From RepRap
Revision as of 15:24, 29 November 2012 by Jsm5321 (talk | contribs) (BLOG 12)
Jump to: navigation, search


One of the most interesting and truly promising aspects of 3D printing that I have come across is the concept of bio- and organ-printing. Not only has the implementation of rapid prototyping revolutionize the drafting and prototyping processes for engineers, but it has also enabled radical medical developments, and is bringing forth the opportunity to help patients with a wide variety of conditions and ailments while also eliminating the need for human donors. To me, the idea of using something as simple as a printer to create and build structures of human cells that can, in turn, be placed into a person to possibly save their lives represents the true purpose of engineering and human ingenuity.

Moreover, the development of these “bioprinters” has also allowed biotechnologists to really gain an understanding of the true potential of these printers. For instance, researchers at Clemson University have discovered, using a modified consumer printer, that certain printing methods for cell solutions will disrupt cell membranes and allow them to insert molecules inside of the cells, and observe the reactions of the cells, further opening the variety of uses for the products of these printers.[1] I hope that the expansion of this technology continues and will eventually reach a point where we can design and grow fully functioning organs for replacement and transplantation, greatly reducing the number of people that die from diseases and cancers, and also enabling them to receive faster care, as they would no longer need to wait on long donor request lists.


The idea of using 3D printing technology to produce novelty items, rather than engineering materials is definitely a unique way to utilize the functions of a 3D printer; however I think it a rather limited scope. Outside of being a unique and most likely touristy attraction, I do not foresee the 3D photobooth overtaking the traditional style booth, at least not in its current state. The limitations of the current generation 3D printing technology make it a very costly process to create these 3D figurines, in both a monetary and time sense. The article on The Guardian cites that it takes nearly 15 minutes of scanning, in which the subjects must remain statuesque, and produces a product that costs several hundred Euros. While it would be an exclusive club to be in to own some of the first 3D models of yourself, I imagine that the steep price tag would be a significant deterrent for the causal consumer.[2]

I could see myself purchasing a model of myself. The idea strikes me as a truly interesting way to capture memories, particularly of people, and I think that when the technology is developed and implemented in a way that is more consumer friendly, I could be an avid shopper for models of this sort. I do believe it will be a big hit with parents, albeit rich parents, who can capture fleeting childhood moments in a third dimension to reflect on later in life.

The business model of utilizing 3D printing in creating consumer models is unique in that it exists in a field that has little current competition, making for probably success, though its market scope is rather limited, as is its potential clientele. I do think that in the future, 3D photo printing can and will be a large part of the novelty market, though ultimately, I do not know how successful the trend may be. The ultimate factor in the success of these novelties comes from the ability to manage the costs required to purchase these figures. A large part of keeping costs manageable does come from the advancement of technologies, but it also exists as part of competition between vendors. As the technology develops and becomes more accessible, more vendors will be able to offer these services, and by increased supply, will drive down prices.




Under the direction of Tod Colegrove, the University of Nevada's DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library has been transformed into an innovative Think Tank thanks to the introduction of 3D printing and scanning technology. The two printers, a Stratasys uPrint SE Plus and a hobbyist 3DTouch machine, have been in constant operation from their respective unveiling.

According to Colegrove, "It's really heartwarming to see just how backed up the machines are," and for good reason. His devotion to procuring and providing the printer services to the general school population has developed into an effective resource for students of all disciplines to express their creativity in designing and prototyping just about anything you can imagine.

Libraries, assuming their original intention of being centres of discussion and innovation, would be perfect hosts for 3D printers. Their availability would dramatically change the way that students are able to learn and perceive coursework and projects. The implementation of 3D printers for student and public use in libraries would be beneficial to all parties because it would allow students the chance to bring their learning to tangible reality. Students especially would greatly benefit from the ability to have complex organic molecules, or gearbox designs where they can truly get a grasp on the complexities of a three-dimensional world rather than the limitations of pictures.

Though not easy, I do believe that it would be plausible and practical to bring 3D printers into University and public libraries across the country. The most noticeable barriers to this process being both the cost of purchasing, supplying, and maintaining the machines and the need to have trained and informed staff to provide support and instructions on using the equipment. As noted in this article[3] , libraries are known for having a helpful staff of people who are knowledgeable and able to provide assistance with the equipment in the library, which would be especially necessary for the deployment of 3D printers and scanners. As such, in their current state, I do not believe that libraries are ready to welcome this new technology into their doors because, as Colegrove discusses here[4], libraries have evolved into quiet and restrictive places of study, rather than lively areas of debate and elaboration that they were originally conceived to be.

