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Blog #15

1) When you finally get your first self-driving car, would you prefer it to have locked firmware, where you would be unable to know whether it drove you past more McDonnalds' when it sensed your children in the back seat, or unlocked firmware which you could investigate, but which under-qualified would-be mechanics could alter to suit their own tastes? Do you think the code would be more secure if kept secret, or if it were available to good guys and bad guys alike for community review?

When I finally get my first self-driving car, I would prefer it to have firmware that only I can unlock, to either work on and improve myself, or to give to the mechanics that I feel I can trust, at any time that I choose (It reminds me a lot of the whole “unlocked bootloader” issue with Android). With regards to code and secrecy – if there’s a way for someone to access it, someone will. Protection with kind of thing is equal parts good design and appropriate vigilance: you can include all the virus-blocking software you want on a computer, but nothing will stop your Grandparents from downloading that file from that website that told them they won a prize without someone teaching them about safety on the internet.

2) If the U.N. asked you to develop a sketch of a regulatory framework for 3D printing, what would you do?

I would point them to all the signs that our traditional ways of protecting and blocking the spread of information and ideas are over. I would tell them that we need to incentivize and encourage new research on how to both encourage information and protect ourselves in a future where anyone has access to any piece of information in an instant.

3) Do you think Doctorow's predictions for the future are plausible or likely?

After reading Doctorow’s book Makers, I have to admit that it’s not all that difficult to imagine a future (or a least a near-future) similar to what he depicts. In particular, I think that way he describes new businesses could operate in the new economy – rapidly innovating, launching a product, and then moving on to a new one once the imitators catch up – is not only possible, but likely. I’ve often thought about engaging in something like that on my own, with a select group of people I enjoy working with.

4) Can the copyright war be won? Is so, how? If not, where do we go from here?

For anyone to “win” the copyright war, we have to figure out what “winning” means? “Winning” to me seems to mean figuring out how to either get people to respect the wishes of those who would prefer people to not share things without their permission, or figuring out how people can make a living creating new works and new ideas in a world where there is nothing preventing anyone from taking them and making it their own. I have to be honest, I don’t know what it’s going to take to get to either of those points – but I know we’re going to have to figure it out eventually.

Blog #14

Recycling of Waste material is an important problem, as you’ve all seen. There are several designs for DIY Recycling systems available. Do any of the designs above seem more suitable than the others? What kind of influence might a recycling system have on the DIY RepRap community? Does building a filament recycler sound difficult to you, even with step by step guides? To me, almost all of the designs seem over-engineered (like the crazy metal frame on the FilaBot), or ridiculously complex (like the RecycleBot). What I need is a primer on why this kind of recycling is so difficult, what the fundamentals are, and how solutions attacks them differently. Until then, I’d be pretty intimidated to attempt to build one of them. If any of these are successful though, and especially if it can be converted into some kind of RepRap-mounted system, the implications on the community could be enormous. Demand for filament would go down, decreasing the cost of existing filament due to the oversupply. People wouldn’t be so afraid to make lousy prints or temporary parts because they could always reprocess it later. The ability to extrude your own filament opens up a whole new world of DIY filament – people could start buying the stuff off of each other. While concerns about the integrity and quality of the material, especially when purchased from another DIYer are apt, I think the implications would be mostly positive, and the thought achieving this level of efficiency gets people like me very excited.

Blog #13

Write about something that interests you, related to the subject of 3D printing, which we have not covered in the course.

