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Comment: Re:Don't Miss The Point (Score 2) 103

by Rei (#47946717) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

Services like that exist online, and they're excellent, albeit rather slow. I personally use iMaterialize because they have such a wide range of material options (everything from rubber to titanium) and finishes (for example, 4 different options for silver), but there's lots of others out there, and some are cheaper.

If you've ever played around with 3d modelling, I definitely recommend giving 3d printing a try, even if just a little test piece. :) Note that plastics are a lot cheaper than metals, although metals look the coolest.

Comment: Re:Novelty (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47946611) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

What sort of 3d prints are you looking at?

Perhaps my expectations of 3d printers are too high because I buy from professional 3d printing services rather than using a low-end home 3d printer. They use high end products and sometimes do post-printing finishing work. But the quality of the stuff you can get is truly excellent, and out of a very wide range of materials.

Comment: Re:This is so 2012. (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47946585) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

Isn't that now the limiting factor?

So we have 3d printers in stores. Now we need all of the home devices that could potentially need spare parts printed to be available online, preferably in a unified database. You need manufacturer buy-in. Maybe some sort of certification mark that manufacturers can stick on their devices to show that printable replacement part models are freely available. I could use a new cheese compartment door in my fridge right now, for example. And I live in Iceland where shipping times are long and shipping costs / import duties high, so it'd make time and economic sense to print, too. But while having a 3d printer would be great, if the model isn't available, how does that help me?

Of course some companies, like iRobot, rely on profiting off of selling their spare parts.

Comment: Re:Wrong type of machine for Dremel (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47946453) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

It does seem rather weird to treat it as an intractable problem. Are we really talking about something that's AI-Complete here, like natural language understanding? Something not succeptible to a combination of chained rules, physics calculations, and statistical analysis? I seriously doubt it. So different machines can act differently due to wear, etc? Gee, people have never written programs to deal with that before, heavens no. So some things may require a decision from the operator, like whether to restart a defective piece or try to salvage it? Gee, I've never heard of a program asking the user a question during operation before! A piece of "printing" hardware experiencing a jam of some kind and needing manual intervention? Gee, nobody has ever experienced that one before!

I'm not saying that CNC machines and 3d printers are equivalent and that you can just swap a CNC machine in to the sort of role 3d printers are intended for. Of course the task of gouging out steel with power tools is a more intensive one than writing out plastic in layers with a slightly more advanced version of a hot glue gun. But we're not talking about creating superintelligent cyborgs here, we're talking about analyzing physical processes, including their various failure modes, and when a decision or action is required, presenting the user with the information needed to do that.

Comment: Re:This is so 2012. (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47944167) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

Oh, and in #2, sound insulation would also be very important, both for the compressor (if compressed air is used, rather than bottled oxygen) and for the jet itself (which is basically like a tiny rocket engine). And I guess the filter isn't just about removing any incomplete combustion products from the exhaust, but also any dust or the like.

Even if it ultimately isn't suited for, say, a quiet home office, 3d printing isn't really an home office task, we're more talking about a "garage workshop" sort of thing. I'm just curious whether anyone has pursued such an approach, because at a glance it sure looks to have potential for making a very broadly capable product. I mean, such a system should even be capable of printing electronics, including resistors, capacitors, etc, maybe even some types of batteries (not anything requiring extreme precision, like a CPU, and li-ion batteries would be right out due to the thin, sensitive and rather complex membrane needed, there's no way you could just deposit that, but still..).

Comment: Re:This is so 2012. (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47944031) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

There's two types of processes that I'm surprised I've not seen more focus on.

1) Printing of, and then filling of molds, which can then be melted down and reused. That's how the higher-end 3d printed parts that you can buy online made, including almost all 3d-printed metal parts you get from online 3d printing services (the extra steps for metal being to coat the mold in a ceramic shell and melt away the mold). The only commercial 3d-printed metal that I'm aware of that doesn't work in this manner is iMaterialize's titanium, which uses laser sintering - and it has an out-of-this-world price tag.

It seems to me that if you used a mold, while in several ways it complicates the process (extra steps, preventing adherence to the molded object, etc), in others, it simplifies it. Your print heads don't need to handle a variety of materials or produce a pretty or durable product. They still need to be able to produce fine surface details but the ability to print thin structures loses importance. Once you've got a mold, you open up the floodgates to the sort of products you can fill it with, anything that will harden either through cooling or via chemical reaction, anything from thermoset plastics to candy.