Through my time here at Penn State, I have become familiar with the Pattee and Paterno Libraries, of which I believe both to be good candidates for hosts of 3D printing systems. These libraries are hubs of information for students of all subjects, and who could all, in some way or another, be able to benefit from the use of 3D printing. Whether it be the printing of biological models and structures for students studying chemistry or medicine, or engineering students generating prototypes for design projects, the uses of a 3D printing system would benefit the entire student body of Penn State and not limit the technology to students of EDSGN 100 or ME 497D.

Many universities across the country are following the example of schools like the University of Nevada and the Fayetteville Free Library[5], and I believe that Penn State would be doing a great service to its students by giving them access to 3D scanning and printing technology that would greatly benefit a university learning experience.


In reading the Gizmodo article[6], I do believe it supports my theory that even if regulation under a new DRM policy were to go into effect against 3D printers, I don't think the restrictions would be effective. It's almost illogical to place such restrictions on a technology that has such great innovative potential in the way that products are designed and consumed.

Although innovators and designers deserve to have their ideas and technologies protected from explicit theft by consumers, I think that with widespread adoption of 3D printing technology, we will not see widespread pirating of ideas, but rather an expansive appearance of new minds and concepts being introduced into the world by people who have been granted the resources and capability to design and prototype with this technology. DRM laws and policies currently in existence do little to prevent the rampant issue of piracy, and do more to smother the spread and development of industries than they do to protect them.

I think that further restriction on technology that could be beneficial does not stand to protect innovation but instead works to stifle it. As stated in this YouTube video[7], “…it’s not when you order the bicycle, it’s when you design the bicycle.” It goes to show that the future of 3D printing does not need to rely on stealing existing ideas, but rather promoting the consumer's responsibility to progress design.

In turn, I think that there will be little trouble in finding a use for 3D printing technology. As it stands, it already has a strong use in prototyping and design fabrication for a variety of industries. In particular, the medical community is rapidly developing ways to print both synthetic materials to replace lost tissue and bone structures in the body, and even organic materials that will, one day, be able to replace actual cells or even entire structures in the body. Recently, 3D printing has been used to replace the jaw of an elderly woman in Belgium, using a print that took hours compared to the several days a normal implant takes. Professor Jules Poukens of BIOMED, a medical research department at the University of Hasselt says, “The introduction of printed implants can be compared to man’s first venture on the moon: a cautious, but firm step.”[8]


With the innovation of being able to print now optical sensing devices rather than just passive components, we open up the world of manufacturing to more efficient and less expensive processes. Now, small scale manufacturers can design and print an object that contains light pipes and optical components quickly and efficiently, rapidly advancing the prototyping process and radicalizing the field of 3D printing. It will also help to remove dependence on large scale manufacturers to produce goods. Now we are on the forefront of bringing production to the point of specialized manufacturing based on needs, and eliminating the need to encase electrical and optical components in separate cases. Developments in 3D optical printing also brings forth new structural factors that were previously not available, including using multiple materials in one optical component, building intricate light pipe network inside of other components, and even enabling the combination of mechanical mechanism with optical components. Overall, the integration of optical components with 3D printing will prove to be a huge benefit to the manufacturing world, especially once the shortcomings of the current iterations are worked out[9].

Currently, there are several difficulties that arise with the generation of 3D optical printing that need to be overcome. The first being the issue of light leakage between pipes, that can cause interference and crosstalk between sensors, or that can be distracting to the user. In addition, there are issues with surface finishing, which results from printers that are not capable of printing at high enough resolution (most print about 100 dpi) to avoid holes in the outer structure, and requiring manual finishing.

The applications of 3D optical printers can be extended to a variety of uses, ranging from displays and small-scale projectors to motion and touch input. 3D optical printing, when the technique of printing advances ever so slightly, can be used to radicalize the way we interact with input devices and Object-Surface interactions. It would also eliminate the need to purchase buttons and stops as separate objects as now they can be designed and printed right into the system as a whole.


