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Main | About Me | Class Blog

For this class we write weekly blogs on a variety of topics that have to do with 3D printing.

Blog 1: Thingiverse

We need to search Thingiverse and explore some printed items witch satisfy these descriptions:

DSC 0034 preview featured.jpg

A) Something amazing/beautiful

This Gyrornament is such a cool deco that let me think of two ancient Chinese item; The first one is Hexagon Cap Bottle, a Yuanmingyuan precious pottery vase with a smaller one inside but cannot take out; The second one is the Universal instrument(maybe you can only see the picture), this structure can let the core layer sustain the same direction regardless of the outside direction and position change, which can easily use to navigation.

Still, I love this design because of its beautiful, interesting and amazing.

Highly recommend to watch this video!

Strawberry Stem Remover.jpg

B) Something funny or strange

This Strawberry Stem Remover is a good idea to invent tools to remove strawberry stem, because if we use our hands to do so, the strawberry will embed into our fingernail which is pretty uncomfortable and hard to clean. But this design is a little strange, because I think the manipulation is not comfortable and easy to slide. if this item cannot make people feel comfortable and convenient, people will not try to adapt it and change their habit.

Cable Holder (Cable Clip).jpg
Diagrid Bracelet.jpg

C) Something useless

In fact I used this Cable Holder (Cable Clip) 2 years ago, just curious about its design and experience, but I feel very bad. First, a plate surface stuck on a projected item looks like strange and inconvenient; Second, the double side tape cannot perfectly connect the table and holder, because the holder is made by rubber, the tape can move on it; Third, if I want to remove the holder, the table will leave a black stain and hardly clean it. I prefer to simply use tape stick the cables directly on the table.

And I think the material should be soft, so normal hard plastic 3D printer may not available.

As to solve the problem of mass cables, maybe the second picture about Diagrid Bracelet can be a good idea. Using some soft elastic material to build that kind of structure which can be easily elongate and recover its original shape by itself.

There is a good TED about a kind of fantastic material: Skylar Tibbits: The emergence of "4D printing"

7687949370 39a7307da8 k preview featured.jpg
Bearing08 preview featured.jpg

D) Something useful

One of the most inspiring things that 3D printing brings to an engineering student is printing gears of any shape, so we no longer concern much about the gear modulus and size, so the motion transmission design becomes much more easier, and it also reduces the limitation of products shape that standard gears bring to.

Look at these fantastic examples:

Nautilus Gears With Modified Bar

Gear Bearing

Esher penrose stairs.jpg

E) Something which surprised me

Watch this Escher's "Penrose stairs" carefully!

The world of 3D printing is full of innovation, I'm eager to know more about this technology!

Blog 2: OSE project

We were asked to research about OSE projects and respond to the following:

A) General impressions of the OSE project.

B) The New Yorker magazine recently had a fairly critical article regarding Marcin's OSE project. Find/link the New Yorker magazine's article which about Marcin's OSE project and summarize its critique, and response to this article and Marcin's response.

C) Imagine we want to create capabilities similar to what Marcin has made at PSU (something like an OSE student club, or another effort). I don't think the administration or trustees would support such a thing, but there might be professors who are interested in supporting such a thing. Do you know any of them? What do they do, and why do you think they would be interested in such a project? Imagine you are looking for allies to do such a thing. Whom is on your list and why?

Here are my responses:

A) My first impressions of the OSE project is surprise, just like the TED words: Ideas Worth Spreading. It's definitely a good idea to involve much more people into the designing field to contribute their ideas, and good for them to be knowledgeable through a scientific effective way. However, as for its feasibility of the manufacturing part, I hold the negative position based on the following reasons.

First, to make most of the design into reality, we need considerable knowledge of various fields to prevent danger, just following the video on OSE website is not sufficient for us to finish it, especially when these machines need strong power to drive. It's pretty OK for them just design it on paper or digital picture, and spread their ideas with others, but building up a big machine need to let experienced experts do. (It's not as easily as cooking!) For example, look at this Powercube, we can build it for fun, or for studying purpose, but we can hardly design it by ourselves and do some improvement, not only because of its difficulty, but also limited to the different materials each person used.

Second, much of their works are just waste of resources. each of their project is very sophisticated if you want to realize it as perfect as possible. We need to calculate the economic balance between the cost of building the machine and final benefit of it brings to us, including the energy consumption, material, labor input, and so on. It could be even significantly hard when accounting take into account. As for an engineer, we need to check each bolt force, circuit power, and pipe strength to ensure safety. Not everyone can endure the horrible workload even within a test level devices, not to mention the industrial equipment.

Anyway, I think Marcin's idea about OSE is great since he encourage more people to contribute their thoughts to make our life more colorful, but it's not necessary to inspire everyone to manufacture their idea by them own.

(Interestingly, This video about Factor e Farm Spring Cleaning Sprint, the 1'28" the upper picture was photoshoped, I don't why he did this instead of posting the original photo.)

B) Here is the New Yorker magazine's article about Marcin: The Civilization Kit This article said that the people who show up at his farm typically display more enthusiasm for his ideas than expertise with a lathe or a band saw, and his dream is too idealism to realize.

As far as I'm concerned, OSE does have some problems, but we cannot say it is not worth to do. As the article said, some people showed their interest on his ideas, and OSE has so many fans working for it happily, so it means OSE created many value for our society. Although people didn't showed much enthusiasm for his expertise, we cannot say OSE is failed, after all OSE is not a technical school, it is a way to let people exchange ideas, learning technology, and make new friends who have similar interest. As for this angle, OSE did very good.

Marcin's response is here: New Yorker - Article Response He said that New Yorker misunderstood what OSE were doing and what their aim was. He said OSE building up an open source innovation system to educate and inspire people to do so through "one of a systems perspective that results in responsibility." They were striving to optimize production to One Day of build time while involving a non-alienating social and learning process. And they are building a recreation center, which indicates that their condition is optimism.

