Sunday, August 31. 2008
RepRap: Before nanotechnology Posted by Erik de Bruijn in RepRap at 17:46
It's always nice to hypothesize about the future.
I think most will agree that nano-technology (as in nanomanufacturing) just isn't there yet, not discounting 'smart fabrics' (nanomaterials) or chemistry for that matter. As you can see, higher up Wikipedia's list of emerging technologies (commercial production) are 3D printers. An interesting belief that I share with the writer, is this:
"When the first â€œlate betaâ€ version of RepRap -the â€œreplicating rapid-prototyper"- is released in early 2008, critics have a field day. Itâ€™s slow. Itâ€™s clumsy-looking. It canâ€™t actually replicate itself without adding a few key commercial parts. But where critics see an ugly duckling, design students, DIY hackers, and open source enthusiasts see a swan-in-the-making. By the summer, dozens of novel fabber projects emerge (some forked from RepRap, but most based on original designs), and by the fall, some have actually produced devices that an adventurous home user could play with. Forward-looking strategists at mega-retailers and mass manufacturers feel a distinct chill run up their collective spine. The open fabber era had begun, and through the end of the decade, free and open source software hackers around the world turn their attention to hardwareâ€¦ By the time molecular manufacturing applications do mature at the nanoscale, Openfabs are a ubiquitous fact of global life. Itâ€™s not surprising, then, that the first atomically-precise devices are designed with Openfab-standard interconnects for integration into the existing open world standard for human-scale production infrastructuresâ€. "
Source: Scenario 2 of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology Working Group
Their first scenario is a less optimistic scenario, but attaches the same promis of ubiquitous fabrication posibilities within years:
"Primitive computer-controlled fabrication machines, often called "fabbers" or "3D printers," had been available to universities and commercial manufacturers since the mid-1990s, but over the new century's first decade, this technology sees a dramatic drop in price combined with an equally-dramatic increase in sophistication. By 2009, these devices can easily "print" inexpensive electronic devices, low-efficiency photoelectric materials, and most "dumb" plastic products. Moreover, they prove able to make most of their own parts, the remainder being easily and cheaply obtained from hardware stores or by online mail-order. Refrigerator-size 3D printers more powerful than the best industrial fabbers of a few years earlier can be had for the cost of a used car.
These systems operate at the "meso-scale" of small-but-not-microscopic raw materialsâ€”resins, powdered solids, and other forms of "fabber toner." This technology isn't even close to precise molecular manufacturing, but for the first time, industrial designers as well as "do it yourself" hardware hackers can treat the material world like just more software. By the end of the decade, most universities have fabber design classes, and the "open source objects" movement rapidly gains steam (along with concerns about "product design piracy"). TIME magazine puts a $1500 Hewlett-Packard ThingJet on its July 2, 2010, cover, asking "Is this the decade of fabrication?""
Scenario 3 end pretty inspiring:
"Economists I know are wondering about how to deal with a new economy that looks like it might begin to be based on abundance. The politicians are wondering what to do about a world where anyone can make just about anything. The rest of us are wondering about just what will come next."
Sunday, August 3. 2008
The coppers came through the door with truncheons swinging, one of them reciting the terms of the warrant through a bullhorn. One of Daâ€™s customers had shopped him. The ipolice paid in high-grade pharmaceuticalsâ€”performance enhancers, memory supplements, metabolic boosters. The kind of thing that cost a fortune over the counter; the kind of thing you could print at home, if you didnâ€™t mind the risk of having your kitchen filled with a sudden crush of big, beefy bodies, hard truncheons whistling through the air, smashing anyone and anything that got in the way.
They destroyed grandmaâ€™s trunk, the one sheâ€™d brought from the old country. They smashed our little refrigerator and the purifier unit over the window. My tweetybird escaped death by hiding in a corner of his cage as a big, booted foot crushed most of it into a sad tangle of printer-wire.
Da. What they did to him. When he was done, he looked like heâ€™d been brawling with an entire rugby side. They brought him out the door and let the newsies get a good look at him as they tossed him in the car, while a spokesman told the world that my Daâ€™s organized-crime bootlegging operation had been responsible for at least twenty million in contraband, and that my Da, the desperate villain, had resisted arrest.
I saw it all from my phone, in the remains of the sitting room, watching it on the screen and wondering how, just how anyone could look at our little flat and our terrible, manky estate and mistake it for the home of an organized crime kingpin. They took the printer away, of course, and displayed it like a trophy for the newsies. Its little shrine in the kitchenette seemed horribly empty. When I roused myself and picked up the flat and rescued my peeping poor tweetybird, I put a blender there. It was made out of printed parts, so it would only last a month before Iâ€™d need to print new bearings and other moving parts. Back then, I could take apart and reassemble anything that could be printed.
By the time I turned eighteen, they were ready to let Da out of prison. Iâ€™d visited him three timesâ€”on my tenth birthday, on his fiftieth, and when Ma died. It had been two years since Iâ€™d last seen him and he was in bad shape. A prison fight had left him with a limp, and he looked over his shoulder so often it was like he had a tic. I was embarrassed when the minicab dropped us off in front of the estate, and tried to keep my distance from this ruined, limping skeleton as we went inside and up the stairs.
â€œLanie,â€ he said, as he sat me down. â€œYouâ€™re a smart girl, I know that. Trig. You wouldnâ€™t know where your old Da could get a printer and some goop?â€
I squeezed my hands into fists so tight my fingernails cut into my palms. I closed my eyes. â€œYouâ€™ve been in prison for ten years, Da. Ten. Years. Youâ€™re going to risk another ten years to print out more blenders and pharma, more laptops and designer hats?â€
He grinned. â€œIâ€™m not stupid, Lanie. Iâ€™ve learned my lesson. Thereâ€™s no hat or laptop thatâ€™s worth going to jail for. Iâ€™m not going to print none of that rubbish, never again.â€ He had a cup of tea, and he drank it now like it was whisky, a sip and then a long, satisfied exhalation. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair.
â€œCome here, Lanie, let me whisper in your ear. Let me tell you the thing that I decided while I spent ten years in lockup. Come here and listen to your stupid Da.â€
I felt a guilty pang about ticking him off. He was off his rocker, that much was clear. God knew what he went through in prison. â€œWhat, Da?â€ I said, leaning in close.
â€œLanie, Iâ€™m going to print more printers. Lots more printers. One for everyone. Thatâ€™s worth going to jail for. Thatâ€™s worth anything.â€
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