On the heels of the Togo story featured in my Oct. 1, 2013 posting titled, Kodjo Afate Gnikou and his team in Togo create the world’s first 3D printer for less than $US100, it seems there’s another $100 3D printer and one much closer to home. From a Nov. 6, 2013 news item on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting News) online,
Rylan Grayston, 28, from Yorkton [Saskatchewan], said curiosity fuelled his quest to create a 3-D copier that sells for just $100. Other versions of the high-tech device exist for several thousand dollars or more.
“I didn’t have enough money for a 3-D printer that I wanted, so I just started thinking about how can I do this myself?” Grayston told CBC News in an interview at a shop in Saskatoon where he is working, with his brother, on his project.
“All I want to do is invent,” Grayston said about the possible riches associated with an affordable 3-D printer. “I would love to have lots of money so I can pull off my other inventions. … I don’t want to buy a yacht. I won’t be buying any fancy cars.”
According to the CBC news item, Grayston has no formal engineering or computer science training/education. I gather he likes to figure things out for himself. He and his brother have produced a video (one of a series produced for their Kickstarter and inidiegogo crowdfunding campaigns and other publicity and public outreach campaigns), explaining the principles behind their printer,
The CBC news item describes the technology more simply,
Grayston’s software converts an object into file data using a sound-card on his laptop. The information on that audio file is sent to mirrors and laser beams which vibrate and move in accord with the data to carve 3-D objects from a specialized acrylic resin.
Unlike other, more expensive, devices Grayston’s Peachy Printer has no motors or microprocessors.
At least one expert is impressed (from the CBC news item),
“It blows my mind,” David Gerhard, a computer science professor at the University of Regina told CBC News. “The way that they’re doing things is so sort of different from the way normal 3-D printers work, that it’s quite amazing to see the shift in thinking.”
“It completely changes the game,” Gerhard said of the machine he saw, first hand, in Yorkton. “To be able to do it for a hundred bucks and basically with stuff you can find around your house, that’s the thing that changes everything.”
The Peachy Printer website‘s store isn’t open yet but once the participants in the two crowdfunding campaigns have received their kits (you do have to build your 3D Peachy Printer) the rest of us can purchase one.
Interestingly, the Graystons have included a page on Ethics on their Peachy Printer website,
We want to run our business on a set of specific moral principles…
1. Using Freedom Respecting and Open Source software. We think that you should have the right to:
– Choose and change how your computer does its computing.
– Let others change how your computer does its computing.
– Share your changes so that other people can benefit from them.
– See exactly how our software works. We won’t ask you to trust us blindly, you can read our source code and see for yourself!
“I see software patents as a very sad anomaly, especially the way they are being used in this day and age. I’m not saying that I disagree with patents entirely, or that I won’t ever use them. I’m saying that I wish the whole situation was different… More focused on really encouraging innovation instead of stifling it in the name of profit. I think that patents can be a useful tool, however they should not be allowed to exist for 20 years. That’s not in the best interest of innovation, that’s in the best interest of maximum profit for corporations. I also find it rather disturbing that our legal system allows one person to sue another person simply for acting on some thoughts that they genuinely had on their own, wrote down in code, and implemented.”
– Rylan Grayston – Inventor of the Peachy Printer
,I am particularly interested in the first principle for which I applaud Rylan Grayston. I have written many times on the topic of patents (intellectual property) and my Nov. 23, 2012 posting which focuses on nanotechnology patents and a situation in the 3D printing community seems a good fit here. Of course, I wish I hadn’t seen this on the Peachy Printer Kickstarter campaign page,
You know how everyone and their Grandmother has a paper printer? Well, wouldn’t it be cool if everyone and their Grandmother had a 3D printer? It definitely would, but this isn’t a reality for 2 reasons:
– 3D Printers still quite expensive.
– They aren’t very simple. Good luck teaching your Grandma how to use one! [emphasis mine]
Old ladies can’t figure out complicated things, eh? The Graystons may want to check the Grandma Got STEM website profiled in my March 27, 2013 posting,,
Jeff Bittel thank you for a story (Mar. 26, 2013 on Slate) about Rachel Levy and the website where she gently blows up the notion/stereotype that older women don’t understand science and technology and that they are too old to learn (Note: A link has been removed),
Is your grandmother a particle physicist? Did she help the Navy build submarines or make concoctions of chlorine gas on the family’s front porch? Or is she a mathematician, inventor, or engineer? If so, then baby, your grandma’s got STEM.
Grandma Got STEM is a celebration of women working in and contributing to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is also designed to combat the doting, fumbling, pie-making stereotype of grandmatrons.
That’s why Rachel Levy, an associate professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, is collecting the stories of grandmas across the various fields of STEM. She first got the idea after hearing someone utter the phrase, “Just explain it like you would to your grandma.”
At first blush, such a thing seems harmless. But think about what it means—basically, all older women are stupid.
“For two or three years I thought about how I could address this issue without just making people angry and more inclined to use the phrase,” Levy told me. “If I could come up with a million examples of grandmothers who were tech-savvy, people wouldn’t say it anymore because it wouldn’t be apt.”
Here’s an excerpt from a Sept. 27, 2013 posting on Grandma Got STEM,
… mathematician, and electronic music composer Delia Derbyshire. Derbyshire realized Ron Grainer’s score for the theme song of the popular science fiction series Doctor Who, but never received credit or royalties for her work.[emphasis mine]
While it’s more common to dismiss ‘old women’, it also happens to old men. Let’s hope that the Graystons come to realize they too will be old one day and dismissed as unable to learn new things, likely by their own children and grandchildren. Isn’t it time to start changing our attitudes towards aging and learning?
Moving on, it’s good to see innovation in Canada, I wonder if anyone will notice? There’s so much bemoaning by Canadian politicians, bureaucrats, and the aristocrats of the business community about the lack of innovation here (as per my latest on the topic, a Nov. 1, 2013 posting) that no one seems to be asking the question, how do we encourage the innovation already present in Canada?
I also want to note that Canada’s Prairie provinces seem to be a good place to innovate. There’s the Peachy Printer in Saskatchewan and the Urbee car (my latest on that project is in an Aug. 28, 2012 posting) in Manitoba. Go Prairies!