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fist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273825)


Hello suckers (-1, Offtopic)

ubertroll (153053) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273830)

\ |\ \
| / \ \
| | \ \
| | \ \ __
/ \ \ \/__|__,,..---v--.
| |__,,\.--"""\/ | \
| | \ _>
| | _ _ _ _ | /
| | /_v_v_v_\..---""'`-'
| | __,,.| | | | |
| / \ \_h_h_h_/
| | |
| | | eeeee e e eeee e e
\ |\ | 8 " 8 8 8 8 8 8
\ | \___/ 8eeee 8e 8 8e 8eee8e
\ | 88 88 8 88 88 8
\ | 8ee88 88ee8 88e8 88 8
| |
| | eeeeeee e e eeeee e eeee e e
| | 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
| | 8e 8 8 8eeee8 8e 8 8e 8e 8eee8e
| | 88 8 8 88 88 8 88 88 88 8
| | 88 8 8 88 88ee8 88 88e8 88 8
| |
| |

Too big (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2274033)

Though I may be gay, this is gaydot afterall, my mouth and anus are too small for your giant dick. So sorry, I cannot be of assistance in sucking you off. Maybe there are some other size queens out there that can help you instead. Sorry.

Re:Too big (-1)

ubertroll (153053) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274063)

You should get in contact with the Slashdot editors. I hear they all have quite minuscule dicks.

cool (0, Redundant)

gabeman-o (325552) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273838)

Where can I get one?

Re:cool (1)

MaxVlast (103795) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273842)

They're really expensive. A friend of mine took a class in how to use them, and never got to actually use the school's.

Re:cool (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273859)

Take a look here [] .

(Again, adding some useless text to please the lameness filter)

NP! in distress! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273942)

"Help me Obi-wan, the clones have made me wear a burlap bag [] on my head!"

Build an Electric Discharge Machining system! (3, Informative)

BigBlockMopar (191202) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274012)

Where can I get one?

Build one! The worst part is three stepper motors driving an XYZ table under computer control.

I like EDM myself. Here's a little on EDM, including a link on how to build a very simple one [] .

While I take no responsibility for anyone getting killed by following my suggestion, I've built my own EDM system for taking broken iron bolts out of aluminum automotive castings. It uses a microwave oven transformer and a bank of oil-filled capacitors. It's a profoundly dangerous machine if you build it wrong. But I've also blown 1/2" Grade-8 bolts out of aluminum castings in a matter of hours.

Wanna hire a computer geek who also knows how to do stuff like this? [] Great for integrating computers into robotic, industrial and automotive manufacturing processes.

That's nice and all (4, Funny)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273848)

...but until it can "replicate" a pint of Guinness I'm afraid I have no use for it.

Re:That's nice and all (-1)

asbestos_diaper (456125) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273972)

You can replicate it anytime you want: All you have to do is piss in a glass.

Drink up!

Re:That's nice and all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2274060)

I think you're mistaken. That's Budweiser.

Re:That's nice and all (2)

Nick Number (447026) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273974)

...but until it can "replicate" a pint of Guinness I'm afraid I have no use for it.

You'll have to look elsewhere [] for that.

Re:That's nice and all (3, Insightful)

tenman (247215) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273997)

could you define replicate? I worked at a Goodyear [http] tire plant where this thing was used. If you wanted a pint of your favorite ale, you could build the cup, and the liquid in your favorite CAD program, and the device would do it's best to match every detail, including the weight. to make items lighter it would put appropriatly sized gaps in the fab material. the lighter it needed to be the bigger the whole. It was a pretty cool deal.

I bet it could make a replica so real that you could pick it up in one hand, and your real Guinness in the other, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference until you put one to your lips.

Free beer! :) (4, Insightful)

Balinares (316703) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274006)

That'd bring a whole new meaning to the words 'free beer', indeed. :)

Still, that's *not* going to happen. Too much of our economy relies on scarcity of products (to the point that corps try to artificially reproduce a scarcity-based model in the digital world, as everybody here will already have noticed). The implications of a replicator that could duplicate anything, independantly of the material, are mind-boggling (richness for everybody and complete economy crash at the same time!). Material for a great sci-fi novel at any rate...

Re:Free beer! :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2274082)

Mind boggling indeed. eg, you only need consider one that is good enough to replicate money...

The thing is, there is no scientific reason why humans can not eventually do this. It is just a matter of time before we have the technology. I'm thinking maybe 30 years from now. I'm thinking that once we have developed the technology to produce 3D computer chips we will have 90% of the technology needed to build a true replicator.

Re:Free beer! :) (3, Insightful)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274159)

The implications of a replicator that could duplicate anything, independantly of the material, are mind-boggling

Kinda like mp3s and online music?

