Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

UC Berkeley Group Working On Creating Inexpensive 3-D Printer Materials

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the make-it-good-then-make-it-cheap dept.

Technology 66

phrackthat writes "A UC Berkeley group, in a bid to drive down the costs of 3-D printing, has been focusing on more natural materials such as salt, wood, ceramics and concrete (the last two, while not naturally occurring, are made of naturally occurring components). The use of these materials create new avenues for architecture, such as printing buildings. Professor Ronald Rael, the head of the project, stated that these materials and the designs they enable will require new IP protections — 'This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are.' I wonder if he's ever heard of design patents?"

cancel ×

66 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43813339)

Do design patents apply when you build something yourself for yourself?

Re:question (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43813429)

Technically, yes. But practically, no

Re:question (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#43818761)

Just a thought, given the types of materials used for 3D printing; Landfills will start to become a localized resource for mining of "raw" materials. Also, animal waste may become a more valuable commodity.

Re:question (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year ago | (#43819611)

I could have sworn everybody laughed at me when I predicted this oh, 15 years ago.

Re: question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43843971)

So you're saying we will soon be printing objects out of dog/cow dung? I'd be skeptical of that. I'm also confident we have large enough recycling and waste streams as to where we don't need to dig up highly regulated landfills to fill nascent printing material demand. There's about 1,000 other commodity options cheaper than mining landfills. do you realize how much capital it takes to treat and sort and process and homogenize a mountain of rotting waste?

Re:question (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43815559)

Do design patents apply when you build something yourself for yourself?

fair use with patents is only when it's not for actual use.. or so.

extremely rare for anyone to litigate personal use though.

Non Fantastic (3, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | about a year ago | (#43813341)

...has been focusing on more natural materials...

As opposed to what? More metaphysical materials?

Re:Non Fantastic (3, Insightful)

digitrev (989335) | about a year ago | (#43813463)

Better yet, I love how "cermanic and concrete" are somehow natural because they're made of natural materials. As if they're somehow more natural than plastic. I am reminded of Abstruse Goose [abstrusegoose.com] .

Re:Non Fantastic (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43813763)

Boy, a lot of comments show people got bent out of shape by the "natural materials" phrase. I loathe new agism and other "natural is good" holiness as much as the next guy, but I didn't sense that at all.

When I read "natural materials", I read, "cheap, easily-available in massive quantities materials". as opposed to current, much more exotic materials.

Re:Non Fantastic (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43814865)

I can dig a few inches down in my yard and hit clay. Fire it in a blast oven, and you get a ceramic. Cement is nothing more than limestone. You mix it with water, let it absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and you get calcium carbonate, which is the same composition as limestone. Concrete is just cement mixed with filler, like crushed rock.

Re:Non Fantastic (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43815009)

Cement is nothing more than limestone. You mix it with water, let it absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and you get calcium carbonate, which is the same composition as limestone. Concrete is just cement mixed with filler, like crushed rock.

And steel is just an alloy of iron and other elements, right.

Or is it more complex than that...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete [wikipedia.org]

Re:Non Fantastic (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43815713)

Concrete is scarcely significantly different from many types of aggregate sedimentary rocks composed of SiO2 and compounds of calcium and aluminum, and if you actually bothered to read the page you've linked, you'd find it right there [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Non Fantastic (1)

swamp_ig (466489) | about a year ago | (#43824843)

I dig a hole in the ground, out comes oil. I then vaporize it to extract the components, react it with several other naturally occurring materials, and get plastic.

Hey-hey! Plastic is natural!

Re:Non Fantastic (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43815609)

Better yet, I love how "cermanic and concrete" are somehow natural because they're made of natural materials.

Oh, but they are. Given their composition, you can find concrete and ceramics in nature, or at least very analogical stuff. PVC? Not so much.

man-made? (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about a year ago | (#43813495)

He takes natural materials and turns them into various man-made objects. Rather than taking man-made materials and turning them into man-made objects.

Sounds to me he's making things worse, not better.

Re:Non Fantastic (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43813617)

As opposed to materials created by a process which only can occur by manmade intervention.

wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43813727)

I have deposits of plastic in my backyard, it naturally occurred.

Re:wrong (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43815155)

What natural process produced them?

Re:wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815439)

Osmosis.

