Greetings fellow players! Here's where I'll be recording my RepRap adventures.
I'm an Integrative Arts major at Penn State, looking to hopefully graduate Spring '13. My major has been a bit of a journey... I came to Penn State for Physics, the math quickly scared me off and I scampered off into Biology. Eventually I discovered I'm not half bad at math and began majoring in Engineering Science. Well, that didn't quite work out so I'm feeding my creative passion as an art student right now while trying to figure out how to work in my skills/interests in the sciences into my grand master plan.
We'll see how all that works out. Feel free to make bets as to whether or not I'll be living in a box in 10 years.
As far as art goes I'm steering myself down the route of 2D and 3D animation so I know a thing or two about 3D modeling. I don't have any technical skills when it comes to actually building things so I'm hoping to pick up on some during this course.
Extra Blog: H
- If someone came up to you, and asked you: “So, what good are these 3D printer things, anyway? Why would I want to have one?” What would you tell them?
Look here man, you've obviously been missing out. So you have a good idea of how printers work right? Let's translate that concept into 3D instead of 2D. There's a variety of types of printers that can print with a whole array or materials from paper to metal to cells. The basic idea is pretty simple: the printer lays down the material layer by layer until the object is built up. Some printers are even able to create something called 'support material' which allows for very complicated objects to be created. This material adheres to the main material during the printing process and then can easily be removed by being broken off or even melted away with water. The idea here is that you can create any object you want, or at least will be able to fairly soon in the future. In time, progress in the technology will allow for things like large objects to be printed or ones which require multiple materials.
Imagine that a button on your keyboard breaks, or you want the doorknobs around your house to look cooler or you're running low on nails or thumbtacks. Eventually you'll be able to go to your 3D printer, acquire the file needed online and print it out. There's a lot of people creating a huge variety of things and posting them on a website called Thingiverse, but if you learn 3D modeling software you can design anything you want, anyway you want it and maybe share it with the community. 3D printing has already made its way into a huge array of fields from art to chemistry and the next logical step is it arriving straight to households everywhere. I would really be looking forward to it if I were you.
- When you finally get your first self-driving car, would you prefer it to have locked firmware, where you would be unable to know whether it drove you past more McDonnalds' when it sensed your children in the back set, or unlocked firmware which you could investigate, but which under-qualified would-be mechanics could alter to suit their own tastes? Do you think the code would be more secure if kept secret, or if it were available to good guys and bad guys alike for community review?
I think that Doctorow makes a beautiful point when he talks about how he doesn't want technologies he depends on (car and hearing aid) to be designed in order to prevent him from "terminating processes on them that work against my interests." There's definitely a lot of negative things that can occur if incompetent or 'bad' men alter firmware, I can't argue with that, so I definitely don't think that altering firmware should be made easy. However, I do whole-heartedly agree with Doctorow's stance that designers of computers can't focus designs on keeping firmware intact and untouchable. The consequences of this would be perhaps even more dangerous than incompetents and 'bad' men getting their hands on unlocked firmware. In the end, we can keep arguing about the pros and cons of unlockable firmware, but the big picture is exactly what Doctorow presents.
- If the U.N. asked you to develop a sketch of a regulatory framework for 3D printing, what would you do?
I suppose 'refuse' would not be a good response. The thing is that the more I think about any type of regulation the more my ideas are countered with thoughts of "but that wouldn't actually stop people in any way". Regulation definitely needs to be approached in a vastly different way that it has been in the past, but I'm just not able to think of any good solutions that my mind doesn't instantly reject. Doctorow addresses this in a way when he talks about how removing a hands-free phone from a car is simply taking a feature out of the car and does not interfere with the basic nature of the car. He talks about how removing PirateBay from the internet is not the same thing and this form of censorship is simply not the right way to proceed. Unfortunately I can't go any further than agreeing with him.
- Do you think Doctorow's predictions for the future are plausible or likely?
I'm interested in a prediction he made about "a drive the size of your fingernail that could hold every song ever recorded, every movie ever made, every word ever spoken, every picture ever taken, everything, and transfer it in such a short period of time you didn't even notice it was doing it". I think this is perfectly plausible and we're definitely heading towards this direction right now, though he talks about how my generation's grandchildren will get to experience such a thing. I'm a tad skeptical about the time span in which he thinks this will happen, but then again I grew up with floppy disks and the change from that to casually carrying around a flash drive with half of my computer's contents on it seemed really surreal even as it was happening so perhaps my skepticism is a little ridiculous in this case.
- Can the copyright war be won? If so, how? If not, where do we go from here?
