honored by the Del Mar School district for volunteering with their Design Thinking program.It sounds like no two projects are alike.

Yeah. From pet squeaky toys to sci-fi movie vehicles, and everything in between. And that's exactly what I wanted to work on, when I started the studio.

I was bouncing some ideas off of people. I told a really good friend of mine, who is on the business side at Nike, that "I want to go with the tagline of 'Design Everything.'"

She said "I don't know, it's kind of confusing. What's your specialty?"

I said "My specialty is applied creativity. My specialty is I will bring influences from all these different industries to your project."

So I was concerned about [her reaction], because I feel like some people in business might not grok it so well, because they want specialists. But I've found that the people that get it really get it, and really see the benefit of, say, that phenolic material that's in the knife handle, now I'm introducing that to the automotive clients that I'm working with, thinking maybe we should start using this in instrument panel trims, instead of wood or fake carbon fiber or the aluminum that everybody's using. And I would never have learned about that material if I hadn't worked with the knife company.

That's interesting, how the work feeds itself. Is there any category of object or space that you want to design that you haven't been able to yet?

Yes. My goal for 2018 is to do a furniture project. I've never done anything for production in the furniture space. So I would love to work with a Herman Miller, or a Hayworth or a Knoll or somebody to do a production piece.

Another category I've never worked in is aerospace, so I'd love to do something, ideally the interior of a hypersonic, stratospheric jet or something, but anything in that space would be amazing.

Lastly, nautical. Those are the three categories that I'm targeting next. But the next one is furniture. You've got to have that big goal for the year.

Speaking of big goals, congratulations on starting up your own firm.

Thank you for the support! The relationship I've had with Core77 over the past, almost 20 years has been so helpful. I remember reaching out to Stuart [Constantine, Core77 co-founder] when I was thinking about going out on my own, just to get his advice, as a business owner. He asked me, "What's your exit plan?"

And I hadn't thought about it, but I immediately realized I didn't want one. I guess my exit plan is death.

I've always looked up to and studied the paths of people like Raymond Loewy, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Teague. They worked until the end because they loved what they do. I don't think Frank Gehry has an exit plan. That is why I named the studio my name. It struck me that every firm has their super-cool, irreverent word, "fill in the blank" design. I have nothing against that, but I feel like that space has been mined. I wanted to give a nod back to our founders and our originators, the Loewys and the Teagues of the world. It's my name on the door, and what you get is me and my experience. I'm not going to pass the hard work off to some intern!


Well folks, that wraps up our interview with Michael DiTullo. It's kind of funny--DiTullo has written for Core77 nearly as long as I have, but never in the same office and I'd only met him once. Prior to this interview I never actually sat down and had a one-on-one with him about his career. So it was great to hear these stories.

We started the intro to Part 1 of this interview with a story of DiTullo going out on his first date with Kristina, his now-wife. So it's fitting that we'll close Part 2 with this relevant anecdote he shared after the interview:

"On about our third or fourth date, Kristina asked me what I wanted to do when I got of school," DiTullo recounts. "I thought about it for a second and replied 'Remember learning about Frank Lloyd Wright and Raymond Loewy in art history class? I want to be like those guys.'

"She laughed in my face, loudly!

"I must have given a look that spoke volumes, because then she said 'Oh, you're serious. I can get behind that.'"

Announcing the 2018 Core77 x A/D/O Design Residency

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-02-12 18:54

Designers: do you have a professional or passion project you're ready to get off the ground, but are lacking the space and support to make it happen? Well, we and our friends at the A/D/O design space in Brooklyn may be able to help.

Beginning this spring, A/D/O, a creative space and dedicated workspace for designers in Brooklyn, New York, will offer not only a beautiful work environment, but also fabrication equipment, exhibition space, and a flourishing community of like-minded individuals and support to further your design projects. Featuring a full calendar of cultural events, workshops and exhibits by visionary designers from around the world, members of A/D/O will also have a front row seat to some of the most engaging discussions around design in the city and beyond.

