Saturday, March 31, 2007


ETech 2007

My son Adriaan and I just got back from San Diego. The presentation at ETech Thursday afternoon went VERY well. The audience was between 75-110 or so. The high ~$1,500-odd registration fee seemed to serve as a good filter for filling the audience with highly qualified, very motivated people from just about everywhere.

Adriaan tried to take pics of the presentation with his digital camera. Unfortunately, the hall was quite dark for the presentation which made his attempts dicey at best. This one is, however, my personal favourite.

I especially liked the vampire eyes thing. There were several business and technical media folks there. One American who writes for a Japanese business journal had much better digital camera equipment that we did and did extensive photography of the presentation. I'm hoping that I will be able to borrow a few of his pics for our archive.

I made the pitch for self-replicating printers, RepRap and Tommelise and we got good applause and very good questions in return. Afterward we had about a dozen of the people who'd attended stay over. Most of them had already been on both the RepRap and the Tommelise websites and one Brit there had even been down to Bath to meet Adrian.

There were people who were selling 3D printers, design engineers, product engineers and the lot. We've got a couple more product design firms that are probably going to be hammering for Darwins.

I also heard an excellent and interesting rationale for why a professional firm would want a self-replicating printer. It goes like this. They're paying $4.50/cubic inch for filament and if they don't use the filament that comes from the vendor they have their warrenty voided. They resent that a LOT.

As well, they'd like a printer that they could try different things with and fix if it broke. What we're working on fits that to a "T". As it is, the machines they have typically can only deal with one kind of plastic. The product design firms would like to do printing with a machine that wasn't a black box like the commercial machines.

One thing on the reprap site that really impressed the the people who are using commercial 3D printers was when both Vik and Adrian and Ed made shot glasses. You apparently can't make waterproof glasses on a stratasys. I heard about the tendency of stratasys prints to delaminate on the z-axis again, too.

Anyhow, the talk was well-received and O'Reilly was happy with it so we'll probably be asked again.

I noticed that several blogs had picked up on my talk. We got pretty good reviews.

Someone should throw a Technorati link up on this blog so we can track the blogs that link here easily.

The frustration of one-size-fits-all thinking is something we all can relate to and one of the things about reprap which I truly look forward to overcoming.
Now about that shot glass, that is possible on a RepRap because the filament is bigger and stays hot long enough to fuse to the previous line?

The StrataSys uses a much finer filament and it may cool faster -and- present much more cracks for seepage. Maybe in the future, with fine filament RepRaps, a thicker extrusion could be used for liquid-proof containers...?
We just have to test alternative extrusion strategies till we find something that works. :-)
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