User:Keevon7/Class Blog

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Weekly blog posts on topics stemming from 3D printing.

Blog 1: Thingiverse

Exploring Thingiverse to get acquainted with printed objects users had created.

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A) Something Amazing/Beautiful

I thought this Halo 4 Full Size Helmet was awesome for a number of reasons. Aside from the beautiful detail, I was impressed by the intricate design, as well as the large overall size and functionality. To have the patience to make all of the components and have a fantastic final product is quite an achievement. Personally, I would love to have one of these sitting in my apartments, or wear one around State College.




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I also thought that this Low Poly Mask was a great creation. It reminded me of a guy fawkes mask originally, but has a really neat overall look to it. While it looks simple, the design and assembly look rather complex, but the finished product would be an awesome mask to wear around.




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B) Something Funny or Strange

I had a good chuckle when I first saw this iPhone TV Stand. It seems like such a strange idea to develop for an iPhone, but is quite comical. If I used this, I would most likely keep it on my desk as a novelty. However, it could also act as an interesting phone holder while it charges. Also, the goofy smile on the front of the desk for the drawers is an added plus.



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Growing up with a little rubber band gun as a kid that I loved shooting around the house, I thought this Crosslock 2.2 Hand Rubber-band Powered Crossbow was quite amusing as well. I also found this ironic to build since there has been more and more talk about the danger of 3D printing weapons and guns, and would be funny to have a harmless little pencil crossbow sitting around to play with.


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C) Something Useless

I'm not sure why this Lounge Chair was created, but I found it to be a comical and useless piece. While it obviously wouldn't be a functional piece, it could be an interesting addition to sit on a desk or counter for display.


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D) Something Useful

In terms of a very practical and useful design, these Cable Holders (Cable Clip) would be great for any office or desk. Organizing wires and cables can help minimize clutter with this simple solution, and also improve the functionality of a work space. In an office setting, it would benefit the employee's efficiency and show professionalism by being neat and organized.



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E) Something Surprising

I have been impressed with and surprised by how complex systems can be created through 3D printing like the Automatic Transmission Model. It is fascinating to see technology that can create an object which then results in a fully working assembly like an automatic transmission. I would be very interested in seeing how parts for manufacturing can be created and used within the coming years, and see if I could use this knowledge in my career down the road to reduce cost and improve efficiency. I see a lot of potential to benefit developing countries as well.




Blog 2: Open Source Ecology Project Discussion

A) Impression and External Information

Overall, I think this project is a very interesting concept, and could ultimately make a very positive impact in developing countries, and possibliy aid current farmers. It was great to hear about the many contributions added to this project from others once Marcin had made all his work public. While thinking about the future of this project, it does seem more and more that this open source community is similar to a utopian idea, but I’m concerned that selfish individuasl or large companies will buy out and suppress this type of material. For instance, open source technology like 3D printers can do an enormous amount of good, but if companies like MakerBot use this free information to make profit and halt development, the entire community suffers. Similarly, large companies like John Deere will be less than pleased if they see their products side by side with much cheaper alternatives, which could also threaten this venture. From a business standpoint, it would be common sense to prevent this community from growing, but selfish individuals who want to make a buck can also cripple this commendable project as well.

When I first saw all the machinery and some claims of simple assembly, I wanted to see how feasibly a project like the tractor would be to create. With regard to a farm or community, I felt the Mult-purpose Tractor seemed to be one of the most critical to have. After reading through the fabrication manual and drawings, it seemed like it would be challenging to do, but with plenty of time, energy, and patience, it could possibly be accomplished. Watching the assembly video on the wiki here helped visualize the process, but many of the explanations went right over my head. With little build experience to anything similar to this project, like the hosing portions for the loading arm cylinders or hydraulic drivelines, I feel that a skilled individual would be needed to complete this project. Certainly, with enough time the project could be completed, but in terms a quick start to a new community by building various machines, I personally don’t see it being that easy. Also, if some component would break during the process, with little understanding of how or why this tractor works, the lack of instruction manuals or troubleshooting tips could cripple the development of these machines as well.

Regardless of these concerns, after reading more about this project on their main website at http://blog.opensourceecology.org/, this project has been steadily growing since launch. I think it’s great that they have a full-time team of leaders willing to help the project, including project leads and operations managers to further propel the overall vision of the project (found here). With this added leadership, I do believe the open-source community concept can continue to grow in the coming years.


B) New Yorker and Marcin Response Articles

In an article by Emily Eakin of New Yorker Magazine (source), it seems more like a cynical critique of Marcin’s personal tendencies and ideology rather than reporting on the accomplishments of the project or future goals for self-sufficient communities. While I wouldn’t say it was necessary to discuses his journaling tendencies or mocking his food consumption, she did raise a point that had been a main hang up of mine. She had said in the article that, “…among the obstacles he has faced is a dearth of skilled acolytes: the people who show up at his farm typically display more enthusiasm for his ideas than expertise with a lathe or a band saw.” Personally, I would fall into that category. I have a lot of knowledge of how things should work mechanically and could offer some amount of enthusiasm, but honestly, my building skills and possibilities of innovation in these large designs are minimal.

Marcin had a response to this article on the Open Source Ecology (found here), and overall I thought it was a decent rebuttal to the article critical to his dream project. He had stated at the end of the article that, “I am proposing a much more optimistic representation of our work than the social melodrama that the article appears to emphasize.” Understandably, the leader and creator of the project would never focus on the issues their team is facing, but at some point his fervor and dream for the project may be blinding him to many issues that could prevent the success of these communities. I was again critical of his point about the “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” where he had stated “average people like myself” who would rise up to the occasion with measured development. Marcin, who has a Ph.D in fusion physics and years of creating machines and blueprints, is clearly an extremely smart guy. If by average he means people with exceptional skills in designs and years of building/manufacturing experience who happen to have the means to work on building a new community from scratch, then maybe I would believe him.


