Can 3D-printing help kids learn how to write?

By Fred

Every day, we see great things coming from the 3DS Fablab, this time we decided to share with you this story, simple in terms of technology but innovative in terms of usage. Working with a Montessori school having innovative education methods it illustrates how 3DEXPERIENCE can contribute in places we would never think about! The tool has been originally designed by Maria Montessori, with the Italian language in mind, so without the difficult French phonemes like the “nasals”. This French specificity is actually one reason for explaining the delay of “explosion into writing” in the French Montessori schools compared to the world average. Following a recent study, the French Montessori Association now recommends the schools to enrich the alphabets with digraphs. As the kids start by writing the sounds (orthography comes later), it is important that they pick only one element for each sound.

3D printed letters

Thanks to these new digrams, there are no more obstacles standing between the children and the messages they are attempting to write. They can write everything and are no longer blocked by complex sounds (“phonemes“) in french such as “ou”, “oi”, “on”, “an”, etc…

Christophe created 3D models of solid digraphs (combinations of 2 letters) so they can improve their tools for writing learning. The digraphs in French are “an”, “ai”, “on”, “ch”, “gn”, etc. Handcrafting of all these digraphs would be very time consuming and inelegant, even if the result is not strictly identical to their existing letters (style, color, thickness). Watch how Christophe used 3D printing and 3DEXPERIENCE to come up with a creative solution:

YouTube Preview Image

The Montessori school is now using this a 3D-printed set of solid letters that the kids use to compose words and sentences. M. Mazzantini, Director of Ecole Montessori Internationale – Jardin du Luxembourg shared her feedback :

Thank you for this wonderful gift that allows the children to take further steps towards writing. It facilitates their autonomy and helps them to master their writting skills at a relatively early age (4, 4 and a half)”.

Hope you will enjoy the story, learning how to write with 3D-printing, a joint project with a Paris-based Montessori school (Ecole Montessori Internationale – Jardin du Luxembourg). You can download 3D letters & digrams.

Congrats Christophe for this great idea ! If you want to hear more about the 3DS FabLab, join the MadeIn3D Community.

The future is still plastics; maybe more than ever

By Catherine

In the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” the title character got this career advice: just one word…plastics.

It was so long ago, yet a futuristic remake would give the same advice. Plastic keeps evolving, gaining new properties and new uses.

The era of ‘The Graduate’ was a miracle age for plastic,” says Steven Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. “Where we are in material sciences is another age in breakthroughs.”

Those high-tech composite materials you hear about are plastic reinforced with carbon fiber to combine the benefits of plastics—light weight—with dramatically increased strength.

Count on finding more plastic in vehicles. “Materials that used to be only for race car drivers are going to show up in everybody’s garage,” Mr. Russell says.

Plastics will be a major contributor toward meeting higher fuel economy standards and thus reducing pollution by making cars lighter. Plastics already make up about half of a car’s volume but account for only 10% of its weight.

Imagine if, a few hours after a fender bender, your car has healed itself. Scott R. White, professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently published research on the first demonstration of a synthetic, nonliving material—plastic—that is able to regrow and regenerate in response to damage.

Damaged bumper

In the future, plastics would never age because in response to either small-scale or large-scale damage, they would regenerate themselves,” he says. The process doesn’t work if the plastic has exploded or broken to bits.

Regenerating plastic has a vascular system in which about eight different chemical compounds circulate in two isolated networks, similar to blood circulating through the body—in fact, the idea was based on mimicking the body’s healing process.

When damage occurs, those veins break, allowing the two fluid streams to mingle and triggering chemical reactions that lead to regeneration. One reaction creates a gel, so the fluids no longer flow. A slower reaction is hardening, which turns the gel material into a structural plastic, Dr. White says.

The system isn’t expensive, he adds, and the chemicals are not more expensive than plastic itself.

Plastic has advantages over metal including being lighter and resistant to corrosion. The downside of plastic has been that it weakens over its lifetime, and may eventually fail. Ultraviolet rays, for example, can dramatically weaken plastic over time, making it become brittle and flake, Dr. White says. That’s something metals don’t suffer.

