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Blog #13

I think this course is great for students, like me, who want to learn more about who does an open source 3D printer works as well as get more hands-on experience. By taking this course, I developed my skills, some of them are diagnosing skills, and some of them are critical thinking skills. I like this course.

However, I think we can improve this course by adding more “non-hands-on” content, or more lectures. For example, we talked about open source, but we didn’t talk about the open source spirit. We only discussed that in our blog but we didn’t talk about why we want open source, what’s the value of open source, etc… in our lecture. Most parts of our new printer have been done, but we know nothing about the core info of our printer, i.e. why the parts are designed in such way, which part of the board have what kind of function, how the control system works, why and how do we use arduino… I know it sounds not so cool but we basically followed the instruction and assembled a “toy”. We still know nothing about the key parts of the printer. We are still open source 3D printing users, not developers or learners. I understand it is much harder to learn the key parts and it is pretty good to play with our printer well, I don’t know how other students feel, I want to learn some deeper stuff.

In terms of our blog, it is pretty interesting to generate ideas about how the future is and which idea is more valuable. However, we all know that 3D printing will change the world, we know there are thousands of opportunities, writing about how great it is and evaluating which project can bring more benefits would be business major students’ assignment. As an engineer, I am more concord about how to make things work, how can I make the machine runs faster, quieter and cheaper with better strength, better precision and better resolution. I think RepRap printers are great platform for engineering students to learn about control theory, automation and computer coding, maybe some material behavior. So maybe we can add a little bit of those next semester. I don’t mind if we have more technical assignment even if they are much harder to do. For example, maybe we can have an assignment like:

Given a unique shape on a 2D plane, the extruder and move 1 unit as smallest step, what is the shortest path in length for the extruder to cover all the area, if the extruder can move 5 units in X per second, 4units in Y per second, what is the shortest path in time?

For such a problem, we may have to read some book about math algorithm. Because the problem is close to a real world G code generating problem, we may develop our skill for getting better algorithm for G code generator.

It also would be a good idea if we can have a few lectures about other additive manufacturing method, how do they work and what’s the advantages and drawbacks. If we know the process we may able to generate our own ideas, not just follow other’s idea. For example, if we know that by using Direct Metal Laser Sintering, we can “print” almost all metals, we may come up an idea of using this technology to make customized jewelry.

We can also learn about how to use CAD software to determine if the design is a “good” printable design. We have seen many crazy designs on Printivserse, we may want to know how to prevent design a part that cannot be fabricated by additive manufacturing.

Indeed, this course is a great course, open source 3D printing is a great platform for student to learn a lot of useful knowledge. Since 3D printing seems to be the next industrial revolution and everybody wants to jump into the tide to find his gold mine, I really want to learn more about 3D printing and additive manufacturing. If we can cover more material next semester, I will very happy to come back.

Blog #12

I prefer to work on the dual extruder printer. First, for me, I don’t worry about if we have enough filaments at all. There’s no reason for me to learn or develop a machines that can give me more filament or drag the cost down. Even if I am using my own printer and my own filament, I prefer to focus on better result, not to save the cost. On the other hand, if I can choose to develop a product, I will pick the dual extruder. All the companies are trying to sell more filaments to make money, like the paper printers. I don’t spend time developing a filament recycler would give me big returns. I also think dual extruder should be harder to develop, I love to take challenge. Anyway, I am more interested in dual extruder printer.

I think not everyone taking RepRap class for fun, we want to learn something we can’t learn from other class. We see the potential of the rise of 3D printing. We want to be the first generation that rushes into this industry and we want to be the one closest to opportunity. Open source is good in many ways, but I believe every person has a commercial heart inside his body. Dual-extruder or multi-extruder can provide multi-color print, which is very valuable. Maybe a dual extruder printer can make faster print for large piece with same color. Maybe a dual extruder printer can use different material with different melting point someday. So it may be able to print very complex structure using the lower melting point material as the supporting structure and melt them off after the printing finishes. I don’t know them yet but I see the gold mine behind the technology mountain.

However, I see problems when I was thinking about a filament recycler. I watched a few videos about the recycler, it looks basically a extruder with a 3mm tip. The feeling those videos gave me is it not worth to do that. First of all, as more people coming to this area, the production of PLA filament will be increased and the price of PLA will be greatly reduced. Second, for most of the time, our wasted PLA would not be separated by colors. So, are we going to use a multi-color mixture as our filament? Third, I am assuming we can develop recyclers that can produce usable filaments, and we recycle all the wasted filaments by color, how big would this machine be? I saw the process of re-producing filament requires a machine to cut all the PLA into pieces, requires a big motor and a pusher connected to the shaft of the motor, a big heating device, a cooling system, a place high enough to make sure the hot filament coming out can be pulled straight and a wheel to store them. Including a few boxes to store different color wasted filament, these devices require a large space. Not RepRap-er has such a big room. Furthermore, not everyone needs so many filaments. People who really need a lot of filaments usually have perfectly functional printers and they are unlikely to have many wastes. Therefore, I can’t see a large market for a recycler product.