Re:That's nice and all (4, Funny)

remande (31154) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274184)

No luck on the Guiness, but it can make a nice mug for it, in nearly arbitrary shapes.

After all, you'll feel pretty silly with your cupped hands holding your beer...

Replace lego parts =) (5, Insightful)

L-Wave (515413) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273853)

Heh, cool you can now replace those *missing* lego pieces! =) (or create new ones??)

Re:Replace lego parts =) (1, Interesting)

Mija Cat (94021) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273975)


If it's anything like our Stereo Litho kit, you won't get much colour selection.

Re:Replace lego parts =) (0, Informative)

asbestos_diaper (456125) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273984)

The plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos.

Interesting (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273855)

The Titan's software appears to be Windows-based, or at least rely on Windows-based CAD programs, based on that screenshot.

Nice to see on which OS the real innovation is taking place... can't wait for a johnny-come-lately Open Source "alternative" that takes 50 revisions to even compile.

Re:Interesting (0, Offtopic)

Scoria (264473) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273865)

Maybe it automatically "replicates" a Unix version whenever Windows crashes. :p

for more information on "Windows" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273878)

First [] post!

Now, as an added bonus, I present the giver.jpg [] !!

(warning: these links are not for the easily disturbed or offended!!)

Re:for more information on "Windows" (-1)

ubertroll (153053) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273902)

Windows 2000

The Microsoft® Windows® 2000 operating system is the ideal platform for the next generation of business computing and addresses the full range of customers' computing needs, from laptops and desktops to high-end clustered servers. The operating system helps organizations Internet-enable their business with a reliable, manageable infrastructure that is optimized for existing and emerging hardware.

Windows 2000 Professional is the operating system for desktops and notebooks for all sizes of business. Windows 2000 Server is an entry-level solution for running more reliable and manageable file, print, intranet, communications and infrastructure services. Windows 2000 Advanced Server includes additional functionality to enhance availability and scalability of e-commerce and line-of-business applications.

Re:Interesting-not (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274053)

Umm Linux has been way ahead of the Windoze curve in automation for years now. I can make a complete CNC system based on linux at linuxCNC []

hmmm, where's the Windows version available at... Oh yeah... there isn't one.

Next Step... (3, Insightful)

Rackemup (160230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273856)

Next step is to get the replacement time down from 4 or 5 hours to "push a button, shimmering light beam, replacement part appears". Sounds interesting, one of those machines could cut down on the amount of "extra" items that need to be shipped to the ISS (why take an extra wrench when we can make one when we get there?)... meaning more space on shuttle launches for other stuff.

it's already less than 4 hours (1)

maddogsparky (202296) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273913)

It seems to me that 4 hours included the time to make a CAD model for the broken pulley. On another note, I wonder how much torque that crescent wrench could take before deforming?

The Other Note (3, Informative)

virg_mattes (230616) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274113)

> I wonder how much torque that crescent wrench could take before deforming?

That depends upon the material they use. For polycarbonate, it'd be fairly close to steel for hand tool purposes (your hand can only apply so much pressure to any tool). The big problem is wear, since (unless you're using poly bolts, which have their own disadvantages) the tool would be softer than the stuff you use it on.


Re:Next Step... (3, Interesting)

sydb (176695) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273951)

one of those machines could cut down on the amount of "extra" items that need to be shipped to the ISS

Yes, but you still need to take the raw material (ABS) to the ISS... once matter itself becomes zero-cost-copy then things will change...

Re:Next Step... (1)

Taufiq (106390) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274164)

Wouldn't bulk raw material be easier to push into orbit? Sounds like a job for a rail gun to me. Gas Gun [] or NASA rail gun []

Re:Next Step... (2)

saider (177166) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273977)

They would still need to haul the raw materials up there. And since there is bound to be some inefficiency in the process, you would probably end up carrying more in raw materials than you would if you just sent up the wrench in the next service flight. But it would be a timesaver because they wouldn't have to wait several weeks for another service flight.

Re:Next Step... (2)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274092)

Consider the case where you might need a wrench or a screw driver. You can take up enough material to make one but not both. Just make the one that you end up needing (and hope that you don't end up needing both). If you could recycle the wrench and make the screwdriver out of it then you would have the ideal solution (you'd be screwed if you needed both at the same time though).

they got what i need! (2, Funny)

kilgore_47 (262118) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273857)

See, a 3d printer is exactly what I've been needing all these years!
A personal transporter is next on my list...

Whats incredible is that this stuff (well the 'replicator' anyway) is actually starting to happen.

Re:they got what i need! (1)

robvasquez (411139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274242)

This is on my "When I win the lottery" list

Nice to see - now let's prepare for repercussions (5, Insightful)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273858)

First of all, all things aside, this is just plain cool. It shows a potentially helpful technology doing its job under real-life conditions. This looks like a solid demonstration of the practicality of the technology. I expect this example will be used again and again to show why the fabrication technology is a good idea.

