Monthly Archives

May 2016

Ethereum

Ethereum and The DAO

By | Thoughts | No Comments

I followed the Ethereum evolution since last summer.

Ethereum

Ethereum was sort of the step beyond the creation of Bitcoin. It still uses the blockchain structure but instead of just focusing on cryptocoins, it can manage any type of contract, in fact it holds a piece of code. So they are called smart contracts.

The blockchain, through its decentralized network of users, performs the validation of the contracts. You can build anything over the Ethereum structure, like more cryptocoins, any type of transactional service to the point that you could even get married in Ethereum, have a land registry in there and track all real estate buy and sell transactions, even a decentralized organization. Up to your imagination.

It is really powerful. Many startups are working on services on top of it.

It is so powerful that a group of banks are also looking at the blockchain concept to build a private blockchain network among them and simplify their internal transactions, especially in the validation aspect. It is expected to bring high levels of savings just because of that, in addition to the immediacy of validation and reduction of risk.

Ethereum raised a cryptocoin to fund the foundation that works on the development. It is the Ether (ETH), which is available for trading in several trading services such as Poloniex or Kraken. Since July the ETH value has multiplied several times its value and now there is also a substantial increase due to the release of The DAO.

DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization. It is based on Ethereum and it is an organization based on software. The DAO is a type of smart contract that allows to run a decentralized organization. The first DAO to appear is The DAO and was created by Slock.it team and funded during this month of May. The participants exchange ETH for DAO tokens. The tokens owners have capability to submit proposals to The DAO and to vote upon proposals The DAO has received. There is a Curator role to avoid misbehaviors, for example someone having the majority putting a proposal to take all the ETH sent to him.

The DAO is a piece of code that manages ETH in fact, so it cannot own things and, even the huge amount of funding it is taking (as of today 143 million dollars), it cannot act as an investment fund. But it can sign contracts with contractors, when this has been voted in a proposal. More details in this TechCrunch article.

There is a high expectation with The DAO, I am concerned that the speculation is really high here. And there is also a lot of uncertainty. As the funding gets bigger and bigger and the only possible activity is to request services we will see the ability to bring some ROI there. Anyway the destiny of the DAO will be driven by the proposals and the token owners votes. We don’t know if there are any major investors that could strongly influence its direction with their votes.

This is the first experiment of a decentralized organization, and in fact Ethereum provides the infrastructure to build more DAOs on top of it. Let’s see how this evolves.

I see a lot of potential for community driven activities where there is no owner and no need for a foundation, particularly in open source ones.

For example let’s say a repository of models for 3D printing. There are many repositories out there but the most relevant are linked to a 3D printer manufacturer e.g. Thingiverse, Youmagine and Pinshape. This dependency on a “for profit” company is not very reassuring. So we could build a DAO with small contribution from several people. It has less risk than a crowdfunding since the funds use is decided by proposals vote of the members and you can steer the destiny of the DAO through participation.

Something to think about…!

Yoda ABS

3D printing – the hype is finished

By | 3D Printing, Thoughts | No Comments

We are all human and we cannot avoid to get excited. This explains some of the bubbles, magnified by the natural drive to greed for some people.

3D Printing for consumers

We also suffered this with 3D printing. In fact, it follows the natural cycle that Gartner points in the Annual Hype Cycle Chart.

lt’s interesting to see in this blog the evolution of Gartner charts since 2012. Consumer 3D printing moved from the peak of Inflated Expectations to way in the Trough of Disillusionment. However, Enterprise 3D printing is approaching the Plateau of Productivity.

 

gartner-hype-2012-to-2015

The effect is already visible, with several movements and announcements:

Pinshape joins Formlabs

3D Printing for Enterprise

In Enterprise 3D Printing there is not much to say. The industry existed for thirty years, formerly known as Rapid Prototyping and it will continue to grow. I don’t know the 2015 stats, but until now and for all these years this industry experienced annual growth rates of 25-30%.