As Marcin said, they've invited economics/industrial design specialists to collaborate with, it means this kind of open source design is relatively difficult for most of people, especially when the production time and financial issues take into account. But still, as I mentioned before, it will be a good way for education and innovation, since it can involve more brains to do so, but I'm not optimism with the manufacturing part.

Reader's response for Emily's article:, the reader said OSEr are too naïve about technology, and open source hardware design is not as easy as software does, and only technology alone cannot fix the problem they want to solve.

C) In my point of view, the most possible professors that might support such a thing are Timothy Simpson and Matthew Parkinson.

The first one, Prof. Simpson, is the leader of the Engineering Design & Optimization Group and the member of the Center for Innovative Materials Process. He impressed me favorably because he did so many researches about innovation and product design, his paper like Strategic Product Design for Multiple Global Markets, and From User Requirements to Commonality Specifications, An Integrated Approach to Product Family Design, and so on, clearly indicate that he loves hardware design and greatly support innovation activities. It not only is a good idea for us to create capabilities similar to what Marcin has made at PSU, but also a good chance for Prof. Simpson to do what he like to do.

The second one is Prof. Parkinson, the leader of OPEN Design Club, may shows strong interest in this open source hardware design idea. According to his research like Techniques, tools, and representations for solving design problems considering anthropometry, and Interdisciplinary Graduate Design Programs, Results and Recommendations from a NSF Workshop, the key words of his academic interests is anthropometry, design, and education, which have a big part intersect with our idea.

I arrived Penn State only for less than a month, so I just know these professors through website introduction and their papers. But I'm applying for my graduate program and they are the professors that I want to working for, so I think I will contact them later and talk about my plan about innovation.

Blog 3: Prosthetic Hand

We were asked to read Kansas teen uses 3-D printer to make hand for boyand response the following questions:

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

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

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

Here are my responses:

A) As the sentence on the article "Owen co-designed the original 3-D printer Robohand with Richard Van As, a South African woodworker." , "The two agreed, and the Robohand prototype, made of metal, was born in November 2012." , "The first 3-D printer version was made in January 2013, and Van As and Owen put free instructions online." The design was made by Richard Van As and Ivan Owen in November 2012, and printed it in January 2013, Owen had the interview at Bellingham, Wash. And Manson Wilde printed it at the Johnson County Library for the boy, Matthew, the 3-D printer was located in an area called the Makerspace that opened nearly a year ago.

B) The easiest way to make one is download it through this page Complete set of mechanical anatomically driven fingers, and print it at Penn State by myself.

But I think the reasonable way to make it is to find someone really need this thing first, and later scan his or her hand in a natural condition via some 3D-scaning app or holography so that do get a perfect shape of the hand in a 3D image. After that, download a proper 3D prosthetic hand file, adjust the scale to fit the user's size, and replace the attaching side with the scan 3D image, ergonomically correct the image under the consideration of the 3D printer performance. Then we can print it, and polishing it according to some realistic reason, assembling all the part. Finally put it into use and get feedback from user for revising and improving.


Related to prosthetic hand

Teenager 3D-Prints Prosthetic Hand for Adorable 3rd Grader in Need is for the same person.

How a $100 arm is giving hope to Sudan's 50,000 war amputees

3D-printed prostheses give hope to amputees in war-torn Sudan

Kindhearted Techies 3D Print Prosthetics for Ducks With Disabilities

WT engineering students make difference with 3D printer

Using 3-D printing to address the need for prosthetics in Uganda

MakerBot Endeavors to Transform Universities into Innovation Centers

Related to artificial organs

Growing artificial organs: Medicine’s next big thing?

Defeating aging, and the avenues ahead of us: Part 3

Rise of the machines and other tech & media trends for 2014

Boston Company Developing Synthetic Organs

New organs with 3D technology

Blog 4: Reflect on the Thoughts of Classmates

Lee Schwartz

Lee has some great point worth thinking: 1. The large companies are more tend to against the project since they won't let this kind of competitors easily beat them. So we need to analyze others commends for OSE carefully. 2.People are required enough knowledge so that they can participate the OSE project easily and safely.

Todd Troutman

He mentioned this project "didn't give those he worked with any of the money earned from sales of equipment, and didn't do much to improve living conditions." So the final goal of Maicin's seems far from achieved.

Drew Golterman

Drew discussed the “one day goal”, which is their goal to create new designs that have the ability to be assembled in only a day. He said people who are familiar with their design can assemble their design quickly. But as I thought, it is the design process that spend most of the time but not the assemble. China is the manufacturing plant for the world, and assembling is only one process that easy to learn. So "one day goal" could be a kind of design philosophy that every designer trying to achieve.

Kevin Moyer

Kevin mentioned a point that can be easily ignored, that is how important the leadership role for the team. Many classmates thought OSE was very hard because of the followers were lacking of professional knowledge, but most of didn't taken leadership into consideration. In OSE, we cannot deny that Marcin is a great full-time leader for this project, and the importance of leader to the team can never be exaggerated.

Sam Carroll

Sam gave us a good point: If this open source revolution is to really change the world, it needs to be adapted and replicated by more than people inside the OSE structure. It seems most of impact ideas spread should overcome many obstacles, and OSE is facing this kind of thing, so we need to give it some time and watching the tendency so that the result will represent in frond of our eyes.

Anthony Fanelli

Anthony said that " In today’s world so much emphasis in product design is put into aesthetics even though it doesn’t affect the performance of the machine." I think it's a great perspective especially in Penn State, Industrial Design and Mechanical Design have large part related but belongs to different department, and they all serve to product design. My favorite professors Simpson and Parkinson also work to different department but they write academic papers together. Penn State is trying to bridge the gap between Engineering and Economy (or Management?), why we don't bridge the gap between Industrial Design and Mechanical Design? I think the feasibility is worth discussing.