On the other hand, I think developing a dual extruder is harder. It may require coding skills and developing it may need some control theory. I would like to learn these skills so I prefer dual extruder project.

Blog #11

I feel very upset because I have to do this again....... I wrote a lot of words for this blog, maybe because I wrote it for a long time so I had been already automatically logged off the when I hit the save page button....... I lost all of my words. I hate this.

Okay. let me do this again.

In general, our RepRap printers are great printers with the limit of cost. It can print PLA parts with relatively high resolution, it is cheap, it is easy to use, and it can print very fast. However, they also have a lot of problems. From the beginning of the semester, we kept fixing things for our silver printer and alpha printer. Most of the problems happened due to:

1. Someone changed our printer and they didn't tell us.

2. Someone changed the slicer profile and they didn't tell us.

3. Parts failed due to bad quality, or due to lifetime ended. For example, one of the springs on silver was failed and broke into pieces because we changed the height of the bed for many times.

4. There was a small issue with one of the part, “A”, we kept running the computer without the part “A” was fully fixed, or we just made a small change to it, then “A” failed or another part “B” failed due to the inefficiency of “A”

Indeed, most of the problems were human problems. Some of them were due to bad communication between all the users of the printers. Some of them happened because people were lazy or they wanted to print something within a limited time. My experience tells me that don't ever be lazy, if there is error, do not run the printer before everything is fixed.

There were also bad designs on our printers. I think we can redesign or make changes to:

1. The connection between open-x-carriage and the extruder combo. It does not make any sense that two parts which moves more than any others parts are connected only by two smallest screws. The extruder combo is always experiencing fatigue and it hard to keep those two screws always fastened. In addition, these screws may be able to prevent the tension (z-direction), but they can hardly stop torsion (along with z axis) and shear (x and y direction). My solution to this is to redesign the carriage, make the two connecting bars thicker and use 4 screws to connect the extruder combo.

2. Another problem for the open-x-carriage is that piece is too weak. We replace 3 of them for the silver, and another one for alpha. It is easier to understand if we consider that this piece has 14 holes on it. So I think this piece should be redesigned, it can maintain the shape but it has to be stronger. We may give it thicker surrounding bars and print it with higher filing rate.

Here is a rough sketch of my re-design: Open-x-carriage.jpg

3. The filament supply wheel should be re-designed as well. It is hard to add filament onto the wheel and sometimes filament can be seized by the arms of the shaft. I think we can make the diameter of the supplier smaller and add two plastic round panels to each end. Maybe we can use small size Frisbee or similar things. After reducing the diameter of the wheel and adding the round panel, I think the filament supply mechanism can work better.

4. We also hate the aluminum bed. It behaves basically like a heat sink. Because the heat transfer rate is very fast for aluminum, if we add the heat at the center of the bed, set up boundary conditions and module the bed with heat equation, we can find out that the temperature at the center differs a lot with temperature at the edges. Different temperature may vary the speed of the filament for turning into solid, which will make the printed part kept warping until the temperature become low. My solution to this is to replace the aluminum bed with dull polished acrylic bed. This material transfers heat much slower than metal. I think if the acrylic bed is polished to the correct roughness, we may not need to use tape anymore. However, aluminum bed has its own advantages, aluminum is hard to be bent so we don’t have to worry about if the bed has deformation. Also, aluminum bed is harder to be damaged. Though we can see scratches on the surface of the Al bed too but it would be worse if we change the material.

5. I think the z-end-stop can be re-designed. It is very hard to adjust the distance between tip and bed lower than 1~2 mm with our current design. 1~2 mm doesn’t seem to be a large error, but compared to 0.5 filament thickness, we need more accurate adjustment. So I made a rough sketch for my new design.


6. I found out that the power switch on alpha is a good design. Though we can unplug the power cables, I do prefer using the switch. I think all of our later printers should have a power switch.

7. I think if we can make the print to set the initial z position at the location of print center, we should get better result. Sometimes the bed is not leveled perfectly and some beds are curved, set the initial z position at x=0, y=0 may not be a good idea if the print area is far away from the zero position. So if we slice the file with print center 100; 100, the printer should go to the center first, then lower the extruder and adjust the initial z position.

It’s fun to figure out the problem and fix it, but it drives me crazy if someone make a perfectly running machine broken….. It makes me insane to write this twice….

Blog #10

I found 3 members considered my post as a good one.

