User talk:Ank5133

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Adnan Khan's Page

About Me:

My name is Adnan Khan and I will be entering my 7th semester at Penn State as a senior in the fall. I'm majoring in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Six Sigma Methodology. I signed up for a summer work-study position as a student research assistant for Dr. Richard Devon and am working under David Saint John.

The position involves working with open source 3D printers, specifically RepRaps. One of my responsibilities includes the maintenance of and contribution to the RepRap wiki. Currently, I am writing a blog about certain articles and various literature that I encounter during my summer job experience. I will also strive to add to this page (which will be used for the blogging) once the summer has ended.

Since Wikipedia, or any wiki database, does not have a comments section enabled, please feel free to email me (ank5133@gmail.com) about any thoughts and/or suggestions you may have to improve the look of this page, add some insight, further my knowledge, etc. All feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Blog Entries

Printing Household Items in 3 Dimensions: A Student's Experience

Printing Household Items in 3 Dimensions: A Student's Experience - April 26, 2013

Internal Design.

With growing interest in revolutionary additive manufacturing techniques, schools have started to implement topics such as 3D printing as part of their curriculum. Although they may still remain as elective courses for the time being, students are beginning to garner a lot of interest in the subject. It is my hope, along with that of several members of the student and faculty body that the importance of 3D printing and scanning be stressed due to the critical impact it will eventually have on mass manufacturing. I have written a number of articles in the past depicting the positive effects of 3D printing and how it is currently disrupting the market due to its strong innovative technology.

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Daniel Shriver, a rising senior at Penn State majoring in mechanical engineering with an aim to enter a top ranked engineering school to pursue his graduate studies in engineering design and product prototyping. His enthusiasm with regards to the printing industry was one of the driving factors behind taking EDSGN 497J, an experimental course dedicated to the theories and practice of open source 3D printing.

Final Design.

Daniel also took a required design course, ME 340: Mechanical Engineering Design Methodology, in which he was able to showcase his 3D printing skills. For one of his class projects, he created a vacuum cleaner with 90% of its components being produced by a 3D printer, specifically a Prusa Mendel. These components included key pieces such as the impeller, propeller, motor mount, and the base.

The basis of the class project was to create a machine that could collect sand placed in a regular sized cup in under 3 minutes. The preliminary goal was to find a venture capitalist or any savvy businessman confident enough to fund this idea. In actuality, due to the project's scope being limited to occurring within the classroom, as long as the professor found the design idea to be feasible, it would be considered acceptable to begin working on it. A great amount of detail was placed in constructing the final product, with the requirements including an alpha prototype along with a series of beta tests each more technically and aesthetically pleasing in succession. Once the final model was complete, it would be tested alongside the designs of other teams.

Most of the printed material was made using PLA, a type of thermoplastic commonly used as a feedstock material for 3D printers, such as the RepRap (self replicating printer) that Daniel was conducting his printing on. At first, he had decided to use ABS as the material, however, due to the high versatility associated with PLA along with severe warping issues forcing parts of the printed pieces to be "lifted" off the printing bed, the group ultimately chose PLA as their material of choice.

One of the chief benefits of the design was that suction area's small diameter caused it to enter edges and nooks, allowing for more sand to be absorbed into the vacuum cleaner. It was relatively lightweight, coming in at just under 8 pounds. The model could store a maximum of 40 ounces of sand, which it could most likely absorb in under 3 minutes.

Daniel's model, which took close to 10 weeks to finish, was capable of consuming eight ounces of sand in under 30 seconds, a remarkable feat which led his team to securing a second place position in the project competition.

A 3D Printed Exoskeleton

A 3D Printed Exoskeleton - Monday, August 6, 2012

A number of modern day medical marvels can be attirbuted to 3D printing. For those who have read some of the previous articles in this blog, biomedical devices and implants derived from additive manufacturing processes have become staples in the industry.

Adding to those successes is a 3D printed exoskeleton made of metal bars on hinges and resistance bands. This device allows those with underdeveloped arms to use their limbs normally. They can feed themselves, lift objects, and perform other less trenuous activities in a similar way to someone with normal motor functions.

One very touching story begins with Emma, a 2 year old diagnosed with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which severely limited her limb muscle control and joint movements. Although she was able to move her legs, her arms remainly very weak. Emma was unable to eat, play with toys, nor even rub her eyes. When all hope seemed to be lost, her mother attended a conference and learned about the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX). Tariq Rahman and Whitney Sample, creators of WREX, gave Emma a chance to test out an early prototype model. Emma was able to fit her arms into the WREX and for the first time, lifted her arms towards her mouth. Since the exoskeleton was slightly large for her, the duo designed a smaller prosthetic model which was convenient for Emma's size.

The result: Emma is capable of eating by herself and even playing with her toys.

Printable Action Figures

Printable Action Figures - Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Playing video games has been a favorite pastime for millions of individuals belong to Generation Y. The RepRap Wiki is most definitely populated by individuals who have owned anything from a Sega Genesis to a PS3 and Xbox 360. I can bet that the vast majority of our favorite characters were along the range of Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, and Sonic. However, we never had the luxury of bringing our characters to life as action figures. This will all change for the future generations since researchers at Harvard have devised a method on how to print out your favorite video characters.

The team at Harvard formed a software program which acted as an add-on to the well renown game Spore. Since Spore has a state of the art character creation system, the researchers felt that such a game would make for a strong experimentation base. By combining 3D printing technology with the video game's wide scale creativity, it was possible to print out a character that a player would have created.

With the main emphasis being on realism, ball and socket joints were added into the printed characters and skin textures were perfected to allow for excellent reflective qualities. Later on, when further advancements have been, enabling the printed models to be stretchy and squishy would be a high possibility. Installing electronics into the character models has also been considered. A child would love to have a printed Mario that could jump in the air or say something funny.

