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About Me


Michael Bilyk


[email protected]


Electrical Engineering

Minors and Certificates

Minor in Music Technology Certificate in Engineering Design

Interests and Hobbies

Video games (Teamfortress 2, Binding of Isaac, Lots and lots of indie games) Rock Climbing, Learning how to do stuff


Blog 13

I am interested in design so I would be interested in knowing why things are the way they are. We briefly discussed the differences between Mendel, Prusa, and OHM. I think it would be interesting to learn more about the design choices in the OHM design. For instance:

  • Why do we use RAMPS compared to other control boards?
  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of different axis configurations (ie. bottom mounted motors vs top mounted motors)
  • Why are we OPEN Hybrid Mendel? Not just the reason for the name, but why is it better? What do we lose?

I think it would interesting if half way through the course each group were asked to redesign some aspect of the design. (The extruder, one of the axes, the printbed, the frame, the software). They could evaluate the requirements of each part within the current and design a new structure that fits with in the current framework. This could be another "physical" assignment that could help justify the course as teaching something concrete. You might not be able to implement those redesigns within the current semester, but if this class were permanent you could implement it next time. You could potentially have one semester design all new parts, and the next semester redesign the interconnection between the various parts.

Blog 12

Dual Extruder

The dual extruder would be interesting to work on, it opens up the door for different types of prints. Some prints require support structures, with a dual extruder we would be able to supply these support structures. Additionally, if we could fill in some gaps with support filament we could make better prints using a dual extruder. We could also make more complicated prints with large overhangs. To me, this is the main functional ability of a dual extruder.

Besides this, it would just be really cool to be able to print out things in two colors.

Building a dual extruder would benefit the larger RepRap world by giving RepRaps more power. The more features RepRap has, the more popular it will become. A dual extruder means that we can build more advanced structures. It is a feature that a lot of industrial 3D printers already have.

Filament Recycler

A filament recycler would be great for us to build. The main reason you would want a filament recycler is to decrease the amount of times you have to buy new filament. Another advantage is that it would close the loop on materials. We waste a lot of filament to bad prints and to general scrap. We currently save it because we plan on building a recycler, but imagine if we disposed of it instead. All that material that is still usable has now become unattainable in a large landfill. We will have to wait perhaps millions of years before that material becomes useful again. If we can close the loop, then we are saving material. But we aren't just saving material, we are saving the resources that go into making that material, and we are saving the area where the material would have been if we threw it out.

Building a recycler benefits RepRap as a whole because it increases the options for filament recycling. I saw a filament recycler on Kickstarter, but it was made mostly out of metal. Being able to print one would be immensely useful because it means that anyone could have one and join in on the closed loop system.


I'd be much more interested in the recycler because I really like closed loop systems. A dual extruder is cool, but it seems extraneous to me. Being able to print in two colors or with support is cool, but I feel as though it doesn't help the world as much as a recycler does.

Blog 11

Our design

Penn State uses the Open Hybrid Mendel RepRap design. Its key advantage is that it is inexpensive compared to other models. It costs around $600 to make, a standard Makerbot costs around $1500. Unlike four motor z-axis RepRap, it has less of chance to clamp up due to uneven motors. It has a more stable extruder compared to the Prusa model, but a lighter one compared to the Mendel.

Improving our design

Re-design the Extruder

What's Wrong

I would say we have had the most problems with the extruder. It is clearly the most used part and depends highly on moving printed parts. Additionally, with the heat sink, hot tip, thermocouple, motor, gears, and bearings, it is the most expensive single part besides the control board. It consistently becomes jammed for various reasons. AND IT IS THE MOST ANNOYING THING EVER TO PUT TOGETHER, OR FIX, all the parts are intertwined in a way that if you need to fix something, you have to take apart everything.