Michael Bilyk thought my blog 6 was good. "I think Blacklaser has an interesting take on the Virginia University course. He says that our printers will not be able to print well enough to make demonstrations. A better use for the printers is "to help students learn how to design, how to analyse and how to think critically." I would like to add to that list: design for manufacturing, and designing within limitations."

Carina liked my blog 4. "I really like the idea of combining both “conventional” methods with 3D printing. I think it is smart to only print pieces that we need (such as the customized pieces) and let the factories do the rest. Pieces that do not need any design changes can be bought from stores or factories. Depending on the function of the pieces, the materials used to make these pieces may be altered and not be limited to plastic only (e.g. carbon fiber for super strong and light weigh components OR Gor-Tex for light and waterproof and “breathable” pieces.)"

Blake Ziegler also mentioned my blog 4. "Blacklaser has a good blog post on the robohand as well. I wish it included links to the articles so people reading would be able to find what is discussed. Other then that the post is very personal and insight full about what can be done to help the project. I also like the discussion about open/closed source debate."

None of my blog was "highly rated". I think a few changes can be made to improve my blog's readability and I also need to spend more time to generate more valuable ideas and put them into my blog. When I wrote blog 4, I was thinking to make a change to my blog format. Since we were given more specific questions and it is hard to combine all answers into one paragraph,I used the form of Question-Answer to wrote my blog.However, it is proved that this format would make my blog looks more crowded. I also found out that i should choose good paragraphs length, too long is bad but too short is worse. Short paragraphs would cut my blog into pieces and it is hard for my audience to get a clear view of the structure. I also need to use same spacing to make my words follow the same pattern. I also found words that were spelled wrong, I changed them when I was writing my blog 8.

The most important thing for the blog is the idea/ thought I want to share with audience. I found out that some of my blog did not explain my idea well and jumped too fast, which would make the audience confused. For some of the blog, I didn't spend much time researching, thinking and integrating, so maybe my idea looked not very fresh to the audience. In other words, I should spend more on our topic, not just answer the question.

Blog #9

The first felling comes into my mind was: this is so cool. However, I found out that this is much harder than what I thought. I saw the user interface of the Recap software, it looks really complex. I noticed that it has to recognize a surface by user making more than 3 points in the same surface, no smart as I though but smart enough.

I think both of the method works well, just like we have PLA 3D printing and some kinds 3D printer using laser or electric arc, they have different purpose. I think photo based 3D scanning have advantage in such applications: 1, Large objects. This is not hard to understand. Google earth 3D was not made by laser scanner. If I just want to have a 3D model for a large building, photo based scanner is way more efficient than laser scanner. Sometimes laser 3D scan requires the user to put some kind of reflecting dust onto the object. So, if I want to have a 3D scan for a aircraft carrier, how many tons of dust do I need to use? 2, Cheaper cost. There's nothing doubt about it, if I want to have a rough scan of a small object, what I need is just a smartphone and a few dollars additional coast for the app. 3, Portability. A DC,smartphone or even a DSLR is smaller enough to be carried everywhere. No crazy power resource need. Since for photo based 3D scanning, all I need are a few photos token from different angels. No additional equipment needed and less weight or size.

It is important that the object size we want to scanned by using photo based method is not limited. However, laser based scanned give much higher resolution but probably we have to use different laser scanner to scan typical object.

Laser scanner give advantages in other area. The iconic characteristic of laser scanning is high resolution. Since laser scanner uses a different way to have 3D information, it is like a distance meter that measures the distance of every point in the view field. This method gives it higher accuracy. Depends on the wavelength of the laser, commercial laser distance meter may have mean error lower than 50 nm, that means the laser scanner can reach the same magnitude of accuracy. Therefore, if I want to have a precise 3D model for a machine part, I will choose laser scanner. Another advantage embodied with higher resolution is the ability to scan complex structure, curves or complex surface. I don't believe a photo based scanner can make a good result for this object in picture. 100.jpg

Actually, the laser scan technology is developing fast. We already can find some small size laser scanner in the market for different uses. The most famous example would be Microsoft's Kinnect. It uses a RF laser scanner to detect the position of human body and give that to the XBOX. Another good example is Leap Motion sensor. I have a pre-order of that so maybe I can have better conclusion after I tried Leap Motion.

For open sourced photo based applications. I think the number of this kind of applications can reflect that photo based 3D scan is technologically easier than laser based 3D scan. Here are some URLs:

Blog #8

Review the blogs #4 and #6 of your teammates first and then your classmates. I want you to find and link to the 3 most insightful posts for each blog (#4 and #6) (other than your own). Include why you consider their posts to be particularly thoughtful. IF you were giving away XP, who would deserve more XP for their blog posts, and why?