Now, unfortunately, come the repercussions in our copyright/patent/IP-obsessed age. Now that someone can whip up things easily, we're going to see a repeat of the fears that led us to the DMCA, et al. These machines could concievably duplicate something you don't have the right to - time for massive government controls!

Let's hope we're all well-armed mentally for the next conflict.

Re:Nice to see - now let's prepare for repercussio (1)

Winged Cat (101773) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273966)

Which leads to something like Fabster [] ...

Re:Nice to see - now let's prepare for repercussio (3, Insightful)

Baba Abhui (246789) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274162)

These machines could concievably duplicate something you don't have the right to - time for massive government controls!

Of course, one day, when we all have 3d printers that can build things out metal, plastic, glass, etc, we'll all be able to build machine guns, tanks, artillery pieces, bombs, ICBMs, invisible psycho-killer robot fish, and what have you.

It's just possible that the odd regulation or two in this area could be beneficial. Just possible.

As far as the IP problem: we'll probably end up with both not-free and free/open-source mechanical designs, just like we have not-free and free/open-source software designs now.

In fact, free/open-source material might meet with a lot more success in the "real world" of physical products than it has in the software realm, because the benefits would be obvious, the drawbacks negligible, and the audience larger. Everyone could see the appeal in free, print-your-own bicycles, wristwatches, tires, vinyl siding, etc. There's a definite limit on the level of excitement a new version of "grep" is going to stir up, though.

Re:Nice to see - now let's prepare for repercussio (2)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274203)

Well said. True, some restrictions may be nice - I shouldn't let my cynicism run away with me.

The idea of Open Source hitting the "real world" objects is utterly fascinating. That'd jack up some levels of competition . . .

Probably a temporary replacement... (2, Informative)

algae (2196) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273861)

The article mentions that the failed part was made of aluminium, but that the rapid prototyper can only make parts out of polycarbonate, wax, etc. I'm guessing that the part they "printed out" was only being used as a temporary replacement until the actual aluminium pulley could be shipped to them. Still, we're on the way!

Anyone know if there's work being done on stereolithography using a wider variety of materials? It seems to me that that's the biggest obstacle before we have bonafide "replicators."

Re:Probably a temporary replacement... (1)

Mija Cat (94021) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273921)

Stereo Litho is pretty cool; the shop I work for has a couple machines, and they're always busy.
That aside, it's apparent that you didn't read the article completely - it addresses that the original pulley was aluminum, but that they're leaving the polycarbon replacement in until it fails "just to see". Since polycarbon is pretty tough stuff, it may surprise them.

Re:Probably a temporary replacement... (1)

daveym (258550) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273940)

Well, you can always use a milling machine to make stuff out of metal. Of course, that would require any space mission to haul around large hunks of aluminium (not to mention a fancy-dancy milling machine; those are quite large, no?).

Now, I am no expert on materials science (but since when does not being an expert prevent you from posting on slashdot?), but it seems like it would be possible to make one of these prototypers that used metals. Only, you would have to make the machine apply really minute (molecules thick?) layers of metal, then figure out how to bond them.

Or, alternatively, you could just use the prototyper to make a mold and then forge the part out of metal. Obviously this would require a forge.

Still, I am sure it could be done, if we put enough money into it (like Star Wars, right...........).

Re:Probably a temporary replacement... (2)

Winged Cat (101773) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273995)

Well...if one wanted to shape a relatively low-melt-point metal, then could one not just make the fabber out of high-melt-point material (say, graphite) and pour each layer on molten, then quickly cool it? You'd have to be careful not to spill drops from the new layer, and make sure not to deform the lower layers too much (thus the quick cool, and maybe other precautions), but if one did that...

Re:Probably a temporary replacement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2274116)

Use powdered metal and use a laser to melt the powder. Or, use a relatively low melting point metal as a glue that binds the metal powder. Well, something like that anyway... It is too late at night for me to think too clearly.

Re:Probably a temporary replacement... (5, Informative)

Paul Neubauer (86753) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273998)

Yes, probably a temporary replacement, but don't count out what polymers can do.

Some years ago I was told of a project to make a plastic clip for an overhead window (sunroof for houses). The window manufacturer was quite concerned about the strength and had the perception that any and all plastics were not likely to be good enough. Eventually the material used was a tougher nylon, with something like 30% glass fiber reinforcement.

When the first pieces were tried there was an attempt to break them, to show that "mere plastic" just would not do. Sure enough the piece disassembled and a chunk went flying across the room. As comments were being made about inferior product someone retrieved the broken part. The nylon had held, but a steel pin had not. There were no more arguments about 'cheap plastic' from then on.

