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How Open Source Hardware Is Driving the 3D-Printing Industry

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the an-end-to-the-lego-knockoff-compatibility-wars dept.

Open Source 199

TheNextCorner sends this quote from ReadWriteWeb: "Open source software has been a key player in all kinds of disruptive technologies — from the Web to big data. Now the nascent and growing open source hardware movement is helping to power its own disruptive revolution. ... As 3D printing, powered by Arduino and other open source technologies, becomes more prevalent, economies of scale become much less of a problem. A 3D printer can print a few devices — or thousands — without significant retooling, pushing upfront costs to near-zero. This is what The Economist calls the 'Third Industrial Revolution,' where devices and things can be made in smaller, cleaner factories with far less overhead and — significantly — less labor."

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Material costs - material generally (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40539835)

Currently, the cost of materials for most 3D printers is quite high. That makes 3D printing uneconomical for most purposes.

The other problem is that most useful things are made of more than one material. Consider even something as simple as a toaster. It requires a good conductor, a resisting conductor, an insulator and structural material. So, even something as low tech as a toaster is well beyond the ability of 3D printers to make at all and especially to do so economically.

Re:Material costs - material generally (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40539981)

Imagine plastic recycling: plastic bags or wrappings shreded and then fed to 3d printers - that's what I am waiting for.

Re:Material costs - material generally (3, Informative)

RobinH (124750) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540727)

Then your wait is almost over, as it's been created, and they're ramping it up (and it's open source). Here's the kickstarter link [kickstarter.com] .

Re:Material costs - material generally (1)

Dynetrekk (1607735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540011)

There are printers which can mix materials out there. Not sure if they're up to 3, but certainly not far from it. Also, I'm not sure if anyone is planning to take on the toaster industry; their mass production is probably more efficient anyway.

Re:Material costs - material generally (4, Informative)

Dynetrekk (1607735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540019)

I was wrong - they're up to 14 simultaneous materials, at least: http://www.objet.com/Objet%20Connex350/ [objet.com]

Re:Material costs - material generally (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540049)

However it is a hell of a lot cheaper to print a physical object on a 3d printer than it is to try and get one of something you can't buy, manufactured.

3D printers are great for printing spares when the manufacturer doesn't supply them... and cheaper than buying the whole product again.

Re:Material costs - material generally (3, Interesting)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540171)

The prices of Photopolymers [bucktownpolymers.com] used in SLA type 3D printers has dropped to below the cost of PLA and ABS used in FDM printers and continues to drop. Photopolymers are dropping to under $10/kg in high volumes, so the costs of the materials are becoming less of an issue.

It's true that there are several open hardware printer projects for FDM type printers that focus mainly on printing with one material at a time such as
RepRap [reprap.org] or Open Source Photopolymer DLP 3D Printers such as LemonCurry [google.com]

3D printers are also printing with more than one material and are already printing multilayer printed circuit boards with only fluids. Much of the development work in 3D printers recently has been from open hardwave projects vs the industry since many of the old patents have now expired.

Re:Material costs - material generally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540211)

all the parts could be made separately using different materials then put together later.Using different conducting and non coducting substances in 3d printers may not be possible now but will probably be available in the near future.(plastic conductors are possible)

yes, but the knobs on that toaster... (2)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540295)

can now be printed by anyone, anywhere, with a gadget that sits on their desk.

instead of having to trash the toaster and buy a new one, or find a used one on ebay, or go order one for $20 + shipping + processing from some faceless megacorporation that probably doesn't even realize it makes toasters.

Re:yes, but the knobs on that toaster... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540489)

Yes it makes much more sense to fork out $1300 for a 3D printer to make that knob...

Re:yes, but the knobs on that toaster... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540769)

Tries to think about how many toasters you'd have to break for it to pay for itself. Thinks about calculating their NPV. Decides he can't be arsed.

Decides to simply state that it'd take less time to carve a new knob from wood or make one from milliput than to set up the printer.

Re:Material costs - material generally (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540739)

It looks like the resin material used by the b9Creator [kickstarter.com] is significantly cheaper than the filament typically used in additive 3D printers.

Is there an open source hardware specification... (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 2 years ago | (#40539871)

Is there an open source hardware specification of a 3D printer?

Re:Is there an open source hardware specification. (3, Informative)

phme (1501991) | more than 2 years ago | (#40539967)

Check out RepRap [reprap.org] and MakerBot [makerbot.com]

Re:Is there an open source hardware specification. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540227)

I'm currently working at a start-up co-working space and this one guy who got rich from a business he started up decided on a whim to buy a makerbot without even knowing exactly what to use it for, so now it's just sitting here and I'm having a field day. This thing is totally awesome :D

A post scarcity society (5, Interesting)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40539881)

The loss of jobs need not be a bad thing in what is quickly approaching a post scarcity society. Ultimately, perhaps even within the next few centuries, we're going to see a situation where the abundant resources in our solar system are harvested and processed by mostly automated engines, providing an excellent (upper middle class) quality of life for everyone on earth. There is no physical reason why this should not be the case.

Pollution and environmental concerns would be very minimal with adequate management, energy is abundant, and if anything providing a good standard of living reverses population growth.

