03 November 2007

Imprimanta 3D

Fabberele, imprimantele 3D (capabile sa construiasca un obiect plecand de la un model virtual 3D pe calculator), exista de cateva decenii, insa sunt extrem de scumpe si nu functioneaza decat cu un singur material. Acum exista insa o varianta open-source: Fab@Home. Site-ul e un wiki in care se povesteste cum sa-ti contruiesti singur acasa un fabber. Exista deja si o firma care vinde (la 3000 de dolari) fabbere aroape complet contruite. Fab@Home poate construi obiecte din aproape orice material, de la ceramica si metal pana la plastic si cascaval. Ideea construirii unui fabber open-source i-a venit unui robotician de la Universitatea Cornell, Hod Lipson, care doreste sa faca roboti care sa se inmulteasca. Din Popular Mechanics:
He just wanted to design a really cool robot, one that could “evolve” by reprogramming itself and would also produce its own hardware—a software brain, if you will, with the ability to create a body. To do this, Lipson needed a rapid-prototyping fabrication, or “fabber.” Picture a 3D inkjet printer that deposits droplets of plastic, layer by layer, gradually building up an object of any shape. Fabbers have been around for two decades, but they’ve always been the pricey playthings of high-tech labs—and could only use a single material. “To really let this robotic evolutionary process reach its full potential,” says Lipson, a Cornell University computer and engineering faculty member, “we need a machine that can fabricate anything, not just complex geometry, but also wires and motors and sensors and actuators.” Lipson and his grad student collaborators, Dan Periard and Evan Malone, decided to put the problem to the people. They developed a low-cost, open-source fabbing system—Fab at Home—and encouraged experimentation by starting an online wiki for hobbyists. People report printing with everything from food (Easy Cheese, chocolate), to epoxy, to metal-powder-impregnated silicone to make conductive wires. A Fab at Home kit costs around $2400. Lipson compares it to early kit computers such as the MITS Altair 8800, which democratized computer technology in the 1970s. At-home fabrication, Lipson says, “is a revolution waiting to happen.” As for that robot? Wait a year, he says, and it really will walk out of the machine.
Cea mai complicata chestie produsa pana acum de fabber e o lanterna - functionala: Video al procesului de constructie. Nu e inca replicatorul din Star Trek, dar suntem pe drumul cel bun! Mi se pare ca povestea asta arata si puterea modelului open-source, in opozitie cu modelul traditional al firmelor obsedate de patentarea tehnologiilor.