The Mobile 3D Printing Experiment

There is something about the human spirit that sometimes chooses to ignore rationality in preference for the wild and crazy.  This Mobile 3D Printing Experiment is one of those cases.

Just dialing in all the details.

Just dialing in all the details in the Best Buy parking lot in Pleasanton, CA.  Chris McCoy–the lead researcher on this experiment–is getting everything hooked up and ready to go on his journey to Santa Barbara, CA (about a 4 hour drive from the Bay Area).

The day started off at 06h00 with packing suitcases and 3D printer necessities (Octoprint server, Cubicity filament.  Chris had an appointment with Bobby from to buy a Honda 2000i generator.  At 08h00 the generator was purchased and relocation to a Home Depot was in order to properly set up the 3D printer / generator setup.

Once at Home Depot, Chris found all the bare essentials to make this experiment work.  Here was the setup:

  1. 1x Honda 2000i (2000W) generator (1000W would also be sufficient) ~$750 from
  2. 1x Printrbot Simple Metal ~$600 from
  3. 4x Spools of Filament (we used scrap filament for initial testing so as not to waste our high-quality Cubicity / Voltivo filament)
  4. 1x Cargo Rod ~ $20 to support the 3D printer filament
  5. 1x Packet of Large Cotter pins ~ $5, these were necessary in order to remove and re-affix the compression pad at both ends of the Cargo Rod so that the 3D printing filament can be slid on and off.  This took a little bit of work with only a LeatherMan.
  6. 1x Panel to increase the base size to prevent tipping of the 3D printer.  A layer of cork was also applied with blue painters tape to add some friction to the Panel to prevent the 3D printer from sliding around.
  7. 1x tie down in order to affix the 3D printer to the Panel
  8. 1x Power Strip for all the 3D printer power needs: 3D Printer Power, Octoprint Server Power and the Cisco Router for a local WiFi network.
Getting everything setup in the BestBuy Parking Lot.

Here in the parking lot of Best Buy, Chris got everything hooked up and ready to print.  That being said, it wasn’t that easy getting everything setup because the Octopi server was setup for Chris’s home network and the WiFi password needed to be changed.  For those of you who have setup an Octopi server, you know how cumbersome the Linux interface for the Raspberry Pi for WiFi dongle connection is and Best Buy became essential to find a HDMI enabled screen to change the WiFi settings.  If you want to setup your Printrbot to run on Octoprint, you can read a blog post on how to do that here.  Thank you Best Buy Pleasanton, CA!!

Once the 3D printer was connected w/Octoprint, Chris warmed up the 3D printer and installed the Filament.  The test print?  None other than the You3Dit RaverRing which is currently raising funds on Kickstarter.  If you want to dramatically improve your nightlife, this is one quick and cool way to do it!!

Just getting warmed up to 3D printing while driving.

Just getting warmed up to 3D printing while driving.  The print started with little fanfare and fuel was needed for the trip.  Chris was unaware of how much fuel the generator would need for this 3+ hour print.  A quick Google search suggested 9 hours were possible on one gallon of fuel!  Perfect!

With the generator and truck fueled up, the 3D print continued to rock on.  Here’s the timelapse of the first ever 3D Printed RaverRing traveling at 65 mph.

The Printrbot Simple appeared to have no issues during the print amidst many urban legends describing how gusts of wind can throw off a successful print.  This was not witnessed in this experiment.  Although we failed to capture a screenshot of the temperature as a function of time, there were definitely aberrations in temperature but they didn’t appear to have a significant impact on the output quality of the print.  Also NOTE: I wouldn’t recommend this experiment to anyone (actually…anyone at all period) who has not already really dialed in their 3D printer.


#awesome.  If you’re going to try this experiment at home, do so in a safe and controlled environment.  If texting and driving is illegal in your area, it is probably heavily frowned upon to 3D print and drive.  However, once a 3D printer is running and setup well, you can typically set it and forget it.  That being said, you’ll want to monitor the progress because normal 3D printing can have issues like: tangled filament, poor part adhesion to the build platform, clogged nozzle, etc.  DON’T DO THIS EXPERIMENT UNLESS YOU’RE A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL.

