Free 3D modelling apps while you can get it…

Just spotted these free downloads from Autodesk, including one that lets you stitch together photos into a 3D model; and an ipad sculpting app. Now we’re not ones to advertise products, but knowing AD these beta versions won’t be free forever so try them while you can.

We’ll post a review once we’ve tried them out!


Interview: Power of Making curator Daniel Charny

Power of Making was curated by product designer and lecturer Daniel Charny. BCA asked him a few questions following our visit to the exhibition.

BCA: Firstly congratulations on the exhibition. We went on a Wednesday afternoon and it was packed. We were curious to hear in your own words about what you feel links the pieces?

DC: Imaginative use of skills is the broad idea that links all the pieces in the exhibition.

BCA: Looking at the future of making and the potential for more production in the home, do you think we might witness the death of aesthetic trends in the coming years?

DC: If by ‘aesthetic trends’ you mean the dictatorship of looks by brands, then there is a very strong case for individual taste to grow in presence, although I think design will grow in value and people will be looking for designs and the aesthetics that come from talented individuals. It might just be that it is delivered through data rather then artefacts or through designed materials. If anything, there will be a strong aesthetic trend of designs and products that are open to change, exposed, accessible, to some degree raw (so that they can be adjusted, altered, changed, hacked, modified etc.)

BCA: What do you think will happen to mass production if people continue to make their own things?

DC: There will be an increase in mass production only it will happen accumulatively. Possibly this is the thing that that happened to the paperless office – a reverse of expectation – perhaps we will be seeing many more things produced and many more rejects?!

BCA: Do you think that the role of mass production is set to change?

DC: Yes, it looks like responsibility will shift to the user-makers, it could be said that we are already entering into the Production Revolution (a third counterpart to the industrial and technological revolutions) in terms of personal fabrication it could be significant though hard to imagine medicine being open to self production.

BCA: What is your view of 3D printers and its potential?

DC: 3D printers are amazing tools with potential to liberate personal adaptability and empower invention for people of all walks of life and accelerators for innovation that could be fed back into society for others to benefit. Though personal 3D printers are still very demanding, with the networks of knowledge and ambitious roadmaps (such as from MIT Bits and Atoms) it looks like the leaps and bounds in this area in recent years are just ripples in a big change.

Thank you Daniel!

Power of Making

Widow by Susie MacMurray

V&A and Crafts Council have collaborated on a fantastic new exhibition, Power of Making. Weaving our way around a jam-packed exhibition space, BCA was thrilled to see such a diverse collection of objects and machines, from craft to product design to new technologies, including our friend Adrian Bowyer’s RepRap.

The exhibition dismisses a traditional linear structure, preferring to place seemingly disparate objects side by side, rather than track the history of craft or neatly separate the different mediums. By placing unlikely objects next to each other, curator Daniel Charny is able to emphasise how techniques employed or even makers’ motivations can connect these different industries.

We were curious to hear what people had to say about this celebration of tinkering, so we asked a few visitors as they were leaving the exhibition.* Alan Simon, a Design and Technology teacher, told us that there is far too much emphasis on academic subjects at school and that the UK is not keeping up with Germany in terms of teaching design at a young age. Shareen Sange, a fashion student, felt that the exhibition pointed her to a range of inspiring new techniques.

The images are of some of our favourites, but go see for yourselves! Power of Making is at the V&A until 2nd January 2012

*in case you were wondering, um no, we didn’t stand outside the exhibition with clipboards.

Shine by Geoffrey Mann

Rotationalmouldedshoe by Marloes ten Bhomer

Power and Production Weekend – Aug 13+14

If you’re in London this summer then head to the Southbank Centre on August 13 & 14 for a weekend of free hands on workshops, cutting edge manufacturing, debates and film screenings on the theme of Power and Production. P&P was one of the original themes of the Festival of Britain and BCA and the SBC wanted the nation to reconnect with the idea of making, even if for just a weekend.

BCA Power and Production Weekend John Richards Dirty Electronics
Soldering workshop by John Richards

The packed weekend include: workshops by John Richards Dirty Electronics teaching the art of soldering, under the bonnet sessions with the AA and hands-on advice on basic car repairs and maintenance, Mag Culture + Stack’s newsdesk publishes an independent magazine dedicated to the themes of the festival, a create your own app workshop with textextext_,  our own Home Factory will open up a world of DIY design and projects; plus on display across the Southbank Centre site will be a large scale model of the Skylon Rocket by Reaction Engines, a Fuel Cell Black Cab, the original FoB bus that toured the country in 1951, the 3D printed EADS Airbike… plus other workshops and events across the site. Phewww!

If  that’s not enought, one of the highlights of the weekend will be on saturday night when Evan Davies, presenter of BBC’s Made in Britain series, hosts a panel discussion on the future of production and manufacturing in Britain, alongside Brompton’s Will Butler-Adams and Vitsoe’s Mark Adams. The evening will end with a film screening of Peter Sellar’s I’m alright Jack in Magnificent Revolution’s Cycle-in-Cinema powered only by the thigh muscle and sweat of members of the audience!

What links them all? A glimpse into the factory floor of the future where people can make, mend, move things themselves. Hope to see you there and bring family and friends!

BCA Power and Production Weekend MR Cycle in Cinema

Magnificent Revolution’s Cycle-in-Cinema

3D printing workshop

As the end of the school year approached and students were choosing GSCEs for next year, Rosedale College invited us to do a show-and-tell about what it’s like to be an architect and designer. We got the kids to design their dream school (swimming pools were a firm favourite – probably because it was sweltering outside), drew their designs in Google Sketchup, and created a scale model in our 3D printer. They were so intrigued by our piece of kit we could barely keep up with all their questions! Watch out for budding architects amongst this group.