However, there are some drawbacks to this idea. Major video game companies such as Sony and Nintendo will slam down hard on the idea of such a printer's commercialization due to possible copyright violations. Anyone could print out a famous video game character, upload it, and even claim it as their own. The concept of toy stores might die out if children could just print out their toys. Although this is a wonderful idea that fosters creativity and might even peak a young child's interest in 3D printing, corporate America will have serious issues with it, and I foresee a great deal of opposition coming towards it.

A Foldable 3D Printer

A Foldable 3D Printer - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We live in a world where efficiency and productivity are the primary factors that govern our existence. Everyone wants to get things done perfectly at a fast rate. In addition to the traits that define our rapidly paced world, the public desires that the devices they use in their daily lives become simpler to use and easier to handle. They want smaller, more portable, items. For those actively following the rising trend of 3D printing, it is clearly evident that newer improvements to the printing technology keep on coming. One of these revolutionary improvements, a foldable 3D printer, is the brainchild of designer Emmanuel Gilloz.

The FoldaRap, as it is known, can be assembled within several hours, and doesn't require a heavy mechanical background. A typical Reprap on the other hand, may take a slightly longer than a week to construct. Due to it being lightweight and fairly compact, it can easily be folded and transported anywhere, unlike the average heavy and bulky printer. A majority of the building process involves a push to fit strategy for the parts, therefore, eliminating the need for a strong hands-on aptitude. Imagine that you're an avid printing hobbyist and you're faced with the dilemma of leaving behind your 3D printer because a month long business trip. Instead of being frustrated and longing to return home to continue your printing, you could just carry a FoldaRap with you on board the plane. Portability is the key ingredient in this new venture and it will surely be profitable once it hits the market.

Printers such as these could actually be a boon for developing nations. Engineers, scientists and designers could travel to third world countries in order to print out some basic items that could be necessities in poverty stricken areas. The same applies for broken neighborhoods right here in the United States. One could fold up the printer, travel to their intended destination, re-assemble the printer upon arrival, and begin printing. It is that simple.

Printing UAV's: Non Warfare Tactics

Printing UAV's: Non Warfare Tactics - Monday, July 30, 2012

Whenever we switch on the television and watch the daily news reports, we always happen to witness a piece about the various wars being fought in the Middle East and the struggles occurring at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as "drones" tend to have a major presence in the dangerous and lawless border region. Their purpose is to seek out and eradicate their targets which are in the form of radical clerics and/or terrorist leaders. However, there have been a multitude of unfortunate instances involving thousands of innocent civilian deaths resulting from failed strikes. Sometimes, the strikes are faulty, since the target's location was wrongly detected, and the attack turns out to be a huge waste of time and money. The drone's cover would be blown, and the target would end up moving to a newer, possibly more secret location.

For the past several years, I have never been supportive of implementing drones in warfare. The high failure rate is visible to the naked eye. A terrorist ends up being killed only a couple of times annually, with the rest of the deaths are solely attributed to individuals living in nearby villages. My personal opinion about drones would be to use them for airborne surveillance measures. I recently realized that such a thought might become a reality very soon.

Researchers at Southampton University have been testing 3D printed drones, and they have been very successful due to the low number of crashes in just the alpha phase. The UAV, known as Sulsa (Southampton University laser sintered aircraft)is created using powdered nylon with the designs being solidified by laser beams. The best aspect would be the pricing. While a typical drone would cost about $400,000, the printable one would be a mere $2000, which is extremely affordable for corporations in bulk quantities.

The project's aim is to provide drone services for the civilian market, instead of the typical military and intelligence units. The potential for using UAV's for the benefit of the general population is massive. It could be used to enhance public security and expedite emergency services. The media and communications sectors have a lot to gain from the UAV technology's new direction too. Juts imagine a time when a car accident occurs, and a drone flying high above a city could relay the information to the nearest hospital, fire department, and police precinct within seconds. Response time would be optimal and the drone's purpose would be served. Crime could also be lowered. Since 3D printing improves production time by a large margin, multiple drones could be printed simultaneously and deployed to major cities worldwide in order to establish order and keep the peace.

The First 3D Printed Gun: Legal Consequences and Dangers

The First 3D Printed Gun: Legal Consequences and Dangers - Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hot off the press today is news of a gunsmith who constructed a created primarily from 3D printed parts, namely being the lower receiver. The creator is an individual who will be referred to as "HaveBlue" since that is his chosen username on an AR-15 gun forum. What seems amazing about the newly made gun was its capability of firing 200 rounds without any tool wear or damage, which makes the printed firearm quite a sturdy piece of equipment. HaveBlue has uploaded the model of the lower receiver onto Thingiverse for anyone interested in printing out the part, and it only cost him $30 of resin to have it printed. This is a huge saving compared to the actual cost of a lower receiver typically found on the market.

The frightening aspect about this novel "invention" is giving anyone the ability to simply print out a lower receiver and attaching it to a gun. It is the receiver that actually allows the gun to function and fire, which is why it is legally controlled. Those without gun licenses, or revoked ones, will have complete access to part's schematics online. The legal and ethical ramifications of publicizing blueprints of making a firearm online are massive, and all it takes is one crazed lunatic to print out a lower receiver. Violent crimes, especially those involving guns, could skyrocket if regulation for printed gun parts is not initiated.