Now that we had built some confidence in the mobile printing, we printed our batch file (*.gcode) and started printing:


Pit stopping in San Ardo to check the 3D print. We couldn’t connect to the Octoprint server so we wanted to ensure everything was all good w/the print…and it was!

Now we’ve arrived in San Luis Obispo and boom, 3D printed RaverRings.  Had trouble getting reconnected after this print so we ended the mobile 3D printing for the day.

RaverRings all done at San Luis Obispo Marriot

The bicycle in all of these photos has been a foreshadow of something we’re thinking about doing here in June, 2015–mobile 3D printing on a bicycle. Why might you ask? Sometimes you need a spare part for your bike and your fellow riders when you’re riding with over 1000 people. More updates to come.

Finished RaverRings after Mobile 3D Printing

We were worried about delamination of the parts from the platform caused by the erratic temperature in the back of the truck but also because of the bumpy ride. Our bed height has been pretty dialed in so this wasn’t an issue. We’re also really liking our Buildtak.


#Awesome and #Done. 4x more RaverRings to pass out as promos to help drive traffic to our Kickstarter Campaign!

After 3.5 hours of driving and 3D printing, we have 4x new RaverRings!

After 3.5 hours of driving and 3D printing, we have 4x new RaverRings! What else would you print? What is appropriate for mobile 3D printing? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

In conclusion, 3D printing can work in mobile and erratic outdoor environments.  We have yet to find a really great application for Mobile 3D printing but that is just currently in our limited mental design space…we know you, our readers, have many more ideas or where this can actually be beneficial.  Let us know and don’t 3D print and drive unless you’re a pro.

Guest Post: Timur Khan – entrepreneur, pro bike racer, life hacker and all-out wild man talks about Project Raver Rings


Mr. Timur Khan – Founder and CEO of Nueva Bikes.  Sales & Marketing lead for the Kickstarter: Raver Ring project.

Note from Chris–Founder and CEO of You3Dit: Timur Khan is one of the most memorable people I have ever met.  He’s the kind of guy that does not say why he can’t, he asks how he can.  He’s the kinda guy that Airbnbs his apartment, sleeps during that month in a tent, and buys a Prius with that Airbnb money so he can start Ubering.  It is with pleasure that we here at You3Dit get to publish this guest post.  ~Chris

“Project Raver Rings” by Timur Khan

My recent experiences working with 3-D printing have been both unique and exciting. Getting to understand how ideation can quickly become creation is one of the joys of being part of the maker community. has been a great way to put an idea out into the universe and have talented and ambitious people work on creating a solution to your most complicated problems.

One of the more fun projects that we recently worked on was how you utilize LEDs in every day life. We saw potential in the Raver Rings as well as creating a whole line of other products that were fun, exciting, unique, and also practical. Even more so was that with this production method one can create something entirely unique and yet it can still be affordable. To me tailoring a cool accessory like a 3-D printed ring is the hallmark of clever and creative manufacturing; taking something that an industry of jewelers have been working on for thousands of years, which usually required a lifetime of training now only requires some basic understanding of 3-D additive manufacturing software, material properties, spatial awareness of what you want to create, and a degree of creative latitude for variety within that design. You can essentially create profiles that can be suitable for dozens of needs without having to start over from scratch every time one wants to iterate or improve upon a design. Raver Rings is a proof of concept for a crowdfunded product that shows how the maker community is gearing up towards custom 3-D printing and manufacturing for the masses.


Raver Rings are currently being pre-ordered on Kickstarter with a funding target of $10k and pre-ordering closing on March 7, 2015

The outpouring of support from both other makers as well as buyers have shown us that we’re starting to head in the right direction. What I would like to see happen with the Raver Rings is for them to be utilized not only for safety for cyclists, skateboarders and runners, but also for mothers with their strollers, people trying to hail cabs late at night, or even having Fido your lovable dog become more visible, but really to go out there and be seen but also have a lot of fun! We also heavily endorse you use these while out dancing at a local club, bar, houseparty, or anywhere else that you’re having a good time especially if you’re jumping in the air to the beat of some great music with all your friends.

