Yesterday, I wrote about Defense Distributed's 3D printed handgun, and asked whether it would fire, and how many rounds it could fire before experiencing stress fractures, melting, etc. Now, Forbes's Andy Greenberg follows up with a report of the successful firing of the gun -- though not its longevity -- and says that Defense Distributed will publish the CAD files for printing your own gun on its site today, along with videos of the gun in action.
Unlike the original, steel Liberator, though, Wilson’s weapon is almost entirely plastic: Fifteen of its 16 pieces have been created inside an $8,000 second-hand Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer, a machine that lays down threads of melted polymer that add up to precisely-shaped solid objects just as easily as a traditional printer lays ink on a page. The only non-printed piece is a common hardware store nail used as its firing pin...
Even Wilson himself says he’s not sure exactly how that’s possible. But one important trick may be the group’s added step of treating the gun’s barrel in a jar of acetone vaporized with a pan of water and a camp stove, a process that chemically melts its surface slightly and smooths the bore to avoid friction. The Dimension printer Defense Distributed used also keeps its print chamber heated to 167 degrees Fahrenheit, a method patented by Stratasys that improves the parts’ resiliency.
Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson claims he has attained his stated goal of 3D printing a working handgun. There's no footage of it firing yet, nor details on how many rounds it fires before the plastic is worn out. And although this is a fascinating provocation, it is not (yet) a game-changer, especially in America where traditional guns (capable of firing thousands of rounds without melting down) are cheap and easy to get. You can even "3D print" a gun by asking different CNC shops to cut and overnight you all the parts to make up a working gun, breaking the job down into small pieces that are unlikely to arouse suspicion.
All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that’s used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition.
Technically, Defense Distributed’s gun has one other non-printed component: the group added a six ounce chunk of steel into the body to make it detectable by metal detectors in order to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act. In March, the group also obtained a federal firearms license, making it a legal gun manufacturer.
Earlier this month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to turn down six broad, bogus patents on 3D printing that could pave the way for even more patent-trolling on the emerging field of 3D printing. They worked with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and Ask Patents, as well as with its own supporters to gather evidence on the prior art that invalidates these applications. It's part of a larger project to systematically challenge patents in emerging fields -- next up is mesh networks -- providing a layer of vigilance and common sense atop the reckless and indifferent patent office.
Here are copies of what we submitted to the Patent Office. The good news is that so far, the Patent Office has accepted our submissions (because of that, if you're thinking of making your own preissuance submissions, you might want to use these as a model). Now we wait to see whether our input influences the examiners.
Our work doesn’t stop here. Next we’re going to investigate a number of pending applications that impact mesh networking technology—another area with an extremely active open development community and with tremendous potential. We’ll be asking you to help us again soon. Stay tuned!
Just one more way that EFF is making the future a better one.
A Hal Pomeranz from 2010 suggests a great way to teach TCP/IP header structure to students: he builds header diagrams out of legos, then mixes them up and has the students reconstruct them.
The use of color here really highlights certain portions of the packet header. For example, the source and destination addresses and ports really jump out. But there are some other, more subtle color patterns that I worked in here. For example, if you look closely you’ll see that I matched the color of the ACK bit with the blue in the ACK number field. Similarly the colors of the SYN bit and the sequence number match, as do the URG bit and urgent pointer field.
Actually I wish I had a couple of more colors available. Yes, Lego comes in dozens of colors these days, but they only make 2×8 blocks (aka one “Lego Byte”) in six colors: White, Black, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Beige.
So while I tried to use Beige exclusively for size fields, Red for reserved bits, Yellow for checksums, and so on, I ultimately ended up having to use these colors for other fields as well– for example, the yellow sequence number fields in the TCP header. Maybe I should have just bought a bunch of “nibbles” (2×4 blocks) in other colors and not been so choosy about using full “Lego Bytes”.
Since 2010, the lego patent has expired and cheapish wire-extrusion 3D printing has become a reality -- and there's cool procedural models for generating arbitrary-sized bricks and labelling them with arbitrary type. Someone needs to make a printable TCP diagramming set on Thingiverse!
Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge sez "Last week, Rep. Steve Israel introduced a bill designed to regulate firearms that cannot be found by metal detectors. The bill makes a passing reference the 3D printing, which is fine. But the rhetoric that Rep. Israel is using to promote the bill is both muddled and overblown, and focuses almost exclusively on 3D printing. He sent a letter to his fellow Members of Congress titled 'Co-Sponsor Legislation to Ban 3D Printed Guns.' This is a problem."
Shapeways user Maundy created the Steampunk Geared Cube, a magnificent geared confection that came out of the 3D printed fully assembled!
The cube contains a total of 28 gears, all of which turn from manually rotating only one (though the designer notes that rotating two gears results in a smoother motion). The outermost gear on each side has handles for easy rotation, and each is linked to its adjacent gear in an interlocking pattern. Once one gear is spun, the others correspondingly spin along.
In addition to the fascinating pattern and mechanics, the cube has a tray in the middle for holding various small objects. The product also comes with a stand and a lockable lid, which is placed on top of the cube and can be locked and unlocked by rotating the gears.
Matterform's Photon 3D Scanner is a $350-$400 IndieGoGo-funded gadget from Canada. It promises to be operable by novices with no particular knowledge of 3D modelling or printing. It folds up to a small package, making it portable as well, and it can complete a scan in three minutes, working at dimensions up to 7.5" diam/9.5" height. The project is fully funded, but you can still pre-order by adding to the campaign; they're estimating general fulfillment by August.
The Photon allows anyone to take a physical object, and turn it into a digital 3D model on your computer. From there, you can print your file on any 3D printer, or online printing service. Or use the model you created in an animation or video game.
We’ve been developing the Photon hardware and software from scratch for the past year and now we’re ready to release it to you. We'll fulfill all the indiegogo pledges first so if you're excited to get one, supporting us now is the best route and you can take advantage of our special intro pricing.
Evan Doney, a grad student in Matthew Leevy's biological imaging facility at the University of Notre Dame, has published a method for creating a 3D printed, life-size, accurate skeleton of a living animal by converting a CT scan of the animal to a printable file. They produced a detailed HOWTO as well, which, unfortunately, is paywalled.
The idea to print skeletons from CT scans came from Evan Doney, an engineering student working in the lab of Matthew Leevy, who runs the biological imaging facility at the University of Notre Dame. ”At first I didn’t really know what the killer app would be, I just knew it would be really cool,” Leevy said. But he began to see new possibilities after striking up a conversation with an ear, nose, and throat specialist during an office visit for a sinus problem. “I actually got out my computer and showed him some slides, and by the end of it we were collaborating.”
Doney used several freeware programs to convert data from CT scans into a format that could be read by a 3-D printer. As a proof of principle, he and colleagues printed a rat skeleton in white plastic and printed a removable set of lungs in green or purple. They also printed out a rabbit skull.
I have a 3D print of my femur in bronze and stainless steel, courtesy of my wife and her raid on my MRIs. Sounds like you get an even better shapefile from a CT scan, if you don't mind receiving the radiation equivalent of 800 X-rays.
ATM skimming isn't limited to ATMs! There are lots of terminals that ask you to swipe your card and/or enter a PIN, and many of them are less well-armored and -policed than actual cashpoints. Skimmers have been found on train-ticket machines, parking meters and other payment terminals. Once a crook has got your card number and sign-on data, they can use that to raid a your account at an ATM. Brian Krebs has a look at some of these devices, including a full-on fascia for a cheapie ATM discovered in latinamerica.
The organization also is tracking a skimming trend reported by three countries (mainly in Latin America) in which thieves are fabricating fake ATM fascias and placing them over genuine ATMs, like the one pictured below. After entering their PIN, cardholders see an ‘out-of-order’ message. EAST said the fake fascias include working screens so that this type of message can be displayed. The card details are compromised by a skimming device hidden inside the fake fascia, and the PINs are captured via the built-in keypad, which overlays the real keypad underneath.