C) Capabilities at PSU

While there is a large amount of philanthropy here at Penn State for things like THON (which I also support), a project similar to a OSE club on campus could generate some interest, but I believe that they would run into issues similar to those that I was concerned about for the real projects with regard to the skills of the individuals interested. Sure, plenty of kids would want to help out communities, but with limited resources (poor college kids), current education/experience (book smart does not always translate to building machinery), and overall practicality (we live in an area full of working farms and communities), I'm skeptical of success. With regard to other courses like ME 340, sharing information would result in very similar projects across the board, and I feel this would ultimately limit creativity. That is something that professors and administration would not allow.



Blog 3: 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand

A) Who created this design and when/where was it done?

The article from The Kansas City Star was about a young man named Mason Wilde who had 3D printed a prosthetic hand for his 9-year-old family friend Matthew, who had been born without fingers on his right hand. Interestingly, the Robohand concept was originally developed by Ivan Owen and Richard Van As, who worked together to make a prosthetic for Van As after a workshop accident. In 2012, a woman from South Africa reached out to them about making a hand for her son after reading about their progress online, and a metal Robohand prototype was created. After refinement of this product to have parts not needed to be machined, a 3D printable version developed, and was available in January of 2013. Ultimately, this led to Wilde printing the Robohand at his local public library for roughly $60 dollars using a MakerBot printer. An official prosthetic device would have cost $18,000, but with the development and free instruction from Owan and Van As, many other have been able to benefit from their revolutionary work.


B) If you wanted to make one, where would you go to get it?

The article had referenced Thingiverse as a starting point, and the most useful link to create one was found here. With a few clicks of the mouse, one is able to download the various CAD files (.stl) associated with the Robohand to be printed. A video discussing this product further is found through the above Thingiverse page here, and features some encouraging clips of a few kids who are excited about having functioning Robohand prosthetics.


C) How many news articles can you find which reference this technology?

The following articles were published with regard to Robohand technology:

PC Magazine - Article

Time - Article

MakerBot - Article

American Society of Mechanical Engineers - Article

CBS News - Article

Huffington Post - Article


Blog 4: Review of Classmate and Team Blog Posts on OSE Project

Upon reading through some of my classmate’s blogs about the open source ecology project, as well as those written by my teammates, I agreed with many of their ideas, but also was impressed by a number of excellent points that were raised that I had originally missed.

I enjoyed reading through Carson’s post on the OSE project since it was far more optimistic than my more cynical stance. Upon more reflection, I was challenged by my teammate’s post since I was far more critical of Marc’s vision due to the common pitfalls of human nature, and therefore didn’t take his talk on the project and related material as seriously as I could have. Where I had thought this was more a of a vanity project to show off his brilliant work, Carson took it more as having a heart for underdeveloped countries, which is more than likely why he started this project in the first place.

One obvious issue that I hadn’t elaborated on was the safety aspects of these build projects, which were brought up by my teammate Oliver. While they are making awesome machinery like tractors for minimal costs, there is a balance between safety and efficiency. I learned within my ME 445 microcontrollers class that there is a lot of added work and programming involved with tractors to prevent rollover and other dangerous risks to operators. This raises a number of red flags about theses projects, on top of the dangerous mechanical and electrical work, but also the overall safety of the machinery for users. Sure, this machinery has seat belts, but that won’t save you from being crushed or electrocuted in a mishap.

Tom, another teammate of mine, also brought up an excellent point with regard to available materials for these various start up locations to begin with. He had mentioned materials like wood or rubber could be extremely difficult to begin a “civilization start-up” without. Starting materials and necessary tools are a linchpin for the projects due to the obvious reason that even if you have plans laid out on how to build a civilization, it won’t get past the planning period without basic tools and resources. If you wanted to build a tractor to benefit a community, but didn’t have access to rubber tires or specific metal components, how can any progress be made?

Similarly to Tom’s discussion about starting projects, my fourth teammate Vin elaborated on the added costs for maintenance. Not only will it be somewhat difficult to complete these projects unless you have easy access to a store like Home Depot, there is additional cost on top of the initial costs of gathering materials to maintain the machinery. I had touched on this topic with concern to what would happen if something broke and the users were unable to understand how to fix it. Vin took this thought a step further, and also considered the financial ramifications. The unexpected maintenance costs could be what cripples a project if enough funding is gathered to build instead of maintaining equipment. Similarly, Zach had mentioned another obvious downfall, which would be access to computers and Internet to read the wiki and associated instructional material. If locations have issues of gaining basic materials, a web-based resource may not be the most ideal platform.

Originally, I had not read the entire New Yorker due to only a portion of it was available without having to pay, and Eva mentioned this point ironically since this news source could learn something from the “open source community” by allowing us to access it. When I continued reading the full version of the article, I was just as disenchanted as I was before due to the hyper critical stance of Marc instead of discussing the OSE project as much as it should have.

With regard to my critical stance, I agreed with a majority of what Dongao had discussed. As for the overly complex designs, I agreed with Dongao that these aren’t easily as shared open source technology like 3D printing of CAD models that can be scaled. A small .stl file can be easily shared and understood, but can the same be said for large farming equipment that require mechanical, electrical, and welding experience to build?

As for a more optimistic standpoint, I had been reading through a few different posts from classmates, and I thought it was interesting that Nam had even mentioned building some of this machinery. I had tried to read through the detailed drawings and instructional videos, but was often lost. It would be really neat to have a fellow classmate work on and complete a piece of machinery from this project, and would be an individual that could greatly help the OSE project with his hard work.

One last aspect that I found quite interesting was with Nate's blog and associated background with farming. He is from Lancaster, Pa, and has seen the financial strain on farmers, and sees this topic from very unique stance due to his background growing up on a small farm. Benefiting farmers is one aspect that I had originally overlooked, and the more I think about it, the more I could get on board with the project if it could help local farmers. As someone who has as respect for a farmer’s way of life and hard work, if this OSE project can lighten the financial burden on farms, I would definitely support it.

Blog 5: Media Timeline Review

I found it extremely interesting that 3D printing and advancements dated all the way back to the mid 80’s. From my own experience, I hadn’t heard of rapid prototyping for 3D printing until my freshman year in 2010, so I was quite surprised this technology has been out there for so long after reviewing the media timeline found on the Scrugmembers page.

