- 1 Welcome
- 2 About Me
- 3 Blog
- 3.1 Blog 15 (Extra Blog D)
- 3.2 Blog 14
- 3.3 Blog 13
- 3.4 Blog 12
- 3.5 Blog 11
- 3.6 Blog 10
- 3.7 Blog 9
- 3.8 Blog 8
- 3.9 Blog 7
- 3.10 Blog 6
- 3.11 Blog 5
- 3.12 Blog 4
- 3.13 Blog 3
- 3.14 Blog 2
- 3.15 Blog 1
Welcome to my user page for EDSGN 497D at Penn State University on the RepRap Wiki!
Below you'll find a brief bio about my history and current activities, as well as my contact information.
Herschel Pangborn is a senior at Penn State majoring in Mechanical Engineering as a member of the Schreyer Honors College, with a certificate in International Engineering and minor in Music Performance. He also holds a third degree black belt and instructs both youths and adults as a member of the World Tang Soo Do Association.
ENGINEERING: Herschel's study of engineering has allowed him to visit and take classes in both China and Singapore, the latter at the National University of Singapore. He currently works as an undergraduate researcher for the Penn State Applied Research Lab on EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) ground robots as a member of Dr. Sean Brennan's research group. His senior thesis is an extension of extension of work by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), developing standardized performance metrics and test arenas for emergency response robots. Herschel is also serving as an undergraduate teaching intern for ME 300: Engineering Thermodynamics.
MUSIC: In 2008, Herschel attended the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts as a saxophonist. He was a member of the PMEA District 6 Jazz Band on saxophone and a PMEA All-State clarinetist. In May of 2009, Herschel competed with the SCAHS Jazz Band in the Essentially Ellington Program hosted by Jazz at Lincoln Center. That summer, he spent several weeks touring European jazz festivals with the same group. Herschel is a member of the Penn State Centre Dimensions Jazz Band and a participant in the Penn State Jazz Combos. He has studied with Steve Bowman and Rick Hirsch, and is currently studying saxophone with David Stambler and clarinet with Smith Toulson.
Blog 15 (Extra Blog D)
Sustainability of this little project is a key problem which needs to be addressed. Currently, our prospects for long-term funding from within the university seem slim. Suggest a variety of scenarios which might allow 3D printing with RepRaps to continue at Penn State, in the absence of any course/instructor. Discuss the positive and negative aspects of each scenario.
In the absence of a course or instructor, 3D printing with RepRaps at Penn State will have to explore other organizational forms. One option is to become a club or sponsored group, such as the Happy Valley SolidWorks User Group, which draws support from several industry corporations. This would place leadership responsibilities primarily in the hands of students, with some advising by university faculty. While it would be a good way to maintain legitimacy and funding in the absence of a formal curriculum, this would involve the frequent passing of responsibilities and dedication from one class of Penn Staters to the next as students complete their degrees. Another option is to focus more on the off-campus ties that are already existent through the Make Space. This might result in more stable facilities, but a singularly off-campus presence could reduce the ability to collaborate and draw membership from the university. I think that the continuation of both an on and off campus presence with be critical to sustaining the group. However, my strongest opinion is that the continuation and further popularization of the Penn State 3D printing service provided by the RepRap group will be the key to its sustainment. While similar services are available at a few locations elsewhere on campus, such as the Learning Factory, those facilities are often not operational, involve very long lead times, and are only available at significant cost. The idea that Penn State classes and laboratories could have inexpensive 3D printing services at their beck and call with limited investment on the part of the College of Engineering should be a very attractive idea. I know from my research experience with the Intelligent Vehicles and Systems Group that there would be strong interest in 3D printing capabilities for making parts to mount hardware to robots and test beds, if only one or two researchers were to try the service and have a positive experience. The greatest challenge will be to encourage these first uses of the service within the many courses and research groups on campus. First steps to meeting this challenge could include advertising the printing service and its capabilities on departmental listservs and asking professors who lead prominent groups whether they would allow members of the RepRap team to give a brief presentation or demonstration of 3D printers at a future meeting.
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?