Let's fix it

Fix the big gear - The gears jam often, I wonder how much similar sized gears cost at a hardware store. This might not be the full problem though. The awkwardness of the big gear is really the issue. Not only does it block the mounting screws for the motor. It is only fixed in place by one bearing point. The other fixing points are the small gear and the print material. Each cause tension on something that is highly sensitive to the extra pressure. In the case of the small gear, the extra tension causes it to sometimes go deeper into the threads then it should, causing it to jam up. If it instead gets pushed by the small gear, it can cause extra force to be put on the PLA, or it can remove force from the PLA, the former causing a jam, the later causing it to lose grip (you tighten the idler, causing it to jam later). I suggest we fix the gear completely. On the current model, one of the bearings slips into a full circle where it is held in place. The second bearing slips into a partial circle where it is free to adjust. If we made this a full circle we could release tension from the small gear and the PLA.

Reduce cost - There are a lot of bearings, maybe we can replace the side with fixed bearings to be bushings. We could also experiment with a thermistor, which is generally cheaper than a thermocouple (though less accurate). We could potentially write code for the Arduino to handle this directly.

Make Screw holes accessible - The screws holes for attaching the motor and for mounting the motor mount on the carriage are blocked when the part is fully assembled. This makes it hard to make adjustments to the motor gear (something you need to do to get the gears to match) and it makes it very difficult to maintenance the carriage, or hot tip.

Better Circles

What's Wrong

Our printers are not great at printing out circles. This is likely due to tension mismatch in the x and y axes' belts.

Let's fix it

I'm not quite certain how I would fix this. Perhaps create a tension test to determine if the tension is equal.

Blog 10

Blog Guide


I use a lot of headers, it makes the blog easier to navigate and it organizes the blog post. Wiki has automatic formatting for headers. if you type "= header =" you will create a large partition. Adding more equal symbols will create lower level headers.

Subject Matter

I like to make my blog posts exist on their own. Ideally, the reader would not to know the posed question before hand, but they would still be able to understand the topic. It can help to have an introductory sentence and a good header. The headers should describe the paragraph, not just the question number.


I think having an about me section is important. It essentially adds ethos to your statements. When I look at a blog of an artist or an engineer, I try to find out who they are (through an about me) so I can find context for their posts.

Write like its your future

Some people may not want to have this be read by future employers. In fact, they may not be proud enough of their blog to show it to anyone. I understand that sentiment, but I feel that is a dumb one. Everything you do from here on out can be used to build presence. If you work hard on this blog, you can show it off. It becomes and asset instead of just a learning tool. It is important to write it in a way that you can use it later.

Blog 9

Lasers vs Photographs

A laser scanner systematically uses a laser to scan an item. It does it from different faces to get a full model. In terms of programming, this is very simple. You can easily detect the magnitude of the reflected laser to determine the distance from the sensor. You know where the laser is going to be, so you can determine the distance away from the laser at a certain point, from a certain angle. It is relatively simple, though I believe that refining the technology so that it works well, is probably what adds cost. Picture scanner seems much better from the users end. Take a couple pictures, make sure you have every part of the object, and the computer will piece it together. That is awesome. I can even see how the programmer would begin to make the shape. If you look for lines, match them up to 2 point perspective, then you can determine a shape and scale. I don't have a clue what they would do with a curved shape, or a spline.

To me the advantage of the laser scanner is the ability for the scanner to tell the user what they are missing. It also is easier to wrap my head around it.

Picture scanning is way more simple for the end user. Especially since they only really need a camera. I wonder if it would help the process to get a 3D camera?

Open-sourced Programs

makerscanner is a laser scanner specifically made to work with makerbot.

aka sig(gg) has a good list of 3D picture scanners. Though not all of them are open sourced

Carapace Copier is an open source picture scanner. It is still in beta, though.

Blog 8

Blow 6 Review

Chris Marcocci

(User:Cjm5325) Lots of interesting points in Chris's Blog. I hope too that the state of union address accelerates development in 3D printing. Maybe it will. I think another interesting point from Chris's blog is his opinion on the disadvantages of introducing students to 3D printing. He postulates that if all focus is turned towards 3D printing, then people may loose other important skills, such as machining.


