Robotics

Philadelphia Hackers and Others Offer Brotherly Love To Fallen Robot 91

An anonymous reader writes: Since a hitchhiking robot was destroyed in Philadelphia over the weekend, there has been an overwhelming show of support according to its co-creators Frauke Zeller and David Smith. Makers from all over Philly have reached out and offered to help rebuild the robot. "We'll say that at this moment, if we get the OK from the creators to repair or replace the needed parts for HitchBOT, we'll be happy to do so," wrote Georgia Guthrie, executive director for a local makerspace called The Hacktory. "If not, we understand and we may just build ourselves a HitchBot2 to send along on its journey. We feel it's the least we can do to let everyone, especially the Robot community, know that Philly isn't so bad."
The Military

US Navy Tests 3D Printing Custom Drones On Its Ships 66

itwbennett writes: Researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School are testing the use of 3D printers on ships to produce custom drones outfitted for specialized missions. The idea, said Alan Jaeger, a faculty research associate at the school, is that ships could set sail with kits of the core electronics parts, since they are common to most drones, but have the bodies designed according to specific requirements for each mission. A prototype drone was designed by engineers on shore based on requirements of the sailors at sea, and the 3D design file was emailed to the USS Essex over a satellite link. Flight tests revealed some of the potential problems, most of which were associated with operating the drone rather than the printing itself, Jaeger said. 'Even with a small amount of wind, something this small will get buffeted around,' he said. They also had to figure out the logistics of launching a drone from a ship, getting it back, how it integrated with other flight operations, and interference from other radio sources like radar.
China

The Factory of the World - Documentary On Manufacturing In Shenzhen 34

szczys writes: This Hackaday documentary (video) looks at the changing ecosystem of manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, China) through interviews with product engineers involved with the MIT Media Lab manufacturing program, Finance professionals in Hong Kong, and notables in the Maker Industry. Worth checking out for anyone thinking of a hardware startup or just interested in how hardware gets made.
Hardware Hacking

Video You3dit is Working to Help Crowdsource 3D Design and Printing (Video) 12

The example you3dit (You 3D It) person Chris McCoy uses in this video is a prosthetic hand they wanted to make because one of their people lost fingers in a construction accident. Instead of drawing up plans for a new hand, they searched online -- and found enablingthefuture.org, which is all about making 3-D printed prosthetic hands. Using a predesigned hand was obviously much simpler than starting from scratch, and was totally in line with the Open Source "Why reinvent the wheel?" philosophy.

So you3dit helps make 3-D printed items of one sort or another, and can either print them for you at their place or help you find someone local to help with the printing, assuming you can't do it yourself. As you might expect, they did a Kickstarter project. It was for a product called Raver Rings. Unlike many Kickstarter projects we mention on Slashdot, this one didn't fly. In fact, it only got $2,275 in pledges against a $10,000 goal. No matter. There are many other useful things the you3dit community can make -- or help you make -- without Kickstarter.
Printer

Tortoise Gets a new 3D Printed Shell After Forest Fire 57

ErnieKey writes: Fred, a Red-Footed Tortoise in Santos, São Paulo, Brazil, was unfortunately caught up in a recent forest fire that deteriorated the majority of his shell. He needed a new shell in order to survive, so veterinarians in Santos teamed up with a dentist and a graphical designer to create a new 3D printed shell for Fred that was ultimately surgically placed on the tortoise. From the 3dPrint story: "Fred unfortunately came down with a terrible case of pneumonia post-surgery, which prevented him from eating for about a month and a half, but in the end survived and is now doing very well with his new 3D printed shell. The shell, which was printed with the same PLA material that is found on most desktop 3D printers, has been holding up very well, although researchers are not exactly sure how long it will hold up for or if Fred will be able to be released into the wild."
China

