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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: For What Are You Using 3-D Printing?

An anonymous reader writes: I've been thinking about getting a 3-D printer for a while: the quality is rising, the software is better, STL files really do seem a sufficiently good standard ("sufficiently standard," that is — I'm not worried that printers are going to stop supporting it anytime soon), and prices have dropped quite a bit. Importantly to me, it also seems like less of a jumping-off-a-cliff decision, since I can get a completely assembled one from places as wild and crazy as ... the Home Depot (not that I plan to). However, even practical things I can think of to print can't truly justify, and that's OK — I hope not to require enough replacement knobs and chess pieces to necessarily *need* one, and playing around with it is the main likely upshot, which I'm OK with. But still, I'd like to hear what uses you have been putting your 3-D printer to, including printers that aren't yours but belong to a hackerspace, public library, eccentric neighbor, etc. What actually practical / useful tasks have you been using 3-D printing for, and with what printer technology? It's OK if you just keep printing out those chess pieces and teapots, but I'm curious about less obvious reasons to have one around. (And I might just use the local Tech Shop's anyhow, but the question still applies.)

Comment Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 486

Maybe for light vehicle electric can win if range, cost, refuel time, and the problem of a jump start if you run out of gas on the roads is solved.

Now design a battery that can pull a 440,000 pounds or 200,000 kilograms triple trailer configuration across hundreds of miles of highway. Also look at aviation, liquid fuel is going to be the practical choice far into the future. The motors and batteries also require rare earths with are in short supply and require massive mining operations to supply.

An it's just not a matter in installing fast chargers, widespread adoption would require an overhaul in the electric grid. Especially if you want to source from renewable. It would work best if you could plug in most of the time, but opportunistically recharge when power was available or as needed to stabilize the grid demand, however as more and more EV's come online it gets harder to do this. If you were willing to let the grid borrow from your battery to stabilize fluctuation it would help some, but shifting entirely to non-nuclear renewable is a gargantuan engineering issue. You are still going to need a reliable baseline, be that a superconducting worldwide grid, nuclear, carbon capture coal (which isn't renewable but you can sequester the C02 or use it for synthetic fuels), or biomass (which is environmentally destructive in it's own right).

Additionally with liquid fuels you can keep a months worth or more in the supply pipeline to you don't need to produce the fuel when it is demanded. With EV's you can store some in the vehicle itself but the grid as it is now the power has to be produced as it's pulled into the battery. If 5% of a cities population fueled over the lunch hour no big deal. I 5% were fast charging from the grid you'd get rolling blackouts.

Comment Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 2) 486

Definitely thorium, and it would be even more eficient as you can use the high heat to split water efficiently, but other high temp reactors would work great as well.

Recent navy research has shown it may be easier to concentrate oceanic C02 than atmospheric, meaning we could eventually retrofit old oil platforms with a nuclear core and fill up tankers with synthetic fuels.

Comment Re:The obvious answer (Score 1) 332

Just the water rights are sold, the farmer actually has to operate a well or dig a trench to the nearest canal system.

Retail prices include treatment, long distance transport, and last mile piping, not just the water rights.

And you show your ignorance of water law, first to draw/settle has the highest rights. Urbanized centers without local sources of water actually have to go out and buy up existing rights. In the end Agriculture isn't able to pay the same price so urban can always displace Ag water use, but until it is actually purchased the 80% have the legal right to continue to draw a share of water at cost.

Lawns in places where there isn't enough water to support them is a silly notion in the first place. Kids and people nowadays are hardly outside anyways xeroscaping for the Win!. (Yet you do probably eat milk, hence are a downstream consumer of alfalfa) And the right varieties of grass won't die in low water situations, they just go dormant, and will perk back up when favourable conditions return.

A freelance is one who gets paid by the word -- per piece or perhaps. -- Robert Benchley