My experience showing the Raver Rings in Asia has been fantastic, people love that they can tap it, clap, bump it against something, or even snap their fingers to make them light up.

Let’s get this thing funded so we can create even more fun products for the masses!


Shareable link to Kickstarter page:

Sunnyside High School uses the Rapid Innovation Cycle to generate new product ideas

Back on January 25th, the students at Sunnyside High School in Fresno, CA were challenged to execute a Rapid Innovation Cycle (RIC) – a process that helps people quickly generate new product or service experiments that allow them to test the “unforgiving market place” and gather insights on the potential success of the concept being tested.


The Rapid Innovation Cycle as presented by Hands-on Rapid Innovation.

The TV Video Production class led by teacher Ms. Katie McQuone invited Chris McCoy–the co-creator of the Rapid Innovation Cycle–the opportunity to share the RIC process with her students in order to spawn “student-driven” projects.  K-12 educators have a responsibility to deliver curriculums that implement “linked learning” to bolster student engagement.   Researchers at UC Berkeley and others have experimentally proven that students are much more “engaged” and have much better “knowledge retention” when they own and generate the projects by which they apply skills and concepts learned in the classroom.   This leads to higher student success both in school and post graduation.  The Connected California website is a good resource for more information on similar initiatives.

The Rapid Innovation Cycle itself is a solution to a common problem.  The challenge of any new entrepreneurial endeavor (and / or intrapreneurial endeavor) is figuring out “what” products and services people will pay money for (aka: a customer) without spending massive amounts of money developing those final products / services before it is known whether or not a market exists (aka: a specific and clearly identified group of customers).  The output results of a well-executed Rapid Innovation Cycle clarify if a real opportunity exists and does so by simply applying the scientific method to business.

The challenge proposed to the students at Sunnyside High School was to go through the Rapid Innovation Cycle process in teams of three people (a Project Lead, a Video Lead and an Experimental Lead) over a one-month period.  Their assignment or “deliverable” was to submit / upload to YouTube a video showing their Rapid Innovation Cycle projects–showing how they brainstormed a host of possible projects, how they chose their solution, how they built their market test, the experimental data they collected and finally, the results of their experiment.  With literally zero guidance from Chris, three teams have submitted the following videos and we’re very impressed.  The three projects are Shoe Case, The Self Mirror and the yet-to-be-named, “camera shade“.

The following commentary is Chris’s feedback to the students.  It is broken into general commentary and then specific project feedback.  The various phases of the Rapid Innovation Cycle process is defined in the reviewed project.

General Feedback for Round 1 of Sunnyside High School’s Rapid Innovation Cycle submissions:

  1. Overall, congrats to these three teams getting your submissions in on time.  The real world works on deadlines and while rules can and often are bent (and we actually encourage this), you typically do yourself a big favor by getting things in on time.  For those of you who haven’t turned anything in, there is still time before February 25 and we’re firm believers of “better late than never.”
  2. Video length was perfect and editing quality is very good.  We asked students to submit their Rapid Innovation Cycle story in less than 3 minutes and they all were under that limit.  Why is this important?  Investors and people who can help you kickstart your business are typically VERY VERY busy people with very limited time.  If you only have two minutes–in an elevator for example–to sell someone on your business, product or service, you have to be clear, succinct and convey to your audience what it is your offering and why they should care.  This is known as the “elevator pitch” or as Chris Saka–billionaire and tech investor–referenced it in the new Podcast called “Startup”, the Uber Pitch (time it takes to catch an Uber cab).
  3. All projects are off to a great start but we will be looking for even more development in Round 2 of your Rapid Innovation Cycles.  The projects reviewed thus far have done a good job at explaining their offering and then collecting feedback from potential customers (their peers), but there is still room for improvement and ways to get better market feedback.

Below we try to ask questions to these student teams that will help them determine how they can and should improve upon their Rapid Innovation Cycles.