Of the three designs, the Filabot definitely seems the most promising to me, primarily because it is being designed for consumer distribution. However, this system carries with it the trappings of closed-source devices, like inflated cost and limited facilitation of user modifications. The RecycleBot is open source, but doesn't appear to me to be as fleshed out operationally. Similarly, the Lyman Filament Extruder is less flexible in that it can only accept plastic pellets, and not refuse plastics, as inputs. A recycling system could be of huge benefit to the RepRap community by furthering the goal of sustainably engineered devices and decreasing the material costs of printing. I can definitely imagine a recycling system becoming an integral part of any RepRap operation. Using recycled materials to print may also challenge individuals to create better extruders for their printers that are capable of accepting filament with less uniform material properties and physical dimensions. Building a recycler from a step-by-step guide does not sound difficult to me, given that all the necessary tools are available. However, I do believe that tweaking the system itself and the printers for which the filament produced is used would be a very involved process. It would take significant experimentation to discover what materials can and can't be recycled, as well as what material properties should be expected from finished parts.
Write about something that interests you, related to the subject of 3D printing, which we have not covered in the course.
One interesting application for 3D printing that we haven't directly discussed in class is the use of 3D printers in outer space. One of the most significant barriers to space exploration is the safe transportation of fabricated items into orbit. The mass and size of these items makes them exceedingly expensive to "ship" out of Earth's gravity well. One idea that is under exploration by NASA is to ship the raw materials to space, and then construct and assemble them in orbit. This allows for much more efficient packing for shipment, and also helps alleviate concerns about ensuring that nothing breaks in transit. NASA refers to its research in this area as "SpiderFab" and has gone as far as to invest $100,000 in a company called Tethers Unlimited to develop plans for a 3D printer in orbit (http://www.3dprinter.net/nasa-spiderfab-3d-print-spacecraft-in-space). Through these means, we could build and assemble space stations, or even spacecraft designed for long-distance travel, in orbit. For the latter, this means that the vessel would not have to be designed so that it could be launched from Earth's surface, which significantly reduces constraints.
Another interesting area of interest is in using matter from the moon or Mars to print parts on site, entirely avoiding the need for materials to be shipped from Earth (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57556017-1/3d-printer-on-moon-or-mars-could-make-tools-from-local-rocks/). This could be a critical service to manned missions.
It is important to note that the greatest barrier to our progress in space is not technical knowhow, but rather funding. NASA's budget as a percentage of GDP is just a fraction of what it was when we went to the moon, and as a consequence, its accomplishments have not captured the hearts and minds of the world as they once did. The success of and passionate following for the Martian rovers is evidence that the United States population has not lost its love of space exploration, and that investment in space exploration is not just scientifically profitable, but also inspires the nation's youth to pursue advanced scientific and mathematical achievement. Despite the many other financial draws under which our country operates, research in space must not be overlooked.
Read through these links
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?
While seeing a 3D model of myself might be cool for a few minutes, I think it would ultimately be a rather creepy keepsake, and I have a feeling that my parents would agree. It would seem more like a voodoo doll than anything else. However, I applaud the attempt to interest individuals in 3D printing, and the technical achievement associated with the service shouldn't be overlooked.
I came across the news about Staples adding 3D printing to their business plan about a week ago, and think it is a really neat idea. The chain is clearly trying to capitalize on 3D printing by being an early adopter. Even if consumer demand of the service is not high now, the company is setting itself up to be a leader in any future boom that should occur. I think that the choice of a paper-based 3D printing technology demonstrates consumer niche that Staples is trying to fill. They clearly value the ability to print in multiple colors, even if it results in lesser material strength, which suggests that they are catering to consumers who want to create items to display or demo, rather than to be used as load-bearing parts in designs. Maybe Staples is leaving it to Lowes or Home Depot to stock printers with more durable (albeit blander) output. Any new entry into the 3D printing service market is likely to only improve the outlook from a consumer point of view. Different services offering various prices and packages, competing with each other to offer the best deals for consumers, are likely to challenge each other to provide cheaper and higher quality products.
Read through these links:
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.
I definitely see a place for 3D printing in educational environments prior to the university level. RepRaps are definitely cooler than the tech ed. options which were available at my middle and high schools, however most of the latter's hardware and software was probably purchased twenty years ago. In my opinion, the greatest hurdle to bringing 3D printing to a younger audience is not that young learners aren't tech savvy or interested (on which points I agree with the articles), but that schools need to be able to justify supplying the funding to buy the printers and materials, training teachers, and investing in curriculum development, which is largely glossed over in the articles. Even if the printers themselves are supplied by an external entity, the forming of an infrastructure to support 3D printer sharing takes investment. There are already cuts being made to many extracurricular activities (like art and music) so that schools can focus what funding they do have on subjects within their core curriculum (like math and english). This occurs largely because standardized exam scores in core subjects determine future funding allotments. School administrators can't uniformly be expected to put forth a few thousand dollars in what they view as a new toy for a handful of kids who might want to be engineers.
