Tag Archives: 3d printer

QU-BD Combo CNC Mill And 3D Printer Pre-Order Interview

I’ve been saying for a while that there’s nothing inherently expensive about 3D printing technology…at least not the FFF type. Assuming the technology becomes more popular over the next few years (which I do) I don’t see any reason why 3D printers couldn’t become as cheap and ubiquitous as 2D printers.

However, 3D printing has weaknesses, not the least of which is that it can’t work in metal.* You can take the plastic parts and cast metal parts from them, but the heat and gases have side effects that nobody in their right mind would ever allow inside a house. It is possible to work metal by machining it in a small CNC mill, as demonstrated by the ease of finding a desktop mill on Google. Since 3D printers and CNC mills function so similarly, why not combine both functions into one machine?

QU-BD is working on that. Openalia interviewed them back when they were coming off of a successful effort to Kickstarter their own thermoplastic extruder. Now they’ve arrived at the main event, the beta Rapid Prototyping Mill (RPM) pre-order. This design is important because it has the potential to create all of the (non-electrical) parts for a 3D printer, including its own extruder. Read through the interview with Chelsea Thompson after the jump to learn a little bit about the RPM and the Revolution, which is an all-metal frame 3D printer.

* I’m limiting the analysis to current technology. Sure, there might be an unforeseen breakthrough in materials science in the near future, but that’s a different discussion.

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Open Source Hardware on Google Trends

It occurred to me that perhaps (just perhaps) other people weren’t as interested in open hardware as myself. Well, what do the numbers show?

According to Google Trends, “open source hardware” has more or less increased (slightly) every year since the beginning of 2007. Large spikes in popularity, which are the main reason for the average increase, began in 2010. The largest spike in interest seems to be this article on CNET, Open Source Hardware Standards Formally Issued.

Google Trends: "open source hardware"

Something I totally didn’t expect is that, by far, the country responsible for the most interest in “open source hardware” is Malaysia (the USA does make it into the top 5, but only barely). Marang, Malaysia is apparently the city that is driving the world’s interest in open hardware.

Google Trends: "open source hardware"

However, that must be due to some weirdness in Google’s numbers. Or maybe Malaysia simply got really interested in OSH a while back? I dunno. But if you restrict the range to the last few years the USA becomes the only country searching for “open source hardware.”

Google Trends: "open source"

The more generic term “open source” is much more popular and is more popular in a wider variety of places. Not too surprisingly the top search term is “open source software.”

Comparing “open source hardware” to “open source” is revealing. I know that open source in general isn’t well known, and that OSH isn’t well known even among people who know about open source, but the difference in search volume is striking.

Google Trends: "open source hardware" vs "open source"

I wonder if this is proof that OSH is just a niche interest. At any rate, it’s proof that this topic isn’t going to make anyone famous. At least…the generic subject isn’t popular. A more specific topic, one that people are more likely to be personally interested in, something that is tangible and exciting, can help draw interest to open source hardware.

Google Trends: "open source hardware" vs "3d printer" vs "Arduino"

I am referring, of course, to 3D printers and Arduinos. These are probably the two most popular subject areas to emerge from the larger philosophy of OSH. As you can see, the interest in those subjects dwarfs interest in the subject that inspired them. Or…maybe they inspired the subject of OSH?

Bottom line: if you’re going to try to explain open source hardware to someone, start with Arduino and maybe 3D printers.

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