Bright Future for 3D Printing: A $3 Billion Industry by 2018

Bright Future for 3D Printing: A $3 Billion Industry by 2018 - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A recent report analyzing various 3D printing businesses and services has come to the conclusion that the industry will be worth a whopping $3 billion dollars before the end of the current decade, with the United States taking a major claim of that market. While there are many critics out there who have denounced 3D printing as a fad, the figures and statistics don't lie. 3D printing has been highly successful since its inception, and has only been making great progress in multiple sectors. Some key improvements in manufacturing technology, such as printable jaw implants and auto replacement parts, owe their thanks to rapid prototyping and 3D printing. It is a booming business which will only meet popularity and profit in the long run.

While technology continues to be enhanced and printer costs are gradually lowered to increased affordability, more and more companies are turning to additive manufacturing as their method of choice for mass production. Soon, it will be possible for more complex materials, such as metals to be printed, thus enabling precious jewelry to become a printing standard for a vast market.

The United States and other developed nations like Germany and the UK will benefit greatly, especially from a manufacturing point of view. Most first world countries have moved their operations overseas to less developed destinations. Their economies allow for lower production costs, which every corporation would prefer. However, offshore operations come with costly consequences. Shipping the items back home is always an issue, and at times, timing is critical. Manufacturing in distant regions definitely poses a problem to businesses worldwide, but with the aid of 3D printing, such concerns can be alleviated.

Continuous improvement in 3D printing technology can allow for manufacturing activity to be moved back to the developed nations, and thereby eliminating the need for expensive shipping costs and long distance dealings.

Furniture Printing: Possible Competition with Ikea

Furniture Printing: Possible Competition with Ikea - Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Buying a new unfurnished home is always accompanied by furniture shopping, which can be quite a boring and annoying endeavor for most people, especially families. The last thing children have on their minds is aimlessly wandering the aisles of a furniture store for what may seem like, or even be, hours. Not to mention the time consuming and strenuous task of moving the new items into your own home, and the prospect of constructing some of them, like a table. While this could seem like a never ending hassle, a solution has been discovered. Now, there exists a 3D printer robot that has the capability of printing out all types of furniture, from simple to complex.

This is the brainchild of Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij, who uploaded various designs that he personally created, and tested the robot's prowess. The results were flawless and it was discovered that the robot could even print our award winning furniture. By extruding plastic, rocking chairs and tables can be printed out in a mere three hours, and even in different colors to match the customer's preference.

Such technology could bring the downfall of furniture store giants if made public. Once multiple types of furniture CAD designs are uploaded onto user created file sharing websites like Thingiverse, people will be printing out furniture right from their very own homes instead of making the trip to the store and spending days picking out the right items for themselves.

Printing Pharmaceuticals from home: A Big Problem?

Printing Pharmaceuticals from home: A Big Problem? - Monday, July 23, 2012

Medical advancements in the 3D printing sector seem continuously to stack up. Previously, we examined how creating a jaw implant and an artificial liver would revolutionize the biomedical engineering industry. Soon enough, prosthetic devices even more powerful than regular limbs and joints could be made available through the means of surgical procedures. Recently, a new venture has been brought to light. Professor Lee Cronin and his team at the University of Glasgow have come up with a printing technology that could allow pharmaceutical drugs to be printed right from your very own home!

He explains how he used bathroom sealant as the base material on which the chemicals would be printed. Since drugs are usually a combination of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, these could be used to create organic molecules. These molecules would then be injected within the template, thus allowing the chemicals to react. This is how the drugs are manufactured and in turn, produced in mass quantities.

Making a drug could not have been easier, and before we know it, the Chemputer as it is called, will be available for everyone to purchase. While this may seem to be a highly attractive concept to most people, I feel skeptical. Giving any individual complete access to any drug is very risky and dangerous decision. Not only could they be printing more drugs than needed, but they could also be providing said drugs to others. Overdosing on pills will become a cakewalk and I foresee a rise in complications and deaths due to drug consumption. There is also a chance that a black market could evolve and the production of countefeit drugs or inferior drugs could be made possible. Such a possibility is high and could also endanger many lives. In addition to the aforementioned concerns, some of the drugs are classified as controlled substances. How will the government regulate their printing capacity? Anyone with a Chemputer could effortlessly create multiple controlled substances and hand them over to someone else.

These are all major concerns that must be covered and dealt with before commercializing the pharmacy printer.

Pros and Cons of 3D Printing

Pros and Cons of 3D Printing - Thursday, July 19, 2012

The conception of a new disruptive technology is almost always met with universal praise but not without minor skepticism. 3D printing has its fair share of supporters and critics. The manufacturing industry will save tons of time and money by assigning printers to mass produce a vast variety of items. Individuals can purchase commercial printers for personal uses as well, and we can see 3D printing becoming an active component in the marketplace sometime in the near future. However, on the downside, the printers have raised red flags in the domain of copyright law and security. I'll be analyzing the scope of 3D printing based on both facts and opinions for both positive and negative sides, and then presenting my own final verdict.

One of the major disadvantages to utilizing the 3D printing and scanning technology in the business world is primarily the cost. Industrial sized 3D printers can be over ten times as expensive as milling machines which are normally used for the production process. Plastic and metal powder or filament is definitely far more costly than traditional materials used for creating parts. With this in mind, it would be very inefficient to print out large pieces which can take up a bulk of company time and in turn, money.

With a background in computer aided design and a mechanical aptitude, it is quite simple to reproduce an action figure which has its rights owned by Marvel. This will naturally bring about a massive lawsuit which will destroy so many creative minds, although I can't blame Marvel for defending its licensed creations. One could also create many duplicates of keys that can be used to open handcuffs. And since the material of choice happens to be plastic and the printed items can be tiny enough to hide anywhere, metal detectors and pat downs end up being useless to stop a crime.