One of the best ways to overcome this hurdle is to share the wealth brought by 3D printers across as many departments and classes as possible. Art students could use them to create sculptures, while chemistry students might learn about the plastic filament and then experience its properties first hand. Younger learners could sketch up designs for small toy cars, print them, and then study which ones are fastest and why. This way, the printers have the ability to effect the lives of hundreds of students with a variety of passions, instead of just a few.
The analogy between 3D printers and cell phones used in one of the articles, while demonstrative of the potential 3D printers might have for improvement in the future, doesn't explain why they could be valuable in schools. Would giving kids access to early cell phones as part of classes have been that great a thing 20 years ago? A comparison to computers is much more comprehensive. Few people argue today that schools shouldn't have up-to-date computers available for their students, and many schools even have iPads to hand out to kindergardeners. Schools aren't afraid to invest in technology, administrators just need to be convinced that whatever they invest in is versatile enough to benefit a large proportion of the student population, and give their graduates an edge in the world of tomorrow.
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? I’ve included some links here to give you something to think about, which we’ve generally talked about before. Bonus points when you think of something that I haven’t.
I think that a lot of the future advancement in 3D printing will actually deal with the generation of the models we print, as well as the 3D printers themselves. Right now, the STL files we use are generated from work done with 3D CAD programs. Designing something as simple as say, a mount for a micro controller, requires careful measuring of the proper dimensions and then the translation of this into a virtual model. Some companies have developed 3D scanners that can be used to digitize and then reproduce an object, but this requires that the object exists to begin with. What we really need to be able to do is scan something with which the object must mate and generate an electronic model for the object. For example we could scan a microcontroller and print a mount with holes that line up exactly with the mounting holes on the board, or we could scan inside the key hole of a lock and print a key that opens it, or we could scan the remainder of an amputated limb and print a prosthetic that fits comfortably. This capability could help eliminate the need for advanced CAD skills from the list of prerequisites for RepRap users who want to create unique things.
Read through these links:
Discuss the suitability of libraries as hosts for RepRaps (or other 3D printers). 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?
It's not surprising that a lot of libraries across the country are on the chopping block (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-fitzgerald/libraries-and-librarians_b_624834.html) as a result of the digital age. In most ways, computers and the internet have become a greater and more current source of information than paper books. Paper information also takes longer to obtain -- try to remember the last time you looked up a word in the dictionary and how much faster typing it into Google would have been. However, most libraries' response to the digital age have been to provide free access to online services, such as academic journal databases. While this offers a great amount and variety of information, it also doesn't necessitate that community members actually visit the library other than to register a library account. A librarian's existence as someone to help you find the book or resource that fits your needs has also largely been replaced by online forums. So, libraries across the world are faced with the question: Why should people actually visit the physical library? In addition to housing community programs and forums and providing basic technology needs to those who do not have them at home, the answer to this question is that libraries can use their funding and the advantage of being non-profit to provide technology to communities that even middle-class individuals cannot afford. As such, libraries could serve as a fantastic home for 3D printers--devices from which every person could benefit greatly but which not every person could afford.
I've always thought of libraries as being rather "liberal artsy" -- as forums for literature and art but not necessarily engineering and science. However, modern advances in open-source technology, like Arduino and RepRap, are proving that one doesn't need a PhD to be able to experiment with sophisticated technology, just as it doesn't take a Nobel prize winner to read a good book. In a world where my three-year-old niece is better at navigating an iPad (including adjusting settings like wifi and volume) than her parents, all we need to do is provide our youth with technology and some basic instruction (and trust them not to break anything too badly).
I'm primarily familiar with the Pattee/Paterno Library, the Engineering Library, and the Schlow LIbrary downtown. As a long-time State College resident, I spent a lot of my youth in the latter. The first two have served me well in college as a jumping off point for research. I can definitely imagine any of these reallocating some of their shelving space in order to make room for a community FabLab. I love the nostalgia of walking through endless stacks of books and the feel of a paperback in my hands, but these spaces could be condensed by removing those books that are out of date and available online in more current forms via digital library services. However, it's important to note that each library would have to gear its programming to a different audience. For instance, Schlow is very focused on programs for children, while Pattee/Paterno is, of course, geared towards collegiate level students.
