User:Heisenberg Jones/Blog

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Blog 1: Thingiverse Scavenger Hunt

My first task was to explore the open-source 3D model site Thingiverse and share various types of designs with the class. Thingiverse

Dragon preview featured.jpg

1)Something amazing/beautiful

This stunning dragon must have taken ages to design. The level of detail put into the scales and face, not to mention the overhang of the wings and head, is incredible. I suppose the person who designed it was a graphic / mixed media artist to begin with, but it's neat to think that instead of being done by hand (where the subtractive medthod comes in handy for quick edits and detailing), this design was engineered to print out as one whole piece. Source


2)Something funny or strange

After several minutes of typing in random search terms in hopes of something mildly funny/unsettling, I typed in "fat", expecting a Peter Griffin head or Jabba the Hutt. Instead, I was treated to a file called Fat Bunbun, what I imagine someone on LSD would see while watching Bugs Bunny. While tempting to print out and present as a gift to your worst enemy, Fat Bunbun has only begun to haunt my dreams...the first night of many. Be warned: while appearing sluggish and stupid, Bunbun's creepiness is compensation enough. Source


Something useless

As someone who was never really into sports (YAY, we scored the points, now we just score more points than the other side, whoo), I already had a bias against these "glasses". However, from a purely functional role, these glasses fail. The point of these glasses is to show support for the 49ers, presumably during a game. I'll bet you can't see the person in front of you, let alone the court, if you wear these to the playoffs. Good effort, but seriously, this is like printing a blindfold. A pirate patch would have been more least then it can be fun. Source

FSMopener2 preview featured.jpg

Something useful

When searching for something useful, the term ubiquitous came to mind. This bottle opener can be assembled by inputting a coin of your choice, and the fact that one can adjust the slot for the coin based on currency/location is handy. But wait, there's more! Imagine: You're at a party with friends, having a good time. You see someone you like with an unopened bottle of...soda. Yeah. But, oh no! Looks like that guy everyone hates has stolen the only bottle opener in the joint. Aha, you say. Here's my chance to be a hero. Suavely walk over to the person you like, and say, "Can I borrow a quarter? I'll make it worth your while." Assemble this reusable bottle opener, open 'er up, and there you have it: you are now the life of the party. Also good for travel (avoid those metal detectors, then just use a coin from your wallet later). Source


Something which surprised me

This statue, while well made, seemed dangerous to be on Thingiverse. Simply put, I was surprised Disney had not sent an army of lawyers to contest their copyright claim on one of the most recognizable rodents in the world. Source

Overall, it was fun exploring Thingiverse and getting a taste for the possibilities of 3D printing. I even saw a model of a heart...seems like a good place to start for a side project or later assignment. From the coolest and most functional to the crappiest and bizarre, Thingiverse has it all.

Blog 2: Open Source Ecology

This week's task was to learn about Marcin Jakubowski's Open Source Ecology Project, a marriage between open source software and industrial machinery essential to jumpstart a civiliation. After delving into the history of the project and reading some reviews of Marcin's work, I had a bit to say on the topic.

"The GVCS Tractor"

1) What is OSE? What do they do? Are they legit?

OSE logo.jpg

The OSE GVCS (Global Village Construction Set) reminds me a lot of the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) from the Fallout series: a one stop DIY jackpot ready to jumpstart a community. It aims to provide accessible agricultural and structural machinery to people looking for a functional unit whose schematics can be changed by the community based on direct user feedback (the OSE wiki), not a brand-name luxury device. It sounds like a dream come true for third-world farmers and just average DIY-ers. The goal is philanthropic enough, and has progressed steadily: from the time the TED talk was given, OSE went from 4 functioning industrial machines to 12, with 38 still to go. Along with that, a 3rd party group successfully reproduced one of their machines, the brick press, three years ago. I also found out that the entire team working at Factor e farm works on a meager budget of $4000/month, yet according to the Gantt chart below, are aiming to knock out 1-3 technologies per month while expanding. While I'm impressed with their ambition, I doubt that the 20-member staff can accomplish that level of production.


One thing I both appreciate and distaste is OSE's "build days". Marcin invited donors who donated $256 or more to the Kickstarter to "get their hands dirty" and help with the construction of a prototype. While it is a good way to gain capital, it would have been far better to hold an open-build day open to the public. It would have stirred up much interest, and shown that OSE was more community-oriented. OSE is, however, reaching out across the world, collaborating in open-source fashion. Overall, I give OSE the thumbs up, and believe that if they expand a bit more, the 50 piece GVCS will be completed before 2030.

2) A critique by The New Yorker, and Marcin's witty retort

While I could only access Page 1 of the New Yorker Article, I gleaned enough from that page and Marcin's response to get the main points. The New Yorker published an article about Marcin's Factor e farm in Missouri, and rather than focus on the devices and technology being developed there, they chose instead to write a profile piece on Marcin combined with a description of the "failed commune" he runs. They criticized the harsh living conditions on the farm, anything from extreme temperatures to lack of amenities. They make Marcin seem like a slave driver pushing his volunteers during the 40 hours/week of work. Marcin responded to The New Yorker's accusations with a post on the OSE wiki page with a fair amount of sardonic wit. He would rather they had focused on the goals of the project than the community he created, which he claimed was "only one instance of the numerous applications of our work." I found the New Yorker article to be, as Marcin put it, melodramatic. The volunteers at Factor e farm know what they are getting themselves into: they want to do a hard day's work and help test a bridge between open source software and the resulting hardware. If other people don't think the conditions are appropriate, why not judge monks living in harsh mountain monasteries in Nepal? In another publication, "Mechanical Engineering Magazine", Associate Editor Jeffrey Winters stated of OSE: "These guys aren’t Amish—they want to build their own car. They believe in technology. They just want it created and used at a more human scale." That said, Marcin does state that Factor e farm is "an experiment", and while the final result is unclear, he believes that recent organizational shifts (team and department leads), will prove useful. Also, he plans to build a recreational area for the workers on the farm, which may make the tough conditions a little more bearable. As an optimist at heart, I choose to side with Marcin; he is a man with a plan and an unceasing fount of enthusiasm for his dream. If others share his dream, they will join in.