The main difference between that and today, other than a general longer, healthier, better life, would be the types of toys you get to play with if you excel. Obviously not everyone can have their own private ocean liner, there's only so much ocean, so artificial scarcity will need to be introduced by either fiat or economic acrobatics. Overall though we are I believe on the cusp of a golden age.

Re:A post scarcity society (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40539929)

There is no physical reason why this should not be the case.

Now if only it'd be that simple.

At the moment, replacing dangerous and tedious jobs no one really wants by much more effective machines is everything the government and our whole economic system is trying to stop. How did this happen? How are we any better than those in the middle ages when we fight progress in the name of old beliefs of capitalism?

Re:A post scarcity society (4, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40539991)

If you could come up with a proposal for feeding and housing all those people who lose their income then you'd be on to a winner. Opposing progress is perfectly understandable when progress will make you jobless and therefore unable to feed, clothe and house yourself. And don't say 'retrain'. That costs money and time, and in the meantime the rent or mortgage isn't being paid.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

slashping (2674483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540031)

If there's truly no jobs and no scarcity, housing would be free.

Re:A post scarcity society (3, Insightful)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540081)

There is always some scarcity, especially with regards to housing (hint: there is a finite amount of land available). Hence I don't think housing (for example) will ever be free.

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

slashping (2674483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540133)

Agreed, the premise of the post scarcity society is false.

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540499)

Its already free in many places. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_housing [wikipedia.org] All post scarcity means is the quality of the free stuff gets a lot better. It doesn't mean everyone gets to live on a thousand acre wooded ranch.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540601)

Except that in the future, assuming we have AI, pretty much everyone will be out of work. Few would be able to afford housing. We'd need to completely redesign the entire system.

hint: there is a finite amount of land available

There is a finite amount, but there is more than we can ever hope to use. Now, good land, that's another matter...

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540103)

If you could come up with a proposal for feeding and housing all those people who lose their income then you'd be on to a winner.

- winner of what? What do you get for feeding and housing people who don't do anything productive?

How about this: they start doing something other than what they were doing before they got laid off because their particular labour could be done more efficiently without them?

I don't see what we gain as a society at all by creating incentives for people to live lives without doing anything. What's the purpose, to have them fill all of the available space, so that eventually there is again a problem of 'haves and have nots' in perpetuity?

People shouldn't be on charity for the entire lives, do you think it is even good psychologically to have a society of people who do nothing, that are clothed, well fed, cared for and they do nothing.

What is the difference between them and a bacteria colony exactly and why should anybody who produces something care for a bacteria colony?

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

slashping (2674483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540141)

How about this: they start doing something other than what they were doing before they got laid off because their particular labour could be done more efficiently without them?

There's a limit to what people can learn to do.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540189)

They shouldn't have to 'learn to do' anything to figure out what the needs are of people in the market and try and satisfy those needs.

Again, tell me, what's the difference between say 1 billion people living completely on welfare, not producing anything and a bacteria colony with 1 billion individual bacteria in it? AFAIC the difference is that the people are bigger and require more energy to be sustained, that's it, no other difference.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540419)

You really hate people don't you.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540511)

Er, in the bacterial colony each individual bacterium can fend for itself, absorbing and metabolizing the nutrients around it. Some of them can move, to a certain extent. And they can build and maintain their own cell walls and other structures (biofilm, pili, etc). People on welfare expect - no - demand to have the work done for them.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540595)

good point.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540583)

What's the difference between 1 billion people and 1 billion bacteria? What's the difference between you and a bacterium?

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540603)

I think of and produce something that is found to be useful by the market, and what I produce is not part of my DNA programming.

To me the difference between an individual human and an individual bacteria is the ability of the human to find something to do that is useful to me, that is all.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540825)

Would you consider keeping you from dying in some pretty nasty ways something personally useful?

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540853)

Of-course, that's why I do what I can to avoid getting into those types of situations. I even pay private security services for some of that.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540907)

I don't think you do. But I don't see how private security would keep your inny-squishy bits happily swimming in bacteria, either way.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540627)

by the way, your statement doesn't address the question.

The question is:

- winner of what? What do you get for feeding and housing people who don't do anything productive?

What do you get for doing something for people that don't do anything? What? Is it just a way to buy them off, so they don't attack you? So you have to become their slave, do work for them, and they won't do anything for you except not killing you, while still hating you because you did this for them and they couldn't do it?

Then why not use a much small amount of resources and just dispose of those people only one time?

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540891)

I'll answer for him: you'll be a winner of life.

There's a lot to be earned for helping people that don't do anything.

It's not buying them off so they don't attack you, it's buying them so you can use them later (i.e. send them to attack other people you want attacked). Even if you don't use them to attack, even if they don't do anything, their presence alone is powerful. I mean, just look at various democracies with low voter turn out. Those mobs don't really do anything, but just the threat of them being there is enough.

And you aren't becoming their slave. They are becoming yours. Real leaders understand how to make the most out of people, even those who don't do anything.

And it's not like you can't whip them to start doing something. Failing that, they probably still have useful organs.

You need to think outside the box.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540949)

if they don't do anything, their presence alone is powerful...... .... not like you can't whip them to start doing something. Failing that, they probably still have useful organs.