Blog 4:

1, Carina's #4 blog is actually very good. I like the table she made in her blog. To be honest, I don't know how to make a table within my blog. The table make her comparison very clear. Her table listed a few most important characters for a robotic arm. She also talked about the reliability and degree of freedom of movement, which are unique. Absolutely these things are important for a product, but most of us only focused on the cost and easiness. Therefore, her idea is different and thoughtful.

2, Matt Rockar's blog gives me another good idea. He pointed out that using open sourced method would requires less professions, which is important. I like this idea very much and I think that gives it operating capability in a critical environment. For example, making the robotic hand using same method as these two tinkers would only requires a few metal rod, wires, a computer and a working 3-d PLA printer. Maybe a 3-d scanner is needed. All these materials can be transported with a car and one or two people will be able to finish the whole process. In other words, it is very possible to make up field operation robotic parts team for the army. There maybe many soldiers got disabled in the front, a small team could help them very close to the front.

3, Yaqi's blog, She talked a lot about the speed of the process. I think her point of the efficiency in time of making such product by using 3D printers is well developed.

Blog 6:

1, Xiaomo's Blog talked about letting younger student get access to 3D printing. I think that is important to the development of 3D printing industry. I think there is big problem for 3D printing, which is we don't how to use them and where to apply them. We all believe that 3D printers will change the world, but still, few people, even engineers do not fully understand how 3D printers works. So they cannot think a way to let 3D printers make their life easier. It is important to let people in every industry know the science instead of just knowing the word “3D printing”.

2, Wjf5042's blog pointed out the importance of open source. Our reprap course is not only about 3D printing but also ideas.

3, Michael Bilyk's blog discussed what kind of role government played in raising a new industry. Few people talked about 3D printing market. I don't know how other people think but I always keep an idea, that is what is the value of making that. In my previous post, I usually talked about what kind of problems will the topic face if it is going to hit the market. One technology is only valuable if it can make money or have the potential to make money.

Blog #7

Check out these kickstarter projects related to 3DP. Much ado about this lately: This project is currently tied up in legal issues.

Other examples of 3DP related kick-starters:

A) Comment on these projects. Who is suing Formlabs and why? Why do you think the 3Doodler is making such headlines lately? Look around kickstarter for similar projects which were not listed.

I think the new prototype from Formlabs is a revolutionary desktop 3D printer. Compared to conventional printers, it can bring far better resolution with faster speed, the cost may goes down as well. The whole process looks like the addictive manufacturing applied in heavy industry. I think laser is a better solution though it requires more advanced technology. There are a few things that I concerned about, the first issue is, it seems that this method requires a more complex process. I saw people cleaned the parts after they were printed out. If I bought this printer, do I have to use a sink filled with special solutions for cleaning the printed parts? Another concern is how I can recycle the material used in this printer. However, in general, I vote for SL technology, I think laser 3D printers would wipe out all the PLA printers in the future.

For the 3Doodler, I think it is a great idea. Having a 3D pen is what human dreamed about for centuries. However, I double about how portable it would be. The prototype showed in the video is behind a status to hit market. The 3Doodler requires power and filament, which can not be take to everywhere. In addition, I think this issue cannot be solved. Considered the main user of 3Doodler are designers and they usually work in studios, I think it would be better to design a similar product with better quality. I mean the similar product should be simple to be used, it shouldn't have many problems and requirements and it should have better appearance.

B) Do you think kickstarter represents the future of crowd-sourced fundraising?

So, Kickstarter seems like a useful platform, with a variety of projects finding funding through it (though not all, as you may notice). Some people have problems with it, however. Read this:

C) What are the drawbacks of kickstarter? Compare (and contrast ^_^ ) kickstarter to a traditional storefront. Are there alternatives to kickstarter?

It depends. I think it works well for small non-profile events but may not good for ideas, invents or any other commercial oriented uses, in other words big and important things. I think the real funding process for "big" things requires more critical introduction, analysis and marketing issues. The advantage of kickstarter is it gives a platform for people to show their plan, ideas or prototypes to the public. Everybody can see it and get involved. However, since every body can see it and know about the status of the process, bad things may happen as well. For example, I don't think using kickstart to raise money for developing prototypes for the new thoughts is a good idea. For 3 Doodler, it is not a very complex product, if the designers do not have patent yet, it could be copied easily. Just about 20 hours after Microsoft introduced their Surface RT tablet, silicon covers came off the assembly line at one of the factories in southern China. Unauthorized Apple lighting adapters were on before Apple actually held the conference which was going to discuss how to sale license to world major accessories makers such as Belkin. No matter how, I don't want to lose my market if I was the designer, I can't imagine how he would feel if the designer only got the prototype but a Chinese version was listed on ebay.

Blog #6

A)Summarize the first article and describe your thoughts about it. What were the key points which you took from it?