1) With regard to a critical even in 3D printing technology, I would say Charles Hull’s development of technology to print 3D objects using stereolithography and digital data was most likely the largest contribution thus far. The method of using a photosensitive polymer that hardens when exposed to high intensity light is still prevalent today, and is often used in molding casts. Interestingly, the same progression of adding one layer at a time is still replicated almost thirty years later within various forms of 3D style printers. Another aspect that blew me away was the processing of CAD files. Not only were .stl files used, but were also spliced to be able to print various parts (different .stl files), as well as z-direction controls to account for waiting time. I’m astounded that the same method developed years before I was born is still so prevalent and functional. While some aspects are different for our purposes, like the mirrors to control the x-y directions, this was an amazing breakthrough that launched the world of 3D printing that is around today. If I could bestow titles, I would name Charles Hull as the father of 3D printing.

2) As for a not so important event, I would say the CNN article from 2005 is a bit of an overhyped looked at 3D printing with the bold title of “the machine that can copy anything,” and doesn’t elaborate on the open source community aspect as much as it could have. I understand that you need to draw readers in with a catchy title, and “3D printing developments with RepRap community” doesn’t sound as exciting, the title seems to over exaggerate the printer’s abilities. Even if this were published today, roughly 9 years later, I would still argue it’s an exaggeration of the current capabilities. While I found the article didn’t relate to the title, it was fortunate that the 3D printing developments and technology were publicized. The portion mentioning that Bowyer had planned to make designs available online using RepRap was a huge step for the 3D printing community. Just from looking at the media timeline since the article’s release, there has been an exponential growth and breakout of 3D technology. As it had been discussed in class, the reason we can have an awesome class like EDGSN 497J is due to an open community of users that contribute to the greater overall good.

3) The most interesting aspect I had read about was the possibilities to print other types of materials like food or composite materials using 3D printing capabilities. From the “Foodini” that can has the ability to lay down dough and sauce to make pizzas, or printers capable printing things like meat, these are interesting and innovative process that I would love to learn about and develop further. Aside from the possible benefits from a manufacturing setting to create food on an industrial scale, thinking of the benefits for humanity are huge. For me personally, I would much rather support a project that could get 3D printers to impoverished countries for the purpose of creating food for those in need. For instance, I recently watched a documentary in Syria, and both refuges and civilians are struggling to get enough food during the dangerous conflict. Many of them still had cell phones and computers, but couldn’t safely gather the ingredients necessary to make things as simple as bread. These printers could be used to help them make a variety of food at a single location easily, and also help rebuild their country through printing strong materials to print tools. This topic would be something I would enjoy talking about and discussing further since there is so much potential to help other countries with this technology. Printers with these new and interesting capabilities will continue to be in the news, and hopefully many more developments within this field will come to fruition to benefit many communities across the world.


Blog 6: Project Discussion

The more I have learned about 3D printing capabilities, the more I appreciate the merit and beneficial impacts for society. From projects like the OSE project that can jump start communities, to creations like prosthetics to improve the quality of living for many individuals, the number of possible worthwhile projects is limitless. Personally, the topic that I am most excited about is 3D printing capabilities of food, and ways that this could potentially help individuals around the globe as a project.

I have seen a lot of talk of benefiting third world countries with 3D printing capabilities and technology, but many of the areas that are often considered don’t have ample resources like internet, electricity, or phone service, which is very disheartening. All of the valuable wiki pages and instructional videos to sustain 3D printing in foreign nations would be largely unavailable. While this is very frustrating limitation, this had sparked personal interest in seeing where this technology could be implemented in areas or countries where there aren’t limitations due to technology. Two countries that come to mind immediately are Syria and Ukraine, who have been in the news constantly due to internal conflicts within their countries.

For me personally, I feel a connection towards Ukraine since some of my family had immigrated to the U.S. during the Bolshevik Revolution. When I see the protests and conflicts in the news with young men and woman my age on the front lines, I can’t help but think that I could’ve been one of them had I not been born here in the U.S. Similarly, I watched a documentary about the conflict in Syria, and one of the individuals who was interview and injured a few times fighting the army could’ve passed for a relative due to our similar features. In both instances, I felt a connection to these individuals in challenging situations, and since I have been blessed being born in Pennsylvania and able to get a great education at PSU, sharing 3D printing technology to help these countries rebuild would be a worthy venture.

A key aspect to each of these areas is that they have cell phone and Internet availability, as well as computer access. With this technology, they could reap the full benefits of the wiki’s we have maintained, just after some leg work to convert all of our English write-ups to their respective language for ease. Within the Syria documentary, refugees from all across the company are fleeing, and ending up in small towns that can’t sustain themselves. They can’t harvest their crops or else they would be shot at and potentially killed. Food shortages are rampant, but if 3D printers could be implemented and regulated with citizens, foods like bread can be printed safely inside of house. Admittedly, there are a lot of factors like how to get the printers there, how to ensure they are only used to print goods, and maintenance, if a thorough wiki was developed for these types of printers, we could be saving civilian lives.

Printing food is something that is just within our reach of where we are currently. I feel like a majority of the class is comfortable with the basic trouble shooting and assembly of our current printers, and the transition into food printing capabilities could be a reasonable venture to pursue as a project. One enhancement that I had thought of was expanding upon the trouble shooting section on the wiki, or even suggestions too look out for potential issues users encounter. For instance, instructional steps to resolve common problems like stepper motors slipping or axis correction could be a huge benefit in moving forward with other technologies if the class makes a conscience effort to add these suggestions to the wiki. Ultimately, if there is enough interest and effort, I believe developing 3D printers with food capabilities and subsequent information could be a viable option to pursue.

Blog 7: Developing Inexpensive Scientific Equipment

In an article by The Guardian, the topic of developing inexpensive scientific equipment that could be created using 3D printing capabilities was discussed. While I originally found the title and heading a bit vague, and the picture rather misleading since it was totally unrelated to the article, I think this idea of saving money for research and opening the capabilities to a large audience are commendable.