Re:wrong (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43815565)

How does plastic get produced by osmosis?

Re:wrong (1)

dantotheman (2887483) | about a year ago | (#43815631)

Quit feeding the troll...

Re:Non Fantastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43813745)

...has been focusing on more natural materials...

As opposed to what? More metaphysical materials?

Adamantium and unobtainium.

Re:Non Fantastic (3, Informative)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#43813747)

Synthetic

Re:Non Fantastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815107)

legal materials
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_person

already covered by copyright and patents. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43813345)

the designs are already covered by copyright and patents..
also, it seems they're using just cheaper powders for a powder-binder type of printer. the thing the guy is hugging is printed in parts, it looks like.

but what's the point in cheap materials, if these guys are out to patent them? it's not like the commercial powders are THAT expensive to manufacture. they just have a fabulous markup due to ip protection.

the print a house directly with a moving concrete laying head projects seem a bit interesting - a lot interesting.

Re:already covered by copyright and patents. (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43813413)

I can't find the link for this but there is already a business with a huge 3d printer which uses sand/cement. The printer is mobile and can be set up on site.

It was referenced here last year I think.

Re:already covered by copyright and patents. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43813699)

I can't find the link for this but there is already a business with a huge 3d printer which uses sand/cement. The printer is mobile and can be set up on site.

It was referenced here last year I think.

yeah, that's what I meant with the directly printing a house. these guys are doing nothing of the sort, just experimenting with inexpensive binding materials and powders to patent them. which is hell of a lot less cooler than researching about practically building houses that can't be build otherwise.

Prior Art (2)

Comboman (895500) | about a year ago | (#43814085)

People have been 3-D printing buildings from natural materials available on site for thousands of years. [wikipedia.org] Somehow they didn't need new IP protections. Other species have been doing it even longer. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Prior Art (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43815119)

You could more or less count rammed earth, but mud brick doesn't qualify because it's built out of bricks made in forms, rather than made in a form. And if it's done by hand, it's really not printing, but that's a separate quibble.

Re:Prior Art (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43815895)

I very much doubt they used a device that moved back and forth and selectively deposited a layer of material and then fused it together with heat or glue.

Your brick examples would be more suitable if they moved the serfs back and forth on a lift and the serfs deposited bricks as they passed over an area that was supposed to have bricks.

That's why we have different words: "Building" and "Printing".

ends vs means (2)

DriveDog (822962) | about a year ago | (#43813393)

When it comes to the economics, Professor Rael, like so many others, exhibits a severe lack of imagination.

Re:ends vs means (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about a year ago | (#43813879)

I don't know about that - he seems to be one of those people who are imagining a special IP protection that isn't limited to any of the existing ones. He appears to have imagined a form of patent where 'because it's passing through a 3-D printer' makes an existing material novel, or one where the unlimited timeframe of a copyrighted design applies to the raw materials or individual design elements, or something such as that.
          "I imagine you're gonna give me special laws with all of the advantages and none of the drawbacks, cause I'm a special butterfly." That's a pretty good imagination right there.

Re:ends vs means (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a year ago | (#43816611)

I don't know about that really mattering.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the BSD Handgun.

How about poo? (0)

hughbar (579555) | about a year ago | (#43813407)

That's cheap and plentiful...

Re:How about poo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43813675)

Great idea... now we can all just shit our own bricks!

ceramics and cement are nothing new (4, Insightful)

hAckz0r (989977) | about a year ago | (#43813443)

People have been doing 3D printing using ceramics and cement for a few years now. Why is this suddenly new again? Entire buildings have been constructed this way using giant printing machines no less. Don't the people at Berkeley or Tech News know how to use Google yet?

Re:ceramics and cement are nothing new (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#43815513)

One of those "three months in the lab can save an entire week in the library" conditions.

Already covered by copyright (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43813473)

"Does this mean people can download your building and print it?" he said. "This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are."

Designs are already protected, as they are a work. It's no different than the 3D models we already deal with in the game industry. A person spent a lot of time creating the files, and copyright law already includes such creative work.

In fact if you want to, you can license your architecture designs. If you want to share them with everyone, you can use one of the Creative Commons license. That way nobody can (legally) take your name off it, but it can otherwise be shared freely.

