Print Team Leader
Penn State University Chemical Engineering
RepRap OS3DP Blog
3D Printing Branches into Medical Industry - October 15, 2012 Blog 6
The use of 3D printers continues to expand as the possiblities of the technology are still being explored. Recently, 3D printers have begun to be used in the medical industry. Their use in this industry is very valuable and very versatile. According to CNBC, commercial bio-printers are now out on the market. Biopharmaceutical companies like Pfizer have been looking into the technology as it could extremely improve their testing of drugs. Bioprinters essentially print layers of living cell mixtures to create human tissue. This provides a more accurate 3D replication of tissue for drug testing and could ultimately decrease the time it takes to get a drug out on the market. Aside from printing out tissue for research use, the bioprinters have been used to print out actual organs and prosthetics. The printing of tissue is also being researched as a way to directly deposit cells onto a wound. Once again, one can see that the possibilities of this technology is endless.
There are several aspects that then must be foreseen when using 3D printing this way. There will have to be some kind of legal regulations in the way the printers are used. Essentially, there has to be quality control of the products if the printers are used to print out organs or tissue. Pharmaceutical industries should be allowed to use the bioprinters for research, but should anyone be able to buy a bioprinter? If so, should the living cell mixture be available to all? There are some limitations to the technology still because it uses additive layers. There can not be overhangs and always need a flat base to print the tissue or organ. These are little obstacles that can be researched and then avoided with the orientation of the organ/tissue being printed. Even with potential regulation or technological challenges, I think that ultimately this shows the beginning of rapid prototyping in the bio-research industry.
3D Defense; Will Regulation Begin? - October 7, 2012 Blog 5
3D Printing gives one the ability to produce anything and everything that fits the constraints of the design program and the printer that one uses. It has been known to create art, useful knickknacks, and more. Currently, Cody Wilson, director of Defense Distributed, is trying to create a 3D printable pistol. Cody Wilson is a second year law student at the University of Texas. His has spent time on the side creating an internet project called WIki Weapon, run by his group Defense Distributed. Their plan is clear: "Create a 100% printable design, adapt it to cheaper printers, and become the web's printable gun wiki." When Wilson began to make his idea public, many thought he would have a run in with the law. Because of this, the 3D Printer that he originally leased got taken away immediately by the company he rented from. They did not want to have their machine used in that way and reserved the right to terminate any contract. After more research and discussion with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), it was deems that Wilson was not breaking any specific laws. ATF told him he must get a license if he intends to manufacture weapons at home.
This incident brings attention to the RepRap issue of regulation. As of right now, there are no regulations on what people can and cannot print. But will this change if people keep creating weapons? The machines are already being used in a variety of different ways. The most obvious are to create useful home items, but there have been some other routes taken, includingsex toys and now weapons. If regulation was introduced, is it something that could actually be reinforced? Because this is an open source project and almost all the information is online, it would be hard to stop the flow of the information. On top of that, it would be hard to keep track of who has what information, designs, and technologies to create weapons or other objects. The laws that would form around this would have to be very specific, or control would be lost. Cody Wilson’s story could, in theory, be an early sign to the beginning of regulation.
Ownership of Design: Makerbot’s NEW Release - September 28, 2012 Blog 4
After Makerbot’s release of the Replicator 2 Replicator 2, there was a lot of animosity in the RepRap community towards Markerbot, Inc. Not only is their new product closed source, but they also changed the Terms of Service on their much-used site Thinigverse. When this news was first released, there was a movement called “Occupy Thinigverse.” Users took down their designs and replaced them with Occupy Thingiverse pictures; they thought that Makerbot would now own any user content on the site. After some careful clarification, it is now known that Makerbot does NOT claim ownership of user’s content. The new Terms of Service are fully explained here. Thingiverse was a great site because it gave everyone one place to throw down their designs and see what others in the RepRap group were up to. The question is now whether people will still trust their ideas to this site, or find somewhere else. Will Thingiverse stay a crowd favorite? Or will a new site with a similar function take over? Either way, like the RepRap wiki, there will have to be a common ground where everyone can communicate and share 3D designs and ideas.
These turn of events surfaced a lot of questions looming the backs of people’s minds about open source projects and ownership of ideas. Makerbot, Inc. is a company which is alive for the motive to make money off of their designs and products. If all of their blueprints are available to the public, then the need for the company ceases to exist. I believe that it was only a matter of time before the information was held under company copyright and not released to the public. Although it is better for the community as a whole to have all the information available to everyone, individual greed could begin to get in the way. People may want credit for the exact modifications/improvements that they make with 3D Printers. This is where the trouble comes in. Money can be made off of one’s ideas. So who gets the recognition when it is a community effort? These are the kinds of questions that are being asked and will be answered by the events that occur in the near future.
Intellectual Property Rights vs Open Source -September 21, 2012 Blog 3
One of the main draws to RepRap 3D Printing is the fact that is is open source. It has created a community where the technology has endless possibilities. The technology is constantly critiqued, created, and remodeled from the diversity of the RepRap population. DRM DRM (Digital Rights Management)(Digital Rights Management http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management) has not really been applied to 3D printing. The use and information has a very limited filter, if any at all. I think that, at this point in the technology, the lack of filter has had a positive effect. Without people worrying about copyright laws, etc. they are left to work freely with and on 3D printing. Tehey can expand their creativity, just as Adrian Bowyer predicts in his article “The End of Intellectual Property.” There is a constant flow of ideas without logistical processes to worry about. This technology is still in the early stages and has so much potential. Once it starts to have a more defined nature, copyright can then be applied to certain parts of the processes.