For the second year, today we're excited to launch our Core77 x A/D/O residency call-for-entry. 

The A/D/O x Core77 residency is an outstanding opportunity for designers in the Core77 community to find a supportive space to further their efforts in design. Check out last year's residents Casey Lewis and byjimmi, who benefited from the environment to create new projects and develop existing pursuits.

After receiving your residency proposal submissions, Core77 and A/D/O will pick one designer to occupy a desk at A/D/O's space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn from April-June 2017 for free. The winner will have their own desk and access to all of A/D/O's facilities, services, as well as their shop & digital fabrication equipment.

During their time in the residency, the occupant will be expected to document some of his or her process (prototyping, digital fabrication, woodworking, etc.) through photography. Once a month, winners will also be visited by the Core77 editorial team to conduct a monthly check-in, which will result in social media content and ultimately an article showing a behind the scenes peek into the process of their project.

Core77 will be looking for applicants with specific project proposals—be it kickstarting an entrepreneurial project, development of a new product or even a conceptual design project. Applicants should be able to provide a clear summary of their mission if chosen as the Core77 design resident as well as telling us what stage in the process they are currently in. Although the chosen resident can use the space however they wish, we aren't looking for a designer simply seeking a place to work—we want to see a dream project you're ready to get started on in an environment with with plenty of resources and support!

As we'd like to ensure the space will be used by the winning designer, local applicants in the New York area will be placed at the highest priority.

Apply now to be in the running for this fantastic opportunity—submissions are due March 4th, so you only have a few weeks to apply!Apply for the Core77 x A/D/O Residency here.Learn more about A/D/O here.

Bould Design's Latest Projects, Rylo and Vestaboard, Are All in the Tiny Details

Core 77 - Mon, 2018-02-12 18:54

Bould Design recently announced two very different projects we have our eyes on at the moment: 

The first is Vestaboard—a multipurpose message board controlled by your smartphone. Instead of changing the letters on your seasonal farm-to-table restaurant's daily menu or your wall of inspirational quotes at the office (no judgement) by hand, now you can just type what you want in Vestaboard's app and let technology do the rest.

Physically changing message boards like this is labor intensive and time consuming, so in many cases, Vestaboard would actually come in handy. Besides typing out your own messages, the board can also source messages from Slack, Twitter, Google Calendar and more for some office fun—just be careful with who you give access to...

 The movement of the display's individual pieces reminds me of Penn Station's late "big board" (RIP) and is reminiscent of a time not too long ago where split-flap displays reigned supreme. Here's a closer look:

I'm thinking of pitching this to the employees at the Burger King near my apartment—their outside board has said "try our new chicken parm" for the past two years. Enough is enough.

Now onto Rylo, an itty-bitty 360º camera with built-in stabilization. This little guy's interface is straightforward and foolproof—the only options are to start and stop recording, and remaining battery level is listed on the small screen. Other than that, there's not much else to worry about besides filming content. 

Our main interest in the design lies within the dual cameras on either side of the device. The cameras' cooperation allows footage to be captured at all angles with just one shot.

Built-in stabilization has become a must when it comes to tiny action cameras, and Rylo is no exception. The camera's ability to switch into stabilization mode seems pretty reliable (top video in link is stabilized).

Once you're done filming, connect Rylo 360 to your phone and edit the footage in the Rylo 360 app. There's no Bluetooth or WiFi connection, which is something to keep in mind when considering the price. This camera is really meant for users who seek simplicity in tech and don't demand flashy features like self-editing apps and instant-uploads to Instagram. And yes, it appears that market is still alive and well.

Learn more about: Bould Design, Vestaboard and Rylo.

Digitalization of Manufacturing Is More Than Fast Analog

Design News - Mon, 2018-02-12 04:18

Some experts in advanced manufacturing are distinguishing between “digitization” of manufacturing processes and the “digitalization” of the processes. While the words seem to have the same meaning on the face, the two words actually mean something quite different. Digitization is the simple process of changing non-digital media (photos, text, processes) into digital-readable format. Digitalization changes the processes, indeed, it “changes the business model,” according to Gartner’s IT Glossary.