- well, if you like being a king of the hill, surrounded by ASS KISSING SLAVES, then yes, that's what you'd want, isn't it?

If that's your ideal, then don't talk to me about 'moral superiority'.

Neither idea is compelling to me: being somebody's slave or owning slaves.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540337)

Like what? Ultimately once food, clothing, shelter and medical care are covered pretty much anything else you're doing is just shuffling wealth around.

What we should be doing is reducing the number of hours that people are working and letting them keep more of their income. But, we can't ultimately afford to do it because of things like the WTO and NAFTA which primarily serve to ship money from the US to other countries and ensure that we'll always have poor people.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540431)

Poverty is only a matter of relativity, we are all poor compared to Bill Gates, but compared to a King of 10th century, we are quite wealthy - we have everything that he didn't have, cars, indoor plumbing, TVs, phones, computers, medicine, air travel, etc.etc.

The best system to increase productivity and push prices down is free market capitalism, governments steal the individual freedoms of people and thus they steal freedoms of businesses and then they sell these freedoms to preferred corporations and lock out the competition. This prevents competition, prevents prices from falling, coupled with inflation (money printing by gov't) this raises prices.

The gov't is so worried about deflation that its policy is inflation, which causes prices to go up, so how about those 'poor' that gov't is supposedly worried about? (never mind that USA had deflation up until 1913, while competition was huge, productivity was growing, wealth was growing, distribution of wealth was growing (exports and consequentially USA became largest creditor of the time)

The reason USA capitalists are moving savings and investments out of USA is not NAFTA or WTO, it's US government, with its spending, taxes, regulations.

As to what people should do once they have medical care, food clothing and shelter - entire industries that were and are still created doing things other than basic survival.

My point is that having billions of people on welfare, doing nothing, inspiring to nothing (except eating, watching sports and procreation it seems) provides outcome that is indistinguishable from billions of bacteria.

Maybe bacteria doesn't have 'hopes and dreams', but if the actual OUTCOME of the activity between a human population and a Petri dish with billions of bacteria in it is largely the same (procreation or multiplication and eating), well then, I don't see why should anybody who actually produces something should care to support either those humans any more than he'd be compelled to support the inhabitants of that Petri dish.

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540409)

That is not what I said but then you have to take any argument that doesn't support devil take the hindmost free market dogma and twist it. I said it's understandable that people who are disadvantaged by technological changes would oppose it. Anyone not lacking in empathy like you are knows this.

That doesn't mean I think we should hold back technology, nor does it mean I'm happy for people to be on welfare their entire lives. Your solution appears to be to let people disadvantaged by technological changes starve on the streets or commit crimes just to eat, my solution would be offer people a bursary to retrain in skills the market does need.

There's always a shortage of tradesmen in this country but for some reason my government would much rather pay the unemployed a fortune to sit at home than the 5000GBP to train them to do something useful.

You know what makes me laugh about you libertarians. You are the most selfish bastards I've ever come across, but you have this belief that charity, i.e. generosity, something you can't understand, will replace government social programmes

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540553)

generosity, something you can't understand, will replace government social programmes

- well actually I am against charity on principle, but unfortunately people have this desire to be charitable, thus creating a situation where gov't says that charity will be enforced by threat of violence via taxes, thus turning something that is a private situation (somebody getting charity from a specific person or a group) to a situation where people who in fact are living on charity (welfare, SS, etc.), and it become entrenched so that the people on charity start believing that they are ENTITLED to it, so the gov't must steal from some with threat of violence, and give it to individuals who think they are entitled to it.

Why are they entitled to it? Why is anybody made to feel that they are entitled to the society to enforce stealing from the productive members and giving to the unproductive, (which is what I am talking about - the Petri dish of human bacteria).

There's always a shortage of tradesmen in this country but for some reason my government would much rather pay the unemployed a fortune to sit at home than the 5000GBP to train them to do something useful.

- you are right, those people shouldn't be paid for sitting at home, specifically they are paid with tax payer (or borrowed or printed) money and then they buy the wealth produced by those some people that paid the taxes, so it's double thievery.

But your question is strange, do you honestly not understand why government does what it does? Gov't is a system of power, with politicians fighting for this power for personal benefit.

The best way to become powerful in government is to have the most support by the mob, and giving free things to the mob is the best way to get popular support. It's the worst thing for the economy and for the country, but it's the best thing for the politicians.

You said this in another comment:

You really hate people don't you.

. People. As in a collective of two legged, two handed animals that want to do nothing and steal whatever they can?

I like INDIVIDUALS that do something useful, something that I can trade for with them.

People, as a collection of thieves and lazy bums? I don't feel anything more towards them than I feel towards a Petri dish filled with bacteria.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540933)

By the way, you are skipping on the question:

winner of what? What do you get for feeding and housing people who don't do anything productive?

So in your estimation, what is it that a producer gains from housing and feeding people who do not do anything?

You think he is going to get their gratitude? For how long, just until the time he again overproduces and buys himself something that those people he is feeding and housing will be jealous of and will again, go to the barricades to make sure that 'wealth is evenly distributed'?

