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About Me


Alex Punzi

Contact Information

[email protected]


Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering


Certified Solidworks Associate, Certified Solidworks Professional, Fundamentals of Engineering Exam Certified

Interests and Hobbies

Racquetball, tennis, basketball, golf

Bonus Blog #3

Cool, random DIY projects

As I’m sure you already know, RepRap is a very user-driven, DIY based project. This allows for a huge educational potential that cannot easily be offered in the classroom. For my last blog, I chose to go off on a bit of a tangent about one aspect of RepRap, the do-it-yourself portion, and talk about other DIY projects (most of which lack in the utility department) that I discovered online.

Soda Tab Purse

The first project I found does have some usefulness, but the work involved in creating it looks to far outweigh its functionality. However, it is really cool and would surely be a must-have accessory for the female engineer. It involves soda tabs – many, many soda tabs. The tabs are each clipped on one side and bent slightly so that they can easily be chained together. As you can see from the end product, a ton of work would go into making one of these, but they are very cool.

Spoon Lamp

The next DIY project involves a water jug of your shape and size choice and many plastic spoons. The tops of these spoons are cut off and assembled into rings using a hot glue gun. These rings are then layered along the bottle, and a light bulb is run through the bottle’s cap. The end result creates a very cool lamp, but I don’t know that I would recommend this project until we have that filament recycler up and running for the rest of those spoons.

Floating Book Shelves

This DIY project is very simple and involves book ends commonly found on many book shelves. Preferably, a metal book end would be used rather than a plastic one for strength. As can be clearly seen by the picture, one end is mounted to the wall, and the other is hinged out to be covered by a book. These books can then be stacked on top of one another, giving the illusion that they are floating. This would make for a really cool decoration, but it would be mighty difficult to get to that bottom book.

Ladder Book Shelves

The final DIY project that I will talk about is again related to books. However, this one is slightly more useful and not quite as creative. It simply uses two ladders and a few pieces of plywood to make shelves of various heights. I like this project because the shelve heights are easily adjustable, and you can add more ladders to make longer shelves (assuming you can find long enough plywood). Additionally, this is a good way to have books in your man cave without sacrificing masculinity.

Bonus Blog #2

A turning point in 3D printing?

Open-source 3D printing has prided itself on its extremely low cost (in comparison to commercial methods) and its strong following worldwide. As many users know, the bulk of this cost is involved with startup and purchasing or constructing a machine. If anything would be a turn-off from 3D printing, it would be this facet. But one of the country’s largest office corporations, Staples is planning to capitalize on this fact.

Iris printer by Mcor Technologies

They are launching a new service in the beginning of 2013 in the Netherlands and Belgium, soon to follow in other countries, called “Staples Easy 3D.” This service will allow users to upload their designs to the Staples website and pick up the printed objects at their local store or have them shipped to home. The service supports STL, OBJ, and VRML formats. There is not much pricing detail as of yet, but the service has been advertised by the company as “low-cost.”

The interesting thing about their service is that it uses Mcor Technologies’s new Iris printers. These printers use reams of paper that are cut and printer while being stacked and glued together. The resolution layer thickness is 100 microns, which is fairly high and similar to that of MakerBot Replicator 2. These printers also allow for the incorporation of photorealistic colors, which plastic printers are still unable to achieve. The glued paper has a wood-like hardness and can be drilled, tapped, or screwed, but its material properties are unknown. I believe this service really speaks for how far along 3D printing has come and how positive its future outlook is.

Bonus Blog #1

This is somewhat of an elaboration of Blog #3 Part A). This article discusses a Dutch architecture who plans to create the first building ever fabricated with 3D printing. What really caught my eye about this article was the architecture he plans to achieve. The building, aptly titled “Landscape House,” is described by creator Janjaap Ruijssenaars as “one surface folded in an endless Mobius band.” To really get an understanding check out the picture to the right. The building is essentially a giant figure 8 with the aim of merging indoors and outdoors to attempt to model nature itself, allowing people to seamlessly enter and exit the building.
"Landscape House" design by architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars

The architect has already received numerous calls by museums and other individuals who have interest in purchasing one. This is no small commitment, with a price tag on the house between $5 and $6 million. In order to accomplish such a project, a printer of substantial size is required. The D-shape is described by its creators as a “mega-scale free form printer” and consists of a massive aluminum structure. It uses sand as the extrudite, forming it back into a marble-like material. The printer will create such blocks that measure 20’ x 30’ in size, which will be used to create the building.