Digitalization does more than speed up conventional manufacturing processes, it changes the nature of those processes. “It’s important to highlight the distinction between digitization and digitalization. It’s the difference between taking analog processes and using digital technologies to mimic them for more efficiency – and leveraging digital data to fundamentally transform processes, leading to increased innovation and competitiveness,” Zvi Feuer, SVP of manufacturing engineering software at Siemens PLM Software told Design News.

Firewire uses Siemens NX software, a computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) solution, to digitally transform their operations and created an individualized way to serve surfboard customers. Image courtesy of Firewire Surfboards.


Because digitalization changes the nature of the processes, it offers manufacturers the ability to rethink the production processes and bring them into alignment with customer needs. “Digitalization is the key to being able to innovate and compete, and this is why it's becoming more common among mid-sized and small manufacturers,” said Feuer. "Today's market-leading companies are digitalizing manufacturing in order to be more innovative, competitive and to take on new business opportunities.”

As an example of a manufacturer that changed its relationship with customers via digitalization, Feuer points to a relatively small surfboard company. “Firewire Surfboards is one of our customers and a small-sized surfboard manufacturer in Carlsbad, California that we've helped to digitalize manufacturing,” said Feuer. “Firewire is using the power of digitalization to revolutionize the surfing experience by constructing performance-engineered and eco-friendly surfboards individually tuned to each customer’s surfing style and needs.”

Beyond Efficiency and on to Flexibility

Since digitalization goes beyond speeding up conventional processes, the benefits to the end user are not just efficiency. “Digitalization goes beyond efficiency gains. More importantly digitalization enables companies to flexibly adapt and quickly react to dynamic customer and market needs in order to take advantage of new business opportunities,” said Feuer. “When companies digitalize manufacturing, they innovate with greater confidence, speed, agility, quality, and at less cost.”


Advanced asset management enables manufacturers to interrogate digital twins and execute the informed decisions to improve performance of products and global production operations. Image courtesy of Siemens PLM.


With digitization, manufacturers can automate the condition monitoring of equipment. Digitalization takes the process further. “Monitoring production machinery to learn that there is a problem or that there's going to be problem can prevent the loss of value. That is only part of the predictive maintenance ROI opportunity,” said Feuer. “Digitalization enables companies to do much more than capture diagnostic information about a production system, it enables you to use the data to impact and optimize the entire production operation – which creates new value.”

Bringing Design into the Manufacturing Equation

Digitalization can use technology to blend the different stages of creating and producing products, including design, production, and customer relations. “Digitalization can link together product development and production operations to supply chain networks and customers, so companies can produce smart, individualized products as well as offer data-driven services and support,” said Feuer.

The core of the process of blending the product development stages – even the individual product disciplines – is the emergence of the digital twin. “Digitalization facilitates the creation of digital twins that are used to virtually validate and test how the products and production systems will actually perform in the real world,” said Feuer. “This eliminates the need for physical prototypes, reduces development and planning time, and improves the quality of final products.”

A Future Look at Digitalized Manufacturing

The concept of digitalization is not a once-over of converting manufacturers to advanced manufacturing processes. It’s an ongoing conversion that continuously introduces new technology. “Over the next few years, digitalized manufacturing will become more powerful and more accessible to companies of all sizes,” said Feuer. “We'll continue to experience the accelerated convergence of digital technologies such as IIoT, additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, AR/VR, artificial intelligence, and cloud - which will disrupt the way manufacturers work today.”




The way these technologies get deployed is anybody’s guess. The end users are working with automation vendors to see just what’s possible with emerging manufacturing and design technology. The advances may open unexpected markets for both the vendors and the end users. “We expect new opportunities for companies that co-innovate using online platforms to gain access to the latest design and manufacturing technologies, a wealth of know-how and a global reach into new markets,” said Feuer.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.