Chinese Girl Receives Full Skull Reconstruction Via 3D Printing 99

ErnieKey writes: Doctors in China have just successfully performed a groundbreaking surgery on a 3-year-old little girl named Han Han. Han Han was suffering from congenital hydrocephalus which caused her head to grow to four times the normal size. If something wasn't done, she probably wouldn't have lived much longer. This is when surgeons at the Second People's Hospital of Hunan Province elected to remove a large portion of her skull and replace it with a 3d printed titanium mesh skull. The results were truly amazing, and Han Han is expected to make a full recovery.
The Almighty Buck

A 'Star Trek' Economic System May Be Closer Than You Think 503

HughPickens.com writes: Anna North writes about "Star Trek'"s "post-economic" system, in which money no longer exists and anything you want can be made in a replicator, essentially for free. According to Manu Saadia, the author of "Trekonomics," a forthcoming book about the economics of the "Star Trek" universe, when everything is free objects will no longer be status symbols. Success will be measured in achievements, not in money: ""Instead of working to become more wealthy, you work to increase your reputation," says Saadia. "You work to increase your prestige. You want to be the best captain or the best scientist in the entire galaxy. And many other people are working to do that, as well. It's very meritocratic."

In a time of rising inequality and stagnating wages, a world where everyone's needs are met and people only work if they feel like it seems pretty far away but a post-scarcity economy is actually far more within reach than the technological advances for which "Star Trek" is better known. If productivity growth continues, Saadia believes there will be much more wealth to go around in a few hundred years' time. In general, society might look more like present-day New Zealand, which he sees as less work-obsessed than the United States: "You work to live rather than the other way round." Wealthy retirees today also already live an essentially post-money existence, "traveling and exploring and deepening their understanding of the world and being generally happy." According to Saadia we're beginning to get a few hints of what the post-money, reputation-based economy might look like. "If you look at things like Instagram, Vine, places where people put a huge amount of work into basically just gaining a certain amount of reputation, it's fascinating to see. Or even Wikipedia, for that matter. The Internet has begun to give us a hint of how much people will work, for no money, just for reputation."
Education

BBC Reveals Its New Microcomputer Design 97

The BBC has revealed the final design for its Micro Bit computer, a programmable board the size of a credit card they hope will inspire the same love of technology that the BBC Micro did in 1981. The Micro Bit includes an array of LEDs, buttons, and a motion sensor. It can be powered via USB, or by an addon pack with AA batteries. It's not intended as a competitor to devices like the Raspberry Pi or the Arduino — it is intended to complement them while remaining simple for educational purposes. In October, the BBC will begin distributing the Micro Bit to students in grade 7. They expect to give away about a million of them. Afterward, the device will go on sale, and its specs will be open sourced.
Technology

Extreme Reduction Gearing Device Offers an Amazing Gear Ratio 148

ErnieKey writes: The 3D printed extreme reduction gearing device, created by long-time puzzle maker M. Oskar van Deventer, may leave you puzzled for its obvious applications, but the coaxial cranking mechanism offers potential in a variety of real-world applications with multi-colored gears that move in opposite directions at a ratio of 11,373,076 : 1. This 3D printed reduction gearing device is compact and multi-colored, and looks deceivingly simple at first glance. Developed through a complex algorithm, it could possibly offer potential as parts for machines like 3D printers, aerospace and automotive components, as well as perhaps robotics and a variety of motors.
United States

Proposed Regulation Could Keep 3D-printed Gun Blueprints Offline For Good 423

SonicSpike sends a report on a proposed update to the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations which could shut down the sharing of files for 3D printed gun parts over the internet. "Hidden within the proposal, which restricts what gear, technology, and info can and cannot be exported out of the U.S., is a ban on posting schematics for 3D printed gun parts online." This follows a lawsuit from Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed back in May fighting the federal government's command to remove blueprints for the "Liberator" 3D-printed gun from their website. A senior official at the U.S. State Department said, "By putting up a digital file, that constitutes an export of the data. If it's an executable digital file, any foreign interests can get a hold of it."
Build

When Nerds Do BBQ 149

Rick Zeman writes: On this 4th of July, the day when Americans flock to their grills and smokers, Wired has a fascinating article on a computerized smoker designed by Harvard engineering students. They say, "In prototype form, the smoker looks like a combination of a giant pepper mill, a tandoori oven, and V.I.N.CENT from The Black Hole. It weighs 300 pounds. It has a refueling chute built into the side of it. And it uses a proportional-integral-derivative controller, a Raspberry Pi, and fans to regulate its own temperature, automatically producing an ideal slow-and-low burn."

