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3D printers have UC designers making their own way

Marcus Butler

29 July 2015: What do a sewing machine, Nintendo Gameboy,  desktop 3D scanner and a circular knitting machine from Estonia all have in common? They will all be on show as part of an innovative new research collaboration unveiled for the first time at the University of Canberra.

Mobile Makers is the first travelling creative digital research laboratory in Australia, bringing together 13 researchers from nine organisations, including five from the University of Canberra, to focus on innovative digital design and manufacturing processes.

The collaboration aims to highlight the role that digital manufacturing can play in many areas of our lives, from innovation and entrepreneurship to heritage, and will engage with small business, small-scale and craft producers as well as educators and students.

The researchers in design, art, engineering and architecture will showcase their use of the 3D technology during Forum ONE, a two-day event on campus starting on Thursday 20 July 2015.

Researcher and Faculty of Arts and Design associate dean of research Angelina Russo said the Forum ONE event will include presentations by researchers and displays of 3D printed objects.

"Around 100 representatives of small to medium businesses and craft-based designers have been invited to attend the event to explore opportunities to create new links between industry and researchers.

"They'll be able to see firsthand how these digital manufacturing processes work and how they can help to expand their business.

Professor Russo said while many people see 3D printing as an emerging technology, many will be surprised about some of the older machines which are being used in the manufacturing process.

"We have a Singer/Jaguar digital embroidery sewing machine connected to a Nintendo Gameboy that produces embroidered Nintendo characters," she said.

"We've also brought out an incredible 3D printed electronic circular knitting machine from Estonia and we will donate all the knitting it produces to local wildlife rescue."

The researchers will also be unveiling a HP Sprout 3D desktop scanner at the event along with the Darkly Labs desktop laser cutter. It will be the first time either technology has been used in the ACT.

Mobile Makers aims to set up as a digital research laboratory in the Centre for Creative & Cultural Research at the University of Canberra. The consortium has applied for an Australian Research Council LIEF grant to take researchers and makers onto the road to meet local producers and manufacturers as we explore the futures for digital design and fabrication.

A program of events is available online.