Jarred Glickstein

Jarred referred to a good point, OSE opened a door for those who were lacking of techniques and could only do something simple and boring and less beneficial to learn some useful and scientific knowledge, and let them think about their requirements of lives. But still, I think it's not a fundamental thing, it need some knowledge and skills, which can hardly gain with low cost (open source programing learning can be learnt without economic cost).

Jessica Mewkalo

Jessica said OSE may lead to millions jobs elimination and companies out of business, but save people's money. Yes this project may impact out existed economy, but it is a good thing since it just proved that OSE did better than companies, and people are more prefer to cheap product even it's not very good. So OSE may urge enterprises innovation to cater to customers preferences.

Blog 5: Look through the RepRap Media timeline page

In this blog we need to look through the RepRap Media timeline page and attempt to identify the most significant events from the last few years. and Make sure picked and point out at least one entry which you find:

1) An event very important in the progression of 3D printing technology (open source or not)

2) A not so important event in the progression of this technology (something overhyped perhaps?)

3) Something which I found interesting which you would like to think or speak more about.

What projects continue to receive coverage/press over time?

1. Thingiverse:

2008 November; Thingiverse is launched;

2011 September 20; Article on the Make blog about a working AR-15 magazine on thingiverse.

2013 January 24; RoboHand is uploaded to Thingiverse.

2013 November 11; Smartrap [201] Summary: Brook Drumm released his design of a reprap based off of the printrbot simple on thingiverse.

As the first website where people can upload their own 3D models for people to print out, open sourcing at its finest, thingiverse won the most people's favorate and highly accelerated the development of open source 3D printing, and opened the minds of people's to let them become more creative.

2. Mendel:

2009 October 2; A second generation design, known as "Mendel", prints its first part.

2011 Fall 2011; Open Hybrid Mendel Design is tested at Penn State University Park Campus.

2013 October 9; RepRapPro Sponsors 3D Printing Exhibition at the London Science Museum. Summary: The Science Museum of London will be featuring prints from the Huxley and Mendel RepRap printers in the 3D: Printing the Future exhibition.

Mendel is currently the most popular Reprap 3D printer at Penn State, and also a successful one for a novice entering the 3D printing world, so the more people working for this kind of 3D printer, the more opportunity this one could gain opportunity to develop, and easily receive coverage/press over time.

3. 3D scanner:

2012 July 17; 3D Printers In The Library; Toward a FabLab in the Academic Library. Summary: The DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library at the University of Nevada, Reno has added two 3D printers, a 3D scanner, and supporting software available for general use to the school community.

2012 November 12; 3D-Printing Photo Booth Makes You Into an Action Figure. Summary: A photo booth in Japan will scan your body and create a figurine of you. It can be a maximum of 8 inches tall and doesn't have the precision yet to pick up on shiny jewelry, earrings, mesh items, or glasses. Customers must pose for about 15 minutes for the machine to collect their body data.

2012 December 6; A 3D-printing popup store (3DEA) opens in NYC for the holidays. Attractions include a body scanner and ornament design competition.

2013 April 26; 3D Scanners Reproduce Real Life.

2013 September 4;All-in-one 3D printer-and-scanners.

2013 December 8; Scientists develop new app to turn mobile phones into 3D scanners

3D scanner is experiencing a great advancement when 3D printing technology is explosion.

4. 3D printing crime and security

2006 January 12th; 'Printcrime' a short story about RepRap by Cory Doctorow.

2012 July 16; 3D printed keys used to hack high security handcuffs.

2012 October 25;With ‘Safe Haven,’ Desktop Weaponeers Resume Work on 3D-Printed Guns.

2013 April 26; 3D-Printed Guns Can't Be Stopped.

2013 November 7; World's first 3D printed metal gun

3D printing greatly enhanced product design, at the same time, some crim around 3D printing begin to appear. But we cannot say that 3D printing isn't worth doing, like all other technology, some people always want to do some bad things through a new way, what we can do is using lawful means to control the criminals.

What projects seem to have slowed or stopped?

2012 August 6; New machine prints stone using sand and binding agent

It seems only one issue related to print stone.

2012 September 21; 3D Print Wood with Laywood Filament

As far as I'm concern, wood printing is not a good idea since it's hard to change the shape as our will, and make it to small pieces and bind them together is also seems not necessary.

Something which I found interesting and liked to think more about.

2009 October 2; A second generation design, known as "Mendel", prints its first part

As I see, "Mendel" is a remarkable milestone of 3D printing history, it's a great idea to let 3D printer print itself within reusable material, which can easily let more and more people learn 3D printing and enjoy their own printer. It named after a great biologist which means this kind of printer can replicate itself and make evolution, which just like endow life to 3D printer and everyone can do something to make it become better and better, just like Linux.

Blog 6: Monitoring system design for 3D printer Mendel

On 2/4/2014, David mentioned that 3D printer didn't know it's broken when it working, I have some ideas but haven't find out the feasibility.

First we need to define what conditions of 3D printer can be treated incorrect. According to these days working with 3D printers, there are so many incorrect situations like wire disconnection, temperature improperness, material stops extruding and motor stuck. But there is only one result: the outer shape of what we are building is incorrect. So the simplest way to solve it is to let the system watch and know the flaw on the model and response for it. Fortunately, the flaw always starts from the nozzle, (suppose the beginning of printing is correct and excessing extrude will not occur.) so we just need to place sensors to "watch" the nozzle.


The first picture is using infrared sensor to find out whether the nozzle is extruding or not, the lens and shading pipe are optional, just make sure there is enough accuracy and avoid interference. When the material isn't at the nozzle, the receiver will see the infrared and tell the SCM. And when the SCM let the printer stop extruding, the "broken" interruption will not be triggered, it's easy to realize by modifying the program. It won't happen that the material shades the infrared light but the nozzle has already stopped extruding and the material doesn't touch the model, because the melted material has enough surface tension and viscosity, so the probability of the occurrence of the event is very small.