One example they gave in the article was a 3D printer colorimeter used for water testing, which would originally cost $2,000 dollars, but could instead be printed for $50. With regard to research and the uses for developing countries, this is a fantastic advancement. In a University setting, instead of using a bulk of funding to purchase a small piece of equipment, an exponentially cheaper product could be available, which would increase the number of possible tests and still save funds. For developing countries, useful technology like water pumps or gyroscopes can be created easily at little cost. From an individual and humanitarian standpoint, this is a great development, but as for the companies manufacturing these good, this idea is less than desirable.

Within the article, Pearce had stated that, “companies relying on extracting monopoly prices on products for which there is already an equivalent open-source alternative must either reduce their margins or continue to innovate to remain economically viable.” From that standpoint, it seems to accuse businesses of making absurd profits, or improve or refine their products to compete with these little producers. Like most of these projects, while I root for the underdog, I am always concerned that big business will be tired of small ventures like, and either buy them out, or sue them into submission. It only takes one individual to turn to a major company for a huge settlement, and the open source community is crippled.

While I’m not entirely sure the components for other printers we create using the current 3D printers would count as research equipment, the subsequent printers and capabilities of the materials we print could definitely be considered research equipment. For example, Alexandre had printed various materials to test tensile strength, and a majority of his research and work stemmed from printable creations that enhanced our current designs. As for of the cheap research equipment, I had some experience as a lab tech in high school, and materials like pipette components or trays/dishes could be easily printed. Another aspect that I hadn’t considered is how easily it would be to print various sizes of objects like Petri dishes. Whether it is square or circular, the different sizes and spec can be changed in seconds within a CAD file, and subsequently printed with ease. Instead of the stress of only having limited and breakable equipment that needs to be shipped in, any size or shape you would require could be printed quickly for little cost.

In an article by Kurzweil, the development of an atomic force microscope (AFM) with resolution up to a nanometer was build by PhD students using only LEGO components, Arduino microcontrollers, 3D-printed parts, and consumer electronics. Again, while I was bothered by the misleading title since I had hoped to see more of the details behind the project’s build, I think it was an awesome advancement with a lot of potential for a positive impact. My main selling point within the article was when it stated, “Low-cost scientific instrumentation is can be a huge enabler for hospitals and clinics in developing countries too,” since there can be so many benefits of saving hundreds of thousands of dollars that could go to saving lives or improving the quality of life, rather than paying for equipment.

While I looked through the various links, as well as a quick online search, the most I could dig up was a few pictures of the AFM and the students involved. I had been hoping for an instructional set or description, but with the lack of info, I’m going to say that some of it looks like it could be mostly printable. Some of the overall structure and platform could be printed, but the finer detailed areas and measuring equipment would need to be either LEGO or electronic, due to some limitations with 3D printing resolution. If this were open source, there could be a lot more potential for students to advance this project into other useful equipment. However, if the LEGO foundation is involved, and other sponsors have been playing a role, details will be minimal for their company’s benefit. Honestly, from a business perspective, I can understand why these details wouldn’t be released for the positive PR in future sales against competitors. However, if they were truly thinking of making this a humanitarian effort, they would make it an open source project. If these students were able to achieve functionality as a small team in five days, I can only image how the open source community could expand upon this advancement in a matter of weeks.


Blog 8: Intellectual Property Discussion

The following definitions were taken from Wikipedia, with the respective link posted after each.

Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator of intellectual wealth (e.g. the photographer of a photograph or the author of a book) to receive compensation for their work and be able to financially support themselves.

A trademark is a recognizable sign, design or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity.

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process.

A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers.


While the main concept of these terms is to protect a new idea and have an advantage over competitors, trade secrets are the only term not granted by the government. While the government approves patents, trademarks, and copyrights, the protection of trade secrets rely on the organization itself. Trademarks seem to be more or less symbols/catch phrases that a company uses, while copyrights are associated often with personal works of entertainment or expression. Lastly, patents are most strongly associated with new designs and innovation since privileges are given to them to expand upon and idea to refine while preventing others from interfering with their new idea.


Within the article by John F. Hornick, the future of intellectual property (IP) was discussed. The five “I’s” the article discussed with regard to 3D printers being able to print objects without regulation or restriction were Infringement, Identification, Impractical, Impossible and Irrelevant. Since it’s easy to print any type of functional 3D objects, Infringement of IP without any control or limitations is imminent. Similarly, without control, it would be nearly impossible to identify the infringement, and leads into Identification. Both Impractical and Impossible stem from the fact that it would be practically impossible to enforce IP infringement, and impractical for any task force to try and track down individuals within the 3D printing community. These concepts lead into the final point of Irrelevant, since the concept of IP and protecting it with any legal restrictions or enforcement would be laughable as 3D printing grows.

A quote from the article that summed up my overall opinion was the following: “There is a persistent widespread belief that IP law (and patents in particular) encourage innovation. This is intuitive, however, the evidence to the contrary is now overwhelming and the unavoidable conclusion is that IP actually stifles innovation.”

From my experience with open source material in other classes, there has been little to no incentive to create a new design or innovation when similar projects are already out there. In my microprocessors class, when we were working on final projects, a number of groups found a complex project well out of the scope of the class since there was DIY instructions and full code from the open source community (to be used without referencing the respective source). While my teammate and I made a preventative breaking RC from what we learned in class, since our project was more within the scope of the class, we didn’t get a great grade even though we worked hard for a number of weeks to develop our own work. Whereas for the groups who used all the open source code, diagrams, and material list, they were rewarded with higher grades for no innovation or effort. Lazy students have the potential to take personal hard work from the open source community, present it as if was there own without ramifications for not giving proper acknowledgment, and reaping all the benefits. With regard to the demise of IP, there was no reason to do extra work on our project, and added a fear of sharing major contributions to the community if others could simply take our idea to sell it/only benefit themselves. I feel that 3D printing community, aside from what MakerBot had done, is more respectable with regard to IP, but the future of this great advancement could be corrupted by a few selfish individuals looking for an easy buck.


Upon reading more about Creative Commons (CC), I think this is an excellent step in the right direction to preserve IP. While I’m not sure how much legal power they have to enforce the protection of IP, the fact that users can determine how much can be shared with free legal tools is a great concept. Personally, while I think this a venerable concept, I am still concerned about the aspect of lazy users stealing work from others. While I feel this could be an underlying worry for every open source community, I’m not sure how much weight CC would have in protecting a user’s information had it been used for profit by others without permission. If a decent portion of research is shared with others, and this IP was used to make profit and take command of a specific niche, I would be hesitant CC could do much of anything to either prevent this, or protect the original user who made the original development.