Professor Bowyer seems to think that 3D Printing will eventually kill intellectual property. In the end, I do not see this being the case. There are so many current laws concerning intellectual property, and surely there are more to come. Although the RepRap community does tend to destroy this whole concept, being that it is open source, I don’t think it will spread far. People always want credit (and money) for their own creations. Unless that changes, I do not see Intellectual Property ending. It has just as many pros as cons. People do deserve credit for their ideas, and if money is what they want then this is their way to get it. Intellectual Property rights basically act as a the marketplace for ideas. They change the intangible ideas into tangible products that can be traded for monetary value. At the same time, it does slow creativity because ideas can not flow as openly or easily. Without free access to everyones theories, people can not build off of each other and this slows progression. The whole idea of Adrian Bowyer’s RepRap Project was that it is a relatively cheap project that someone can create and work on in their own home because of free access to the data and design plans of other people. Within the last week, MakerBot has released their new model, Replicator 2, which is rumored to be closed source. This is a huge deal because MakerBot has decided to not release their product design to the community. They do not want a bunch of people making their product at home, which makes sense because they are a company with investors and people have completely copied their work before. This new product and its legal specifications may actually have the potential to bring the end of open source production. We will see what the future holds. As you can tell, with this rapidly developing technology, nothing is easy to predict.
The Intentions of RepRap - September 11, 2012 Blog 2
Adrian Bowyer started the RepRap Project with the intention of creating a machine that could be created, used, and improved by anyone. He intended to to have it ultimately reach out into every house hold and achieve the goal of a ‘self-replicating universal constructor.’ I think that this is a feasible goal. Over just five years (the first design being released in 2007), RepRap machines have become more and more user-friendly and easier to assemble and operate. I do not think that they are at the point yet where everyone, even those without mechanical or electronic experience, can use them comfortably. But it is definitely a possibly for the designs and instructions to get to that point. Therefore, the first thing that needs to be done to get to this point is to create clearer step-by-step instructions for creating a 3D Printer. There are numerous blue prints available online, but none are clear or at an elementary level for everyone to understand. Another problem with the system is maintenance. The machines now are still not very reliable and tend to frequently run into small issues where they need to be fixed, from the x-axis shifting to the extruder tip not heating up. As the designs continue to get refined, I feel that these problems will lessen and it will get to a point where they are reliable enough for the common household. Adrian Bowyer had the idea that if these machines do become a staple in every household, there would be “wealth without money.”
“Wealth without money” means that each house hold would be able to provide themselves with the necessities of living. This would remove the need for purchased goods and thereafter, money. In my opinion, these machines, with continuing improvement, could actually live up to this standard. One of the biggest problems with this idea is the technical complexity of the printers. A member from each household would have to be trained in the maintenance and trouble-shooting of the machines. The learning curve to use them is not steep, which makes this idea possible. As the designs for RepRaps continue to evolve, I think we will get to a point where they are simplified, reliable, and ready to be produced for and in every household. Common useful products that these machines can make and be used in everyday life are cups, plates, bottle openers, measuring spoons, and more.
The future of 3D Replicating Prototypers is impossible to predict. After only five years, the community has evolved the looks and ability of the printers. Some projects being worked on that are sure to become a reality in the future are dual-color extruders, extruding with food materials like sugar or chocolate, and better software to produce g-code. More scenarios that I can envision are the use of printers to produce building models for architects, the ability to print metal pieces, an increase in the size and sped of the printers, and simplification of the software and machine for non-technical consumers to use it. Because this entire project is open-source, there is incredible potential for collaboration, discovery, and improvement in the RepRap Project.
Thingiverse.com - September 4, 2012 Blog 1
Thingiverse is a website created by MakerBot Industries as a place for people to post virtual 3D designs they made. From these digital designs, real life objects can be made using 3D printers. Similar to the rest of the RepRap resources, this website is open source. There are thousands of designs available to everyone via the GNU General Public License or Creative Commons licenses. Heres a list of some designs found on Thingiverse:
1. Useful- Measuring Spoons
These are easy to print out and can be used in the kitchen whenever you are cooking! They come in 2 tsp and 4 tsp sizes, but can be scaled to what ever you need.
2. Artistic - Pretty Rose
This is a rose that was designed by a user for his girlfriend. It is printed in parts and then assembled to a pretty little rose.
3. Pointless - Robohamster
In this design, an odd combination of a robot and hamster is modeled. It can sit on a table, but can't do much more than that and so it is somewhat useless except for entertainment purposes.
4. Funny - Rooster Ring
This is a fashionable ring that can only be worn on special occasions. It projects a unique personality and is a great conversation starter!
5. Weird - Used Canaries
This is a design of a dead canary that can possible be used as a decoration of some sort. The sculpture gives a weird vibe with X's over the eyes of the birds.