One of the largest potential areas for 3D printing to make a difference, an area we haven’t talked about at all in this class, is in the developing world. The Industrial Revolution is one of the most pivotal points in the story of how the world came to be what it is today – the ability to create tools, devices, and new innovations at a speed and quality never before seen in the past is what set the “developed” apart from the “developing.” Even now, one hundred years later, we are only just now beginning to see any massive change in that dynamic. But 3D printing, especially of the low-cost variety, hints at the possibility of even more rapidly evolving landscape. What happens when people in Brazil can begin printing out their own cell-phone cases for scavenged internals? What happens when people in Kenya can print out patterns for sand-casting molds to make their own machinery? When the power to create is now within reach of anyone, when the ability to manifest an idea is within the hands of everyone, things like geography and income are no longer the limiting factor as to whether someone can create value in this world. The story of what happens when traditionally marginalized people get access to this kind of agency is something that intrigues me deeply, and it’s something I’ll be eagerly following (and hopefully contributing to) as time goes on.

Blog #12

What’s your impression of this use of 3D printing technology? Would you buy a model of yourself? Would your parents buy one? Explain the merits (or lack thereof) in this business model. How much might competition drive down prices in the future for these kinds of novelty items?

First impression: it’s fun, but still… meh. I wouldn’t buy one – and I’m not sure my parents would either. I’d imagine blowing a few bucks on one, once the technology becomes faster (3D scanning and 3D printing) if I were going to an amusement park with some friends. I imagine this developing in a similar way to other “take your picture, offer to sell it to you later”-type schemes you often find in tourist-y areas like landmarks or Disney World. You might go down that log flume one day, and find a 3D printed depiction of you and your friends on the ride on the other side – like the action shots you’d expect to find today. It’s a fine business, but the novelty of it is the majority of its value. If similar 3D scanning + 3D printing were used to create statues of people in precious metals, that might be something worth the extra money – but even those kinds of objects gain value from the story and art of the craftsmanship behind them.

Blog #11

So, you’re in a class and classroom dedicated to 3D printing - Do you see a place for this in other educational environments (K-12?) What points do you agree with or disagree with in these articles? Support them with something from your own experience.

When I was a kid, one of the things I always said I wanted to be was an inventor. You know, the absent-minded professor type, with Rube Goldberg machines and gears and trinkets whirring around everywhere – but with one or two things that truly helped people. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to study engineering: I wanted to make things that made a difference. I vividly remember the moments when something I envisioned became a reality, but it wasn’t until later that I realized how defining those moments were for me… and starved I was for them in my college education. The empowerment I felt when I managed to take a concept and turn it into an object is something that I wish everyone could experience. That is why I think introducing 3D printing into education, no matter how old the students are, is so important. The sooner students realize the tremendous amount of power their ideas hold, power they can unleash by learning to create, what we’d be looking at is a revolution in agency in future generations. No longer passive consumers, we would see a tremendous growth in the types of people David Warlick talks about in his blog: doers with gumption to not only create a new back for their TV remote, but entire industries. Sure, it won’t do this to everyone, but I think for the few students it does affect, it could change their lives and, potentially, everyone elses’.

Blog #10

Now that you know a little more about the different types of 3D printing or other additive manufacturing methods, You should envision scenarios of a future where this technology is more widespread. What sorts of changes can we expect? What sorts of changes might we not expect?

The largest change I would expect to see as a result of 3D printing is in the way products get to consumers. Right now, almost all the products we’re familiar with are created or assembled in some central location before being shipped off to their final destination. This kind of strategy requires efficient logistics, accurate predictions about consumer demand, and lots and lots of fuel. If companies can utilize 3D printing to decentralize the manufacturing process - create smaller fabrication “nodes” closer to the consumer - that completely changes the ball game. Getting a part replaced takes days, not weeks. Hardware updates and new products can be pushed out with almost no financial hit from re-tooling costs or delays. Customizations for each consumer can happen on the fly – no prior planning or massive wait times needed. This will affect every industry – automotive, home improvement, consumer electronics – but the technology has to get faster, more accurate, and cheaper. I don’t expect the types of 3D printing technologies to change all that much, but I do expect it to become radically more affordable (by industry standards).

With regards to 3D printing in the home – I think it will take a path similar to 2D printing. It will be useful for specific functions, and there will be plenty of cases where consumers will love having them. But, for the most part, they will either be used for semi-professional work, school work, or will be ignored in favor of more “professional” options. I wouldn’t be surprised if FedEx Kinko’s adopts this technology very quickly.