Why would a producer need gratitude, he is already doing what he needs for himself, he clearly can take care of himself and the best gratitude is not from people who don't produce anything in return. Their gratitude is worth precisely 0.

The gratitude that market provides, that is what is important. You produce something and somebody else produces what they can, and you exchange - THAT is gratitude. That is real. That is not bullshit, it's not a waste, it shows that your efforts are actually appreciated that others are willing to take what they do and exchange it for what you do.

Getting gratitude from bums is easy, but it is also not very lasting and it's dangerous, that type of gratitude quickly becomes envy.

Feeding and sheltering billions of people for nothing, for no productive output, that's a huge waste of resources. It's much less resource consuming just to wipe out the Petri dish with some cleaning solution.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540917)

People shouldn't be on charity for the entire lives, do you think it is even good psychologically to have a society of people who do nothing, that are clothed, well fed, cared for and they do nothing.

Now, now, that's a godless communist talk. You ought to respect your betters!

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540219)

Opposing progress is perfectly understandable when progress will make you jobless and therefore unable to feed, clothe and house yourself.

It's understandable, but still foolish. It's clear that we don't need such inefficient workers anymore. Either they find something else to do, or suffer. I don't think "hold back technology" should ever be an option.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540433)

Nor do I. However a large amount of jobless people is a serious social problem, and unlike roman_mir, who never leaves his house, I'm a bit concerned about the effect a large amount of jobless, starving people would have on my safety.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540369)

"that costs money and time".

Money is a thing to exchange goods, an abstraction layer. The fact money became a good by itself is absurd and part of the systemic problem since 2008-2012 with the banking crisis, as the crisis concerns making money with money. Unlike a 3d printer making a 3d printer, making money (abstraction layer) with money (abstraction layer), you essentially making expectation with expectation. Therefore, money cannot cost, money is cost, it's solely a value representing an overhead, it cannot cost itself, it represents the cost itself. This is essential to realize.

Proposal to feed and house the people: feed yourself, and house yourself. Start a garden, and build your own house . . . bypass mortgage by all means (buy the land, build your own house with temporary housing approach and slowly extend it further (prefab approaches)).

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

slashping (2674483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40539963)

There is no physical reason why this should not be the case.

Sure there is. It's called EROEI, or Energy Returned On Energy Invested. If that's less than 1, there's no point in doing it.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40539993)

"Overall though we are I believe on the cusp of a Diamond age."
There, fixed that for you.

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

Exrio (2646817) | more than 2 years ago | (#40539999)

It'll be like living in a zoo, except now the zoo is huge, the animals include humans, and the zoo-keepers are human-invented machines. The question is not if, the question is when. The singularity will undoubtedly overwhelm any silly human politics or economics that try to restrain it.

Re:A post scarcity society (3, Insightful)

khakipuce (625944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540085)

I suppose this is what one would expect from anyone with "open source space travel" in their sig. We are nowhere near approaching a "post scarcity society", go to Africa or India and tell the significant proportion of the earth's populaton that live in poverty that we are approaching a "post scarcity society"!

On the 3D printing front, gimme one that prints steel, aluminium alloys, etc. with the structural integrity of their conventially produced equivalents (i.e. not sintered) and I'll start to take this discussion seriously.

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540207)

Printing with moderate resolution would be a significant advance, and most current machines need a huge amount of labour to operate.

As someone has already said "they are the solution to making one-offs of an original concept", They do not come within a million miles of mass production for stuff where the requirement is for many.

Test 1) try to make any part longer than an inch with an accuracy of 1/1000 inch (minimum accuracy required for most production engineering).

Test 2) Try to make a 3D printed "Mars Bar", with your labour costed at minimum wage - then compare it to the price in the local shop.

If you pass both tests, apply for a job - you are clearly unemployed but employable.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540813)

And it would be cool to have gold fall from the sky. But that doesn't make the current machines useless. Remember, we are at the very start of this revolution.

As for printing a candy bar...huh? Why do that? Traditional manufacturing still has a role, at least for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, I was playing with a RepRap printed herringbone gear [blogspot.com] yesterday. I thought it was pretty cool. They are very difficult to manufacture with traditional machinery [wikipedia.org] , but not a problem with a 3D printer.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540447)

Those are political problems, not physical.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540641)

Good luck. Slashdot is filled with delusional children who live in their dream world.

Re:A post scarcity society (3, Interesting)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540101)

"Post-scarcity society" ???
What a load of bullshit.
Have you ever heard of peak-oil? Do you realise 80% of our energy demand is covered by fossil fuels? Have you heard of global warming?

Do yourself a favor, and go read this :
http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/04/economist-meets-physicist/ [ucsd.edu]

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540377)

Really, so solar power satellites are physcially impossible to you? Even without that, we could supply all of the world's energy with inefficient PV covering a single digit percentage of the Sahara desert.

Now before you reply, stop. Think. Am I really suggesting that we run wires to every country on earth from the Sahara, or is that an example to illustrate the point that we are swimming in hugely more energy than our civilisation needs, and this can be arbitrarily scaled up?