Whv? Because 3D printing has obvious advantages for prototyping. In addition, during this hype period new fabrication techniques and tools, or substantial improvements, have moved 3D printing from the prototyping scenario to final product fabrication. This is the case of aeronautical companies, automobile, health and others that benefit of 3D printing fabrication of high value added products.

lt is true that 3D printing allows making objects with complex geometries, impossible to build in another way. So they simplify the fabrication process, add lightness and strength with maximum customization, and these advantages keep spreading into more and more industries. Enterprise 3D printing will not stop growing since there is a clear driver for improvement.

Conclusions

On the other hand, the consumer 3D printing is decreasing. Deception among consumers?
Probably. The manufacturers also deserve it somehow. I remember pictures of Makerbot a couple of years ago where they were showing objects that were not made with their own printers, pure unfaithful marketing. The consumer has not been properly educated, giving the impression that it was another home appliance and as easy to use as an appliance, only thinking about selling and selling more. While in fact the printers have maintenance, have problems, bottom line you need to be patient. And all this to make objects that are not wonderful in fact.

You reap what you sow, so here it is: Disillusionment.

In our 3D Print Barcelona group we have been using 3D printers for years, and we make clear the constraints and limitations in our Introduction events. Sooner or later you will have to deal with the 3D printer. Our group events continue to be fully crowded, so I cannot tell from this if there is a downward trend.
In fact events like “3D printing workshop: from your mind to your hands” had a waiting list longer than the attendees numbers. We scheduled another session and we had waiting list again. What is special here? it is hands-on. We explain how to make the whole process starting with the idea, modeling with an application, slicing to transfer it to the 3D printer and finally the printing.

There is no star use case for consumers. For example, 2D printer avoided people to go to the printing shops then. I think it was more about comfort than price, since the price per liter of the ink is way higher than any other liquid on the planet. Now 2D printers are also in a downward trend because the smartphones adoption has made us all more digital. One example: you don’t need to print the ticket anymore to attend an event, or the boarding pass to board a plane.
In 3D printing you have two options as a consumer:

  • You model objects yourself
  • You download models from a repository

Using only the second option does not justify the cost of a 3D printer. However, there was a study that concluded that printing your day to day objects was even cheaper than buying them so you could offset the printer cost.
When I started in 3D printing 3 years ago I thought modeling was the bottleneck, the one thing that prevented 3D printer massive adoption at home. I was thinking about the long learning curve of a CAD application then. But when I see software so intuitive as TinkerCAD, I think this is not the problem anymore.

The problem is to have something to print. And I am not talking about the usual Yodas and vases. I am talking about something that people need, in the broader sense of need.

Leaving hobbies particular cases apart and the prosumers who use the printer for some professional or almost professional activities, what people around me is printing at home is:

  • Replacements and repairs. Old spare parts that broke and there is no replacement. You model it and you print it. e.g. an old microwave button.
  • Objects improvements. Tuning stuff. e.g. a bicycle support, GoPro accessories.
  • Practical customized objects. e.g. small drawers to keep something in particular, USB cables support to fit at your table, etc.
  • Decoration. The vases and the Yodas!

Yoda ABS

You have to be passionate about the topic to get involved, honestly.
How many 3D printers may be parked somewhere at people’s home? Who knows…
Anyway I am ta king at macro levels. The big sales and consumer industry growth are gone, does not mean that there are niches that will continue to grow.

In prosumers it’s obvious, the DLP 3D printers bloomed and there are more and more jewelry shops that use them. Designers need to see their creations quick and with the ability to perform iterations, no sense to order it outside since you offset the printer cost pretty soon.
Makers are always making stuff, it is a nice tool to combine with other things.
And we have the hobbyists. They find multiple options to apply 3D printing in their hobby. If it is related to small dimensions they may need a DLP 3D printer, for example for train models.

Let’s see how this evolves in the following months.

A petar

Mini MakerFaire Barcelona 2016

By | 3D Printing, Events, maker | No Comments

[Reviewing my blog I found a post that was never published. From February this year. Here it goes as is]

Last Sunday we went to the Barcelona Mini MakerFaire, that took place at CosmoCaixa. With our 3d Print Barcelona group.