While glass fiber reinforcement is probably out for this 3-D printing, polycarbonate is some pretty tough stuff (but subject to chemical attack by a few common things..) and plastics can be recycled. This may make much sense in space applications. If a part is needed, make it, and put the old part back into the source mix and use the molecules over again.

Food replicator? (0, Offtopic)

Bahamuto (227466) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273864)

I want some Snapple Lemon Iced Tea, Cold.

Can it do that? There is never one around when I need it.

Time is only wasted when.... umm I forgot...

Re:Food replicator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273917)

Made from the best stuff on earth! Plastic, wax, etc. I wouldn't want to be eating a Filet Mignon w/sauted mushrooms along w/a glass of Yuengling Lager and some banana cream pie for desert all made from wax :)

Re:Food replicator? (1, Funny)

selan (234261) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273955)

I want some Snapple Lemon Iced Tea, Cold.

Sure, but after a thorough analysis, it will always produce a liquid that is almost, but not entirely unlike tea. :)


Re:Food replicator? (4, Funny)

sab39 (10510) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274024)

Sorry, the formula for Snapple[TM] is copyrighted - replicating Snapple[TM] is a violation of the DMCA and you will face 25 years in prison just for thinking about it, courtesy of Snapple[TM] Beverage Corp[TM].

In response to this growing threat to our freedoms, the FSF has launched a new Lemon Iced Tea project which will be licensed under the GPL, and RMS is already preparing his "Why it should be referred to as GNU/Iced Tea" whitepaper.

all i want (0)

CiXeL (56313) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274034)

is a damn black cherry new york seltzer, let old unprofitable sodas live on in replication. give your kids a chance to taste crystal pepsi.

Re:Food replicator? (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274069)

Has anyone else wondered why the Enterprise's computer isn't clever enough to know how he takes his tea?

Unless he's ordering "Tea, Lapsang Souchong, Iced" when we're not looking....

First use... Finally... (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273869)

These 3D printers have been around for at least 10 years. It's amazing that it took this long to finally implement one in a production enviroment... Good to see progress though...

Let me know when they have one that can produce a ham sandwitch (made of han and chease and bread rather than polymer resin).


Re:First use... Finally... (1)

uchian (454825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274019)

(made of han and chease and bread rather than polymer resin).

Well, even if it's not ham and cheese, as long as it's edible and _tastes_ like ham and cheese, it will be a step up. One thing at a time, eh?

Could they make a 3d printer that works on some sort of dough, and adds artificial flavourings as it makes it?

Could be great for custom-made birthday cakes

Re:First use... Finally... (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274147)

Oh. Great. 3D printers that excrete, mold and add flavoring to Tofu. Like Tofu wasn't disgusting enough already...

Re:"Production environment" (1)

jaoswald (63789) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274066)

This headline's use of "production environment" is somewhat misleading. The story refers to this technology being used to fabricate a single replacement part for a machine used on a production line. Out of a non-standard but acceptable substitute material.

To me, "production environment" would be using the machine, full-time, producing parts that end up in customer's hands. That may be happening, for some parts, somewhere, but it isn't what the story is talking about.

And for the rest of you, this isn't Star Trek replicator technology. Get a grip.

Stratasys (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273873)

I had a friend who worked at Stratasys for a while.

It was a pretty cool place, their engineers were constantly making things out of plastics w/ their "3D Printer". Somewhere around here I have a small 4" high godzilla that was printed out.

If you ever get a chance to see one of these machines in person printing out "something" it is fascinating.

OT: DOJ throws out rest of charges against M$ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273874)

Just saw this on Microsoft Watch [] - the DOJ has reversed Judge Jackson's findings of fact against Microsoft and will not pursue any further action.

Write your congressmen, folks, because this sort of thing will just keep happening if we don't act to stop it.

Re:OT: DOJ throws out rest of charges against M$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273989)

Bush sez: You'll get [] and like it!

The giver [] was quoted as saying "This just goes to show that the system works -- for those that have millions of dollars to throw at lawyers, lobbiests and campaign sludge funds -- GOD BLESS AMERICA!"

How long before... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273879)

Someone tries to get it to replicate Pamela Anderson. She's mostly silicone anyway, right?

Why is this news? (3, Troll)

davey23sol (462701) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273884)

I don't understand why this is news. At Siggraph they have had the 3D printers for years. You can get 3D printers that plug into networks via regular Ethernet and you can feed it CAD files. They have shown full working models of things like engines. Check out Z Corp [] and a whole list of resources here [] .

This is far from a "replicator." The items take quite a bit of time to built up. Even small items take over a day. Not an instant solution by far...

