Oh yeah, you know you’ve gone too far when you’ve got little Johnny sprayin’ cheese spread out his nose to form building for your moon-based train station display. Those hospital trips are about to drop significantly and your family can rest their weary nostrils. [email protected] Model 2 is here.

[email protected] is a project started by Hod Lipson and Evan Malone of the Cornell University Computational Synthesis Laboratory (CCSL). Jeffrey Lipton joined the crew later to start the [email protected] Student Team with Lipson and push the project to where it is today.

We shot Jeffrey an email to get his take on the fab scene, automation, best 3D software for 3D printing, and of course, the future. Here’s what he had to say.

What’s the best way to get people interested in the 3D printing at home?
The best way is to put together a kit and start building. I would suggest starting with the syringe tools and experimenting with household items. Nothing says home 3D printing like printing food. Video games drove the personal computer’s technology in its early stages, and I think printing food will be the killer application that will drive personal 3d printing technology. Its amazing and liberating to be able to print plastic parts, but I wouldn’t want to fill my house with those fumes.

Some wonder what 3D software to use with DIY 3D Printers. What do you recommend?
I would suggest Model Maker by Aspex Software. We have been working with them on the [email protected] project. They designed the software for grade-schoolers and up. It’s not as powerful as Solidworks, but it’s got a quick learning curve and enough functionality for most uses.

Do you think design automation and simulation will play a role in the future of 3D printing? How?
Design automation is the future of 3D printing design. Hod Lipson and Jon Hiller of the Cornell Computational Synthesis Lab have been working on design automation tools using genetic algorithms. Eventually people will tell the machine what high-level function they need, and the computer will evolve the design.
Design Automation for Multi-Material Printing (.pdf)
Multi Material Topological Optimization of Structures and Mechanisms

What the plans for Model 3 and future of [email protected]?
Right now, there are no plans for Model 3, and I hope there never are. The concept of models should become outdated. 3D printing should transition to a horizontal industry. Computer Mainframes used to have all aspects, from chip to programs designed and made by a single company. Now each part of the machine has a specialized company behind it. Today’s 3D printers have one company control everything from material to path planner. I hope that by the time we need to replace the model 2, we will be able to make that leap as an industry. We will continue to make revision for the model 2 for the next few years. Specifically we want to standardize hardware interactions with tools and drive trains so that you can swap in and out any electronics package.

The other branch of work we have is in software. We want to write common languages and APIs for 3d printing. We have been experimenting with the Apps concept similar to the iPhone. Rather than searching the web for a specific geometry, why not have an application that bundles geometry and processing files together. You could have an app for battery covers, another for chess pieces, a bike parts app, and so on.

The Fab@Home Model 2
The [email protected] Model 2
A pulley printed on the model 2, cleaned and used in the assembly.
A pulley printed on an Objet printer for the model 2.
A tiny shuttle printed in Silicon. Can also be printed in Steel, Latex, Clay, Epoxy, Plastic and Cheese.
A tiny shuttle printed in Silicon. Can also be printed in Steel, Latex, Clay, Epoxy, Plastic and Cheese.
The Fab@home logo printed in silicone, sticks to glass and acrylic.
The [email protected] logo printed in silicone, sticks to glass and acrylic.

So, interested in building the [email protected] model 2 yourself? You can find the tools you’ll need, parts list, CAD files, 3D models and everything else to get started on the Model 2 Overview page.

More on [email protected]
More photos of [email protected]


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.