While 3D printing is already in limited use in the medical field to print bone and other structures to replace damaged or missing parts of the body, the technology could soon be ready to print live cells and organic structures, including organs, to be transplanted into humans. These biological 3D printers would print layers of cells and protein solutions that are incubated and nourished, turning into functioning, living organic tissues. The technology as it exists now is capable of producing sections of arteries that are readily available in a matter of hours and can then be transplanted into heart patients, at much more effective rates than typical bypass procedures[10]. I think that this will become a great benefit to the medical population and the global community at large, especially when the technology gets to the point of growing entire organs, eliminating the need for transplant lists.

Though this technology delivers great promise and hope for a medical revolution, it does present some issues for scientists to overcome before we are ready to start growing new hearts and livers for the ill. The most glaring problem with going beyond the skin and vertebral tissues that are already commonplace in the medical community is the complexity of organic structures that are larger, specifically overcoming intricate vascular networks that exist inside organs like the kidneys and the heart[11]. Aside from being an enormous medical problem, it also creates a large legal risk for doctors who, with the slightest error in printing or growth of these organs, open themselves up to large liability and malpractice issues. The implementation of this technology into hospitals and regular practice would not only be extremely expensive, but would dramatically increase malpractice insurance costs for doctors and hospitals alike. Until the time comes when the growing of organs can be a flawless process, which given the nature of biology as an imperfect science seems to be close to never, I do not see large organ bioprinting coming to fruition, though the thought is reassuring that it could some day.


1) Defense Distributed has devoted too much time and energy into the DIY gun project to give up now. If the $20,000 dollars they raised is any indication, there is a strong public following behind their philosophy in creating a RepRap weapon. The next plan of action is to alter their design to make it completely legal; while Cody Wilson is within his rights to manufacture the pistol himself, the project is in clear violation of the Undetectable Firearms Act. This could be as easy as adding a metallic element similar to Guslick's design. That way, if Wilson has another rented 3D printer seized in the future, he has grounds to defend himself legally.

2) I am hesitant to believe that there is an effective way to regulate 3D printing by means of DRM or otherwise. Similar to how easily any teenager can circumvent countless copyright laws and media piracy restrictions, I'm skeptical in picturing a world where open source hardware/software is readily available AND effectively regulated in the digital scheme.

Having said that, gun control is such a controversial topic outside of the 3D printing landscape that it won't be long before Federal, State, and Local governments catch wind of similar RepRap weapons initiatives and subsequently launch a very publicized political crusade to fight it. What makes Cody Wilson's situation interesting is that he has every right to produce and freely distribute a RepRap pistol if he incorporates a detectable element into the design. Additionally, the theory that the plastic pistol will melt after one shot defends his philosophy further. It shows that Wilson does not intend to create chaos.

Whatever the case may be, governments and corporations will do anything to save face with the public. There's bound to be widespread public outcry, mandates, legislations, lawsuits, and the works surrounding this issue. Regulations will arise and cause a big ol' mess in the world of 3D printing. Let's try to enjoy the moment while it lasts.

3) The following is a listing of 3D printable objects that have a strong probability of regulation or prohibition.

CAUTION: Do NOT print these at home:

- Medical Devices/Medication/Prescription Containers(syringes, pill bottles, etc.) - Fireworks - Aerosol Cans/Spray Bottles - Lighters/Matches - Textiles (Maybe one Day) - Trademarked/Copyrighted Materials - Cosmetics - Counterintelligence Items (Lockpicks, Surveillance Equipment, etc.) - Currency/Counterfeiting

Thank you. Have a nice day.


Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. According to HackaDay's blog post, owners of Makerbot are frustrated about people violating the integrity of open source technology and claiming it as their own. More specifically, developers of TangiBot developed a Makerbot cloned and were selling it for about $700 less than that of Makerbot. That's just messed up. I want to believe that everyone has good intentions, but there are countless examples that prove otherwise. This is another. While the open source movement has spread to its present popularity by-and-large by people who genuinely believe in the heart and soul of open-sourcing to better the common good, there exists an ever-increasing probability that viruses will arise and leach off of and profit from the hard work of open-sourcers. While Makerbot is technically violating the unwritten decrees of open-source, their actions are justified. As I discussed in last week's posting, I believe that prominent instances in the human history experience peaks and valleys. Maybe the open-source movement has already reached its peak, or maybe this will be a rallying point for the majority who believe in it. Either way, Prusa is entitled to his action as well, and I don't blame him.