However, we can all safely assume that the future will behold great benefits for the 3D printing industry. Time and technology improvement have a very positive relationship, and this will allow for printers to increase productivity and quality in the long run. Faster speeds and finer, stronger parts will be results of future printing operations. One thought that comes to mind would be a decrease in the weight of an item that is printed. Since blots and screws wouldn't be part of the printing process, the newly printed items would weigh less, and this can have numerous positive impacts. Shipping costs will be less and carrying capacity will go up. A drop in the printer prices is another addition to the bright side. Within the next 5-10 years, manufacturers will be using less material to counteract the high costs associated with it. Creating a durable and long lasting item with minimal material is an optimal production run.

3D printing has a ton of potential because of its vast capabilities. The manufacturing world can greatly benefit by using the technology as part of their production model and end up saving a lot of money. While it does have some issues, the advantages outweigh and outshine the drawbacks. I can confidently say that the printing industry will most definitely see a successful future.

Bringing 3D Printing into the Mainstream College Environment

Bringing 3D Printing into the Mainstream College Environment - Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For those who have been reading my previous articles, I have made significant and extensive mention of the fact that spreading news about 3D printers will bring about major progress and allow the additive manufacturing concept to gain popularity. Very recently, a breakthrough dealing with printing education and publicity has been made. For the first time, a university has allowed complete and unrestricted access of 3D printers, scanners, and CAM/CAD programs to its students.

The main library at the University of Nevada's Reno campus has set up the hardware and software for any student with high to low, or no expertise in the discipline. Such a practice will only foster intellectual curiosity and broaden the minds of anyone who decides to study 3D printing and print something out for themselves. Prior to making the printers fully available to all, only faculty with research interests could be granted access to such material. By opening up the world of 3D printing to students, our current and future generation will have a tangible idea of what the printers do, how they work, and even how they could benefit us in the long run. Exposure can also prove to be an excellent indicator of future business profits for the 3D printing industry. If college age individuals learn the mechanics and uses of the 3D hardware, there are high chances that they may purchase a commercial model for personal means.

As a Penn State student, I am very fortunate to have the chance to work with 3D printers as part of my job position. Before this summer, I barely had any knowledge of 3D printing. Only the concept of it rang a bell. Now, I can fortunately say that I'm very comfortable conversing about and explaining printing topics regarding the printer mechanics, troubleshooting, materials science, business ideologies, and future implications. This work study position truly has provided me with a strong background in a new and emerging technology, which will definitely disrupt the market in due time.

My one request would be for the university to open up 3D printing and scanning operations to the general student and faculty population. By giving everyone even limited access, the only outcome will be increased knowledge and interest, which will most certainly be advantageous to the 3D printing world and technology, and in turn, us.

The Impact of 3D Printed Objects on Handcuffs and Security

The Impact of 3D Printed Objects on Handcuffs and Security - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One of every nation's primary concerns is to keep the peace and prevent the spread of crime. Criminal activity seems to increase steadily over the years and with the advent of advanced technology, foiling such issues tends to become a progressively tougher job. Even today's movies give people the motivation to rob banks or plan an intricate heist. The last thing anyone wants is an elusive serial killer or a gang striking fear into everyone's hearts.

The 3D printing industry has been dragged into the copyright domain in the past, but this time, it has been deemed controversial due to its ability to become a security breach. Since almost any small plastic object can be created from a printer, the power of high end handcuffs becomes compromised if a duplicate key can be produced. Prestigious handcuff key manufacturers were alarmed upon realizing that a 3D printed key was capable of breaking open a high security level handcuff.

A hacker who simply went by the name "Ray" to avoid publicizing his identity, was able to acquire a key which he measured and created a CAD model of. Next, he reproduced the key in mass quantities using a personal 3D printer. Imagine the horror that any key or handcuff production company would experience knowing that their keys could easily be created using a 3D printer, which in little time, could be found in the homes of tens of thousands.

While Ray is being blamed by the media and law enforcement officials for undermining the security of their handcuff and key technology, he stated in his defense that he was only trying to raise awareness of the fact that common criminals and anyone with access to a police store can easily get duplicate keys in their hands. In a sense, he might even start a movement to improve the features of a typical handcuff. In my opinion, key distribution should be strictly limited to law enforcement, and duplication should be impossible. This would make the prospects of escape far tougher.

Building Planes with Giant 3D Printers

Building Planes with Giant 3D Printers - Monday, July 16, 2012

In the previous articles, we have seen how 3D printers can be used to create a multitude of different objects. The food and medical industry will most likely be seeing a boom with the introduction of printers and scanners. These will easily bring about a very beneficial change to their business models, yielding huge profits due to increased productivity and less production time. One article shed positive light on the automotive industry and how 3D printing could govern the manufacturing of cars in the next decade or so. Similarly, the aerospace industry is also considering the big leap forward by planning on the implementation of 3D printing for aircraft construction.

Cabin designers at Airbus have struck upon a futuristic concept for a plane that could very well become a commercial liner within the next 50 years. The schematics have all been mapped out, however, the major setback lies in material availability. The concept plane's structure requires strong aluminum with transparent properties along with biopolymers and carbon nanotubes needed for added strength. This is where 3D printing steps in. Soon, there will be a number of printers that can simultaneously print multiple materials. Some parts of the plane can be strong while others can be light.

Industrial designers and innovators see a huge amount of potential in scaling up the 3D printers to a much larger size. Although the printing technology is about 20 years old, most of the chief advancements have been within the last few years. Judging by the rapid increase in technological and machine uses in our family lives as well as businesses, 3D printers could be utilized for creating almost anything. Skyscrapers may no longer require the intensive and extensive manpower that is typically needed when several, or a mega 3D printer is brought into the playing field.

3D printing will surely govern the production process of many items that we will use in the future. I personally see it as an invention (or concept) greater than or equivalent to Gutenberg's printing press. After all, they both ARE printers.