Shoe Case

Opportunity Recognition – Definitionthe part of the process where many ideas are generated–typically from thinking about problems and complaints people have or by spotting opportunities as you go about life.  Feedback from Chris:

  1. I would have liked to have seen how many other ideas you generated before settling on Shoe Case and specifically the reasoning as to why you selected this project over all other ideas you generated (that I’m assuming you had.  Maybe you didn’t have any other ideas, if that is the case, how come?  How could you generate more ideas easily?  Remember what we taught you in the first session?).
  2. Please elaborate why you chose the Shoe Case project.  Was it because that was the biggest market potential?  Was it because it was a problem you thought you and your group were uniquely suited to solve?  We’d like to see more of that discussion in Round 2 of the RIC (however, not necessarily on the same Shoe Case project–that is up to you).

Solution SelectionDefinitionthe part of the RIC process where the team picks the solution to their identified opportunity (or problem).  Solutions have constraints which are typically: time, money, resources, skills, the team members, etc.

  1. The solution this team (and seemingly most other teams) was a customer interview after the prospective customer was told what the product or service was.  While it is a good idea to get customer feedback, the quality of feedback you get back is highly dependent on what the customer perceives they’re potentially buying from the seller.  In this “interview style” market test, the students unfortunately didn’t have a prototype so they were unable to collect money on the spot when their prospective customer claimed to be willing to buy the Shoe Case for between $5 and $10.  This gave the team a decent baseline of what people “might” pay for their solution, but it’s not yet confirmed.  The true test is to take real money as we did with fellow classmate Lovely and the RaverRing.  How could you prototype this?  What other experiment could you have run to get better data?
  2. It seems to me that this could be prototyped pretty easily with a plastic bag possibly, stretch pantyhose from the grocery store, or another stretchy material.
  3. I’d also question the solution as compared to its current market competition known as a “pre-existing system of use” known as….taking off your shoes before you walk in the door.  Maybe the group could have created an experiment where they put mud in front of a classroom door and a sign that says, “Don’t track mud into class…either take off your shoes or pay $X dollars to by Shoe Cases”.  Ask yourselves the question, “what will the data look like from our experiment and will we be able to make a meaningful decision based on that data?”  Looking forward to see more in-depth experiments like this in Round 2.

Market ExperimentationDefinition: this is the actual execution of the market experiment.  It often involves collecting both quantitative (numerical data) and qualitative (descriptive data) based on a prospective customer’s reaction or engagement with the selected solution / market experiment.

  1. Again, the market experiment here was the interview of several fellow students.  There is good information which came out of these interviews–such as “my mom’s boyfriend is a farmer” who might be a better customer than their high-school peers.
  2. Also it appeared that they got some information on pricing. However I have to question the validity because people can and do say many things that they don’t actually do.  Humans are hard wired to tell each other what we “want to hear” vs. “the actual truth.”

Experimental ResultsDefinition: this part of the process reflects on the experiment, what information can be extracted from the data and what the team’s next step(s).   Is the data promising?  Should you continue with that project or move onto something else that is more promising or may have better market feedback.  If you believe the data is good and suggests a promising business venture, maybe you continue the venture and executing more RICs.  If the data is good but the market feedback is less than exciting, maybe it makes sense to put this project on hold and test another opportunity.

  1. In this Shoe Case example, the students only highlight the price range, $5-10 for each Shoe Case (or maybe as a set).  So my follow up questions would be, “how much do you think it would cost to actually produce your solution?”
  2. Considering the cost of manufacturing and the price people said they were willing to pay, can you make a worthwhile profit (approximately the difference between cost to produce and the sale price).  In general, I recommend that you try to get a cost of production at least 10x–ideally 20x–lower than your sale price, thus, you should be able to produce your Shoe Case for $0.50/ea or even better, $0.25/ea.
  3. Considering this could be prototyped rather easily, I believe you could get much more reliable data by generating a prototype or two and actually selling them to potential customers.  We’ll expect to see more hardware and software prototypes in Round 2 of the RICs at Sunnyside.