(note I'm not envisioning a little hobby home printer that fills molds with molten metal in your office, mind you... although I could envision a more garage-scale or small industrial scale version that could handle such a task)

2) I've never even heard of a 3d printer being based on thermal spraying. With thermal spraying, you can choose the balance of precision vs. flow rate via nozzle size. Your materials are virtually unlimited, pretty much anything you can turn into a powder. It could conceivably even let you work with metals in a home environment, if the rate was kept low enough that heat buildup wouldn't be a problem (and you'd want an air filter on the exhaust, even though it should be pretty clean). You can choose the temperature and velocity you're spraying at by varying the pressures of compressed air and combustible fuel fed into the chamber with the powder, so you can work both with heat-sensitive and heat-requisite materials, as well as materials that can't stand high velocity impacts and materials that require them. Such a system could likewise do more than just print - it could add and then sectively remove substrates, it could engrave, it could change surface textures by sandblasting/polishing with various materials, it could paint or apply high-performance coatings - pretty much anything you can envision from a device whose fundamental workings are "shoot grains of material of your choosing at a velocity of your choosing (1-1000+m/s) and temperature of your choosing (cold to thousands of degrees)".

In both cases #1 and #2, I'm genuinely curious as to why there's not been more work done with them. Or perhaps there has been work done with them that I'm unaware of? I'm asking as someone who makes and buys 3d printed items online but has never printed one herself.

Comment: Re:A non-UNIX OS in a UNIX world? (Score 1) 541

by squiggleslash (#47935767) Attached to: What To Expect With Windows 9

I wish Microsoft wasn't the only one.

Part of the reason geeks love *ix is because right now the alternative is Windows, and *ix matured rather better than the odd combination of technologies (an API and application model with its roots in Windows 1.0 coupled with a nice-ish kernel with inspiration from the unholy combination of VMS and the 1980s microkernel movement) that's called Windows today.

Throughout my life I've used a variety of different platforms, though the ability to choose something different dried up in the mid-nineties as one by one the alternatives either went bankrupt or became obsolete. Some - at the time I was using them, not now - felt more comfortable, flexible, and ultimately more usable, than *ix. AmigaOS 2.04+ (especially augmented with the GCC tools) would be an example (again, NOT NOW, THEN.) Others, like VMS, were ugly, and horrendous to use or program, but they were still valuable in terms of providing wonderful ideas that, alas, we've ignored since - VMS itself had generic job queues, indexed files right in the file system, a shell that didn't blindly execute files with the same name a command you'd typed, security passed upon roles and permissions, networking built into the file system (think if you could type "cat header.html scp://otherhost/home/squiggleslash/main.html footer.html > blah.html" - that's roughly what I'm talking about), all unfortunately crippled by some clumsy design decisions and a reliance on proprietary hardware.

*ix is great, but for those who've experienced more than Unix and Windows, it's... well, it's kind of like we settled. You know that couple who knew each other at high school, and then after a 20 year absence got married at 40? And they seem OK, but you realize both are bored, and both married because they felt like they were running out of options?

That's us and *ix.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 320

by squiggleslash (#47925799) Attached to: Say Goodbye To That Unwanted U2 Album

Wait, iPhones autoplay music? As in, not only did Apple push the unwanted album to phones, but they then set up the iPhone to play it at full blast whenever you were nearby, forcing you to listen to it?

If that's the case, then that has been left out of the widespread news coverage of the story, which has just concentrated on the "Being uploaded to phones that were set up to automatically download new purchases", which most of us consider a minor inconvenience, if that.

Comment: Re:Lucky them (Score 1) 156

by squiggleslash (#47925323) Attached to: Court Rules the "Google" Trademark Isn't Generic

The results I get seem to be mostly people trying to come up with clever blog titles, not actually cases where someone innocently said "Well, I googled what you asked for, and Bing gave me over a gajillion results."

Indeed, I suspect there are multiple levels here. If someone tells me to "Go google something", I may use Bing in my quest to research whatever it is I've been asked to look up. OTOH, if I say "Well, I googled it, and found...", it'll generally be the case that I'm saying I actually used Google.

Comment: Re:If there was only one viable choice ... (Score 1) 156

by squiggleslash (#47925305) Attached to: Court Rules the "Google" Trademark Isn't Generic

Pro-tip, which I learned recently: Google has actually a hidden (well, obscure, it's there but there's no reason you'd think it does what it does) option that means "Just give me the results using the algorithms you used back when Google was useful." Search Tools -> (All Results) : Verbatim.

No, you can't make it a default. They track that you're probably male, probably interested in tech, and that you'd be a good person to present ads for spiked leather underpants to, but they don't track that you actually want useful search engine results. Sigh.

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