The way it's heading one side pushes then the other one pushes harder, rinse and repeat. Eventually I feel like copyright law will push too far and truly begin to anger people as they start feeling that their rights are legitimately being threatened. This war will probably end in a proverbial bloodbath.
- Do any of the designs above seem more suitable than the others?
It's difficult to tell too much about the designs from the descriptions but I would say that Filabot and RecycleBot seem the most promising. Of course, the Lyman Filament Extruder also has the smallest description although it did mention something about "extruding filament from pellets", which may imply that the material already needs to be in pellet form to be made in to a filament? If that is the case this design is definitely the most impractical. The first two designs seem to have the same end goals in mind and I think that they both have great potential though Filabot seems to be further along in the designing process.
- What kind of influence might a recycling system have on the DIY RepRap community?
This is actually a really exciting idea to me. Obviously it would essentially eliminate the price of material used for 3D printing which, after the printer is put together, would be the only real expense. I'm also interested to see the variety of plastics that can be recycled into material and the kinds of interesting filaments that can be created. I tend to look at 3D printing as art alot of the time and the recycling process will allow for creation of the filament to become it's own little art form.
- Does building a filament recycler sound difficult to you, even with step by step guides?
I sort of kind of maybe have an ok grasp and building a 3D printer so, can a recycler be more difficult? If anything it should be a bit simpler. I would most definitely tackle such a project especially with step by step instructions.
- What’s your impression of this use of 3D printing technology?
This is the creation of silly novelty items though I suppose it's only natural that 3D printing technology veer into this money-making direction.
- Would you buy a model of yourself? Would your parents buy one?
What? No. Why would...? No.
- Explain the merits (or lack thereof) in this business model.
First off, I'm pretty sure a lot of people will buy this stuff. Companies that create board games would be suckers not to get in on this as well. Just think about it, you get to buy a monopoly game where instead of being a boot, Scottie dog or a thimble one can buy the game with custom made pieces that look like you and your family members or friends.
Another way to expand this business model would be selling faces of celebrities. I would, for example, love to own a patriotically colored head of Stephen Colbert. I know I'm not the only one since I've already seen a number of god-forsaken creations on Thingiverse. (This one's my favorite: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:9147)
The only problem I'm seeing is that eventually people are going to lose interest. This happens with quite a lot of novelty items. It won't happen all that fast since the technology will first have to come to a standstill, but I'm pretty sure this will occur at some point.
- How much might competition drive down prices in the future for these kinds of novelty items?
I'm seeing myself able to purchase a mini-me for maybe 30$ in the near-ish future. Really, that's not the first thing that'll happen. As the article mentions, it takes 15 minutes of scanning to turn yourself into a plastic model. What I think will happen first is competitors improving this technology and making this time shorter and shorter. This will enable people to take a variety of very very interesting poses. This goes not just for shortening time, but of course having the scanning pick up on a lot more details. The prices will stay the same as the competition, but the improved technology allows for a whole lot more flexibility which people will naturally end up flocking to.
- So, you’re in a class and classroom dedicated to 3D printing - Do you see a place for this in other educational environments (K-12?)What points do you agree with or disagree with in these articles? Support them with something from your own experience.
I can definitely see high schools being equipped with 3D printing labs. My school had a robotics club and the students did phenomenal work so I believe high school students can more than handle such responsibilities. The Geekteach and STEMulate articles address a topic I'm very interested in: getting kids interested in STEM fields. I know if I had gotten to do a project where I built a robotic arm (from the STEMulate article) my interests upon entering college would have been vastly different and my process of choosing a major would have varied immensely. It really only takes one project such as this to get kids interested.
I have no doubts that a high school environment can surely support 3D printing, but can middle or elementary schools follow along? (I'm fairly sure Kindergarteners are far too busy learning their letters and playing with legos, so I'll not consider them in this discussion.) I think middle schools could also have a 3D printer...or two! What I see for kids of that age is having them print out a model of something (perhaps something they've found on thingiverse themselves?) and assembling it themselves. I remember first seeing an object get 3D printed and how amazing I thought it was so I'm pretty sure a middle schooler would get an even bigger kick out of it (that is until this becomes common technology).
As far as elementary schools go I can see them taking trips to a middle or high school to familiarize themselves with the printers and view some demonstrations, but I'm not sure if them having their own printers would be incredibly beneficial for educational purposes. Then again, as the technology improves all schools will probably end up having at least one around for practical reasosn anyways.