Check out: http://gizmodo.com/5952780/new-patent-could-saddle-3d-printers-with-drm
Go back to your previous posts regarding DRM and control of 3D printing. Does this article support your argument then? Do you think this technology will find a use?
In my previous post regarding DRM, I mentioned that RepRap has a significant advantage over the trappings of intellectual property enforcement because access to files has largely been on an open basis, even when they are being printed on a closed-source printer. However, the patent suggests that this may not always be the case. Despite the patent, I imagine that commercial 3D printers will always have to allow users to print files they have generated themselves. 3D printing is not like digital music services in that consumers are not only interested in accessing files generated by others (like their favorite bands). It is more like being a musician--both interested in creating your version of other's work as well as generating your own unique art. However, DRM could be used to force developers to create their models with a licensed software by having the software embed the necessary authorization code and link it to a particular individual's account when it generates the printable file. It might actually be good that 3D printing technology has been licensed by a patent trolling company. Perhaps manufacturers of 3D printers will decide it's not worth paying Intellectual Ventures for the right to enforce DRM on their product, or realize from the reaction to this patent that it would be an unbelievably unpopular decision.
Check out: http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/05/seeing-is-believing-disney-crafts-3d-printed-optics-video/
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?
2. What sort of difficulty would we have in implementing light piping using our printers?
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?
1. This vastly increase the capabilities of the objects we print. Most printed items are structural or decorative in nature and serve as alternatives to materials such as wood, aluminum, and plexiglass. The advent of printable optical sensing devices allows 3D printers to create alternatives to several orders of magnitudes more components - from switches to sensors to displays. Rather than using 3D printed parts as mounts for outside hardware- as we currently do for most of the components in our 3D printers themselves - we might be able to print both the mount and the sensor. One great example of this could be our end stops. While it would be a slightly more involved print than usual because a few electrical components might have to be inserted into the print halfway through, it would be much more convenient in the long run because the sensor and mount would be integrated by design and could be customized to their implementation. We would no longer have to design a suitable mount to work around the dynamics of an "off the shelf" end stop.
2. In order to implement light piping into our printers, we would first have to ensure that our printers are precise enough to meet the tolerances required for reliable functionality. We would also have to be able to print with the correct material and lay it the correct orientations to facilitate the pipes. The latter would require added control of tool path design, and the former may require different extruders and/or temperatures.
3. The use of optical devices inherently provides electrical isolation between input and output, which would allow electronics to be more modular and decrease the chance of a malfunction in one part of a circuit affecting others. In other words, it's as though the parts come with built-in opto-isolators! These parts are also much simpler than their electrical counterparts, which would make them less expensive and more reliable. Additionally, optical devices are less subject to sources of error like static charge, temperature, and moisture levels, which makes them more accurate and reliable across a wider range of environments. Finally, their compact size and the ability to integrate these parts directly any printed components makes them ideal for consumer products that need to be small, light, inexpensive, and mass-produced. For instance, the buttons on a cell phone could be printed as a part of its casing instead of being separate components installed inside the phone's body.
Check out this: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49348354
Most of our discussions have discussed printing object which are not alive, however many researchers are now looking into using 3D printers to create different organs or other bodily components. The NovoGen MMX bio-printer could change the field dramatically.
1. What do you think of bio-printing? What sort of legal problems or technical problems can you foresee?
2. Do you think this might be extended to RepRaps for DIY bio-research?
1. Bio-printing sounds like a great idea to me. Its ultimate goal--the ability to reproduce organsp-has the capability to solve several of the conundrums associated with organ donation, and even organ cloning. Organ donation (while a great deed) is subject to the problems of limited supply, and also has compatibility issues to consider between possible organs and recipients. Cloning involves the careful cultivation and sustaining of an organ throughout its growth cycle. By contrast, bio-printing would be much more time efficient and allow the final product to be customized as a perfect fit for its recipient. Even better, the supply is limited only by how many printers and technicians there are and by how fast the necessary cells used to build the organs can be supplied. However, one can imagine many scenarios in which bio-printing may clash with societal conventions. For instance, will this technology only be available to the very rich at first, or can it be prioritized from its outset for those in dire need? When replacing ones organs is as simple as running a printer and installing a new hard drive, will its implementation, like that of cosmetic surgery, be used both by those who are ill and those who simply want to augment their bodies? How will the governing bodies of athletics respond when an athlete can improve his or her performance simply by having a stronger heart or more efficient lungs installed? The answers to these questions may take a great deal of discussion, but are well worth the existence of such technology in medical practice. I'm sure that there are many technical issues associated with bio-printing as well, although my lack of experience with bioengineering does not lead me to be very confident in their prediction. I imagine that one concern would be for the long-term health of bio-material produced with 3D printers. These might hold together for a short time, but it needs to be proven that they can be as durable, regenerative and compatible within the body as that produced the old fashioned way.