Re:Why is this news? (2)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273950)

I believe the news is that this is the first confirmed case of a 3D "printer" being used in a production environment for more than just demonstration purposes - kind of a proof that these bad boys can really be put to use. If you know of any earlier cases like this, I'm sure we'd all love to hear about them, being the drooling tech geeks that we are...

It doesn't take a day (1)

robvasquez (411139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274225)

Read the article. A few hours. Not a day

ooh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273885)

maybe they can use it to build cheaper processors.

Scale? (4, Interesting)

bricriu (184334) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273889)

Does anyone know what the minimum scale that this gizmo can produce is? They've got some pictures of a fully-functional wrench (WOW!) on the Stratasys [] web site, which would imply that there's some fairly fine control (for the spinny groove things). I just ask since one of the coolest things I can imaging is a box like this spitting out a fully-functional (mechanical) watch. And of course, taking that to the most ridiculous extreme, having a box that could spit out a computer - in the form of Babbage's Difference Engine. ;-)

Re:Scale? (1) (463190) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273910)

About 7 mils

Re:Scale? (1)

Overd0g (232552) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273949)

What I'd like to see is have it manufacture a copy of itself.

First Pulley! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273895)

"While a humble pulley helps usher in an era of rapid manufacturing on earth.."

What a novel idea for the first invention... the wheel

Is this what you call re-inventing the wheel?

ROI? (2, Insightful)

mystery_bowler (472698) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273899)

While the technology itself seems absolutely fantastic, it's current state leaves me with some questions...

How much does one of the fabricators cost? How long do the polycarbonate material parts hold up? Does it cost less to create X number of polycarbonate material replacement parts over a year than it does Y number of aluminum (or whatever material is traditionally used) parts over the same year?

I remember the first time I saw rapid 3d prototyping devices like this: a television show (probably on The Discovery Channel) a few years back that showed a tour of a Tupperware facility. Tupperware was using a CAD tool in cooperation with a special plastic molding device to make prototypes for new containers. My immediate reaction was that someone would eventually use tools like this for quickly creating temporary replacement parts. Glad to see I was right about something for once. *laugh*

Re:ROI? (4, Insightful)

norton_I (64015) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274014)

The fabricators are pretty expensive, and the amortized cost of the machine + materials is probably much greater than the replacement parts.

However, consider that an assembly line has thousands of different parts like this. The cost of keeping spares of every part around is much higher than the cost of just the failed parts. If you can just fabricate the part you need on the spot, you reduce downtime vs. waiting for a replacement part. On a high volume assembly line, my guess is the cost of a few of hours less downtime can pay for the prototyping machine.

Linux falling behind again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2273904)

Will Linux support these 3D printers, or will the inability of Linux programmers to comply with the upcoming SSSCA make them Windows- and Mac-only, possibly with some proprietary-Unix support?

Looks like Linux is falling behind again, simply because the "community" can't deal with the reality that some things cost money, and are worth purchasing, even rights to use someone else's intellectual property.

Re:Linux falling behind again? (-1)

ubertroll (153053) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273923)

db d888888b d8b db db db db db
88 `88' 888o 88 88 88 `8b d8'
88 88 88V8o 88 88 88 `8bd8'
88 88 88 V8o88 88 88 .dPYb.
88booo. .88. 88 V888 88b d88 .8P Y8.
Y88888P Y888888P VP V8P ~Y8888P' YP YP

.d8888. db db db db .d88b. d8888b. d88888D
88' YP 88 88 `8b d8' .8P 88. 88 `8D YP d8'
`8bo. 88 88 `8bd8' 88 d'88 88oobY' d8'
`Y8b. 88 88 .dPYb. 88 d' 88 88`8b d8'
db 8D 88b d88 .8P Y8. `88 d8' 88 `88. d8' db
`8888Y' ~Y8888P' YP YP `Y88P' 88 YD d88888P

The best thing (0, Offtopic)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273911)

Is that lithography can be used to "machine" parts to greater tolerances than conventional processes. This means that bearings and joints can be more reliable and require less lubrication.

I'm sure you all realize what this could be used for...

Best Real Doll [] ever!


Future of Space Flight? (1)

digital_freedom (453387) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273918)

This may be a great thing for manned space flight and work in treacherous conditions. Imagine if the supply vehicles sent up to the ISS were unloaded of contents and then disassembled to provide raw material for use in case a part failed. They would have a 3-d fabricator on the station that they could use to manufacture many simple parts like rods, sheets, bolts, etc... It could make sending up supply ships much more efficient. Then after something breaks, you break it down to raw material for re-fabrication or for other tools.
NASA could keep breaking down the station and rebuilding it with its own raw material. Oooh borg-like. This could also be useful for some underwater stations/vessels and arctic or oil drilling where it is hard to get stuff shipped to people.
Then if they could just get replicators to replicate themselves...