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Volunteers at the Factor e farm

3) What if OSE spread to PSU?

I can think of two professors here at PSU who would be interested in an OSE extension or club. Scarlett Miller, who taught my EDSGN 100 class, is interested in the Industrial Engineering Design process: how it has changed from the past, how different people brainstorm, and how designs evolve over time. This is reminiscent of Marcin's idea of OSE as an experiment; there is as much to learn about the process of prototyping as there is about the capabilities. The second professor I would want on my team is Dr. Stephen van Hook, a physics PhD and avid DIY-er. He has constructed his own guitar and many other various projects, and endorses community coming together through a student forum on a site called piazza. There, students are encouraged to work together to learn more.


OSE Kickstarter Page [1]

The OSE wiki [2]

Wikipedia Article on OSE [3]

Marcin's 2011 TED Talk [4]

New yorker article: [5]

Marcin's response: [6]

Quote from Mechanical Engineering Magazine [7]

Blog 3: Robohand

How 3D Printing has the fundamental ability to improve a person's quality of life

"First Prototype for Liam"

Back in May of 2011, Robohand designer Richard Van As lost a finger and portions of his other fingers on his right hand. As a practicing woodworker in , he researched several prosthetics online, but it was only when he saw the work of mechanical prop designer Ivan Owen that he discovered a design concept he really liked. Basing their design off of puppets Owen had created, the pair originally meant to return the functionality of Robert's finger with a simple prosthetic. However, when they were asked to create a prosthetic hand for Liam, a boy who was born without fingers on one hand, they expanded their design. The very first Robohand was completed in November 2012 in Van As's native South Africa.

"Mason and Liam"

Now flash forward to January 2013. By this point, Makerbot had donated 2 3D printers to Van As and Owen, and their first design was up on Thingiverse [8], where it is still available for download. They established Robohand as an open-source service, and have helped 200 people to date. Richard put it best, when he said, "Not only did we find a design partner, but we’re kindred spirits in that we're both frustrated by the fact that there are some things that just shouldn’t be commercialized—they're needs instead of wants—that are." [9] Since the design to print the hand was available to everyone for free (Robohand accepts donations rather than charging), the design empowers amputees and those with limb difference alike across the globe. That's how 16 year old Mason Wilde was able to print a Robohand for Matthew, a boy in his hometown in Kansas.

The choice Van As and Owen made was a philanthropic one; they very well could have commercialized their product and sold it to humanitarian organizations, possibly copyrighting it. Instead, they worked furiously to get their project going for Liam and hundreds more in need. I believe it was Van As's experience of losing his dominant hand's ability that evoked this hectic pace, creating a functioning prototype in less than a year. The irony of the situation is that they received help from Makerbot. Makerbot was once a non-profit open source project as well, but today they have evolved into a popular DIY business, selling 3D printers for domestic and industrial use. In contrast, I could download the major components (sans harness) of the Robohand today for free, and have a functional hand printed in 8 hours.

The Robohand project has widespread exposure. The story of initial build was published in South Africa Popular Mechanics [10], tech news sites and blogs [11][12], and even the Wall Street Journal.[13] Other stories of Robohand changing the lives of people like Liam have also cropped up, on local news sites like Kansas City Star[14] and prolifically on the Robohand Blog.[15]

The article in the Star showcased the fact that anyone can use 3d printing to improve the lives of people around them. With good initiative and an urge to better the world, we can all be creators. While others choose to print gun components (that's a whole other story / fiasco), individuals like Mason, Van Ans, and Owen are choosing to create for good.

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Richard Van As and Ivan Owen, creators of Robohand

Blog 4: Responses to Blog 2 of Classmates

Many of my classmates had interesting points in their Blog 2 Posts about the OSE project.

Teammate Responses

My fellow teammates shared my positive sentiment regarding Marcin's project, at least generally. Drew made a good point that the expertise of the workers was an important issue to consider, for while many people may be inspired to join the Factor e farm, the potential success depends on their training. This resonated with my opinion that the training "build days" should be truly open source, serving as a means for anyone with interest and ideals to get a grasp on what building an agricultural machine in a day truly entails. He did admire Marcin's plan, though. Eric complimented the OSE initiative, praising its simple approach. I didn't include the idea of a simple life in my response, but Eric really connected with Marcin's vision. He preferred Marcin's simple, delocalized villages to the complex society in which we live today. Brian wrote a passionate response to the NY Times article. He was committed to the idea of OSE, stating that it has much potential. While it faces the problems of many startups, it is his belief that critics like Emily Eakin should give the project some time to develop before judging so harshly. Rather than envision societies based on this model, like Eric envisioned, Brian views OSE as a philanthropic endeavor, giving isolated communities the means to help themselves. I lean more towards Brian's opinion, for while provincial life would have its own rewards, I'm comfortable in a semi-urban environment. However, I really liked Eric's idea of applying OSE concepts to campus, like his open source rooftop gardens.