2. I can definitely imagine interest in open source technology on the part of research institutions studying bio-printing as a way of conserving funds, but at present there is no way that DIY models provide the kind of precision necessary for such uses. It might be something like trying to use DIY rocket kits to design a manned spacecraft capable of reaching Mars! However, this is not to suggest that RepRaps will never reach the degree of technical advancement necessary for bio-printing, or that the open source community would not have something to contribute to efforts within this field. For example, if I were assigned to design and build the next generation of cell extruder for Organovo, I would probably start by searching on Thingiverse to see if any of the extruder innovations there could be applied (even if the STL files themselves could not). If I could receive permission, I might even pose some of the design challenges and constraints to the open source community to see if a solution could be made via crowd sourcing. If Phylo has taught us anything, the online community is always willing to help out with science, as long as there is some fun o be had along the way.
1. Imagine that you were a dedicated member of the DIY gun project: What might you do now? 2. Another article asks ”Should 3D printing, especially when it’s being used to create items like guns, be regulated? Can you regulate it?” Check your Blog #3 Questions 1 & 3 (and my comments to them) if you haven’t already. Do you have any more to say about this issue of 3D printer regulation (gov’t or corporate)?
3. Guns (and other weapons) seem to be prone to prohibitions. What other 3D printable constructs might attract similar attention/derision/prohibition?
1. I don't think that the DIY gun project has much hope now of violating any laws and getting away with it--or even playing with gray area between laws without reprimand. Their efforts have become too popularized to fly under the radar of gun control agencies. While Defense Distributed might be able to sue in the attempt to defend their interpretation of these laws, such an action would take great financial resources and years of legal maneuvering to come to fruition. I think that their best bet is to attempt to comply fully with all the governmental regulations in place. This is what they seem to be doing anyway, with the hope that their efforts might enable future groups more flexibility within the legal system. Most of the laws that will serve as the biggest stopping block seem to confine the construction of firearms to those that can be detected by conventional means and also meet the standards required of guns that are purchased and carried legally. In order to bypass those laws, I think that Defense Distributed would have to shape a world where those laws are no longer capable of being enforced, and in which national security is not compromised by and/or has technologies to detect the existence of printable weapons. However, I don't see this happening any time soon. In the grand scheme of things, it's not that hard to build or detect a bomb either, but they're still definitely illegal.
2. Defense Distributed claims that the core of their efforts is to make information available to everyone. I'm not against that goal as a general rule, but I think this is a way for Defense Distributed to hide behind the fact that they really just don't like gun control regulations. There's no lack of information about the function and production of guns in the world, nor is there really that much preventing people from obtaining them (you can get them at WalMart... honestly). In fact, there's tons of information out there about every kind of weapon in the world. What Defense Distributed really wants to do is to take care of the grunt work of synthesizing this information and use crowd sourcing to iterate over designs so that the barrier for any person to make his or her own gun that is completely undocumented and untraceable is as low as possible. I think that Defense Distributed sees this as doing the world a favor, but I disagree with that belief for the same reason I disagree with the opinion that legalizing firearms on college campuses will save lives.
I think that sometimes we have to accept that regulation can be necessary, and trust that the pursuit of violators will match the threat of the crime. For instance, we have laws against distribution of copyrighted digital media, but virtually all of the people who download a song or movie off the internet in their home once in a while never meet any repercussions because we acknowledge as a society that there are bigger fish to fry. Meanwhile, we have laws against the home production of methamphetamines, and work pretty hard to stop individuals who produce and sell them because it's a really evil way to make a living. I think that the same will be true of 3D printing some day. Yes, sometimes people will rip off the designs of commercial products and violate copyrights, and most of the time I think it won't amount to too much of a problem. However, sometimes people will popularize designs for objects that could be used to cause pain and take lives, and I hope that their actions are taken much more seriously.
