Tag Archives: history

Taz and Remix 3D Printers

The Lulzbot TAZ 3D printers are one of the most user-friendly printers on the market. The first two printers in the LulzBot 3D Printer cluster were Prusa RepRaps put together with printed parts purchased off the Internet. They were built in the first quarter of 2011. These two printers printed the next set of parts needed by the subsequent LulzBot Prusa Clonedels.

LulzBot was founded in 2011 by the parent company Aleph Objects. Their fully open-source workhorses are renowned for their robust design and reliability, though their high prices have largely kept them off the individual hacker’s bench. While the printers did not do well in the consumer market, it did exceptional in the industrial market. The reliability of their machines got them to be used by the United States Marines. The open-source system led it to be used by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA uses a modded Lulzbot TAZ 4 to 3D print tools on the International Space Station.

Though the Lulzbot TAZ printers had short success in the industrial and commercial field, consumers did not want to spend a grand on a desktop printer when there were better, cheaper options. Due to this, in 2018, the company announced that there were many layoffs in the company. This came in correlation with bad financials following the first quarter of that year. An email attributed to Aleph Objects states, “We regret to inform you that the owners of Aleph Objects Inc, makers of Lulzbot 3D printers, have decided to close down the business as of Wednesday, October 9th, 2019. Operations will continue through October 31st, 2019 to sell through existing inventory.” Of the company’s 113 employees, only 22 would remain onboard to maintain day-to-day operations.

Following the speculation that Aleph Objects, manufacturer of Lulzbot open-source 3D printers had met its end, the company has refused to deny claims that it is indeed shutting down. Some insiders said they had heard expected a buyout, and soon the sale of Aleph Objects to Fargo Additive Manufacturing Equipment 3D (FAME 3D) became official.

This new financial backing certainly is good news, but it would be naive to think this is the end of LulzBot’s troubles. The community has made it clear that cheaper and more accessible desktop printers are more attractive. The company has said they are willing to create a new, more affordable option to their printers. Though Lulzbot’s company has had issues internally, the projects such as its entry into the 3D bioprinting market in early 2018 may keep the printer’s name afloat.

Written by: P. Friedman

MakerBot Digitizer and the History of 3D Scanning

Written By: S. Sparkman Spark Maker UNT Junior Media Arts

One of the tools available at The Spark is the MakerBot Digitizer. This device allows a user to take an everyday item that will fit on the scanner turntable and capture its likeness in 3D. How this scanner work is using lasers to project lines on the object, then a camera with a filter captures how the laser light deforms to the model. Slowly the model rotates on the turntable, and the camera captures every new line segment. In software, the different lines are stitched together, and your 3D model is complete.

Although 3D scanning may seem very new and high-tech, the idea and the technology has been in development for quite a while. 3D scanning started in the 60s thanks to new computing technologies. This type of scanning was very much in its infancy and took long hours for a not that great result. Later decades in the 80s and 90s when computers were developing faster. The push for a 3D scanner by the manufacturing and animation industry was at its highest. New techniques like line scanning used in the MakerBot Digitizer gave the scanners a better resolution. Faster computing and more memory space allowed software to capture more data and better details. Today, some of the best 3D scanners can capture the smallest detail up to thousands of an inch, all in full color.


Ever wanted to feel like a mad-programming genius? Arduino gives you the opportunity by simulating and creating an interactive environment for individuals of all skill levels.


Arduino came into play in 2003 at the Interactive Design Institute Ivrea, Italy. The project was meant to provide a low-cost interactive way to simulate large scale projects. Wiring was the first board that was drafted consisting of a printed circuit board (PCB) and an ATmega168 microcontroller with some basic library functions. Now a 32-bit board, an ATmega328P, 14 Digital I/O pins with a 5V operating voltage.

First Arduino prototype named “Wiring Lite” 2003

Current Arduino Uno since 2016


Some simple projects can include LED lights and resistors. Making an LED light blink is one of the simplest projects one can do. Other projects can be creating a system where a house plant can “sing” when touched, door alarms, pet feeders, and robots! As long as creativity exists, projects will flourish.

Blinking LED sketch

Arduino soon became a hobby for many people of all skill levels not necessarily just engineers. Fun fact about the name Arduino, the 5 founders consistently met up at a bar in Ivrea, Italy called “Bar di Re Arduino” so to honor the place of origin, Arduino became the namesake.

Come by the Spark and check out one of our Arduino starter kits and see where your creativity takes you.

Written By: E. Lopez


This blog post is about a CNC (Computer Numeric Control). When I joined the Makerspace, X-carve was called Shapeoko. It had a 500mm in XY and a 100mm in Z height. During the summer of 2019, I upgraded the Shapeoko to an X-Carve. It was a much better and efficient system. The upgrade involved taking apart Shapeoko completely and rebuilding from the ground up using different parts. 

