3D Printing Saves the Universe: Only 300 Years To Go.

The process of 3D printing is called additive manufacturing, and it’s a pretty simple idea: A machine squirts some material in layers based on a 3D computer model until the design has become a real life object. There’s a few different methods and processes to choose from, but here I’m just focusing on “Fused Deposition Modeling”(FDM) (aka “Fused Filament Fabrication”(FFF) to avoid patent battles). Basically, FDM/FFF machines use spools of plastic filaments which are melted and layered into solid objects.

There are companies like Freedom of Creation and Shapeways that offer on-demand printing. A lot of their catalogue is knick-knack stuff like jewelry and iPhone cases, but a few allow customers to upload designs and have custom products printed and shipped out. But these companies are still essentially creating novelty items without much practical value, and their prices aren’t great for what you get.

My bet for the Future of Stuff is on DIY outfits like Brooklyn based MakerBot Industries. Anybody can go on their website and buy the Thing-O-Matic, a desktop 3D printer for home use, as well as the items needed to build or improve your own. It’s still a little expensive at $2400 for the fully assembled version or $1,099 for the build-it-yourself kit, but compared to $20k+ for commercial 3D printers it’s still quite a deal. Also, it’s all open source technology which means that hobbyists are constantly working on making the technology better and cheaper.

For example, PrintrBot  is an affordable ($500ish) 3D Printer created by Brook Drumm. He put the idea up on Kickstarter with a goal of $25k to start manufacturing 3D Printers that anybody could build and use. By the time the Kickstarter clock ran out, PrintrBot had pulled in a staggering $830,827 USD. The first PrintrBots are expected to ship out in January for the original funders. Then Brook hopes to start up a ‘Bot Farm’ for mass-(re)production.

Both MakerBot and PrintrBot are evolutions on the original RepRap (REPlicating RAPid prototyper) project. Started in 2005 by Dr. Adrian Bowyer, a Senior Lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, RepRap.org is a community of enthusiasts bent on creating a machine that can build (most of) the parts needed to recreate itself. On the Wiki are the instructions for anybody who wants to take the time to build their own 3D printer.

I expect that as the technology progresses we will begin to see 3D printers become a commonplace household appliance. Besides the fact that it just makes sense to have personal access to the power of manufacturing and product replacement/repair, these machines will enable people to fully customize the items we use everyday. Also, think of all the warehouse space that could be repurposed into Awesome Starving Artist Pads. Then of course there’s the environmental benefit to consider.

By now most people are aware of the giant “Plastic Trash Vortex” swirling around the Pacific Ocean. While 3D printing won’t lessen the disposable lifestyle we’ve grown to enjoy, they might do much to reduce the environmental impact by allowing manufacturers to print what consumers need when they need it. Speaking of Green, check out the Filabot Kickstarter project. They’re trying to get funding to create a machine that will recycle plastic waste into the filament used by RepRap 3D printers. As of now you’ve still got a month to support their Awesome Science.

Personally, my early interest in 3D Printing had more to do with my intense love of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Replicators onboard the USS Enterprise made everything from Captain Picard’s Earl Grey tea to medicines used by Dr. Crusher, and allowed the post-scarcity utopia of Gene Roddenberry’s universe. While the printers available now are a far walk from the miracle machines of the 24th century, we’ve still got three more centuries to get this stuff right. Engage.

[Extended Version of Article Written for, and Posted On, NYPRESS.COM]

NeverWet Anti-Water Spray Gives iPhone Gills

NeverWet AlwaysWorkin'

Trebec: No way. That’s bullshit.

Me: What were the first four words I spoke after seeing the NeverWet ’Chocolate Syrup on Shoe Video’?


Enter NeverWet, a byproduct of super-boring R&D over at Ross Nanotechnologies, a division of Ross Technologies (creators of Algrip Slip-Resistant Flooring Products, and Dexco [Huge Industrial] Storage Rack Systems), inventing the future of stuff. The company calls it a “super hydrophobic coating that repels water and heavy oils”, and if it does this as well as they claim it does, NeverWet is nothing short of a miracle product for the modern minded. The explanation for why this works may tranquilize if you’re not prepared for Awesome Science (if not, skip to Section 2), but if you’ve braced yourself and want to read about why liquids practically Hammerdance off of “Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE)”, this is an excerpt from the NeverWet White Sheet:

“When water spreads over a surface without forming droplets, the surface is said to be hydrophilic. When water beads up on a surface, it is called hydrophobic. Practically, hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity are relative terms. A simple quantitative method for defining the relative degrees of two behaviors is the water contact angle (Fig. 1). If the contact angle is less than 30 ̊, the surface is designated as hydrophilic, and if water spreads without forming a droplet with contact angle less than 10 ̊, the surface is designated as superhydrophilic.

“On a hydrophobic surface, water forms distinct droplets and as hydrophobicity increases, the contact angle increases. Surfaces with water contact angles greater than 90 ̊ are called hydrophobic. When the contact angle increases above 150 ̊, the surfaces are called superhydrophobic (SH) and Lotus effect.”