Re:Future of Space Flight? (4, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273993)

This is cool.

Reading the novel of 2001 it said that Discovery had 2 or 3 spare parts for every piece on the ship.

With a replicator/printer like this you can estimate how many of which parts might fail, send up X amount of polycarbonate/Aluminum/Steel and a 3D "Printer" along with spares for other things that can't be replicated, thus saving alot of space that might otherwise be taken up by spare "replicatable" parts.

I can see this also being of great benefit to the Navy and Air Force for replicating complex CAD designed airframe parts instead of waiting for a replacement to be flown in by COD or Airlift. The USAF Europe had a fleet of little cargo aircraft just for flying parts around Europe.

Why ship a LHA or LST to Korea with bins full of nuts, bolts, screws that might not be used and will just sit there and get lost or rust when you can ship 3D printers and bulk materials and fabricate them on the fly?

Is this really the FIRST case of this? (1)

caffeineboy (44704) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273922)

It seems that parts have been produced using stereolithographic techniques for years... While using a fused resin part for investment casting is not direct fabrication, that seems close enough to me.

There is a lot cooler stuff than this going on right now.. Take a look at []
this for some other cool 3-D rapid prototyping systems that are in development. The LENS system (about halfway down) is especially cool since they can form parts directly using materials that are difficult to form otherwise (strange Ti alloys), and change the composition and cooling rates along the length of the part...

Oh, and where the hell was this guy's boss when he used the quarter million dollar rapid prototyper to make a two dollar aluminum pulley for a sander... Don't even tell me that polycarbonate will be a good substitute for a pulley in a sander which was originally made from aluminum.

This does have very cool applications in fabrication of replica parts for antique cars and the like... It would be cool to go down to NAPA in 10 years and have them print out brake pad rubber for my subaru...

Re:Is this really the FIRST case of this? (1)

Chakat (320875) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273991)

This is probably the first production (non-laboratory) use of this part. And if I were this guy's boss, I would commend him, as this is one of the uses of rapid prototyping equipment - building replacement parts on the fly.

Besides, this was a temporary fix. They didn't have any downtime while they waited for a replacement pulley to come in, so they figured what the hell. It was obvious from the article that this is a business that any downtime is a Bad Thing, so he may have saved the company thousands of dollars due to the fact that they were up while the part was down.

No (2)

joss (1346) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274106)

I worked at for several years. The SLA machines produce parts from photosensitive resin that have very good material properties and several companies used these parts directly in machines with good results. In fact, one company found that the replacement worked better as a small piece in a vacuum cleaner than the material they were using. They wanted to switch until they found out this stuff cost > $100/litre.

A more interesting useage was the rapid casting technology where they create a hollow inverse of the part, fill it with some kind of metallic powder and then use that directly to manafacture small runs of real parts.

just when i'm trying to read... (1)

J05H (5625) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273924)

my morning space news, you bastards had to link to and put the slashdot effect on it. dammit. you hosed my favorite space news site.

production situations (4, Interesting)

perdida (251676) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273932)

"Although we have many sanders throughout the shop, most of them are continuously used. I didn't have to make the decision to pull a sander away from a less-critical production line. I was able to keep right on going. If we would have had to wait for a new part, that production line would have been down for a few days. It's been a month now, and the belt sander is still going strong.

"Now if anyone asks me about the durability of the rapid prototype parts that come off the Titan, I take them over to the sanding station and tell them the story. You can see the sparks flying off the sander and hear it grinding away - it really opens some eyes. I have an aluminum replacement pulley now, but I'm in no hurry to install it. With the way this one has performed, I want to see how long it lasts!"

This is a bit of a hype situation for several reasons.

First of all, a production situation is rife with bureacracy and regulation. A polycarbonate part cannot always replace a metal or ceramic part, and to alter the machines in a way that would impart agility and flexibility -- the very purpose of the "3-d printer" - would take a mountain of paperwork.

This leads into a second critique. Globalization confers both interdependence and indepdendence.
Right now, production facilities are dependent on parts from distant places.

If facilities can design and fabricate new parts, and put them into use, at various backwaters all over the place, this will place many office workers -- and, perhaps, the entire concept of a centralized "headquarters" -- into obsolescence.

Re:production situations (1)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274145)

Aren't you being a bit critical?

practical application #522 (1)

turbine216 (458014) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273935)

...and in only three days, it can replicate velociraptor larynxes!!!

(come one, somebody else has to have seen Jurassic Park 3...)

Re:practical application #522 (1)

Mr. Quick (35198) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273990)

i got it...

i wish i had my $12(CAN) back for that piece of trash....

Re:practical application #522 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2274043)

you and me both, man...

you and me both.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (2, Insightful)

ehud42 (314607) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273958)

Back in shops class (well over 10 years ago, when I was just entering my teenage years and didn't care about school...) we played around with plastics that could be remolded if we screwed up. I'm sure plastics have improved.