Class Responses

The posts of other members in the class varied tremendously. Eva praised the project, and focused on how the project was really striving to reach as many people as possible, utilizing several languages in it wiki and blog. This is a good point; while English is one of the most spoken languages on the planet, there are regions where other languages dominate, and using multiple languages broadens the target areas where GVCS could reach. Hao had a very good point on the safety concerns of the equipment; if people without proper machining and usage training attempt to build and operate the machines, they pose a danger to themselves and others. Even one of the earliest completed systems, the Tractor, has no safety information, with this posted on the wiki: "No structural engineering analysis has been performed on the LifeTrac III or IV. If you choose to replicate this product you are doing so at your own risk and with this understanding." [16] Jarred offered a poignant comparison between unskilled workers and the Invisible Hand of Economics, who believe that "things will fall into place" just by them being there. He also provided a solid prediction on how the BOT would feel about at OSE team here: not very enthused. Given the board's current stance on our 497J class, it is unlikely an adequate amount of seed money would be appropriated, no matter how beneficial the experience could be at what was ORIGINALLY AN AGRICULTURAL SCHOOL *cough cough*. Jess and most of the class agreed that while the NY Times article showed some areas for improvement, it focused too much on Marcin and the faults of the project, not the big picture. At times, she thought the article was an attack on Marcin's character, and his subsequent response was simple self defense. Nam Pham agreed, saying that it was ridiculous focusing on Marcin's yoga routine rather than the project itself. She also supported the project, praising its goals and saying that she would build one of these machines in her own time, given the resources. If she (a qualified Mechanical Engineering Grad) joined, she would help catalyze Marcin's project, without a doubt.

Blog 5: Rep Rap Media Timeline

"A Look at Recent Developments in the 3D Printing Timeline"

MB logo.jpg

Looking at the Media Page from 2009 onward, several developments stick out and continue to reappear. From their start in 2009, Makerbot spread both their machines and their name throughout the world, from DIY enthusiasts, the Colbert Report, to facilitating projects like the Robohand and starting up Thingiverse. Arguably, this is a very important development in the progression of 3D printing, as it allowed generic access of the technology to the general public, albeit it at a cost. By seeing how many branch projects arose as a result (Robohand, hermit crab shell builds, modeling organs for surgery), it is evident that the spread of Makerbot will continue to pop up in the timeline for years to come. Although they have gone closed-source, their machines still fill the needs of many industries, and will continue to sell.

Another important milestone from 2009 was Organovo's successful bioprint of blood vessels, the first print of its kind. After that point, companies like Organovo and institutions continued to research and print tissues and biomaterials. In July 20009, researchers from UPenn and MIT had their crack at it, printing a miniature liver. Another group received funding to study printing meat meant for consumption...which has yet to pan out. An overhyped story was the "rat heart cell-powered printer", from November 2012. While a novel idea, using rat heart cells as a power source is not sustainable or efficient, and will not likely pan out.

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Organovo prints blood vessels using dual extrusion

In July 2012, the first gun was 3D printed, an issue which continues to stir controversy even today. Congress has attempted to approach the issue, seizing some printers and claiming the designers broke the Undetectable Firearms act. However, parts of guns (stocks, grips, lower receivers), were printed and demonstrated by Defense Distributed, whose goal is to stir up the public in support of 3D printing firearms freedom. In March 2013, The Liberator, a fully 3D printed gun (sans firing pin) was presented to the world. Issues with this branch of 3D printing are likely to continue. This is a topic I am concerned about, for gun regulation is a necessity in this age. Improper gun safety and ownership is a factor in school shootings, accidental death, and crime. By printing guns in one's home, it is possible for young children to see it as a common practice; printing guns from PLA would be reminiscent of NERF guns and other toy guns. This could be pretty bad in the long run, and requires a lot of thought.

Blog 6: The Next Big Thing

What is the next step for PSU 3D printing?

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Organovo Dual Extruder

In our class, we currently run Open Hybrid Mendels, printing one type of material (PLA). With these, we can print a variety of objects, and print more printer pieces. While this is great, the next step is already taking shape in the back of the room: the dual extruder. This development will allow us to print removable support material, multiple material prints, and has the potential to branch out into further areas (looking at you, bioprinting). An example would be printing cells and hydrogel, and then flushing out the hydrogel to leave the blood vessels behind. The printer in question would have to have precise temperature control and likely a new delivery system, so in terms of outfitting it it could be best to build a new one or add it to a partially built model. Thankfully, I may be working in a team outside of class to build a prototype. Dual extrusion could also allow for reinforced prints, using a light material for the main structure and a stronger material to build a mesh/interlocking rod support matrix. From heavy duty mechanical replacements or a stronger i-Phone case, the possibilities are great.

Another possibility would be composite printers, such as a Fibre Core extruder. This extruder uses a process called "pulltrusion" (pull + extrude) to pull a wire covered in expoxy through a melted plastic, and then extrude what is essentially an insulated wire. Other types of composite printers could lead to printing chips, wires, and other electronic components right into the object being printed! While the nozzle and feed line would need modification, the rest of our Mendels would be exactly the same. The prospective products from a fibre core could be as simple as coated wires or as complex as printing full electronic devices, no assembly required (although, that would involve a much more complex printer, essentially a small production line)

A third upgrade I could see in the near future would be a food printer, which I believe someone in the class is already interested in. Hershey has plans to start printing their chocolate via direct deposition, and a multiple extruder has already been constructed by MIT.[17] Using syringes to heat/store the materials as well as fans for rapid cooling, a different printer (perhaps a FAB), could be used as the basis for this.

Blog 7: To Share, Or Not to Share

In which we learn how Open Source can benefit the world at large, but see its limited use regarding a really cool project

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An open source 3D printed microscope. It only uses 4 camera lenses and 3D printed parts, and has an optional smartphone mount.