Section 2: “U Can’t Touch This”:

Yes, NeverWet may revolutionize everything from bedpans (it’s highly microbial resistant) to aeronautics (the stuff doesn’t freeze), but it’s potential in everyday stuff is what’s really staggering. In the promo videos we see water jumpingoff of shirts, standing up (actually standing) on a piece of partially treated glass, and ringing audibly as a fully functioning iPhone is

NeverWet AlwaysWorkin'
Water drops in Super-Hydrophobicized 'Lotus' Position.

called five minutes after being submerged. Get that? An iPhone treated with NeverWet was under water for 30 minutes and never stopped working. Even 10 minutes is more than enough time to build your nerves before reaching into the toilet for your fumbled device

Fair enough, I’m flat-out biased on this. My girlfriend constantly mocks me for buying waterproof clothing and accessories. I thoroughly believe that the default for any item should be waterproof. On a planet 71% covered in dihydrogen monoxide, a waterproof camera is not just a novelty for Spring Breakers and Hip Fishing Trip Uncles; It’s common sense.

NeverWet won’t be available until early 2012, but that’s right around the corner. What it comes down to for me is that I love White Shoes, and I love New York City, and NeverWet is the “You complete me” to their “You had me at hello”. There’s nothing that I can promise you with more melodramatic quivering-voiced certainty than this:

I will try NeverWet on anything that it will not break or kill. Stay tuned. When I get ahold of this stuff get ready to #NeverWet everything with me @44carib.

Are you afraid of a less-soggy world? Tell me about it @44carib and @N_Ypress







[Original Version of Article Written For, and Posted On, NYPRESS.COM]

New Facebook Timeline Asks: Who Is You?

[Original Version of Article Written For, and Posted On, NYPRESS.COM]

New Facebook Timeline Asks: Who Is You?

By Carib Guerra

Our lives will never be the same. Starting…yesterday. Or, at least, how we remember them won’t be. Since 2006, or 2003 for a few Harvard alums, we’ve been posting everything from that great breakfast to the birth of our first child on Facebook.com. For half a decade our collected memories have had their 15 minutes of likes, comments, and shares, and then quietly slid into…well, our memories.

With the official ‘dark launch’ of Facebook’s new Timeline feature, all those old moments are coming back quicker than you can say ‘forgot-I-had-psychogenic-amnesia’. Also, they look great. Maybe not the moments themselves, but Timeline is very pretty. With a flick of your finger the years scroll by from ‘Now’, where you’ll see the usual profile items in cozy new arrangements, all the way back to ‘Born’. Of course since Facebook didn’t exist when most of us were born, the moments get a little sparse if you move below 2006. But for all of the millennial kids whose parents created their profiles before they threw the baby showers, this is their life.

For those of you who haven’t activated your own Timeline, heads up. You might be thinking that this will be an annoying, but ignorable, addition like that mandatory ticker/chatlist (which you can now hide btw). Or did you imagine a simple face[book]lift like the last profile update? Either way, it is not that simple.

Facebook has not stated a date for when/if Timeline will become a mandatory feature. As of now, once you decide to opt in and activate Timeline, you’ll have seven days to mess with it before it automatically goes public. Granted, it’s a lot more fun to set up than the old forms and buttons. But that’s just one week to pore over every tidbit of digital action on your wall since—whenever. You’ll see one night stands. You’ll see your ex in pictures where you’re happy together. You’ll read status updates that make you sound dumber than you are now (my own status, 10 Aug 09: “Who needs to stand on a platform to shoot a slingshot anyhow? It’s going to do exactly the same thing from the ground.” #algebra #publicshame), and—unlike before, when seeing all of this stuff took clicking buttons, getting way too drunk, and putting on the Marvin Gaye Here, My Dear Pandora mix—it’s all right in front of your eyes. And it’s designed by people who know how to make things look like you want to look at them.

I’m half thankful now for years of moderate Facebooking. Half, the good half, because I have relatively little content to sift through while choosing what to delete, what to keep, and who gets to see the finished me. The other half is that I did a lot of stuff in the past five years! When it’s all laid out and organized I feel a sick urge to fill in the blanks. I find myself thinking about scrap books and photo albums that I’ll finally do my mother the favor of scanning in just to fill that pre 2006 abyss. You’ll see what I mean.

Don’t spend too long weighing the pros and cons of your new Timeline. Here’s the deal: You could go through on a delete rampage, redacting your life, removing moments that maybe you shared with somebody else who’ll now be hurt when they realize you’re too cool to remember that time with them. Or, and this will be my angle on it, you can go through your friends list and think real hard about who you want having the peep show of your life. I bet you won’t even have to break a brain sweat. Chances are, if their smiling faces don’t pop up here and there in your Timeline, you probably don’t even know them.

What do you think about #Facebook #Timeline? Let me know @44carib and @N_Ypress.