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View Diary: This week in science: The worm will turn (72 comments)

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  •  I hate the term 3D printer (6+ / 0-)

    Printing creates images of things, not actual things. These should properly be called 3D fabricators, or simply fabricators, or custom fabricators. When I hear 3D printer I imagine a huge geometric glop of toner or ink.

    And worm farts? What's not to like?

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 06:17:57 AM PST

    •  People were talking about this with (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, justiceputnam, dewtx

      some sort of gun fabrication...and it sounded like one just printed metal into existence.

      Think of the jobs we could kill with this technology.....

      We'd be heroes...... among republicans.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 06:21:13 AM PST

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      •  when they become cheap enough for everyone, it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MKDAWUSS

        will be the end of patents and copyrights, and will change the entire economy.  Most factories will not be needed and will disappear---you'll be able to simply print, at home, virtually anything you need or want, from a coffee mug to the parts for a jet airplane.

        The only jobs remaining will be to write the programs for the printers--and those will be pirated and copied all over the place.

        •  Control your trekkian fantasies. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dewtx

          I rather doubt it will ever be economical to print most common household objects. It's still a lot cheaper to buy the average paperback than it is to print it out at home, and it probably always will be.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:47:28 AM PST

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        •  It Will Immortalize Copyright (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CodeTalker, PeterHug, dewtx

          Manufacturers will own the right to copy by printing all the parts they designed. They will feel free to design even more proprietarty non-interchangeable parts, because people won't be inhibited by the manufacturer running out anymore. All that will let the designers outsource the manufacturing to third parties and consumers, but keep the prices as high as their monopoly allows. While leaving quality control up to the printers, who don't have the designers or other expert technicians in the loop to assure quality.

          Don't get me wrong: I'm excited about the widespread freedom and power of 3D printing in anyone's hands who can buy the relatively cheap printers. I'm excited about the reduction of waste by eliminating shipping and stockpiling. I'm also excited by the prospect of customizing the design myself as it's printed, the possibility of hybridizing designs, of hiring my own technician to change or adapt the design to myself, the implicit mass customizations designers will offer.

          But I'm also realistic about how laser printers, online pages, downloads and mass "prosumer" publishing didn't kill copyright, though it should have. Congress and industry are committed to squeezing the maximum property rights for themselves, like killing the "first sale doctrine" that lets people resell what we bought without restriction. Corporations will own forever anything they once controlled, all property to the ubercapitalists, with restricted licenses to use what's paid for only in ways that don't threaten the controlling corporation.

          I'm part of the open source creators and remixers changing society wherever capitalists aren't chaining consumption to its Industrial Age limits that favor the capitalists. But I'm realistic about the balance of power, and the overwhelming direction the change has been demonstrated to take.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:52:46 AM PST

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    •  Hey, I'm old enough to remember... (4+ / 0-)

      ...when they called it CAM!  (Computer-Aided Manufacturing).

      It was a different concept; you started with a block of material and it was carved out by routers and lasers to shape by computer.  But 3D printers fabricate using the exact reverse of that process, so why not just call it a CAM variant?

      •  It Is CAM (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CodeTalker, dewtx

        It is a CAM variant. It's the 3D printer CAM variant.

        Also, most 3D printers don't operate in the 6 degrees of freedom ( x, y, z, yaw, pitch, roll) that carving CAM machines did. They're like printers: a stack of 2D layers, each layer deposited by a device extremely close to an injet or laser printer.

        They're 3D printers. Why call them by some vague old acronym like "CAM"? We don't refer to the design as "CAD" anymore, since "design" of these objects is now Computer Aided by default.

        Indeed, with the increased mobility of online documents, we might even find "3D" to be redundant to "printer", as we come to ordinarily print only full objects, and only rarely hardcopy of a 2D page.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:57:00 AM PST

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    •  Too Late (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewtx

      It seems the public has adopted "3D printer" as the term for this technology.

      This head movie makes my eyes rain.

      by The Lone Apple on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 06:50:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Puh-leeze (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, dewtx

      They're called printers because mechanically, they're pretty much identical to printers.