After reading this article[18] on the impact open source 3D printing will have on the developing world, what struck me was the optimism shown. I agree that open source would be a great step in allowing poorer communities access to affordable versions of professional scientific equipment and tools, such as the simple microscope shown on the left. However, the original cost for the printers needed can be around 500 dollars...a steep price, even if it is a solid investment in the long run. With grants from global programs like WHO as seed money, this could be viable, but if a rural community provides the funding, and the printer fails to meet their needs/expectations, the economic waste could be destabilizing, considering some families in these areas live on less than a dollar a day. That said, with help from seed money, this could be a valuable method of mass producing educational equipment to public schools. I admire this approach to empowering communities and connecting them with others; it's better to share knowledge than lock it away.

This leads me back into thinking about the OSE initiative, providing open source agricultural tools for communities everywhere. Other applications for this could be printing educational tools such as rulers and models of cells/bodies, affordable jewelry, or quick replacement parts for electronic devices. There are many ways a Rep Rap printer, internet, and open source designs could aid a 3rd world community, as long as there is a need to be met.

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The LEGONANO Atomic Force Microscope

On the contrary is this article[19], describing a recent winner of the LEGONANO design competition. A multi-national team was tasked with designing and assembling a functional AFM (Atomic Force Microscope) from just LEGO's, Arduino micro-controllers, and 3D printed parts (shown on the right). While I admire their message of international collaboration, I wish they had made the design open source. It would allow access for other universities to save money, yes, but also show the value of building a highly functional machine in-house, using affordable 3D printing tech. This could jumpstart a revolution across higher education institutions, unless they were too snobby to do so. Instead, those involved in the design only took it back to their respective universities to complete more research on it, leaving commenters like Michael upset: "Don’t call the article “how to build a low-cost AFM…” unless there are actually instructions on how to build said AFM." Closed source limits the potential scientific wealth one shares with the world, and this AFM is no exception. Heck, we could print that device. The thermocouple looks quite similar to the ones we use in class, the parts are all either LEGO's, Arduinos, or 3D printed, and the occasional screws. If we could build it, so could smaller schools lacking funding, or foreign schools lacking the means to obtain higher quality devices only sold in distant countries. Yeah, if a team of grad students could build this in 5 days, having done the research before hand, it is feasible.

Blog 8: IP and 3DP

What are the different forms of Intellectual Property? What sorts of controls will be/should be enacted on 3D IP? Is 3D the end of IP?

Part 1: What is IP?

Intellectual Property (IP) is a system used by companies and individuals to protect their ideas, usually in order for them to make money off of. There are several types: copyright, patent, trademark, and trade secret. Copyright[20] is a method in which a person creates something, be it a new chemical dye, a script, or snack, and then holds the only rights to make and use that idea for their own purposes, for a certain amount of time. Within this time, they are expected to gain wealth from these individual rights, and after a number of years, the copyright expires. Copyrights can be both territorial (within states), but often today, are international. The user of a copyright must pay a fee in order to hold that copyright for a certain amount of time.

Next, is the Patent[21]. The patent is similar to the copyright in that it gives credit to a person for an idea, but is different in its application. Rather than allow that person to exclusively produce and use the idea, it instead focuses on keeping other people from claiming the idea. Inventors make money off of patents by making them public, and then selling them as commodities. Companies can purchase patents from their inventors, transferring the rights to that idea. Patents usually last 20 years. They are prevalent in the design industry, and have been the cause for many lawsuits. Patents are most applicable in R&D, but were originally precursors to copyright as "literary patents". Like copyrights, owners of a patent must pay maintenance fees to keep the patent theirs.

A Trademark[22] is a visible sign on a product or its packaging which is used to identify a legitimate item from a counterfeit one. It can be purchased by individuals, companies, and conglomerates. They can protect anything from company logos to toys and games. This form of IP helps its owners make money by lawsuits against counterfeiters, who are guilty of "brand piracy". Like the first two IP's, a TM has to be upkept by fees. There are different levels of protection for trademarks, including "registered trademark" (only for use by the owner of the trademark) and "trademark" (how non-owners of the trademark are to label it). Trademarks have to be used once every 5 years to continue service, otherwise, the idea covered is fair game for use. Fair use of a TM, such as in a documentary or parody, is allowed on certain grounds, either being used to identify a company (i.e. McDonald's in "Supersize Me"), or for humor. Unlike copyrights, which usually last for the duration of the creator's life + 60 years, trademarks can be renewed INDEFINITELY.

Trade secrets[23] are perhaps the most secretive of IP's. Unlike the previous 3, they are not privy to the public eye, and instead, are passed only within a company or group in order to further their business. Trade secrets can include formulas (as in Coca Cola), production methods (as Walter White's technique in Breaking Bad), and similar items. Trade secrets can be legally uncovered by reverse engineering, or illegally discovered by corporate spying, such as planting an employee from a competitor into another company (think of that creepy competitor of Willy Wonka trying to get Charlie to bring back one of Wonka's inventions so he could make them in his rival candy company). States develop their own laws regarding trade secret crimes. Usually, the only protection for trade secrets is a non-disclosure agreement, which employees sign and promise not to divulge the trade secret during and after their employment. This is the loosest form of IP, as it is the most vulnerable to exploitation, and there is no protection of the secret once it is exposed to the public.

Part 2: The Potential Demise of IP

Based on this article[24] by John. F. Hornick, 3D may mean the end (or at least severe narrowing) of current IP practices. He lists "the five I's" to describe why this is possible:

1. Infringement: If we can 3D print anything, the chances of printing something already protected under IP increases.

2. Identification: If people print these products in secret, with many channels of distribution, it becomes harder to track down "criminals" responsible for infringement.

3/4. Impractical/Impossible: Point 2 will make it much harder to pursue legal action against those who infringe.