Blog #9

1) Discuss the suitability of libraries as hosts for RepRaps (or other 3D printers)

Libraries are places with the explicit objective to lower the barrier of access to knowledge. They are places where people congregate to discover, explore, and share ideas and thoughts. In my mind, it makes perfect sense that libraries of the future could (and should) be places where people come together to express ideas, to make them tangible and manifest them for others to experience. I think that concept is why we’re starting to hear more frequently about libraries adopting 3D printing, but also why we’re hearing about libraries beginning to coexist, or even become, hackerspaces of sorts [1]. It’s a fascinating symbiotic relationship, and the openness of the movement meshes well with the openness of the library setting. There will be some growing pains (hearing the sound of a drill press while trying to read up on Hemmingway might be a bit distracting), but I get the sense that more people will embrace this idea over time. If done right, I think this could be just the thing libraries need to become relevant again and get the much-needed attention they deserve from the public.

2) We have a number of libraries on campus, as well as the one on allen street: how many are you familiar with? Do you think any of them would be suitable for this?

I haven’t been inside the one on Allen street, but I think it’s in the perfect geographic location for something like this. Whether it makes sense on the inside is another story. As for libraries on campus, integrating something like that into the Pattee Knowledge Commons might be the right way to go, since the only other printers students have access to are difficult to reach. That, and their use is normally restricted to engineering/architecture students. Making something like 3D printers available for anyone to use in such a central location would be a major win – but it still doesn’t solve the problem of giving the community access to such a resource.

Blog #8

Go back to your previous posts regarding DRM and control of 3D printing. Do these articles support your argument then? Do you think this technology will find a use?

I think what I was saying before in my previous blogs still applies here, even though these new methods of DRM for 3D objects are just being explored. People will still find a way around them, either through scanning, reconstruction, or outright DRM circumvention. I believe it has an even slimmer chance of working than current DRM strategies, though, because the device that makes the 3D object is incredibly easy to build. The situation is similar to Blu-Ray players: DRM functions for Blu-Ray because the protection is built in to the hardware and software. You can’t play Blu-Ray discs on your computer, for instance, unless you have a compatible Blue-Ray player, as well as licensed DVD playing software. This worked well because no one (at least that I know of) is capable of making their own Blu-Ray disc drive. But anyone is capable of making a RepRap. It’s possible that there may still be “3D Object Player” software, but that’s just programming – not something that’s hard-wired into the object designed to express the data. The nuances of the patent matter, of course, but I don’t think it will work any more effectively than any modern effort.

Blog #7

1) Being able to create optical sensing devices on demand is something new, as typically we print passive components. What kind of implications can you imagine resulting from this?

On a large scale, I’m excited by something like the idea of integrated light piping in houses for natural lighting. I’ve seen talk about light-piping before, having external elements that direct light into a room without exposing it to the outside, but I’ve never heard anyone mention what could happen if you combined it with 3D printed housing. Aside from lighting, integrated fiber-optics into the house for internet connectivity would be pretty awesome too. Smaller-scale, something like 3D printed photonics technology would be interesting. I’m not as familiar with how they work, but I’d imagine that if you get the resolution fine enough (nano-scale) that you could create more efficient photonic chips, helping to develop the fledgling industry and potentially revolutionize computing.

2) What sort of difficulty would we have in implementing light piping using our printers?

The biggest difficult I see has to do with the “stepped” surface of our prints. I know from experience that any kind of optical fiber relies on internal reflection to work properly, so our jagged surfaces would probably cause too much light to escape to be useful. If it were simply transferring light from below directly to above (a straight shot), that might work fine. The problem with this is ensuring uniformity with the density and consistency of the “light pipe.”

3) In what applications might you find use for these sensors (contact switches, touch sensors, accelerometers, etc)? Do you have some project in mind where these would be useful?

