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My name is Mitch Engleka and I am a junior at Penn State and I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Product Realization and a certificate in Engineering Design.


These weekly posts are assignments for EDSGN 497 J and will cover a wide range of 3D printing related topics throughout the semester

Blog #1

Amazing: Cloverknot

Something Amazing/Beautiful: (Thing #: 224032)

I really like the twisting knot designs that can be made in 3D CADD programs so I thought this thing looked really cool. Then, when I thought about actually printing it I was amazed at how someone had managed to print it in the first place. Our printers can't print floating pieces well at all so they must have used a different type of printer all together.

Weird: Umbrella/Parasol

Something Funny/Weird: (Thing #: 17848)

I saw this and just thought it was kinda weird. That is all.

Useless: Pocket Sun Dial

Something Useless: (Thing #: 232103)

Sundials haven't been widely used since the clock was invented. Nowadays we have clocks on our wrists, in out pockets, and hanging on walls all around us. Sundials are outdated and virtually useless when you can get watches for free.

Useful: Chord Holder

Something Useful: (Thing #: )

This thing effectively solves a problem we all face and that is chords sliding down the back or sides of our desk. This simple little thing will hold any type of cable from phone chargers to usb chords, it will keep everything easily in reach.

Surprising: Wedding Ring

Something Surprising: (Thing #: 231457

When I started looking on Thingiverse for things to post on this blog I knew that I could probably find anything I could want and much more things that I would never even think of so I was prepared to see some strange things. However, I never thought I would see an actual wedding wing. I was very surprised to see this when as I scrolled through the things.

Blog #2

After watching Marcin's TED talk, I am a little skeptical of the Open Source Ecology project. By streamlining the technology necessary for modern civilization into a handful of machines and devices the OSE project makes it seem like anyone can essentially build modern equipment from scratch. Then, the fact that it's all open source means that the materials will be cheap and all the machines will be heavily customizable. This all sounds great as a concept but impossible to implement well in reality.

The OSE project is meant to act as a fast track to modernization for developing countries, cities or villages. In these places, it is difficult to obtain high quality building materials due to cost and availability. This means that the people building the machines most likely will not have access to the exact materials called for in the design schematics provided by the OSE. When these materials can't be found, the builders will have to find substitutes and finding substitutes requires prior knowledge of engineering and machining. This is a problem because modern engineering skills are not usually found in rural developing areas. Without these skills, the people will have to turn to outside help, which can be difficult to do because communication between a developing area and the modern world is usually rather limited. All of these factors seem to point to the fact that the OSE will simply not work well in practice, without even mentioning to inherent finickiness of home made open source machines.

In the end, I believe Marcin's Open Source Ecology Project is a great concept that could help millions of people to enjoy the comforts of modern technology, but will ultimately fail when put into practice. This failure will come from a combination of lack of available building materials, lack of knowledge on the part of the builders, lack of support from the rest of the community, and the unreliability of home made equipment.

In the New York Times article about Marcin, I feel like he was treated rather unfairly. The article seemed to target and poke fun at his lifestyle more than talk about the project itself. Marcin later responded to the article and addressing its portrayal of him. In his response, he simply addresses to criticism from the article and tries to clear up any misconceptions the article presented. In my opinion, the response was very well written and seemed to throw everything back at the New York Times, giving them no more ammunition.

Unfortunately I do not know anyone who would be able to bring Open Source Ecology to Penn State.

Blog #3

Mason Wilde is a teenager from Johnson county, Kansas made a prosthetic hand for Matthew, a nine year old family friend, that has moveable fingers and can even grab and hold a pencil. The incredible thing about this hand is that it was made on a 3D printer at the county library. Mason used modified plans of the hand that Ivan Owen and Richard Van As developed. It works when Matthew moves his hand up and down inside the prosthesis, causing to hand to open and close. The plans are also on thingiverse for anyone to recreate and modify.

