Tech-knowledgey: Drake recieves 3D printer, possibilites endless but regulated

Three-dimensional printing is a relatively new technology to the mass market and here at the College at Brockport. The college’s Drake Memorial Library received a 3D printer, MakerBot Replicator 2, that is capable of taking a computer made design and replicating to a resolution of 100 microns (one millionth of a meter) and with a build volume of 410 cubic inches (7 inches x 7 inches x 7 inches). So in theory, yes, you could make a coffee mug. However, student and faculty access to the printer is regulated so that all projects are reviewed before they’re printed.

3D printerThe printer prints by layering 2D layers of plastic or other materials over and over until the final 3D design is achieved. The plastic is laid down by heating it to its melting point and then applying tiny drops. Those drops cool to form a cross section which then forms the structure of the design. When the entire process is done, the end result is a sturdy plastic piece made custom for your use.

Remember the movie anti-piracy campaign that said, “You wouldn’t download a car, would you?” Most answered, “yes,” and now thanks to 3D printing, you can not only download a car but build it too, although it will only be a toy car.

The MakerBot is considered to have a larger build volume than most other 3D printers but there are still issues with such a small volume. This means that the ideal use for a 3D printer is to make small parts or modelling tools which is very appealing to hobbyists. It’s also good for making prototype designs of what would become a bigger project.

One of the craziest things about this technology is that it is potentially self-replicating. Blueprints can be found on the Internet to build structures and other components to build the barebone structure of a 3D printer and all that remains after that is putting together the electronics and supplies.

There’s some controversy around 3D printers as well. Considering that people with access to a device like this can print relatively anything without too much regulation, not referring to Brockport’s printer which is adequately regulated, certain devices can be manufactured that are dangerous or otherwise illegal to produce. In 2012, Cody Wilson produced a firearm capable of firing rounds. Many others have done similar things making rifles and such and now the government seeks to regulate 3D manufacturing.

 

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Source: thestylus.net

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