5. Irrelevant: All theses factors will severely limit the current power of IP, eventually "nerfing" it.

Numbers 1-5 compound on one another, each making the next more likely. This is a logical progression. The maker movement takes place in garages and homes, not publicly visible platforms under government supervision. As DIY systems become more sophisticated as a result of collaborative innovation vs. the stunted growth of individual 3D printer companies, the gap of sophistication between homemade systems and professional ones will also diminish. Like Hornick said, people will be able to print more complex parts on their own, without the costs incurred by using a specific company's product. With the sharing mentality of maker culture, you very well may be able to "print a car", as told by an old commercial to prevent DVD piracy.

The 5 I's seem like a definite possibility. With people printing more and more complex items for their own use (we went from toys and jewelry to printing circuits into materials), the need for commercially made products may diminish. At the same time, areas of lower income / less availability will be unaffected, and will still buy consumer goods from internationally protected companies (think diapers, snack foods, motorcycles). Even with diminished IP, companies will still be able to sell their goods to areas where 3D printing is less likely to transform consumer culture. That said, IP will be weaker as it loses its hold on products sold in first/second world homes.

Creative Commons may serve as an intermediate, slowing the downfall of IP. CC will allow people to design 3D products and sell them to interested parties in order to gain revenue, but also allow non-business individuals to reproduce and use those products for non-commercial use, such as in their homes. This means that while some IP practices will be used to protect a product for commercial purposes, there will still be ways for DIY'rs to gain access to the product in a fully legal way. The implications of this are not clear currently, but may slightly alter Hornick's prediction.

Blog 9: Materials Hunt

I'm spicing the next few blogs up. In this one, I'll give information about different materials...but through the voice of a P.I.! Enjoy!

Chapter 1: Supplier Search

Detective Rupert Rapovich, Rup Rap for short, tossed yet another coil of PLA to the side. "Damn! More junk. Why can't a man find some good quality PLA these days?" He pulled out a notepad from his jacket pocket, crossing another name off the list. "Sigh, reliable suppliers are hard to find these days. Well, looks like we've got a live one: 3d2print[25], eh? Looks like they're wholesalers. A lot of bulk, for a low price, more bang for your buck, what could go wrong? There's not much here about the quality of their material, but they have a supporting staff and even cater to the needs of educational institutions. Their standard PLA price is $47/kilo. Guess I'll keep that in mind."

Flinching as he looked over Real KBell Engineering [26], an ebay supplier that had sold him the PLA of varying diameter, butchering some of his higher quality prints due to motor struggles. "While cheap, it's probably best to go to a company with their own website, even if I'm looking for average quality PLA. 12 USD / kg is way below the 45 USD/ kg average."

As Rup was about to turn a corner into a side street, a man with a thick German accent stopped him in his tracks. "Herr Rapovich! Just the man I wanted to see. I hear you're in the 3D printing business now. What if I told you I could get you 10 1kg spools of PLA for just 380 USD? Good deal, no?" "Yeah, sure," scoffed Rup, as he pushed past mexhibit [27], "if I wanted to pay shipping costs from Switzerland. Sure, you have standard PLA for that cost, but premium is 89/kilo, and is already made in the US...why can't I just buy some here?" mexhibit slumped, and said, "Herr Rup, well at least we ship to the US. One of the cheaper high quality PLA providers, 3dprintingcenter Israel[28], sells a high quality PLA for just 43 USD/kilo...but only sell in Israel!" "Yeah, better avoid companies that don't ship internationally," muttered Rup, continuing along the avenue he turned onto.

"Then again, I have to consider the printer I'm using. If I cave in to Makerbot[29] and buy their Makerbot2, they recommend using their PLA...but what if I want to use other brands? Will using a more affordabe / more reasonable PLA detract from my prints? Why not just get really affordable 1.75 mm PLA for my Makerbot from JustPLA [30], with 30 USD/ kg vs Makerbot's 48? It's highway robbery."

Crossing Makerbot off the list (perhaps with a few more lines than necessary...he had a grudge) Rub reached the last name on the list. It was I'll want to avoid using splurging on super-expensive PLA...this isn't gold we're printing here. What's the highest quality PLA on the market? Is it even worth investing in the highest quality PLA? Ideal PLA should have the same diameter, with only a ± 0.03 mm error, it should be packed and shipped well to prevent damage, and most importantly, it should be sold by a company experienced with the material they're selling, willing to negotiate if problems arise and be able to advise the best material for a specific printer. "Case closed," grumbled Rup Rap, as he reached his apartment.

Chapter 2: Materials Search

Rup awoke and made himself a cup of joe, picking up the paper from underneath his door. "Hm, an article about different printing materials[31]. Interesting. Oh, and here's another[32]"

PLA is best for novices to 3D printing. It has a typical range of 180-210 C. It requires more force to extrude, as it has a higher friction coefficient than ABS. It's best for new users because it is "stickier" than ABS, which makes it adhere better to the print bed. This is vital to prevent warping.

ABS is a stronger plastic. It also has a higher mp, from 220 to 270 C. It's best for more experienced printer users, seeking a higher quality print. It also requires less force to extrude than PLA. It gives a glossier finish to prints.

Chapter 3: Choose wisely

Rup eventually decided to go with 3mm PLA from JustPLA, as he was new at printing. The company seals its product properly, ships in the US, and seems to know their printing stuff.