Researchers Inch Closer to Cloaking Devices Thanks to Novel Optical-Material Technique

Design News - Mon, 2018-02-12 03:42

Cloaking devices—or devices that can render an object invisible—are still mainly the stuff of science fiction. New work by researchers at Northwestern University could remove the “fiction” from the scenario with the development of a novel technique for creating new classes of optical materials for these types of devices and others that can bend light.

An interdisciplinary team from Northwestern University has used combined the use of DNA and gold nanoparticles to form optically active superlattices that for the first time can be programmed through choice of particle type and both DNA-pattern and sequence to exhibit almost any color across the visible spectrum, said Koray Adin, a professor in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and one of the researchers on the team. The invention paves the way for unprecedented control of optical properties in materials that hasn’t been achieved before, he said.

“In our study, we define the optically active structures as gold nanoparticles arranged on a surface as a multilayer fashion using DNA-assembly,” Adin explained to Design News. “The distance between nanoparticles can be tuned dynamically by changing the DNA length using a chemical solution, enabling significant control over optical properties.”




The team’s novel method will enable new optical materials based on nanoparticles—not limited to metallic particles nor found in nature--for a range of applications, including a range of sensors for medical and environmental uses, Adin said.

“Scientific applications are very broad, including bio-sensing, optical metamaterials, plasmonic devices that can concentrate light, photocatalysis, and many more,” he said.

The technique the team used combines an old fabrication method--top-down lithography, the same method used to make computer chips--with a new one; that is, programmable self-assembly driven by DNA.

The Northwestern team is the first to combine the two to achieve individual particle control in three dimensions, researchers said. This control of the geometry, shape, arrangement of nanostructures is what is key to access interesting optical properties, Adin explained.

“Conventional methods either focus on top-down lithography approaches, limiting the ability to fabricate unique nanoparticle shapes and often not yielding dynamic responses,” he said. “Bottom-up approaches like self-assembly is usually random and does not provide significant control over the arrangement of particles.

“Our method is unique in the sense that we combine best of these two fabrication techniques enabling ultimate control of size, shape, geometry, and periodicity together with dynamic control enabled by tuning the DNA-length,” Adin continued.

This precise control of nanoparticles “is a significant step toward realizing exciting metamaterial architectures simply due to precise control of nanoparticles,” he said. This is also what paves the way for the development of cloaking materials and devices, though the team didn’t specifically investigate this property in its research, Adin added.

“Our method will provide a viable platform for designing more efficient cloaking metamaterials,” he said. “Experimental demonstrations of optical cloaking devices [have been] limited due to strict requirements for refractive index distribution, which is really difficult achieve with conventional methods. With our method, one can easily design a cloaking metamaterial with precise control.”

Researchers published a paper on their work in the journal Science.

In addition the applications Adin previously mentioned, the method also can be used in material platforms such as biological and chemical sensors in which the DNA length can be tuned with the presence of biomolecules or chemical solutions, he added.

Researchers plan to continue their work to demonstrate novel metamaterial architectures that can bend, cloak, and focus light dynamically, as well as to investigate the possibility to of different types of nanoparticles such as semiconductor, magnetic, and dielectric nanoparticles to broaden the range of optical properties and dynamic control, Adin said.  

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 15 years.


A Breakdown of All of the Tools Used to Build This Joinery-Only Table by Hand

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-11 18:16

I was thrilled to see that this video made the front page of Digg. It shows craftsman James Wright building a hall table by entirely using hand tools, and relying on joinery alone (no screws, glues or nails) to hold it together. Because Digg posted it, it suggests to me that mainstream audiences are taking an interest in handwork, which I've been immersing myself in.

Most of us were trained in traditional powered shops at ID school, using table saws, bandsaws, power jointers and the like. So for those unfamiliar with hand tools, I wanted to break down what all of the tools are that Wright's using in this video.

Here he's using a bow saw, a type of frame saw that allows you to tension the blade by adjusting the cord (blue here) that attaches to the "cheeks" of the saw. While this task could be done with a handsaw, I assume Wright's using the more aggressive bow saw here for the sake of speed.