In my previous blog post, I had thought that using 3D printers to create buildings was a pipe dream that would not be realized. Now, after seeing this article, my opinion has definitely changed. The architect believes his first house will be completed by the end of 2014, and after watching this video about the D-shape, I believe his expectations to be realistic. The technology exists to create never-before-seen architecture like that pictured on the right, and I cannot wait to see what else comes from the 3D printing of buildings.

Blog #13

Name one or more topics related to 3D printing which you wish we discussed in greater detail during the course. How might we evolve the course in the future?

One aspect I wish we had discussed in greater detail during the course is the evolution of 3D printing’s cost over the past 10 or so years. I remember it being very expensive when I was in high school, and stressing how much it has come down in price really speaks to the evolution of the technology. Also comparing its cost to competing technology would give it more merit and show how excellent of an alternative it is. Additionally, it would be really nice to know what the current cost of building your own Open Hybrid Mendel versus purchasing commercially available technology with equivalent capability would be.

Another aspect of the course that would have been cool to learn about is additive manufacturing with metals. I’ve read a few things about it and seen some videos, and it would have been awesome to get more exposure to it. Once Penn State’s additive manufacturing laboratory becomes better established, I think it would be an excellent idea to take students over there for a tour. It is a great learning experience getting to tinker with 3D printing first hand, but it would be awesome to see it in action on a larger scale.

The course could potentially be evolved in the future by incorporating these things. Additionally, I think it might be a good idea to have the “Blog review” blogs a couple of weeks earlier, as this would likely improve future blogs. It would also motivate students who are behind on their blogs to catch up more quickly.

Blog #12

Our next big projects on the horizon are the dual extruder and the filament recycler. If you had to focus on one of those two projects, which one would you push and why? What are the relative merits and motivations behind choosing each? How does each advance the RepRap project more generally?

If I had to focus on one of these projects to push, I would choose the dual extruder. I don’t mean to discredit the importance of recycling materials and minimizing waste, but the applications of the dual extruder are many. In addition to bringing much attention to Penn State’s RepRap course, it would allow for students to develop numerous ideas and potential applications for the ability to print two such materials. From a publicity and educational standpoint, the capability of the dual extruder goes much further than the filament recycler.

The merit of the filament recycler is obviously sustainability and waste minimization. These are two very important things to always consider. Such technology would advance the RepRap project by minimizing the amount of plastic it consumes and making excellent use of old, discarded, or imperfect parts. In a world where sustainability is becoming ever important, such technology would certainly be welcome addition to the world of RepRap. This technology would be wonderful to have, but I feel it is less useful on a personal basis and would be better used if a central location recycled fuel. In my opinion, we do not general enough waste filament quickly enough to make this as worthwhile as a dual extruder. For instance, RepRap users could send plastic they no longer need and receive money or new filament for it.

The dual extruder opens up a whole new world of potential components that can be fabricated. In addition to using numerous colors, different materials can be loaded into the separate extruders. For example, a material that is water soluble could be loaded into one of the tips for supporting structure of the part, to later be dissolved. Additionally, tips with various resolutions can be used with the extruder, allowing for parts to be printed much more efficiently and effectively. Such technology would really allow students to think of a wide variety of applications and potential uses. In terms of advancing the RepRap project, this technology would be very nice to have and greatly broaden the scope of implementing 3D parts. More importantly, in an academic setting, I think such a device permits students to stretch the boundaries of RepRap and think of new ways to make and apply parts that have not yet been realized.

Blog #11

Given your experience with our OHM RepRap design, are there any parts in particular that you would redesign? How might we improve on what we have?

After getting to know and love these printers over the course of a semester, there are a few things that I have noticed cause repeated issues our printer as well as a couple of others. A lot of the problems with our printer stemmed from poor cabling, which I know is not a design issue. However, our RAMPS board requires two connections for the z-axis motor, one of which often comes loose and causes uneven movement in the z-direction. An improvement to this design has been implemented to other boards, which require only one connector for the z-axis, and I think this improvement would greatly benefit our printer.

Z-axis Coupling

Additionally, we had some problems with one of our z-axis couplings slipping on the shaft, resulting in no movement in the z-direction. I noticed this issue with some of the other printers as well. After speaking with David, he suggested filling in material into the channel of the coupling to provide more friction for the shaft. We also used some heat shrink from a wire to provide additional grip. Since these couplings are already horribly torqued when they are installed, I would suggest making the inner channel smaller to produce the same effect as the heat shrink/fill in of material. This would provide a more uniform fix.

Open y-arm

Our open y-arm (on the side that does not snap onto the bars) has also cracked down the middle and needed to be replaced about three times. This may be difficult to fix, but I did notice it on a couple of the printers. One thing that might work is to provide a denser fill to the center region of this part, where the cracking tended to occur.