If I were to make a robohand I would do it using the RepRap printers we have in class. One of the fully functioning printers would be able to print all of the components after some slight modification. There is also plenty of support in the community with ways to improve upon the design and make it easier to print.

While hunting around online, I found hundreds of articles and websites referencing this technology. The idea that 3D printing can easily make personal prosthetics has really taken off and now large companies are getting involved. It now seems like 3D printing will be the future of the prosthetics industry.

Blog #4

After reading classmates' second blogs, I found some people saw things differently than I did. Some called the OSE project utopian, while I never went to that extreme. Others thought it was an idea worth exploring further, even though it wouldn't have the global impact that Marcin wants it to have.

Some of my teammates also came up with reasons the OSE project would fail that I never thought of, the biggest one being safety. The OSE machines come with limited safety features, which become even more dangerous when in untrained hands, and don't explain any safety precautions during construction. This all assumes that the builders know how to use the tools they need and know how to be safe around these machines. Chances are people in developing countries don't know the safety precautions to take around a steel forge.

In general, I found that I share the same view as most of my classmates.

Blog #5

3D printing has come a very long way in the time since the first 3D printer was built in the 1980s. Here, I will outline some of the events that I think are the most important in the history of 3D printing.

The first important event is the creation of the first 3D printer itself. Despite the concept of stereolithography's inception in 1984, the first printer was not actually created until March 11, 1986. On this day, an entirely new industry was created. 3D Systems, the company founded by Charles Hull, the original inventor of stereolithography, was the flagship company for 3D printing and is till an industry leader today.

Ten years later, in 1996, Z Corp, 3D Systems, and Stratasys bring the first commercially available 3D printers to market. This was a huge moment for 3D printing as it finally allowed companies to buy fully functional printers. this opened the door to 3D printing's use in industry and manufacturers saw the potential that these machines held. This convinced big corporations to invest in the technology, speeding up its development.

Throughout the next decade 3D printing became much more common. New models of printers were developed and the control that operators had over the printing process extended. 3D printing had found its way into mainstream media and was now the hot new topic in manufacturing. One of the most important ideas to come from this time period was thought up be Adrian Bowyer. It was the idea that a 3D printer could print its own parts, the very concept that RepRap runs on. Despite all of the technical advancements being made in industry, I believe the idea to print a printer is more important simply because it makes the technology more accessible and robust. With this concept, anyone can build their own printer with relative ease and spread the technology across the globe. Printable printers would also be much easier to repair as replacement parts can be printed at a moments notice. This sort of self reproduction and repair had never been seen before with man made technology.

3D printing made another huge leap in 2012 with the implantation of the first printed human implant. On february 6, 2012 an 83 year old patient had a 3D printed titanium jaw implanted into their face. This is the first time a lower jaw implant had been made to specifically fit a patient. This customizability lead to better comfort and faster recovery, results unprecedented in a patient that old. This surgery showed how effective 3D printing could be in the medical field. Now, researchers are trying their hand at 3D printing anything for the human body and it really seems like 3D printing will be the future of medicine.

July of 2012 held two very important events for the technology. First, on the 18th, 3d printing services were offered on university campuses for the first time ever. This put 3D printing technology directly into the hands of engineering and design students, the very people who will be using the technology in industry in the near future. Not only were students now more aware of what the technology could do, they could actually experiment with it and try to improve it. This also spread the use of 3D printers to even more people, creating an even larger, more involved community. Shortly afterwards, on July 26th, the first 3D printed gun was produced. Personally I think the creation of 3D printed weapons was inevitable but the 3D printed gun, while relatively ineffective, was a huge shock to the greater community. This gun brought the huge question of 3D printing ethics and control to the forefront of 3D printing news, a spotlight that I think was undeserved. A single person printing an ineffective firearm was an inevitable consequence of the ability to easily make almost anything. Nonetheless, it convinced people that 3d printing can be dangerous and spurred a movement towards printing safety as well as digital rights management for 3D printers.