I'm also not talking about next year. Which is a good thing, since fossil fuels won't run out next year either. I did mention the next couple of centuries. I think it could be done a lot sooner with the effort going into say military endeavours being directed more productively, but its coming one way or the other.

Its not a communist or socialist vision. Its a logistical and realistic one.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540501)

*You* should think before you reply.
Your comment is so wrong on so many levels that I don't know where to begin.
Really, please take the time to read this blog post :
http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/07/galactic-scale-energy/ [ucsd.edu]

Sorry to burst your bubble!

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540521)

Doesn't look like its my bubble that's in trouble to be honest. So please, begin. Educate me, and these guys [desertec.org] while you're about it.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540827)

Funny you mention desertec.
I work as an engineer for a solar research center in Germany.
We work a lot with the DLR (http://www.dlr.de/dlr/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-10010/), which is involved in the desertec project.
I designed a few hundred MWp worth of solar installations around Europe.

So : I know what's available, what we need and what could be done with renewable energies.
But there's a slight nuance you seem to be missing :
desertec hopes to deliver 15% of Europe's electricity by 2050, provided they find a decent way to cool down the concentrated solar plant in the frigging desert.
15% isn't much, Europe is only a small part of the world, 2050 is pretty late compared to peak oil, electricity isn't the biggest part of our energy demand and there still are quite a lot of technological problems to even achieve this.

So yeah, keep dreaming about space travel, big cars, big houses, lot of meat and perpetual motion for 10 billion people.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540939)

To quote myself, "Am I really suggesting that we run wires to every country on earth from the Sahara, or is that an example to illustrate the point that we are swimming in hugely more energy than our civilisation needs, and this can be arbitrarily scaled up?" And that's before you get into the discussion about renewables becoming ever more attractive as fossil fuels become scarcer. There's no reason to suggest fossil fuels will vanish overnight. But that's not the point.

Your UCSD link, which you've refused to engage on, probably because it bizarrely dismisses out of hand the main thrust of my argument (space development), is a good example of that obligatory XKCD... http://xkcd.com/605/ [xkcd.com] Or to put it another way, past performance is no indication of future performance. To give everyone on earth a European upper middle class lifestyle you'd need to expand energy production by what, 20 to 50 times? That's still a tiny fraction of the amount of useable solar energy alone falling on the earth. And that's without even thinking about the solar power satellites JAXA is constructing right now.

The link also runs straight past the biggest energy consumers, which are not domestic but industrial. I suppose its easier to come to broad conclusions that fit presumption if you ignore the details. By moving industrial manufacturing into space, you short circuit his growth graph, and short circuit it even further by taking into account the marvellous efficiencies we can achieve using advancing technology. Ebooks for example use almost no energy, and supplant almost all need for paper books, newspapers, that entire energy intensive industry. And thats a technology, just one, in its infancy.

How's that bubble doing?

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540563)

Yes, I find it odd that covering a few hundered square k/m with PV's is seen as a "gigantic expense", but re-plumbing the entire N. America continent with a new network of oil pipelines is a "necessary investment".

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540795)

Have you ever heard of nuclear power? We have enough nuclear fuels here on earth for thousands of years, and there is enough of the stuff in space rocks to keep us going until the sun explodes.
The only reason we don't use more nuclear power right now is paranoia. But once Joe average figures out he can't watch American Idol without the power of the atom, you can expect things changes.

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540129)

Only if the revolution goes well. It could go very badly, depending how the social-economic-political situation works out. Transitioning to a post-scarcity economy would not be easy - it doesn't matter if you can make food, housing and luxury goods for a few cents if almost all the population is unemployed and thus unable to afford even that, and those who do control the production equipment have no incentive to just give away their products for free.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

slashping (2674483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540147)

and those who do control the production equipment have no incentive to just give away their products for free

"If you give me access to the production equipment, I'll give you your daughter back"

Re:A post scarcity society (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540225)

Violent revolution is a very real possibility. On the other hand, it'd basically be a class warfare thing - the capitalists vs the now-unemployed. We've seen that happen a few times in quite recent history, with mixed results, and just because material needs are now easier to meet isn't going to solve so well the severe political oppression that always seems to follow. Even in post-scarcity, someone has to administer the resources - and without some very strict accountability, that much power in so few hands is just inviting corruption.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540403)

When has class warfare that became violent revolution been anything other than unmitigated disaster for those who lived through it (possibly excepting those very few who ended up on top)?

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540809)

My point exactly. History shows a rather poor track record on the outcome of class warfare. It's possible that new tech might help - with modern internet communications it may be practical for the population to keep a much closer eye on their leaders and cut through the propaganda - but I wouldn't want to depend on that alone.

Not a Golden Age - a nightmare. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540253)

As more and more 'grunt' jobs are being replaced by machines, more and more folks do what they're 'supposed" to do: go up the "food chain"; which means go to college for a white collar job. And we know what's going on with that.

But what happens when all the menial jobs are done by machine, everyone who is able goes to college and goes into the labor force - and you have this mass of humanity that wasn't able to get a college degree for whatever reason? What to do with them?

Or let's say you have a mass of folks, who rightfully go into a field with better than average job prospects - like medicine - flood the market with workers there?

