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back to article Cheap 3D printer works with steel

The one thing that made 3D printed guns tolerable to the non-gun-owning community was that they were made of plastic, because metal 3D printers were costly. Now, a bunch of scientists from Michigan Tech are showing off a cheap 3D printer that fabricates in metal. Metal 3D printing isn't new, but it's been expensive until now. …

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Now this is more like it.

It's not so much the immediate price tag, it's the ability to refill the thing by chucking a 99p cutlery set or a pile of empty drinks cans at it.

The headless chickens going on about guns can fuck off and go wibble at something else. You can make a gun out of a pipe and a few other bits and pieces, so let's shut down B&Q for selling deadly weapons without a license, eh?

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Re: Now this is more like it.

Not really. The cutlery set is only a part of the equation.

The difference between this uni project and a real 3D metal printer (one which you can actually use to print a gun barrel) is that you enclose the whole rig in an inert atmosphere. As anyone who has done some welding can testifiy a weld (regardless how good it is) always absorbs oxygen making its mechanical quality nowhere near that of solid metal. In other words - while it may "print" a sprocket, I am not putting that sprocket in my car any time soon as it will last only a couple of miles :)

So you need to add to it the argon bottles, pressurisation equipment, etc. You also need to make the whole rig tunable to accommodate for the infinite variety of "cutlery" sets you chuck into as well as detect what cutlery set was chucked in in the first place. That is rather difficult so you are likely to end up using pre-mixed pellets with appropriate flux and other additives mixed in too. That will not be 99p any time soon.

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Re: M Blowhard Re: Now this is more like it.

"It's not so much the immediate price tag, it's the ability to refill the thing by chucking a 99p cutlery set or a pile of empty drinks cans at it......." If you're making copies of tin toys, maybe, but anything where you need strength in the steel - such as a gun barrel or engine gear - your cutlery set is not going to do the job. High-strength steel is carefully fabricated and I doubt if a welding set used as a smelter is going to do the job with cheap knives and forks.

"....You can make a gun out of a pipe and a few other bits and pieces, so let's shut down B&Q for selling deadly weapons without a license, eh?" Don't be sillier than you have to be. A gun made out of commercial piping and bits from B&Q is not going to be as safe or as useful as a proper commercial weapon.

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Re: Now this is more like it. Argon bottles - tick

pressurised environment - you only need a positive pressure which can be achieved with a plastic sheet so tick too.

As for metal of the perfect mix - I doubt that's necessary - just something close with a bit more 'in case' thickness.

But as a previous poster pointed out you can make a gun out of all sorts of bits and pieces and you can even make different sorts of lethal and non lethal weapons from the shit you find in shops.

Its education these paranoids need to ban to feel happy.

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Re: Now this is more like it.

This is essentially an off-the-shelf MIG welder with the gun attached to a 3D-printer style mount. Not a complicated idea, though getting it to work reliably is the tricky part. It's fed with standard spools of welding wire and inert gas; there's no way to throw random scrap metal into it, and you wouldn't want to anyway – the resulting objects would be little better than scrap themselves.

Depending on the wire alloy and shielding gas used, the printed parts could be reasonably strong. It'll never be as good as forged steel, but still more than adequate for most low- and medium-strain applications.

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Re: M Blowhard Now this is more like it.

"A gun made out of commercial piping and bits from B&Q is not going to be as safe or as useful as a proper commercial weapon."

Nor is a "liberator" but the fact that they exist is generating calls for 3d printers to be carefully licensed and/or banned.

It's pretty easy to make a zip gun using stuff in a home or high school workshop. It used to be somewhat of a fad at my school until someone accidentally got shot in the arm.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now this is more like it. Argon bottles - tick

"you can even make different sorts of lethal and non lethal weapons from the shit you find in shops. Its education these paranoids need to ban to feel happy."

Education works both ways, e.g. by extending technical capabilities usable for various good or bad purposes, and educating people on the fact that societies with very strict gun laws e.g. the UK have many fewer murders per head of population than societies such as the US which consider gun ownership a fundamental human right - if that were true presumably this "right" would be extendible to any lunatic or criminal not currently institutionalised.

