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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Materials and Strengths

Like probably just about everyone else, I have been appalled by the latest news. It seems that most everywhere one looks, new conflicts and new refusals to deal with them are popping up even while our pretend solutions for previous problems are wearing very thin. 

I mean, it's a damnably depressing day when one's reaction to Israel going into the Gaza strip is "Finally!" 

I will get back to posting, but first, something that's the opposite of depressing

It's supposed to go into production soon, and this 3D printer can print carbon-fiber on a matrix. 

This is causing me intense positive emotions, and I am going to enjoy just thinking about the possibilities for a few days. 

Surely US education is all wrong? We are wasting tremendous sums of money educating a lot of people in skills we don't need, when the basic education to work with such tech is really almost absent. There can never have been a time when a basic technical education can provide any individual with such huge opportunities? 

If you have kids, getting them into this sort of thing very early - late elementary school to junior high - would be a great investment.


Holy cow! I only need one project requiring a one-off moderately complicated machined-aluminum part in order for that thing to pay for itself.


There's a lot of stuff like this coming along. Manufacturing, energy, biomedical, defense, aerospace...a lot to be very optimistic about.

I get depressed when I realize that the political climate tends to repressing every single one of these ideas. It's going to be a long, hard slog.

If you are not depressed enough, here is more...

"Subprime woes are back: This time in used cars"

The problem is that the community colleges don't develop programs fast enough for the technology. The bureaucracy moves too slowly.

In 1995, when I went into the first computer training at our local community college, they started out training for help desk. By the time I was out, they were training for pc techs. The The 4 year colleges were even worse. They were training programmers. The colleges that have courses like computer forensics are the for-profits like Phoenix. Of course, if you go that router, the regular colleges will not give you credit. We need trade schools. My boyfriend, back in the day, went to welding trade school on the GI bill. Let's bypass the people that want to route you into traditional colleges and put you heavily into debt. To do that, companies will have to stop throwing away resumes that don't have a BA. (And I would love to see more apprenticeship programs, but realize that businesses have decided that they will not train anyone to do their jobs.)
There's a company in Germany that makes a 3d printer for metal.

Sorry to say it but this type of thing causes job destruction and increases the wealth divide.

Remember when the Soviet Union had a party official stationed at each sanctioned photocopier to make sure no anti leaflets could be duplicated?

How are they going to stop people from making guns with this printer?
CF - those have been around for some time - but they have been industrial equipment. In industry it was called rapid prototyping or additive manufacturing, and I'm pretty sure they were working with sintered metals back in the 1980s.

There's an Israeli co called Stratasys that seems to be the leader in the new lower-level high-tech material options that are industrial precision grade. But even a Connex3 will cost you I think around 300K. Who knows what a Fortus system costs?
Those machines work with advanced (and expensive) thermoplastic materials as well as others.

The linked 3D printer in the post is the first affordable solution with this type of capability. It's pre-production, so it will be interesting to see the reviews.

In terms of jobs, I think it will generate many. The big competition now is in the materials, and there are already companies pushing home filament extruders.

I would say this sort of thing wouldn't be too good for Chinese jobs, but in the developed world, times are changing, and they are changing for the better.
I spent last weekend with a friend who has recently completed her PhD in anthropology at age 40. She's in adjunct hell; can't make enough to get ahead, no benefits to speak of, very little protection.

She really, really wants to teach at the college level. I want to sit her down and explain that she has no realistic hope of ever getting a tenured position. She will spend the rest of her life paying off that degree mortgage doing the scut work for those who got in ahead of her. But she hasn't asked me for advice, so I don't offer it.

She told me that the adjuncts are going to unionize. "Good luck with that," I thought, but didn't say. All of those administrators with their secret bonuses and no-repay loans are all in favor of unions at Walmart, but they won't stand for any sort of union that has power at their schools.

But, yeah...a printer like that gives a guy ideas. I'm pretty much resigned to the idea, since November 2012, that this wonderful idea is over, and we should do what we can to make the downward slide pleasant. A few thousand of those, and folks can hold off the collapse for a while longer.
Teri- The whole movement towards requiring bachelor's degrees started when the Supreme Court decreed that using tests of competency to make hiring decisions were the wrong type of discrimination, but they did say that firms could use a requirement of bachelor's degree to weed out applicants. One way to get around this is to go the community college route as far as possible. Or, put non- politically correct people on the Supreme Court.
Gordon - I have reluctantly and indeed frantically adopted the idea that the honeybee-loving suicidal coalition is strong enough that it is going to wreak havoc over the next five years. When the power starts going out, people will wake up and pay attention.

These are idiots, but they are not useful to any but the very few.

It will not be pretty, but it will be change.
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