I see a huge benefit here. Send a 3D printer and a bucket of resuable plastic to a remote location (South Pole, remote desert, under water research, even space). Metal tools are expensive, heavy and take up a lot of room to have every wrench size required. If the machine could make a spanner that had enough strenght to fix one or two things, then broke - who cares. Just reuse the plastic. Need a different tool? Just reuse the plastic.

Obviously, critical tools should always be on hand and made from appropriate material.

Also, equally obvious (or should be), standardizing on style of screw heads, socket sizes, etc. should make parts more interchangeable and keep the number of tools required to a minimum.

repliclator? (2, Interesting)

dermotfitz (470733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273962)

Well I think replicator is a total misnomer. I am pretty sure that in this case the engineer involved drew up a 3D rendering of the part he wanted including any microstructure (he could have made it hollow if he wanted).
I mean it's not like this thing scanned in the broken pulley and made a replica based on the scan.
Now I know they can do this (someone mentioned a Godzirra) and I saw on Beyond 2000 (10 years ago) how this thing was used in surgery. A guy had his skull smashed to bits in an accident. They did an MRI and built a model of his skull including the broken bits. This enabled the surgeons to examine the fragments and figure the best way to put them back together (of course this was before they operated).
I thought that was a way cooler implementation and closer to a true replicator.

I'm really worried about replicatiors in our world (2, Insightful)

einTier (33752) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273965)

In our world of absolute copyright protection, that is. I see a day, not now, and not ten years from now, but certainly in a hundred, where a replicator is simply a molecular printer, or molecular copy machine. You'll simply put in the raw elemental materials in one end, and your product will come out the other.

This would be great for mankind, as the cost of production would be driven down dramatically, and you could literally have whatever you wanted for the cost of the raw materials to build it. I think in a world with laws as ours were even twenty years ago, this might be possible. A molecular Xerox machine certainly, a printer with downloadable "templates" might require a small fee for the templates for a limited time.

But, in our copyright driven world today, I see a future will these machines will not be allowed to exist at all -- or if they are, they will be tightly regulated and locked down. They will only be usable in production plants, by licensed professionals, and only for reproduction of the respective company's own products. Using GE's replicator to build a 1960's Ferrari GTO, though possible, will be quite illegal.

I'm afraid that we are seriously heading down this path, and rather than helping everyone, we'll be keeping prices artifically high and helping a few select companies who happen have more money than everyone else to begin with.

Downtime would not be as severe as article says (2, Insightful) (312621) | more than 12 years ago | (#2273971)

The example given of the replacement pully, while very cool, is not as exciting as it seems. As they had that 3-d printing CAD-CAM equipment, of course that is what they used.

For other, less technically inclined companies, a production manager would have a replacement pully fabricated by either an onsite maintainance department, or an on-call machinist. Critical production lines can't wait for the FedEx truck to show up.

It's really cool that this type of technology is implemented, but downtime on the line would be minimized regardless of technologies available.

Only if (1)

ElDuque (267493) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274018)

"Tea, earl grey, hot"

Re:Only if (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2274204)

"Geek, Star Trek, stupid, annoying"

Available to Joe Sixpack? (1)

Kamelion (12129) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274023)

There could be a lucritive bussiness opertunity here.

I would love to see 3D printers begin to show up in places like Kinkos. These things would be a modellers dream! Imagine being able to fabricate your own model parts! If you can model it in virtual space, getting a real space equivalent is a matter of hitting print!

Does anyone know of someplace which is offering access to these printers to paying customers? I would be perfectly happy to email CAD plans to a fabricator if I could get a quick, cheap kit of parts back in the mail.

Durability concerns... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274035)

Umm, I've had a plastic part generated by one of these "santa claus" machines... the 3d printer/fabricator/etc... and the durability of anything that comes out is highly questionable. First the things stink to high heaven from the resins, they are cleaned so they aren't sticky anymore but they are easily broken. I would reccomend putting a module onto the ISS that has a CNC, Lathe, and a milling machine capable of working at least aluminum. That way they can make plastic parts also.

Next Great Use: Adult Toys (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2274036)

Made to order. Size, texture, and proportion of your choice. Fewer choices of colors.

You think I'm kidding, right? Just wait till the right person reads this....

A look into the future? (2)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274044)

"I had a CAD model of the pulley drawn up, and we built it from polycarbonate on the Titan. It took only a couple of hours to run the part. We bolted the pulley on and continued with production."

Interesting. Might we see more factories, one day maybe even homes, with replicators and CAD databases of all the small mechanical objects in them so that, if one breaks, we replicate a replacement and just order more polycarbonate goo from some company the next day? I can see it now: cars, planes, houses, factories, printers... everything coming with a CAD database containing all its mechanical parts.