The McDonalds printer has seen its fair share of problems (and thensome) since the beginning of the semester, the most common of which being extruder issues. A very common issue with many students was the delicate connections for the thermocouple & Nichrome wires on the tip would easily break during installation, requiring the entire wiring process to be redone. This problem seems to have been less frequent after David and I implemented a different means of crimping the wires. Instead of using the wire crimps from before, jeweler’s crimps, which are small beads, and a special crimping tool have been used. This connection seems to be much stronger, as I don’t think any tips wires have been disconnected yet.

Extruder gear (driven)

However, there are still some other issues with the extruder, most in getting the gears to stay meshed. The plastic gears tend to deteriorate over the course of the printer’s life, making meshing more and more difficult. We have cleaned a number of our gears with the wire cutters, but this is only a temporary fix. The gears are already fairly dense, so I do not think more infill would be helpful. Potentially using a stronger plastic might work, especially for the driven gear. There doesn’t usually seem to be too many issues with the drive gear, with the exception of the set screw occasionally coming loose.

One general thing I have noticed is it seems like there are not very many intermediate sizes of M4 screws that are used in class. There were a number of times in assembling the beds and frame that it would have been slightly easier/more convenient to have a cap screw between length 20mm and 40mm. This is just a general comment, and we can surely get by without it, but would have made some of the assembly smoother.

Blog #10

Read everyone's Blog #8. If you were selected in others blogs as having a good one, note this. If no one wrote about your blogs, what might you do to make them more accessible? If your blog was 'highly rated', do your best to give guidance in how others might emulate you. Consider how you might organize your responses for maximum XP for the rest of the course.

After reviewing everyone’s Blog #8, I found that I was selected six times in other blogs: four for Blog #6 and two for Blog #4. These selections are outlined in the table below.

Classmate Username Blog #4 Blog #6
Btz5006 X
Djl5217 X
DM0lition21 X
Eky5006 X
Wjf5046 X
Vatlark X

Many of the compliments I received about my blog were focused around organization, clear arguments, and useful links. I did my best to keep my thought process easy to follow and logical, but could provided more detail in my responses, such as Xiaomo Zhang, who was mentioned numerous times. Including tables and more images like Carina would also improve the readability of my blogs. I think the organization structure I have now is doing well for me in terms of XP, but I can certainly look to add more images and tables.

Blog #9

This is one example of a ‘using photos to create 3D models’ technology, as well as a laser-scanning method. Discuss laser-scanning based models as compared to photo based models. Can you find any examples of a photo based method which are open source?

I didn’t know that this technology existed, and it’s pretty cool that it’s currently being developed. As of right now, the biggest difference between laser-scanning based models and photo based models is the fact that laser-scanning based models seem far more open sourced. Laser-scanning is already well-known within the 3D printing community, thanks to such items as the MakerScanner and the VirtuCube/David Laserscanner. There’s even an app that turns a smartphone into a high level 3D scanner, costing only $300.

However, photo based models seem to be up and coming in the open source world, though they are largely conceptual or crude. For instance, Caltech’s electrical engineering department developed producing ‘3D photography on your desk’ using a desk lamp and a pencil. I consider this to be an early, albeit crude, form of photo scanning, as it was developed back in the late 1990’s. Additionally, a company called Matterport has been raising money for the past year ($5.6 million, to date) to produce a first-ever 3D camera. There are not many details on how exactly it operates, so it is possible that it utilizes a laser technology of some sort, but it seems unlikely based on the current product description. If this technology hits the market, it has the potential to be a truly open source photo-based scanning method.

Blog #8

Review the blogs #4 and #6 of your teammates first and then your classmates. I want you to find and link to the 3 most insightful posts for each blog (#4 and #6) (other than your own). Include why you consider their posts to be particularly thoughtful. IF you were giving away XP, who would deserve more XP for their blog posts, and why?

After reviewing the blogs of my teammates and classmates, I have found that the following blogs were the most insightful (in order of decreasing XP deserved).

Best Blog #4's

To recap, blog #4 was about an international 'robohand' project for a child, contrasting open- and closed-source technologies, and discussing ways we might participate in a project such as 'robohand'.

Michael: The blog contained a lot of really good content and made a number of good points. I agree with points in favor of open-sourced design. Its biggest advantage is the low price and quick modification of prototypes. Additionally, the biggest advantage for the project involving Owen is the ease of transferring files and essentially parts online, since they both had their own printer. This was another point that Michael made. While it was a little difficult to read at times, Michael’s blog was very thoughtful. I think he deserves most XP of the class for this blog.

