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UC Berkeley Group Working On Creating Inexpensive 3-D Printer Materials 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-it-good-then-make-it-cheap dept.
phrackthat writes "A UC Berkeley group, in a bid to drive down the costs of 3-D printing, has been focusing on more natural materials such as salt, wood, ceramics and concrete (the last two, while not naturally occurring, are made of naturally occurring components). The use of these materials create new avenues for architecture, such as printing buildings. Professor Ronald Rael, the head of the project, stated that these materials and the designs they enable will require new IP protections — 'This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are.' I wonder if he's ever heard of design patents?"
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UC Berkeley Group Working On Creating Inexpensive 3-D Printer Materials

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  • by Mikkeles (698461) on Friday May 24, 2013 @11:46AM (#43813341)

    ...has been focusing on more natural materials...

    As opposed to what? More metaphysical materials?

    • Re:Non Fantastic (Score:4, Insightful)

      by digitrev (989335) <digitrev@hotmail.com> on Friday May 24, 2013 @11:57AM (#43813463) Homepage
      Better yet, I love how "cermanic and concrete" are somehow natural because they're made of natural materials. As if they're somehow more natural than plastic. I am reminded of Abstruse Goose [abstrusegoose.com].
      • Boy, a lot of comments show people got bent out of shape by the "natural materials" phrase. I loathe new agism and other "natural is good" holiness as much as the next guy, but I didn't sense that at all.

        When I read "natural materials", I read, "cheap, easily-available in massive quantities materials". as opposed to current, much more exotic materials.

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        I can dig a few inches down in my yard and hit clay. Fire it in a blast oven, and you get a ceramic. Cement is nothing more than limestone. You mix it with water, let it absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and you get calcium carbonate, which is the same composition as limestone. Concrete is just cement mixed with filler, like crushed rock.
        • Cement is nothing more than limestone. You mix it with water, let it absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and you get calcium carbonate, which is the same composition as limestone. Concrete is just cement mixed with filler, like crushed rock.

          And steel is just an alloy of iron and other elements, right.

          Or is it more complex than that...

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete [wikipedia.org]

          • Concrete is scarcely significantly different from many types of aggregate sedimentary rocks composed of SiO2 and compounds of calcium and aluminum, and if you actually bothered to read the page you've linked, you'd find it right there [wikipedia.org].
        • by swamp_ig (466489)

          I dig a hole in the ground, out comes oil. I then vaporize it to extract the components, react it with several other naturally occurring materials, and get plastic.

          Hey-hey! Plastic is natural!

      • Better yet, I love how "cermanic and concrete" are somehow natural because they're made of natural materials.

        Oh, but they are. Given their composition, you can find concrete and ceramics in nature, or at least very analogical stuff. PVC? Not so much.

    • He takes natural materials and turns them into various man-made objects. Rather than taking man-made materials and turning them into man-made objects.

      Sounds to me he's making things worse, not better.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      As opposed to materials created by a process which only can occur by manmade intervention.
    • Re:Non Fantastic (Score:4, Informative)

      by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday May 24, 2013 @12:19PM (#43813747)

      Synthetic

  • the designs are already covered by copyright and patents..
    also, it seems they're using just cheaper powders for a powder-binder type of printer. the thing the guy is hugging is printed in parts, it looks like.

    but what's the point in cheap materials, if these guys are out to patent them? it's not like the commercial powders are THAT expensive to manufacture. they just have a fabulous markup due to ip protection.

    the print a house directly with a moving concrete laying head projects seem a bit interesting - a

    • I can't find the link for this but there is already a business with a huge 3d printer which uses sand/cement. The printer is mobile and can be set up on site.

      It was referenced here last year I think.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        I can't find the link for this but there is already a business with a huge 3d printer which uses sand/cement. The printer is mobile and can be set up on site.

        It was referenced here last year I think.

        yeah, that's what I meant with the directly printing a house. these guys are doing nothing of the sort, just experimenting with inexpensive binding materials and powders to patent them. which is hell of a lot less cooler than researching about practically building houses that can't be build otherwise.

      • People have been 3-D printing buildings from natural materials available on site for thousands of years. [wikipedia.org] Somehow they didn't need new IP protections. Other species have been doing it even longer. [wikipedia.org]

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          You could more or less count rammed earth, but mud brick doesn't qualify because it's built out of bricks made in forms, rather than made in a form. And if it's done by hand, it's really not printing, but that's a separate quibble.

        • I very much doubt they used a device that moved back and forth and selectively deposited a layer of material and then fused it together with heat or glue.

          Your brick examples would be more suitable if they moved the serfs back and forth on a lift and the serfs deposited bricks as they passed over an area that was supposed to have bricks.

          That's why we have different words: "Building" and "Printing".