Blog 9: Filament Options and Sources

1) We want to know the good, bad, and ugly with regard to suppliers. Who makes quality filament at a good cost? Who should we avoid?

When researching 3D printing filament and suppliers to look into, I defaulted to a Google search, since it has magically answered my questions and inquires for years. One site that I enjoyed digging around was Amazon, since it has a huge variety of materials, plenty of different vendors, and ratings which make life even easier. There were lots of different colors, materials (PLA and ABS were abundant), as well as diameters of 1.75mm/3.00mm. I hadn’t realized that there would be different diameters for filament since I have been accustomed to 3mm while using the RepRaps. I have used Amazon for years, and would trust the transaction and shipping of each order. For $30 or less, you can get 1kg of material easily from a reputable vendor you can investigate beforehand.

Filament Direct came up in my initial search, and while it had PLA and ABS at various colors and diameters, it was extremely close in pricing to Amazon, and had very few reviews. Personally, I don’t see the benefit of buying from a less reputable option, but would consider this as an option for a desired color of filament that couldn’t be found elsewhere.

Also, I found a few sites like 3D-Dynamics that looked like a middle school student had designed the webpage, or 3Ders which gave a list of all material/costs in a single sheet dozens of pages long. In each case, the annoyance atheistically or with the interface was enough to want to avoid them, and made me favor sites like Amazon even more.

As for two sites to avoid, the first would be Ebay, since there are so many random suppliers and tons of fine print you need to read in the descriptions. I’ve never had good experiences with Ebay, and would recommend going with a less painful procedure and more reputable supplier. The second was Online Filament, which has some less than pleasant reviews, and was at least $5 more expensive per roll. The low-resolution images and massive warning of no warranty or liability at the bottom of the page was a red flag as well.


2) There are a variety of ways we might start using support materials. Which materials do you think we should use? Why do you think we should use them?

As suggested, I learned about and looked into support materials using this Thre3d link. Since I’m still learning about the various types of filament, it was extremely helpful to read more about the various support materials, as well as PLA and ABS, which are far more common. If I had to pick one material to use, I would go with the dissolvable PVA, since it has a desirable temperature range (160-200) to interface with PLA that we typically use (150-210). It’s biodegradable, non-toxic, and is water soluble. Other alternatives like HIPS have much higher temperatures ranges, and need to be well ventilated when removed. Minimizing health risk to users is key, and dissolvable alternatives that are safe for the environment make it a solid selling point as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Amazon had many PVA with reviews, but it did seem like the price would be about $45/0.5kg, which was rather expensive.


3) Pretend you are shopping for material for your own needs. Who do you choose?

I would easily go with Amazon. They’re reputable, secure, and the copious reviews of products can help guide my choices quickly. Also, the interface for Amazon’s search tools are spot on, so finding things is easy, unlike many competitors who appear to use kids in grade school to do their web design.

Blog 10: Hot Tips Discussion

Apply the same analysis you did in blog 9 to the subject of hot tips. I want you to tell me what designs you think are most reliable based on your own research.

As for what we are currently using, this SCRUGmembers RapRap page is a great resource giving details and explanations about the current hot tips we use. As brought up in class by David, hot tips can be the most problematic piece of the printer. While many parts like nuts and bolts have set dimensions, as well as printable pieces that are synonymous with certain designs, hot tips are more or less a free-for-all since there isn’t a single set recipe or procedure to make them. The class has been exploring options within the realm of the Bowden Extruder, which is constantly evolving. Since so much of it needs to be finely machined, and sometimes the interfacing parts can be slightly off, there are even more issues with reliability and repeatability. My classmate Carson, who has been working on a prototype described here explaining the design he has come up with thanks to his machining skills.

As for our current extruders, while the assembly involving the nichrome wire and associated thermocouple is tedious, overall the extruders heat well and consistently expel filament. I have noticed that most printers have issues with inaccuracies associated with the actual temperature due to the thermocouple. For instance, our printer (Black and Green) needs to be set to 220 degrees within Slic3r and PronterFace for the extruder to be at a high enough temperature to extrude properly. The PLA filament’s maximum temperature is 210, so while our current Bowden style extruder works well, the temperature readings are off considerably.

As for other versions of hot tips and comparisons, the RepRap wiki had another great resource here. After a quick read through some of the discussions/reviews, it looks like the Arcol v4 and the MakerGear v3 Hybrid GrooveMount had the best overall recommendations, and could be used either direct or with Bowden adaptor for our uses. Since these can use 3.00mm filament and can interface with .35 and .5mm nozzles which we already use, they could be great alternatives. The Arcol is a bit wider and heavier than our current extruder’s, but the fastening of the thermocouples and associated wiring in the all metal design would most likely be more reliable. As for the MakerGear, it looks alike a more sleek design so it can be more nimble during printing, but since ¼ inch plywood is used in the design, I would be hesitant of it’s durability over time.

Blog 11: Show and Tell Discussion

Please talk about something you learned or thought was really interesting in a presentation which one of your peers has done.

One of my favorite show and tells was done by Sam and Brian about Bio-printing Developments. I had been interested in the [email protected] printer project, as well as the possibilities of printing other materials like living tissue. From the multicellular scaffolding that allowed vasculature from Harvard, to the printed ear from Cornell, it was encouraging to hear of the recent advancements and possibilities. We are currently exploring options into printing a 2D image onto a petri dish using E. Coli, and hope to see were this initial step can take the bio-printing project (link here). Also, links to the associated articles about bio-printing and the recent advancements can be found here.

Blog 12: Blog #5 Review and Discussion

Read Blog #5 for your initial teammates as well as 5 other classmates. Note the points you agree with, disagree with, as well as things which you missed which others noticed.

Upon reviewing my own blog #5, I look back to the time of wonderment after being introduced into the world of 3D printing. ME 340 during my junior year was the first time I had any experience with rapid prototyping, and this class was the first time I was able to learn about the technology in-depth. From the development in the 80’s, to the rise in popularity over the last decade, it has been great experience learning about all the current and future capabilities.