Months later, on October 18th, US patent #8286236 is filed. It grants permission for companies to include DRM software on their printers, granting them control over what a printer can and cannot print. This single patent created a controversy that is still hotly debated today and that is the argument over whether people should be able to print whatever plans they can get their hands on or if printers and the companies that make them can limit what can be made. Arguments from both sides range from public safety issues to human rights of ownership

Blog #6

I think that a logical next step for us to pursue would be the robotic hand that was proposed in class. After gaining experience working with motors and learning how to move a print head in a specific path on a 2D plane, moving the same type of head(or hand) in a 3D space will not be difficult. An arm like this would be useful in scanning large objects in order to print scale models and possibly new ways to print objects.

Once our printers reach a more stable mode of operation I think we should start producing more printers for use in classrooms. If we could have a working printer in all CEDE classrooms I think it would allow engineering design students for more easily build and test their designs. It would also open all engineering students to this relatively new technology and its capabilities and limitations.

As far as composite printers go, I think we are very capable of building one. We just need to actually work towards it with a more serious effort and we could probably have one by the end of 2014, assuming the proper funding.

Blog #7

After reading the first article, I believe creating more affordable lab instruments through 3D printing is a great idea. While we can't make all lab equipment through 3D printing due to material limitations there is a surprisingly large amount of useful items that can be produced. This ranges from simple test tube holders and mounts to full fledged microscopes and measurement devices. From my own experience in research labs, I know that even the simplest equipment can be extremely expensive, so any possible cost reduction will not only be effective in developing countries but in established nations as well.

The low cost nanoscope shows just how possible it is to 3D print lab equipment. My worry here is that the resolution and resilience of this nanoscope might be subpar. However, with some more development it will be greatly improved. Also, by using commercially available parts, the study ensures that the nanoscope can be reproduced by anyone as well as customized/upgraded by using different components. Later, once designs are standardized and the concept has been used more, the price will drop even more. It is here that the true power of open source technology will be most effective in driving the price down and maximizing the potential of the design. The community will start to design models that require minimal print times and simpler construction as well as producing software that works better than the initial design.

This idea of 3D printing lab equipment reminds me of the OSE project that we talked about earlier in the year, but much more real and effective.

Blog #8

Intellectual property rights and 3D printing seem to be at odds with each other. 3D printing is all about being able to create anything at any time while intellectually property management intends to restrict the production or use of an idea or product for an extended period of time. By copyrighting something, a person is able to prevent anyone else from using or altering this thing unless they give permission. This sort of usage restriction allows the inventor of a technology or product to reap the benefits of their work without another organization or person stealing the idea. Trademarks are similar to copyrights in that they restrict usage. This restriction, however, is limited to words or symbols, allowing someone to effectively brand their product. Trademarks are essentially copyrighted words, phrases, or symbols. A patent is very similar to copyright protection in that it gives one person or organization complete ownership over a process or product. Patents, however, only apply to newer ideas or products while copyrights usually last through the lifetime of a product. Trade secrets are very different from copyright protection in that they don't necessarily exist on paper. A trade secret is essentially the process by which a product is created that the producer would like to keep secret. This allows them to maintain control over who produces their product without all the legal consequences of copyrights or patents

The five Is are: Infringement, Identification, Impractical, Impossible, and Irrelevant. These five terms outline the decline of IP over time with the induction of 3D printing in the home. First, max copyright infringement will occur as people begin to use this technology. With this increased rate of infringement, identifying the offenders will become more and more difficult. Solving this identification problem will then be impractical or impossible depending on magnitude. Lastly, IP will become irrelevant because it is impossible to implement.

The future of IP is very uncertain at this point. Right now it seems that IP is doomed once the 3D printing movement starts to really take over. 3D printers need to become much better before we see any real changes however as direct, functionally replicas of commercial products are not very common or easy to make. Once they are, however, companies will try to fight back. We could see new DRM as well as new laws regarding intellectual property followed by new ways to identify copyright infringers who are then felt with in a more severe manner. In the end, however, I agree with the article that IP will become irrelevant. Its just a matter of time, depending on the lengths that companies as a whole are willing to go to and the speed at which 3D printing technology is developed.