A big reason why I love the idea of 3D printing in schools as an educational tool is that it can be used as a teaching tool in a truly large variety of fields. As we've seen in class, 3D printing can be used from anywhere to chemistry to anthropology. I don't see why every single subject can't take at least a small part in this technology. The Geekteach article mentions that "Kids love visuals and they're naturals with technology. Imagine the possibilities of 3D printing in the classroom." I'm really seeing 3D printing not just as a way to teach kids about technology, but as a way to revolutionize education in general.
- Now that you know a little more about the different types of 3D printing or other additive manufacturing methods, You should envision scenarios of a future where this technology is more widespread. What sorts of changes can we expect? What sorts of changes might we not expect?
Something that really caught my attention was the concept of replicating art through 3D scanning and then printing. Being able to recreate a 3D object with just 2-3 images is pretty incredible to me. The only problem with this is that it only captures the outside appearance of an object which will become increasingly less useful the more complex our technology becomes internally. However, I can imagine stores will eventually stop selling 'simple' products (ones without internal parts). Why sell bowls, plates, bottles etc. when someone can come into the store, snap a few photos and essentially steal the merchandise, though I'm sure the concept of what it means to steal will become far more complex as 3D printing technology improves. As usual I have to try and bring up how I think art will change. The process of art will all of a sudden become exceedingly important. Was it simply 3D printed or hand-made? The more 3D printing improves the harder it will be to tell (or perhaps easier considering the flawless nature of the pieces?). There's already some very interesting sculptures on thingiverse that someone can print out and just display in their house. Another big shift I'm seeing is when 3D printing begins to happen on a much grander scale. What if people can just rent a large one and build a swing set for their kids right in their backyard? Not gonna lie, I'm more than a bit excited about the future I get to live in.
- Discuss the suitability of libraries as hosts for RepRaps (or other 3D printers)
- We have a number of libraries on campus, as well as the one on allen street: How many are you familiar with? Do you think any of them would be suitable for this?
The libraries I'm familiar with are Pattee/Paterno, Davey Lab, Hammond Library and Schlow Library. Out of all of these spaces I don't know if any one of them has the right amount of space as of right now, although Pattee/Paterno recently had an expansion and may actually have a suitable amount of space at this point. Pattee/Paterno would also most easily lend itself to creating an environment rich in varied interaction and cooperation. Schlow and Davey are much more like your stereotypical "quiet" libraries. This project occuring Hammond Libabary may also be fairly feasible simply because of the building it's located in, though I would much rather prefer a 3D printing lab in more "neutral grounds" so as to inspire interaction between different groups of people.
Actually, it's not the ability for university students to print out their designs freely that attracts me to the idea of the libraries, it's the possibility for interaction between very different people. We'd have the artists, biologists(and so on) and engineers all in one room exchanging information about their respective fields and learning more about each others work. Perhaps I'm biased, coming from both an Engineering and Arts background, but when two very different fields clash the results are generally astounding. A 3D printing lab would be the perfect place to foster such relationships.
As technology develops further libraries are going to need to start redefining themselves. The first articles seemed to imply that all libraries need to make a change but I'm sure that raditional libraries will surely remain, but newer breeds will arise. The newer libraries will host a variety of technological services including 3D printing, laser cuting, CNC milling and so on.
- Go back to your previous posts regarding DRM and control of 3D printing. Do these articles support your argument then? Do you think this technology will find a use?
This attempted control of 3D printing was definitely not surprising. It doesn't exactly support my statements back then since I basically argued that if this type of control does arise it won't be effective. Though one of the articles does mention that it won't solve any problems. I think the only achievement of this DRM patent will be a delay in everyone having access to printing any models available to them. It'll take the hackers a little bit, but if history is any indication, they'll figure out a way around this 'remote server check' eventually.
- 1. Being able to create optical sensing devices on demand is something new, as typically we print passive components. What kind of implications can you imagine resulting from this?
I can see this technology becoming incredibly important. First off, upon 3D printing becoming accessible to more people, this technique may be used to create a lot of products that would be too complicated to make with 3D printing only passive components. The words "minimal electronic components" struck me as most significant. Perhaps we'll also see a rise in conversion of electronic components to optical components in various devices.
- 2. What sort of difficulty would we have in implementing light piping using our printers?
From what I can understand the light piping is made out of a different material than the actual object. That would probably be the biggest challenge: making the printers capable of using more than one material. The piping is also very small and our printers simply aren't capable of that kind of precision.
- 3. In what applications might you find use for these sensors (contact switches, touch sensors, accelerometers, etc)? Do you have some project in mind where these would be useful?
I can see these sensors being used in everything from video games to medicine. The only project I can think of (and vaguely) is video game creation since the motion sensitivity demonstrated in the video acts almost exactly like a Wii controller.
- 1. What do you think of bio-printing? What sort of legal problems or technical problems can you foresee?
