Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RIAus 3D Printing Seminar

Twitter: #3DPrintADL
Pictures can be found here: ANAT Blog Photos, Hackerspace Adelaide

On Monday (20 Jan 2012) I attended a 3D printing and rapid prototyping seminar at the RIAus, organised by the South Australian Education Department (DFEEST). I came along as an attendee and also as a member of the Adelaide Hackerspace. There were three of us from Hackerspace each with our Huxley Reprap machines. There was also a collection of other machines on display with the University of South Australia bringing five Makerbots, lit up in various colours and another commercial supplier.

The morning program of speakers was excellent and the organisers did very well covering the broad range of issues that this technology evokes. The panel and the more practical afternoon session, built further on these ideas. In no particular order:
  • Copyright, patents and intellectual property were mentioned a coupled of times, but other than emphasising that they are important and that the current legal framework  fast enough, there really wasn't any consensus about how this area should be approached.
  • The problem of atoms. How are ideas and designs turned into useful objects. We heard from a couple of companies which are providing 3D prototyping as as service (Ponoko) and as part of their business process (Monkey Stack).
  • Design vs. Evolution. How will consumer items be created in the future? Will we still need designers or will the tools be so easy to use that anyone will be able to design and produce the items that they need? or will designers produce base/reference designs which individuals can then evolve to their own requirements?
  • Capturing the Innovation. It is recognised that much of the technical innovation that occurs doesn't take place in large corporate research and development groups. Industry wants access to innovations and they are going to need to look out into the wider community to do that. This is something that Intel are focused on via Intel Labs. In Australia we know we are an inventive lot, but we need to somehow throw the net wider then just the establishment of the Univerisities, Schools and Industry and include things like 'Mens Sheds', 'Community and Church Groups', and 'Intense Hobbies' (eg model train builders) etc. This was emphasised by Mark Thomson, Research Director for the Institute of Backyard Studies.
The afternoon continued with practical examples of how to use this technology, along with some valuable hints and tips (eg. remember to leave a hole if you need to remove material from inside an object). All-in-all and excellent, high quality informational session.

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