The firs article,Disruptions: On the Fast Track to Routine 3-D Printing, written by Nick Bilton basically discussed how important the 3D-Printing technology to the US industry, how it is rising and how huge the demand will be. I think the main thing the author wants to point out is that 1, 3D-Printing is a revolutionary manufacturing technology. 2, Every industry will take advantage from this technology, no matter poly-industry, bio-chemical, food or medicine. 3, Who have well developed 3D-Printing technology will lead the world.

B)Why was this years “state of the union” address mentioned in the first article? Does this seem important to you?

The author wants to use the news to strengthen how important the 3d-Printing technology is. This technology has been written into the state of the union, that means the whole country will follow the trend and put most effort into developing this technology.

C)The University of Virginia is listed in the first article as hoping to distribute 3D printers throughout all educational levels. The second article is an example of how they are changing their Undergraduate ME program. What are the merits of this method? Can you see any flaws?

Undergraduate ME program introduces 3D-Printing technology will definitely make the design and analysis courses more intuitively. To look at and touch a real object is far better than look at a 2D drawing and imagine an object. Though sometimes we can imagine the shape of something, without real object, we can hardly determine the behavior of that part.

Drawbacks: 1, much higher cost. 2, Too much to learn, too time consuming. Other than learning material responses, equations of motions and measurement, a ME designer has to learn how to draw, how to make design graphs and how to use CAD software. Now, they has to learn how to apply 3D printers. It is pretty hard for a student to learn such a lot of thing in 4 years in college. More time spent on making 3D prints means less time on design principles and the science behind the design.

D) Compare our printers to the printers used at the University of Virginia. If we tried to mimic their program using our printers instead of theirs, how do you think it would fare?

It depends on what do we want to do with these printers and what do we want our ME students learn from using these printers. If we just simply mimic how the University of Virginia, to use 3D printers and tools to help students get better understanding how their designs would be, I don't think we can do that. Our reprap printers do not have high reliability as the commercial 3D printers as University of Virginia's. Nor do we have their high resolution. Students can get a feeling that how their parts would look like and behave but based on our printers, they won't like the result. However, if we use our reprap printers as goals to help students learn how to design, how to analysis and how to think critically, our reprap printers are much better.

Blog #5


1. Bookend.

This bookend has special design. It is a creative work so the designer owns the copyright of it. However, there is no technical works related to this design. Therefore, it is not a patentable object.

2. Costa Splash Vase.

This vase can be seen as a special artistic work, so it is a copyrightable object. Again, it has no technical work so it should not be given a patent.

3. .38 Snap Cap.

This is basically a copy of an exist object, a .38 bullet. It is neither copyrightable nor patentable.

4. Garden Toad.

This toad is an artistic work scanned from a sculpture, so it can be seen as a copyrightable element. It doesn’t have anything related to technical problems so it is not patentable.

5. Celtic Skull.

This is a distinct artistic design so it is copyrightable. Again, it is not patentable.


The Bug’s Bunny from Yaqi Yang’s blog ( is copyrightable. It even can be seen as a trademark owned by Disney. It is one of the most famous icons in the cartoon industry.

The Nautilus Gears( ) found in EKY5006’s blog ( ) may be seen as a patent if it has any particular use.

Another patentable object is the ear bud holder found in Mark’s blog. The special design makes the holder beautiful but useful. ( )


Listening may not close related to money or other kinds of direct benefits, it give the creator’s honor. It also helps people to stand on the shoulders of the previous to boost the creating process. I think some kind of restriction is good for the creator. The creator may reserve the right to restrict the uses of their work. For example, I designed a full size model pistol used for decorating, but somebody may make changes to it and use it to kill people. Another example is if I was an artist, I would never let people print my art work on the toilets in a public restroom. Extreme examples sound wired, but if the creator completely shares his work to the public, he may lose his right to restrict the use of his work.

Blog #4

I saw this news lat week. To be honest, I was deeply move by the courage I saw in this boy, I appreciate what these guys did to make the life of the kid easier. Like the TED video about printed kidney I saw before, I believe 3D printing technology can really bring something new to the world to help people suffer less but gain equal sunshine.

I think there are a few advantages and disadvantages for 3D printing used for these areas. I will say the advantages first. Since every person is different, we cannot find a mass production way to make alternative parts for our bodies. No matter for our teeth, retina, bones or organs, they are unique. That requires, I will say, "individual production" if we want to make the apparatus that matches with our body. Therefore, 3D printing gives us a good way to make adjust to every piece we made but not a common one. Compared to other methods, 3D printing will be cheaper when making " individual production". There are out standing advantages compared to closed source apparatus. There will be no rejection and we don't have to worry about social controversies. The patient will not have to wait for a long time for the organ he needed. I think if we have commercial printers that can print kidney, it should be cheaper than looking for a closed source apparatus. However, I think we can make it cheaper if we only prints we need and let factories to do the rest. For example, when I saw the "hand" of the boy, I think many pieces on that "hand" can be made by conventional method. A few plastic pieces with holes on them should be easy to be mass produced. That will let the cost down and make these technology benefit more unlucky people.