Paranoia not needed or justified. Just lock up anyone found in possession of an unlicensed gun however obtained without good excuse (e.g. former SAS man given one as gift) for a very long time.

Educating people about this isn't paranoid whatever your take on this and the swords or ploughshares issue has always been about appropriate and inappropriate uses of technology, and not opposition to technology itself.

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Re: pre-mixed pellets

I'd suspect it's more likely to be a reel of wire, like the kind most continuous welding machines already use... and a bottle of argon (or co2 mix?) like welding machines already use will be cheap.. And who needs expensive pressurisation etc? when you can just overflow the box with argon dribble feed, much like current welders do..

Sounds like this can all be achieved with a welding machine fitted to a cnc mill..

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Re: M Blowhard Now this is more like it.

"Blowhard", coming from Matt Bryant? Sorry, but you have zero right to call anybody that and be taken seriously.

If you're making copies of tin toys, maybe, but anything where you need strength in the steel - such as a gun barrel or engine gear - your cutlery set is not going to do the job.

How about we wait until a few people have made things and tested them before saying what this kit will or won't do? Personally I don't think the inert environment this apparently needs would be that expensive to maintain. Nitrogen is cheap and plentiful, bottles of CO2 can be refilled/exchanged at anywhere that does Soda Stream, for a couple of quid, and it doesn't have to be a hermetically sealed box. Besides, it seems that the thing uses standard MIG welding wire. So strong enough.

A gun made out of commercial piping and bits from B&Q is not going to be as safe or as useful as a proper commercial weapon.

A zip gun made out of materials of known strength and composition (like a nice thick steel pipe) is probably a hell of a lot safer than anything bought after falling off the back of a lorry. You know, the sort of illegal firearms that the sky-falling-on-head crowd don't think about, because they don't seem to be thinking in any capacity whatsoever.

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Re: M Blowhard Now this is more like it.

Pipe bombs were a fad at my school 30+ years ago. Several of the farm kids would blow up old outhouses (shitters) with them.

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Re: pre-mixed pellets

Yes, the second link in the article shows the bill of material and it is just a wire feed welder. It also includes a picture of a printed "sprocket" which I enclose in quotes because it's more a roughly sprocket shaped blob of metal than a proper ready to use sprocket. Given it is near net shape it could likely be finished with a bit of machining but it's no high volume production machine.

The best use I can see for this "printer" is as a home welding robot and in that regard, I'll take two with the second somewhat larger that will weld at least 1/4" steel please.

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FAIL

Re: M Wail Re: M Blowhard Now this is more like it.

LOL, quit crying and just admit you didn't think it through. What does your zip gun fire, a .22? Not even a .22LR, I bet. Come back when you can 3D print a repeating weapon that fires a round actually more dangerous to the target than the firer, accurately and reliably, and for only a few hundred bucks. Until then you're just urinating into your namesake and trying to pretend it's smart being stinky and wet.

There are currently NO CONTROLS in the US or UK for purchasing the kind of lathes and drill presses that you could use to make a PROPER gun. I know because my Dad's old company used to have all the bits for making engine parts to order for out-of-production sports cars, and some of the machinery had previously been used during WW2 to make Sten guns. And that's the old, hand-controlled machinery, not modern CAD-driven lathes and presses. I know EXACTLY how hard and specialised the steels need to be used for such roles, and smelted kitchen cutlery is not going to do the job. Once again, you should have done a bit of research before posting.

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Re: M Wail M Blowhard Now this is more like it.

Did I say that this machine will be awesome for making your own AK47? What, I didn't?

Did I just say "The headless chickens going on about guns can fuck off and go wibble at something else. You can make a gun out of a pipe and a few other bits and pieces, so let's shut down B&Q for selling deadly weapons without a license, eh?"

Why yes, yes I think I did.