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

Matt Rockar

(User:Mrockar) Matt's insights about the Virginia University course are interesting. I agree that our RepRaps could be as good as theirs with the right care. I also agree that learning how to care for a fickle machine is important. I think that is the course we are engaged in now. I do not think that it could be expanded to meet the whole undergraduate ME class. I think that no one will put in the care to the equipment (just look at the care put into the equipment for the physics department), which will cause sub-optimal prints, which will, in term, destroy the effectiveness of the demonstration.

Blog 4 Review

Chris Marcocci

(User:Cjm5325) I think Chris's comparative graph is interesting. It gives a good summary of the pros and cons of each method. The interesting thing that he puts up is that the open sourced version of autoCAD has a long way to go. I honestly think autoCAD has a long way to go. It is powerful, but not user friendly.

Mark Keller

(User:MarkKeller22) Mark's insight into open sourced prosthesis is interesting. He says it is a relatively new corner for open sourced. I agree with his assessment that closed sourced stuff will own the market for some time. Especially since a lot of the shapes can be patented. But I think that room for growth is exciting, as should anyone. And I think there are a lot of things an open sourced project could do for prosthetics. I mean, if you are thinking of augmenting your body, I'd rather be able to do it myself than have a corporation do it.

Xiaomo Zhang

(User:Xiaomo_Zhang) What I thought was interesting about Xiaomo's post was the idea that open source is a bigger investment in the short term. She says that closed source is actually cheaper. The reason she gives is that the start up cost of learning, buying material and time cause open source to be more expensive. I had not thought of it this way.

XP Points

I think all of the people I listed above are very insightful but I would give points to Xiaomo simply because she gave me a completely new insight into open vs closed source which I had not thought of before.

Blog 7

3D printing on Kickstarter

"The 3Doodler is a pen that extrudes PLA," is a really boring description for the 3Doodler. It is really a pen that lets you draw in 3D. If you take a moment and watch the video, the first couple of seconds show some one drawing "3Doodler" with the pen and lifting the creation off the paper. At this point, I thought it was pretty cool. The next scene shows a person create a square on the table, then lift the pen off the surface while extruding to make a cube. This blew my mind. This thing is amazing. I can definitely see whipping it out during a brainstorm to sketch out some quick prototypes. I do not think it will replace traditional 3D printers because it is not precise enough, nor is it responsive enough to create intricate designs. Either way, I bought one.

Form 1 is a professional quality 3D-printer. The idea is to make a consumer priced printer that works as well as an industry one. Formlabs, the makers of Form 1, is being sued by 3D Systems. Form 1 uses a laser to solidify each layer. The problem is that 3D Systems owns the patent for that technology.

Filabot is a filament recycler. It also allows you to melt other plastics into filament.

Kickstarter as the future of Crowd-sourced funding

Kickstarter is really great. There are many great things that get their start there and it lets you check out new things that people are making. It has the ability to let you know you have a market before you start manufacturing. It offers a web presence for your product. It allows for developers to receive direct feedback from customers. It allows things that probably would not get funding from a normal outlet to get a start. It lets the developers retain full ownership of their company. It reaches a national market (and in some cases international). I think it totally represents the future of crowd-sourced funding. Whether that is a good thing will be talked about in the next section.

The Drawbacks of Kickstarter

After reading this article, I learned of the monetary problems that Kickstarter produces. The basic summary of the article is that about 35% of the money you get on Kickstarter goes towards that venture. Kickstarter takes 10%, around 15% in taxes, around 5% in rewards, and 5% in labor. For a company that doesn't create very much on its own, it sure does make itself a lot of money.