Terry: This blog made a lot of good points and had good content. His comparison of open-source and closed-source technologies was very good, especially about the evolution of the cost over time. He does raise a good point of trying to trouble shoot things in an open-source environment and how there is no ‘customer service hotline,’ but most individuals do well enough on forums. I also agree with him that Owen and Van As should have much recognition for their work, as it was revolutionary. While this post proved to be slightly difficult to read at times, he provided a very good comparison between open- and closed-source technologies and was very insightful in regards to the article about the 'robohand'. I think he deserves 2nd most XP of the class for this blog.

Carina: The formatting of this blog was very nice and made it extremely readable. While there wasn’t a ton of content in this post, her external links were helpful, and what was written in the blog was very insightful. I particularly liked the table she included, and this was a good way to summarize the information she found. I would say she deserves 3rd most XP of the class for this blog.

Best Blog #6's

To recap, Blog #6 was about a New York Times article discussing how 3D printing is on the fast track and how it was discussed in President Obama's State of the Union Address, how the University of Virginia is incorporating 3D printers into their curriculum, and how such a program would fare at Penn State using our printers.

Carina: Much like her blog #4, Carina did a very nice job with the formatting of this blog. Additionally, the content contained within it was very insightful. The high overhead cost makes for a good argument against the program UVA is trying to incorporate. The difference between their program and ours is definitely the trade-off between cost and time, as Carina details in her blog post. Overall, I would say she deserves the most XP of the class for this blog.

Mark: This blog post was well written and did a good job emphasizing the important of President Obama's recognition of 3D printing technology. His point about the importance of manufacturing is also an important note and something that would definitely be possible with 3D printing. The contrast between UVA’s printers and ours is well described, and it is important to note how much time and effort is required for our printers. I would say he deserves the 2nd most XP of the class for this blog.

William: This blog was well written and contained a lot of good content. His comparison of the program at UVA and what we have at Penn State was spot on. Additionally, his contrast of open source versus closed source made for a good argument, and I agree that a class like our RepRap class is more beneficial to students than a course using closed source technology. Overall, a very well written blog, although the formatting could have been made a little nicer (links, better spacing). I would say he deserves the 3rd most XP of the class for this blog.

Blog #7

Check out these kickstarter projects related to 3DP. Much ado about this lately: This project is currently tied up in legal issues.

Other examples of 3DP related kick-starters:

Part A)

Comment on these projects. Who is suing Formlabs and why? Why do you think the 3Doodler is making such headlines lately? Look around kickstarter for similar projects which were not listed.

I somehow didn’t know about kickstarter (I had heard of it in class but had never actually explored it/knew what it was). It makes sense that a site like this would exist, and there is some really cool stuff on it. It is a great way to fund up-and-coming designs, but is somewhat open source in its nature, leading to inherent issues such as patent infringement. One prime example of this is the lawsuit of Formlabs and kickstarter by 3D Systems (creater of the Cube, a hobbyist-level 3D printer that retails for ~$1,300) for patent infringement. They claim that Formlabs’s Form 1 3D printer is infringing its patent “Simulatneous multiple layer curing in stereolithography”.

I think the 3Doodler is making such headlines lately because it is really cool and truly revolutionary. It has a very wide applicability (even into the art realm) and, if it truly is as affordable as they claim, would make for a fantastic classroom/professional tool. It could make for some very cool presentations to supplement Microsoft Powerpoint/Prezi. A few similar projects I found on kickstarter includes DeltaMaker: An Elegeant 3D printer, Open Source 3D Printer, and HYREL 3D Printer.

Part B)

Do you think kickstarter represents the future of crowd-sourced fundraising

I truly feel as though kickstarter represents the future of crowd-sourced fundraising. Everything is moving toward the internet, and, while I did not personally make any pledges, it seems very easy to do so. It allows information to be very easily shared but will pose a nightmare for patent/copyright enforcement.

Part C)

So, Kickstarter seems like a useful platform, with a variety of projects finding funding through it (though not all, as you may notice). Some people have problems with it, however. Read this. What are the drawbacks of kickstarter? Compare (and contrast ^_^ ) kickstarter to a traditional storefront. Are there alternatives to kickstarter?

There are a few drawbacks of kickstarter. One is inherent with the way kickstarter works: you post your project on the internet for the world to see. This world includes companies who may hold patents on portions of your project, as well as other individuals who may “learn” from your design (if you publish enough about it) and make it their own. As was starter in The Baffler article, there are numerous financial drawbacks of kickstarter. On top of losing 10% of your pledge money to kickstarter (5% of which goes to Amazon), who have done hardly anything to earn that money, you could owe plenty of money in taxes. This significantly cuts into the money acquired. There is also a lot of time spent spreading the word about your project which could otherwise be spent developing it. Additionally, when all is said and done, you still owe rewards to those who have pledged.

