January 5, 2013

"The first key to thinking about 3-D printers is this: Do not think printer."

"Think magic box that creates any object you can imagine."

27 comments:

Tregonsee said...

Not quite Star Trek replicators, but getting close.

Shouting Thomas said...

And people think that banning guns is a magic bullet that will make guns disappear.

Paddy O said...

I don't know, I can imagine quite a bit.

edutcher said...

Can't wait for Chuckie Schumer to want to ban them.

Pogo said...

Can they make more magic printers?

Pogo said...

Can a magic printer make an anti-magic printer, and it disappears?

deborah said...

Soooo...it looks like the artificial intelligence/Singularity thing isn't so far-fetched and distant (Technium).

Mitchell the Bat said...

This is progress. It used to be that a magic box could only create a baby.

Rusty said...

"the first key to thinking about 3-D printers is this: Do not think printer."

Learn to think in three dimensions first. Then learn a 3-D CAD program. Then a CAM program. Learn everything you can about the material you're working with so that you know it's strengths and limitations. Understand that whatever you make in your 3-D printer is basically a casting and will never be as strong as an injection molded part, or a part machined from a solid.

edutcher said...
Can't wait for Chuckie Schumer to want to ban them.

Unless you want to spend the money-hundreds of thousands of dollars-on a 3-d machine that works with lasers and polymers the resulting gun parts you make will not hold up.


This technology will really become interesting when it can lay down different metals, steel, alum.,stainless, to the quality of an investment casting.
Investment casting-think lost wax process-with the strength of a forging.

Other than that, it's an interesting toy.

deborah said...

Oh. My. God.

Shouting Thomas said...

Rusty,

The technology will advance with a swiftness that will amaze you.

Saint Croix said...

Bought DDD for my mother's stock portfolio earlier this year. So far we've almost doubled our money.

Not suggesting anybody buy stock in Mr. Obama's economy. But these 3-D printers are pretty amazing.

When I was in high school, I told my father to buy Microsoft when it went public. Not because I had done research or anything like that. I kinda thought it was a no-brainer.

My dad, the banker, thought the stock was too expensive. I like to remind him how we'd all be millionaires today if we had bought 100 shares of Microsoft back in the day.

Rusty said...

deborah said...
Soooo...it looks like the artificial intelligence/Singularity thing isn't so far-fetched and distant (Technium).

Not really.It's just another manufacturing process. If you think of it as a CNC machinig center, but in reverse, it helps.

Shouting Thomas said...

Not really.It's just another manufacturing process.

Now, it is.

In the not too distant future, say 5 years, it will be something else entirely.

Chip S. said...

It's so much better to read Zoe Chace than to listen to her. Probably the most annoying voice on radio.

virgil xenophon said...

"This is progress. It used to be that a magic box could only create a baby."

LOL! MTB wins the tread!

Rusty said...

Shouting Thomas said...
Rusty,

The technology will advance with a swiftness that will amaze you.

I've been watching it for 20 years. It's also called rapid prototyping.

Chuck Currie said...

Rusty ICYMI, and for everyone else too, here's a good podcast on 3D printing from EconTalk with Chris Anderson - former EIC of Wired - who has gone on to form his own 3D printing company.

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2012/12/chris_anderson_2.html

Cheers

bagoh20 said...

Yea, these have been around for a couple decades, and we considered using them ourselves in the past for prototyping, but the materials although improved now, are not metallic in strength, and it only really helped with fit questions, which software handles quite well now.

I expect resins will be improved dramatically and will get good enough to make functional parts, but laying down metals cost-effectively seems pretty far off considering the simple thermodynamic requirements.

It will be used to make very small quantities of very difficult to machine parts, but a reasonably priced in-home model won't be available until the President of Spacely Sprockets get his first.

KLDAVIS said...

The second key is realizing that any 3-D printer worth its salt can make a copy of itself.

bagoh20 said...

Any machine worth it's salt would choose sexual reproduction. Same process, just different materials, but very little training required.

John Cunningham said...

One does not need a 3-D printer working in metals to make weapons. any home machinist with a CNC machine can mass-produce full-auto AK-47s. village guys in Pakistan make AKs with hand tools over fires.

gbarto said...

Rusty and John,
Re: metals; I recently purchased an old book on the homemade foundry, mainly because I started reading steampunk and got interested in earlier era technology. But now I'm wondering, would a 3D printer let you make better molds for sandcasting in the backyard foundry? Would this make creating your own parts easier than setting up and working with a CNC machine?

And, à propos of the post on Cash for Clunkers, might we be headed for a time when folks could make their own parts for the used cars that were shredded instead of the old parts being salvaged first?

chickelit said...

Such machines are all well and good but how can we tax them?

Bruce Hayden said...

Still, despite the point above about not being able to manufacture good working gun parts, a month or two ago an AR-15 (type) receiver was manufactured using this technology, and then used to successfully assemble a gun, which was then successfully tested. The receiver is the part that has the serial number, and if it can successfully be constructed in garages, it will be quite difficult to ban the construction of new AR type weaponry. And, if the technology isn't here quite yet, it is coming very quickly.

Bruce Hayden said...

I belong to the intellectual property committee of a large engineering society. The IP aspects of this technology are interesting.

The basic problem is that we don't have a good IP paradigm or laws that address this sort of technology. Copyrights and design patents don't cover functionality, but rather are limited to original expression (C/R) or ornamental design (DP) and utility patents require novelty and non-obviousness, expire fairly quickly (< 20 years), and are not designed to address garage-type manufacturing (with litigation costs running from a half million dollars, on up, and attorney fee awards being somewhat rare). Contributory infringement by the manufacturers of the machines is out because there are substantial non-infringing uses. In short, IP protection is going to be quite weak for anyone designing a product, machine, etc., that can be built with one of these machines.

This is under current U.S. law. Some foreign countries do have IP laws that may be more useful. Some European countries have industrial design registrations or petty patents, that are not really examined and don't have to display the type of novelty and nonobviousness that our patents (utility or design) have to show. There is some slight movement for this sort of protection in this country, but the chances are considered slim right now, esp. after all the energy that went into passage of the AIA in 2011, the biggest change in patent law in maybe 150 years in this country.

EMD said...

Not quite Star Trek replicators, but getting close.

The models for the Star Trek phasers in the latest J.J. Abrams incarnations were made on a 3d printer.

I got to see and handle one.