Blog #9

The two useful links I found were from[1] and[2]. The protoparadigm page listed a more comprehensive guide as to what to look for in a good filament while the soliforum page had more customer reviews and experiences with the actual filament. After reading through both pages Solidoodle, RainBot3D, and Makerbot seem to be good filament suppliers. All of these suppliers have received decent reviews from people after actually using the filament and overall rumors about the filament performance and quality have been above average. So far, it seems we should be avoiding Octave, Sainsmart, and because both of these suppliers have bad reviews as well as poor consumer ratings as well.

As far as dissolvable materials for printing supports I think either PVA orHIPS would work. PVA would probably be better due to its non-toxicity and the fact that it dissolves in water. This way it would be safer of classroom use and we would not need to spend extra money on limonene. The extrusion temperature would have to be monitored carefully though in order to prevent breakdown, so more complicated prints might have to be watched carefully. Makerbot sells quality HIPS spools, but at $65/kg. PVA is available at for $46/lb or through Matterhackers for $33/kg. I think any of these options would work once the dual extruder is working and calibrated.

If it were up to me I would buy both PLA and PVA from There, PLA is only $20/lb and PVA is available at $46/lb. Better yet, all of the filaments UltiMachine makes are made for use with reprap printers, so they should work well with our printers.

Supplier sites: Solidoodle[3] RainBot3D[4] Makerbot[5] UltiMachine[6]

Blog #10

The extruder nozzle, or hot tip, is perhaps the most important part of a 3D printer. The goal of the hot tip is to melt the extruder material evenly and consistently as well as acting as the point that the printer draws with. In order to accomplish this goal, the hot tip must only heat up the print material at the very tip, while keeping the rest of the material up the line below melting point. If the material melts too early, the extrusion speed and distance will change, resulting in poor print quality. There are many different hot tip designs that try and minimize the travel of heat up the print material. Some of these designs will be reviewed here.

The J Head is one of the most popular printer heads on the market. It is relatively cheap and allows for exchangeable nozzle diameters. It features a brass nozzle, cooling fins, and a PTFE liner designed to reduce heat transfer up the nozzle. The newest design, the MKIV, has a liner that slightly extends into the nozzle itself to eliminate leaking from the nozzle joint. It is available for about $50 from maker geeks[7].

One of the newest designs I found is called Pico. It is a kickstarter funded hot tip from b3innovations that just hit the market. Despite being rather expensive, currently available for $99 on kickstarted, it can heat up to over 300 degrees celsius. It also features an all metal design as well as an interchangeable nozzle that seals with a compression fit to prevent leaking. The Pico can be purchased here[8]

These two designs were the best I could find that were commercially available, but there are also an infinite amount of home-made designs that get the job done just fine. While many of the designs lack precision engineering and complicated heat dispersion techniques, they make up for it in cost. Here[9] is just one example of how to make an extremely cheap and reasonably effective nozzle. The State college user group also has plans for our own home-made extruder nozzles here[10].

Blog #11

After seeing the many show and tells presented in class, the one I found most interesting was about remote printing. One of the greatest advantages of a 3D printer is that it(ideally) does not need to be monitored while it prints. Despite this obvious fact, I never thought of printing remotely. Now, there are several web services that allow you to print from either your printer or someone else's without ever touching it. While all of these services are still new and buggy, I know they will get better with time. The biggest concern is security, however, as connecting your printer to the internet can allow anyone to use it for any reason, making you liable for the things they print as well as responsible for the physical material used. Despite this slight drawback, I believe remote printing will become more and more popular as 3D printing grows and more people realize they would like to print but do not have a printer. By using a remote printing service, parts can be designed and printed by someone who does not own a physical printer, all without leaving the workplace. I also think remote printing is something we should get involved with, even if it means only having one printer connected for club use.