P2for monitoring.png

The second picture has similar design but based on the different idea: the circle infrared distance sensor is to measure the change on the model surface. Suppose the nozzle is moving left and extruding, the infrared emission on the left side will send a signal and get a distance feedback, after a very short time, the infrared emission on the right side arrived at the same place and send a same signal, and get another feedback to compare with the first one, if the first one is greater, the machine will know it's working properly.

P3for monitoring.png

The third picture is the design about monitor for 3D printer, the size of camera should be larger and the size and shape of mirrors should be changed, but it just show how it works. the camera can watch the nozzle directly and also the image of the other side of nozzle through the reflection of mirror, because we just need to analyze several pixels of different positions around the nozzle. The problem of this idea maybe the vibration of printer and the camera focal length (add a lens can fix it). My goal was not to find out which part of printer was broken, but to stop the printer when the printing model is incorrect.

Since I haven't done anything about monitoring image analysis, I wish to work with someone interested in the same area this semester. Maybe we can use another type of sensors, or define the incorrectly working condition in another way so that to use other technical solutions, or even focus on solving a specific problem of 3D printer. So that's what I think about your problem, hoping to discuss with you.

Here is also part of David's response:

One difficulty with monitoring the nozzle alone would be that there are other mechanical failures , or outright printing defects, which would not be observed by judging the nozzle alone.

That being said, most of OUR problems are related to extruder misbehavior and so such a system would still be of some use to us. The extruder sometimes pauses with good reason, we would have to synch this logic algorithm to match its expectations from the GCode.

I think your second method could be tried, but the cooling mechanisms might disrupt the logic. I guess more importantly: Does such a sensor exist on the shelf? We would be hard pressed to make our own, and we can't attach the IR camera to the printer for anything more than short filming efforts.

If we could get the parts for method one, this might also be a route. I worry that the filament will not work with IR (you will probably want a visible or uv LED)

Blog 7: Read two articles and post my opinion

1. <3D printing could offer developing world savings on replica lab kit>

What do you think about this idea?

As far as I'm concerned, the idea of developing tools as someone's needs through open-source 3D printing is a very good idea if we disregard the impact for intellectual property rights. There will be more brains joining the innovation of various researches, and more people will get the opportunity to do what they thought to be beneficial for our society. But as I know, the intellectual property protections in developing countries are not as good as developed country, where most lab kits designed from. We cannot ignore the possibility that developing countries producing large amount of poor quality replicas without any thought to replace the large companies (in many cases, consumers only concern about the price). So I think open source cannot be totally free for the world, it also need some regulation, like "this design only public for research use but not business"(anyway, it's a economic issue which may need some data to support the point).

As I see, idea is pricable, even when sharing every ideas to others without any profit could be benefit for the whole society (fundamental theorem of economics), it'll depress the morale of the best designers of the world who survive themselves depending on their ideas, that's why we need Patent Law. Otherwise, designers can choose public their ideas for free or not.

Can you think of any examples of cheap research equipment we have made?

1. Nathan and I are trying to design a jig (maybe a cover) for Dr. Ruud's transducer and print it with our 3D printer.

2. Mendel replicate itself by printing some parts and assemble them to a new printer.

3. I'm designing a timing socket which need 3D printer to make shells and some non-standard synchronous wheels.

2. <How to build a low-cost AFM nanoscope out of LEGO + Arduino board>

What do you think of this?

Using Lego and 3D printing to build a mechanical structure is such a fantastic way since it is very fast and reliable. Lego is more reliable in designing because each parts can be connected perfectly. For some small part of specific use, 3D printing just made up for lego's shortcomings, which is hard to achieve new shapes. So the combination lego plus 3D printing greatly improved prototyping pace and quality.

Does it seem printable to you? Why or why not? Relate it back to the first article. Discuss the importance (or lack thereof) of open source in this.

According to the pictures, I think it's printable for me, but some parts may need further processing. Because the surface of printed parts seems much smoother than those I printed, which I think is important for the AFM. But print it out seems not a difficult thing, since it is a open source project, I can download all the models through Internet.

As I mentioned before, this open source project can let more people get the chance to use AFM and do their researches, which is good for the society. But when everyone build their own AFM through the project, current companies who sell 100% reliable and precise AFM wouldn't survive. Since the AFM built by lego and 3D printing is relatively new, maybe it just can realize the function several times, or essentially has some danger or unknown error, it's not worth to replace the existed AFM and spread all over the world. But maybe after several years when the user group made lego+3D printing AFM more reliable, it would change our world.

Post a article which has opposite opinion: The 3D printing revolution might be Lego’s biggest test ever.

Bonus Blog 1: 3D Scanning Testing

I tested 123d catch and some 3D scanning app recently, and I want to share some tips with you.

You can find more 3D scanning app here.

Lion 1.png
Lion 2.png
IMG 0288.JPG


This app just allow you take some pictures and simulate 3D image. When you slide your screen, the app will show you each pictures as your slide direction and speed, so that mimic 3D pictures demonstrate.


The official ad said that this one mainly used for face scanning, one of the worst thing is it can only work in dark environment with the help of your smart phone's flash or LED. And it cannot distinguish Nittany Lion at night, so I didn’t get anything through it.

123D catch:

Currently the most popular 3D scanning app, which I think is much better than others. You can easily take pictures at different position and height around the target object, and upload them in maximum 70 pics through Chrome online app, only need to wait for 1 or 2 hours you’ll get your 3D image and export with .stl or .obj. Here are some experiences of mine:

1. You need to keep the distance between you and the object almost the same when you move around it, it cannot distinguish some very close detail pictures if each one seems totally different in the center.

2. Cloudy weather is good for our photography, choose to take outdoor pictures when sun set, or backlight surface would be very dark.

