Monday, June 29. 2009
After Siert spent 5 minutes in Rhino CAD software, we had a printable model. The picture shows the bracket being printed.
Installed on the WiFi bike
Being at Reboot 11 was amazing. The theme was "Action", to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. People were working an all sorts of hands-on projects. We were 3D printing almost non-stop throughout the entire first day, and parts of the second day. In the process, we made (and even autographed!) paperclips, we printed several RepRap parts, a bracket to hold a webcam to the steering wheel of the WiFi bike, and much more! What is great is that all of the mentioned objects were licenced open source (GPL or CC).
We also made a ladybug that was drawn by a little girl (Viola) from the kindergarten and converted to a printable .STL-file by the people from CIID. At first she thought it took a bit long. Then when she got the object she was very happy, and actually thought it was normal to just 3D print something you want. Evidently, she now wants her own 3D printer...
Bruce Sterling stopped by and made several pictures with some commentary. He was up to speed on the developments because he probably wrote about them far before they were put into practice. He wrote about it here and here.
Cyberuptopianist David Weinberger talks about hope (@26 minutes). Saying he's staggered by what we're all doing together, "We're fabricating chess pieces on a home-made machine that can build anything."
We were also given the opportunity to give a talk about what we think personal fabrication and the democratization of physical production tools, will mean to the world.
Update: Here are some pictures of the ladybug being printed and finished:
And here are more of my 3D prints:
Tuesday, June 23. 2009
Reboot 2009, Copehagen, Denmark Posted by Erik de Bruijn in RepRap at 12:34
Saturday, June 20. 2009
the new extruder we designed and built at protospace Utrecht.
Monday, June 15. 2009
In the group at Protospace (FabLab Utrecht, the Netherlands) we designed and built a new extruder. Most of the design work was done by Robert, and a very good result was obtained with the first build. It could be changed to be slightly easier to build, but it's just an afternoon's work (when done for the first time). Click on the images to see a gallery with build details.
The whole assembly. Design by Robert, ideas and live testing by Siert and Erik.
Obviously we intend to share the design files. They are currently spread across multiple people's computers, so please give us some time to post it (probably on Thingyverse).
As a pinching pulley I used this component:
INZETSTUK M5 (Conrad Electronic)
What you see is not what you get (the distributor's picture is different), it actually is better for our purposes:
What I actually got when ordering the part with ordering code 226521 - 89 at www.conrad.nl
Bill of materials:
Wednesday, June 10. 2009
I personally think that the RepRap is a tool of personal empowerment. It allows you to take matters into your own hands. Are you not completely satisfied with some object that you use? You can redesign that. Don't want to throw away an entire vacuum cleaner because the hose-retention-clip broke? Fix or replace it yourself by printing a new part. You will have more control over the things around you. These could be:
This is probably the reason why David Baker, a 13-year-old patent holder and inventor, is building a RepRap. It is an affordable but still very powerful start of being able to seriously design, prototype and engineer other things! Because of its open design, if you run into a constraint that the RepRap has, you will be able to modify any aspect of the machine. People trying different things that push the envelope will generate very important input for the main RepRap project.
Personally, I feel it is very important to give kids with talent the tools to explore what they like to do and learn what they're capable of.
Apart from making or fixing useful stuff, I know several artists that have been making very interesting things with it. Often they push the envelope by wanting something different with the machine than is conventional. This brings about various interesting concepts that might end up in variations of the RepRap.
Also engineers are using it to try to make circuit boards, 2D or even in 3D! This will open up a whole range of new design methods and toolchains.
Sunday, June 7. 2009
RepRap network effects (draft) Posted by Erik de Bruijn in RepRap at 20:56
The exact topic is still preliminary, but my masters research is going to be on user innovation in fabrication and its interrelation with the commercial players, their products and their customers. The creation of dispersion of knowledge is important for this matter. Of course, IP is very relevant to the interactions. IP law has an impact in diffusion of the invention, but I argue that proliferation of the technology on a massive distributed scale, will also have an effect on the IP regime. Since more serious hobbyists like myself can now have manufacturing technology at home, soon afterwards everyone will be able to have one. Because the utility of having a 3D printer will increase due to network effects (Network theory, Metcalfe's law), there will be a demand for this. This is confirmed by the high growth rates that I have been observing. Of course I'd like to have better data to really say something about the real growth rate, but it is promising nevertheless.
Figure 1: An example used on Wikipedia to describe how word of mouth can create a reinforcing feedback loop (labeled as R)
Below I list a few observations that have positive feedback loops (network effects). This list is probably very incomplete, but still it shows the potential of open fabrication.
Adoption of the manufacturing technology:
The scenario of buying from wallmart, and printing it at home: Following eBooks, DVDs and music albums, you can now download actual things.
3D printable products / content:
I haven't mentioned any effects that haven't kicked in already. People are printing shoes, improvements to the machine, creating offspring machines (both completely new types, variations and copies), improving physical products with peers across the globe. Thousands of people are now building these machines and telling their friends and families, who will soon want one, as soon as it's easier to use it. People are designing scripts that will allow you to tell the computer that you want a pot with screw cap, with diameter x, height y and wall thickness z. Or to specify how big the lego-compatible blocks that you print should be. Moreover, you can export one of the 150,000+ designs on the Google 3D warehouse (searching the word 'the' gives 143515 hits at the second of writing this).
Obviously, this has a tremendous effect on the traditionally centrally organised manufacturing of many product types. Besides manufacturing itself, the distribution of products, and eliciting product needs from users will change. If users can design and manufacture their products at home, there is no need for the entire traditional supply chain. Instead, there will be supply networks. Designers can use idea repositories for designing tools. They find this intrinsically rewarding, and are encouraged by other people printing their designs. because you only need to design something yourself if it's not easily found online already. And after designing it, you might as well publish it and get credit, or see improvements being made. People are repairing their dishwashers with it, printing replacements for the lost stylusses for their PDA's or repair a camera.
For many products, it is much cheaper to print one at home than to get it from a store. Especially if you include the costs to go to a store and search for it. The 'bricks and mortar' store has to charge for its stock keeping costs, which not only affects price, but also limits the amount of 'low selling' products that they can have offer. You save the trip to a store and waiting to check out. Searching for very specific products (such as the box that protects a camera lens) is much more expensive than describing it and having a toolkit creating the ready-to-print model for you. You will more precisely get what you want, without the distribution costs and the manufacturer's profit margin, and you will get it instantly. The marginal costs of printing are slightly above the raw price of the plastics. Even for bigger objects, the price of the electricity costs of production is negligible (cents' worth of it). The total costs would include the depreciation of the 3D printer. But what is the depreciation cost? This cannot be calculated by traditional means because of an important point. When will the machine product become obsolete? Since you can download many of the parts to make a RepRap, you can also download replacement parts, updates, extensions. Replacement parts allow you to become more independent and fix your machine if something breaks (dependability of the machine). Incremental updates allow you to do the same things better (higher speed, better precision, more reliability, etc.). Extensions allow you to do more things (make chocolate, decorate little cakes, milling and engraving of soft materials such as wood or plastics).
Cheaper to print than buy
The amounts of materials that can be used will extend, allowing simple motors to be made and further increasing the amount of parts the machine can make. But we can already make motors (air-powered one, or parts for a DC motor). The distributed problem solving capability should not be underestimated. When it become practical to make even more of the machine, everyone who welcomes it will be able to have this increasingly powerful capability in their homes.
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