Here he's using a handsaw (that's what you call a handled saw that has no stiffening element on the spine, as opposed to a joinery saw) and a saw bench to crosscut a board. Using saw benches is faster and easier than chucking a board up in a vise, particularly with a long board like this. With a saw bench, your knee is the vise and gravity does much of the work for you.

This vintage combination plane can be fitted with a variety of blades to cut different molding profiles. Here he's using it to cut a bead.

He then cleans up the fuzzies with a card scraper, also called a cabinet scraper. This is just a rectangle of spring steel with edges that you file and then burnish in order to create a burr sharp enough to shave wood.

When saws have backs/spines like this, it's because they're used to cut joinery, where straightness is paramount. (In contrast a handsaw is used for rough work and thus needs no back.) This is a tenon saw, meant to cut in the direction of the grain and so the teeth are filed for rip cuts. The teeth are also finer than with a handsaw, so as to produce a smoother surface.

Using a Japanese ryoba saw to refine the tenon. The ryoba has rip teeth on one side and crosscut teeth on the other. Here he's ripping. Because the saw cuts on the pull stroke, it affords good accuracy without much effort. While I don't care for these saws myself, they are an excellent option for anyone just getting started and/or on a budget. You can do a lot of operations with just this one saw.

Using a mortise chisel, which is driven by mallet whacks, to chop a mortise. Mortise chisels are stouter than regular bench chisels and some find them easier to use and register against the side walls of the mortise.

Using a jointer plane to joint the edge. The extremely long sole makes it easy to flatten a surface.

Using the tenon saw on both the face and edge of a board in order to cut a rabbet (the American bastardization of the English "rebate").

Using a regular bevel-edge bench chisel to pare a surface down for a perfect fit.

Using a jack plane--so named because it's the jack-of-all-trades, i.e. versatile--to clean up the edge of a board.

Using a marking/striking knife to mark fit. Joiners typically use knives rather than pencils for marking as knife lines provide greater precision.

Using a dovetail saw to cut its namesake joint. Here he's cutting through two boards at once, which is not only faster but makes it easier to ensure you're cutting at 90 degrees relative to the board's face. The fancy scalloped back and toe of the saw are the stylistic trademark of BearKat Wood, a manufacturer that offers handles custom fit to your hand size.

Chopping out the dovetail waste with a bench chisel driven by mallet taps.

As you can see, Wright's mallet has more than earned its keep.

In addition to driving chisels, mallets are used to tap joinery together.

Using the combination plane again, this time fitted with a blade that cuts a groove into the edge of a board. At bottom left you can see the corresponding blade which will be used to cut a tongue on the edge of another board, then the two will be mated.

Here he's using a #62 low-angle bevel-up jack plane. This is one of the most versatile handplanes out there. In this case, he's selected it because the low attack angle of the blade is perfect for slicing across tough endgrain, as he's doing here.

Using a brace and bit to drill holes. It may seem antiquated, but it's actually easier to drill perfectly plumb using a brace than it is using a powered hand drill. Also note the blue tape on the bit; he's using that as a visual depth stop indicator.

If you look closely within the red circle, you'll see the tongue and groove used to mate these two boards. Since Wright is not using glue, the boards will be held together at the joint with a bowtie. The holes were drilled to make chopping the waste out easier.

The bowtie is pounded in with a mallet.

Using a carving gouge on a pattern glued to the board. This is some serious skill right here.

The tool is obscured by his hand, but here he's using a card scraper to easily get the glued paper off.

Here he's using an old-school wooden-bodied shoulder or rabbet plane to cut a small rabbet into the bottom-most board. The top board is there to serve as a fence. Everything is held firmly in place by the iron holdfasts. The tall, narrow form factor of handplanes like this makes it easy to keep them perfectly vertical so your joint comes out level and square.

Using a bench chisel, bevel down, and mallet taps to cut a stopped groove. "Stopped" meaning the groove does not go all the way to the other side of the board. In this case the groove's walls are undercut so that it can accept a sliding dovetail.

He uses the tenon saw to create kerfs in the waste, making it easier to remove.

Sliding the dovetail into the groove.

