Part 2 of the 3D Printer post

Welcome back. In Part 1 I explained the basics of 3D printing up until the time we start the printer itself, ie. the virtual design using Blender.

To get an idea of the printer, this is an introductory video from MiniFactory, which is a Finnish company. It costs 1,500 EUR, about 1,800 USD, and it can print objects using either PLA (a corn starch based substance), ABS plastic, or even nylon. It was delivered almost ready to print, and I think it is an extremely useful and suitable device for entering the fascinating world of 3D printing.

Installation is minimal: you plug in the USB cord, install Repetier Host, run through a calibration routine, place the material spools in the rack, and you’re good to go. The next picture identifies the main parts of the machine – click on the image to see it better.

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3D Printing has arrived at HAAGA-HELIA, part 1

Oops – a little time has elapsed since my last post; my apologies.

But now there is something new to report. HAAGA-HELIA, being the progressive school it is, approved my purchase request in short order, and bought a MiniFactory v3 3D printer to augment the 3D capabilities of the school.

As it stands, we have a course in Basic 3D Design with Blender (3 ECTS), and another one called Extended 3D Design with Blender (3 ECTS). These are a package that will first give you a solid understanding of how to do 3D, and in the extended course, students get a problem-based view into a subsection of Blender that they get to choose. It can be material creation, texturing, animation, modeling for game engines, or whatever can be deemed sufficiently large to warrant the 3 study points. Now we can add 3D printing to that, but at this point I am not sure of the format of the course.

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Make a Win Phone app… and then?

I had a specific need. I needed a bomb sight correction calculator.

When I have some spare time, I fly the IL-2 Sturmovik, which is a wonderful, action-packed WW2 air combat simulator. On servers there may be up to 50 pilots in the air, flying a wide array of aircraft, and serving a number of roles. Some are fighter pilots, some fly ground attack planes, and some, like myself, fly bombers. My favorites are the Japanese Mitsubishi G4M Betty and the German Ju 88 and Heinkel 111.

The game is so well made that it even includes a bomb sight for accurate bombing. This device relies on the altitude and airspeed to decide when is the perfect time to release the bombs. It takes quite a lot of practice to master the device, but when you know what you are doing, you can plant a bomb in the target with relative ease and precision.

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How much can an IT system cost?

Finland, as you know, claims to be at the forefront of public IT systems. We have long enjoyed net banking (I used it first in 1993 via an IBM minicomputer link from the office, before there was a WWW service for that) and many other services such as the sterling Tax Office system. Most companies and public offices offer ways for the consumers to view and alter their own data held in the IT systems.

Still, I was a little miffed when I saw the cost estimate for the next generation patient data management system that the healthcare sector is beginning to put together, because the price tag rests at 1.8 billion euros. Wow. Just wow.

Don’t get me wrong. I know it is a big system, it must be very robust and secure, and all data must be stowed away in storage that just will not fail. But for 1.95 billion euros, NASA put Curiosity onto Mars just now, and a patient data system is not rocket science. 1.8Bn euros is just such a bunch of cash that one has to wonder what we will get with it. (more…)