The Self Mirror

Opportunity Recognition

  1. Cool concept.  I could see this working in dance clubs with friends.  There are many situations during parties and events the event organizer hires a camera crew to take pictures of the guests.  This could replace that person taking photos.
  2. What were the other concepts you discarded?  Why did you choose the Self Mirror over every other opportunity you recognized?

Solution Selection

  1. The team selected an interview to market test their solution.  Read above comments from the first project.  Same concerns apply here.  People “claim” they would buy for some price but you can’t confirm without actually collecting money from your prospective customer.
  2. How could you construct this prototype?  What do you believe the cost would be?  Are there any other experiments you could do to validate your hypothesis?

Market Experiment

  1. Interviews without prototypes don’t always yield the best data.  See if you can’t prototype this solution or find another way to solve the identified problem that is testable.  Maybe it’s a video of a “fake Self Mirror” which “looks” as if it works as claimed.

Experimental Results

  1. Do you truly believe you can produce this product and be profitable by selling for $29.99?  Seems like you found the right price for your potential market but I’d be curious to know how much you believe it would cost to fabricate this prototype and final product.  Not sure how to make this?  Who in your network do you know who you could ask?  Hint hint, I know  you know someone who can help you here.

“Camera Shade” (let us know what we should call your product)

Opportunity Recognition

  1. Definitely seems like a legitimate problem.
  2. Did you check to see if this product exists already?  If so, how could you improve it?  What does it cost?  Can you produce something that could be better or made more cheaply?
  3. What other opportunities did you recognize during your first RIC?

Solution Selection

  1. I liked the the concept of drawing out and speeding up the video to illustrate the solution.  Unfortunately, I still struggled to figure out exactly what you were building / proposing as the solution.  Also consider using a timelapse video to illustrate the drawing at a faster pace–consider a voice over to explain what you’re drawing.  Your concept should be easily understood by your grandmother.  It takes time to polish this story–keep working on it and put yourself in their shoes.  That always helps.

Market Experiment

  1. Similar to the comments above, Interviews without prototypes don’t always yield the best data.  I know that in old historical movies, I remember seeing people using draped cloths to block light over the camera viewer lens.  Is your solution a universal shade for both professional cameras and tablets??  Is this something that would fold up and always be with you?  Not sure, please elaborate in your next RIC.

Experimental Results

  1. Sounds like you could get pricing between $10-20 for the product.  It is my belief that this product could be prototyped pretty easily.  Any reason why you didn’t do that?  If not, you’ll have an opportunity when we all see each other again next week.

Conclusions from Round 1 of the Rapid Innovation Cycle at Sunnyside High School 

Overall, it seems like the students are grasping the overall concept and utility of the Rapid Innovation Cycle which is AWESOME.  The video submissions are the first of its kind for the Rapid Innovation Cycle.  Based on these initial submissions, I’m very optimistic to see what the students will be producing over the next few months both  in terms of the Rapid Innovation Cycle market tests and the videos themselves.  Next time we meet with the students at Sunnyside, we’ll focus on how to rapidly prototype and get them from simple ideas and customer interviews to sellable alpha products and prototypes.

Now for the rest of you who haven’t submitted yet, it’s called Rapid Innovation!!  Time to get to work, you have t-minus 4 days to get them submitted before Chris arrives.

Kickstarter First Week Update #2

So the RaverRing Kickstarter Project has been alive and breathing for just over 1 week now.  I have to say, the Kickstarter experience has been very fun, exciting and interesting.