I think, other than paying too much attention to find a better way to help these unlucky people, probably we should keep our eye on how to improving the 3D printing technology. I mean, people are specialized to do something. We do not have any kind of medical care knowledge, it can be more efficient if we finish our job better and give the people who knows how to use this technology in that area a better platform. I think we may come up with really great ideas to help other people and we can do that, but we still need to focus on our work.

Blog #3

1, 3D printing with civil engineering

I think combining constructing and 3D printing is absolutely a great idea, however, I think it may not happen in the way showed in the video. I am not familiar with civil engineering or any kind of constructing method but I can still find out many limits for the method in the video. First of all, the size of the building is really limited. Since before constructing a building, first we need to do is to construct a “3D printer” for that building. It may easy to “print” the building in this method but to build a large scale frame with heavy concrete extruder will be a huge project. As far as I know, the largest similar structures existed on earth are the overhead cranes. Samson, one of the largest cranes in the world is just about 140 meter’s high which can lift 840 tons of loads up to about 70 meters. And here is a link of how the largest overhead crane is built[1] (, I mean, probably constructing the 3D printer for the building will be more challenging than constructing the building itself. Meanwhile, the size of the building is still limited, since the largest frame of the 3D printer is limited as low as 150 meters.

Another problem is this technology can only be applied to simple buildings. Now, every building requires miles of cables and pipes. How can these things be assembled to the building? The modern architectures are built with hundreds of materials, they may have steel frames, concrete layers and glass surfaces. How can we construct all the parts one time from bottom to top? Yes, we can construct the concrete parts separately but does it a kind of follow the tradition path? If we want to have revolutionary building method, we have to think a way to “print” these materials together.

Another question mark comes with the diversity of our buildings. In our world, most of the buildings are different, even if we apply same design for buildings, the environment of the buildings vary a lot. For example, I lived in a community called The Pointe, which has about 25 separated apartment buildings. All these buildings have the same design but they all have different environment. The orientations of the buildings are different, some of the located on the top of the hill while some of them are not. Same of them may have stone base while some of the base may not very solid. I think why we build architectures with human labors even we have already entered an industrialized society is because every construction project have different conditions. We have to use our critical analysis and experience to work those out. However, we can still make changes to a building’s “G-code”, can we save money or time?

After I saw the concrete prototype in the video, I have two concerns. The first one is how to make the connection between different layers solid. We all know that the connection between layers for our RepRap machine is always an issue, will it be the same issue for their prototype? Will their machine come out some random problems after, for example, 5 hours operation? Will these problems influence the “printing” quality? I don't know the answer but I think that is a big problem they are facing right now.

Another concern is about the printing material they are using. We know that our PLA filament become solid within seconds after it comes out from the extruder. However, concrete requires hours, even days to be solid. Therefore, probably the concrete extruder has to wait the lower layers to become solid before adding tons of weight to the schedule and printing another ten layers.

Indeed, I think the method showed in the video have too many limitations to become popular in next 20 years. However, I think maybe we can combine the 3d printing with prefabricated method to boost the speed of constructing and reduce the cost. There are some videos that show incredible constructing speed of pre-fab method.[2] ( Basically, these building are built with pre-fab blocks. It also looks familiar with RepRap but instead of extruding PLA, it “extrudes” blocks. These blocks are small and highly identical, which are great characters for mass production. I think if we focus on printing simple, small scale structures or components, we may make great achievement.


3D printing for Biotech sounds much cooler than civil engineering applications. Many of real world examples have already changed the way people consider future biological technologies. Printed bones and joints are under testing, some of them even have already hit the market. The idea of body fixing interested me a lot. I think this technology can help us deal with burn or cut in a much faster, cheaper and more effective way.

In terms of printing organs, I think that technology will give human a second life. However, I think this technology may have a long way to be commercial. Maybe printing a bladder is easy but to print a fully functioning kidney sounds crazy. I can accept people print normal cells layer by layer but how can they print special cells, for example, neurons? We know that the axon of neuron is very long, some of them can reach about 1.5 meters long for an adult. How can we print a neuron with its axon one thousand times longer than its diameter?

Another concern is, how can we make a huge number of cells work as a whole? I don't know how but a billion cells are not equal to an organ.