3. Sometimes flash light would be help, don’t worry too much about great color change between photos, in normal conditions your smartphone can also adjust the exposure rate automatically.

Bad scan.png

4. It’s not necessary to take detailed picture closely, the app seems cannot distinguish them, so it just ignored those totally different pictures.

5. It’s also not necessary to upload your pictures by the sequence you took them, just pick some of them you think clear enough and can express the whole object. But the most important thing is every picture contains the whole contour of the object, or the result would be very bad. (see right, which indeed is a small black piece)

File:Nittany Lion.stl Exported .stl file of Nittany Lion from 123D Catch online app

If anyone interested in these gradually popularized apps, we may discuss something about it.

Blog 8: IP and 3DP

1. What are the five I's and what do you conclude from them?

Infringement: when anyone can 3D print things with virtually any functionality, the risk of IP infringement away from control will become increasingly high.

Identification: infringement away from control will be increasingly diffi cult to identify.

Impractical or Impossible: it will be increasingly impractical or impossible to enforce IP against infringement away from control.

Irrelevant: IP will become increasingly irrelevant.

My conclusion: Since the idea of Open Source becomes increasingly popular, people all over the world can find what they want to know through Internet, which can rapidly spread intelligent achievements. Because of its exponential spreading regardless of the content, potential dangers and lacking of regulatory protection of IP are resulted.

2. From the perspective described in the article (or your own if you disagree), what are the futures of copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secrets?

From my point of view, there will be new regulation method to reinforce the protection of IP. Like the article said, the music industry before faced the same problem, and iTunes-like model survived it, even the model slightly changed the excitation of musicians, but it works perfectly well, especially when China is taken into account. A few years ago, almost all the intelligent products cannot get any protection in Internet, like music, movie, book, and so on. But now it becomes much better because of the network regulation and monitoring. And I think iTunes-like model can also survive 3D printing IP problem, everyone can get access to download digital designs with little cost, so as to stimulate the innovation of designers' work, and it should be strictly implemented.

Besides, I hold the negative opinion on the feasibility of printing branded products. Normally, branded products contains tons of experiments to ensure it's function and safety, so to a certain extent, home printed products are potentially dangerous, and customers wouldn't do that if they understand this.

By the way, like the article said: If the CAD file resulted from scanning a thing, it also may not be copyrightable. My scan Nittany Lion was featured by 123D Catch without my permission.

3. How does Creative Commons fit into your perspective?

I'm not sure I got the meaning, but as far as I'm concerned, there must be a balance between the excitation of designers and the benefit of creative commons, which would be maximum the contribution of intellectual creations to our world.

Blog 9: "What filament do I use and where should I buy it from?"


According my experience, many small things in China are much cheaper than the U.S. Like the electronic component, I need to pay more than 6 times price in America than in China. Just some high-tech products and luxuries in America is cheaper. So I searched the filament in some Chinese E-commerce website. As you know, many of the Chinese E-commerce websites don't have good regulatory, the portion of fake products in these websites are also higher than those in the U.S. But if we careful enough, we can still buy good quality products with very low price, because in Chinese market these things are more cheaper in general.


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?

As I know, the less middlemen it is between you and the original supplier, the cheaper the product will be. So the cheapest way to get good filament at low price is to contact with the factories which produce 3D printer filament. (Usually these factories don't have retail service, sometimes we need them to supply for us in a special way)

The middlemen are not the only suppliers that we need to avoid, at least not in Chinese market. There are so many unscrupulous traders there building their low quality products but package them as famous brand products, and sell it in a lower price than the authentic ones. Fortunately, China is reinforcing their regulations, we have very good feedback system in Taobao (Chinese ebay) and Jingdong (Chinese Amazon) and others, they are also making effort to get maturity of the regulation policy.

For PLA, here are some suppliers from China:

The 1st one listed on the T-mall, which means it passed the strict regulatory. The seller holds the highest credit rate in filament market of the website, almost all the feedbacks were positive, the price is 12.8$/kg(

The 2nd one you can buy according to the length, 1$/30m (1$/90 feet). In China, you only need to pay one shipment fee, regardless of how many items you bought in this supplier (if your goods are too heavy, they can also calculate it, normally 2$ fast shipment within 2 days in China, but International shipment you should pay over 5$, and the time is over 2 weeks) (


The 3rd one is on Jingdong, which only applicable for 3D printing pen, 3$ per 50g, about 60$/kg,

2) Materials. We want to start doing dual extrusion on a more regular basis. 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? Once you've chosen a material you think we might use, find suppliers and estimate costs in $/kg or $/lb.

The first material I think is ice cream, not real ice cream but something which may absorb heat very fast so that let the PLA quickly stronger and support itself, and this thing is also easy to remove.

In fact I read some articles introduced support materials, see 3D Printing: Understanding Support Material(and also the video below), which mentioned that: 1)a large liquid bath, like Stereolithography(SLA). 2) a squishy, gel-like substance for support. The gel needs to fill up any and all open space between the part and the bottom of the tray (the rigid lattices are more sparse), and this can become costly for larger parts with considerable open air (e.g., a lampshade). 3) FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), have introduced a support material that dissolves when placed in a bath of chemicals. The dissolution process often requires an incredibly long wait, but it’s hands-free – no sanding or washing required. 4) The powder-based technologies, like SLS(Selective Laser Sintering) and DMLS. (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) <videoflash type="youtube">FOxZcpyKmzM</videoflash>

For the support materials which are already applied at industry scale, I also searched it through Internet, here are the results I think are cost-effective:

Water solvable PVA, the cheapest price goes like that:

100-299 rolls 12.30$/roll 300-499 rolls 10.66$/roll ≥500 rolls 9.84$/roll, each roll contain 0.5kg material. link here

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

Actually I've already bought a roll of PLA, link here, it cost me 23.89$/2.2lb. This one is relatively cheaper and I can receive it in one day.

