Tuesday, January 26, 2010

3-D "Printers" - You and I would look at this and say, "that ain't no printer...it's a replicator from Star Trek"

Except for the one I just saw, at one of the most prestigious school's of design(and a current client) in the world, uses an Epson printhead.

Huh.

I was interrupting her lunch - my tour of Otis included all floors and the wood shop. Off the wood shop, my ad-hoc tour guide, pointed out the school's 3-D printers.

Having only heard of such things, I had to see and query whoever was around. How does this thing work and how is it being used by the students, I wondered.

The second thing that struck me was that she called the process, "printing", the first thing, she's cute.

I haven't been on a college campus in nearly 30 years, those were engineering/business type schools - and as a student of Management Information Systems, I never, ever, rubbed elbows with the Art Majors - well, at least in a classroom setting.

So my curiosity was piqued as I walked through the doors on the first floor of Otis College of Art and Design, in L.A. near LAX.

Business First -

The school had recently gone through one of our recent MPS studies and implementation resulted in the number of output devices going from hundreds to less than two dozen. Reducing costs and streamlining support.

IT handles the connected, printing devices. Unfortunately, Facilities "takes care" of the copiers.

Yes, I know, I can here your eyes rolling all around the world.

But some organizations still think that technology decisions should be "taken care of" by the same folks who bid out roofing and painting jobs. Never-mind the fact that the "copy room" has probably the oldest copiers left on the planet and that a hot-line, I kid you not, a real, honest to goodness, Red Phone, was installed right next to the X for quick, immediate action when the copier breaks.

Anywho...let's focus on the good - open classrooms and nude models.

For you artsy types, open classrooms are probably nothing new. For we unfamilars, the phrase refers to classrooms with no walls or doors - picture a floor with four, separate areas, all open, each with a professor, some counters and a few white boards.

And of course, curtains. Nude models, after all, have some modesty.

Well, there weren't any nude models, if there were, it would be my luck that some oily bo-hunk, just off the runway would be flexing right next to one of my M3035's - while I explained how to scan to email...but that didn't happen, thank the MPS gods.

All in all, my just in time supplies management, remote monitoring and pro-active service MPS Engagement is running smoothly and the client is currently happy - all's good.

I held in my had a big, plastic spoon, much like the utensil one would use to toss a salad. This spoon, had been "printed", by the Epson print head using, a 3D printer.

The process is somewhat simple. Designs are submitted to the machine. Multiple layers, or slices, are printed out of a powdery substance.

Thousands of layers printed, resulting in a physical item - imagine thousands of sheets of paper, each cut in a particular manner that when stacked on each other, the unique patterned sheets, create a shape. 


It's like a CatScan in reverse.

I was enthralled. Some of the final prototypes looked like items just off a production line; the finishing made them look like chrome or metal. Stunning.

No wonder defining MPS is so challenging.

"Tea, Earl Grey, Hot"



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