I think printed food is too far away, though technologically simple. It is not just technology that limits the use of printed food. Cost is another big issue. Will it cheaper? Maybe we can reduce the price of printed food within ten years, we still have problems related to culture and society. Agriculture is the top industry for every major country. I think it is a very high percentage of jobs on earth are related to food production. If we develop a new technology that can “fire” most of the people on earth, we will be in trouble. Where will these people go? What will they do? How do we use the farmland then? Sometimes we have to slow down our speed to guarantee we got enough job positions for people. China is facing this problem right now, the government has to let its farmers grow plants in an old fashion way in order to keep them working. There will be a huge social problem, even if people are rich, they get to do something. Otherwise people can do anything bad since they got plenty of free time. Sometimes higher technology means higher crime rate.


3D printing is a powerful tool for any designers including the people who lead the fashion. However, fashion and production are totally different. When we consider the cost, materials and speed, we realize that 3D printing cannot be applied in the mass production of clothing for another couple of years. For thousands of years, we only wear all natural materials like cotton, wool and silk. There is a long way to go for any kind of 3D printers to extrude these natural materials. Even if we developed one method to print natural materials, it is still hard to compete with the conventional method with speed and cost.


There are also many industrial 3d printing applications involving automobile and aerospace manufacturing. Some parts like turbine blades are being printed now. People want to use 3D printing in almost any area, they want to try it and find a way to make changes.

Blog #2

I was very impressed by this mouse application demo. I think this is one of the greatest moments in the information technology history. This demo showed a new pointing device, the mouse, to the people to give others a new idea: instead of simply using computers with one dimensional user interface, a pointing device, like a mouse, opened 2D application UI. I think at that time, people may understand that this technology would be very important, but without more application showed, it would be very hard to imagine exactly how great/important this invention is and how the future applications would be. I believe that maybe few people can imagine we use mouse, even fingers to do the most commands on our devices at that time but no people can imagine we have games like CS or War 3 that are highly depended on mouse.

People are facing the same problems now as well. For example, Bill Gates’s last presentation at CES was about voice recognition, few people remembered that. Not until Apple announced their siri voice assistant, most people were unclear about voice recognition technology. They just knew that it is important, but they didn't know where and how to apply this technology. Still, systems like siri are developing and they have a long way to go. Other technologies are considered important, for instance holographic display, Microsoft Kinect or LeapMotion, maybe many of them can changed the world. We know that these things are really important and maybe bring us 3D user interface, however the problem is, we couldn't imagine how important they will be without more real applications occurred.

For the other video, I agree a part of what Professor Richard Doyle said. Open sources for many areas are really important, especially in software engineering. In addition, sharing research results is essential for scientists. However, taking benefit from ideas is also very important for protecting the enthusiasm for inventors or creators. I think what is going on right now in this society is pretty good for new ideas to come up. I mean, the current policies can help people to get their fist money to keep developing their ideas to make things better. I think this is very important, as important as sharing ideas to other people. Without being protected, some excellent people's career could be ruined before they can show their talents to the public. For example, if a new talented industrial designer designed a new object, before he make money from his design, thousands of copies have been produced by some factories in China, he may not able to get benefit from his design and fail to continue his career. Therefore, for some industries or some people, it is also important to make sure they works are not shared.

I think we share the work we generated, so other people can take advantage of it to develop something new, or, just continuing our work. Isaac Newton said:"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." By continuing other's work, we don't need to do things again so we save resources, time and labor. By absorbing other people's ideas, we become more knowledgeable, our mind become sharper and we can develop new ideas. By sharing thoughts, we generate common values and we set up same goals to work together. By keeping other people's story, knowledge, even saying, we record our history and build our civilization. It is sharing that make our species human, if we never learn from others and develop by our own every time, we are no more than monkeys.

I think the great people before our generations had developed a great sharing society, the connection of new idea and money makes sure that new thoughts can be heard. I personally have no talent to make new rules to help us better share our knowledge. The only idea I got is to create some new rules for patent. I think maybe we can make a new rule to let the owner of patent to choose to share his idea/ technology for 3-5 years and then start taking money from the patent. The total length for getting money from the patent is still 15 years, but he can choose to let everybody help him developing his idea, after 3 years development, his technology might be better developed and worth more money. This rule can also prevent new ideas died due to the high license fee. Maybe we can make new rules like this to help new technology spread.

Blog #1

Part A: 1. Useful [3]

I like this book-end. I think it is very helpful thing to get our novels or CDs organized. The book-end has simple shape which should be very easy to be printed out. With bright colors, this book-end will looks beautiful.

2. Artistic/beautiful [4]

I find this vase looks very beautiful if it could get printed with a warm bright color. In addition, I choose this vase is because it can full fill the advantage of 3-D printing. It could be very hard to use conventional method to make one of these vases, but it may be easy to print one out. On the other hand, the scientifically design is pretty cool, when I first saw it, the idea about parallel universe jumped out of mt mine. So I picked this one as the art of science.