Vin had brought up an interesting article that I had missed originally about medicines that could be “sent via email,” since the medicines could be customized and sent quickly. I’ve always found Bio-Printing and the possibilities of printing different materials intriguing, so this is encouraging to hear about other advancements in the medical field that could benefit patients.

Oliver mentioned the importance of Thingiverse, which I had originally overlooked early on. It’s a great platform that users can use as an open source resource to print a diverse set of objects. It’s commendable that users contribute complex designs like prosthetic hands that others can use or improve upon to help others.

While reading through Carson’s blog, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of cell phones like the Android being able to interface with 3D printing. With the continuing growth of apps on Windows and Apple phones, it makes sense that 3D printing has slowly become more prevalent. It would be awesome to have programs like Pronterface to be used wirelessly to control prints from a smart phone.

I also thought that Tom’s more critical stance on 3D printing food was quite valid. While Bio-Printing and printing food are of my favorite topics, the fact that many food printers are just dispensers is spot on. Until this technology advances, the critics won’t be impressed, and to an extent I agree. Until larger advancements are made, the public won’t be interested or impressed either.

Similar to Tom’s stance, Nate’s take on how expensive current chocolate printers were, as well as how pointless they seem was also accurate. Since I will be working for a chocolate manufacturing company, I’m quite interested in chocolate printing capabilities, but as Nate had said, the current technology is merely a novelty at this point in time.


Drew brought up the RepRap Wiki, which is another great contribution to open source community that I had ironically overlooked, which I am currently posting my blog onto. It has been an invaluable resource over the last few weeks to find helpful information and learn more about many different types of printers. Since 2005, the RepRap Wiki has continued to grow, and I am excited to have been able to contribute in a small way to the community.

I had a good chuckle reading through the article Sam had found about 3D printing shells for hermit crabs that was in the news, which was overhyped. While I guess it’s good that they could make shells for those little creatures, I’m not sure if it warrants an article depicting it as exciting new technology. It was probably a slow news day.

I found Nam’s article from 2012 about the first 3D printed gun that was combined with a metal chamber to fire over 200 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition really interesting. The media likes to freak out about guns, and this may be the first instance coverage beginning about the topic. Just with all great advancements, fears develop about capabilities, and are an important point to be aware of within the 3D printing community.

Two topics that I find to be really annoying (like pop culture and fashion) were brought up by Eva in an article talking about Lady Gaga and 3D printed clothing. In a sense it’s good that 3D printing is getting more publicity, but at the same time, if 3D printing is associated with terrible artists or the fashion world, I don’t think I’d be the only individual that would be quite upset.

Blog 13: Blog #7 Review and Discussion

Blog 13: Read Blog #7 for your initial teammates as well as 5 other classmates. Note the points you agree with, disagree with, as well as things which you missed which others noticed.

Reading though my own blog #7, my main concern was how big business would react to the advancements of small start ups and indivuals making extremely cheap medical equipment. Again, while I think there are numerous benefits to making this cheap equipment, and it could do a lot of good, I just think from a business standpoint that the larger manufactures of similar products will not like new competition. If legal action from a large company goes against a small start up, there isn’t much that could be done to save them.

Reading through Vin’s blog was a refreshing change of pace since it was far more optimistic than my original stance due to more excitement about the possibilities, and also pointed out the important concern of precision. With typical equipment found in 3D printers, a decent amount of precision can be achieved, but I would agree to be a little hesitant to have such finely tuned accuracy for important data collection.

Tom had a similar view about the technology, and stressed the important contribution this cheaper technology would be for students. I had gone to a very basic high school, but it still had the ample funding for microscopes and typical scientific equipment needed for chemistry and biology. However, this isn’t always the case in the U.S., and especially around the globe. With this very cost efficient technology, students around the world could benefit from these opportunities as well.

After reading through Carson’s blog, he mentioned two other concerns that I hadn’t considered originally. The first was convenience, and it would be interesting to see the lead-time to receive this type of equipment, as well as if you order multiple at one time. The other concern was the user friendliness. This could be a major issue if there isn’t a proper display or debug procedure included, and the machine itself may be too difficult for new students to interface with it early on.

Another concern I had missed was brought up by Oliver, which included the safety aspect concern. The OHM printers we’re familiar with have the potential if you are either careless or unaware of how it works to cut, burn, or shock users (with wiring etc.). Unlike hefty equipment that have had teams review the process to limit risk to users, machines made to be cost efficient could easily overlook simple safety risks for users.


Wenxin had a very positive outlook on the possibilities of future advancement for these projects, and the innovation that could stem from these initial designs. She brought up the interesting point that with rather simplistic designs and machines, students could innovate them with new ideas along the way. I’m glad there are optimistic out there.

Within Ben’s discussion of the second article, he had mentioned that while these 3D printed projects can benefit many, they seem to be closed source. Much of the 3D printing community has been benefitted by the advancements and innovation shared publicly to help others. Unfortunately, while these are both great projects to tweak and innovate as Wenxin had mentioned, closed projects will inhibit these opportunities.

Nate brought up a similar point about how the article’s first comment had stated that the article was incorrect in saying “how to build a low-cost AFM,” since it there was no such DIY information. I agree with Nate when he had stated he didn’t want to reverse engineer this project to get to roughly where they were, unlike the colorimeter, which was open source. If it were open source to begin with, other could help advance it, but they would lose their competitive edge to sell the product.

One aspect I hadn’t considered was what poor school should actually be investing in, which was brought up by Jess. Now that I think about it more in-depth, would it be more important for a very poor school to have different textbooks and school provided meals, or a 3D printer with replica lab kits? Many save the world projects have good intentions, but should address the basic needs of individuals before giving them cool technology that wouldn’t help them as much in the long run.

Drew’s blog was an excellent resource where he had posted a video developed by Pearson which helped explain how to create the lab equipment with a 3D printer. Many of these materials like pipettes or microscope structures were on Thingiverse as well (also linked within his blog). Aside from all of my cynicism about these project since they are commonly closed source, it’s encouraging to find sources that make their accomplishments public, and even take the time to explain how it all works to others.