Solar Power and Printing

Solar Power and Printing - Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Sun is a tremendous source of potential energy and correctly harnessing its power can provide anyone with a near limitless amount of power (hopefully, just for the realm of science and not world domination). Solar panels convert light into electricity and are used by many homes. While installation is expensive, the electricity bill is much lower, and the government actually reimburses you for any additional energy that is produced. Solar cookers are used in extremely hot climates as substitutes for ovens in order to cook food. Although it does take somewhat longer to heat the meal, it is energy and cost effective. Apart from these, the sun has multiple other uses, and this segment will deal with how the combination of 3D printing and solar power and yield beautiful results.

Marcus Keyser, an industrial designer, is credited with the idea of a solar powered 3D printer. He began experimenting with the Solar Sinter in the deserts of Egypt and the Sahara, known for a special property that is contained in their sand. The sand is made up of silica in the form of quartz. Upon reaching its melting point and then being cooled, the sand can be converted into glass. The process is known as sintering, which was mentioned in the previous article, and involves heating powdery substances until they are transformed into a solid form. Instead of a laser, the sun's rays are used on the sand, which would be the alternative to typical printing materials such as plastic or powder.

With solar power being a rising trend in the modern world, the commercial 3D printing industry should definitely consider implementing their printers with solar technology. While the obvious downside is the added expense and the inability to print during the evening hours, the benefits easily outweigh the drawbacks. First and foremost, solar energy is a highly sustainable and renewable energy source. The sun will be shining for at least a million more years, and this is enough time for anyone to make full use of its potential. Installing solar equipment onto printers can lead to financial incentives since the government encourages the use of renewable resources as electricity mediums. And of course, there is no need to worry about emissions from solar power. This is a green effort and the environment will not be harmed.

Going green is the way of the future and getting 3D printing involved in the movement will naturally help the cause, and the environment.

Athletics and 3D Printing with SLS

Athletics and 3D Printing with SLS - Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Most of the articles that I have used as resources for the blog's maintenance are typically based upon the use of RepRap or Makerbot, which utilize additive manufacturing technology with the layer-upon-layer approach.

Selective laser sintering (SLS) is another technology in which high powered lasers are needed to join powder particles belonging to a variety of materials such as plastic and glass. The lasers can trace the cross section of the item needed for printing and sinters the material together.

Recently, in the athletic field (literally and figuratively), a type of shoe is being tested. This gold colored spiked running shoe is yet another innovative creation produced by a 3D printer via SLS. The shoes are highly lightweight and custom designed for each owner, who has a 3D scan of their feet prior to acquiring the shoes. This allows for an absolutely perfect fit.

The future of athletics can prove to be extremely beneficial to every athlete. With Olympic level athletes equipped with state of the art training facilities, world class coaches, and skin friendly apparel, the horizon seems to improve more and more significantly as time passes. 3D printing can provide an additional boost, and quite a big one that is, by being able to supply each athlete with their very own custom designed sports apparel item. Like the shoe in this case, any item could be tailored to any individual's specific need in order to yield optimal performance during a race, game, match, or any event.

And due to all these potential advancements, the competition will also increase dramatically. World records will be constantly shattered. I highly doubt that Usain Bolt could hold on to his sprinting records for too long once these shoes are available for his rivals.

Printing Dinosaurs: A Real Life Jurassic Park?

Printing Dinosaurs: A Real Life Jurassic Park? - Monday, July 9, 2012

Just about everyone has seen dinosaurs in action on the big screen. Gigantic, menacing prehistoric creatures easily capable of crushing bones, snapping limbs, and inciting fear into any measly, vulnerable human being (or creature) that came remotely close to them. Now, just imagine witnessing a dinosaur moving or roaring. This imagination could quite possibly become a reality sooner than you think.

Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, a paleontologist associated with Drexel University's Biology program, started a program in collaboration with the college's engineering department in order to use dinosaur fossils to recreate fully working dinosaur limbs and components. This would be accomplished by 3D scanning the fossils and making smaller scale models of the vital bones. These bones would then be printed, complete with musculature and skin (plastic or whichever material was used for the printing). Constructing a limb would be the preliminary goal and if this is successful, then we could quite possibly see a fully functioning dinosaur.

Contrary to how a majority of us perceive dinosaur movement, in actuality, it could be quite different. Hollywood producers and directors were not scientists and when Jurassic Park was released, there wasn't a wealth of information available on the way dinosaurs traveled. Assumptions were made simply to please the audiences. Fairly recently, scientists discovered that larger dinosaurs, such as the T-Rex, did not use their tails for support. This was once considered to be a standard belief. With changes both minor and major in paleontology and mammalian physics, the way a dinosaur walked or ran could be a very different mechanism after all.

Alleviating this problem is Drexel PhD student Jeffrey Kahn's current project. His interesting approach involves tracking the movement of fish, since they are precursors to several species of dinosaurs. By studying how joint and bone structures can fit together via CAD modeling and making 3D printouts, it is much easier to understand how animals can move.

3D printing will provide a huge advantage to the field of paleontology by providing a clearer picture on dinosaur activity. It could revolutionize not only the scientist's understanding, but also that of millions who have grown up reading about or watching dinosaurs on TV. The way for new ideas and changes will most certainly be paved and the science will be revamped.

Creating an Artificial Liver using Sugar

Creating an Artificial Liver using Sugar - Thursday, July 4, 2012

Many medical advancements have been made possible because of 3D printing. In one of my previous articles, I mentioned how an elderly patient was capable of having a successful titanium jaw implant that was printed from a commercial machine. Now, scientists are venturing into the possibilities of making organs using the same method. The only issue is that organ structure and function are far more complex than that of a bone or in this case, a jaw.