  • by DriveDog (822962) on Friday May 24, 2013 @11:51AM (#43813393)
    When it comes to the economics, Professor Rael, like so many others, exhibits a severe lack of imagination.
    • by Artifakt (700173)

      I don't know about that - he seems to be one of those people who are imagining a special IP protection that isn't limited to any of the existing ones. He appears to have imagined a form of patent where 'because it's passing through a 3-D printer' makes an existing material novel, or one where the unlimited timeframe of a copyrighted design applies to the raw materials or individual design elements, or something such as that.
      "I imagine you're gonna give me special laws wit

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      I don't know about that really mattering.

      Personally, I'm looking forward to the BSD Handgun.

  • That's cheap and plentiful...
  • by hAckz0r (989977) on Friday May 24, 2013 @11:56AM (#43813443)
    People have been doing 3D printing using ceramics and cement for a few years now. Why is this suddenly new again? Entire buildings have been constructed this way using giant printing machines no less. Don't the people at Berkeley or Tech News know how to use Google yet?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Does this mean people can download your building and print it?" he said. "This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are."

    Designs are already protected, as they are a work. It's no different than the 3D models we already deal with in the game industry. A person spent a lot of time creating the files, and copyright law already includes such creative work.

    In fact if you want to, you can license your architecture designs. If you want to share them with everyone, you can use one of the Creative Commons license. That way nobody can (legally) take your name off it, but it can otherwise be shared freely.

    • "Does this mean people can download your building and print it?" he said. "This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are."

      Designs are already protected, as they are a work. It's no different than the 3D models we already deal with in the game industry. A person spent a lot of time creating the files, and copyright law already includes such creative work.

      Actually, there're some significant between copyright and design patents, but you're just as free with both to release your work into the public domain. I'm assuming that architectural works come under a design patent here; I don't see why they wouldn't.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Concrete and ceramic guns! Look out everyone!

    • by LBt1st (709520)

      It will happen eventually. And then we'll have to hear the whole debate all over again. All the while hundreds of people will die in a war that most Americans have forgotten is taking place.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday May 24, 2013 @12:04PM (#43813561) Journal

    Professor Ronald Rael, the head of the project, stated that these materials and the designs they enable will require new IP protections — 'This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are.'

    That's putting the cart before the horse.......you haven't even built your product yet, and you're worried, not about what your users will do with it, but how they will legally protect what they do with it. Two steps ahead (not to mention there's already protection).

    Spending too much time worrying about problems that don't exist yet is one of the many ways you can sink a startup. It's similar to sitting there dreaming, "what will you do with all your money when we're rich?"

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      It's similar to sitting there dreaming, "what will you do with all your money when we're rich?"

      That's an entire way of life, out here in Oklahoma. :p

  • Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
  • I thought right now plastic which is made from naturally occurring oil was the standard material for 3d printing?

    Instead of this natural BS, just come out and say renewable or less resource constrained or something.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday May 24, 2013 @12:09PM (#43813631)

    3D printing in ceramics, concrete, and wood composites have been around longer than consumer 3D printers. If this wasn't Berkeley, it wouldn't be getting any press coverage.

  • Now that we have 3D-printers that print guns, another challenge to us all: print a 3D-printer.
    • by Creedo (548980)

      Now that we have 3D-printers that print guns, another challenge to us all: print a 3D-printer.

      Might I suggest you check out this [reprap.org]. That's the whole point of the RepRap project.

    • You realize this would be the first step towards Skynet [wikipedia.org] right?...
  • thinking outside the 3d printer box, ever since viewing the endless suburbs in the texas towns I have envisioned something substantially bigger than the vehicle that transports the space shuttle to the launch pad, advancing through the countryside, ingesting woods, grasslands, soil, and rock, and out the other end comes a suburban street with driveways and houses in move-in-ready state. Materiel for plumbing and electricity might have to be transported into the monster.

    For Moore, OK, the thing could recycle

  • I wish they'd work on inexpensive laser sintering.
    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      I actually have a (whimsically silly and bulky) idea in mind there, actually.

      Its a combination of a solar sintering machine, (whooo-- a fresnel lens in a static frame, aimed at sand! So complicated!) and a CO2 laser sinterer.

      Basically, the fresnel lens part is static, and at the most sophisticated, has a sun tracker to keep the lens aimed right. It focuses onto a fixed point in the material hopper, to make a small bead of glass from sand, dirt, or ceramic clay powder. (whatever is locally the cheapest) From

  • by carrier lost (222597) on Friday May 24, 2013 @02:13PM (#43815205) Homepage

    Science is trying to pump out new technologies faster than governments can ban them or corporations can lock them up with patents.

    This is really starting to get interesting...

  • Now that would sting!

  • Professor Ronald Rael, the head of the project, stated that these materials and the designs they enable will require new IP protections — 'This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are.'

    Isn't this the same complication that been hashed back and forth for source code on software for years now? Source code is the "design" or the instructions on how to build....the executable is created by automated builder called "compilers" and such....not a new problem just because it involves a 3D printer....

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