Bonus Blog 2: 3D Printing Pen

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When I was searching for suppliers of 3D printing materials, I found an interesting thing: 3D printing pen, which allow you draw 3D image like adding cream to cakes. There is some introduction.

In fact it just an extruder which we can directly hold hand push the button to extrude. We can see the lower left picture to understand how it works. It doesn’t contain Single-Chip Microcomputer, only a single analog circuit, so that it could be more stable and reliable. Customers can even adjust the continuously variable extruding speed. It consumes ABS or PLA at the diameter of 1.75mm, and the extruding filament is 0.4-0.7mm. The temperature on the tip is 160-220 degree Celsius, and it also changeable. I’m pretty sure that 3D printing art will be thriving soon.

On the right side are some works of 3D printing pen:

On the other hand, if we can find a way to precisely determine the position of the 3D printing pen and control it’s extruding, it would be a 3D printer. Mendel uses stepping motor, we can also think about other sensors to find the position of the pen.

Most importantly, this 3D printing pen doesn’t rely on any support material. The liquid plastic could be well shaped in the air because of the temperature control. Maybe we can also reinforce our control of temperature instead of seeking for proper support material, combined with the changeable sequence of layers of different part to let each part of filament can rely on others, it may be a solution of support material.

If you want to buy one, you can find below:

Myriwell 3D Printing Pen 3D Drawing 3D Designing 1.75mm + Free Stick Filaments

New 3D Printer Pen W/ Filament Printing Ink Pen Print 3D Draw

3D printing pen in China

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Blog 10: Designs about Hot Tips

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1) What designs are currently available, how do they compare, who should be avoided? What designs you think are most reliable based on your own research (pros/cons are nice).

1. On thingiverse, there is a hot end which is easy to build, see here. From the picture, it’s thinner, cleaner, and longer than that we use, but it seems that temperature is not that easy to control.

2. There is one design which seems more stable, see here. It also separated heater and extruder, just let them connected at the end of nozzle. The shelf for the extruding motor is much smaller, because the motor directly driving the gear which touches filament, but the center of gravity made the x axis suffered more force.

3. I like this design, see here, and here. Because the computer simulation of the nozzle shows that the temperature control is excellent, it combines the heat sink and hot tip, which makes it functional.

4. This one combined 2 and 3, and is easier to repair, see here. But because it has more components, we can easily change the broken part if needed, and it becomes more complex, so as to less stability.

5. This one printed a small part just for Nathan’s printer, I didn’t know much about it, but it looks great. link here

6. This one introduced a method of connecting thermal couple wires with hot tips, which seems more reliable. Current design we use is hard to rotate hot tip into cooling block, and the wires are easily touched and lead to short circuit. link here

By the way, I also think that the one of a long pipe with filament in it is a great idea, which we can only move the hot tip when it printing. But I’m a little worry about the high friction when filament moves in the pipe.

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

I found that the hot tips have a lot difference, like these two, see link1 and link2, they seems the same thing but the former one is less than ½ price of the later one. To make sure I can buy one with good quality, I’ll choose the provider which I’m familiar with, or just find one that with good feedback.

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Blog 11: Show & Tell response: print a house by Todd

3D printing in Civil Engineering is one of the most attractive area for me, not only because it can build a house with fantastic shape in a short period of time, but also comes from a crazy idea in my mind.

After Todd's Show & Tell, I followed this technology for a while, only to found that it was much younger than I thought. I assumed that there would be many related journals and innovations, at least I could find some communities made by 3D printing technology, but there only have some videos and news that introduced 3D printing house, so this technology may have a long distance to industrialize. Below posted something that I think is interesting:

Behrokh Khoshnevis - Contour Crafting: Automated Construction

This 3D Printer, Capable Of Building A House In A Day, Could Change Construction Forever

Navy Helps Fund 3D Printing of Buildings

As far as I'm concerned, the biggest advantage of 3D printing is the casual shape it realized in a fast, precise, and reliable way, it becomes extremely useful when it applied to constructions. I know some Civil Engineering, but I think 3D printing totally changed the force bearing of a house, traditional house support the whole construction by columns and beams, but 3D printing house uses the wall, which may largely improved the reliability of the building. The other character of 3D printing is it can easily build complex inner structure, which is also a great news for its construction use. So I have the vision that I will build a machine that uses 3D printing technology to print a house in the forest without hurting trees, and the parameter could only be z direction, and x and y directions can be realized by the rail of extruder.

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Blog 12: Response for Blog 5: Look through the RepRap Media timeline page

Tony Armlin:

Tony point out that 3D printing education is one of the most important events in the history, I can't agree more. He also mentioned that 3D printing for unborn baby is not so important because he prefer to watch the CAD version on computer, but as far as I'm concern, printing unborn baby has high business value, many people will love the idea of building their 3D photo album since they haven't been born. And he want to know more about circuit board printing because of his own needs about engineering project.

Lee Schwartz:

The most important thing for Lee in 3D printing history is March 11, 1986, the 1st 3D printer was invented. It brought a new idea of using CAD data to build object layer by layer, and it still using 30 years after. He also think that CNN article “The Machine That Can Copy Anything” from 2005 was a little exaggerated, as I see, it was not realistic but the result of the article was positive, like Lee said, it made 3D printing technology be known by more people, and the readers wouldn't think that much about the honesty of the articles.

Todd Troutman:

For Todd, the launch of Thingiverse was extremely important, which made the 3D printing technology dramatically spread out, and also let those who lacking of technical skills to design 3D models can print something they like. He also pointed out that " One day, it could be just as easy as downloading a news article," I can't agree more. Todd said "Big-Hearted Maker-Folk Rush to the Aid of Homeless Hermit Crabs is about one of those less than useful projects" was not worth putting into timeline. And he loved the idea of bringing 3D printing technology into music industry and wanted to learn more about it, I also think it is such a cool idea that applying 3D printing to achieve fast growth of music instrument.

