Posts Tagged ‘3d printing’

I’m Sick and Tired of 3D Printed Guns

May 29, 2013

For the last few months, every time someone hears that I work with 3D printers they bring up 3D printed guns. I can’t say how many times it has happened in this month alone. And I’m getting really¬†really tired of it.

“They’re the killer app of 3D printers.” What a great pun. You don’t know how funny you are. “They’re the most important thing that will come out of 3D printing.” Everyone who is trying to do amazing things with 3D printers is thrilled to hear you say that.

The only thing that really matters about 3D printed guns is the hype.

You can make a gun with a lathe. You can make a gun with hand tools. And if you did that the gun might actually work.

To the extent guns are “censored” it only takes a tiny bit of effort to get around as it is. (And even if you don’t think the government should control who has guns, there being some barrier to entry for guns is likely still a good idea.)

Some day it will be easy to make guns with 3D printers. And they’ll be completely over shadowed by the massive explosion of innovation 3D printing will cause, as mechanical engineering becomes more like programming and custom objects from parametrized designs become common place. The impact isn’t a single shining glamorous 3D printed object.

But for now all that 3D printed guns and the media hype around them are causing is a bunch of ignoramuses clamouring for the regulation of 3D printers.

And, yes, they’ll fail. Regulating 3D printers is no more practical than, say, copyright.

But you know what? We still have stupid copyright laws that ruin random people’s lives and complicate everyone else’s.

And you know what else? The last time I crossed the US border with a 3D printer I was searched and interrogated for an hour because they were worried I’d print things, sell them, and disrupt the US economy. I’m just not going to find out what would happen if I did this now.

And you know what else? The last time the police decided to put intense scrutiny on my community, it really sucked.

People have the right to 3D print whatever they want. But 3D printing guns is a strategically bad idea that doesn’t really have much impact otherwise. And the hype over 3D printed guns is toxic.


Toronto RepRap User Group #3 = Great Success

March 1, 2012

I was the organizer of the most recent meeting of the Toronto RepRap User Group. It went excellently, with a turn out of about twenty people and five printers. We had a number of talks that were filmed by Socrates from the Singularity Weblog. In all, an awesome outcome!

Atendees look at a printer at the third Toronto RepRap User Group

Attendees also saw the first public demonstration of a collaboration between myself and my friend Rob, a web interface for ImplicitCAD. It’s still very much in development and I won’t be talking about it any further till the release of ImplicitCAD 0.0.2 (in a week or two).

A web interface for ImplicitCAD is demonstrated

You can read more and find links to the videos of the talks at the hacklab blog.

ImplicitCAD 0.0.1 Release

February 6, 2012

I’m pleased to announce the second release of ImplicitCAD: 0.0.1. (The first release was 0.0.0 because 0 is the true first ordinal.)

Variable Twist Extrusion of a Rounded Union in ImplicitCAD

The point of this release is somewhat arbitrarily chosen. We were over due for one and no clean break was in sight. Then I woke up with a nasty headache and couldn’t seem to code, so I thought I’d do a release instead.

I’m going to try and martial together my thoughts and discuss changes in this release and what’s coming up. The TL;DR is that ImplicitCAD is going exciting places and if you are willing to tolerate bugs and file bug reports, you should become a beta user for it.


Open Source 3D Printing: The Printers, Toolchain, & Things (GTALUG talk)

November 10, 2011

Last night I gave a talk, “Open Source 3D Printing: The Printers, Toolchain, & Things”, at the Greater Toronto Area Linux User Group (GTALUG). In addition to being the longest talk I’ve given thus far, at 90 minutes, I think it was the best. I feel more relaxed and in control with every talk I give.

For reference, I’m making the slideshow available.

Producing Lenses with 3D Printers (OHJ Paper)

November 9, 2011

I finally wrote up my results on producing lenses with 3D printers, which I’ve been working on since September, as a paper which I submitted to the Open Hardware Journal. It was published in their first issue (stand alone PDF of my paper) at the beginning of the month.

Chris Olah's 3D printer produced lens mangifies text on a poster

A number of people were excited by my paper, and I’ve had several email correspondences about it since publication. NBitWonder had a post about it.

It’s exciting to see such interest in my work.