An afterthought... (2)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274054)

This is the point where physical items become information, which means we can send them over the internet... good-bye UPS.

dozens at SIGGRAPH 2001 (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274056)

Their main use was to "materialize" the designs
of graphic artists. Also they were QC tools of
object-scanning machines.

Rapid Prototyping Machine (1, Informative)

rootmonkey (457887) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274064)

I used to goto Milwaukee School Of Engineering (MSOE) they have one of the top research labs [] for rapid prototyping. You can do more than make replacement parts. Molecular models and biological models can also be made. Once they recreated a human jaw bone to help solve a crime.
Here is an overview of how rapid protyping works. here []

Reminds me of the classic... (5, Funny)

msheppard (150231) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274079)

Xerox officials held an emergency press conference Wedensday to announce a
total recall of all Reprotron 5000 Three-Dimensional Copy Machines.

Xerox stock has plummeted to a new all-time low since the release of the
innovative device. Xerox hailed the Reprotron 5000 as a "new revolution in
copying" when it introduced the machine just two weeks ago, and market
insiders were certain that the copier would send Xerox stock through the

At a demonstration of the Reprotron in August, Xerox staffers made full
three-dimensional copies of an Oriental vase, a bowl of fruit, and a perfect
red rose. Reporters were invited to sample apples and oranges copied from
the original fruit, though Xerox technicians did warn that the copied fruit
might taste slightly of toner. John Thompson (inventor of the Reprotron)
stepped forward to make a copy of a Manhattan phone book, but accidentally
copied his hand and forearm. He quickly disposed of the highly detailed,
frantically wiggling half-limb as it slid out of the copier's delivery slot.

But Xerox wasn't ready for what happened next. "We assumed that people would
behave as responsible, thinking human beings with this copier, and obviously
we were wrong," Thompson states. From all across the USA, reports have been
filing in of the copier being used in what Thompson calls "sick, greedy

At a Copy Center in Austin, Texas, a couple was arrested for making 15
copies of their three-year-old son, Jeremy, and then refusing to pay for the
copies, claiming that some of the new children were "smudged." Local
authorities were uncertain as to which charges should be pressed.

In Union City, Arizona, Treasury Department officials are investigating
reports of a secretary who allegedly copied a single bar of gold bullion 150
times. A task force investigator stated, "Granted, it takes money to make
money, but we're almost certain that this action is in violation of some

Xerox officials are also under fire from consumers, due to rumors that the
three-dimensional copying technology is imperfect. Harold Butz of Peoria,
Pennsylvania, made a copy of a common cement brick spray-painted gold. Butz
claims he was "shocked and dismayed" when he discovered that the
machine-made copy was 22-karat solid gold. "All I wanted was a really good
copy of a cement brick spray-painted gold'" Butz stated. "What the hell am I
going to do with this thing?"

Xerox plans to scrap all the machines they are able to recall, but Thompson
expressed concern over the so-called "black market Reprotrons."

"Apparently some sick and greedy people discovered that if they had two
machines, they could use one to make a working copy of the other," Thompson
revealed. "To tell the truth, we only sold two machines in all - to the
Cappelli family, a New Jersey based Meat packing firm. These copy pirates
should be aware that as with anything that is copied from a copy and so on,
there are bound to be defects in the copies produced. We have no idea what
kind of stuff will pop out of the slot when a person copies something on a
fourth- or fifth-generation machine." Thompson declined to comment on
reports that hundreds of the pirated machines have a human thumb attached to
the coin slot which constantly wiggles - the result of a person's thumb
getting in the way during one of the original copier-to-copier copies.

"Ultimately, we're not too worried," Thompson stated. "People owning the
copiers will eventually run out of the fluid that make the machine work, and
we've taken all the fluid off the market. A machine can only last two weeks
or so without a fluid refill, and there won't be any fluid refills." When
asked why people with copiers couldn't simply make copies of the fluid
cannisters they already have, Xerox officials hastily ended the press
conference, stating that they "need to reconsider a few things."

Maxim... (1)

Caball (58351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274142)

Magazine had an article on this... it was 2 or 3 months ago.

Copyright implications? (2)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274216)

Anyone know if a good replicator could violate any copyright laws in some interesting ways?

Just trying to get the discussion on the proper Slashdot track...

When are we going to have REAL replicators (1)

AnalogBoy (51094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2274243)

Im sure one of you people out there have a link to some scientific article about the closeness of molecular construction of whatever we want/transporters/etc.... I wonder how close we are to a real replicator.. or, more importantly, a real holodeck. You know everyone would have one, and nobody would leave.

You'd have to spend 8 hours a day though in it running an "Office" program you can't cancel.
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