Graham Deever

Graham said that Thingiverse, 3D printing crime and security, 3D scanner received continuously interests, which were much similar with mine. He mentioned wood printing was useless, and I hold negative with this idea, too. He also mentioned the stop animation commercial only appeared once in the timeline, and it seemed not important. As for me, the other name for this idea maybe 3D photos or something like that, and it also related to 3D scanning, so I don't think it's not an important idea.

Nam Pham

Nam mentioned "Organovo generate 3D printed liver which can survive for 40 days" was an important issue in 3D printing history, because the printed organ would not have rejection by your body, so as to solve large number of clinical problems. He also said that making a guitar body by 3D printing technology was not a revolution because the important part of guitar was still made by other technologies, I agree with that because the most special side of 3D printing is to build casual shapes in a short time, but the revolutionizing part of the article is the application of 3D printing in music industry,

Jessica Mewkalo

Jessica thought 3D printing cartilage was a nice idea because we could help more patients in various ways via this technology, and potentially decrease the price. Scientists would also find a easy and cheap way to do their research. She also said that using 3D printing to help hermit crabs survive was overhyped, I also think so. The nature should obey Darwin's Law "The stronger survive, survival of the fittest."

Nathan Myer Nathan said that printing with different material was one of the most significant research field of all, he noticed it through Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). He also posted a very good idea that printing food was a fantastic idea, but printing a chocolate with $4600 was not affordable for only a cool thing. And printing with some natural material was also appealing for him. Researchers on grow bio-engineered human ear should gain more attention because of the new method could greatly benefit to those who really need it.

Dongao Yang

Donggao mentioned that the idea of letting 3D printer replicate by itself is such a cool thing, because it pushed 3D printing from industrial level to desktop level, and dramatically accelerated the development of 3D printing technology. But he thought that Titanium printing was hyper because metal printing was not a mature technology, but the article exaggerated the effect it achieved. And the launch of Thingivers was worth thinking, I agree with it because of the idea itself worth spreading.

Jarred Glickstein

Jarred said that the Arduino's came out was one of the most important noteworthy of all, because it made large amount of projects possible to realize, including 3D printing. And organ printing like liver was also a kind of milestone in 3D printing history, and later it may printed a hand with human tissue. He also added something he though important into timeline like the launch of Reprap Research Foundation, because it helped him a lot when he built printers for himself. And also the assembling of grandchild of Reprap, and the foundation of Makerbot Industry.

Blog 13: Response for Blog 7: 3D printed lab kit and AFM nanoscope

Tony Armlin:

Tony point out that he prefer more expensive products with relatively high price, which could be more reliable. He also said that it's not necessary to use the equipment until it's dead, rather recycling of the equipment material would be more economy. Tony regard the AFM nanoscope project as a good example of 3D printed experiment equipment, but it's not printable for all the parts, and the most important parts for AFM tiny movement is apparently not 3D printing part. But all the parts that used to support the equipment is 3D printed, which is the valuable application of it.

Lee Schwartz:

The most important thing for Lee in 3D printing application in lab kits is that he pointed out the same idea can be applied to college settings, so as to allow many more colleges, not just well-funded, big-name universities to perform the same kinds of experiments and tests. I think it also is the key point of article one, using 3D printing to lower the cost of high education. Lee also saw that a little competition but not totally open-source, with some profit for big companies would be better encourage this area. He disappointed that the AFM nanoscope project was not open-sourced, so the potential benefit for the project was greatly decreased.

Todd Troutman:

For Todd, he pointed out that the customers only needed to pay for the development cost once, and pay for the cost of devices for each unit later, would be greatly budget saving. And we could also made the parts by ourselves, that would be otherwise in high cost. He also pointed that all the 3D printed parts and the Lego parts of AFM nanoscope could be 3D printed, and open source would be a important point for its spreading. But if not, it was also OK since they could make business plan for the project.

Graham Deever

Graham said that it could be greatly benefit for the medical industry if the idea of 3D printing lab kit could spread, the cost of drugs and medical research would be greatly dropped. He mentioned the cure for cancer, there would be more people cured because of the low cost, and there also would be more reliable process to cure it. He posted a interesting point that our world haven't well-prepared for the open source industry, because we have the property laws, and not all the people have the ability and can responsible for their design. His perspective was pretty special and precise, he pointed out that the title for the second article was misleading since it's not a article that taught us how to make our own AFM nanoscope, but the tile is "How to build a low-cost AFM nanoscope out of LEGO + Arduino board".

Nam Pham

Nam mentioned that not only the 3D printed lab kits would be an affordable solution for the research experiment, it also should be open source to maintain the price low. He also posted several examples about the application of 3D printing on research tools from Thingiverse. He was worrying about the calibration of the AFM nanoscope because of the accuracy of Lego, but as Todd said the major part of AFM nanoscope was also metal not 3D printed or Lego.

Jessica Mewkalo

Jessica posted a pretty good point: should the developing country afford these kind of experiments even if they were much cheaper? Because for those relatively poor countries, it's definitely not their main task to do these experiments, even the cost of it was much cheaper, it's still a cost, why we didn't spend these money to other project which may much benefit for these countries? She also found the other articles that much clearer introduced AFM. See here

Nathan Myer

Nathan said that making necessary equipment for research equipment at a fraction of the price was a great idea to applying the 3D printing to research accessory field. Like others said, he also mentioned that it is frustrating to know that this is possible to make an affordable AFM and not know how to do it, and it's also not necessary to repeat what they've already done just for a reliable solution.

Dongao Yang

Donggao said that he would print a mechanical shaker after this semester for research use. But for the AFM project, he pointed out that the Lego is much more precise than 3D printed parts because it's made by injecting models, so he didn't think that 3D printing Lego pieces would be a good idea, and the open source is not a big deal in this issue.