Blog 14: Blog #8 Review and Discussion

Blog 14: Read Blog #8 for your initial teammates as well as 5 other classmates. Note the points you agree with, disagree with, as well as things which you missed which others noticed.

From my own experience with the use of intellectual property (IP) by other students, my tone was rather critical in blog #8. I have seen firsthand the selfish benefit of students taking IP without sourcing it, making a small change to resemble their own work, and then be praised for their apparent genius while others try to develop projects honestly. It’ll be interesting to see my teammate’s and classmate’s take on the topic of IP and copyright infringement. The definitions and 5 I’s that were to be defined were all quite similar in those I read through.

Vin brought up a great point that I had forgotten about within the article that compared the future of 3D printing to digital music. Just as some people download music illegally, users may take content of files without payment or acknowledgement. However, if 3D printing software or files can be paid for with donations where you can pay how much you think it’s worth, or flat rates like music, there will still be a reasonable number of users that give back to keep the community going.

Carson has a lot of experience in machining, and mentioned his concerns about IP with regard to hot tips designs within his blog. Similar to a concern I had about individuals using community knowledge to sell a product for personal profit, Carson had mentioned that someone might try to patent a hot tip design to gain revenue and stay ahead of their competitors.

It was interesting reading Oliver’s blog since he had some insight into how IP is handled in China. In China, they have been able to down movies and music for free without consequence, and sharing IP and new developments freely is quite common. Oliver was more optimistic about the rights of those involved with IP, and hopefully within the U.S. IP battles aren’t used to merely feed the pockets of big business and lawyers.

Tom brought up a great point about Creative Commons as well, since it still relies heavily on the goodwill and sharing of users all making contributions. The point he made in comparison about capitalism was interesting, since we have a very selfish and money based society, so the fact that people pay money to share things is rather curious to think about from that standpoint (instead of trying to make a profit immediately with an investment).


Zach came to a very similar realization that I had within his blog, so it was good to see that this thought was shared. He had mentioned that if large manufacturing companies are being hit hard financially due to 3D printing, then legislature will soon follow to limit IP infringement. This will make it more difficult to print things freely for the open source community, and result in the enforce some IP infringement.

Along the lines of getting around IP infringement, Eva brought up an excellent point of how individuals will develop a way to overcome paying for things within the 3D printing community if cost is added. She gave a great example of if Thingiverse would start to charge money, then a new site would be created and hosted to keep access free. Just as the progression of Napster, Limewire, to torrents have continued to formulate, it would be safe to say a similar progression for 3D printing material would occur.

Another interesting point was brought up by Nate, in which he talked about his hesitance to contributing to open source communities depending on where he works and what documentation is associated with his job. As companies are constantly trying to stay competitive, it would make sense to prevent workers from a company like Boeing to prohibit working sharing impellor or rotor designs that workers would have some experience in with regard to design. As someone that will work in manufacturing, it would be beneficial for my future company to not share conveyor components that could be not share these things openly online (which is common sense).

While reading through Nam’s blog, I was reminded as to how if IP infringement would be regulated, it would still be difficult to track public printing for recreational or academic purposes. With regard to the current judicial system, it would be interesting to see how a lawsuit could be enforced. When individuals can build printers and parts remotely with no intention to make a profit, how could they be punished for making something that they developed on their own that may resemble something else in the marketplace? It then raises the question as to how or why the part was made would constitute legal action, and there would be a fine line if something would be infringement depending on how complex or why something was designed.

Just as I had started to think how the legal system would have to be adjusted, Ben mentions this topic as well. He brought the up fact that the government certainly hates law reform (which is spot on), which would then have to be adapted to varies reasons as to how IP could be interpreted as being violated, along with a laundry list of other variables. Thankfully, I don’t have to come up with all of these since it seems relatively impossible to do so, so good luck to the lawyers that will handle that in the future.

Blog 15: Blog #11 Review and Discussion

' Blog 15: Read Blog #11 for your initial teammates as well as 5 other classmates. Note the points you agree with, disagree with, as well as things which you missed which others noticed.

While there were many interesting show and tells throughout the semester, my blog #11 talked about Sam and Brian’s presentation of Bio-Printing developments, and was where I first became interested in the [email protected] printer project. Soon after this presentation, I joined Sam and the team in working on the printer. As of 4/22/14, the axes are running smoothly, and we were able to achieve wet extrusion with a syringe. I am pleased that we were able to get the printer running up to par to proceed with printing E.coli in the future, and that John and Sam will be able to continue work once I graduate.

Carson talked about the show and tell which Repetier discussed and demonstrated by Tony. I definitely agree with him in being quite impressed with the program, since it encompassed part placement, G-code slicing, and a printing control interface all in one. While I am quite comfortable using Replicator G, Slic3r, and PronterFace, it may be good to transition future students into using this all in one software.

While reading through Vin’s blog, he mentioned the show and tell about the article where 3D printers may be able to print houses in one day (link found here. Being able to print houses for those in need or to help in emergency situations seems the most appealing, but as Vin had stated, there are a few main concerns with building these types of homes. For instance, how does one ensure a level platform, calibration accuracy, and overall structural integrity? As this technology evolves, hopefully these concerns will be addressed.

Along the lines of printing houses, Oliver also found this to be interesting within his blog, and also mentioned he enjoyed my show and tell about 3D printing chocolate. I was flattered that he enjoyed mine, and found it quite funny that he was excited about it since the product was then edible. He recently gave a show and tell presentation based on this article that was definitely worth a read about 3D printing houses and the current advancements seen in Shanghai.

When I reviewed Tom’s blog page, he had not completed blog #11, so I am unable to make any further comments.


Drew was also quite impressed with Brian and Sam’s presentation, and reminded me of the article that we read earlier in the semester. With regard to advancement in the medical field due to 3D printing, a boy from Kansas was given a 3D printed prosthetic hand that a high school student had developed. This saved the family thousands of dollars, and is a precursor as to how this type of technology can increase the quality of life for an individual at minimal cost.