Using a jack plane to chamfer the underside edges of the tabletop. This is often done to give the tabletop a light, un-chunky appearance while retaining the strength conferred by its actual thickness.

Using a turning gouge to shape the drawer knob on a lathe.

Here he uses the dovetail saw to cut a notch into the back of the knob's shaft. Since he is not using any glue…

…the shaft of the knob is inserted into the hole, then a wedge is driven into the notch. This spreads the shaft halves outwards, keeping the knob firmly lodged.

Using a brace and bit to drill holes for drawboring. Explaining the genius of drawboring requires its own entry, so stay tuned for that one.

The tenons are through-tenons, meaning the mortise goes all the way through and the tenon ends protrude. They are chamfered with a chisel. This is a stylistic choice.

Using a jack plane to shave the drawer sides. Unlike power tool users, hand tool craftspeople usually build drawers to be slightly oversized. Then, after their case piece is assembled, the drawers are shaved down for an absolutely perfect fit.

He takes a final pass at the drawer face with a card scraper. Used properly, a sharp card scraper will yield a glass-like finish.

I can't say what type of finish he used, but you can see how it makes the wood sing.

I hope this has been helpful to those of you who may be getting interested in hand tools. The joy and satisfaction gained by using them to make useful things is something I think everyone should experience, and I'm going to be writing about them more. 

Also, please don't think that you'd need every tool in this video in order to make furniture or objects. You can really do a lot with just a few tools, and I'll touch on that topic later too. If there's anything in particular you'd like me to cover, please say so in the comments.

How To Find the Best 3D Printing Material for Your Designs

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-11 18:16

3D printing materials and manufacturing processes go together hand-with-hand: often choosing a material, also dictates what 3D printing processes are available to use. 

But with such a vast selection of 3D printing material options, how can a designer make an informed decision?

In this article we present a comprehensive overview of the 3D printing materials currently available in the market. We grouped them together into categories to simplify the selection process and make decision-making more actionable. 

3D Printing Materials Let's start with a quick refreshment on Material Science...

3D printing materials usually come in filament, powder or resin form (depending on the 3D printing processes used). Polymers (plastics) and metals are the two main 3D printing material groups, while other materials (such as ceramics or composites) are also available. Polymers can be broken down further into thermoplastics and thermosets.


Thermoplastics can be melted and solidified over and over again, while generally retaining their properties. Both traditional injection molding, as well as the FDM and SLS printing processes, make use of thermoplastics by heating up solid thermoplastic to a malleable state and injecting or extruding it into a die or onto a build platform where it then solidifies.

Thermoplastics are best suited for functional applications.

These materials generally have good mechanical properties and high impact, abrasion and chemical resistance. 3D printed engineering thermoplastics (such as Nylon, PEI and ASA) are widely used to produce end-use parts for industrial applications.

SLS parts have better mechanical properties and higher dimensional accuracy than FDM, but the latter is more economical and has shorter lead times.

Typical 3D printing thermoplastics:

SLS: Nylon (PA), TPU


A functional bracket with hollow sections printed using SLS in Nylon

The pyramid below shows the most common thermoplastic materials for 3D printing. As a rule of thumb, the higher up a material is in the pyramid, the better its mechanical properties and the harder it generally is to print with (higher cost):


Unlike thermoplastics, thermosets do not melt. Thermosets in 3D printing typically start as a viscous fluid (resin) and are cured to become solid, via exposure to UV light. Once solid, thermosets cannot be melted and instead will lose structural integrity when subjected to high temperatures.

Thermosets (resins) are best suited for applications where aesthetics are key.

These material options produce parts with smooth injection-like surfaces and fine details. Generally, they have high stiffness, but are more brittle than thermoplastics, making them less suitable for functional applications. Speciality resins are available though, that are designed for engineering applications (mimicking the properties of ABS and PP) or dental inserts and implants.

Material Jetting produces parts with superior dimensional accuracy and generally smoother surfaces than SLA, but at a higher cost. Both processes use similar photocurable acrylic-based resins.

