Extra Blog C
This class is one of the most interesting and unique I have taken at Penn State, and it will certainly be one of the most memorable. The unconventional structure of the class is an important factor. Each student is given the responsibility to do something with their time in the lab, and is encouraged to think and contribute to the printers. This sort of laissez-faire nature comes with some great benefits. The student can address problems or improvements which interest them or that they excel in. There is a place for every skill in this class. I know that I have learned a lot, and now feel more than competent enough to operate and troubleshoot a RepRap. In fact, I am in charge of doing this for the printer belonging to the department of materials science & engineering. The class has given me confidence to work with electronics and related equipment (I finally learned how to use a soldering iron) as well as cooperate with other students on projects. I would recommend this course to any students that like problem solving or any of the multi-disciplinary forms of engineering.
I understand Professor Doyle's statement about RepRaps: It's a mundane thing in itself, squirting plastic down onto a substrate, but it means a lot for science and progress. When people collaborate and share ideas with each other, everyone benefits and progress skyrockets. This collaboration can result in unforeseen advances in technology. In the near future, I can see printers being used to customize all parts of one's life, as we use 3D objects all the time. We can also print conductive materials to make circuit boards. In the far future, we should be able to customize car designs to print custom cars the way we want them to look, or print body parts to heal broken bones or damaged organs. I feel a little bit silly trying to think of technology that may arise in the future from 3D printing because no one really knows what will happen, and the future is usually greater than we can imagine.
I would definitely prefer unlocked firmware on a self-driving car. If this car was in charge of my life, I would definitely want to be able to find out what it's doing! As for the small problem of preventing "mechanics" from altering it, all this would need to solve would be a password encryption system. Obviously it is easy to exploit locked firmware to do things like drive you past McDonald's or other sponsers, and honestly I wouldn't completely trust that anyone locking the firmware would never use it for methods like this. The code needs to be open for community review. It's very possible to have both open sourced code and safety at the same time (just look at Linux).
3D printing would not be anywhere near as popular as it is today without its open-source-crazed fan base. If I was asked to develop a regulatory framework for 3D printing, I would have a lot of trouble figuring out how to do this without somehow allowing users to get around it (in fact, I don't think I would even try). This is like someone telling you to stop a (regular) printer from printing pictures of cats. It can't be done.
Doctorow is much more optimistic than I am about the future of intellectual property. It's my opinion that the corporations/lawmakers in support of heavier copyright regulation have more power than citizens who are against it. I do agree with him that we will have larger challenges to face, but I do not predict that we will win them. Hopefully I will be proved wrong in the future.
I would have to use each one to make a better decision, but off the bat it seems like the filabot is the best one, simply because it is made for using many different plastics, and even tells you which temperatures to use for which plastics. After watching the video for the Lyman Filament Extruder, I am surprised at how fast it converts shredded plastic into ready-to-use filament. Recycling systems would be a great help everywhere, and would save users much money. Especially in 3D printing labs, where so much waste is created from failed prints, this could be used. Assembly of these recyclers doesn't sound too tough to me, but this may be because I have some knowledge of polymer production and extrusion.
My target area of research in grad school is conductive polymers - organic LEDs (OLED), transistors, and solar cells. OLEDs are most likely the material that we will see an increase in usage in televisions, cell phones, and tablet screens over the next few years. In fact, the new Samsung Galaxy phones are already being made with AMOLED screens. There are many benefits to using this technology - lower cost, higher lifetime, sharper colors, smaller power usage, better mechanical properties...the list goes on. I became interested in this technology after I became interested in 3D printing, and it didn't take long for me to notice that OLEDs can be 3D printed. The process involves layering of conductive polymers on a substrate to form a device that combines electrons and holes to emit photons. Some researchers have begun to experiment with this, and I hope to be able to do this someday as well.
I think that this is a very neat (only within novelty) use of 3D printing, and I can't think of a better place to implement it than Tokyo. Having been to Harajuku, I can say with confidence that the youth there love things like this, and it will certainly make a ton of money. I would totally buy one of these, just because I've always wanted to have an action figure of myself. Perhaps other companies will open that offer different options, such as putting you in different clothes before the scan so you can be a superhero. The room for innovation in this area is large, and shoppers looking for unique novelty items will always love that.