The main upgrade component was the drivers and the board for the CNC. The X-controller had motor divers and a motherboard built-in, which made the build a little easier. Then, we used stronger and better aluminum profiles to replace the current ones. The new profiles had dual rails so it can run two V-groove wheels on both sides. This improves precision and reduces friction within the axis.

Lastly, I used a 48V independent spindle. This makes it easier to control the spindle. Spindle specs are so much better than the standard X-carve spindle. The standard running RPM is 12,000. The upgrade is complete as of now, and X-carve had its first project lined up while it was in the works. UNT Libraries requested 50 Power outlet faces milled. X-carve successfully completed the whole project just after the day that it was built.

Written By: T. Weerasinghe

PolyPrinter 3D Printers

The Spark Makerspace offers many options for 3D printing. All of our printers use Fused Deposition Modeling, where the printer lays down hundreds of layers of molten plastic one at a time, slowly building up your model. This method of 3D printing was invented in 1988 and is one of the most popular forms of 3D printing in the consumer and maker communities. The plastic used by these printers come in the form of filament spools and can be made out of many different plastics, including ABS, PLA, and Nylon. Filaments can also contain additives for unique effects such as wood, metal, and carbon fiber. A few of the printers we use are Poly Printers, which are locally sourced 3D Printers that deliver fast, reliable, and accurate 3D prints. Poly Printer was founded in 2012 in Midlothian, Texas, and offers a few types of printers, including the 229 and 465dx models, which can print a variety of sizes and materials.

Stop by either of our 2 locations to use these printers and more!

Written By: A. Sliter

Full Spectrum P Series

A Warm Welcome to Our Newest Machine, the Full Spectrum PS36 Laser Cutter.

A brief history on laser cutting:

The first working laser cutter was created in the 1960s by Western Electric, one of the forerunners of laser technology in manufacturing. Manufacturers soon began using lasers in their processes to allow for much faster production. Many advances have been made since then, such as metal cutting and glass etching. Today, we see more affordable options, better software support, and small-sized machines made specifically for makers. It truly has never been easier to get started with laser cutting.

Our laser cutter operates using CNC or Computer Numerical Control. This allows us to draft our designs on a computer program such as Adobe Illustrator or AutoCAD and upload them to the machine similarly to how a printer works. Laser cutting is accurate — the narrow beam of high energy light on our machine is merely 0.002”, or 0.05 mm. This is what makes laser cutting so unique: high accuracy and fast cutting of certain materials. Traditional methods such as saws and blades are not as fast, quiet, or clean. CNC combined with the highly accurate laser allows for intricate designs or even photo etching automagically.

An example etching piece created on a laser.

Laser cutters are limited in the materials that are safe to use without an industrial filter system, but luckily this includes all types of wood, specific plastics, and most fabrics. Materials that are not safe are plastics such as PVC, vinyl, or ABS. These plastics are commonly used in manufacturing today, but release harmful chlorine gas or hydrochloric acid when burned. This is why, when working with plastics especially, it is important to know exactly what material you want to cut and if it is safe to use on a laser.

Hobbyists and makers have welcomed laser manufacturing with open arms, as they make an effective tool for a variety of uses. Wood burning and etching, carpentry, and other crafts can make use of the precisely controlled laser. Laser cutters are easy to use and setup, with very little clean up required. Makers unfamiliar with CNC can learn very easily through a laser with Adobe Illustrator or similar programs.

If you have any questions about laser cutting or want to get started, visit The Spark Makerspace in Willis library and talk to one of our skilled laser operators!

Written By: M. Heins

Prusa 3D Printers

Prusa Research was founded in 2012 by Josef Prusa. The company started as just himself with no outside funding and quickly began to grow into a now 500-person company with over 9,000 printers running at the Prusa factory. His original i3 design for the printer became one of the most popular 3D printer designs due to its open-source nature. They have become the fastest-growing tech company in Western Europe with a growth rate of 17,118% over the last four years. The largest reason for the company’s success is the decision to remain a completely open source. All the firmware, models, circuit board designs, and blueprints have been made public for people to customize, improve, and tinker with to make the product their own if they care to do so. Prusa has managed to be a leader in 3D printing innovation and design because of this principle. This allows people within this community to build off the work of those that came before them, instead of constantly having to work from the ground up. There are countless other 3D printing companies and designs out there, but you would be hard-pressed to find a printer that is not based on or highly influenced by the work of Prusa. Prusa Research has managed to play one of the largest roles in innovation for the 3D printing community in such a short amount of time, and it has been one of the largest contributors to the progression of 3D printing today.

Written By: K. Mortensen