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Killer app

Posted by turingsplastic 
Killer app
August 18, 2010 08:37AM
If their predicted ubiquity is to be believed then what is it exactly that everybody is going to do with their very own RepRap? Not that I'm saying they won't have one - I'll avoid the same mistake as Thomas Watson of IBM who famously said, "I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers." But how many leaky plastic beakers, pen holders in the shape of a giraffe and plastic door wedges does any one household really need?
Re: Killer app
August 18, 2010 08:42AM
(Ps. I am playing devil's advocate to some degree and I have some thoughts of my own but I think it's an important question)
Re: Killer app
August 18, 2010 09:09AM
... i think, it's not really necessary that everyone should have a fabber in the house ... but it would be really good, when everyone knows someone in the neighbourhood, who could build a replacement for broken parts spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Killer app
August 18, 2010 09:15AM
Agreed. spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

I have had one colleague say "if he needs a whistle he'll go to the store and buy one for 10 cents"... hot smiley

And I already have 3 colleagues that have asked me to print something for them! smiling bouncing smiley

Bob Morrison
Wörth am Rhein, Germany
"Luke, use the source!"
BLOG - PHOTOS - Thingiverse
Re: Killer app
August 18, 2010 10:41AM
Some applications that have occurred to me are ...

Prototyping emergency parts for disaster relief overseas. Ship 30,000 tent pegs or just airfreight a single fabricator? That fabricator replicates itself, they both replicate themselves and so on until there's enough to start spitting out tent pegs. As needs change on site - medical parts, cooking utensils - models can be downloaded from a satellite internet connection as required.

Augmenting rather than replacing commercial manufacturing. Rather than go to a Levis Store you subscribe to a monthly supply of denim. You're notified of new designs by email with a model attached. A desktop application modifies it to fit your own measurements. Your fabricator cuts the denim in the first pass and stitches it together in the second.

And so on.

I think we are witnessing a new wave. We may not see it mature in our lifetimes but the era of the network enabled personal factory may well be upon us. Marx would love it, the means of production returned to the workers ... I smell a PhD thesis brewing!
Re: Killer app
August 18, 2010 01:40PM
rhmorrison Wrote:
> I have had one colleague say "if he needs a
> whistle he'll go to the store and buy one for 10
> cents"... hot smiley

I love that. How many times have people said that in the past?

Why would I want a telephone? If I want to talk to Bob, I'll see him in town next week.

Talking pictures? Who the hell wants to hear actors talk? (H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.) [en.wikipedia.org].

iPod? No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame. (Slashdot) [apple.slashdot.org]

I'm certain some caveman saw another make a fire and said the equivalent of - bah! when it gets cold I'll just move south like we always do.

Tony Buser http://tonybuser.com * http://reprap.org/wiki/User:Tbuser#Projects
Re: Killer app
August 18, 2010 01:50PM
A couple weeks ago I hit a pothole at a high speed while riding my bicycle. Fortunately I was fine, but several non-critical pieces of my bicycle suffered damage. The ABS plastic enclosure for the gear change mechanism on the front handlebar shattered, exposing the oiled internal components to the elements. The holders that attach my safety lights also broke, so after I picked up the pieces scattered across the pavement, I had no way to re-attach them to my bicycle.

Last year, the plastic latch that holds my heavy steel bike lock to the bicycle went missing, and ever since then I've carried the lock around by simply locking it to the bicycle - a sufficient, but uncomfortable solution; it would be much nicer to have a replacement lock holder, but the lock is an unusual size and so I can't buy a replacement without buying an entire new lock (>$60).

These all seem to me like, if not the killer app for a RepRap, then at least an excellent application.
Re: Killer app
August 18, 2010 08:59PM
I hope to use it to build water tight enclosures for motors, cameras, sensors, batteries, electronics on my under water ROV, but that is not going to be a wide spread need.

I am wondering, as my feet continue to hurt each day, if custom 'lasts' can be scanned and printed for each person's feet. Since these would wear out, as will the shoes they must be fitted to, that means making more of them. But who wants to pay specialty store prices for a custom insert for EVERY pair of shoes you buy?

But after all the sensible things are said and done, I have a feeling that the true 'killer app' for repraps will be the 3D equivalent of viral videos on youtube. Somebody designs some funking doodad that no one really needs, but everyone thinks it is fun, and now anyone who does not have access to a reprap to print one is behind the times.

Re: Killer app
August 21, 2010 11:05PM
I accept that home fab will never be able to compete with mass fabrication for mass things - When I want screws, I'm better to buy them. Ditto light bulbs etc etc

However for the home handyman - being able to craft a replacement part trivially will save a huge amount of time. Put the "snapped" thing gently back together, scan it - pop it back in the hopper and have a new one arrive on the tray - suddenly you can fix anything.