      In fact, in this case it appears they're actually using ink-jet printing.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:44:18 AM PST

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      •  Ink for 3D fabrication? (0+ / 0-)

        Puhleeze yourself.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:47:12 AM PST

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        •  Puhleeze yourself yourself (0+ / 0-)

          From an article in Atlantic awhile back:

          "Instead of using ink in the inkjet cartridge, we use cells," Dr. Anthony Atala from Wake Forest explained to the CBC.
          Here's a quote from an actual scientific paper:
          Using a modified Hewlett Packard (HP) 550C computer printer and an HP 51626a ink cartridge, CHO cells and rat embryonic motoneurons were suspended separately in a concentrated phosphate buffered saline solution (3

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:26:04 AM PST

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        •  damn something went wrong there. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PeterHug, dewtx

          The full quote is:

          Using a modified Hewlett Packard (HP) 550C computer printer and an HP 51626a ink cartridge, CHO cells and rat embryonic motoneurons were suspended separately in a concentrated phosphate buffered saline solution (3). The cells were subsequently printed as a kind of ‘‘ink’’ onto several ‘‘bio- papers’’ made from soy agar and collagen gel.
          from
          Inkjet printing of viable mammalian cells
          Tao Xu, Joyce Jin, Cassie Gregory, James J. Hickman*, Thomas Boland*, Biomaterials 26 (2005) 93–99
          Without reading the Heriot-Watt paper, I can't be sure, but it sounds like they are probably using almost identical technology.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:29:29 AM PST

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          •  And what's the structural integrity (0+ / 0-)

            of anything "printed" by such materials and methods? Could it actually be used in a real-world application, or is it only good for mock-ups and display? Does it need to be clear-coated to prevent decomposition? Is this the same as those 3D "printers" used to make functional gun parts?

            And can you make a Howard Wolowitz doll with it?

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 11:52:52 AM PST

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            •  No, it isn't the same as the 3d printers used to (0+ / 0-)

              make functional gun parts -- because although those printers have essentially identical technology for controlling the placement of the deposition of whatever material they're depositing, they use cartridges specifically engineered for those materials.

              Some of the newest 3-d printers actually use a complex technology where they are printing a pattern on a substrate, and then the substrate is etched with a solvent, leaving behind the printed pattern. (This is a lot like the lithographic techniques used to create circuits on silicon chips, or for that matter to create circuits on PC boards. That's not "PC" as in Personal Computer, that's "PC" as in "Printed Circuit" Board.) Some of them use still other technologies, to grossly oversimplify, can be thought of as laying down an adhesive that is then washed over with something that adheres to the adhesive.

              The original 3-d printers, by the way, were more like what used to be called "plotters"; instead of drawing on sheets of paper with a pen, they "drew" with a laser, thus cutting a shape out of the paper. Each new shape was then laid down on top of the previous one, with some sort of adhesive applied to hold the whole thing together.

              As for structural integrity, I'm not really sure where these guys are going with the idea of laying down 3-d cell cultures. Do they think that at some point they'll be able to just keep plopping more cells down, and the thing will create its own integrity? Do they think they'll alternate deposition of cells with deposition of connective material? At the moment, we can scarcely keep the cells alive in a 3-d blob grown of its own volition. This is a big, open, current research problem.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:22:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  If we restrict the use of the term "3D Printer" (0+ / 0-)

                to devices that can create non-functional 3D mockups of things that could then be fabricated using other methods, be they traditional or an automated 3D fabrication device, then I suppose that I'd be ok with that, even though it's still a misuse of the word "print" IMO. Even 2D "printers" that use lasers to etch patterns aren't really printers. The root word "print" means "to press".

                Plus, I doubt that there would ever be a big market for any such device if it only produced non-functional mockups. Most people would want to be able to build real things they could use. And even if they're ever commercially viable, the government will probably require that they not be able to build certain things, e.g. illegal gun parts and other weapons.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:32:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Um. (0+ / 0-)

                  As far as that goes, you can already buy equipment and put it in your basement that will create real 3-d objects that the government might not want you to have. It's just about the material involved.

                  Anyway, if you want to argue about calling a laser printer a printer, I guess you'd better not permit the phrase, "making a print", since there is no pressing involved in photographic reproduction. I think you're being more than just a tad pedantic here.