I personally don't believe that this is the biggest problem. I think a larger problem is that some one may have a wonderful idea, post it on Kickstarter, receive little funding and give up. Kickstater has two major problems, the market is either too large or too small. To small in that only people who have access to the internet, are interested in new ideas, and know about Kickstarter are going to use Kickstarter. That is a very specific set of people and may not be the type of person that your product is for. If your target market is, say, black females, good luck finding enough funding on Kickstarter. It is too large because it is not good for local projects. If I wanted to make something that would only benefit State College then I would have a hard time finding funding on Kickstarter.

Another issue is the rewards. The rewards actually are a loop hole in donation. I don't know the details but it has something to do with having to actually sell something in order to receive money. People except rewards, which make it really hard for some one like me to make a Kickstarter. I don't know how I would make rewards that some one would want, and a lot of people see Kickstarter as a store, instead of a funding site. It also translates to other donations. People may think they are entitled to something when they donate to Red Cross; it is kind of a stretch, but I have seen it before.

A traditional brick and mortar store front has many advantages as well. It too allows direct interaction between the consumer and the business. It allows people to physically try something instead of relying on reviews, pictures and videos. It doesn't have as big a reach though, which is probably the biggest problem. There is also a larger maintenance fee.


There are some alternatives to Kickstater that I know: - Mostly for games but has recently broke out into products. - For personal projects.

Blog 6

Disruptions: On the Fast Track to Routine 3-D Printing


This article, by Nick Bilton, examines the future of additive manufacturing. A three word summary of this article is "Its coming, quickly." Bilton describes Obama's support of 3D printing. Obama predicts a future where old abandoned factories become state of the art 3D printing facilities. The article talks mostly about how quickly the technology is coming. He uses the idea of the future compressing compared to predictions. As an example of this Bilton cites USC saying that houses built with additive manufacturing will show up in ten years. But, soon, an architecture firm will build a house using 3D printing techniques. He discusses its ubiquity by saying that additive manufacturing is infiltrating every industry. He even says that China is investing in 3D printing even though they have an advantage with manufacturing right now.

To summarize: - 3D printing is growing faster than people are expecting. - 3D printing is in everything - 3D printing is being support by large governments

The President's Speech

It is awesome that the president included 3D printing in his speech. It legitimizes the venture and increases interest. If the president says something is good, business will invest in it. Considering the very survival of the Rep Rap program at Penn State is on the line without funding, I'd say interest is paramount to the survival of the 3D printing. Especially since RepRap is open source.

University of Virginia

Using 3D Printers to Transform Learning in Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Courses describes the University of Virginia's plan for incorporating 3D printers into their mechanical engineering program. The advantages of their idea is that it will make concepts less abstract. Instead having to imagine the way a piston works, for instance, they can build one. It also gives students an early look at a fast expanding technology (as per the first article). Some of the disadvantages are price. Even though they all ready have 3 printers, they are cartridge fed, and therefore the material is expensive. Also, the skills needed for printing are relatively advanced. They may spend more time on the technical ideas of 3D printing than using it to build up concepts.

If we were to use a similar model, we would have some advantages in certain areas, and some disadvantages in others. Starting with disadvantages, I think that our largest problem would be consistency. We are fairly good at printing things, but each printer is nuanced enough that a random person could not use it. Parts might also not be exactly accurate enough to demonstrate various concepts. Our tolerances are not amazing. With that said, now we can talk about our advantages. We have a significant price advantage. If a program is going to survive, it needs to be cheap for the school. Especially since things like that might not directly seem like it is bringing in money. You could also have a full circle program. Freshman year people use the 3D printers and by the time they are juniors or seniors, they have enough knowledge and interest to help build printers for the new underclass men.

Blog 5

Copyright on Thingiverse


A Zig Zag Vase Lamp The pattern could be separated from the utility of this piece. If you have a similarly shaped device without the zigzag pattern, it would act in the same way. Therefore the pattern is separate from the utility and is protected by copyright. I would say that the patent-able part of this would be the shape. That being said, I think that this design has been in existence for ages and thus he would not be able to patent it.


