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Hard but interesting-- beyond 3D printing - Input Junkie
April 3rd, 2016
12:25 pm


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Hard but interesting-- beyond 3D printing
Making vinyl records is up against a bunch of challenges. It was chugging along quietly as a niche with some difficulties-- it's highly skilled work that takes very specific machines, skills, and knowledge, all of which were becoming more rare, but then it all got a lot tighter when some big record companies decided to go back to making vinyl records.

The thing that caught my eye wasn't so much the specifics as that figuring out how to replicate a thing is much harder than it sounds.

3d printing is a matter of exploring a tiny fraction of a huge realm. I think 3d printing is massively cool, and I'm delighted when I find out about another material it can handle. It looks like a combined additive and subtractive printer exists but costs two million dollars.

A very casual search suggests that there are no 3d printers which can handle more than one material for the same project.

Imagine a device which could examine something and figure out how to make it using conventional manufacturing methods if necessary. I'm not sure how close to a general artificial intelligence it would need to be, but it's hard in a different direction than the research I've been hearing about. I'm sure that partial solutions would be developed long before there was anything approaching a general ability to figure out replication.

In the interests of avoiding the easy science fiction plots, it's just able to replicate things people can make, not living things.

It might be able to do research as well as figuring out how to replicate things by studying them and using knowledge of science and engineering. It wouldn't surprise me if some of that machinery for making vinyl records is abandoned in warehouses or factories.

First link thanks to andrewducker.

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(5 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:April 4th, 2016 03:14 am (UTC)
I started working in radio in 1966, when the "top 40" format was peaking. Radio stations received promotional copies of the latest 45 rpm records from all the major labels. But there was a problem with those 45s; the more often they were played, the worse they sounded. No matter how delicate the stylus, no matter how carefully the records are handled, every time a record is played, some of the vinyl is literally scraped out of the grooves. That, combined with the inevitable scratches, quickly degraded the quality and fidelity of the sound. The same was true of album tracks, of course. (At the time, radio stations got around this by copying each new tune to a tape cartridge - a cleverly wound loop of magnetic tape that automatically stops at the beginning of the audio, so that it can be played again on demand. Audio tape degrades too, but much more slowly!)

TL;DR - I don't understand the recent "vinyl revival". The sound quality of digital media is much more durable, and quite often better to begin with. (And don't even get me started on tube vs. solid-state circuitry!)

OTOH, I'm very excited by all the possibilities of 3D printing. I wish I could afford a 3D printer myself - not to mention the design software associated with it!

[User Picture]
Date:April 4th, 2016 09:02 pm (UTC)
Laser turntable-- no more metal stylus! I don't know what the "everything should be analog" crowd thinks of them.

If you'll settle for someone else owning the 3d printer, there's Shapeways.

Edited at 2016-04-04 09:03 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:April 5th, 2016 12:09 pm (UTC)
Either the laser turntable is an idea whose time hasn't come yet, or else it's like monorails - went from "futuristic" to "obsolete" without ever passing through "current". I rather hope it's the former, because it's a really cool idea.

And I can't even afford to buy off-the-shelf products from Shapeways at this point in my life. What I'd really like is to have a computer that will run CAD/CAM software that can drive a 3D printer, but I can't even afford the software - and I have no idea whether I'd be able to learn how to use it, although I suspect I'd manage. (But if I ever win the super-mega-power lottery, I'll have a room full of 3D printers, each capable of using various materials, from chocolate to glass to steel...)

[User Picture]
Date:April 5th, 2016 01:14 pm (UTC)
Could you use Shapeways to make things to sell?

Edited at 2016-04-05 01:15 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2016 04:01 am (UTC)
I don't know. I don't seem to have any artistic abilities, but I won't know what I might be able to do with CAD until I get an opportunity to try to learn it.
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