Kickstarter is similar to a traditional storefront in that people are giving money for a service or good (assuming the pledge goal is met). The difference is that there is a much wider variety of goods available, and information about them is far more readily available (lengthy descriptions and video) simply due to the media the internet can support. One obvious alternative to kickstarter is the old fashioned way of fundraising: calling friends, family, or random people in the white pages. Additionally, there are a few other websites that offer similar services but are more tailored to specific projects: Gambitious (for video games), Medstartr (health care), GigFunder (music), and (mainly for the U.K.).

Blog #6

Read this and this.

Part A)

Summarize the first article and describe your thoughts about it. What were the key points which you took from it?

The first article discusses the rapid development of 3D printing recently and how people have been taking note of it. It raises a good point that, historically, many things that have been hyped up have never come to fruition. However, 3D printing has developed faster than most anyone would have predicted, and it looks to be as revolutionary as this article states. This is largely owed to its extremely wide range of application. The fact that it is developing faster than expected is reinforced by the example the article gives about a 3D home that is planned to be printed later this year (in a single day, even). Such an event was not predicted to happen for at least a decade. Additionally, the future of 3D printing is being benefitted by the actions of many universities, such as Penn State & the University of Virginia, who are implementing 3D printers not only into their curricula but into the curricula of those high schools around them.

Part B)

Why was this years “state of the union” address mentioned in the first article? Does this seem important to you?

This year’s “state of the union” address was mentioned in the first article to show that even our president, who presumably does not have much of an engineering/technical background, recognizes the potential and the rapid growth of 3D printing technology. This is an important point, as it shows that this technology is viewed as revolutionary even by those outside of the engineering world. Additionally, the “state of the union” address provides insight into the condition of our nation and our government’s national priorities. The fact that it was mentioned during this address is an extremely positive thing.

Part C)

The University of Virginia is listed in the first article as hoping to distribute 3D printers throughout all educational levels. The second article is an example of how they are changing their Undergraduate ME program. What are the merits of this method? Can you see any flaws?

There certainly are merits of incorporating 3D printers into the undergraduate ME program at UVA. It allows students to get hands-on experience with design and component interactions (presumably during freshman/sophomore year), which is not usually achieved until junior/senior year, if at all. This hands-on approach can really help people connect concepts and real-world applications. However, there is one major flaw that I see to this method. In many cases, items that are 3D printed cannot be manufactured by traditional means that a student would use (in terms of what a machine shop can do, not including plastic moldings). I think this would have to be very strongly emphasized, and implementing 3D printing into an undergraduate curriculum relies heavily on the success of inexpensive, accessible additive manufacturing, as many things a ME designs are metal. However, I do think that the use of 3D printers in a high school curriculum does not necessarily have this flaw, as most students would not know or be thinking nearly as much about design. If my school had 3D printing/CAD courses, I feel that it would have greatly benefitted me during my college years, especially my early ones. However, I do not feel the use of 3D printers during my undergraduate curriculum would have had as much of a benefit.

Part D)

Compare our printers to the printers used at the University of Virginia. If we tried to mimic their program using our printers instead of theirs, how do you think it would fare?

If we tried to mimic their program with our printers instead of theirs, I do not think it would fare very well. It would likely cause many students to reconsider their major, as they would be easily frustrated and not many would want to or know how to fix their machines. However, for those who are more mechanically inclined, they would benefit from plenty of hands-on experience with repairing and redesigning things. Overall, I do not think it would work out to the advantage of the student population or the university.

Blog #5

Read this. It may take some time to read, as it’s rather long. It’s not simple material, but do your best, and we will discuss it in class next week. I’ve given an extra day for this, but I suggest you start reading now.

I wanted to start with a brief discussion of the article. I never realized how much more difficult it was to get a patent than a copyright. I had always known that patents were tedious to obtain, but I never realized copyrights were so much easier. Not only that, I didn’t know copyrights lasted that much longer. I do not think the patent process could be made much easier, but they definitely could be made to last longer than 20 years. Of course you can reapply for a patent, but the fact that a copyright lasts so much longer is a little absurd in my opinion.

Additionally, I like the way the online copyright system operates now (by keeping the website operator out of it) and think it will work well for many different media, including 3D printing. However, it could potentially overload our already busy judicial system and, as a result, I believe there should be a dedicated court system to copyright issues to help ensure universality in rulings.

I also hadn’t realized that the type of media in which an object is acquired can dictate whether or not it is copyrightable/patentable (whether it is scanned or created in CAD). I also feel that the use of severability is likely the best way to handle disputes but could definitely result in controversial decisions. It can be extremely difficult to separate usefulness and creativeness, as I’m sure many judges and juries know. The amount of protection offered by a creative object may lead to more creative, useful designs in order to better protect them under law.