First, before we begin to ramble about the odds and ends of running a Kickstarter like a boss, we’d like to give a HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF OUR BACKERS THUS FAR!  YOU GUYS AND GALS ARE AWESOME, VISIONARY, BADASS and WE LOVE YOU FOR IT!  We understand it takes a leap of faith to place a bet on people who run Kickstarter campaigns, but rest assured, we’re going to make this experience well worth your investment.  Not only in delivery of your rewards, but we have some other tricks up our sleeves that we’re going to provide to you as exclusive, first-week backers!  Some things we’re thinking about:

  1. Sending you in advance your RaverRings (you’ll be helping us beta test our forms to ensure we’re asking all of the right questions to get your RaverRing reward delivered perfectly the way you ordered it).  We’ll also fulfill your original order, but we figure getting the RaverRings into your hands early on will help us course correct as we begin to send to the masses.
  2. Sending some other sample products you can use with your RaverRing LED fixture.  Think pets, think bicycles, just start thinking, “where do I want shock enabled lighting?”  We’re already experimenting with some other components which should be a ton of fun.

So, onto the project updates.  First, we need to say another HUGE THANKS to for sponsoring us with super high-quality PLA 3D printer filament.  We just received our second shipment of filament today, Friday the 13th.  We’re going to have a ton of dope colors to make RaverRings from and we promise we’ll be able to get a color combo that fits your personality.  Here are the ring colors (along w/the Voltivo / order number-if you want to see more color options, check out their site directly:

  1. Purple – EF-PLA-175-DPURP
  2. Cherry Red – EF-PLA-175-CHRED
  3. Signal Orange – EF-PLA-175-SORAN
  4. Artic Silver – EF-PLA-175-ASILV
  5. Leafy Green – EF-PLA-175-LGREE
  6. Sky Blue – EF-PLA-175-CKBLU
  7. Snow White – EF-PLA-175-SWHIT
  8. Transparent – EF-PLA-175-TRANS
  9. Bling Gold – EF-PLA-175-BGOLD
  10. Ash Grey – EF-PLA-175-AGREY

We’ve started 3D printing some of the early version prototypes with the Cubicity distributed / Voltivo produced filaments.  So far, we’ve been getting a lot of feedback.  First, if the rings are too small for your hand or we don’t size you right, it’s possible the LED lights can disconnect from their snap release.  This was originally part of the design but it needs to be modified so you can fist bump and clap your hearts out w/out worry that you’ll lose the LED.

Next, up, Sunnyside High School.  OMG.  Amazing.  #FaithInOurYouth  You have to check out the video produced by the students and faculty at Sunnyside High School in Fresno, CA.  Sounds like they need our help to facilitate school spirit and the program coordinator couldn’t stop Raving about them 🙂

We also addressed some concerns about the environmental impact of the RaverRings (which you can read on the main RaverRing Kickstarter page).  Long and the short of it is, we’re doing pretty well from an environmental impact aspect: using biodegradable materials ONLY where we need to and reusing a product that may have otherwise gone to a landfill.

Want to see how a 3D printer works?  Watch one here making the ring-component of the RaverRing:

So where do we stand as of Friday the 13th?  We are only 14% funded…which is good but sadly not sufficient for us to go into full production of RaverRings.  We really need a “successful campaign” which is to raise $10K.  But it’s not too late…here’s how you can help:

  1. Share our Kickstarter link with anyone who you think might be interested in backing our project:
  2. Tell us who else you think might really like the RaverRings that we haven’t thought of yet… (just comment below, or send me an e-mail: chris at or message us in Kickstarter).  We promise we won’t spam your friends.
  3. Do you know someone in the news media?  Maybe you’d be willing to make an introduction and they could do a story on the RaverRings, the project and some of our educational / awareness initiatives which will be part of a successful campaign.

That’s it for the moment.  We have a lot of work to do in order get this project fully funded so we can get these Raver Rings onto your hands!  Looking forward to raging with you all at the RaverRing “met funding goal” party!  More to come!

Kickstarter Launch Week Update #1

What is up people!!  We launched a Kickstarter project!!  It’s the first one that we’re aware of spawning directly from a project but hopefully not the last.

Within the first 24 hours, we had 6 backers which was exciting to say the least!  Four more the following day and one more today.  There are still EARLY-BIRD prices on some of our rewards so buy them now before they run out!!

We received a couple of early messages from people in the Kickstarter community but mainly just to help us get more promotion and help boosting our campaign.  While it’s awesome to have people want to help, we believe that the #RaverRings should be able to stand on their own coolness.  Obviously Timur and Chris will continue to push the campaign through as many clever social media and gorilla marketing tactics possible.