Did I also say "A zip gun made out of materials of known strength and composition (like a nice thick steel pipe) is probably a hell of a lot safer than anything bought after falling off the back of a lorry."

Crikey. Two for two. Hey, you trust that dodgy gun you bought from a guy in a pub if you like. It's probably only moderately less likely to blow your hand off than a Liberator.

And if a .22 long round is so shit, you go ahead, place one in a pipe stuck against your temple and whack the end nice and hard. Who knows, maybe you might do the world a favour?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now this is more like it. Argon bottles - tick

"...educating people on the fact that societies with very strict gun laws..." Yawn. How about we start with the human desire for autonomy and the interesting structures called dictatorships. Then when you're done, you can go and play with your weapons. Mkay? Oh, you love your government? You trust them? Well, then, hopefully you will lead the way to the extinction of your kind. We don't need those kind of pansy genes around here.

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Re: M Blowhard Now this is more like it.

Today I learnt a gun can be 'safe' and 'useful'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Now this is more like it. Argon bottles - tick

Sir please put down your weapons and step from your bunker into the light. This drone will monitor you and if necessary for your own safety will use lethal force. A UN black helicopter has been dispatched to your location and will transport you to one of Obama's reprocessing centre's at the earliest convenience.

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FAIL

Re: M Blowhard Re: M Wail M Blowhard Now this is more like it.

ROFLMAO.

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Intentions

"[T]he Michigan machine gets the world at least part-way towards a printer that's able to make a gun. Not that this is what the university's Open Sustainability Lab is thinking of."

The Open Sustainability Lab has their intentions for the technology, and those intentions can be very neatly discarded and replaced with new intentions by anyone who has acquired the technology.

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Big Brother

Re: Intentions

No worries.

Government will "clarify" your intentions for you. In order to protect the children. And dolphins.

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WTF?

About that Star Trek stuff...

"Post scarcity"...? Really? I can't shake the feeling the good professor got a bit carried away on that; somehow all the stuff I'm kinda not having enough of - you know like food, a roof of my own, non-execrable healthcare etc. - don't seem to be coming any fraction of an inch closer just because I can now supposedly print faucets and pickaxes in addition to action figures and shower curtain rings...

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff...

Actually they're working on 3d printers for housing and food. Healthcare is a bit more complicated......

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff...

Star Trek? Nah, it's a baby Posleen fabricator; just needs some AI. Watch out for the owners, though.

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff... 3D printers for food

they're called seeds. You feed them a healthy environment and they work wonders.

Now all we need is a printer to fix that last 5000 years of man screwing the environment.

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff...

> they're working on 3d printers for housing and food

But what is "printing" for housing - or building in general? I'd suggest it's a process where materials are stacked layer by layer according to a design. If that's not what a brickie does already, then what is it?

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff...

huh!

star trek style replicaters indeed!

I'm still waiting for my bloody hoverboard.

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff... 3D printers for food

Yay, so I will be able to make my own Soylent green very soon...

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff...

@Jamie Jones

And my jet pack.

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff...

> But what is "printing" for housing - or building in general? I'd suggest it's a process where materials are stacked layer by layer according to a design. If that's not what a brickie does already, then what is it?

Well yes, but the whole 3D printing idea is mostly about automation.

People are expensive, machines are cheap and probably quicker and better.

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Re: About that Star Trek stuff...

"But what is "printing" for housing - or building in general?"

They're a big printer that comes on a truck that prints layers of a concrete like polymer. Builds the basic structure of the house and roof ready for fit out.

Saw one that is capable of doing the wiring and plumbing while printing the house.

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Boffin

3D printing machine - as revolutionary as the good old Guttenberg model?

Let's not forget, that Guttenberg's printing machine was reviled by those in power as a dangerous tool, suited to overthrow the god-given order and bring about total chaos and destruction. The scaremongers were actually right about the overthrowing order part: humanity entered centuries of enlightenment and education -- mostly without the good old feudalistic structures.

Let's see where those new tools will lead humanity.