Tissue engineering is central to regenerative medicine. In order to grow artificial tissue, all the cells used in its reconstruction need to be kept alive. However, an excess of cells can absorb oxygen from the neighboring cells, setting off a chain reaction that eliminates all the cells. The body's cardiovascular system is composed of blood vessels which alleviates the problem, and designing a synthetic system would utilize sugar for its creation.

Sugar is a highly reliable material since its properties would allow it to melt away once exposed to living tissue. A sugar coated network for the blood vessels was created and once it is surrounded by the vessels, it would be dissolved once the tissue is implanted. Scientists and engineers must keep one vital point in mind. There must be an adequate amount of nutrients flowing into the organ or else the project will be futile.

This approach really does tackle the issues with tissue engineering and almost anything can be accomplished in the surgical realm because of 3D printing. Testing this method on animals should be the next step before determining its safety for humans.

For anyone reading this and thinking about the movie "The Fifth Element" starring Bruce Willis, we're both on the same page. This futuristic thriller (a cult classic, but not a personal favorite) featured a machine similar to a 3D printer that created entire organs for amputees and individuals with birth defects. Maybe one day, in next 50 years or so, this could become reality with the help of 3D printing.

A New Kind of Guitar

A New Kind of Guitar - Monday, July 2, 2012

3D printing has been crossing many boundaries and making names for itself in almost every industry. Now, even music enthusiasts can rejoice since experimentation has been performed on guitars with successful results.

Olaf Diegel, a mechatronics professor from New Zealand, is the chief designer behind the idea of nylon bodied printed guitars, which he intends on mass producing to sell online later in the month. The specialty in these guitars has to do with the material. Recalling from my earlier readings for college level chemistry, nylon has a very strong and durable molecular structure in comparison to the standard wood make and finish of a regular guitar. This allows the guitar to withstand a lot of pressure and force, thus making it highly robust. Diegel does mention that his guitars are very tough to break and this characteristic would definitely factor into the pricing.

Wood is in fact added to the nylon body in order to create a smoother and brighter sound. The type of wood depends on the type of requested guitar. Mahogany is always used for a Gibson while a Fender needs maple.

At the moment, the price range is from £1000 - £1500 and customers are given a wide degree for customization. Guitars can be delivered to your home within a week's time.

Jay Leno Replacing Old Car Parts with 3D Technology

Jay Leno Replacing Old Car Parts with 3D Technology - Thursday, June 28, 2012

Famous talk show host and celebrity Jay Leno is known for his passion towards automobiles of all types. His garage showcases a vast collection of cars from over the years and people consult him for advice on restoration and mechanical issues. Restoring a car can be a serious hassle sometimes. The chances of committing one single error, even minuscule in size, can ruin an entire project. With the help of a 3D scanner and printer, Leno will be able to fix any problems that his cars encounter in the future.

People are wired to approach a machinist whenever they need a replacement part but the downside to that is human error and a service fee. 3D printers are machines. Once they are given a program, they will execute it flawlessly (given that all devices are in working order) and provide the individual with the perfect part.

In the article, Leno mentions how his scanner can re-create a Ferrari motor by scanning each part involved in its construction. Generally, a 3D scanner works by capturing millions of points of an object and records the distances of all points in order to formulate an image.

According to Leno, the scanner cost him around $3000 while the 3D printer was five times as much.

3D printers and scanners are truly engineering marvels. In the near future, I can easily predict the mass production of such advanced products for the public. With minor mechanical and CAD training, anyone can start creating or replicating items of their choice.

An Inspiring RepRap Story in New Zealand

An Inspiring RepRap Story in New Zealand - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gary Willis, a carpenter from New Zealand suffered a serious shoulder injury that prevented him from practicing his trade any longer. However, that did not force him to give up on his life ambition. Instead, he decided to team up with his stepson and purchase a 3D printer from Europe for $2500, which really isn't a terrible price at all. And this 3D printer ended up being a RepRap!

Since Willis was already mechanically adept from his experience as a carpenter, he found the learning curve for the printer to be fairly smooth. Taking basic CAD lesson and utilizing his stepson's electronics expertise, Willis was soon making his own creations.

An interesting fact from the article: Willis is only one of three people in New Zealand to own a 3D printer.

Hopefully we can see the printing revolution expand down under.

Should Apple Invest in 3D Printing?

Should Apple Invest in 3D Printing? - Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Think of one company that almost all of your friends and family own a product from. Microsoft and Apple would most probably be two names that pop up in your mind. While it is common knowledge that Microsoft is far more successful in the operating systems market (due to its compatibility with hardware from various companies such as Dell and HP) and in terms of popularity, not many people are aware of Apple's market capitalization power. Due to having the greatest value in total shares, Apple has a massive war chest which easily gives it the capability of investing in fast growing profitable industries. One of these industries, as you can decipher from the emphasis placed on it by the blog, is three dimensional printing.

Steve Jobs, Apple's founder, was a genius in his field. He could implement a number of intuitive and pioneering changes in the world of music, cell phones, and computers that brought huge competition to the business. The iPhone, iPad, and iPod are some of the regular Apple accessories that we can see in someone's hands on a daily (or hourly) basis.

Now, the most critical segment of this discussion isn't about the type of products that were released. It's about the revolutionary approach that Jobs took since none of those former three products were invented by the Apple founder. Jobs made vast improvements to technological items that were already being circulated in the market. Once these items were fine-tuned and tweaked by Apple and released with the fruit logo printed on it, sales would skyrocket because of Apple's immense popularity and reliability.