NYC Maker Faire Talk: Programmatic CAD

September 22, 2011

In addition to running a booth at Maker Faire this weekend, I gave a talk on programmatic CAD and its future.

My only public speaking experience prior to this was doing was doing workshops at hacklab and presentations to my classmates in high school and while this was a non-trivial amount of practice (in grade 10, I ended up teaching two semesters of the physics course I was taking in the form of seminars every class because the teacher didn’t know anything) it was all small scale (at max 15 people), highly interactive and mostly improvised on the spot. In other words, nothing at all like speaking at NYC Maker Faire.


Surface-Oriented CAD, Math, & Telescopes

July 16, 2011

surfcad is a python proof-of-concept CAD library I’ve been writing for what I call “surface-oriented CAD”.

The idea came to me when I realized that some of things I’d been trying to make in openscad, a CSG based CAD program, would have been much easier to do in the software I’d written for making models of mathematical objects (eg. this model of a solution the diffusion equation). In this software, surface were constructed based on mathematical functions. One had to think to make sure that their object was closed, but it was possible to describe things that would have been prohibitively difficult in a CAD program like openscad. (more…)

To Print A Vacuum Cleaner

March 23, 2011

An assemebelled version of Christopher Olah's 3D printable handheld vacuum cleaner.

Hacklab was getting dusty and the roombas couldn’t get in the corners. So I designed a printable hand-held vacuum cleaner. It works, for some definition of works. (more…)

Hacklab Reprap Coolness 2

January 24, 2011

So what’s happened since my last post on the Hacklab RepRap? Quite a lot.


Hacklab RepRap Coolness

January 9, 2011
Prusa Vertex vs New (hacklab) Vertex

Prusa Vertex vs New (hacklab) Vertex

A couple months ago, myself and some other hacklabers branched the Prusa Mendel RepRap and started working on it. I wanted to post about a cool feature Rob and me have been working on.


Fused ABS Filament

December 10, 2010

Fused ABS Filament, multiple colours

It’s a bit tricky, but it turns out that it is possible to fuse segments of ABS filament into one with a hot air gun.

The trick seems to be to not squeeze them together until all the melted plastic is out from between them but only part way, let them cool and then sand the rim down…

In any case, this is hopefully the start of printing multi-colored things spree!

Ideally, I’d like a thin metal rod that I can melt plastic inside and extrude to get multi-colour filament. Not only would it be easier, but it might be possible to use tiny pieces of filament in succession to get arbitrary colours like pulse modulation.

Multi-Colour 3D Printing by Filament Swapping

December 8, 2010

Multi-Color Diffusion Eq (c=1,x real, u(x,0)=H(x)) black red pink by Christopher olah

The above picture is solution to the diffusion equation u_t = u_xx; ~~ t \in [0,\infty),~ x \in \mathbb{R} with the initial conditions u(x,0) = \{ 0 ~ x>0, 1 ~ x\geq 0. (WordPress doesn’t seem to like the array environment…)

English Translation: If you imagine a metal bar heated up on one side, as time progresses the temperature will even out. This is a plot of the temperature with one side being the length of the rod and the other being time.

But that’s probably not too interesting to most people reading this post. The interesting things is how I got the multi-colour object.

It was made by feeding one short piece of filament into the printer after another, during the print job. It was surprising to see how nicely one colour faded into the next.

Unfortunately, this broke the Break-R-Bot Maker Bot. The problem was that there was a sharp point on one filament that deflected the next one to the side. It was easy enough to fix (thanks to Rob for helping me!), but it seems like a bad idea to test it again oh the hacklab printer. I’m building my own, so the experiments should continue in a few weeks, anyway.

It seems like the problem should be possible to avoid as long as one makes sure that the filaments have flat ends. I am also planning to experiment with using a hot air gun to fuse pieces of filament.

(Thanks to Stefan for taking the picture of the models for me!)

3D printing of Mathematical Objects!

August 21, 2010




Back in the fall I did some work on getting‘s 3d-printer to print mathematical objects created in sage. Unfortunately, shortly after I got it to work and printed a test sphere, the 3d printer broke. Thus began a long succession of the makerbot — nicknamed the break-r-bot — being fixed and broken… spending most of its time broken.

But recently it was fixed and I decided to dig out my old code and get to work on it.