It strikes me as a great idea! Now, with that said when great ideas almost always have pros and cons. Let's first think about the long waiting lists for people to get various organ transplants. This technology (once developed further) essentially completely solves that problem. How about burn victims? Those who are paralyzed may also benefit from type of printing. Basically I could go on and on about the wonderful benefits I'm seeing for the medical field. Okay, well what are the cons? The first thing that struck me as problematic was mention of Peter Thiel who is trying to print meat. The first thing that came to mind is edible meat for human consumption. Now I feel this is a fairly feasible thing to do and could relatively easily be accomplished. Only after its accomplishment do I see problems because anytime you do anything involving what people consume we run into issues. People will at the very least be extremely suspicious of this product and I'm sure the FDA will have a field day with the whole thing.
- 2. Do you think this might be extended to RepRaps for DIY bio-research?
Personally the phrase "DIY bio-research" makes me a little nervous all on its own. Now, I don't know very much about that sort of thing. Does DIY mean labs in universities or people in their basement printing out living tissues?
I'm not so sure about the RepRaps becoming that huge in this particular field however. I see them being more prominent in mechanics where mass production of multiple parts is readily needed. In bio-research I feel that the goal is more so making a couple of printers that can make extremely high quality products. They may still play a role in the field, but I predict it will be a lesser one.
- 1. Imagine that you were a dedicated member of the DIY gun project: What might you do now?
Considering the entire project is in a 'regulatory grey area' there must be a way to proceed with it. Acquiring a manufacturing license seems like only a temporary solution to the problem since if the overall goal is for anyone to be able to print a gun at home, it's impossible for everyone to acquire such a license. Looks like this project is at the mercy of laws that haven't been created/regulated yet.
- 2. Another article asks ”Should 3D printing, especially when it’s being used to create items like guns, be regulated? Can you regulate it?” Check your Blog #3 Questions 1 & 3 (and my comments to them) if you haven’t already. Do you have any more to say about this issue of 3D printer regulation (gov’t or corporate)?
It makes me kind of nervous to think about some of the things people can make with this technology. What if someone brings a plastic gun on a plane? That can move through security very easily. Then again, I've always had the belief that if someone wants to make something like that to happen they'll do it whether they use a 3D printer in their basement or not. I know we discussed TV licenses and whatnot in class and how we shouldn't rule out the idea that things like this can be regulated...but I'm going to rule that out anyways. At least for the US, if regulation like that occurs people are going to be out in front of the white house rioting like crazy. It could be possible to enforce something like this before the technology gets big and widespread...but that won't take long. To look at it a slightly different way, okay, some 'bad' people can make their own guns but you know what, everyone else can too. Pretty much the only way to deal with such things is to either let no on have the technology or let everyone have it. Basically I don't thing such things can or should be regulated.
- 3. Guns (and other weapons) seem to be prone to prohibitions. What other 3D printable constructs might attract similar attention/derision/prohibition?
First thing that comes to is anything having to do with drugs. Let's say someone figures out how to print out a meth lab (I've been watching a lot of Breaking Bad lately...) or something along those lines. That would definitely get attention.
I...can't really think of anything else though. Every time I think of an object that could attract negative attention like this I realize there's already plenty of ways to fairly easily acquire such a thing. A guy in the comments section pointed out that with a CnC mill one could easily make an all metal gun. I guess I don't see what the big deal with the plastic guns is either. I feel like the people that are freaked out by it grossly underestimate the ingenuity and persistence of human beings. We already have access to everything, 3D printing just makes it more accessible. I'm completely failing to see the problem with that.
- Comment on Makerbot’s position (as far as we know), Prusa’s concerns, and ownership of designs. Should we look for a new thingiverse?
I'll be honest, I'm having trouble grasping the significance of Makerbot making their next model Closed Source. What I'm having trouble understanding is exactly why they would make this decision. From the comments on the article other people seem to have the same question. Yes people are copying their work and making profit, but what did Makerbot expect to happen by providing an Open Source consumer product? It's a very logical progression.
- 1. It seems that 3D printing isn’t going to disappear, but the exact nature in which it will develop is not well defined. On that note, we currently place restrictions (DRM) onto our media to control distribution, with limited ‘success’. Do you think this might be applied to 3D printing? How or why not?