3. As stated above, I think it likely that most objects which are protected as some type of intellectual property or regulated by law will eventually see scrutiny if free designs become rampant. However, I think the ones designed to cause physical harm to others that will receive the most derision and attention by law enforcement. This includes any type of concealed weapon or blade. Objects that are unknowingly dangerous to their users are also a point of concern. There's no commission to safety test designs on Thingiverse. If someone posts a razor blade holder that is very likely to break in half and send a razor flying into someone's face, it probably would take a few casualties before the community would be able to get the design modified or removed.
Comment on Makerbot’s position (as far as we know), Prusa’s concerns, and ownership of designs. Should we look for a new thingiverse?
1. It seems that 3D printing isn’t going to disappear, but the exact nature in which it will develop is not well defined. On that note, we currently place restrictions (DRM) onto our media to control distribution, with limited ‘success’. Do you think this might be applied to 3D printing? How or why not?
2. According to Bowyer, many people have a great idea (or perhaps a passion) that they love to tell people about. What is yours? Do you see this as a way to attract future mates? (or to get money?) Why/why not?
3. Professor Bowyer seems to think that 3D printing will finally kill intellectual property, and he sounds pleased about it. Do you think he’s right about ending IP? Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or somewhere in-between?
1. It's clear that attempts to capitalize on the market for home 3D printing involve the invention of closed-source devices. These may make life easier for potential users who don't have the skills, tools or time to invest in an open source alternative, but it also draws us away from the stated goal of RepRap to have individuals share their work with the community and let the natural selection of ideas determine trends in the technology. While I don't have a lot of historical knowledge on the subject, I would suggest that there is a common trend among such technologies that have a market potential. They begin as open projects among a group of dedicated thinkers and are adapted by companies and sold to the masses while a small group continues to value and support open-source. Such is the case with PCs, in which Apple and Microsoft dominate a market, but are often put aside in favor of Linux by those seeking a cheaper and more flexible alternative and who have the skills to operate a less finessed system. However, RepRap has a significant advantage in that the push for maintaining it open-source has been present since its inception. Attempts at closed-source distribution appear to be largely frowned upon, and while some companies are selling the printers themselves, RepRap has also not compromised on making individual's printable designs freely shared. In other words, one may be using a closed-source printer, but he or she will be printing all free designs. This is almost like buying an iPhone but having access to all the software for free. Even if some entity does attempt to sell designs, it won't be long until a plethora of reasonably close free alternatives appear on the web, posted by the RepRap faithful.
2. One of my passions is synthesizing the information I have absorbed from my involvement in engineering, music and martial arts. I often find that the same general principles apply in my efforts to become the best engineer, musician and martial artist that I can. Each activity has an established methodology used to help practitioners learn and digest information and aid in the improvisational application of that information, however every time I have taken an approach from one activity and applied it to another, I have been pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I have come to realize that the pursuit of mastery is a universal process when properly viewed. There are some obvious examples, such as "you have to work hard to succeed," but there are some more subtle crossovers as well. It's actually fairly rare for a musician to sit down and play through an entire piece without stopping. Most of a given practice session is spent analyzing just one note or musical phrase, deciding how it should be contextualized in the piece, and mastering the technical skills necessary to achieve that effect. I have spent hours trying to perfect so small unit as the transition from one note to another-- what might amount just half an inch of movement in my right index finger at times. The same lies true in engineering. If you only spend your time running through a complex problem or topic from start to finish, and never stop to rehearse component skills, organize your thoughts, or understand the limitations of the analysis being applied, you are not preparing for the day when it is time to put the whole shebang together (nor will you likely get the correct answer for the problem). The greatest motivation behind this interest for me is in finding ways that others might not have explored to improve abilities in an activity. As "Embrace the Remix" suggests, I take good ideas across the boundaries of the activity to which they are implied and experiment with them in untested waters.
3. For the same reasons that Mac OSX has a much greater market share than Linux, I do not think that intellectual property will be ended any time soon. While the free collaboration of individuals has the potential to create amazing things, the organizational structure, incentives, and leadership of successful corporations is tough competition, even when consumers are faced with the choice between a user-friendly product and a free product. I think that people who do not have the specialized skills or interest in a field will always gravitate towards the closed-source option because it requires so much less individual investment to get up and running. As long as this occurs, those companies will sustain intellectual property as a way of protecting their investment in new (or remixed) work. Even though I despise the barriers that intellectual property presents to creativity, I understand why it exists. People have the right to have their ideas protected--to receive credit for their mental successes if they so desire, just as an athlete is rewarded for his or her physical abilities.