One application I think would be pretty fun would be something like way the original Surface was intended to work combined with the chess game example in the Engadget video. Printing out parts that could interact with any kind of screen by placing it on top of it, while the screen projects relevant information to the object above, would be pretty wild. I can think of applications with games, 3D CAD, music production, etc.

Blog #6

1) Bioprinting sounds like a fantastic opportunity that could either be incredibly useful or incredibly dangerous.

Personally, I’ve always been more comfortable tinkering within the land of physics, electronics and computers – I start to get a little disconcerted when I begin to think about chemicals and biology. It seems like just too many things can go wrong. That’s what’s always freaked me out about biohacking: you’re messing with the internal machinery/wiring of people. One bad incision, a couple milligrams too much, and you’re drastically, irrevocably, a different person forever.

What I feel most comfortable with in this realm is something like the 3D skin printer mentioned in the article. The applications are extremely vast and have relatively little downside:

  • Car Crashes
  • Military
  • Disaster Response
  • Foreign Aid
  • Fire Emergency

Since it’s essentially an on-demand skin graft, it can be applied to burns, cuts, scrapes, even severed appendages and broken limbs – depending on how it’s made and its mechanical properties.

But I think the most promising application in terms of overall impact and revenue is organ printing, hands down. When you think about how many people are stuck on organ who could get a second chance at life with a new kidney, or a new heart, it isn’t hard to see the opportunity. If you’re willing to think a little more broadly, though, the other applications are just as promising. Imagine being able to create external systems of organs that function as self-healing bio-factories, efficiently producing a specific kind of chemical or substance forever with nothing more than food to power it. Think what would happen if we created one designed to constantly churn out blood of a specific type, or one designed to churn out bone marrow for transplants in cancer patients that need them. Or think about the financial and ethical win that growing meat completely separately from any animal would entail.

I can also see the potential for abuse very easily. It’s a kind of a facetious example, but I think of something like the movie Repo Men. It wasn’t a great movie, but the premise was interesting: what if you get organ replacements on credit, like a car or a house? What would happen when you couldn’t pay? Would the bank come and repossess your heart? Or your lung? Or, just as interesting a thought: what if the concept of “planned obsolescence” applied to replacement organs? Would there be such thing as a 100,000 heartbeat warranty? Would you have to worry about whether your brand of bladder had a history of reliability? This is where the idea begins to become very messy.

2) I’ve already seen 3D printers being used to print blood vessel simulations and lattices for internal organs to grow on, so it’s only a matter of time before that technology comes down in price, similar to 3D printing as a whole. Whether people will eventually become familiar/comfortable enough with the field to engage in their own bio-research remains to be seen, but there will always be outliers that push the boundaries (again look at the bio-hackers).

Blog #5 - 2012/10/05 (posted on 2012/11/20):

1) Honestly, the first thing I'd be doing is looking for an alternate 3D printer that I can own, instead of just rent. The Replicator, Ultimaker & Form Labs' Form One printers seem like good options for cheap printers that can meet the tolerances they'll need. I think that the group has already done enough to take advantage of the "no such thing as bad press" principle, now they need to show that they aren't simply a flash in the pan. They need to get their website up and running and begin making rapid updates (even if they're small) to show that they are devoted and determined to make this project a reality.

2) 3D printers are just like any other kind of manufacturing device - you can make things just as dangerous on a lathe, a drill press, or mill. And almost anything you could make with a 3D printer you could make using a destructible mold (even many of the "impossible to manufacture" bits). If you're trying to regulate the sale of guns, regulating the machines used to manufacture them is a problematic solution - if you limit the use of the manufacturing equipment, you limit the creation of everything those machines could make. Imagine what would happen to manufacturing in the United States of drill presses were limited to those who could afford an expensive license - manufacturing in the United States would begin deteriorating at an even faster rate. What is being done currently with gun control clearly needs revision, but focusing on the end of the pipeline, as opposed to the beginning, may be the best option here.

