- 1 Introduction
- 2 Blogs
- 2.1 Blog Number One
- 2.2 Blog Number Two
- 2.3 Blog Number Three
- 2.4 Blog Number Four
- 2.5 Blog Number Five
- 2.6 Blog Number Six
- 2.7 Blog Number Seven
- 2.8 Blog Number Eight
- 2.9 Blog Number Nine
- 2.10 Blog Number Ten
- 2.11 Bonus Blog
- 2.12 Blog Number Eleven
- 2.13 Blog Number Twelve
- 2.14 Blog Number Thirteen
- 2.15 Blog Number Fourteen
- 2.16 Blog Number Fifteen
My name is Brandon Leshchinskiy. I'm a sophomore at The Pennsylvania State University, majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in economics, entrepreneurship, or something similar. Ultimately, I hope to work at a technical company in a nontechnical position.
Blog posts will be written weekly. These will be based on prompts given by the professor, and generally will concern RepRapping.
Blog Number One
An item that is usefulI don’t think a key ring yet exists that would prevent me from losing my keys, but this comes pretty close. It’s unique, goofy, and looks awesome. 
An item that is uselessWhile these shoe bowties are absolutely useless, they are doubtlessly my favorite item I’ve found on Thingiverse thus far. Seriously, what’s classier than a plastic bow tie on each foot? 
An item that is amazingI think this print is appropriate for the amazing section for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, the detail is stunning – especially given the relatively young age of 3D printing. Secondly, pirates are objectively badass. That’s enough for me, really. 
An item that is funnyI suppose the object itself isn’t inherently funny, but when you consider all the possibilities of a 3D printed quadrocopter, it certainly becomes enlivening. I’m picturing a fleet of them flying into an introductory chem lecture, narrowly missing the professor, and then zooming out of the room. That’s not a terrible idea, right? 
A great Raspberry Pi caseThis case is not only sleek and aesthetically pleasing, but the holes enhance functionality by preventing overheating. Still, it seems simple enough to print that it wouldn't cause any impossible issues. 
Blog Number Two
The Economic Impact of 3D Printing
One of the most interesting aspects of 3D printing, in my opinion, is the effects it will have on the global economy. Since the industrial revolution, our process for making new products has been more or less the same: build a prototype by hand or in a machine shop, adjust and improve it, and then use a factory to manufacture it on a large scale. 3D printing will revolutionize the prototyping stage of this process. Rather than working manually to create the prototype, companies will simply be able to print their CAD designs and test them.
Because this is clearly a more efficient method of prototyping, it is predicted to spread quickly through the industrial world. Indeed, according to this video, the 3D printing industry will become a $3B business by 2016. This is pretty mind-blowing, given the relatively young age of additive manufacturing.
Part of this, of course, will be simply by virtue of the careers offered by 3D printing companies, in addition to the actual hardware they produce. Another economic benefit, however, will be the creative outlet 3D printing will become for millions of people. That is, anyone with an idea for a new product and access to a 3D printer can simply design and create their idea. The expenses associated with product creation will be practically nullified, allowing average men and women to engage in invention. Overall, the proliferation of 3D printers will offer huge financial and creative benefits to millions, if not billions, of people.
Blog Number Three
Blog commentary While many of the blog posts have been insightful and interesting, one of my favorites is Steven Rekstad's post about deep space travel and 3D printing, which can be found here: http://reprap.org/wiki/User:StevenRekstad. He does a great job illustrating a very practical application of 3D printing, and while the post is specifically about deep space travel, the notion that 3D printers can replace spare parts in general -- because you can just print any part you need -- is, quite frankly, awesome. His post is clearly well thought-out and well-written, but one improvement to be made with the blog as a whole is to add a table of contents. This would make it easier to view and link to specific sections or posts, not to mention improving the overall professionalism. Still, the content itself is very well done.
Blog Number Four
Arduino and RepRap Arduino and RepRap are, in my opinion, among the coolest inventions of the last few decades. The Internet allowed people to share information with each other for free, and these projects now allow people to take it a step further; between the Internet, RepRapping, an Arduinos, people can make basically whatever tool they want by using someone else's design, and then programming it to do whatever they need. In terms of the business model, giving away the main product for free is certainly non-standard. Many businesses give away various side products -- complements to their main offer -- but these open source businesses have basically turned this idea on its head. It's evidently effective enough, as they are clearly profitable. Take Google as a case in point: their main service, organizing and retrieving information, is completely free. However, by allowing advertisers access to the types of searches people are doing, Google has become a billion dollar company. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I can definitely appreciate the ingenuity of this business model. This, not to mention the fact that open source hardware will (and has already started to) revolutionize the industrial world.