Reading though Zach’s blog added to the excitement of future possibilities of Bio-Printing, as well as advancements within health care. He had mentioned that over the century, there has been a sweeping medical revolution, and this technology is now moving towards replacing organs and repairing patients through 3D printing advancements. If these trends continue, he brought up the point that certain disabilities or illnesses may become a thing of the past. These advancements would be awesome to see in my lifetime not only for improved quality of life, but to see if many medical issues can be solved through Bio-Printing technology.

Another show and tell that I found really impressive was blogged about by Jess, which covered the use of PhotoSynth and AutoDesk 123D to convert pictures taken of an object to a printable object. For instance, Drew was able to combine the pictures he took around his boot, edited the 3D scanned image, and eventually converted these into a printable file. There is a lot of work that goes into the process, as seen here within Drew’s bonus blog, but it’s exciting to see where the future of 3D scanning and printing will lead in the coming years.

Sam talked about the show and tell done by my teammate, Carson, which involved the hot tip modification he had been working on over the semester. Carson has a lot of machine shop experience, and was able to make some alterations to the Bowden extruder. His design interfaces the brass connections better than before, and is great conceptually, so we will be testing how this interfaces with the Teflon and filament shortly on the 3DM1 printer.

Within Nate’s blog, he had brought up two other excellent show and tells. The first was by Jared, which introduced the topic of remotely controlling prints, as well as sites where you can send .stl files to have printed. Aside from the ease of controlling prints while you are out and about instead of sitting in lab watching the printer, you can have parts shipped that could repair a part in a pinch if something is broken on one’s own printer. The other presentation discussed was Zach’s show and tell about 3D printer technology used for an air hockey table. Using the typical motors/pulleys from a 3D printer, as well an aerial sensor, it could play air hockey against an opponent by moving the striker attached to the extruder. It was crazy to see a user competing against the 3D printer components that would actively block goals and then score with relative ease.

Blog 16 (Bonus): When will 3D printing finally break into the mainstream?

While I’ve always been interested in the latest and newest technology, I hadn’t heard of 3D printing or rapid prototyping until coming to Penn State. At the local elementary school science fair while we showed the 3D printer working, a number of students had mentioned how that had seen something similar at their middle school, or heard of this equipment. It’s encouraging that kids are growing up with this technology, and hopefully this will continue to push into the mainstream. Even though 3D printing has been around for years, why hasn’t it broken out into mainstream society?

After a number of weeks with the 3D printers and learning more about the software, assembly, and associated costs, there were three main reasons that I came up that were preventing 3D printing from breaking into the mainstream. Those three being the overall cost, ease of use/material procurement, and fears associated with the possibilities 3D printers introduce.

1. Overall Cost

As a poor college kid, while I would love to have my own 3D printer, I don’t have an extra $600 dollars or so to invest in a printer. For many, I would argue that cost is the main deterrents for 3D printers from being widely available, and keeps the number of printers in the community low as well. In an article by PC World, it was encouraging to read how the new generation of printers are becoming more and more cost efficient, and will likely lead to an influx of household users. It was even stated in the article that, “Canalys expects the 3D printer market to grow rapidly in the coming years, with sales of printers, materials and services reaching $3.8 billion this year, compared to $2.5 billion last year, and hitting $16.2 billion by 2018.” I feel that this lowering of cost will support this projection to some extent, and will hopefully break 3D printing into common knowledge. It makes me happy to think of all the kids that could grow up with 3D printers in their house and learn over the years along with their parents. Instead of playing video games occasionally with my dad, how much more productive would it have been to tinker with a 3D printer and learn about electronics interfacing with computers? Instead, I plated Mario Kart 64. It was a fantastic game, but not as beneficial for my background in engineering.

2. Ease of Use

I first thought of how much I hate my current inject printer due to all the little nuances and errors I receive, and the number of times I’ve wanted to destroy it similar to the scene in Office Space where they destroy a printer in the field is staggering. This then transitions to the daunting task of fixing a broken 3D printer. There are so many little variables involved within our Open Mendel Hybrids that can go wrong or need to be tweaked to run correctly, that I feel it is another reason current printers are preventing the outbreak into mainstream society. For instance, it is hard enough finding a specific size screw or electronic part in the 3D printing lab, let alone someone’s house or apartment. Again, as a poor college student, aside from having to buy a printer or materials to assemble it, I don’t own any critical tools (like Allen wrenches or screw drivers), or any spare nuts/bolts sitting around. A single electrical issue in a motor driver or chip that I am unaware of could cripple my project and make my ~$600 dollar investment a desk ornament. My guess is that many parents would be hesitant to take the plunge into buying one when there is no automatic recalibration or simple fixes for those without some experience with 3D printers. It would be comical to hand my parents a broken OHM and ask them to fix it for me. For that reason, until there are better error messages, auto recalibration software, or cheaper materials (i.e. electronics), 3D printing will only slowly leach into popular culture.

3. Fear Associated with Future Possibilities

The last reason I feel that 3D printing hasn’t been widely accepted into the mainstream is due to fear of the loss of intellectual property/copyright infringement, and concern as to what can be printed without regulation. The latter of these I experienced personally while at the career fair demonstrating a 3D printer. There were a handful of parents that asked about the possibilities of these printing guns, or what we actually print with them. The stigma associated with 3D printing and printing guns has been such an unfortunate association. Yes, some people will want to print a gun that may be single fire at best, but that’s not what this community is about.

In an article by ZDnet, there is an interesting discussion of the fears that may come from 3D printing in the coming years with regard to intellectual property and loss of industry. It seems like this loss of control of what can be printed, as well as companies’ laborers, have people worried that 3D printing will cause nothing but problems in the coming years. Granted, this article is based on findings from a leading intellectual property lawyer, who is basically licking his chops at the future lawsuits he can attack the 3D community with. This zenith of freedom to print anything meeting intellectual proper will come eventually, but I hope in the mean time people learn that this technology has so much room to benefit society and healthcare. Instead of lawyers being feed by 3D printing start ups with lawsuits or filling parent’s minds with fears of kids with 3D printed assault rifles, the 3D printing community can inform those around us of the encouraging possibilities within the fears and stigmas that have come to fruition.