Typical 3D printing thermosets:

Material Jetting: Standard resin, Digital ABS, Durable resin (PP-like), Transparent resin, Dental resin

SLA/DLP: Standard resin, Tough resin (ABS-like), Durable resin (PP-like), Clear resin, Dental resin

Small bracket 3D printed with Material Jetting Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Arial",sans-serif; color:black; mso-ansi-language:EN;} Ring with intricate details 3D printed in Castable Resin with SLA/DLP Polymer Composites

Both thermoplastic and thermoset polymers can be reinforced with other high strength materials improving their mechanical properties or giving them other unique characteristics.

For example, SLS powder can be filled with carbon, aluminum, graphite and glass particles increasing their mechanical performance, wear and thermal resistance and stiffness.

Furthermore, composite parts reinforced with continuous carbon fibers, kevlar fibers or glass fiber can be manufactured through the FDM process, creating plastic components with strength-to-weight ratio comparable to metals.

Functional joint, 3D printed with FDM in nylon and reinforced with continuous carbon fibers. Courtesy of Markforged

Many "exotic" filaments, such as woodfill or metalfill PLA, are also available for FDM, resulting in parts with a unique appearance.

Phone speaker for the Fairphone 2, 3D printed with FDM in woodfill PLA

SLA resins filled with ceramic powder have improved wear resistance, making them ideal materials for tooling applications (such as 3D printed injection molds).

Typical composite 3D printing materials:

SLS: Carbon filled, Glass filled, Mineral filled

FDM: Carbon filled, Woodfill, Metalfill, Carbon-fiber reinforced, Kevlar-fiber reinforced, Fiberglass reinforced

SLA/DLP: Ceramic filled


Metal printing allows for high-quality, functional and load bearing parts produced from a variety of metallic powders.

Metal 3D printed parts have excellent mechanical properties and can operate at wide range of environmental conditions. The freeform capabilities of 3D printing make them ideal for lightweight applications for the aerospace and medical industries.

DMLS/SLM parts have superior mechanical properties and tolerances over Binder Jetting, but Binder Jetting can be up to 10x cheaper and can produce much larger parts. Low-cost extrusion-based (FDM) metal 3D printing systems are expected for release in 2018.

Typical 3D printing metals:

DMLS/SLM: Stainless Steel, Titanium, Aluminum

Binder Jetting: Stainless Steel (bronze-filled or sintered)

Metal part 3D printed in aluminium with SLM An oil and gas strator printed in stainless steel (bronze-filled) with Binder Jetting. Courtesy of ExOne Other materials

Other materials can also be 3D printed, but have limited applications. These materials include ceramics and sandstone in full-color with Binder Jetting. They generally have poor mechanical properties and are optimized for a single application, such as full-color figurine printing or sand cast manufacturing.

Other 3D printing materials:

Binder Jetting: Full-color sandstone, Ceramics

Large multi-part sand casting assembly 3D printed with Binder Jetting. Courtesy of ExOne Compare 3D printing Materials

The guidelines and tables of this article should already give the reader a basic understanding and reference for choosing the right 3D printing material.

If you want to view, compare and search for 3D printing materials with specific mechanical or physical properties, the Material Index is the most comprehensive online library of 3D printing materials.


3D Hubs is the world's largest network of manufacturing services. With production facilities connected in over 140 countries, the 3D Hubs online platform helps you find the fastest and most price competitive manufacturing solution near you. Founded in 2013, the network has since produced more than 1,000,000 parts locally, making it the global leader in distributed manufacturing.

Upgrading a DIY Roving Camera Dolly

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-11 18:16

Industrial designer Eric Strebel uses a self-built rolling camera dolly, his rover as he calls it, to capture footage for his videos. Here he shows you how, using some fabrication tricks shown in earlier videos, he upgraded it with a quick-engage motor mount and created new hubs for new wheels in order to adjust the rover's speed:

Tune in Now to Catch the Awwwards Conference on Adobe Live!