Blog Number Five
The main differences between patentable and copyrightable products are that, to merit a patent, the idea must be useful and original, while to gain copyright, the idea must be creative and inherently artistic. Accordingly, I've analyzed my five things from post 1 to decide whether there are facets of them that may be under copyright or patent protection.
1. Gnu Key-ring. While the idea of a key ring is certainly not original, the actual design may be. Therefore, the artistic part of the key ring -- the gnu's face -- may be copyrighted.
2. Shoe Bow ties. Bow ties are obviously not original, nor are these plastic versions particularly useful. Therefore, I doubt that this design is subject to any protection at all.
3. Plunderbuss Pete. This is one of the coolest sculptures I've ever seen, and, while it's clearly not useful in any way, it's equally clearly a beautiful work of art. It should absolutely be protected by a copyright.
4. Quadrocopter. If this were the first of its kind, it might merit a patent. However, as this is simply a quadrocopter that used 3D printed parts, it has added nothing creative or useful to the design.
5. Raspberry pi case. This is not under patent protection, because it is not the first raspberry pi case. However, the design is unique and original enough that it may merit copyright protection.
I also checked out some of my classmate's blog post. Dimitri's sculpture (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:145913) is really neat, and obviously a unique work of art. I would assume this is protected by copyright, since it is so original and beautiful. On the opposite of the spectrum, Brandon's gear bearing (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:53451) seems like it is new, original, and very useful. It may be under patent protection.
As for the benefits of licensing, I have a few opinions. While I am a bit skeptical about "future-proofing" anything -- the legal system is fantastic at circumventing the law -- I think the idea of licensing to encourage an open-source community is awesome. It's what led to 3D printers in the first place, and I believe this kind of creative, helpful community should be encouraged and stimulated.
Lastly, I believe the author of the first article may be slightly naive in that he did not seem to consider the fact that the Penrose Triangle is an optical illusion from the 1950's. The design is clearly not useful, and nor is the 3D printed version of it original. Therefore, it was probably not even protected by copyright law in the first place.
Blog Number Six
This blog is an update of the previous post regarding 3D printing, IP, and the Penrose triangle. A classmate wrote about a raspberry pi case, saying it's possible for the case to be patent-able because it serves a unique purpose. I, however, disagree with this, because raspberry pi cases all have the same fundamental purpose: protecting the raspberry pi from mechanical and thermal damage.
Another comment that was made was the realization that the license would last for years, even though copyright law may change. This blog also made note of the creative commons license, which encourages a creative atmosphere that is conducive to collaboration and innovation. This is quite important, and I made note of this in my previous post as well.
As for the Penrose triangle, another blogger pointed out an observation that I also made -- even though someone printed the Penrose triangle, he cannot patent it or copyright it because it wasn't his original design, and it certainly serves no useful purpose. Overall, the articles clearly offer many important points in regards to intellectual property, patents, and copyright.
Blog Number Seven
3D printing has obviously taken over quite a bit of popular science media real estate as of late, not in the least because of its seemingly endless possibilities. Take, for example, the application of 3D printing to food (as enumerated in this article ).
The article discusses a wide range of food-based applications for additive manufacturing, and, as is usually the case with popular science articles, it mixes "hope" and "hype" to provide for an informative, yet entertaining read. In terms of hope -- how 3D printing will save the world -- the article points out the possibility of manufacturing meat. Clearly, this would reduce methane emissions from farms, not to mention our growing need for more land. There are two issues with this concept that push it towards the category of "hype," however: firstly, producing even a pound of meat currently takes thousands of dollars, and secondly, convincing the general populace to eat industrially manufactured meat will require a marketing campaign of biblical proportions. Still, one could suppose that in the not-too-distant future, both of these issues will be overcome.
Besides these typical overblown expectations, I believe the smaller applications mentioned in this article are perhaps more relevant to today's world. For example, printing chocolate and cheese into unique designs could be a highly profitable business venture, particularly if marketed to the "1%" who can afford to spend lavishly on such novelty items. A bit more usefully, 3D printed food could also turn pureed foods back into their original shape, for consumption by the elderly. Furthermore, the articles notes the idea of 3D printing custom combinations of nutrients for athletes, pregnant women, and other targeted groups. This begins to border on "hype" again, and I am somewhat skeptical about replacing natural foods with 3D printed alternatives -- particularly when diet pills already abound -- but I believe this use for additive manufacturing might be adopted in some niche industries.