The same can be said if Apple decided to begin influencing 3D printing. By acquiring a large commercial 3DP corporation, Apple can take over and institute its own ideas and innovations to the design process. Purchasing said corporation should pose no issue to Apple since their large market cap provides them with enough funds to do so, and they would still have a hefty sum of money left over. If it continue its trend under the new leadership, the results will naturally be quite spectacular.

Here is an interesting short article showing that Apple has already been riding the 3D printing wave: iPhone cases

3D Printing's Growing Influence in the Medical World

3D Printing's Growing Influence in the Medical World - Monday, June 25, 2012

In one of my previous blog entries, I wrote about the impending "food revolution" that could be brought forth by 3D printing, since chocolate has been making headlines. While everyone would be highly interested in watching their favorite recipes being printed out of a nozzle and onto a bed, there is also another, far more important industry that could benefit from 3D printing. The general public is conscious of their own and their loved ones' health conditions, so it is natural to involve 3D printing in the field of reconstructive surgery and prostheses.

Last February, an 83 year old patient suffered from a serious bone infection which would force her to relinquish her entire jaw. Due to the patient's age, a regular surgical procedure could be risky, so a new route was chosen.

A graphic design of the potential jaw implant was created and sent to a machine, which analyzed its cross sections. These would consist of titanium powder which would have each successive section layer melted onto the previous layer. Once the structure was completed, it was given a bioceramic coating. This type of coating allows compatibility between the implant and the patient due to its biomaterial makeup. Attaching the jaw took a mere four hours, compared to the 20+ hours that are usual in a standard surgery.

The recovery process was phenomenal. The patient could swallow after less than 24 hours and was able to be discharged after four days.

Prospects for revolutionizing the realm of surgery are excellent, however, there is still a great deal of research and time required in order for major advancements to occur. Biological, biochemical and chemical processes all need to be taken into account, and no two patients are the same. In order to print organic bone and tissue, the printers need organic material, which is naturally quite difficult to come by, especially in large quantities.

But on a brighter note, we can all witness the benefits of printed medical parts. The implants can be perfect fits for the patient, the recovery time is less, and as a whole, medical costs dip. In this day and age, the cost of hospitalization and operations can be burdensome to anyone, but in the future, 3D printing might be the game changer.

Personal Commentary on the Commercial 3D Printing Industry

My Personal Commentary on the Commercial 3D Printing Industry - Thursday, June 21, 2012

Some technologies become public gradually, with the public keeping a close watch on them, waiting for it to occupy their homes, cars, or anywhere of convenience. Over one hundred years ago, the idea of motion pictures was on everyone's lips and such an invention was expected to come about shortly within the relative time frame. Although everyone was awed at such a conception, they were all well aware of its production and imminent release. The same can not be said for 3D printing.

Only a select few individuals, who were primarily developing this technology, knew its happenings. This "secrecy" and behind the scenes approach may have been one of the contributing factors to the immense success of the 3D printing industry. Releasing the technology to the world at the right time yields optimal results. The manufacturers and developers must have taken the rapidly changing market and competing industries into account before making 3D printing a commercial idea. If true, it is most definitely, a genius plan. A plan that should be used by other future inventors in the long run.

3D printing is a rapidly growing industry. On the surface, one can notice that prices for the printer are dropping dramatically compared to the premier releases. Printers costing tens of thousands of dollars can now be purchased for a much more affordable sum of $3000, and I foresee prices lowering in the future. Also, the flexibility of printing materials is improving due to the capability of more materials being able to be printed. Plastics dominated the scene for a while until cutting edge improvements have allowed for food and metals to be added to the materials base. Down the line, the possibility for almost anything to be printed does not seem to be a far-fetched idea.

In addition to the aforementioned benefits of 3D printing, another key advantage is in the technology itself. 3D printing is additive manufacturing, therefore, materials are joined and added together in order to create the final product. This is accomplished via the layering sequences. Because of this, any type of complex design can be created.

I believe that the horizon is clear for 3D printing to continuously grow and improve. New ideas and innovations keeping sprouting and the room for creativity will never disappear. There might be day where we could see 3D printing being a pioneer for new treatment methods in the medical field. Not just for instrumental and machine design, for actually printing out spare limbs and body parts. Reconstructive surgery could be completely revamped. The world may even become dependent on 3D printing for a vast number of processes.

The potential is limitless.

Review of the Open Hybrid Mendel wiki page

Review of the Open Hybrid Mendel wiki page - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

During the course of my research experience, I have been exposed to the Open Hybrid Mendel 3D printers, which are an improvement over the original Mendel. As stated on the OHM main page, the term "hybrid" is due to multiple design inputs that were taken into account for creating this model. Like a majority of other designs, there is not a wealth of information on OHM presented in this wiki. I was requested to determine what necessary (or mandatory) changes needed to be made in order to upgrade the look and feel of the page.

In comparison to other Mendel hybrids and designs, the OHM pages are fairly well defined and explained. The main page generalizes the six sub-systems and has a list of all parts with visuals corresponding to their respective sub-system. These parts are all organized in a very structured manner and aren't scattered across the page.

However, here are some problems that I noted:

1) On the How to build an OHM page, I can see a huge need for improvement. There is virtually nothing here, except for a few images relating to the frame's construction (of which, no instructions are provided). I suggest that the instructions used for assembling the Ponoko Darwin's extruder be used as a template for the OHM's extruder, which can be found here.

It provides a paragraph long background, design variations that have been made along the way, and step-by-step instructions accompanied by images.

If this method is used for the other subsystems (Frame, carriage, X-Z assembly, etc...), the OHM page will be far more useful, especially in terms of its construction.

2) The Ponoko main page has a "Basic Rules" section which briefly explains some of the problems a user/designer can encounter. Some of these are indeed basic and obvious, such as "don't put bits of plastic in your mouth or other bodily orifices" while another rule gives details on how to address razor sharp edges resulting from cutting the rod.