However for the Local store - "Do you have the replacement nozzle for my NC31007 Washingmachine ?" - Wait 30 minutes and it will be in stock. Rather than having to ship thousands of parts and keeping millions in stock, (and not having old/rare things available) the "Coventry es" of the future just ship in raw material and print on demand

However for individually customised parts - The example above about the lasts, Pistol grips that "exactly" match your hand - buy the "working parts seperate from the "customisable" bits. The microwave that matches the theme of the rest of the kitchen (but has the same internals as next door - buy the internals, seperate from the "finish"). Pick your outfit from the catalog then have it made to your size (your actual size not the silly "size 14") - Generally seperating the "functional" or hard to fab bits of the product from the customisable bits - and assembling them locally (

However for "test" products - print one, try it - adjust - back in the hopper, print the next. I accept this is only really useful for those of us who "make" new stuff - once the product is "right" then get it built "properly"

However for remote locations - Rather than sitting in your antarctic base radioing to have a replacement part shipped out to you, you can fab a new one immediately (ditto when bush, at sea, on a mine site etc)

I do not believe there will be one "killer app" - in the same way there is no killer app for computers. I think that once they are available they will be used in ways we can not imagine, ways tha will amaze and astound everyone.
Re: Killer app
August 22, 2010 10:11AM
what about modularity? it is the necessary next step to deal with complexity in our modern world, it makes things easier.

if your "thing" is made of modular plastic parts, that join together to create a greater whole, you can innovate faster, and you can replace broken parts easier. it's the same way as nature is doing it, all our bodies are made of cells. we are not one thing, but constantly reworked. this is why nature is so complex and yet robust.

reprap opens the door to short feedback loops.
Re: Killer app
August 23, 2010 10:43AM
Apple have come up with a fantastic business plan, the Iphone is good so I am told, but its the apps that make it so desirable.
A hardware equivalent to apps perhaps???, custom fit is one area that is spoken of, an insole for your shoe made from a scan of your own foot rather than factory made to the average person, etc,etc

Edit, Sorry, I have just repeated what others have said above, must read all before posting next time.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/23/2010 10:47AM by johnrpm.
Re: Killer app
August 23, 2010 12:41PM
Nice to know that it would appeal to more than just me! Yes, if the machine scanned your foot or hand, or you held or stood on/in some clay or mold material and then had the machine scan that and make custom shoe insoles, electric razor handles, pistol grips, cooking utensil handles, etc that might help.

This means that in addition to needing a way to extrude removable support material for overhangs, fiberglass embedded threads for strength and rigidity, we also need to add a 3D scanner to the machine. Fortunately, the 3d scanner should be easier than the other two. Just add a B/W board camera to onside of the extruder platform, and a scanning or linear LED light source at an angle on the other, and at least the top sides of objects can be 3D scanned from a Mendel or similar. Then, it becomes software problem, which is not so easy.

Re: Killer app
August 23, 2010 04:21PM
I have seen dashboards made on a SLS and covered with foil, it looks exactly like wood, football players already have custom fit insoles, why not everyone?, ear phones that do not hurt after a while, reading glasses that don't hurt your ears, garden tools, the common thread is a scanner and 3dprinter.
Re: Killer app
September 04, 2010 03:26PM
Appliance repair. I had a washing machine where a medium sized plastic part broke. It was an older machine, and the part would have been $60+, so it was cheaper to pick up a replacment than to repair the old one. With a 3D scanner and 3D printer I could have scanned it (it still fit together OK, just wasn't water tight) and printed a replacment.

Again, 3d scanner and printer combo.

I've heard of the same sort of thing happening with restoring old cars - they don't make parts, and you can't buy them anywhere. You can machine then yourself after much study, but scanning, editing if needed, and printing is quicker, faster, and cheaper. Of course, most car parts are metal, but there's ways around that... Was it Jay Lenno that the article mentioned?

I'm building it with Baling Wire
Re: Killer app
September 05, 2010 02:38AM
I really don't like the term killer app, especially when we're talking about reprap. There's a little something called the "long tail phenomenon" that is quite relevant to us.

I don't think customized insoles are reprap's killer app, as there customized insoles out there that are customized by baking them in a home oven then standing on them. A local camping goods store also has this hiking pack customization process where they use essentially the same process to make a molded piece of plastic that fits against one's back.

Here's a few things you might want to to keep in mind when trying to figure out "killer apps" though:
The fab@home guys have been able to successfully print food that was not only edible, but delicious(they will hopefully post this research soon).

There's a good chance the new Joint Strike Fighter will have laser sintered components in it(made from plastic).

It takes less energy(less energy than some industrial FDM machines even, probably equal to or on the same order as some of our heated bed machines!) and time to electron beam melt a part from titanium than it does to machine it.
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