Retrain? Only to flood another part of the labor market with workers? This is what's happening now in a field. Between the economy and kids seeing what happened to all those 'Russian Lit' majors, many many went into nursing and now there's the worst job market ever for new grad nurses. Will it get better? Eventually - but not until all these unemployed, underemployed and current nursing students get employed.

In short, we're coming to an age when we're going to have a lot of folks who have no work. There are 7 Billion people on this planet and there aren't enough - and I don't see how enough can be created - jobs higher on the 'food chain'.

We have an economy that works only if there's consumption. And to have consumption folks need to be able to make a living. If we have less work because of machines, there is less ways to make a living. Less folks work, the less they can consume, The less they consume, the less production happens, The less production, less workers - and less machines. And round again.

You can only go so far up the food chain because the 'food chain' isn't that large and the 'Chain' is really a pyramid and the higher up the pyramid, the less room there is up there..

I've had waaay too much coffee.

uhm history... (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540321)

we already have abundant resources being harvested and processed mostly by automated engines. for example, wheat is almost entirely processed by gigantic computer controlled combines.

and yet there are millions of people starving in places like ethiopia (still).

if robots are harvesting material it doesnt really matter unless you actually own a robot, own the land they are taking the material from, etc.

look at what is going on in spain .50 % unemployment for youth. the hyper efficient society doesnt necessarily mean that that efficiency's products are spread around. it more likely means that a massive number of people will be considered 'superfluous' and essentially placed in an 'apartheid' system. think of great britain in the industrial revolution , and what it did to ireland (mass starvation, mass forced emigration, etc)

Re:uhm history... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540903)

think of great britain in the industrial revolution , and what it did to ireland (mass starvation, mass forced emigration, etc)

You don't know what you're talking about.

I doubt you could point to either country on a map, you lardass.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540453)

Ultimately, perhaps even within the next few centuries, we're going to see a situation where the abundant resources in our solar system are harvested and processed by mostly automated engines, providing an excellent (upper middle class) quality of life for everyone on earth. There is no physical reason why this should not be the case.

I think this is kind of the utopian version of the American dream. However, if history is any guide, this would be impossible to achieve without a drastic reduction in population or mastery of some form of terraforming that would extend the human biosphere. Certain populations on Earth are already living the utopia of earlier centuries. I can forsee the Bill Gates or Mark Shuttleworths of the future going on a holiday to Mars but not the sanitation engineer surpervising the robo-cleaners down the hall.

The poor of the future will (continue to) have their passive entertainment, perhaps jacking in (rather than off) to the latest direct-link fantasy. Or they would be living in shacks, outcasts from the tech society, no different from those living in the ghettoes or slums of today.

Re:A post scarcity society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540719)

The loss of jobs need not be a bad thing in what is quickly approaching a post scarcity society. Ultimately, perhaps even within the next few centuries, we're going to see a situation where the abundant resources in our solar system are harvested and processed by mostly automated engines, providing an excellent (upper middle class) quality of life for everyone on earth. There is no physical reason why this should not be the case.

I can think of one. Overpopulation. And don't tell me how many people we could possibly support because we will always make more and more until our resources are stretched thin. Again.

Re:A post scarcity society (1)

Patent Lover (779809) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540755)

That's what they said in the 50's. All the new gadgets and technology would make more time for leisure and an easier life for everybody. It didn't happen.

am of two minds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40539885)

first, yay for democratizing production. As long as patents and copyright do not get deployed to nuke this into the history books.

second, oh crap there goes the economy. This because the basics of the economy is production > wage > consume > production. Fully automating production disrupts this.

Re:am of two minds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40539931)

Don't worry. While open source may produce a fairly good product in the end the corporations will produce the really worthwhile products and even if the open source produce is good enough for 99% of everyone's needs the corporations will produce theirs at a low enough price point that the masses will go with proprietary hardware in the end if for no other reason than to have something that is nice and glossy on their workbench.

Re:am of two minds... (1)

Exrio (2646817) | more than 2 years ago | (#40539979)

3D printing doesn't really automate anything that's not already automatic, the only significant difference in this context is that it's cheaper and easier for lower quantities and smaller spaces than industrial methods such as injection molding. Of course patents and copyright will try to get in the way. Thankfully they'll fail miserably like they always do.

Free Complexity at the cost of speed (1)

PetoskeyGuy (648788) | more than 2 years ago | (#40539971)

It's still at the prototype making level though. 3D printing gives you free complexity, but it's very slow. You can lay down layers of plastic, melt or glue powder together, or cure resin into the shape you want. The benefits are there's very little waste material compared to normal manufacturing. The cost is generally in time. I can print a part that uses $2.00 of plastic but that much plastic will take an hour to become something.

Still once you have a 3d printer, you build a few more and the economies of scale become more or less how many 3d printers can you operate?

It's still not mass producing - it's custom desktop fabrication. It's like laser printing in the 80s... very slow but nice quality. So in the near future it's still mostly for prototyping or small scale runs. Once your design is perfected you would still use that to create your master mold and mass produce the regular way.

The open source aspects mean that the entire field is advancing steadily forward. Open Source isn't really breaking new ground in technology, but it is making everything easier to build and cheaper if you've got the time to build it. Just like open source software.