Blog 10:

In a similar exploration to the previous blog (sans detective story), I take a look at different hot tips

1: Hot End Types There are many different hotends in use today, but the most popular seem to be the J-Head, the MakerGear hot end, the Arcol, and the BUDASCHNOZZLE. The J-head seems to be the most popular, using a series of cooling vents to prevent the hot tip from melting plastic above the tip. It is lightweight, but requires extensive machining. However, it has a small number of parts[33]. Next is the Makergear Hot-end. Makergear is a respected 3D printer manufacturere, and their hotend is the one preferred if using a makergear product. It uses nichrome wire instead of a heat resistor like the J-head, which allows it to print at lower temperatures[34]. However, it is heavy to mount, has many parts, and can be on the pricey side. The Arcol is another heavier hotend, and is the standard for the PrusajrMendel[35]. It has complete separation of the hot and cold ends, is easy to assemble/disassemble, and requires minimal machining. It's goal is to limit heat spread. Finally, the BUDASCHNOZZLE is a larger, heavier hotend, but also gives good results. It comes pre-assembled, and has a variety of nozzle sizes available[36]. To choose a hotend suitable for a printer, one should decide on material to be printed, the permissible weight on the carriage, the nozzle size, the cost of the nozzle, and the lifespan.

2: Supplier Search In terms of suppliers, I offer the example[37] of an authentic J-head nozzle from a reliable supplier[38] vs. a clone[39]. The easiest way to tell them apart is the number of grooves: authentic has 5, the clone has 4. The authentic hotend is machined correctly, has the right filament clearance, contains a PTFE liner necessary for PLA, and has a money-back/replacement guarantee from the distributor, RPW. The Clone, on the other hand, may be missing PFTE liner (impossible to print PLA now), is likely to fail, and has no money-back guarantee.

1: Choose wisely I would go with an authentic J-head v5 for a new project. It is reliable, has solid reviews, and was machined properly, unlike some of the clones on the market.

Blog 11: Show and Tell Revisited

My peers gave some cool presentations in class this semester. Here's a recollection of one of my favorites

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Google Glass was used to scan the image for this 3D model of a statue head

My friend Drew gave a presentation on the application of 3D scanning for 3D print model building. The idea is for someone to scan anything, from someone's face to the Taj Mahal, by taking several pictures from multiple perspectives. The images are then amalgamated into a nearly seamless 3D model. There have been several apps released to generate the basic 3D image, but they are not perfect. Some require many pictures in order to achieve fine results (upwards of 40). Furthermore, the scanned models may have gaps or missing sections, while a solid model is needed for the g-code. While there are some programs which can be used to get these kinks out, Drew mentioned that a closed source app known as Autodesk123D that fixes these errors in-house. Another topic he mentioned was the creation of an online database of images, a sort of google for 3D scanning. Users would upload different photos of a location or building, from various angles and distances, and the database would compile all these images into a single 3D model. While this project would be open source, Autodesk123D is closed source, which somewhat limits its capabilities.

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Drew's boot!

Drew then showed us his own experimentation with the app, which he used to produce a 3D model of his boot. After taking many pictures, editing, and finally getting an stl file, Drew sliced his model and printed it out. This example just shows how 3D printing is becoming more accessible to the public, as a novelty for now, but spreading quickly. For more serious purposes, these apps could be used in the medical field, such as when doctors used a 3D model created from an MRI scan of a patient's heart to get a more tangible feel for the procedure they were to perform on them. Drew has continued exploring 3D scanning for his project, and I'm excited to see where he goes with it next.

Bonus Blog: 3D Printing Pen

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Using LIX to print a free-standing pyramid

The night before Eva gave her show and tell on 3D printer pens, my friend shared the LIX pen with me. This pen allows people to sketch in 3D, the next level of brainstorming, in my opinion. It's a compact extruder that uses PLA or ABS. Here is the link to the website[40]. From what I heard in class, the pen would work best with ABS, which uses a much lower extrusion temperature, and would be easiest to print in "true 3D", a.k.a. printing free standing structures that cool quickly enough to be stable. PLA would take longer to cool, and may be limited to 2D prints. However, these could be assembled later on to form full 3D structures. As Dr. Saint John and Eva mentioned, the real value of this tool could be a quick repair for damaged 3D prints from full Rep Raps. A missing corner could be remedied with a stable hand and a LIX pen. This is yet another way to make 3D printing easily accessible to the public, along with the miniature printers such as the Cube[41] and the Micro[42].

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Smart pens record in 2D...could LIX model in 3D?

Besides its current applications, which are mostly art and hobby focused, I could see this pen having another function: What if the LIX could analyze the shape you sketch with it, and then convert it into a rough 3D file, such as for SolidWorks? This could be accomplished via a scanning app such as Autodesk123D, or in a digital fashion (think of those smart pens that record your notes as you draw with them). Adding a new dimension may seem tough to manage, but feasible. While this system would become outdated once graphical user interfaces (GUIs) advance into the realm of holographic displays, it is an intermediate step I could see happening.

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Loading the LIX pen with filament

Something that irks me, however, is the fact that the company is selling a $60 ballpoint pen replica of the actual pen alongside the functioning pen, which costs about $140. Yes, I realize that crowdfunding is a no-holds barred tactic, but who would buy an overpriced ballpoint pen just for the sake of owning the set? That said, the LIX kickstarter is set to open soon, and if it is anything like that of the Micro printer, which amassed $2,768,563 from a goal of $50,000, the makers behind LIX will be using ballpoint pens that cost well over $60.

Blog 12: Reflections on Blog 5

I review my team members' thoughts on this blog, as well as those of other classmates.

Eric Eric believed that Adrian Bowyer publishing his ideas for a self-replicating printer was heavily based off of Michael Crighton's "Prey", an novel about nanomachines replicating and building more nanomachines. He thinks this is one of the most important events in the history of 3D printing, and I am inclined to believe him. Some of the coolest technology from today started off as science fiction: writers like Asimov and Bradbury would be thrilled to see how much of their work has come to life. As far as the least important development in 3D printing history, I would disagree that chocolate printing is pointless. Food printing may seem like a novelty now, but automation of processes like that could be useful for the near future, when humans colonize space. Having a 3D printer kitchen could be standard, almost like the device from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".