HUGE THANKS goes out to!  They’ve graciously sponsored our initial set of RaverRing filament in a range of amazing colors!  For all of your future filament needs, please checkout, they’ll treat you right and have great filament from our experience.


Cubicity Inc. graciously sponsors the RaverRing Kickstarter project with donated filament.

Timur apparently snuck into the TechCrunch Crunchies Awards and was flashing people left and right (with the #RaverRings of course).  Chris gave a “Lightning Talk” at the Hackaday wine / cocktail hour where they had their new print magazine called “Omnibus” released.  A very cool magazine meant to spur discussion amongst enthusiasts instead of burning your retinas for yet another hour on glowing internet-connected screens.  The high print quality, in-depth content and sexy artwork encourage it to be the first magazine, book, etc. that you see on your coffee table.  You can get yours directly from the Hackaday store should you want to encourage your friends to EAT.HACK.SLEEP.REPEAT in the comfort of your living room.

People in general seemed pretty upbeat about the RaverRing and we’re hoping they wield their social media prowess and give us some shoutouts!  Here’s a picture Tweeted out by 3D printing expert and educator–Kris Struble–from Near Future.

Overall, met some very cool people, caught up with some familiar faces and was very thankful to have been given the opportunity to share the RaverRing with a enthusiast and technology-centric community.

So, what’s next, PLEASE SHARE our Kickstarter page if you have people who you know would be interested in improving their nightlife, dance time, burning man or other outdoor + nighttime activities.  Not only will we be super grateful, but you’ll also help other people achieve their dream of dancing in style with the RaverRing:

USDA Visits the TechShop in San Francisco and Learns About 3D Printing in the Context of Food and Health


Chris had the opportunity to introduce both the TechShop and the concept 3D Printing to the USDA. (Photo credit: Eric Lai)

UPDATED (February 10, 2015): New questions answered below!

On Tuesday, Chris had the privilege of hosting an special group from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and introducing them to the world of 3D printing but with a twist…3D Printing the context of food and health.  Additionally, the talk expanded beyond 3D printing into the world of digital design and fabrication and how those technologies as well can and are being used in some cases in food innovations.

Concepts such as 3D printing paste made from mashed cricket guts, laser cutting chocolate for caloric intake metering and laser etching ingredients right onto (and into) the foods we consume.  The goal for the group was to get their minds thinking differently about how the food industry might look in the future as these technologies go mainstream.  The USDA plays a large part today in keeping Americans safe from food and food-technologies that lack full insight to their impact on health.

The questions coming from the group were very good…such as “how can these machines scale to 3D print foods to cover the needs of Americans when they print so slowly?”  and “What will the ‘filament’ for food look like?”  Answers to these questions are still TBD and Chris tried to postulate some potential solutions, however they’re only educated guesses at best.

The program leads for the USDA–Ms. Ronna Bach and Mr. Eric Lai–said that the attendees would be participating in a post-talk reflection and brainstorming activity to see what new ideas germinated from the overall experience.  It is with our great hope here at You3Dit that the USDA was able to discuss, clarify and define what safe, nutritious, accessible and sustainable food of the future will look like.

Here’s a link to the talk:  iManufacture – in the context of food and health (PDF)

Were you at the talk?  Want to offer your thoughts / feedback on the talk?  Please do so in the comments and / or this short 5 minute Speaker Evaluation form.

As a kind thanks for filling out our speaker feedback form, many links and references that were mentioned at the talk (in addition to simply being useful as well to get involved with digital design and fabrication are provided at the completion of the form).

Many thanks:

To Eric and Ronna from the USDA.  From all the folks at the TechShop who helped us organize and prepare for the talk.  Ky Faubian who pulled through last minute to help me with a TechShop tour.  To Timur Khan from Nueva Bikes and everyone at You3Dit who continues to help people make anything, anywhere!