3) I imagine anything that either offends, endangers, or breaks a law could be subject to some kind of "prohibition." This would include things like:

  • Offends
    • Defamation or "libel/slander"
    • Sex/pornographic objects
    • Religious symbols
  • Endangers
    • Components of weapons
    • Tools for the manufacture of weapons/dangerous chemicals
    • Devices for sabotage/malicious hacking
  • Illegal
    • Tools for the manufacture of illegal drugs
    • Lock-picking equipment
    • Intellectual property under copyright/patent

Blog #4 - 2012/09/28 (posted on 2012/10/01):

Being an open-sourced company of any sort is incredibly difficult. Open-source & capitalism can be powerful allies, but in a completely rational world, open-source & capitalism are fundamentally opposed. Capitalism works by preventing people form getting access to something unless they give you something in return. Sometimes, that thing that people need is knowledge or information - the very thing open-source was created to give away. To believe that Makerbot could continue growing the way it has without becoming closed-source is, in retrospect, a bit naive - but that doesn't take the sting out of the company backing away from the implicit promise and the people who believed in it.

With that in mind, I can also understand that anger from the community. There are many who cited Makerbot as a flagship company of open hardware, and the community respected Makerbot because of this image. This transition brings to light the harsh reality of the ideal, and calls into question the efficacy of everything that they've been contributing towards. That, and there are a number of chief contributors who feel cheated by what they interpret as a company stealing the ideas they intended for the open community at large. The question of "who owns design?" is one that I'm still grappling with, especially in the context of open-source - where ideas are explicitly open for anyone to use.

What I'm frustrated by is cloudiness of the issue caused by rumors, hastiness to judge, and lack of research. In a community based values on openness and self-reliance, I find it frustrating that the perspective of so many are shaped by the views of a few key individuals - on both sides of the camp. From the immature name-calling from Prusa, to the opaque corporate bull-shit from Makerbot (until recently) - finding the facts in all of this is more difficult than I ever would have imagined for this kind of community. The numerous sobering moments caused by this situation are starting to wear on me.

Blog #3 - 2012/09/21 (posted 2012/09/26):

1, 3) My personal take on this is that it already has, to some degree. It might not be called DRM, but there are legal measures in place to protect designs from being copied. The huge trial between Apple & Samsung recently was all about this very issue. Patent, copyright, and trademark protection can all be applied to physical objects. The only reason we haven't seen it being enforced on individual infringers is because the means for copying a physical object have been limited for the average consumer, until recently. As Boyer mentions in his post, once the barrier to redistributing something valuable has been lowered enough, there's nothing to prevent people from sharing/copying those things with other people.

With something like music, the invention of the CD player/burner was what began the music sharing revolution that has continued to this day. The internet has only accelerated this process, and is one the main reasons a similar revolution for physical objects is just around the corner. We have the ability to "rip" and "burn" products (rip = 3D scan, burn = 3D printer), the challenge is getting them good enough and inexpensive enough to attract a wider audience. Once that happens, I expect to see a similar war between IP holders and consumers with similar consequences. It's already happening to some degree: the recent take-down of a Warhammer model of a fan's own creation echoes the DMCA takedowns of YouTube videos which feature people covering poplar songs. The question is whether this new battle will reach a similar stalemate, or finally end the way IP works once and for all. While I think the IP landscape will definitely change, I doubt that intellectual property will go away as long as there's a way for one group to prevent another group from executing on an idea (this goes back to what I was saying about the essential mechanic of capitalism).