Read http://reprap.org/wiki/BackgroundPage. This should give you some feel for where Adrian Bowyer was coming from when he started the RepRap project. Respond to the following:
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?
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.
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.
1. I believe that a self-replicating universal constructor could be feasible, but that it would ultimately require a complexity which may result in its bringing diminishing returns when being developed from machines that fall short of both self-copying and self-assembling features. Bowyer compares the four possible combinations of self-copying and self-assembling machines to rocks, proteins, viruses, and humans. The differences between each of these items are tremendously vast--they are essentially four data points in the spectrum between inanimate objects and intelligent life. I think that as replicating prototype technology expands, we may find that it is simply not worth trying to build a device that can make ALL of its parts. We may have so much easier a time building a "protein" than a "human" that we're happy to stick with proteins and bridge the gap through manual assembly. We might also find that it is much more sensible in the long run to divide the processes of copying and assembling into sub-functions that are completed by different machines. One machine might specialize in printing metal components, while another does plastics. A third might be dextrous enough to assemble these together. Working in consort, these machines form a self-replicating constructor system. Whether they are split amongst different devices or not, to achieve the goal of self-replicating, we need to develop processes for completing all these sub-functions. Right now, we are making strides in printing with plastics. However, the creation of intricate items made out of steel, for instance, remains largely a task of industry. Similarly, the microscopic circuit boards found in modern computing devices cannot yet be produced in one's home.
2. Wealth without money refers to the ability to produce an abundance of valuable resources without needing to purchase them through market purchases. Specifically, Bowyer discusses having people use their rapid prototypers to print all the items that they need in life instead of having to buy them. Users may even be able to produce or recycle their own raw materials for these printers. This suggests that, assuming it lies within the bounds of their printing capabilities, any person could have any item at his or her disposal for free, largely undercutting the theories of supply and demand. A system such as this would require the free sharing of information in the form of instructions on how to print a particular item. It also would require people to develop these items out of their own desire to help humanity. History has demonstrated that this can occur in some cases, as with the development of open source operating systems, however it is also likely that we would not have a device as amazing as the iPhone if massive teams of engineers and designers were not rewarded monetarily for their cooperation in producing such an item. In other words, there may be some tradeoffs associated with eliminating the driving force of market competition.
3. RepRap technology is currently primarily a hobbyist's task--not a consumer's. While a hobbyist is willing (and expecting) to tinker around with his work and employ "duct tape" style solutions throughout the process, the consumer expects everything to function out of the box as intuitively and effectively as possible. I think that RepRaps will branch out into this field if they are to become popularized. Printers will become easier to build as people learn to develop systems that are better described by "some assembly required" than by "a great deal of tinkering required." Similarly, the design, modification, and production of parts will become easier so that the system becomes less specialized. It used to take a special operator to send a message using morse code, yet now anyone can pick up a phone and dial a friend. This parallels the scenario that I envision for the future of RepRaps.
Go to thingiverse.com. Use any means you like to look through the objects submitted to thingiverse and pick out 5 designs which you consider to be the most:
Link to the 5 objects you’ve chosen, and discuss why you consider them well described by the 5 adjectives above.
I think that one of the great motivations for personal 3D printing lies in creating those little bits and pieces that make someone's day just a little bit easier. This device is so simple, but it would be harder to make by other processes or out of other materials. It's something we all wish we had in hand for our next trip to the grocery store.
This user has posted a bunch of very cool and beautiful designs. This one reminds me of the intricate wares that can be purchased from glass blowers at art shows, except you don't have to worry about it getting shattered on the way home.
Gasket for Model T Ford
I suppose this would save a machinist somewhere a lot of time, but I'm not sure how well a plastic gasket would hold up in an engine... even if it was a really old engine!
I'm torn between two things, so I'll just post them both.
Aren't there laws against this kind of thing?
Don't try to print this... it's a trap!
Brine Shrimp Hatchery
There seems to be a lot of interest in this, so maybe I shouldn't be one to judge. However, learning 3D printing has definitely not made me think: "Awesome! Now I can finally make that brine shrimp hatchery I've always needed!"