Kids love stuff like this. Imagine what they were thinking when 2D printers became popular. "You can put whatever you want onto paper, without writing it yourself? And it works faster than people?" Once printing got past this initial phase, it became so commonplace that if a school doesn't have a printer, kids would get confused. This same widespread revelation needs to happen with 3D printing. The best way to do so is to introduce them into schools. This won't be an issue, because K-12 schools can definitely benefit a lot from having a 3D printer. Math classes could use them to print novel 3D shapes from equations derived in class. Art classes could introduce yet another form of expression. Tech labs could have a contest to see who could build the best miniature race car - with 100% printed parts. The possibilities are enormous. With this said, I am all for seeing 3D printers in schools. Not only does it aid in the creative and educational development of children, but it also introduces them to the possibilities of 3D printers, paving the way for them to be more intelligently used in the future. If the printers are simple enough that a child can use them, and powerful enough to provide all of these benefits, than what are we waiting for?
I'd imagine that customization of common, everyday items would become normal in the future thanks to 3D printing. For example, a gaming controller for computer games could be custom-printed for your hands. By scanning your hands, software could change the edges of a controller to perfectly fit your hands, similar to a mouth guard fitting your teeth. However, I still think manufacturers will stick with the traditional molding process because it is cheaper. Even if they come up with an idea that needs to be 3D printed, it will be more cost effective to alter it so it can be molded instead. Maybe they will begin to combine these two forms of manufacturing, so you can mold most of the piece and then print over it parts that cannot be molded.
It makes sense to me that libraries are an ideal place to house a 3D printer. They are often expensive, so to localize it in a more private area would create too inclusive of an environment. The printers can be used by students from so many majors effectively. They could be able to sign up for a time slot to use the printer, but sometimes prints can take longer or shorter than you expect. Perhaps students can sign up online and view a live list of who is in line to use it, so they know when to head over to the library. At Penn State, I feel that the main library would be a nice place for this, although it would most likely become too popular. Maybe several printers could be scattered throughout campus: one in the engineering library, one in the chemistry library, etc. As shown in the videos, 3D printers in libraries are very successful and helpful for students.
I didn't predict that this would happen so quickly, but I also don't believe that it will be successful. You can't force 3D printers that people made themselves to have DRM. This is why it's so hard to regulate. It's not like an iPod, where Apple can require your music have DRM if they wanted to. This might work for the more mainstream, closed source 3D printers. But this would only serve to make them less desirable to the average user. Those seeking DRM restrictions for 3D printers are simply too late. There is already a huge following for the open source designs, and people love the freedom it gives them. I don't see them giving that away.
1. I can only foresee optical sensing devices being used as toys or novelty items. The technology that really utilizes fiber-optic materials like this (data transfer) is not going to be made cheaper by 3D printing. This is a fun idea that shows how flexible 3D printing is, but I don't see too many benefits coming out of it.
2. This wouldn't be too difficult to implement. The printer just has to know where to put the light piping and when to print it with respect to the passive components. More specifically, our printers might be able to do this if we could easily switch between materials being printed. Our printers can definitely not print as accurately as the ones in the video, but maybe they could produce some smaller scale optical sensing devices.
3. Maybe smartphones or video games could benefit from 3D printed optical sensing devices. Smartphones, of course, already have touch screens/accelerometers, but 3D printed could probably be utilized somehow to make it more interactive, if it's cost effective. Something that was heavily implied in the video was interactive games. If a material like this was used as a game controller, it could offer a different and interesting type of control than conventional methods. REPRAP owners could print something like this and design a simple game for people to print and play themselves!
1. Bio-printing sounds completely amazing. This is definitely stuff of the future. Hopefully in about 20/25 years we will see this technology being implemented in every hospital. I may need to look more into this, because I am curious. Where do they get the raw materials for the "bio ink?" Are they from stem cells or just from a sample of the patient's tissue? As always with stem cells, there will be debate and possibly some legal issues. Other than that, I don't really see any problems with this cool technology.
