Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Saturday, March 19, 2005day link 

 3D printer that can copy itself
picture Via BoingBoing, an article about a scientist who's working on a 3D printer that can reproduce its own parts, at least most of them.
A self-replicating 3D printer that spawns new, improved versions of itself is in development at the University of Bath in the UK.

The "self replicating rapid prototyper" or RepRap could vastly reduce the cost of 3D printers, paving the way for a future where broken objects and spare parts are simply "re-printed" at home. New and unique objects could also be created.

3D printing - also known as "rapid prototyping" - transforms a blueprint on a computer into a real object by building up a succession of layers. The material is bonded by either fusing it with a laser or by using alternating layers of glue. When it first emerged in the mid-1990s, futurists predicted that there would be a 3D printer in every home.

But they currently cost $25,000 (£13,000) and so have not caught on as a household item, says Terry Wohlers, an analyst at Wohlers Associates, a rapid prototyping consulting firm in Fort Collins, Colorado, US. Instead, they are used by industry to develop parts for devices such as aircraft engines, spaceships and hearing aids.

Now Adrian Bowyer hopes to change that by making the first 3D printer capable of fabricating copies of itself, as well as a wealth of everyday objects. He reasons that prices would plummet to around $500 if every machine was capable of building hundreds more at no cost beyond that of the raw materials.
And he's planning on making everything freely downloadable. So, if we can avoid that HP somehow gets to control the market for the equivalent of ink cartridges, it sounds like a winner.

For computer languages it is a big milestone when one first succeeds in using the language for writing a compiler that will compile the language itself. So, it is only really full-featured once you can write it in itself. Would be splendid when that really spreads to hardware.
[ | 2005-03-19 15:13 | 15 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Comment and Refererrer Spam
I've again turned on that trackbacks show here, as I'm more confident that spammers can be thwarted fairly easily. Basically I've installed mod_security, an Apache module which makes it quite easy to filter all web accesses, form postings and so forth, and catch when various keywords are used, in addition to catching various behaviors that are likely to be hacking attempts, like trying to access unauthorized directories, etc.

There's something arriving several times per minute. Most often just a robot accessing some blog page and including a fake referral URL, pretending there's a link on some gambling site to that page. Which there isn't. But also attempted comment postings and trackbacks. The latter having been the most problematic, as I have them show up prominently as comments in the articles. So I had that turned off for a while.

The drawback to keyword filtering, however, is that I have to manually configure a list of keywords that trigger the alarm. I'm after the ones that appear in URLs and that I'm pretty sure have no business here. Viagra, poker, incest, texas hold-em - that kind of thing. And I'll have to add new ones when they're used. I try to limit the filter to comment and trackback postings and to referrer URLs. But it is quite possible that this will block some legitimate uses of those words. So far it seems to work pretty well.
[ | 2005-03-19 16:04 | 26 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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