Re:Free Complexity at the cost of speed (3, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540077)

It's still not mass producing - it's custom desktop fabrication. It's like laser printing in the 80s... very slow but nice quality. So in the near future it's still mostly for prototyping or small scale runs.

Good point. If and when enough people have access to these printers, and if they are sufficiently standardized, you will not need mass production anymore. Or rather, the product is still produced in mass, but in many small fabs or even on the desktop, as opposed to requiring a single massive factory in China. It's distributed production. The point is that it's not necessary for these printers to become so fast that they can produce thousands of products per hour. If you're printing at home, you will probably print only a few items every day at most, and you'll be able to afford wait times of an hour or so.

Re:Free Complexity at the cost of speed (1)

What the Frag (951841) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540097)

Cost of speed: yes. But this is not a big problem since the printers scale pretty linear.
In the future we may have "3d copy shops" where they have like 10 printers being able to do small to medium size production runs quickly enough.

Re:Incorrect Time Scale (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540313)

You're correct about less waste and such but you used the wrong time scale. The reason I say that is look at the complexity of the parts in an iPad. Each part takes time to construct so I'll ask you this set of questions.

  • Do you step over to the kiln and make the various ceramic parts used to make an iPad?
  • What about the press used to forge those aluminum cases
  • How about the amount of time needed to make the glass in the display?

When you actually break it down, there's far more then an hours worth of time invested into the manufacturing of many products today. Only the cheap injection molded stuff can be mass produced in less time. A good example is a custom machine shop. Job cost are based not only upon setup time, that depending on complexity be a couple of days but how long it'll take to complete the production itself. Of course they include things like material cost along with payroll and profit but the key thing is that each and every job takes time as the material can only be worked so fast before you begin damaging it.

Recursion: (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540045)

When 3D printers print other 3D printers, that would be the "Third Industrial Revolution".

Re:Recursion: (1)

higuita (129722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540329)

from the reprap site [reprap.org] :

RepRap is humanity's first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine.

so that is nothing unusual...

Not there yet (1)

phme (1501991) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540073)

3D printers have indeed become more prevalent, and economies of scale might emerge for raw materials and the printers themselves -- but certainly no economies of scale for devices printed on them in sight just yet. Ask anyone who has built or used one if they would be ready to print "thousands" of devices without "significant retooling", or if current 3D printers are able to replace more traditional manufacturing processes even for small batches. Current open-source 3D printers are nice, but are prototyping tools only. Even qualifying them as "rapid prototyping tools" often seems stretching it to me right now. They do allow for rapid-cycle prototyping, though.

A poorly written summary that does not bring anything new that has not been discussed many [slashdot.org] times [slashdot.org] here since 2005.

Re:Not there yet (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540325)

can you prototype things using a traditional machine shop as quickly as a 3d printer? The answer is not only no but a resounding Hell No! because of the shear setup time especially if the damn part is very complex. Anyway you look at it, a 3d printer is a Rapid Prototyper.

Re:Not there yet (1)

phme (1501991) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540561)

I agree with you, it is meant to be rapid prototyping, but it is not necessarily so. It really depends on the part you're making. If you consider the time it takes to design the item in 3D, adapting the design to the specifics of printing in 3D and your actual 3D printer, and the time to print the thing, it can take an awful lot of time. Sometimes, people would print in 3D something that can easily be done using classic machining -- or with clay, cardboard or papier-mâché, just because they can, it's fun or it's hype not because they actually need a plastic part or is faster.

What 3D printing is really good at besides highly complex shapes is rapid-iteration prototyping, where you print several iterations of a prototype with minor changes between each iteration. Then, you start saving a lot of time.

3D printing is not an industry (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540075)

It's a hobby for creating plastic toys. Even industrial rapi prototyping is only used for test models, as 3D printing is unsuitable for mass production of reliable objects.

Re:3D printing is not an industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540229)

You sound Bill Gates who said 640KB RAM is sufficient for all computers - you and him lacked imagination.

Re:3D printing is not an industry (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540399)

you know he actually never really said that, don't you?

Re:3D printing is not an industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540515)

That doesn't stop the Slashtards from repeating it. Had Linus said it they'd all be crying out that anything that takes more than 640k is bloat.

Re:3D printing is not an industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540537)

Bill Gates never said that, if you're going to quote that you need to provide a citation. Bill Gates isn't the technical genius that Woz is, but he did know how to program and any programmer or really user of computers at that time would know that more RAM was necessary and likely forthcoming.

Re:3D printing is not an industry (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540327)

why is 3d Printer only useful for test models? If you are using one of the more expensive units that work either in Ceramic or metal, there's no reason you couldn't take it to the next step. In fact, what a 3d printer is good for is producing small parts very precisely and with the right materials, there is absolutely no fucking reason those parts aren't anymore durable then those made by more convential methods (if possible).