In terms of actual DRM (a way of incorporating something into the item itself to prevent unauthorized usage), that becomes much more difficult - but, there are definitely some examples of that as well. Clothing is an interesting example of this, since IP protection doesn't apply to basic/necessary goods. What you can have IP protection on are logos (via Trademarks), which is why clothing companies so often incorporate their logos into the design of the clothing itself, making it that much more difficult to replicate legally. Here's a link ot a TED talk about this idea:

Now, would the fall of intellectual property be a good or a bad thing? On one hand, I strongly believe what Steven Johnson talked about at the end of his book Where Good Ideas Come From - that the most important advances we've made as a society have come from the open collaboration between individuals, as opposed to the singular genius or the domineering corporation. In that sense, I believe that an open world is inherently better to some degree. I'm still debating, though, about whether an entirely open situation is either a) achievable, or b) a good thing. I don't think it's possible for everyone to be completely 100% open, partially because I believe that people need some semblance of a power structure - a structure that can only exist if one person witholds something that someone else needs. Some people will try to accomplish that socially, some will try to accomplish this with property. Again, whether this is positive or negative to uncertain for me at this point.

2) I've had to think a lot about how to present what it is that I'm passionate about recently: grad school applications are really just around the corner, and the range of institutions I want to apply is pretty broad (some engineering, some design). Where I'm at currently in my attempt at describing this passion without getting too technical or too abstract is this:

I am interested in relationships between people, ideas, and the things that we create.

It's not the best, obviously, and will certainly get some quizzical looks, but it encompasses more about me more accurately than any other previous way I've found.

I wouldn't say I use my passion about this to "attract future mates," but I definitely use it to attract other passionate people. I think that it's generally pretty easy for people who are passionate about things to find each other - we give off the same kind of vibe, I guess. This works out well for me, because passionate people are the individuals I find the easiest and most rewarding to talk to.

Blog #2 - 2012/09/13 (posted 2012/09/18):

1. Do you think his goal of a ‘self-replicating universal constructor’ is feasible? What remains to be done to achieve this, or alternatively what would prevent such a goal?

While a personal self-replicating universal constructor is most likely not feasible for a long while, I think that we are actually quite close to a "self-replicating universal constructor" (SRUC). We have all the elements of the puzzle - machines can be built to take care of every step in the process to create a new machine: material extraction, processing, and assembly. And with projects like the Open Village Construction Set, the "DNA" for these machines is available and ready to replicate/mutate. The big question is whether these machines can be designed to automate the process from start to finish, and where you're willing to draw the boundary which defines a "self-replicating universal constructor." For instance, if you could replace humans at every step of the supply chain with a computer, would the entirety of industry qualify as a SRUC? Personally, I would say yes. Just as a colony of ants can seem to act like a single organism, or how a single cell can replicate itself despite being comprised of a series of non-replicating components, I think an ecosystem of machines is just as viable a candidate for this designation as a single machine. Machines which mine, transport, and even design themselves are just around the corner, and so too is the potential of an SRUC.

2. The phrase “wealth without money” is both the title of his article and the motto of the reprap project itself. What does this phrase mean? (To him and to you if they differ). Discuss implications, problems, and possibilities associated with this idea.

The idea behind "wealth without money" comes from Adrian Bowyer's explanation of Marxism,

By proletariat is meant the class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live

Wealth isn't simply the sum total of all the monetary value you've created over time - it's also the potential power you have. This is what people mean when they say "social", or "political", or "intellectual capital": it's the value of your ability to influence through whatever means you have available.

Likewise, we know that fabrication itself is an act of influence, on the environment and materials it provides us. In that act we can create something that someone else needs, which gives us power over the person who needs it. This - having something that someone else desires but requiring something in exchange from them to get it - is the essential mechanic of capitalism.

But another crucial component to this equation are the tools people use to create. The lever is both an excellent example of a tool and an excellent analogy of the situation: a tool's primary purpose is to enhance a person's ability to accomplish a task. You, by yourself, may be incapable of pulling a nail out of a wooden box, but with a crowbar the task becomes trivial. Tools enhance people's individual agency; the more powerful the tool is, the more value someone can create for themselves and the less power other people have over them. 3D printers, and other increasingly affordable devices of mass creation, will allow people with very little to have much greater power than ever before.