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-11 18:16

As the most visited online awards platform in the world, Awwwards is perfectly positioned to stage an ongoing series of conferences, bringing together leading UX experts and visionaries from around the world for two days of insight and inspiration. Kicking off in Berlin at this very moment, the latest edition of the IRL event—billed as a “Digital Thinkers Conference”—once again showcases the latest trends and innovations in UX/UI design.

Better yet, the folks at Adobe are excited to bring you an exclusive livestream from the Awwwards Conference, where nearly two dozen talented designers and developers will take the stage in the next two days. Tune in starting now, 10AM CET, until 4PM this afternoon—morning for Stateside ET—and tomorrow, Friday, February 9, from 10AM until 4:30PM CET to follow along and submit questions via social media using the hashtags #AdobeLive and #AwwwardsBerlin.

Those of you on the East Coast can tune in first thing tomorrow morning to catch the keynote by Adobe's own Khoi Vinh, or set your alarms accordingly for talks from Melanie Daveid, Michael Flarup, Jeany Ngo, Vitaly Friedman, and many more; see the full schedule of talks here, and the livestreaming schedule here. Featuring an eclectic mix of speakers from the likes of Google and Minecraft alongside boutique studios and entrepreneurs, the Awwwards Conference is certainly not to be missed—and thanks to Adobe Live, you can join along over the next two days!

» Watch the Awwwards Conference on Adobe Live

Tools & Craft #84: How to Keep Your Sanders a'Sanding Smoothly

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-11 18:16

The theory behind sanders is pretty simple. The machine moves the sandpaper back and forth and round and round and the abrasives on the sandpaper abrade the wood making it smooth.

Ahhh, were it that simple.

As your sandpaper abrades the wood the the saw dust that's generated puts a barrier between the abrasive and the work so that the sandpaper works less effectively. The buildup in sanding dust is easily remedied with a good vacuum system and that's the core of the Festool system.

But there is a problem. The vacuums are far stronger than they need to be, so strong in fact that they cause suction between the sander and the work. This means that your sander has to work harder to move its pad and that generates heat. All that heat buildup heats up the pad and heats up the hooks on the pad that hold your sandpaper to the hook and loop pad. All that heat, softens the hooks and the hooks lose their grip on the sandpaper. Sanding pads are considered consumables but still it's annoying to wear them out.

You have the same heat buildup problem if you constantly press too hard when you sand.

There are two very simple solutions to this problem.

1 - Turn your vac down to about 1/2 power. The vacuums are designed to give great results for all the power tools, sanders really don't need a particularly powerful vac. So turn down your vac to the minimum suction that will give you total cleaning but not much more. You will find that the sander is easier to use, has less friction on the work, and best of all the pads will last longer.

2 - The same cure is used if you find yourself pushing down on the sander to try to make it sand faster. Pushing is more psychological than actually useful, and it will shorten pad life. As long as your dust collection works, you really should not need to apply much pressure to the sander. Get used to lightening up. If you want the sander to sand faster make sure the paper is still sharp and cutting and if not replace it. For really fast removal use coarser sandpaper, but make sure you don't jump too many grit sizes. Coarser paper makes coarser scratches in the work and when you graduate to the next finer grit you will have to remove the scratches you made.

While I am on the subject I should mention something about sanding pads in general. All the Festool sanders come with a "soft" pad as standard. Most of the sanders have "hard" and "supersoft" pads available as accessories. Here is the deal: A harder pad is more accurate but less forgiving. For example: If you want to create a mirror surface you need a flat surface. A hard pad will sand any small high spots and give a flatter surface. But because the hard pad is less forgiving it will also sand through high spots on your finish. That's okay if you want that mirror finish - but a waste of time is you want a typical finished surface.

A "super-soft" pad will easily follow small variations in the surface, and is very forgiving. But if you are looking for a mirror surface you won't get any accuracy any any unevenness in your finish will stay put.

The "soft" pad is a compromise between the more extreme pads and is perfectly the right pad to use for most applications. Incidentally for making perfectly flat mirrored finishes, in the last century finishers would use flat, unforgiving, marble sanding pads for their most finicky work.


This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.