Overall, this article effectively describes the many applications of 3D printers with regards to our diet. Although it adopts a "This will save the world" attitude towards some uses, it generally presents a reasonable discussion of future possibilities.
Blog Number Eight
Although the AMRI research lab is doing many interesting research projects, it seems unlikely that we have the resources available to replicate them. For instance, it would be fairly difficult to attempt 3D printing with bacteria in our current workshop, and stereolithography is quite an expensive process. I suggest, therefore, that our best bet in terms of a new research project would involve using a laser to sinter thermoplastic powder.
As for words that might relate to our class, I suggest the following:
Finally, I've thought of the following acronyms to describe our activities:
LEAD: Lions Engineering through Additive Design
DARE: Designing with Additive Reprap Engineering
SMART: Students Manufacturing with Additive Reprap Technology
AMURICA: Additive Manufacturing: Undergraduates Reprapping and Integrating Cool Advancements
Blog Number Nine
The assigned article discusses how one maker used a 3D printer and "as few specialized parts as possible" to make his own coffee grinder, in addition to other kitchen appliances. This highlights one of the many practical applications of 3D printing, especially for average people. In other words, while additive manufacturing is clearly an important development for how manufacturing companies prototype, this article demonstrates the practicality of 3D printers for normal households. Thus, a tremendous benefit of owning a 3D printer is that it can be used to print replacement parts, as well as entire systems -- coffee grinders, shower heads, blenders, etc. -- with the help of some non-printed parts.
One place this might have an impact is for the companies who produce kitchen appliances and similar devices. It is unlikely that they will be replaced by 3D printed machines entirely, but, as 3D printers become more popular, these companies may have to alter their business models slightly. For example, in addition to selling fully built appliances, they might also offer parts that are not suitable for 3D printing. That is, the "specialized parts" mentioned earlier could be produced and sold by the companies who also supply fully built appliances. This way, companies could appeal to both the current mass market, as well as to the growing population of makers.
A general trend in manufacturing is that, as quantity produced increases, the price follows an upside-down parabola, the precision follows a line sloping upwards, and labor intensiveness follows a line sloping downwards. Thus, it almost always more efficient to produce objects in bulk quantities than one at a time, largely because more production allows for more usage of international trade and competitive advantage. That is, a company could gather bulk supplies from the country who is best at supplying them; a maker, however, would probably settle for the most easily-accessible materials. The ultimate problem with this is, if one person wants to make himself a coffee grinder, there's no reason to produce an extra 999 of them -- this is why individuals cannot reap the benefits of mass production.
Blog Number Ten
Jeffrey Immelt, the current CEO of GE, explains that his company is primarily a material manufacturing company in this video (http://fora.tv/2013/02/07/GE_CEO_Jeffrey_Immelt_Whats_Next_for_US_Manufacturing). He calls 3D printing the "holy grail" of manufacturing and labels it a wise investment. He mentions many of the reasons we've discussed in class -- more flexibility, less cost, and less waste -- in his argument that 3D printing is worth time, money, and effort. He also stands behind the quality of 3D printed objects, saying that, especially considering the speed, 3D printed goods are quite strong and strain-resistant. Given his expertise in production and manufacturing -- particularly considering his company being at once specialized and broad -- it makes sense that he would appreciate the value of 3D printers. GE must satisfy individual customers with distinct needs, so 3D printing may prove extremely useful to them.
On the other hand, Foxconn president Terry Gou has called 3D printing a "gimmick" (http://www.3ders.org/articles/20130626-3d-printing-is-just-a-gimmick-says-foxconn-president-terry-gou.html), stating it has no real potential in terms of mass production. This is obviously true, and it seems hard to find any reputable sources arguing the contrary. The value in 3D printing is clearly not mass production -- that much is obvious; what Gou seems to be missing, however, is its value for prototyping molds and similar tasks. Still, Gou's perspective is appropriate, given his company's goals; unlike GE, which produces many large-scale electromechanical systems, Foxconn often deals with small electronic devices, to which 3D printing is much less relevant. Thus, although the CEOs have opposing viewpoints, it seems one can conclusively say that 3D printers are valuable, but perhaps not as world-changing as some may have hoped.