3. Pointless/ useless[5]

This special .38 round design seems pretty useless to me. I think this design is very simple, simple structure, boring surface effect, small size and pointless topic. A .38 round printed by PLA weighted nothing, the surface would not be very smooth but very difficult to have good curve on the top. I believe if this bullet is printed out, instead of being a bullet, it will just look like a small piece of plastic junk. In a word, useless.

4. Funny/ weird[6]

This garden toad looks very cute and funny. There are a few designs for toad but this one is the best. I also reviewed some other models printed out by other people. I have to say this funny toad has really good design, all models printed have very good quality, and especially a green one looks awesome.

5. Scary/ strange[7]

With highly detailed designs, this Celtic skull looks great. Since it looks so realistic and crazy, it a kind of scary, especially printed with green PLA with some transparency. Imagine you wake up early in the morning and see this thing sitting next to your bed……

Part B

I thought I was not entered the level of a tinkerer, however, after I watched the video and read the webpage, I feel I am in the right track. I started to know about PC hardware when I was 9, started to assembly PC all by myself in 2002. I kept focusing on PC until 2006 then I stopped paying too much attention on it, basically because, first, I was familiar with every kind of hardware, I knew most of the parts in market, I could list all the parts that needs to be purchased for every price level without doing any kinds of research, but I think that is stupid. After paying attention to that industry for years, I was tired about what was and is going on in that industry, more cores, higher operating frequency, more stream processors and higher power required. It seems the whole industry is trying to double everything but half the price, year for year. I felt it is useless to know what the timing for a RAM is and how much money should be paid for a good motherboard with correct chip set, since I know which data is valuable and I can take five minutes to look them up on the internet and make the decision. Instead, I started to think about questions like, what should be the next breakthrough, what is more valuable for a PC for a buyer with typical use, where is the trend. When I first heard about the acquisition between AMD and ATI, my first thought was, “WOW, Nvidia must work on their own CPU, or, die.” I discussed this with my friend roger, I said, Nvidia must develop their own CPUs and they will, I bet $100 that they will have their processor product within one year. Several months later, NV announced their CUDA and I got my $100. Now, NV is the leading company for making mobile processors, now their mobile products are better than the original CPU maker AMD, even Intel.

I have maybe hundreds of examples which can show I am thinking ahead of other people, no matter PC hardware, mobile electronics, industrial design or many other areas. There are a few people I know that also think a lot, but many of them are only interested in one area and most of them are one step behind me.

For the readings, I do not quite agree with the author for some points. He thinks large corporations are killing the tinker tradition. I agree that try to make something new to make more money is a kind of nature, however, since technology is greatly developed and systems are getting much more complicated, many things can only be done by a large group of people. I have a good example. In the year 1903, two tinkerers, White Brothers, designed and flied the first airplane in human history; given a dozen of talented engineers, they can build pretty amazing airplanes in the 1940s by themselves. However, there are only 5 countries in the world that have completely independent modern aircraft industry, USA, Russia, China, France and UK. Though Germans are really good at machines, Japanese are talented and hardworking, they can’t. A modern aircraft industry requires thousands of different industries’ support. An industry chain for a modern airliner may have tens of thousands companies, even more than one million people involved. Not all the problems can be solved by individual tinkerers. Furthermore, many areas need people that only have really high level of education and good sense of specific knowledge. Many engineers, maybe an aerospace engineer, spend their whole life working on a very small piece of a big system, i.e. an engineer focusing on only the tip of the wing, which is probably short than one feet. In many areas, people have to test a lot to get a good result, they have to see the result to make designs, or decisions. Another aircraft example, all aircraft configurations have to test many times in the wind tunnel before hit the market, some of the models are tested more than one millions times. So, it not like 18th century that one bright idea comes out a tinkerer’s mind and changed the world, it is not impossible, but very hard. I agree that to think like a tinker is good, but corporations are not the reason that slows down the society, critical thinking plus people working together will have better result.

As an international student, I think Americans always think interesting things and always have good ideas, which is good, but to let people think critically and effectively plus hardworking is the ultimate way to get the nation stronger.

I think one important idea I got from the video is to always ask user “what drives you crazy with our product”. I think this is a very effective way to get better feedback and then better design.

The first second I saw their 3D printer project, I felt a little bit disappointed. Since he talked a lot about design, a lot about new ideas and get his daughter trained to be a creative thinker, I thought the project he and his daughter working together should be much more complicated than building a simple 3D printer with all instructions online. Another thing is, as a pioneer of the design industry, I thought he may start the 3D printing project earlier. One principle I learned from his company is try to let people from different knowledge bases working together. Now I am highly agree with him that let people come from different industry sitting together and talk can generate many brilliant ideas.