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Re: 3D printing machine - as revolutionary as the good old Guttenberg model?

For the first 100 years, the chief output of the Gutemberg process was Indulgences (get-out-of-purgatory coupons) for the Roman Catholic church.

For the second 100 years, a significant proportion of printed publications were scurrilous pamphlets (think of some of the zanier reaches of the current blogosphere), competing with each other to whip up the most violent responses.

Yes, printing did bring huge benefits - eventually.

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This is not "post scarcity"

Unless someone is offering free steel to put in it and free energy to run it with. For small quantities, like making a few guns, that's pretty much irrelevant, but post-scarcity implies that everyone can have as much as they want of whatever they want. Even if you limit "whatever they want" to "whatever these 3D printers can make" that's clearly not the case.

Having mature versions of 3D printers will change things greatly, but won't offer a Star Trek fantasy world where money has become obsolete. It'll reduce the amount of work available to unskilled and semi-skilled labor, and put the first small wedge into disrupting Amazon's goal of becoming Buy'N'Large - anything you can make something yourself is one less thing you need to buy.

If/when you can for example make 1000 washers or 1000 nails to a certain spec for less cost in terms of materials and energy than it costs to buy them from Lowes or Home Depot, and especially if you can make them for less than it costs to make them the old way, the world will begin to change a lot, but it won't be post-scarcity, not even close. You don't need to have a 3D printer able to make a toaster or cell phone for it to have major repercussions to the world economy.

I've read about the "singularity" and my thought is that the one thing that will determine wealth in that world is energy. That in turn will be determined by land, since solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run. Anyone who believes the singularity will occur within their lifetime should start buying up as much cheap desert land as they can afford. Doesn't matter how inaccessible, so long as it gets plenty of sunshine. They'll be the Rockefellers of that brave new world. Australia and North Africa could become the new economic centers of the world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is not "post scarcity"

A more reasonable comparison is: when I need *one* washer, can I print it cheaper than buying a box of 1000 from Home Depot, and leaving the other 999 gathering dust in the garage?

I doubt it. How much energy will it cost to melt down the tiny amount of steel required? How much time will I spend cleaning and unclogging the machine afterwards? The economies of production are geared towards volumes.

Why is it cheaper to buy a supermarket cake than to bake your own from scratch? The commercial bakeries buy ingredients in vast quantities, and have enormous ovens that can bake 1000 cakes at a time, at an energy-to-cake ratio far far lower than you can achieve at home. So even adding in the cost of transport, retail space and wastage, the supermarket cake is much cheaper. Not as nice of course.

In the case of washers: if you build a machine which is tooled specifically for making washers, it will churn them out ridiculously cheaply.

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Re: This is not "post scarcity"

When you consider the resources you need to employ just to get that one washer you need from the DIY store though, things change markedly.

In addition to the minuscule resources to actually make the single washer you need you have to pay for:

Packaging, transport and all the other overheads for the manufacture of the washers (and CO₂ if you care about such things)

Overheads for the store (+CO₂)

A car; taxed, insured, sitting on your driveway

The fuel, wear and tear of getting to the store and back (+CO₂)

The time take for the above.

And then you have 999 washers sitting in the garage.

A future where printing just one washer at a low enough cost, even if this is a few orders of magnitude greater than the current negligible bulk production cost, will be hugely disruptive.

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Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

I was with you right up to that sentence.

Solar power is not the future of Humanity, fusion is. Solar power is, in the best of cases, limited to the amount of energy that reaches the surface of the Earth. That is measured in KW per square meter. It will not increase.

Todays nuclear reactors have outputs that reach the MW range on a surface that would take a solar farm half a continent to replicate. Tomorrow's fusion reactors will do even better. And, with more energy available, we might discover new methods of energy generation, leading to even more energy available, leading to God only knows what (interstellar travel within a human lifetime, maybe ?).

What matters is that Humanity is in need of much, much more energy than Solar, Wind or Hydro can possibly give. Fusion is the future.