Drew thought the earlier ideas that led to 3D printing were some of the most important points in the timeline, similarly to Eric. Unlike me, he mentioned that the maker movement's role was essential on the timeline, and I agree. While Makerbot and other companies made great strides in making 3D tech more available to the public, they could not have done it without the previous work of the maker movement. Like me, he valued the medical uses of 3D printing, be they prosthetic jaws or printing skin cells onto burn victims.


I agreed with Brian that one of the biggest developments on the 3D printing timeline was the launch of Makerbot and other 3D printing companies. While the maker movement was created long before that, companies like Makerbot brought the idea into the market, allowing for everyday people with less maker experience to use 3D printing in a variety of contexts. One example was the Robohand from Blog 3. I resonated with Brian's enthusiasm for the medical applications of 3D printing, specifically organs. It will be much more useful than the "3D print of your unborn child" service he mentioned. Our mutual enthusiasm culminated in our S&T a few weeks back.


Kevin took Eric and Drew's point of view that the earlier visions of 3D printing from the 80's were vital, and after reading all of their views, I have to agree. He also found merit in food printing, contrary to Eric's view. This makes sense, since Kevin is going into a food-centered engineering field. He sees this technology as a form of relief for third world countries ravaged by conflict.


Wenxin found more of the artistic purpose for important points in the media timeline, and as both an electrical engineer and an art enthusiast, I can see why. She was impressed with the 3D printed guitar parts, the 3D printed Aston Martin from Skyfall, and other artistic 3D printed objects. She didn't find the architectural 3D printing (large scale) as interesting as I did, but to each their own, I suppose.


Anthony found the founding of Thingiverse to be one of the most important moments in the timeline, and in terms of making 3D printing more accessible, I agree. Even though it is run by Makerbot, a closed source company, Thingiverse is a good database for makers everywhere, and a great tool to use to teach others about 3D printing and training them (thinking back to the first print we did). He also found a cheap, open source project of a boy in Africa building a printer for under $100 to be very important. I agree that it was impressive, but by no means was it a major milestone.


Chai found the founding of Thingiverse to be very important as well, as well as the first print by the Mendel. I agreed that the article about printing AR-15 parts was pretty important, and that keeping 3D printed weapons under high scrutiny will be vital in the next few decades. I agree with him that 3D printing wood is an inefficient idea, and that it's not likely to go anywhere.

Sam Carroll

Sam thought laser sintering was really important in terms of the timeline, but I don't know enough about its role in 3D printing to make a good judgement call. I disagree that the 3D printed hermit crab shells were pointless, for they show the broad scope in which 3D printing can be utilized, be it industrial or ecological.

Blog 13: Reflections on Blog 7

I review my team members' thoughts on this blog, as well as those of other classmates.


Eric took a more industry and research-based viewpoint of using 3D printed lab equipment, whereas I stressed more commercial and community use. His argument, that educational institutions and industrial companies would prefer to use equipment at a higher standard than 3D printed materials does hold water; for now, 3D printing is still viewed as a novelty. Perhaps this will change soon, for as Eric says, cheaper, 3D printed lab equipment may be preferred for the small time researcher. As for the 3D printed LEGO AFM, Eric was impressed with the low cost of the high tech microscope, but didn't seem as upset that the design for it was not open source.


Drew agreed that low cost equipment would be appealing, and even said that scientists in research institutions would find value in it, despite lack of industrial standards. He mentioned several items that could be printed to save costs, including pipettes and fluid flow gauges. I had not thought of smaller things like these to be printed, but of larger devices, like microscopes and force transducers. He agreed that third world communities would benefit from lower costing equipment, specifically surgical equipment. I'm not sure if I would trust non-standardized surgical equipment if I was going through a surgery...sounds like something a foreign company would try to pull, like knockoff bone saws. If they could do more harm than good.


Brian and I agreed on several topics regarding the use of 3D printed materials in third world countries and institutions. He stressed the importance of having an infrastructure set up, which I hadn't thought of. I was going more off of the OSE concept, where using these open source technologies would in turn provide infrastructure. He also believed in the importance of having trained technicians to operate the equipment built, and I feel that those who build the equipment would be in that category. However, we both agreed that cheaper 3D printed equipment could be of great use to those who can't afford the expensive stuff. Brian matched my sentiments on the AFM to the dot, saying it would be better to make the project open source. He envisions using such devices AT HOME, which would be interesting, but definitely a possibility for what I call "Garage Scientists".


Todd agrees that more affordable equipment would be a boon to lower income researchers and communities. He also shares my view on the second article that the AFM project should be open source, adding that making it open source could improve its design and benefit more that just its designers. He brought up a good point, however, that even as closed source, it can do a lot of good, providing good research.


Funnily enough, Tom listed Thingiverse's founding as being an important milestone, for similar reasons to those listed above. Even more interesting, he shared Eric's view that food printing was not important in the grand scheme of the timeline. It seems that many people have similar judgements regarding what is important on the timeline. I agree with him that the tech is primitive now, but believe it will become more refined and useful later on.


Tony believes that the first 3D printing course offered was a major step in the timeline. I agree that it was important to bring 3D printing into academia, as it opened up many avenues for research, such as bioprinting at Harvard and MIT. He is excited about the potential for 3D printed circuitboards, which could mean printing cell phones and other tech. Like Brian, he thought the 3D print of an unborn child was silly, which I agree is a waste of scanning tech.


Carson made a good parallel between the development of cell phones and that of 3D printing. He sees the availability and affordability of 3D tech going up in the future, and was excited at the prospect of printing from an android device. I agree with him that 3D printing a lathe was a waste of time, and that some current technologies don't need to get the 3D printed treatment.