Re:Already covered by copyright (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43813927)

"Does this mean people can download your building and print it?" he said. "This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are."

Designs are already protected, as they are a work. It's no different than the 3D models we already deal with in the game industry. A person spent a lot of time creating the files, and copyright law already includes such creative work.

Actually, there're some significant between copyright and design patents, but you're just as free with both to release your work into the public domain. I'm assuming that architectural works come under a design patent here; I don't see why they wouldn't.

Re:Already covered by copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815251)

Then there is the question of ridiculousness of a design patent in a case where each product for a particular location is unique by customary, legal, technical, image and regulatory reasons. Only large companies building pre-manufactured houses in a constant environment could use such a patent against other similar companies in the very same area.

Oh Noes! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43813485)

Concrete and ceramic guns! Look out everyone!

Re:Oh Noes! (1)

LBt1st (709520) | about a year ago | (#43814263)

It will happen eventually. And then we'll have to hear the whole debate all over again. All the while hundreds of people will die in a war that most Americans have forgotten is taking place.

not invented yet (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43813561)

Professor Ronald Rael, the head of the project, stated that these materials and the designs they enable will require new IP protections — 'This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are.'

That's putting the cart before the horse.......you haven't even built your product yet, and you're worried, not about what your users will do with it, but how they will legally protect what they do with it. Two steps ahead (not to mention there's already protection).

Spending too much time worrying about problems that don't exist yet is one of the many ways you can sink a startup. It's similar to sitting there dreaming, "what will you do with all your money when we're rich?"

Re:not invented yet (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#43814523)

It's similar to sitting there dreaming, "what will you do with all your money when we're rich?"

That's an entire way of life, out here in Oklahoma. :p

Re:not invented yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43819607)

Re-reading the quote, I don't think he's talking about the printing technology itself needing a patent, but rather what it will be used for.

If I understand correctly, he's saying that if rapid production in this way becomes so easy, then there will need to be new IP laws to protect architectures from being pirated. Something like that.

I'm pretty sure though that what he meant is that our existing draconian IP laws are of course already powerful enough to legally protect things a 3D printer can produce, but in practicality they will be just as ineffective as they have been in other domains. All existing IP laws punish but do not sufficiently prevent infringement, nor do they provide sufficient economic protection to IP holders. Only lawyers tend to win in the long run with current IP laws. This trend will only continue into other domains if 3D printing becomes a design standard.

I'm sure that's what he must have meant, because any other interpretation does not make sense to me.

Technically, you only need four (0)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#43813571)

Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

Re:Technically, you only need four (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about a year ago | (#43815273)

Yeah? Tell that to Milla Jovovich [imdb.com] .

Isn't oil naturally occuring? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43813601)

I thought right now plastic which is made from naturally occurring oil was the standard material for 3d printing?

Instead of this natural BS, just come out and say renewable or less resource constrained or something.

So they're saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43813607)

Oil isn't "naturally occurring"? Say what now?

late to the party (2)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43813631)

3D printing in ceramics, concrete, and wood composites have been around longer than consumer 3D printers. If this wasn't Berkeley, it wouldn't be getting any press coverage.

Design patents won't cover this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43813663)

Design patents cover the *aesthetic* aspects of a design. We're talking here about functionality, and that is protected by utility patents.

Can a 3D-printer print another 3D-printer? (1)

viniciuscb (764480) | about a year ago | (#43814129)

Now that we have 3D-printers that print guns, another challenge to us all: print a 3D-printer.

Re:Can a 3D-printer print another 3D-printer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43814445)

That has been done with the open source 3D printers ever since they were created. They don't print the metal parts, but neither does the gun printer.

Re:Can a 3D-printer print another 3D-printer? (1)

Creedo (548980) | about a year ago | (#43814679)

Now that we have 3D-printers that print guns, another challenge to us all: print a 3D-printer.

Might I suggest you check out this [reprap.org] . That's the whole point of the RepRap project.

Re:Can a 3D-printer print another 3D-printer? (1)

dantotheman (2887483) | about a year ago | (#43815729)

You realize this would be the first step towards Skynet [wikipedia.org] right?...