Part A)

Re-examine the objects you found on thingiverse in your first blog. Assess each one for copyrightable or patentable elements.

1. Cubicle coat hanger (most useful) - I would not expect this object to pose any issues with copyrightable elements. There is a possibility for an issue with patentable elements. However, it is such a universal thing and its design is sufficiently different than other current existing items that I do not think it would be an issue.

2. Camaro Nervoso (most artistic/beautiful) – This is a very likely candidate for copyright & patent infringement. It is a very common, unique design that is both useful and artistic. I do not think severability would save this design. However, it is a scale model and is essentially a paperweight, so it may be more acceptable than I would expect.

3. Stormtrooper valve cap for a bicycle tire (although it is cool) (most pointless/useless) – This one should not have an issues with patentable elements, but it definitely has issues with copyrightable elements. Star Wars is a very popular thing that is most certainly copyrighted, but the usefulness of the item might save it.

4. My Customized Ass! (most funny/weird) – I wouldn't expect any issues with this one.

5. African mask (most scary/strange) – I don’t think there would be issues with this one either, since many African masks are very different. However, if it is an exact replica of something that already exists, there may be problems. If it was scanned in though, as it likely was, it may be exempt from copyright infringement.

Part B)

Look over the things which your fellow students found. If you’re not on the list, please add yourself, and submit it for XP. (see here:). Are any of them particularly obvious cases of copyrighted or patented material which have been found by your classmates?

User: Carina – Reims Cathedral Kitset. This replica of the Notre Dame Church of Paris could definitely have some issues with copyrighted material, as it is an existing entity that many consider to be a work of art.

Additionally, the Minion she found is definitely a candidate for copyright infringement, as it is a direct replica of a very popular movie character.

User: Xiaomo_Zhang – Eiffel Tower. This is another famous work of art and architecture that may be infringing on copyright. However, it is difficult to say, as many such small-scale replicas exist.

Wolverine Claws. This is a fairly well-known item associated with a superhero. I believe a case could be made for copyright infringement. If that isn’t the case, it should probably still be taken down for safety reasons.

User: YaqiYang – Bugs Bunny. Another case of a replica from a well-known movie/tv series. I would definitely consider this a case of copyright infringement.

Part C)

Discuss both reasons why you might be interested in the “licensing of non-copyrightable files”.

The first reason the author gives in support of the "licensing of non-copyrightable files" has to do with a legal reason. Granting a license to an individual makes the usage conditions of the object very clear regardless of what happens with copyright laws in the future. This is an extremely useful thing, as it removes the inherent ambiguity associated with copyrighting & patenting. As long as the usage conditions are not too prohibitive towards others, this still fosters technological advances while maintaining some intellectual property rights. This would be beneficial to me, as I would be able to attain a license for something that I might not have wanted to bother trying to patent.

The second reason involves a cultural purpose. In my opinion, in the world of open-source objects, this is the more important one. Many individuals have already accepted the fact that they will not make royalties on their objects when the publish them in an open-source environment. However, keeping a record of who created certain designs allows individuals to feel as though they have helped their society. Additionally, these designs can be improved upon by others, provided some sort of object history is included with the revision that gives credit to the original creator. This keeps both the creator and the "improver" happy, especially because the "improver" did not have to worry about infringing on the original design. This would make me much more comfortable with using existing designs and files published online, as well as make me feel better about giving credit to the original creator.

Blog #4

Read this (I suggest you also watch the videos):

Part A)

What are your thoughts after seeing the videos and reading the article?

This is a really cool project and what seems like a very improbable collaboration. I am impressed with how well the fingers seem to be working for him. The fact that they were able to pull this off is incredible. I am sure it took a lot of iterations and patience by both parties, but it is awesome that they stuck with it. Their being able to design and print it themselves makes it a lot more applicable for a child, as their hand size will be constantly changing and can be updated. The ability to control the strength of the hand by adjusting the in-fill percentage is also very cool.

Part B)

Compare and contrast this technology to that of a closed-source apparatus. What are the benefits and weaknesses of each? How does the cost compare?

If this project were to be done using a closed-source apparatus, the process would probably be less painful (in that someone else would be performing the iterations and design) and take less time to complete. However, they would not be able to have size updates to accommodate his growth as frequently as with open-sourcing due to cost. Obviously, the biggest weakness of a closed-source apparatus is the cost, with fingers costing at least $10,000 per finger, according to the article. I am sure the largest cost incurred with the open-source version was the printers, which were donated by MakerBot.

