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July 9, 2017

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Liquid plastic welders and cheap 3D printers

by John_A

At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Obsidian — $99 3D printer

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3D printers are getting cheaper. Drastically cheaper, in fact. In the early days, it wasn’t uncommon for even the most basic printer to carry a price tag upwards of $3,000, but in just a few years’ time the average price has plummeted. Nowadays, there are dozens of printers you can get for under 500 bucks, and some are even cheaper than that. Obsidian is the latest addition to this sub-$200 club. Priced at just $99 on Kickstarter, it’s easily one of the most affordable printers we’ve ever laid eyes on.

Aside from its promise of VR-integrated design and ridiculously low price tag, the big selling points of the Obsidian 3D printer are its out-of-the-box, assembly-free ease of use and attractive appearance.

Starting at $99 for your choice of either a black or white model, it aims to spit out objects that are a comparable quality to printers with a considerably higher price tag. A higher tier $249 “Obsidian Deluxe” model comes with additional features such as a Smart LCD screen, heated bed, built-in camera, and more.

Cero One — Front-loading electric cargo bike

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Be it a big or small basket, a simple platform, or a few tie down straps on the rear rack, the Cero One has the ability to undertake some serious hauling. Touting up to 12 different combinations, Cero Bikes specifically constructed the bicycle differently from much of what’s currently on the market. Featuring a smaller front wheel to assist with bigger front cargo, it also relies on a lower center of gravity to achieve excellent stability. The company also outfitted the bike with wide balloon tires to increase the balance and smoothness of the ride

Outside of its construction, the Cero One also offers several pedal-assisted drive modes. Capable of cruising at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, buyers can expect to get 44 miles out of its High drive mode, 62 when switched to Normal, and an astounding 93 miles when set to Eco mode. For most people who want a commuter bike, these ranges are more than capable of serving them on a day-to-day basis.

MummyPod — hammock-focused sleeping bag

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As hammock camping continues to grow in popularity, the available gear has continued to evolve over the past few years. Case in point? A company called Outdoor Vitals recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help crowdfund a new product called the MummyPod, an all-in-one sleep system designed from the ground up with hammock campers in mind.

The complete MummyPod system consists of three individual parts: a sleeping bag, hammock, and a rain tarp. All those elements were designed to work together to create a lightweight yet highly versatile option that can be used virtually anywhere. The entire system weighs just 4.4 pounds and packs down to an incredibly small footprint, taking up less room in a backpack than a traditional sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent.

When deployed, the MummyPod acts as a cocoon, wrapping around the exterior of your hammock to provide warmth and protection from the elements. This is unlike traditional sleeping bags that sit inside the sling itself.

Smart Buckle — smart wristwatch band

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Why buy a new smartwatch when you can just smarten up your old watch? That’s the question Gooseberry answers with its Smart Buckle, a little device that goes a long way with your existing accessories. It’s heralded as the first device that “intelligently upgrades classic timepieces with advanced step, calorie, activity, and sleep monitoring capabilities.”

So if you don’t want to give up the feel of your familiar watch but want some innovative technology, this could be the solution for you.

“Many of us have worn our watches for years, sometimes as a tradition and other times as a personal fashion choice,” Alexei Levene, co-founder of Gooseberry said. “We wanted to create a product that allows people to wear their favorite timepieces while also being able to have access to smartwatch capabilities, such as fitness tracking, making use of current technology trends.”

All you have to do to breathe new life into your existing watch is replace the buckle — from there, you can track how many calories you’ve burned, the distance you’ve traveled, your pace, and even your sleep habits.

Bondic Evo — liquid plastic welding

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Glue is incredibly useful, but it’s not exactly the most user-friendly stuff in the world. It’s messy, unwieldy, and difficult to apply with any degree of precision. But now, thanks to dentist-turned-inventor Dr. Thomas Offermann, there might a better alternative. Instead of haphazardly squeezing some adhesive out of a tube, Offerman’s Bondic system allows you to join two materials together with liquid plastic that hardens under UV light. You know those little UV glue guns that dentists use to fill minor cavities before they get too serious? It’s basically the exact same adhesive technology, just tweaked a little and redesigned for a different purpose.

To use Bondic — or more specifically, the new-and-improved Bondic Evo — you simply apply the desired amount of liquid plastic to whatever you’re hoping to repair. The goop can bond practically anything (plastic, metal, fiberglass, wood, fabric, etc.), and the high-precision extrusion tip allows you to apply exactly as much adhesive as you need.

This adhesive will remain in liquid form until you hit it with a blast of UV light, so you’re free to fiddle with it and make adjustments before you commit to hardening. After about four seconds of direct UV exposure, the plastic becomes hard as a rock but not so hard that it resists sanding and finishing. You can file it down and smooth it out when you’re done or add extra layers for additional strength.

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