The OHM page has no such section, and I feel that every design page should include one for safety and general knowledge purposes.

3) The Mini-Mendel/Huxley page contains a section about further development of the ideas and construction behind the Huxley, labeled as "Ongoing Development"

Perhaps a similar section could be added to the OHM page. It would give everyone an outlet to either read about or submit more information regarding the design. This all adds to the contribution of the wiki and the community in general.

A 3D Printer for Every Household: The Choc Creator Version 1

A 3D Printer for Every Household: The Choc Creator Version 1 - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This will be a rather more interesting entry compared to the last two since I'll actually be discussing a certain type of printer. And I know for a fact that any reader would enjoy what is to follow.

3D printing has been making rapid advancements in the technology world. Combining creative, innovative thoughts with a technically oriented mindset results in a recipe for success.

Chocolate is a delicacy loved by a majority of the world's population. Imagine the popularity of a printer that could, in fact, print chocolate from your very own home.

This has now been made possible with the advent of chocolate 3D printers. The idea of such a printer originated in England. The prototype was created by Professor Richard Everson and Dr. Liang Hao, both scientists at the University of Exeter. While the technology isn't as advanced and complex enough to produce all types of food items, chocolate is a perfect start since it only requires a single ingredient, molten chocolate, to be extruded from the nozzle.

The process is similar to that of any 3D printer. As mentioned before, molten chocolate flows through the nozzle onto the heated bed. It can be deposited anywhere, and once a layer is complete, the next layer is built upon the previous one while it solidifies from cooling.

Chocolate must also have been chosen as an ideal starting point due to its safety level. Failure with printing molten chocolate simply results in a gooey mess and possibly damaged clothing. Unfortunately, this would never be the situation given that the intended object going in for printing is an automobile or airplane part. Even a highly minor issue in a single mechanical part can have catastrophic consequences, such as a car accident or a plane crash. This view is shared by Dr. Everson. Therefore, the low risk involved with chocolate makes it an easy item to experiment with.

Everson also voices another very powerful concept. A major outcome that can stem from the "food printing revolution" is co-creation, a marketing idea which allows the consumer to have a role in the production process. Instead of going to a grocery store and picking out generic forms of chocolate, an individual could watch their personalized chocolate creation being made right before their eyes. This can massively benefit manufacturing and business in numerous industries.

I foresee a very positive and profitable future not only for the chocolate 3D printing business, but for all forms of food as well.

Here is a Youtube videoshowing the chocolate 3D printer in action.

The Legal Ins and Outs of 3D Printing

The Legal Ins and Outs of 3D Printing - Thursday, June 14, 2012

I came across a pretty interesting and eye opening (at least for myself) article [1] on the legal issues surrounding 3D printing. I never really thought anyone could get sued over printing exact replicas of action figures and other toys. The idea of doing something along these lines hadn't even crossed my mind.

For those who didn't read Clive Thompson's article, for which the link is provided for in the previous paragraph, here is the story:

Thomas Valenty, a Makerbot owner decides to design a couple of Warhammer toy models and uploaded the files on Thingiverse. However, a lawsuit was brought forth by Games Workshop, a Warhammer toy manufacturer. It claimed that Valenty had violated the conditions listed in the DMCA and could be subject to penalties. As a result, Thingiverse removed the files from the site.

However, digital rights attorney Michael Weinberg states that Valenty is not guilty of any crime. Since intellectual property in this case is subject to patent law instead of copyright law because the Warhammer toys are physical models, Valenty may not even need to have been held responsible for any copyright infringement.

Regardless of the consequences, I'm sure that many people will be infringing upon patent law just as much (or even more so) as they do with copyright law. Everyone has illegally downloaded music, games, and other software at some point in time.

I believe that creating such stringent laws for the 3D printing industry will decrease the level of creativity and talent for users. This is why I'm highly supportive of open source 3D printing since it fosters a wealth of new ideas without being impeded by the law.

Hopefully Weinberg and others can convince legislators to relax the current and future laws that govern 3D printing.

None of us want our creative, imaginative thoughts squashed.

Review of the "RepRap Family Tree" Wiki page

Review of the "RepRap Family Tree" Wiki page - Wednesday, June 13, 2012

As anyone can see, the RepRap Family Tree is quite expansive and well organized.

One of the important items that I noticed in the family tree included the types of RepRap (e.g.: polar, cartesian). Prior to visiting this page, I had not read about the RepRap's movement features, but after doing some research on these types, I feel better acquainted. A cartesian RepRap can move along the X, Y, and Z axes (hence, a typical cartesian coordinate plane) while a polar RepRap can move its tool-head by turning it in a circular direction.

I also realized that a majority of the working RepRaps ended up being commercialized. If such a trend continues, there is a huge market for profiting in the 3D printing business, and this can prove to be valuable for a number of people and corporations. However, the obvious disadvantage with this situation would be the gradual decline of open source 3D printing which has been the core of the RepRap community. New ideas and innovations have spurred from the open source movement, since users can change and improve printing methods. There should be limits to commercialization in order to continue the users' growth in creativity that results from open source software and hardware.

Simplifying the tree might be an issue since most of the information presented on the tree is fairly important and relevant to the history of the RepRap. One suggestion I could make would be to be remove the "less common" RepRaps from the tree. Instead, they could all be listed by their date of inception, as well as their predecessor RepRaps. Here is a rough example in which the Ponoko lasercut Darwin is the "less common" RepRap and it directly originated from the Darwin.

Darwin --------> Ponoko lasercut Darwin

I feel that this initiative would clear up some space on the tree and make it look more presentable while maintaining most of the critical information.