Printable Glasses The look of the stems on this guy are definitely protected by copyright. The shape of the glasses and glasses in general are not patent-able and are not protect by copyright. I know you are able to patent new manufacturing techniques but I don't think this applies to the glasses because 3D printing right now does not belong to one person. No part of this is patent-able. You might have to come up with a whole method of printing the glasses then inserting the lens to make this patenable.


Santa Claus Garden Gnome Covered by copyright? I don't know for sure because both Santa Claus and Garden Gnomes are standing concepts not created by the original modeler. That being said, it could be considered a sculpture even though the subject and medium are both standard. I think this would be protected by copyright.


Caddyrack This one is easy. Front bender of a car that does not follow the dimensions of an actual Cadillac is protected by copyright. It would be considered sculpture and is separate from its utility, coat rack. If this were the first coat rack ever, then it is patentable, but it is not and is there for not patentable. Cadillac hood ornament, definitely covered by copyright and I think this Caddyrack is in violation of it.


Little boys head scanned This is a scan, so the scan is not protected by copyright. It is a person's head, which is also not protected by copyright. It is not useful so it can not be patented. Three strikes.

Other People's Things

Cubicle Coat Hanger – PwNzI This would not be covered by copyright because its aesthetic is attached to its utility. I think that the creator may be able to patent this, but he would have to prove that it is different then other cubicle coat hangers. It is certainly similar, but his was made specifically for his cubicle and thus could be argued that it is specific enough to be considered a new product.

Chen-Gackstatter Thayer Vase - DM0lition21 This would be covered by copyright because it is a sculpture. The only challenge I think some one could make from this is that it is based off of math and is thus obvious if you use the right equations. Creating the equations and using the right parameters takes a large amount of skill and creativity so I think that point could easily be refuted.

Asteroid Vesta - Vatlark This is based off of the drawings made my NASA, which are covered by copyright. That being said, the drawings were not of something that NASA made or had plans for, they created the drawings from an asteroid. You could make the argument that these drawings are much like landscape drawings. And therefore should be covered by copyright.


We may be interested in licensing for a couple of reasons. From a legal stand point, it could be important to assert our authority over our rendition of the RepRap at some point, but in the meantime, we want other people to be able to work on it. It could be important, for instance, if push comes to shove and a big closed source movement comes. Or if some one else tries to patent the hybrid. We could say, not look at this creative license we had on it, we clearly had it first.

From a cultural standpoint, it could be important for history. We want to be known as the creators of this important technology. As one of the founders of the movement. This might not be important legally but it could be nice when we are looking for future funding.

Blog 4


After reading this article I thought to myself that this was the perfect use of a 3D printer. Two me, a 3D printer has to major strengths, fast prototyping cycles and custom manufacturing. This project utilizes both.

Fast Prototyping Cycle

Each guy involved in this project had a 3D printer. Because of this they were able to print out new designs for the kid and test the idea very rapidly. Additionally, they were able to use the printers to essentially teleport ideas. Owen, the man from America, could come up with an idea at home and print the design to Rich, the man in S. Africa. Owen did not need to be present to convey the physical idea he had, and Rich could interact with Owen on a new level. They were able to print out ideas and receive feedback very fast, which is vital to the strength of a project. If you spend all your time waiting for prototypes, then you will never be motivated to go through to the next one. Progress will be slow and small triumphs will seem trivial (when a whole bunch of these build up in a day it becomes a large triumph, but if your prototype loop takes days then each one will go unnoticed)

Custom Manufacturing

This relates to prototyping because every new prototype is essentially a custom manufacturing job. That being said, it is probably the most important part of this project. As is demonstrated in the last video, everyone can have a different kind of disfigurement. Rich had the stubs of his fingers while Liam barely had his knuckles. The beauty of using a 3D printer in this case is two fold: different configurations can be made for different kinds of dismemberment and different sizes can be made for the same person without much additional cost.