Jarred Glickstein

Jarred has printed several pieces for research use from Thingivers and posted them on his blog. He pointed out that the AFM was not "printable" since most of the parts were not 3D printed. Not only that, the concept of open source was critical to let these kinds of equipment accessible. He also mentioned that anyone who has the ability to build 3D printed AFM could also make the normal design for it, and I also think about that why are the big-company-produced tools expensive? If they are all open source, will it be still more expensive than the 3D printed one? Because casting can largely reduce the cost of models and increase the accuracy.

Blog 14: Response for Blog 8: IP and 3DP

Tony Armlin:

Tony said he learnt a lot about the impact of 3D printing on IP, and also the definitions of PATENTS, COPYRIGHTS, TRADE SECRETS, and TRADEMARKS, and gave examples of them. He also pointed out that the Open source and IP would achieve equilibrium in the future, I totally agree with it, but it needs a very long time, or just an ideal condition.

Lee Schwartz:

Lee also successfully finished the tasks, and mentioned that open source would make the owner of the rights for the codes, designs and other things, and "IP enforcement may become obsolete entirely. ". He agreed that 3D printing would lead to a weaker IP enforcement, and the IP office would become less restrict because of the open source. Interestingly, he said a possible result would be open source for academic use, but maintain the business IP right. Furthermore, he pointed out that Creative Commons may be a good solution for that.

Todd Troutman:

Todd said that it would be still maintain a place for IP, even more things would be too common to be patentable. And he mentioned that when we bought a product, we've already bought the IP of this product, which may be one way to get around the IP issue, and Creative Commons as well.

Graham Deever

Graham only said that it's impossible to protect IP rights nowadays.


Brian figured out the definition of Copyright, Trademark, Patent, Trade Secrets for Wikipedia, and detailed compared all of them, he posted his own understanding of them, and also pointed out that the 5 Is would always be a issue for the realm and legacy.


Eric gave me a good perspective, 3D printing uses .stl file, which has already diminished all the geometry parameters, so he thought the .stl file could not apply for a patent. Unfortunately for him, I'm working on editing .stl for a while, and .stl file is consisted of point cloud, which is editable, even it's a little hard; and the second thing is I'm pretty familiar with the patent laws in China, and applied for an American patent, the patent is to protect the new point of your idea, not to protect the files.

Dongao Yang

Dongao was the one who disagree with the author's opinion, he pointed out that the IP application would also change while the Open source 3D printing went forward. He gave us a persuasive example that software had its own IP protection but no one could thought about it 20 years ago, so it's hard for us to predict the future of IP protection based on the 3D printing impact. He also came up with a good solution: it's not necessary to store the G code we print in our computer, we can build a real-time system to download and delete the G-code from Internet at the same time.

Anthony Fanelli

Anthony said that the websites like Thingiverse may charge a small rate for the downloads, and gave part of them to the designers, I think it's a good solution to compensate for the designers' ideas. He thought the Creative Commons just waivered part of the IP right, and the reward method was the same with his owns.

Jarred Glickstein

Jarred said that open source 3D printing would make it's hard to distinguish the original designer of an object. And he held the positive opinion of the future of IP rights, like music industry in a few years ago, everyone can download it for free, but now this area is much better, and the IP in 3D printing is just like the music industry in the past, so we don't need to worry about the IP future because of 3D printing.

Blog 15: Response for Blog 11: Show & Tell reflection

Tony Armlin:

Tony's favorite Show & Tell was given by Drew, about 3D scanning. He shared his experience of scanning a spindle to fix our Gold printer, even it's failed, he still thought it's a good topic and would very helpful in the future.

Lee Schwartz:

Lee's favorite Show & Tell was also related to 3D scanning, but he pointed a wrong name, I'm pretty sure that the 123D Catch S&T was given by Drew but not Notre. He said that these kind of apps made the 3D printing industry more user-friendly and easy to learn. He also mentioned that my scan Lion Shrine and printing object was impressive, and his project with Todd to use 360 xbox to scan people's faces wasn't get a good result compared with the Drew's shoes. And he also liked the one made by Sam and Brian about bio printing, which would lead people not worry so much about their body rejection while transplant organs.

Todd Troutman:

The most appealing topic for Todd is the one with printing missed parts, and the one mentioned Hershey Company as well. He said that it helped us to know why some companies were willing to spend money on some projects that cannot bring anything to them,

Graham Deever

Graham also like the 3D scanning S&T, and he said the future of these kind of apps would be bright. And the bio printing made by Sam and Brian as well, he posted some links related to bio printing.

Mitch Engleka

Mitch thought the most impressive Show & Tell was remote printing, he cannot imagine it before it was posted. It was such a cool idea that made those who didn't have a 3D printer get the chance to printing for themselves, and he believed that it would be much more popular as the 3D printing growth. Finally, he suggested that we needed to be involved in this project.

Kevin Moyer

Kevin was more interested in Sam & Brian's S&T about bio printing, which was extremely inspiring for him. He seems have done some research about it, he was trying to print 2D image on to a petri dish, so he is the only one that I know is working on real bio printing but not still learning it.

Sam Carroll

Sam faced much trouble when making hot tips, so he preferred the S&T given by Carson. He mentioned that many people could design on paper but not in real world, so he emphasized the importance of making a design into reality.

Jarred Glickstein

Jarred was enjoyed Wenxin's Show & Tell about 3D printing movie, which was an different angle of 3D printing world. 3D printing saved money for movie industry, and it even lower some barriers of movie industry. He thought it was possible to 3D printing small models for movie use instead of real buildings even they are old and useless.

Yuchao Yuan

Yuchao mentioned the 3D printing buildings impressed him a lot since it's really unbelievable to have such great scale application of 3D printing, but he also mentioned that these kind of houses didn't have foundations, but it still a valuable solution for those who didn't have a house, and the food printing is also an interesting topic for him.