On the positive side, this means that the barrier for someone to have the capacity to make a living for themselves is lowering. Websites like Etsy, and tools like open-source CNC machines are allowing increasingly larger numbers of people to go out on their own and thrive.

But giving everyone a greater amount of power has as many dangers as benefits. For example, Defense Distributed is a group in the process of designing an open-source, 3D printable firearm - with the explicit mission of allowing anyone to fabricate their own personal defense weapon. While the debate for gun control is convoluted and murky, I'm frightened by the idea of putting deadly force in the hands of anyone with a 3D printer.

3. The Darwin design was released in 2007. It is 2012 now. Imagine future scenarios for RepRaps and their ‘cousin’ 3D printing designs (Makerbots, Ultimachine, Makergear, etc.) how do you think the RepRap project (community, designs, website, anything and everything) might evolve in the future? Describe as many scenarios as you can envision.

I can easily see a future where 3D printers take over the role of Big Box stores for mass distribution of products (even if that means community centers instead of a Makerbot in every home). The promise of piping material to these centers instead of assembled products appeals to both the designers of the products (save money on shipping/manufacturing) and the customers (instant gratification, infinite personalization, etc.), so all that needs to happen is for the technology to improve.

I can also envision a future where devices like the Reprap and its cousins lead the way to a future of personal robotics. Many people are familiar with the Jetsons and the idea of a personal "pet" robot, and products like Siri from Apple are making the human-device interaction seem much less intimidating, but when it comes to mechatronic personal objects - there is nothing out there quite like the Reprap.

Blog #1 - 2012/09/04:

1. Useful: Bag Holder

When I explain to people what 3D printers are, one of the first questions I get asked is: what's the point? What kinds of stuff can you make out of extruded plastic that would actually be useful? Aside from shower curtain rings or extra knobs for your stovetop, I point them towards this thing. It's simple, but extremely useful - I printed out a modified version once so that I could carry my Makerbot around in its bag. It's an elegant example of what someone with a problem and a 3D printer can do with a little bit of time and effort.

2. Artistic/Beautiful: Ball of Stars

I've long been a fan of art with a strong foundation in mathematics. This particular item on Thingaverse plays to that aesthetic: it reminds me a lot of something M. C. Escher would have drawn (and possibly has drawn - it wouldn't surprise me). It's simple enough to understand and visualize, but there's no way I would have been able to construct the model seen on Thingaverse myself, which to me is part of the beauty of it. Plus, I think it's one of those cool models where actually holding it in your hand would be as cool as seeing it. I love the tactility 3D printers bring to what began as conceptual designs; for me, the feel of a design can be just as important as the image of it.

3. Pointless/Useless: Carry Drinks Easily

I'm not sure what to say about this one. It's essentially a cup holder with three rings attached to it, so that you can tie string to them and carry them around that way. The idea is to prevent yourself from spilling liquid, but I can easily imagine this making the situation much worse.

4. Funny: Chinese Throwing Spork (hire-shuriken)

I love sporks. It's a funny, innovative, whimsical, and cool device - a fond device for any gadget nut who doesn't take themselves too seriously. Now, imagine taking that to the next level:


Deadly spork shuriken. What's cooler than that?

5. Weird: Badass Stanford Armadillo

This is another one of those, "what were you thinking?" kind of designs. It's an angry, bipedal, armadillo... from Stanford University. A story might help make this less weird, but still.

6. Just Plain Awesome: Screwless Cube Gears

This was one of the first things I ever saw on Thingiverse, and it was one of the things that got me really excited about 3D printing. It's a fascinating model: parametric, so that you can adjust the number of gears; reconfigurable, so that you can make whatever kind of object you want into a gear structure; and adaptable, so that you can change pieces of it to make it even better. I've seen Homer Simpson Head versions, motorized versions, heart-shaped versions, etc. It's a hallmark of the 3D maker community, something that would be nearly impossible to make on one's own, but something that has captured the attention of hundreds of makers across the world because of the new level of accessibility of these printers. Iconic.