Part C)

Find the open source project they refer to starting in the article. How might we participate?

The open source project they refer to starting in the article involves helping veterans who have lost digits or hands. This seems like a really cool way to help a lot of people. We could participate by helping to spread the word about such a project on our Wiki and show our support for it. We could also offer to help with the printing or field questions by the on-base occupational therapists throughout the country about 3D-printing.

Blog #3

Part E) (listed first for convenience)

Below are examples where 3D printing is encroaching onto other areas of human endeavour which you may not have considered previously. (Civil Engineering, Biotech, Food Science, Fashion) Discuss each in turn.

Part A)

Watch this:

I would have never thought of applying rapid prototyping processes into the realm of constructing buildings. This provides for an incredible amount of control about the building and would very easily allow for the integration of other products into the walls or foundations (such as plumbing or electrical installation). The fact that the building can be completely customized and is estimated to be printed in 20 hours is outrageous. The addition of easily made curved walls allows for an entirely new aspect of architecture, giving this process a more artistic side as well. The possibility of using it for lunar projects is very cool as well. However, I still feel as though this technology might not be applicable for a decade or two simply because of the scale of the printer and that the cost might not scale like they believe it to.

Part B)

Check out this and this.

This is definitely an aspect of RepRap that I would have never thought about. This definitely seems like a field with limitless potential, as artificial organs are in more demand than ever and provide a very viable solution, if functioning properly. This area really seems like it has come a very long way in the past few years, and I would expect it to continue to quickly develop. The use in pharmaceutical testing has a lot of applicability and would resolve a lot of moral dilemmas associated with testing, but, naturally, therapeutic applications are preferred. The means by which the blood vessel network was created at the UPenn lab was very cool, and I would have never thought to use sugar to do it. The fact that they applied a casting process to such a different application is ingenious.

Part C)

Read this and this.

Both of these applications are cool (and actually not entirely surprising to me), but both are extremely impractical in my opinion. I don’t think, even with all of the advancements and developments that could be made, that 3D printing a steak will ever be economic enough to have a benefit. I don’t mean to downplay their accomplishments; what they did is very cool. However, it just isn’t practical. A similar argument holds for the chocolate printer, but I could see this being somewhat affordable (~$400) at some point.

Part D)

Check this and this

Let me begin by saying that I have never been much of an aficionado of the fashion world and will never truly understand. That’s not to say I don’t dress well or anything; I just don’t understand expensive, high-end fashion. The possibility of 3D printing attire makes sense, as the material is there, and it will make certain patterns feasible that previously were not, but I simply do not see the need for it. Yes, it is a very cool concept but, much like the 3D steaks, I just do not see the practicality of it. I believe that the resources used for it could be better spent elsewhere (no offense intended toward Ms. Van Herpen). That being said, it is definitely an application I would never have expected or thought of, but I could never justify it simply because I do not fully understand it.

How many other examples can you find? (either relevant to one of the categories above or some other field which was not covered)

The use of a 3D printer to develop sports games, such as this mini-miniature golf course.

According to Wikipedia’s 3D printing article, the technology is being used in palentology to reconstruct fossils, in archaeology to replicate ancient and priceless artifacts, and in forensic pathology to reconstruct bones and body parts.

Blog #2

The “Mother of all Demos” is here.

First, watch that first section of the mother of all demos (above), which includes the first computer mouse and cursor ever seen in public. Do you recognize the rough features we use on every computer today in its earliest form? Are you impressed by what he’s demonstrating? Do you think that you would have recognized the importance of this work if you were in the audience at the time?

Then watch this (turn up your sound). In it, Professor Richard Doyle discusses disruptive technological change, open source, knowledge sharing, and ‘creative culture’ among other things. The first 22 minutes is his talk, while the rest consists of questions and chat.

What does he say regarding the initial perception of the mother of all demos?

After watching the first section of the mother of all demos video, I definitely recognize some rough futures included on every computer today. Obviously, the keyboard looks very similar. The cursor looks very similar to those found in a word processing document, with the exception of the fact that it does not become an arrow when moved off text. The mouse had a similar shape (but, understandably, not a similar size) and looked to operate in a similar manner. I am very impressed by what he’s demonstrating, as many of these features comprise the core of what we use in word processing today. The introduction of the mouse and cursor also opened the door for a world of possible uses in a computer and made this far more efficient. I think that if I was in the audience at the time, I definitely would have recognized the importance and how much of a revelation his work was.

The initial perception of the mother of all demos is that, while it was amazing to people, they assumed it was a hoax. They believed that there was something other than the mouse that was performing Douglas Engelbart’s actions. After the mother of all demos, Engelbart contacted some of his funders and wanted to show them his progress, but they said they had already built a copy of it. However, while the funders could replicate it, they couldn’t figure out how to get it to work.