I think something like that will most likely be applied to 3D printing with...similar success. Exchanging files for 3D printers is as easy as throwing it on a flash drive or sending it through an e-mail. It's just as simple as exchanging music files. It's actually going to be easier to obtain the technology as well since if one of your friends can give you the music for your MP3 player, but they can't give you the parts and have you build it on your own. Obviously this is possible with 3D printing. Not only will people not have to purchase the files to print from, they most likely won't pay almost anything for the actual machine as well. Since websites like Thingiverse already exist, I can't see them all of a sudden becoming illegal. I'm sure more 'official' and 'professional' sites will rise up where people can purchase files as well. Sort like iTunes compared to Pirate Bay. That and a lot of websites already have free 3D models available for larger products such as sofas or chairs on their websites. It would only make sense this trend will continue into smaller merchandise.
- 2. According to Bowyer, many people have a great idea (or perhaps a passion) that they love to tell people about. What is yours? Do you see this as a way to attract future mates? (or to get money?) Why/why not?
I think the only passion I have concerning this question would be art (both visual and martial art). I've definitely never seen my passion as a way to obtain money though I've never been particularly business oriented. I suppose passion could be used as a way to make friends and attract mates, it's an interesting idea at least. My first reaction was actually that ideas and passions serve more as a way to divide people into castes of sorts. The better the ideas the more valuable the person, right? Then I had the sad realization that that's not the case at all. The person who had the idea doesn't matter at all since it's always the person who executes it that gets all of the credit. Think remakes of old songs by soulless pop-artists.
- 3. Professor Bowyer seems to think that 3D printing will finally kill intellectual property, and he sounds pleased about it. Do you think he’s right about ending IP? Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in-between?
There's really no events that are 100% good or bad, so my automatic response has to be the somewhere-in-between. Why though? Let's look at the internet as an example. It allows people to have ideas and express opinions and to have them anonymously, if they so please, or under a username which may as well be anonymity. I feel as though this has increased the rate production of all kinds of ideas as people deliver them free of fear of negative responses. Now the problem is that anonymity has also increased the production of really really horrible ideas (See: 4chan). The same thing will happen with the disappearance of IP. People with ideas are readily given less and less credit and, as I mentioned in the above question, those who execute them get more and more credit. And as far as I'm concerned Bowyer is spot-on about killing of IP.
- 1. Do you think his goal of a ‘self-replicating universal constructor’ is feasible? What remains to be done to achieve this, or alternatively what would prevent such a goal?
Such a goal is most definitely feasible. According to this article more and more people are taking advantage of 3D printing every year. With such an extreme increase in interest the technology will no doubt grow at a high rate. I think the most difficult challenge will be to enable the machines realize their mistakes. For example, we started construction within our build groups in class today and had to use tricks in order to thread some of the parts due to imperfections. I'm going to assume that no matter how advanced the technology becomes there will always be the possibility of flawed parts. The machines need to be able to recognize these flawed parks and either fix them or, a more likely solution, remake them. If the right material is chosen a flawed part can easily be turned back into raw material and reused. Other than recognizing flawed parts the machine must also be capable of recognizing mistakes in the building process such that the quality of each machine does not decrease. This, I think, will be the hardest challenge
- 2. The phrase “wealth without money” is both the title of his article and the motto of the reprap project itself. What does this phrase mean? (To him and to you if they differ). Discuss implications, problems, and possibilities associated with this idea.
From what I understand, Bowyer seems to view the concept of 'wealth without money' as the ability to produce whatever goods one desires with no cost (other than material cost, of course). As Bowyer talks in the beginning the Communist Manifesto states that, "By proletariat is meant the class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live." The technology envisioned here allows for putting production in the hands of the modern wage laborers and is a way for wealth to be spread through out the middle and lower classes of society.
- 3. The Darwin design was released in 2007. It is 2012 now. Imagine future scenarios for RepRaps and their ‘cousin’ 3D printing designs (Makerbots, Ultimachine, Makergear, etc.) how do you think the RepRap project (community, designs, website, anything and everything) might evolve in the future? Describe as many scenarios as you can envision.
I can't help but think a lot about how 3D printing will influence the art community so here's some thoughts concerning the subject. The more artists become involved in this way of creating artwork the more our perception of art will have to change. Does it 'count' as art if someone simply designed it with a 3D modeling program and sent it to a printer? Does an artist have to modify a piece afterwards for it to be considered 'true art'? These are some of the questions that will be begin to rise up. There's already a lot of people that don't consider use of programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator as 'artsy'. Aside from people's opinions I think the art itself may take an interesting turn. 3D printing can obviously make it easier for artists to create more mechanical works. Perhaps the art will take a turn for the mechanical much like the method of creation.
Useful: I would bake cookies every day for the rest of my life.
Artistic/Beautiful: Oh...oh my.
Pointless/Useless: What can be more useless than a lie?
Funny: Seems legit.
Weird: Bonus points for the punny name, but I'm still going to have nightmares tonight.