Open-Sourced vs Closed-Sourced


The open-sourced nature of this project allows for quick development. It drives down the price of each prosthetic. It fits with the humanistic values of the project.

Because it is open-sourced more people will be able to access the files and iterate on the design. In previous blogs I have talked about how open-sourced creations builds innovation and speeds up development time. The more people working on this project, the faster the technology will grow.

Because people do not need to pay royalties to Owen and Rich each prosthetic is less expensive. Also, if some one wants to develop a specialized version of the prosthetic they don't need to pay for the rights to do so.

Finally, being open-sourced allows people to modify the prototype so it can fit different people and allows people who may not be able to afford a more expensive prosthetic to buy one. The nature of the project is to help people, not to make money, which is reflected in open-sourcing the plans.


I think the only thing you really lose in closed source is credit. Rich and Owen deserve credit for the device they made and in some ways it should come in money. Maybe they don't need to enforce every payout to themselves, but certainly some bigger contracts can afford it.


The device is readily available on thingiverse and there a lot of ways we could participate. A useful idea for this would to actually hold the plans for prosthetic in a chip printed into the device. That way, when it comes time to make a new one, the individual plan is right there. You could potentially have a database online that keeps track of the plans, and place an rfid chip in the prosthetic that references the design. Another way we could help is by reducing the material but maintaining the same strength. The device seems pretty bulky and I can imagine it being heavier than an actual hand. This could be especially burdensome to a child. If we could use our engineering abilities to create a more light weight version we may be able to help out. There are plenty more useful ways to help out on this project.

Blog 3

3D Concrete

Of the four applications, this was by far my favorite. It could have been the presentation, though. I felt that the presentation was cool because it went from the high level concept, to animations on how it would work and finally videos of the device doing exactly what he said it would do. It was really powerful to see such a presentation. I think what is really powerful about this specific application is such a grandiose problem. The first two parts provide a "what-if" situation. The animation moves faster than you feel it should and it gives you a feeling, "this is a really far away goal" then he shows the videos and your think to yourself, "Holy cow! they are much closer than I could have imagined."

Besides the presentation this one has the best implications to me. I like that this type of building appeals to mass production for office buildings and large house parks. While capital is being built in this sector, the same technology can be used to create individualized homes and extremely cheap homes in less developed communities. I think that this technology will mostly be used in the developing world, because there is barely any construction going on in USA today. Almost every construction job is actually a remodeling or retrofitting job. Additionally, a huge stigma that housing developments in the USA have is that all the houses look the same. A technology that lends itself to a limitless number of combinations instead of the modularity built into current suburban houses will work wonders for the industry. I think this technology works well in growing markets and large markets and thus it is economically viable. I'll be exited to see the first Adobe structure they build.

PLA Hearts

Printing organs seems fishy to me. I am always skeptical when people combine technological material and organic material together. I think this particular application is pretty good though. I would rather have a real heart created with a 3D printer in me, then an electronic contraption. Currently, I think it has a really good application: making 3D tissue for testing. It allows medical testing to improve so that human subjects can be used later in development. It is faster, cheaper, and better (more accurate to life) than previous methods of making flesh.

Another interesting thing that could come out of this is the ability to create life. First we can print cells, then we can print lesser organs, then eyes, ears, brains. Eventually we may be able to print a human being. That has some pretty scary implications to me.

Printed Burgers

This seems extremely weird to me. I guess I can see the advantage, in conjunction with the last technology, of being able to print meat. If it is economically feasible then it will cut out the need for so much livestock. But then again, what does that mean for livestock, will they just be let loose, or will they be slaughtered. Does cattle in the USA depend on the agricultural industry to survive. I don't know, but I do feel that this particular technology is not a very good fix. We should be moving towards better agricultural practices to make healthy food, not moving towards manufactured meat.