Questions submitted via the Speaker Evaluation form:

  1. I would like to know more about the initial skill level one would have to have to take classes. Can a person walk in off the street with no practical knowledge or skill and just have an eagerness to learn and take a beginner’s class?
    1. Absolutely!  At the TechShop in San Francisco (and likely all the others as well), the only pre-requisites are an interest to learn, 2.5 hours of free time and I think about $90 which includes a materials fee (link to TechShop Rapid Prototyping classes).  Not sure if I mentioned it in the talk but I normally say that I get MBA students 3D printing in less than 3 hours (which is not a jab at MBA students…but rather, an illustration of the broad background these types of folks have and how quickly they can get up and running w/a 3D printer).  You will likely still need a technical person to help you troubleshoot problems…and I wouldn’t necessarily 3D print a bicycle as my first project, but the beauty of this technology is it unlocks creativity for those of us who were never before involved in making / manufacturing in the past because the technical barrier to entry was so high.  Now you can download the parts from and have them made locally through sites like ours–

Sunnyside High School to fabricate 500+ Flashy Rings

UPDATE:  February 18, 2015.  Ms. Katie McQuone and her students put together this awesome video about their desire to use and manufacture “Flashy Rings”:

Sunnyside High School will leverage the power of Hands-on Rapid Innovation to learn about digital design, digital fabrication and entrepreneurship via project spawned from RaverRings


As part of the #AMakeADay hashtag on Instagram, the “RaverRings” as they’ve been informally named became a big hit at Sunnyside High School in Fresno, CA.  Being shown as an example output product of the Rapid Innovation Cycle, the students began “freaking out’ over the cool factor brought out by the 3D Printed rings.

Founder and CEO Chris McCoy stated, “while 3D printing isn’t great for large scale manufacturing, for low volumes and especially with the custom nature of ring sizes, a handful of 3D printers could produce all the rings necessary for the student body” which is approximately 3500.

The RaverRing that was demo’ed on January 28th during the first introduction to the Rapid Innovation Cycle was sold to the opportunistic Lovely–a student in Ms. Katie McQuone’s TV Video Production class.  “Who here would buy this [RaverRing] for $10?” Chris asked the group.  Lovely shot up her hand and said, “I will!!” and on the spot handed over $4 of the $10 (she has promised to pay the remainder upon return).  “This is $4 worth of data…” Chris explained to the class “and this is why having a prototype product or service is so important to accurately gauge market interest.”  This was the message being instilled into the class that day–that by building prototypes and using them as market experiments, students could reliably kickstart their own entrepreneurial ventures.

The goal of both You3Dit and Hands-on Rapid Innovation in the context of Sunnyside High School is to provide students the modern tools used by the top Tech firms in Silicon Valley–that of data-driven decision making, customer development and rapid iteration.  Additive manufacturing in the form of 3D Printing plays a large role in hardware prototyping because one-off instances of product designs can be made much much cheaper than ramping up a production line or buying professionally machined parts.

The RaverRing utilizes a double finger ring that is 3D printed and one Radio Shack LED Flashing Step product.  Chris saw them on sale initially and figured there “had to be something cool we could do with them” and for $3.00 for 2x, this was too good of a deal to pass up.

The leadership at Sunnyside that organizes pep rallies for the entire school said, “we’re planning to do a ‘Black Out’ pep rally with the Flashy Rings…this way the students can spell out 2015 on center stage with simple clapping and snapping to flash the rings.”  With the pep rally scheduled for April 2015, both teams at Sunnyside High and You3Dit will need to work fast and with student help to get all of these rings made.  “We’ve already been given support from companies like who have donated 3D Printer filament for this project.”  We’re hoping other manufacturers like Printrbot and Radio Shack as well might be interested in supporting this student-led digital fabrication and entrepreneurial experience.  Teacher and TV Production Lead Ms. McQuone said, “I want to get a ring in every kid’s hand and we hope to document and film the entire thing…possibly submit the experience to an upcoming film festival.”

Everyone is aware that there is work and effort to be invested, but there’s no doubt that this experience will light up the creative minds at Sunnyside High School.