Re:3D printing is not an industry (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540359)

I didn't say it's not useful for other things, what I said it that it's only used for tests in industrial environments because it's unsuitable for large-scale production. It's slow and the result is not durable enough.

most of the junk i buy is not durable either (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540549)

so... here is the situation.

globofucker incorporated decides to almost completely monopolize the gadget_x industry, buying up competition, selling off entire factories, firing thousands of people, then jacking up prices, and most of all

introducing 'planned obsolescence' into their production process. i.e. they make crap thats supposed to break.

you can see the results of this by visiting any apartment complex dumpster on a weekend morning. vacuum cleaners are a particular favorite - you'd think that after a 100+ years of development, capitalism would have produced the finest vacuum cleaner in existence.

instead, it is actually producing WORSE vacuum cleaners that break more quickly than ever before. my parents had a metal vacuum cleaner that lasted for 50 years. meanwhile the average vacuum you buy in a store now will cease to function within 5 years or maybe a decade.

in otherwords. this stuff about 'durability' and 'reliability' doesnt matter anymore -we live in a world where it is profitable for corporations to produce unreliable, undurable garbage that breaks all the time so we have to buy more of it.

this is where 3d printing is having its first successes. you can go on thingiverse and find knobs and buttons for various appliances and gadgets - knobs and buttons which were obviously designed to break or designed without thought as to durability.

instead of having to throw out your old gadget, which is the dream of the finance people working inside FuckemCorp, you can now keep it running for a few more years.

Re:3D printing is not an industry (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540743)

I'm thinking you are missing the vision. The vision is not mass production. Think "on demand".

How many items are in your house that require no moving parts? Just as an example to keep it simple.

Light switch plates, outlet plates, outlet safety plugs, cabinet fixtures, handles of all sorts, basic chairs, shelving, closet organizers, toilet flow control parts, candles, candle holders, picture frames, utensils, cups, plates, the list goes on.

The point is that as the ability to print objects becomes as standard as a household ink/laser printer, those who have one will no longer need to buy these mass manufactured goods. They will be able to print on demand what they need.

There will of course be a market for hand made luxury goods or hybrid goods but the vast majority will produced at home or in a local shop by request as utilitarian goods.

Good for trinkets... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540143)

...but that's about it in my experience. We had some disappointing results with 3D-printed components at work: they had poor mechanical properties and were permeable to water. We now use a rapid CNC-ing firm (http://www.firstcut.com/) that can produce one-off components cheaply and get them to us inside 3 days; plus they have a fantastic range of proper materials (ABS, nylon, aluminium, etc.). For the time being, we're staying put with CNC.

If civilization collapses we're so screwed (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540351)

And not just because, well, civilization has collapsed.

See a big revolution (the first industrial revolution?) was through interchangeable parts. That's what (I've heard) gave the Union armies such an advantage over the Confederates, if something broke you didn't need a skilled craftsman to repair it. Just replace the broken part.

With custom made items from 3D prototypers everything will be unique. If civilization breaks down (no Internet!) being able to find the plans (or getting them scanned) will be much more difficult. Probably doesn't rank up there with water, food and shelter but it might be a serious impediment to recovery.

By the way, if I'm correct about the first industrial revolution, was the second one caused by the assembly line? Or am I completely off (from what most people think). Was the first caused by something like steam power and the second by electricity?

Re:If civilization collapses we're so screwed (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540805)

Why do you think that means you can't make a new part? With replaceable parts limited by mass production you can only have parts that you're willing to make many thousands of, and therefore have on hand in inventory (large warehouses) with big logistical transportation systems behind them. With 3D printing you just download a copy of the part spec and print it out from a bunch of multi-purpose material you have on hand. You can even grind up old stuff for the material [kickstarter.com] . You don't have to keep specialized parts in inventory and you don't have to do massive production runs to be efficient or cost effective.

Re:If civilization collapses we're so screwed (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40540885)

Cheap power was the watershed for each and allowed the other efficiencies to take hold as more labor could specialize and machines could be employed.

We're Not Ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40540381)

Our ability to create machines is far more advanced than our ability to deal with the human condition. At this time the notion of people prospering without hard work threatens the psychology of most people. Imagine people living at a high standard that need not labor or invest at all. Imagine your pay checks being issued by the government and taxes being assigned to the units of production that create the goods rather than to the public. Then imagine the strife and fighting over who gets to be free of labor first which is the flip side of being into forced retirement. One history teacher covers all grade school history and the class is pumped to every home by cable. The school building becomes an historic oddity. The school bus forgotten in time. All of the custodians and trades people who support a traditional school vanish. The entire educational industry almost vanishes and that is just one arena. Already truck drivers and taxi drivers are at risk of being eliminated by robotic drivers and the trend is poking all of us in the eye and yet no one sees it happening,
                Debates about free markets, socialism and communism become unknown as the very notion of economies is twisted out of recognition. Do not assume that the lower positions will be hit but not the upper crust. Medicine and law could both be adapted to machines. The nurse at the hospital may become a rather high speed robot. This is gathering speed and social institutions need to catch on and figure out how to deal with it.
                The first real spoiler might be a computer system set up to be a self owned corporation such that when the machine invests and earns all of the earnings are spent improving the power and abilities of the machine. Since 100% of returns would be folded back into the business there would be no taxes due and as the machine gathers strength no human centric company could ever hope to compete so that an entire industry becomes dedicated to providing funds to self investing machine corporations. Future shock may be like a canon in ones' ear.

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