Black Country Atelier 3d printing workshop RosdedaleShowing the students how to turn a 3d model into a physical one.

black country atelier 3d printing workshop RosdedaleThe winning design which we drew in sketchup and printed; classrooms surround a swimming pool and tunnels leading out to playing fields.

Power and Production Weekend – exclusive

You heard it here first! BCA is curating the Power and Production weekend at the Southbank Centre this August as part of the Festival of Britain’s 60th Anniversary. We’re turning the Royal Festival Hall into a fully functioning workshop to get people making things. There will be soldering classes, 3D printing, printmaking, bike and car repair workshops and a whole lot more to be discovered.

Most workshops will be free or cost very little – so be sure to sign up beforehand. We’ll post a link to Southbank Centre’s website to do this shortly. Pencil 13th and 14th August into your diaries and look forward to seeing you there!

Production Line – The Film

Watch the full film here! Produced by BCA, in collaboration with Visitor Studio, the film features Blists Hill Iron Foundry, automated Lost Wax Casting and Dr Adrian Bowyer talking about the future of manufacturing at home.  Production Line is being projected onto an external stairwell of the Hayward Gallery as part of the Festival of Britain from now until September.

Festival of Britain 1951-2011 opens this weekend

The Festival of Britain’s 60th Anniversary starts this weekend on the Southbank Centre. The summer-long festival is packed with events and exhibitions including BCA’s own installations on Power and Production. BCA has collaborated with photographers and filmakers to celebrate British makers and inventors, and new ideas in production.

Black Country Atelier’s Eureka Britain installation, one of  three by BCA at the Festival, features makers in their working environments:

Black Country Atelier Festival of Britain 1951-2011 Eureka BritainWayne, former race mechanic: building a reconstituted racing car

Black Country Atelier Festival of Britain 1951-2011 Eureka BritainJoel, mechanical technician: testing “hot lips” rocket engine

Black Country Atelier Festival of Britain 1951-2011 Eureka BritainMerlyn, inventor: refining low energy glass furnaces

Black Country Atelier Festival of Britain 1951-2011 Eureka BritainGilo, designer: prototyping high speed helicopters

Black Country Atelier Festival of Britain 1951-2011 Eureka Britain Southbank Centre

BCA’s Euraka Britain installation re-used an old gantry found in a steel fabrication yard in Shropshire. (photography: Georgie Clarke)

Over the summer there will be a number of events marking the 60th anniversary of the original festival; including a “Power and Production weekend” in August curated by BCA – more on that to come! We’ll also be uploading new features/interviews with the inventors we met.

Drop by and see us at the Festival!

A sneak Festival of Britain peak

BCA’s exhibition is in 3 parts. Eureka Britain, a series of portraits of makers and inventors at work in unexpected places of innovation, including kitchens and sheds and The Industrial Estate, a fly-poster installation depicting the modern industrial landscape at the edges of our towns and cities and Production Line, a series of short films tracking traditional to subversive production methods.

Here is a trailer of Production line.

Bow to the Bowyer

Professor Adrian Bowyer is a 3D printing guru. This is not an exaggeration. Adrian invented the RepRap, a low cost open source rapid prototyping system that is capable of producing its own parts.We had the privilege to meet him to take his portrait and interview him for our Festival of Britain exhibition. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:Adrian Bowyer RepRap for Black Country Atelier

Who is using the RepRap?

The vast majority of people using RepRaps are in individual homes, though some companies have them as well. It’s moving the whole idea of manufacturing into the home in the way we have already done, for example, with music production and photographs. It used to be the case that we would put rolls of film and send them off in yellow envelopes. Now we have an entire photographic laboratory in our houses. If people have the ability to make things in their own homes, then people can almost divorce themselves from the conventional industrial route and start making their own manufactured goods.

Do you think that cheap 3D printers and 3D scanners herald a new industrial revolution?

We are supposed to have had two industrial revolutions already. One that people noticed and one that people didn’t. The one that people did was the one that happened at the end of the 18th/ beginning of the 19th century but in the 1950s computer control of industrial production was introduced and from the engineers perspective, that was as radical a change as the introduction of the steam engine.  I suspect that if 3D printers lead to a radical change in the way that things are made, possibly leading to people making their own items rather than buying from factories, the change will be experienced as an acceleration rather than a bolt like in the 19th century revolution.

Is anyone from the wider community making anything wacky with the RepRap?

More far-fetched than having a machine print itself which was the initial idea for the project? There is a one guy in the United States who made a model of an entire gothic cathedral! No practical application but it’s beautiful. Lots of people make puzzles and devices that operate in non-obvious ways. Things with 3D gears. Anyone can make up puzzles and cubes themselves.  People share what they are creating on the web. We have a website called thingyburst where anybody can upload designs.  It’s like music sharing for real objects.

What are the next steps for RepRap?

As it’s an open project, people are taking in lots of different directions. Some people are trying to make smaller, more precise machines. We are trying to make a process where we are working with metal in the same way as plastic. The difficulty is that when you work with plastic and melt it, it’s still fairly syrupy and sticky. If you melt a metal, it is like mercury and will flow anyway. So what we are trying to do is to allow for that fact and make the system so that it can work with metals as well as plastics. I have a research student who is working on that right now.