With regeneration, “plastic could be immortal as long as you maintain the mechanism by which it regenerates,” he says. The breakthrough would make plastic greener, because “every time you can make something last longer, it means you aren’t throwing it away or replacing it.”

Plastic already has been getting greener, says Mr. Russell of the American Chemistry Council. It’s now possible to recycle more kinds of plastics that weren’t recyclable in the past, from yogurt containers to flexible film like shopping bags.

Plastic also offers green applications in many industries. If all building construction materials now used were plastic—vinyl instead of glass windows, plastic instead of metal pipes, foam insulation—it would save enough energy to power 4.6 million U.S. homes, he says. Plastic is being used in energy-efficient LED light bulbs, which may help bring down their cost.

plastic polymer granules

Stanford University is working on ways to use plastic to improve the ability of solar cells to absorb energy. Bayer MaterialScience, a unit of Germany’s Bayer AG, and Belgium’s Solvay Group are making plastic materials for the Solar Impulse 2 ultralight plane, which aims to fly around the world powered only by solar energy next year. The lithium polymer batteries—made partly of plastic—store enough energy that the plane has been able to fly part of the night in test flights.

If we think about sustainability, lot of people don’t think about plastics,” Mr. Russell says. “But if we think about how a material impacts how we use water or energy or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, plastics help.”

Packaging is a major application for plastics, and one in which the material can make products greener. A little bit of plastic can prevent a lot of food contamination and waste. With active packaging, the wrapper itself helps prevent spoilage. Some are impregnated with antimicrobials, while others prevent loss of bacteria that’s beneficial to our microbiome. Still others include strips that absorb ethylene—which is given off by ripening fruit and vegetables—to keep food fresh longer.

Intelligent packaging may one day communicate information about the food in their refrigerators to consumers, to say which foods are in danger of not being fresh any longer, so those can be eaten first.

Plastic is showing up in some other unusual places. The Bank of England announced last December that the next £5 and £10 banknotes will be printed on a plastic film, rather than the traditional cotton paper. The switch, which will begin in 2016, will make banknotes cleaner, more durable and more difficult to counterfeit.

Plastic is a key component in the explosion in 3-D printing, which promises to change many industries. While 3-D printing has been around for three decades, it has only recently taken off, with applications from medicine to spare and custom parts to molds, patterns and models.

Factors Affecting the Future of the Semiconductor IP Management Business

By Eric

The era of semiconductor IP is here and it’s a good sized business.  (>£700M for ARM, >$400M for Synopsys, > $100M for Cadence, all annually)  And without a doubt, the demand for semiconductor IP will continue to grow. Regardless of the size of the target market, all companies creating semiconductors are now using or reusing IP, whether developed internally or externally. But a variety of business factors will shape the future of the IP business.

Sourced from: http://bit.ly/YxXx3F

The success of leading device manufacturers in dreaming up new, more advanced features and capabilities which consumers seem to want and buy drives semiconductors to be ever more complex and short lived. This affects the nature of IP. For example, short life cycles mean less business value which then affects investment in quality, both by the IP provider and licensee. Quality is gained through the V&V process as well as development support. It’s highly likely that IP providers and consumers that have differentiated V&V know-how and support systems will have an edge in the market. Similarly, the ability to capture and manage specs and know-how for IP block integration will be a differentiator.

The larger device designers who are market leaders will have economies of scale working in their favor, allowing differentiated advancements in power consumption and functionality through finer-grain integration of IP blocks. They can absorb the additional V&V and design costs from stitching hundreds of IP blocks into a system. And in fact it’s highly likely that these companies will continue to be the primary consumers of IP, because they can gain the most value from it. But, as advances in differentiation slow in a particular product category (witness pocket calculators), this advantage may recede. Smaller vendors who from the start become adept at on-boarding, managing and reusing IP, especially larger sub-systems may gain advantage over time through constant refinement of development and IP licensing processes to maximize margins despite smaller served markets.

In summary, there are a number of factors, some of them opposing each other which will affect the business for creation and consumption of semiconductor IP. Businesses that adapt to these factors, and implement processes and systems to streamline their IP management will fair better against the external forces that work against them. In some ways, it’s a lot like being chased by a bear: you don’t have to run faster than the bear, only faster than the guy next to you.

More information about Dassault Systemes solutions for IP Management. 



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