For a recent interview with Eaton, I was to prepare a short technical sales presentation. I decided to sell 3D printers, because I feel both knowledgeable and enthusiastic towards them. I talked a bit about their uses in comparison to traditional manufacturing, as well as the general benefits of 3D printing, such as less waste, cost, and time. Afterwards, there was a brief Q/A with the two interviewers. One of the more interesting questions they asked -- one that I actually had to consider for a few moments before answering -- was, Given the relevance of 3D printing to a huge manufacturing company, how does one translate this to an average American household? This was a valid point, but upon answering, I realized how flexible 3D printing truly was: not only can it be used to prototype for large manufacturers, but it can also be used by a normal household to print replacement parts, tools, and even decorations. Furthermore, the educational value of allowing a child to experiment with early STEM experience cannot be overstated. I thought it interesting, then, that while proving the worth of 3D printing to two interviewers, my incredulity with the technology was also rejuvenated.
Blog Number Eleven
Having acquired a decent amount of experience working with 3D printers, perhaps one of my most common frustrations with the machines is the relative inconsistency of the prints. In the case of ornamental or decorative prints, this isn't a big deal. However, working parts need to fit, and when the holes are printed poorly, this becomes quite annoying. There was one instance in particular when I needed to assemble a few pieces, and the poor quality of the prints made this near impossible. After significant trial and error, my team and I were able to jam the pieces together; still, the process was much more time-consuming than it would have been if the prints had been more accurate. This experience was perhaps the most frustrating of my efforts throughout the class, but in general, printing and assembling parts for the yellow printer has gone quite smoothly. In fact, today we finished the mechanical parts of the printer and have started wiring the electronics.
Blog Number Twelve
Having personally seen the excitement of an engineering professor at a branch campus upon receiving a 3D printer, I have to say it feels great being part of that process. Obviously, EDSGN 497J was a unique learning experience, as the open-ended problem solving resembles the real world far more closely than most other engineering classes. However, being able to contribute to the learning and development of other students is even more rewarding; it's really satisfying to know I was able to enhance someone else's education by building something from scratch (almost). A particularly exciting prospect for me is that idea that Penn Staters from all around the state will be able to contribute to the growing RepRap movement. Currently, improvements that are made at University Park can be posted and used by others around the world. Sharing 3D printers with students at other campuses expands this network even further. In other words, students at Brandywine will be able to directly supplement the printers here, even as students at main campus make their own improvements. This, I suppose is the elegance and effectiveness of open source design.
Blog Number Thirteen
In a Reddit posting about 3D-printed livers, users were discussing  the difficulties of integrating vasculature with the rest of the liver cells. One commenter, who cited his source as having taken a tissue engineering class, stated that researchers have made incredible progress in terms of organ creation, and can basically "make anything, but we can't get nutrients to it." The person continues, stating that once this problem is solved, growth will be rapid; organ engineering will revolutionize medicine, obsoleting the idea of "donors," and offering a foundation on which even more exciting research can take hold.
Addressing the problem of vasculature, another person's comment  suggested introducing a "cancerous" blood cell that would spread through the liver cells autonomously. This would involve incredibly complex procedures, but another user responded that researchers are, in fact, currently toying with this idea. In any case, the notion that we might use "cancerous" cell properties to create organs and save lives is at once intriguing, ironic, and hopeful.
Blog Number Fourteen
Although 3D printing and Arduino have been some of the most successful projects in the open-source design world, there are many other ideas that are in progress. Lasersaur, for example, is the name of an open source laser cutter that is currently under development. Interestingly enough, many open source technologies can actually support each other's growth. Just as the Arduino is an integral part of many open source 3D printers, 3D printing can contribute significantly to the open source laser cutter. Any of the parts that require mounting (the Bill of Materials lists "MechParts Aluminum" and "Mount Panels," for example) might be supported by 3D printed parts. Likewise, once the laser cutter is complete, it could help improve 3D printing by increasing the precision and flexibility of our printers; some parts that may otherwise be unprintable might become possible if they are first printed, and then put into a laser cutter for further changes. In fact, a laser cutter may be helpful in our 3D printing lab to help fix warped parts, particularly when it comes to imprecise holes. Overall, the merging of open source technologies offers exciting possibilities for future development.
Blog Number Fifteen
In a recent research development, conductive ink has been utilized to literally draw circuits. This is obviously an incredibly powerful tool, both for education -- allowing students to learn about circuits without the hassle of wires -- as well as professionally -- affording engineers the ability to adjust quickly to new problems. If we could 3D print with conductive materials, we'd be able to make our own circuit boards, which could be fairly useful and entertaining. This would be accomplished by dual extruding normal plastic for the base of the board and conductive material for electrical connections. Furthermore, this introduces the idea of a 3D circuit board, which might have interesting applications; a circuit cube, for example, might be useful for integrating several circuits and saving space, as it would be a single cube rather than 5 separate circuit boards. Overall, conductive ink is an intriguing concept, and it will be interesting to see how people apply it and make it useful.