We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Cheap 3D printing is getting better

I receive emails from Google about, among other things, 3D printing. These 3D printing emails link to pieces that mostly confirm my current prejudice about 3D printing, which is that it is an addition to the technological armoury of current manufacturers rather than any sort of domesticated challenge to the conventional idea of manufacturing being done by manufacturers. Far from making manufacturing less skilled, 3D printing is, as of now, making manufacturing more skilled. Which is good news for all rich countries whose economic edge is provided by being able to deploy an educated rather than merely industrious workforce.

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3D printing as blogging

Here is a short (under four minutes) video, of a designer and exhibition curator Tom Dixon talking about the changes being brought to the world by 3D printing.

Whenever something new comes along, people typically describe it with a noun which says what it is like, but also with an adjective attached to explain how it is different from that. Think “horseless carriage”. (What will “driverless cars” be called twenty years from now?)

So it has been with 3D printing. This is “printing”, sort of, but not printing as we know it.

Listening to Dixon makes me think is that
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3D printing an entire car

Several months ago I instructed the internet to tell me about anything concerning 3D printing, but I usually now file the resulting emails under: to be looked at later if at all. People saying they have worked out how to make ever more intricate and ever more tasteless and 70s-ish napkin rings no longer excite me that much. Okay, I get it. The technique works. But come on. A napkin ring? That takes four hours to get made? (That’s how long the damn video goes on for! Although I now learn from another video at the same site that the
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3D printing won’t be domesticated any time soon (but then again how it might)

The internet has a standing order from me to send me any news stories it has about 3D printing, and I am beginning to get a feel for how this story is playing out. (Maybe, what do I know?, etc.)

My first guess was that 3D printers are something like laser printers, which would accordingly soon enter all our homes, but I now think that’s wrong. 3D printing is not an enhancement of domesticity, or not yet. It is already, and has been for quite a few years, a technological development technique, and it is now morphing into a manufacturing
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Russ Mitchell on the 3D printing revolution – and its current limitations

“Russ in Texas” (actual name: Russ Mitchell) commented most interestingly on this posting here about 3D printing, the point being that he had, or soon would have, personal experience of actually doing this stuff. I urged him to write about any such experience, and here (with apologies to him for the delay in doing this posting) is the email he recently sent:

Here’s my experience:

3d Printing is mature and ready to go NOW – if you need something in plastic, resin, or maybe ceramics.   If you need functional metal parts, the revolution is not here yet.

Background: decent-enough 3d
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3D printing materials

3D printing is about to change the world, the news app on my tablet is telling me (as has Brian Micklethwait, for some time). Although the technique has been used for years for making 3D mock-ups, advances in materials mean that it is increasingly used to make the real thing.

But for years, the plastics and the metals that were used were just not robust enough to create a prototype that you could be proud of. They resembled paraffin waxes. They could create the parts, but those parts tended to be flimsy. Because the end product didn’t have structural integrity,
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3D printing for all

If you are depressed about the economic state of the world, one way to cheer yourself up is to google things like “fracking” or “natural gas”. Another is to try “3D printing”. That was how I found my way to this piece, about a company which has started selling 3D printers to … people. From what I can make out, each printer now costs something like two thousand dollars, more or less, depending on whether you want it ready to roll or are willing to assemble it yourself.

I can think of three things, right away, that are bound to
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They are getting nearer to 3D printing

… or so they say:

As IDF came to a close, Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer, presented a keynote speech in which he explained just how close the outfit was to realizing “programmable matter.” Granted, he did confess that end products were still years away, but researchers have been looking at ways to “make an object of any imaginable shape,” where users could simply hit a print button and watch the matter “take that shape.” He also explained that the idea of programmable matter “revolves around tiny glass spheres with processing power and photovoltaic for generating electricity to run
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3D printed glass!

One of the dominant themes of architectural development of the last few decades, and never more so than right now, is the architectural use of glass. Architectural glass used to be a means by which Architectural Modernists could fry, freeze and embarrass the lower orders, in the name of Architectural Modernism. Transparency, “structural honesty”, blah blah. But in the last few decades architectural glass has got hugely better and more varied, and architectural modernity has gone from ugly and clunky to really quite stylish, at least when they are trying.

And now, here is favourite-website-of-mine Dezeen, reporting on what the
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Samizdata quote of the day

Which raises the question: into which model do men and women fit? As I said before, women seem to prefer working in sprawling bureaucracies masquerading as support functions in huge companies. Men tend to drift towards the sharp end of the business where the core function is carried out and the most value added. I am also fairly certain that it will be men who are setting up the small, nimble businesses that aim to cash in on technologies such as the Internet, drones, and 3D printing. There will be female entrepreneurs, but their numbers will be dwarfed by those
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Thoughts on two bits of public sculpture – in Senegal and in London

One of the saddest recent facts about the world, and especially the twentieth century world is that the Devil has tended to have the best tunes, the best pictures and the best public sculpture.

By the middle of the twentieth century, World War 2 having been at least partly won by some of the Good Guys, many officially encouraged Artists in the rich West had come to associate all tunefulness and all pictorial or sculptural communicativeness with evil, and to shun artistic communicativeness on purpose. Is this picture telling a story? Does that symphony have lots of tunes? Is this
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Rob Fisher talking about Open Source Software

My next Last Friday of the Month speaker, this coming Friday (April 26) will be Samizdata’s own Rob Fisher, who has emailed me thus:

These are my notes for the ‘introduction’ section of my talk. I think this should give you a flavour of what to expect:

I am going to talk about open source software.

I am calling it “open source” but as we will see there are variations on that theme.

I will talk about the history because it tells us things about the motivations of the people who work on open source software.

I will also talk
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