I really like this particular idea. In fact, this is probably as important as the concrete printer. Here is my thinking. If you can print clothes then you will save a lot of material cost. But that isn't even the biggest deal. The largest problem is dyes. In some parts of the United States you can not dispose of cloth material that has been dyed because it is too toxic to the environment (yet they can sell it to you to wear on your body?!??!?!!! but that is for another time). This material is often shipped to other places and buried, hence the damage to environment still occurs. If you were to print clothes you could potential make them with no material waste. You would still have a problem of wearing toxic dyes on your skin, but at the very least it is not going into the environment. Now, this only applies to this fashion article because without fashion, you can not sell clothes. There is no one pushing the boundary on what we can wear without fashion. Besides, you need fashion to trickle down into everyday wear in order to be successful in clothing.

Other technologies

I found an article about 3D printing circuit boards[1]. The advantage of this would be that you wouldn't have to solder. Solder is a huge cost and often has lead in it (Though not in finished products, only in prototypes or hand soldered things). This is a very basic technology where it stands now. I mostly find it interesting because I am an electrical engineer. If this technology were improved upon it could greatly decrease development costs (a huge amount of time and money is devoted to PCB layout in order to allow for modification later).

Blog 2

The Mother of All Demos

In "The Mother of All Demos[2]" Douglas C. Engelbart shows off the mouse and cursor for the first time. He also shows off the keyboard and a screen. In the video you can see examples of early version of collapsible windows; He displays a set of paragraphs separated into individual items. They extend off the screen but he desires to see all the items at once. He pushes a couple of buttons and the paragraphs contract into one line items. Using his left hand he pressed a couple of piano key liked buttons that do things like copy/paste, minimize, etc. These would later become function keys. You can also see rudimentary versions of graphical UI such as the cursor. I was most impressed with this. Text based command line computing was very common at the time but the use of a mouse added another level of UI. Just displaying something on the screen that wasn't a standard letter or symbol is impressive. I may not have recognized the importance of the tool if I were there. The examples he shows seem trivial. A shopping list is a cool idea but useless if you cannot print the list onto a piece of paper to take with you to the market. Although, I may have been impressed with the cursor and realized that it made the computer more accessible to normal people.

The Spread of Knowledge

In this[3] talk about the PSU RepRap Project and open-source creation, Professor Richard Doyle talks about how "The Mother of All Demos" was received. People assumed it was a hoax. He draws a parallel between this and the practices of early astronomers. Because people did not understand the work they assumed it was "magic" of some sort. Later, the Royal Society decided that they would make their information available to all in an accessible way in order to avoid this. He also describes a situation where people take ownership of genes. Later, a medical group discovers some cure that uses multiple genes at different times. The group goes to each gene owner an discusses using that gene. They negotiate but it rarely gets resolved. Now, progress has been hurt by ownership. These too arguments provide compelling reasons why intellectual property should be shared. The first one describes a situation where the entire populations knowledge grows. A positive for sharing information. The second example shows one where knowledge growth is stunted by intellectual property. A negative for withhold information. A serious issue with the RepRap project is the dissemination of information in a relate-able way. Abstraction is the term used by Professor Doyle. If you look at the RepRap wiki you will see loads of technical text, part files, and jargon. Look at the main page. The first item is what RepRap is: "RepRap is humanity's first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine." The fog index[4] shows the readability of a piece of writing. An understandable piece has a fog index of around 8. If you are over 13 then it is generally considered "unreadable". As a reference, Hemmingway's fog index is around 2.5, this paragraph is around 10. That first line is 23.20. A good way to better share our knowledge is to distill it. Describe process in such a way that some one who is not a native speaker can understand it. That would be a good start.

Blog 1

Thingiverse creations


The beautiful piece was a hard one for me. It isn't that there are not a lot of beautiful pieces. Math art just bores me and there is a lot of math art on thingiverse. I like this ZigZag Vase by BenitoSanduci because it is a simplistic design. In a real world application, such as a house, it is elegant without being overstated. It is interesting to look at, which is the most important part to me.