Eva and I found common ground in the importance of medical 3D printing, such as printing directly into the human spine. She also agrees that 3D food tech is primitive, but promising in terms of future developments. I agree with her that Lady Gaga's stunt with the 3D printed dress was overhyped, but perhaps that kind of celebrity presence will spread news of the 3D printing movement, making it a somewhat useful event.

Blog 14: Refelections on Blog 8

I review my team members' thoughts on this blog, as well as those of other classmates.


Eric saw CC as more of a protective measure for 3D printed data, while I saw it as a transitional step along the path to the downfall of IP. I agree with his comments that a law against patent infringements would be pretty much useless, and that hiding stl's from the public would become increasingly difficult.


While Drew and I both agreed that 3D printing would make the IP laws much harder to enforce, he did not see the IP movement as deteriorating as a result. He stated that the IP movement would be more likely to concede its stricter policies, and to be more lenient regarding IP agreements - in other words, reaching a compromise with the oncoming maker movement. He and I shared similar thoughts into the lack of control future IP would have over their products, but saw CC as a means of preserving some level of protection.


There wasn't really much to compare to in terms of our ideas, but our definitions of the Five I's and all copyright terms were similar.


Lee agrees with me that IP law will be much harder to control in the future, and shares Eric's praise of CC as a better means of IP protection. Like him, I believe that the 5 I's will lead to the eventual complete downfall of IP.


Jessica believes that if IP is to survive the 5 I's, it must become STRICTER in terms of its policies...I can't see this deterring the makers. It's more likely that IP will face a compromise if it wants to continue. She shares the sentiment with others that CC is a good means of protecting IP, and will outlast copyrights and patents.


Jarred thinks the article is a bit dramatic in terms of its claims, and that 3D printing is not broad enough to be capable of "replacing everything". He believes that IP has its place, but that misusing it, as Apple constantly does, is wrong as well. I agree with his latter point, but disagree with his assumption that 3D printing will be too limited to replace essential tech and conveniences...within a few decades, the scope of the maker movement will likely expand to all areas of our everyday life.


Dongao has a good point...even if the scope of printing expands, not everyone will be able to afford a machine to print these materials on. Therefore, while IP may lose it's power, there may not be a huge impact on companies in terms of lost revenue. However, I disagree with him that IP will maintain the same hold it does now in the future.


Yuan finds a middle ground in the argument, claiming that while IP will change as the maker movement progresses, the economy and our culture will adapt to the changes accordingly. While the policies may change, he believes that there will be no "bubble burst", and that we shouldn't worry too much about the switch. He also believes that CC is a useful tool in protecting IP.

Blog 15: Reflections on Blog 11

Game over, man. Game over.


While I didn't reflect on the same S&T as Eric did, I found his reflections and ideas to be of value. His insight as a civil engineer led him to the idea of 3D printing / repairing bridges, seeing as there are many defunct bridges in PA. He got the idea from a S&T about 3D printing houses. While large scale 3D printing is not commercially viable or popular, I agree that engineers would find both the open source aspect and the methods useful in civil engineering. Eric does not seem to think that using large machines to build houses will be viable. However, there is something to be said for future colonization of planets: using a large vehicle or fleet of vehicles to terraform/build human-friendly environments and living spaces (maybe even unmanned machines) would be interesting. Like I mentioned before, the stuff of science fiction so often becomes science fact.


It was nice to see that Drew picked the S&T Brian and I did on bioprinting. He was interested in the topics we mentioned, and shares his excitement for the potential bioprinting will have on organ transplants. He was also interested in prosthetic applications, such as the Robo Hand. He believes raising awareness about bioprinting will help it develop faster, and I agree. While the general 3D printing excitment curve is about to peak, much fewer people know about the bioprinting movement.


Brian also reviewed Drew's 3D scanning presentation for the show and tell. We were both pretty amazed at the capabilities of the app and the programs used to make models from the rough images. He was very excited about the potential for this, coupling it with dual extrusion. I liked his insight into how the development of these 3D scanning technologies would make 3D printing more accessible to makers, even those without Solidworks experience. While I focused on the possibilities of huge scanning databases, Brian took more of an economic view into the possibilities, stating how companies could go from cheap prototype to proper stl to mass-produced product quickly.


Graham was interested in Drew's presentation as well, and like me, saw the benefits in having easy to use app to create and edit stl's. I was excited to see that he like my and Brian's presentation as well, and took an interest in tissue engineering.


I really enjoyed reading Zach's response to the bioprinting presentation Brian and I gave. He sees it not only as an exciting field of research, but as a means to do good, to improve the quality of life for many people. He took a very philosophical approach to it, claiming that by extending human life, we could give creative people like artists and scientists more time on the planet to do amazing things, which I find beautiful. For now, we both see the immediate applications to repairing damaged tissues for therapeutic purposes.


Nate was fascinated by several of our class presentations. He enjoyed Jarred's presentation on the various 3D print services available to those without printers, one of which Jarred works with. I too found this interesting in terms of the long-distance collaboration these services could foster between engineers and customers. He also liked the bioprinting presentation, and overall, was excited to see that the class had such diverse yet strong interests in various 3D printing tech.


Ben was inspired by Kevin's show and tell about 3D printed chocolate, not just because it would change the food industry, but as a means of studying mass-produced 3D printing markets. I agree that this technology will change the way we view production, especially for smaller companies who may have a small but dedicated clientele, but Ben made me think that maybe 3D printing will work on a larger scale in the next few decades.


Vince saw the merit in the 3D printed house in the same way that I did, building human living spaces for planetary colonization! I agree with him that there is plenty of progress to be made, but the fact that someone else saw this capability is exciting. The major hurdle to overcome would be to design a priter versatile enough to operate in multiple environments, be they different in soil type or gravity.