After cooking >200 lbs of brisket while fine-tuning the design, the students concluded, "Old-school pitmasters are like, 'I cook mine in a garbage can,' and there's a point of pride in that. A lot of the cutting edge is when you take an art form and drag it back onto scientific turf and turn it into an algorithm. I don't think we've diluted the artistic component with this."
Cellphones

Turing Near Ready To Ship World's First Liquid Metal Android Smartphone 93

MojoKid writes: Liquid Metal is an alloy metal (technically, bulk metallic glass) that manages to combine the best features of a wide variety of materials into one product. Liquid Metal also has high corrosion resistance, high tensile strength, remarkable anti-wear characteristics and can also be heat-formed. Given its unique properties, Liquid Metal has been used in a number of industries, including in smartphones. Historically, it has been limited to small-scale applications and pieces parts, not entire products. However, Turing Robotic Industries (TRI) just announced pre-orders for the world's first liquid metal-frame smartphone. The Turing Phone uses its own brand of Liquid Metal called Liquidmorphium, which provides excellent shock absorption characteristics. So instead of making a dent in the smartphone casing or cracking/chipping like plastic when dropped, a Turing Phone should in theory "shake it off" while at the same time protecting the fragile display from breaking. The Turing Phone does not come cheap, however, with pricing starting at $610 for a 16GB model and escalating quickly to $740 and $870 respectively for the 64GB and 128GB models, unlocked. Pre-orders open up on July 31.
The Military

Naval Research Interested In Bringing 3D Printing To Large Scale For Ships 44

coondoggie writes: The Navy this month will outline what it is looking for from additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology as way to bolster what it terms "fleet readiness." The Office of Naval Research will on July 15 detail its Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) program that will aim to "develop and integrate the suite of additive manufacturing software and hardware tools required to ensure that critical metallic components can be consistently produced and rapidly qualified in a cost effective manner."
Transportation

Video Meet the Makers of an Exotic (Partially) 3-D Printed Car (2 Videos) 25

Last month, in a story headlined 3D Printed Supercar Chassis Unveiled, we promised video interviews with builders Kevin and Brad "in the near future." Here they are. First, we have Kevin Czinger, Founder & CEO of Divergent Microfactories. He says the way we build cars is more important from an environmental standpoint than how we fuel them, and that the way we make cars now is a lot less efficient and a lot more expensive than it needs to be. Divergent's first demo vehicle, the Blade, is a tandem-seating 700 HP supercar its makers say does 0 - 60 in 2.5 seconds. Price? No word yet, but it's safe to assume "plenty" might be an accurate guess.

In the second video, Blade project lead Brad Balzer goes into detail about how, why, and where they use 3-D printing, and explains the modular nature of their car chassis design. He says they don't need to change many parts to go from ultra-sports car to pickup truck. He also says that while Divergent Microfactories is working on cars right now, their manufacturing system can be applied to many different industries. Indeed, their long-range goal is to help people build microfactories making many different kinds of products faster, more flexibly, and for less money than it takes to make similar manufactured items today.

Note: The transcript covers both videos and has a little 'bonus' material in it, too.
Build

Ask Slashdot: For What Are You Using 3-D Printing? 266

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 the stretchiest practical things I can think of to print can't truly actually justify the price, 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? What playful purposes? 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.) If you've purchased a 3D printer, are you happy with the experience? If so, or if not, what kind did you get?