It’s not the same to organize than to exhibit, clear enough. We just sorted out what we were going to do in a couple of meetings.

For the Printer Party it took us a month and a half with weekly meetings, it is really not the same 😉

We went around 10 volunteers from our group. I was even a bit embarrassed when sending such a big list of participants to the organization, but well, they know us..

Some stayed the whole day, while the rest were shifting between morning and afternoon.

The group article is in this link, so I am going to explain the most personal piece.

A petar

Few members of the group in  full action

The place got really crowded, we honestly did not know how it was going to go in such a far place, but it was already full the moment they opened.  And it got even more full during the day!

On Saturday I printed the group logo, in big size, so I had to make it in two pieces. First the “3D” that I could finish at home, then I had the “Print Barcelona” to do the they after during the faire because I had to bring the 3d printer to CosmoCaixa the afternoon before. All unloading was done this day.

Logo 3D

The logo, the piece made at home

So I started another print during the faire.

Logo 3D 2a parte

A failed printing attempt

We had fail samples already, but well, here goes a fail in time. If you look at the right side you will notice a warping. Lack of hairspray was the verdict 😉

Due to my involvement in LynxCross gym, a functional training a bit special because it includes vertical moves on a wall, I no longer follow the maker and 3d printing movement as I did in the past. There is a lot of DIY in my gym, if anyone is interested or curious to see it he is welcome! it’s in Sants neighborhood.

So that these type of events come in handy to get up to speed quickly. You can see things lije a 6 extruders 3D printer, or someone growing up mushrooms with a system automated with Arduino, and others in similar fashion that just keep me in surprise mode.

The most common were drones and 3D printers. We start to have some SLAs in Barcelona: one from Printhatshit, a new one from Raúl from Hangar and I saw another one shown by I did not have the time to talk to them.

Many known people from Barcelona circle between makerspaces and local shops, many of them from group members with a drive for entrepreneurship that have started their own business. And that unfortunately we see less by now, because they have to attend their own business!!

Plenty of good vibes between the people, David from 3D-Seed gave me a sample of PETG filament to test it, but I did not notice it was 1.75 filament and I continue with the old fashioned 3mm. Soon it will be three years with my 3d printer! so I had to give this sample to someone else in our group.

Roger from BCN 3D Technologies gave me a spool of PLA from Colorfila also to test it. It is local filament, and I am hearing positive comments about it, good that we have local products to supports entrepreneurs from here.

Jordi from Makers and Bits gave me a 3D printed minion also haha.

I am printing the second part of the logo again, to have it done once and for all. when it’s done I will test this filament.

From our stand the most successful were the the Fails. We could not get much because I thought about it the evening before. We knew there were many shops, showing the marvels that can be done with 3d printing. What could we add as a non for profit group? well, showing the less nice part, the fails. We all go through it and it is good that people know that it happens and how to prevent them.

Fails

In fact right there the filament broke and I had a fail. You can avoid it, by keeping the filament in a zip bag with dryer material away from humidity, but I haven’t done it before.

The second thing with most success were the 3D printed letters, because we were giving them for free! we had so many spared from the Printer Party that we still have to giver. In fact we missed something important, to add a sign stating that they were for free, only someone thought about it in the afternoon.

And then another thing that was catching a lot of attention from kids was the 3D printed Tetris, because you can play to place the pieces at your will. Some kids were directly jumping into moving pieces around without even asking…times change. What is interesting is the lack of references in some cases, it’s not a modern game, and I was seeing some kids setting pieces on the top side, like a jigsaw. Anyone that has played with Tetris puts the pieces starting at the bottom without even thinking about it, just where the pieces would fall in the game 😛

Tetris

I also met César and Sara from Makespace Madrid, that let me touch and hold the awaited “Manual de Supervivencia Maker” book. They made it happen, not without plenty of effort and issues that happen in such a project. In my case I contributed to the e-book version that I am already reading since few days.

 

Well, a full big day, with plenty of curious people, many creators and new things to learn.