Ultimately, despite the underlying pessimism that exudes from my post thus far, I do think that this will be a small blip in the world of open source. The movement will rally behind its backing and be stronger than ever. Although Makerbot is a strong figure in 3D printing, people will take them as the example of what not to do; this is what I want to believe.


1) 3D printer technology is relatively new, and as such, the concept of open-source licensing has worked very well thus far. In primitive stages of technological development, people are more inclined to share ideas and gather information from others in order to utilize expertise and skills they do not personally possess. As that same technology improves, however, the scene shifts dramatically. People begin to imagine great success and wealth stemming from the technology at hand and they may decide to horde it for themselves through patents and copyrights. Recently, developers of the Replicator 2 have initiated this stage of development by closing source. Additionally, these trends are reflected in Kirby Ferguson's TED Talk, Embrace the Remix. He shares that in 1996, Steve Jobs openly admitted that great artists steal ideas from others, just as Jobs has done; shift to 2010, and he verbally berates Android claiming they stole his technology.

In short, you love to steal when you have nothing, but fight to keep when you have everything.

2) My passion is art. I love to draw, and when I can find the time or inspiration, there's no stopping me. In the deepest recesses of my mind, I may believe there are women in this world that find artistic ability to be a redeeming quality of a potential suitor. In all seriousness, I find that people genuinely love to be given artwork personally crafted to please them. That's my favorite part. If I were able to refine my abilities and people liked my work, there may very well be a market for it. However, open-source artwork may be difficult...

3) Feeding off my blog response for question 1, although I do believe technological advancement trends towards backstabbing and name-calling, the realm of 3D printing has a different aura. 3D printing has a strong potential to end intellectual property because people may begin to realize how dependent we are on one another. As Ferguson emphasizes in Embrace the Remix, everything is a remix. Everything taught to our youth is something someone else learned, developed, or discovered already. Technological advancement hinges upon understanding the current technology, developing inventive ideas to better that technology, and having resources available to physically produce it. Open source 3D printing greatly accelerates this advancement. As more people come to realize these concepts, the end of intellectual property may be close at hand.


1) Practically speaking, the idea of a Universal Constructor (a machine that will both self-replicate and self-assemble) is not plausible with current RepRap technology. Assembly requires many steps, solutions to unforeseen obstacles, and fine-tuning that's unique to each machine. Programming a parent RepRap that will print all parts for a child and simultaneously assemble them into working order would be extremely difficult and most likely require a much larger structural design/electronic capacity.

2) Wealth without money, in my interpretation, means that RepRaps are worth their weight in gold. For as much money as it would cost to buy/produce a 3D printer, over time they pay for themselves and provide a exceptional amount of wealth. This comes as a result of owners being able to print useful objects to replace broken ones or obtain something new, produce new RepRaps and print more things faster, and perhaps even sell their prints to others. The possibilities are endless.

3) At Penn State, I'd imagine the RepRap community will expand significantly in the next few years. With printers spreading to other departments and as more students and faculty get involved, awareness and interest in the product will explode. This will lead to different minds working with the current design, meaning a greater probability that designs will improve. As the RepRap website is edited and made more user-friendly for those not familiar with RepRaps or even technology in general, more people will be able to learn about the machines and eventually work to better them as well. Many circumstances can lead to successful RepRap evolution.


Useful: How many things can clone themselves? 3D printers have the ability to recreate their own parts to repair damaged elements or develop brand new printers, which I consider to be its most useful adaptation. While you could download a complete part set for the Mendel90 [12], individual printer parts can be extracted from Thingiverse as well, such as boltable PLA bushings [13].

Artistic/Beautiful: I love Legend of Zelda games. If I owned a 3D printer, I would make this Crest of Hyrule mantlepiece [14], or perhaps two, because it's awesome...and artistic/beautiful.

Pointless/Useless: This art sculpture [15] may look nice if it were crafted by an artist, but not with RepRap printing. A 3D printed version would probably require more support material than there is plastic in the actual sculpture, and the end result probably won't be very presentable.

Funny: "Its difficult to perambulate in a haughty manner when you have eight appendages..." [16].

Weird: I'm not sure if this is a model for a box of fries or a batch of machined rods [17]. Either way, I find it weird that anyone would think it necessary to print.