These glasses are the most balling thing I have seen in a while, but not because the glasses are particularly awesome. The concept of printable glasses is incredible. Preventable blindness (Poor eyesight that could be corrected with eyeglasses) is a major problem in the world. One of the reasons for this is lack of access to inexpensive eye wear.


I don't know if I really even need to talk about this one. It is a miniature Santa Claus in the style of a lawn ornament. It is a particularly bad lawn ornament at that.


Caddyrack - its a pun. Automatic funny points. This appeals to me. I feel like this could be in three of the five categories: beautiful, funny, and useful.


This thing scares me. It is very creepy. It is like a little boys head but in a really weird expression. and it only got the front of the head so it looks misshapen.


Recently I had a small Casio keyboard. It could only play two notes at once but it had an impressive number of programs available to play. I specifically use the word had because I took it apart and now I don't have it. I see myself as a tinkerer. I may not be a mechanically inclined tinkerer, I don't know how many things I have taken apart or put back together. I generally stick to the programming and electrical work. I learned html on my own and I often go into little "let's learn java" phases. I do enjoy the short feedback loop that tinkering provides, which is, I think, the appeal most people see in it.

Sometimes I don't see myself as a tinkerer because one of my friends puts my tinkering to shame. His name is Miles Frain and a year or two ago he created a device that connects to an etch-a-sketch and allows him to control it with his mouse. He then connected it to his smartphone and now he can use his smart phone to control it. Whenever a loop is created, it takes the area of the loop by integrating about the curve. It was impressive to say the least. He has done other things since and I am jealous of his DIY abilities.

I think the dumb companies try to reel tinkering in but the smart ones know what's up. IDEO, for instance, is built on tinker-time. I watched a shortfilm called the deep dive about IDEO. As part of their design process they spend some time (maybe a week or a day depending on the scale of the job) just messing around and coming up with ideas. Google has built in tinker-time and Valve has a policy that is 100% tinker-time. The company I worked for over the summer encouraged prototypes and small creations as long as it didn't interfere with your responsibilities and has two departments devoted to tinkering. The company I worked for is certainly not a very good example of these "smart" companies that allow tinkering but it just goes to show that a lot of innovative companies are at least including it in their business model. I think the article is fairly pessimistic about what companies are doing. There are definitely a lot of companies that are not thinking straight when it comes to tinkering or modding (in terms of programming).

"...preserving the habitat of the tinkerer is one of the few time-proven ways we as a nation can get back on track." This statement is presented at the end of an article for the salon titled "The Tinkerers: How Corporations Kill Creativity"[5]. I agree with this sentiment. This country is about freedom to do what you want to do. Tinkering is incredibly connected to this sentiment. The idea of explore the frontier of electronics and finding what works and what doesn't work is similar to exploring the west and finding oil and gold. Large companies are okay with exploiting the earth and the land for money but not okay with exploiting their things for innovation, self fulfillment and enjoyment.

Charlie Rose interviews David Kelley[6]. David Kelley is the founder of IDEO. In this interview he describes his method of creation through empathy. Try to understand the person using it. When IDEO was first created it wasn't very successful until they hired Jane Fulton Suri, a psychologist. From there they really took off. IDEO is one of the most successful design companies and definitely the most prolific. They got that way by treating people as people, not as malleable consumers. He also takes a deep look at each aspect of the product. At one point he talks about having a discussion with Steve Jobs about a single screw. This commitment to each aspect of the device in question allows him to challenge each decision and truly come up with the best possible solution.

At the end of the video David is working on a Printrbot. I thought it was interesting that he was using a commercial product instead of building one from scratch on his own. Then again, maybe he is, it is hard to tell in the interview.

The RepRap 3D printers are a user device. They are an output device and as a result it needs to serve a human being. If this project is to truly become as widespread as a 2D printer then it needs to be intuitive and user friendly, even to some one who doesn't know anything about 3D printing. Additionally, part of the iterative design method that we use is based on improving previous designs. If we question each part of this design then maybe we can come up with something better.