2. Perhaps in a century or so bio-printing will be so cheap/readily available that it's feasible to own one yourself. I don't imagine this being largely used for bio-research, but I can see it being used for medical reasons. Accidentally get your finger cut off in your hyper-drive engine? Just print a new one! Good as new! It's possible that this technology will have a huge impact in how people live, as well as how long they live.
1. If I was a part of the DIY gun project, I would try desperately hard to get the internet on my side. Sites like 4chan/reddit would get behind this very quickly. Since this is still a legal gray area, we need all the support we can get to pass the right laws.
2. It's really impossible to regulate something like this, and it's only going to get harder in the future. No one will ever know if you decided to design and print a gun of your own. With that said, lawmakers will still try to regulate. In the end, it will just put more pressure on the open source community. Hopefully this doesn't affect the public's outlook on 3D printers and people will still try to fight for open source!
3. This article  talks about a 3D printer that can assemble complex molecules (mostly for medical uses). This could put an interesting spin on drug prohibition, because people would be able to create their own recreational, currently illegal drugs. Drug prohibition would suddenly become even harder than it is now. I think issues like this will continue to arise in the future, and the world will have to decide how much freedom it really wants.
I can totally understand Makerbot's decision to stop using open source designs. The fight between open/closed source has always been like this. We will always have open source companies changing their ways. Prusa's concerns are well-founded, but I need to see some official reviews of the changes to thingiverse before I form an opinion on this. I'm not very concerned, however, because there will always be other sites like thepiratebay where users can download/upload designs at will.
1. I do not foresee DRM coming into play at all with 3D printed objects. It's simply not reasonable. It makes some sense with virtual products (movies, video games) because hackers have to put forth some effort to break the DRM and distribute the information. With 3D objects, what's stopping someone from printing multiples of the same object? If 3D printing became both insanely popular AND most objects had DRM restrictions, I could see a black market forming for products like this. In the end, it would be harder to control 3D printed media than it is to control copyrighted media now.
2. I have always been a science/technology guy. I guess that means I have more problem-solving parts in my brain than parts for attracting mates. However, I really like music - playing it, discussing it, but I am terrible at writing it for myself. I guess evolution half-assed it with me.
3. 3D printing seems to be the link between intellectual property and tangible products. Until recently, IP has been limited to music, movies, books, etc. If 3D printing really takes off, it could create a whole lot of problems. The tension between those who create the products and how easy it would be to "steal" those products would be too much. Perhaps they will just continue to enforce stronger penalties for IP crimes. There has to be some kind of huge revolution for intellectual property to come to an end, and I can't see that happening.
1. I think Adrian Bowyer's goal of a ‘self-replicating universal constructor’ is feasible. The problem we face now is that we cannot print moving or electronic parts (motors, microcontrollers, etc.). If this can be accomplished, it would really be no problem to print, for example, a full-sized working vacuum cleaner. For this we need printers that can do more than just print a single material, they need to be able to modify it further.
2. "Wealth without money" simply means that one can obtain things you would usually buy for free (or very cheap). This implies that what companies now produce for a profit will be effectively mass-produced for pennies. Since a lot of jobs depend on this, I can see it resulting in an increase in unemployment. I remember reading a short essay a while ago predicting that, in the far future, machines can replace any job humans will ever do, resulting in an unemployment rate approaching 100%. Perhaps we are seeing that start of this with the rise of open source and 3D printers.
- Just looked it up, it's called Technological Unemployment 
3. I would love to see a printer that could solder, as well as extrude multiple different materials at the same time. For 3D printers to evolve further, they need to do more than just print a single material, layer by layer. They need to interact intelligently with the material to make it actually do things.
1. Useful: Earbud Case  I always hated how earbuds get so tangled, this is a simple, compact solution.
2. Artistic/Beautiful: Celtic Skull  I love the designs on this skull, detailed but not too crazy.
3. Pointless/Useless: The Most Useless iPhone Case Ever  What is this I don't even...this can't even fit in a pocket and all it does is flick a little lever around. Follow the YouTube link to see it in...action.
4. Funny: iSpork  For all of those times when you need to eat some chicken noodle soup while playing angry birds.
5. Weird: Bunny Dave with Kitty  I was looking for Michelangelo's David...found this instead. Pretty cool but mostly weird.