This reminds me a little of the evolution of payphones -- the armadillos of the device world! -- and the look-alike COCOTS (customer-owned coin-operated telephones) that presented very soft targets if you could scry through their camouflage.
David Mellis at the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab built a DIY Cellphone, making a custom circuit-board and laser-cutting his own wooden case. The files are hosted on GitHub in case you'd like to try your hand at it.
An exploration into the possibilities for individual construction and customization of the most ubiquitous of electronic devices, the cellphone. By creating and sharing open-source designs for the phone’s circuit board and case, we hope to encourage a proliferation of personalized and diverse mobile phones. Freed from the constraints of mass production, we plan to explore diverse materials, shapes, and functions. We hope that the project will help us explore and expand the limits of do-it-yourself (DIY) practice. How close can a homemade project come to the design of a cutting edge device? What are the economics of building a high-tech device in small quantities? Which parts are even available to individual consumers? What’s required for people to customize and build their own devices?
The initial prototype combines a custom electronic circuit board with a laser-cut plywood and veneer enclosure. The phone accepts a standard SIM card and works with any GSM provider. Cellular connectivity is provided by the SM5100B GSM Module, available from SparkFun Electronics. The display is a color 1.8″, 160×128 pixel, TFT screen on a breakout board from Adafruit Industries. Flexures in the veneer allow pressing of the buttons beneath. Currently, the software supports voice calls, although SMS and other functionality could be added with the same hardware. The prototype contains about $150 in parts.
Mellis's Master's thesis is "Case studies in the digital fabrication of open-source consumer electronic products" and includes a 3D printed mouse, fabbed speakers and a fabbed FM radio.
Hey, Londoners! A reminder that I'll be signing the UK edition of Charlie Stross's and my novel Rapture of the Nerds, tomorrow at 1PM at Forbidden Planet. Charlie can't make it, so I have fashioned a cunning 3D printed Space Marine Stross to accompany me, which you may rub for good luck if you attend.
Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge sez, "We are bringing the 3D printing community back to Washington, DC for 3D/DC II. This time around, we are having a public reception in the Rayburn House Office Building on April 24th to give policymakers a chance to see 3D printing in person and talk to some of the people behind the machines. If you are in DC and are interested in 3D printing, this could be your chance to check it out." Michael wrote two amazing, definitive papers on 3D printing and the law.
A German startup called Nanoscribe says it will ship a nanoscale 3D printer in the second quarter of 2013, and that its device will run 100 times faster than similar devices currently in the market:
The technology behind most 3-D microprinters is called two-photon polymerization. It involves focusing tiny, ultrashort pulses from a near-infrared laser on a light-sensitive material. The material polymerizes and solidifies at the focused spots. As the laser beam moves in three dimensions, it creates a 3-D object.
Today’s printers, including Nanoscribe’s present system, keep the laser beam fixed and move the light-sensitive material along three axes using mechanical stages, which slows down printing. To speed up the process, Nanoscribe’s new tool uses a tiny moving mirror to reflect the laser beam at different angles. Thiel says generating multiple light beams with a microlens array could make the process even faster.
The smallest features that can be created using the Nanoscribe printer measure about 30 nanometers, says Julia Greer, professor of materials science at the California Institute of Technology.
Kent's excited about the Kickstarter for the Gigabot 3D printer, a large-format device that can print objects up to 24" on a side. He sez, "Just saw this at SxSW and it is AMAZING. Solid aluminum chassis, very precise, and the things it prints are awesome. Back it!" The minimum pledge for a kit is $2500, and it's $10K for an assembled unit.
At re:3D, we believe that the biggest problems in our world are solved by taking a bigger view. That’s why our project is aimed at designing the first large-format 3D printer... that you can take home with you. It’s not only about taking the amazing technology of 3D printing and amplifying it. If we’re successful, we can envision entire markets opening up to use this technology. Markets which have struggled to maintain the status quo, let alone use some of the cutting-edge technology that for the rest of the world is an overnight delivery away. We believe that by making a production-quality model of our 3D printer, and putting it in the hands of small businesses anywhere on the planet, will give them the flexibility to sustain their community, their business, and ultimately, the world we live in.