                  To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                  by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:54:23 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  God forbid one should have a problem (0+ / 0-)

                    with the misuse and abuse of language for commercial purposes because some people are too lazy to come up with a proper term for this process.

                    Printing is a basically 2D process, with at most allowances for some printing processes leaving the final product with some raised texture, just as the word "unique" can't be qualified and a Facebook "friend" isn't a real friend.

                    Whatever this stuff is and whatever one calls it, it's not printing.

                    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                    by kovie on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 01:07:55 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It is neither misuse nor abuse. (0+ / 0-)

                      It is the natural evolution of language, and in particular technical language.

                      For that matter, the categorical assertion that "unique" can't be qualified is not something that has been demonstrated via some sort of Whitehead & Russell formalized proof, it's just a matter of adamant opinion. I might argue that, given that almost everything in the universe is in fact unique, and that the word is therefore almost meaningless when applied to real phenomena, then if people like you want to be allowed to use the word at all, you'd better let people like me qualify it.

                      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                      by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 01:31:13 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You can do whatever you want (0+ / 0-)

                        and I am both unable to prevent you from doing whatever you want to do, and uninterested in trying. It's not my place to tell people what to do or try to keep them from doing what they want to do. I'm just expressing what I believe to be my well-founded opinion that there are certain "evolutions" of language that make no sense, and are thus not so much evolutionary as lazy.

                        Believe it or not, but there is a certain inherent logic to language that may be bendable and extensible, but only so much, and while certain extensions of language make sense, others do not.

                        For example, when people say "the press" these days, they generally mean the media in general, and not just printed media (nearly all of which are not digital as well as printed, and some digital-only). So while it's technically wrong to refer to, say, CNN, as being in the press (notwithstanding the fact that it has a web site with content separate from its TV content), it's generally seen as ok (I tend to use the term media, though, because it's just more accurate).

                        The same can be said of web "broadcasts", or "webcasts", which, again, are technically incorrect, because you're not broadcasting (i.e. casting out, broadly, as in seed, the origin of the term) anything, but rather placing content on a site that people can go to to access. But everyone knows what you mean, so it's here to stay. (Again, not a big fact of such usage, but that ship has sailed.)

                        However, nothing is being "printed" in 3D printers. Printing is about creating or reproducing images, and 3d printers create objects, not images. Objects aren't images, i.e. representations of things. Objects are actual things. (And yes, I realize that people in the visual arts would probably strongly disagree with me on this, but I'm not talking about original art. And I realize that not all images are representational, but, again, we're not debating art theory here, but a physical process.) I suppose that a 3D printer can have the ability to also print images on the objects it produces, but that's not integral to its core purpose.

                        If anything, printers, as in actual, 2D printers, are particular versions of a more general-purpose class of devices that make things, with a 2D printer making 2D images, and a 3D "printer" making 3D objects. They both make things, but different kinds of things, using very different processes. A coffee maker is another example of a particular version of the general class of devices that make things. Should we therefore call it a "coffee printer"? Should we call a bread maker a "bread printer"? See what I'm getting at?

                        And sorry, but the formal definition of unique doesn't allow for qualification, being inherent in the very meaning of the word. To qualify it is to deny its purpose for being. To rob it of its uniqueness, one might say.

                        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                        by kovie on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 02:30:38 PM PST

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                        •  I see what you're getting at. (0+ / 0-)

                          Unfortunately, you just don't get what I'm getting at. Our language abounds with violations of your principle, many of them created in much the same way that "3d-printing" came into being. Some are less direct, and rely more on analogy, but ultimately the phenomenon is commonplace. I can only guess why this particular one gets your goat.

                          As for "unique", as I observe, there is almost nothing at all in the universe that is not unique, other than perhaps -- and this is only perhaps -- fundamental particles. Thus, anytime you assert that something is unique, you are merely uttering the obvious, and anytime you assert that something is not unique, you are almost certainly wrong. That renders your "formal" definition of unique fairly worthless.

                          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                          by UntimelyRippd on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:12:07 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  So you reject all formal rules of language (0+ / 0-)

                            Now I finally see what you're getting at--literally nothing.

                            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                            by kovie on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:24:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

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