Re:Can a 3D-printer print another 3D-printer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43831701)

printing a 3d printer is not a problem printing a 3d printer that has little to no vitamins (i.e. stuff you get from a hardware store as well as motors and electronics,
Now that is the difficult part. as for 3D printing houses can be done however the machines are kinda huge and impractical. printing ceramics been done for years actually there are repraps that do this modified for the material.
I built 2 3D printers with another two on the way. So I know what this tech can do and no skynet is not one of them. Cause 3D printing chips is quite a bit away.
terramir

plano and garland, tx, and now moore, ok (2)

tbonefrog (739501) | about a year ago | (#43814137)

thinking outside the 3d printer box, ever since viewing the endless suburbs in the texas towns I have envisioned something substantially bigger than the vehicle that transports the space shuttle to the launch pad, advancing through the countryside, ingesting woods, grasslands, soil, and rock, and out the other end comes a suburban street with driveways and houses in move-in-ready state. Materiel for plumbing and electricity might have to be transported into the monster.

For Moore, OK, the thing could recycle the rubble back into homes, adding storm shelters of course.

Instead of materials (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about a year ago | (#43814443)

I wish they'd work on inexpensive laser sintering.

Re:Instead of materials (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#43814979)

I actually have a (whimsically silly and bulky) idea in mind there, actually.

Its a combination of a solar sintering machine, (whooo-- a fresnel lens in a static frame, aimed at sand! So complicated!) and a CO2 laser sinterer.

Basically, the fresnel lens part is static, and at the most sophisticated, has a sun tracker to keep the lens aimed right. It focuses onto a fixed point in the material hopper, to make a small bead of glass from sand, dirt, or ceramic clay powder. (whatever is locally the cheapest) From that tiny bead of glass, a glass fiber filament is drawn using a mandril, then fed into the material port on the CO2 laser sintering side. The material hopper should have some kind of agitator to keep the material uniform inside.

The glass fiber requires considerably less energy to melt than does the silicon dioxide of the sand/clay in the material hopper, and can be wirefed to the build chamber, where it is slowly extruded and laser pulsed. This allows a very durable material (glass) to be used reasonably inexpensively. (as inexpensively as it is to drive the laser anyway.)

Re:Instead of materials (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about a year ago | (#43816051)

What would you want to make out of glass? When I think of 3d printed stuff I'd want to use, it almost always ends up being parts made out of metal like, for example, beryllium foam core for lighter than air vacuum spheres, or a case for a custom rugged laptop, etc.

It's a Race (2)

carrier lost (222597) | about a year ago | (#43815205)

Science is trying to pump out new technologies faster than governments can ban them or corporations can lock them up with patents.

This is really starting to get interesting...

Re:It's a Race (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43815951)

You'd be amazed how fast people can move when money is available........

3D gun with salt bullets? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#43815937)

Now that would sting!

This needs regulated... NOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43819009)

The more 3D printers land in the hands of the unwashed, the more chance some psycho is going to make a nice array of guns. We don't need to ban this technology, but have proper software and materials accounting so we don't have another Briarwood or Sandy Hook, which WILL happen unless proper regulations are permitted (like joining the rest of the world with firearms belonging to the police and military, and not any psycho loon on the streets who is able to lie well enough to pass a background check.)

This can be addressed very simply -- A DRM solution on 3D printers, a felony for it being tampered with, and a felony for possession of 3D printers just like it is to own guns with scratched out serial numbers, or sawed off shotguns.

This has been done before. Try copying a Euro or dollar on a color copier, and the device will refuse to copy at best, at worst, phone home about the counterfeit attempt. It is trivial to check hashes for 3D files and block them, or heuristics for items like barrels, so BATF can be aware of another potential mass murderer getting ready for action.

I know I'll be called a troll, but someone has to state this, so we don't have another mass grave of elementary school students, and nothing but lip service given to removing them off the streets. Hell, even Venezuela enacted a complete gun ban, which caused the crime in their cities to be 1/10 of what it is before the weapons were removed from the citizenry.

same as software isn't it? (1)

fikx (704101) | about a year ago | (#43819183)

Professor Ronald Rael, the head of the project, stated that these materials and the designs they enable will require new IP protections — 'This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are.'

Isn't this the same complication that been hashed back and forth for source code on software for years now? Source code is the "design" or the instructions on how to build....the executable is created by automated builder called "compilers" and such....not a new problem just because it involves a 3D printer....

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?