Doyle makes a number of arguments regarding the importance of our open source efforts in comparison to models requiring intellectual property. Why do we and why should we share the information we generate? (Or shouldn’t we? Are we missing out by not trying to patent our efforts?) How might we better share our knowledge?

Sharing the information we generate helps us to return to the roots of science and helps us to overcome obstacles that have kept us from moving scientific & technological innovation into the world (through the use of network science). You still get individual creativity; it is just placed within a collective effort. The culture of creativity allows for novel ideas to be generated and is helping to keep us ahead technologically. If the information is not shared, it tends to be hidden away and is ineffective toward advancing society. There will always be a level of self-righteousness in people, especially inventors. This tends to lead to an attempt to copyright and obtain intellectual property rights, which can easily get in the way and inhibit the development and production of technologies. However, if this characteristic can be overcome and the technology is open-sourced, the development of the technology is usually greatly accelerated. The downside is that the original ownership is usually blurred after this point, and someone else may be receiving credit for your idea.

The way the knowledge is currently shared (through the use of wikis and forums) is a fairly good means for it. However, having a dedicated search engine of open source products and ideas (“Open Google,” if you will) would greatly facilitate the sharing of knowledge, in my opinion. Search engines have become the primary means to obtain information and answer questions, and with how quickly open source products are changing, the use of printed materials would become outdated very quickly. I believe that having an online catalog of open source information that is easily searchable and found would do wonders for the sharing of knowledge and technological advancement.

Blog #1

Part A

Go to and find 5 things which have stl files associated with them for printing (some things are not 3D printable, but just shared designs). You should find five designs which you consider to be partcularly: 1. useful 2. artistic/beautiful 3. pointless/useless 4. funny/weird 5. scary/strange. Comment on why you have chosen these things.

From Thingiverse, here are five designs I found that have stl files associated with them for printing.

1. Most useful – Cubicle coat hanger (special mention: Pool cue holder)

2. Most artistic/beautiful – Camaro Nervoso

3. Most pointless/useless – Stormtrooper valve cap for a bicycle tire (although it is cool)

4. Most funny/weird – My Customized Ass!

5. Most scary/strange – African mask

Part B

Read this article

Watch this video: Charlie Rose interviews a successful Designer

Do you feel that you are a tinkerer? Do you know anyone else who is? What do you think about the argument regarding the influence of corporate culture on tinkering? At the end of the article is the line, "...preserving the habitat of the tinkerer is one of the few time-proven ways we as a nation can get back on track." What do you think about this idea? What are the primary design principles you took away from the interview? What did you think when you saw his final project with his daughter? Can you think of how some of his principles might apply to our work?

While growing up, I was often discouraged from taking things apart since I usually had a tendency to not return them to an operational state. However, since entering college, I did not have to worry about such discipline (having a better idea of how things worked and the ability to correctly put them back together definitely helped too). As a result, I definitely consider myself to be a tinkerer. If something is broken, my first instinct is to take it apart (possibly voiding warranties along the way) and try to figure out what is wrong with it. Another part of tinkering comes from wanting to modify things, and I most certainly have that trait too. A couple of my really good friends from college fit the tinkering persona even more than I do. One of them, in fact, talked me through my first couple of things I took apart and helped me get comfortable with doing so.

Corporate culture has certainly discouraged tinkering over the past few years. Whether it was intentional or not is up for debate, but it is most certainly influencing the nation’s attitude toward tinkering. The idea that “...preserving the habitat of the tinkerer is one of the few time-proven ways we as a nation can get back on track” seems like a bit of a moot point to me. I agree that tinkers have a tendency to discover cutting-edge, revolutionary technology and that they are vital to our nation’s success, but I do not foresee a situation in which the tinkerer’s habitat will be destroyed. There will always be a natural curiosity in many people and a way to open up commercial items. Barring a national ban on tinkering (which I am not sure how that would work or how constitutional it would be) and the removal of tinkering videos on, I do not think we have to worry about destroying the habitat of tinkerers.

The primary design principles that I took away from the interview of David Kelley was to always keep the user in mind and keep it as simple as possible. The design process they used, involving having a diverse group of people that can build on each other and watching humans to improve products, makes perfect sense and is something that everyone should consider doing. While it may take the project longer to complete, it will do a lot more to ensure its success. I thought it was really cool that he was making a 3D printer and makes us doing it even cooler. His design principles are definitely applicable to our work, as keeping things simpler and more user-friendly would potentially drive costs down and increase popularity.