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Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

Todays nuclear reactors have outputs that reach the MW range on a surface that would take a solar farm half a continent to replicate.

Bollocks! A small fraction of the Sahara desert alone could generate more electricity than the human race currently uses.

The Solar radiation flux onto Earth's surface is about a kilowatt per square meter. Allowing 10% for harvesting efficiency and a factor of two for dark night-times. you need 20 m^2 per kW power-station output. A large power station is a Gigawatt: a million kilowatts, or 20 square kilometers of desert covered in solar panels.

Controlled nuclear fusion would be great if we could get it working (economically). So far, we can't (at all). Certainly worth continuing to try, but ... in the meantime, solar panels really do work, and offer an alternative should fossil fuels become uneconomic or accepted as too damaging to use. Solar panels are already cost-competitive with fossil fuels where there are deserts in close proximity to cities (for example, in Arizona).

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Re: This is not "post scarcity"

"When you consider the resources you need to employ just to get that one washer you need from the DIY store though, things change markedly."

No, they don't.

All those factors you mention (plus a healthy profit) have already been factored into price you paid for the box of 1000 washers and if you dont' take the cost of running the car into account then you're not even going to think about the overheads of printing a single washer.

3d printing is good for prototyping, very low volume production runs and uber-complicated shapes. Everything else is (currently) best done with tradtional techniques - and I doubt that 3d kit will ever compete with the economics of stamping out washers from sheet steel.

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Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

"Allowing 10% for harvesting efficiency and a factor of two for dark night-times. "

Ah, so doubling the area of the collector station in the Sahara will allow it to work at night?

More seriously: The single buggest problem with wind, tidal flow and PV solar is that you either use the energgy generated or lose it - and this nobbles the economics of stations which have to be built and used to back up these non-constant energy sources (Renewables pros will say that it's always blowing in some areas of the country but the national grid power curves show that's plainly not true and wind power runs up/down reglarly.) On top of that the power distribution grid has to be substantially overbuilt to allow for flows going in more-or-less random directions and that's _expensive_, plus runs into legions of NIMBYs opposed to more power towers walking across the countryside.

One can only build so many pumped-storage hydro stations, so unless ways are found to _economically_ store and release the collected energy from renewable plants the whole power distribution system as we look at it now becomes almost impossible to control and/or so expensive to run that the cost of the energy itself is simply a minor component of the whole equation.

The "green taxes" are a big hint that the latter is already coming to pass.

Putting that money into decent nuke plants (molten salts) and research into same would be more productive than building more windmills and having National Grid PAY operators to keep them offline. (The going ransom rate for keeping a large windmill off grid is between £12-21k/year. You can do what you lke with the energy as long as National Grid doesn't have to deal with it)

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Childcatcher

Re: This is not "post scarcity"

Why is it cheaper to buy a supermarket cake than to bake your own from scratch? ...have enormous ovens that can bake 1000 cakes at a time...

I get the economies of scale argument, but my experience is that this sort of thing is about convenience to the consumer, not about driving down the price of the product. In other words, large scale production is all about increasing profit margins which does not necessarily lower product pricing.

To use your example, supermarkets in my area charge more for a cake than it would take me to produce one myself. While they can do some things better than I might or that I cannot, I am not only paying for materials and energy, but for labor and store profit as well. Also, the scale is not what you make it out to be as there is not enough demand for these grocery stores to produce 1K cakes on a regular basis; they are produced in the store, not in some central location.

This printer is a hobbyist's toy at this point. It has potential. Mapping out when it is useful for projects and when it would be better to buy off the shelf is going to take time to work out, but it offers an alternative to what was available before which I believe to be a good thing.

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Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

One of the biggest problems with building a sensible energy policy for the future, is that the proponents of each option cannot help themselves from rubbishing every other alternative. That leaves decision-makers with the certainty that any deciaion they make will be the wrong one.

Each option has its benefits and its drawbacks. A sensible policy would combine most of them, into a practical, multi-element approach.

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Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

"Todays nuclear reactors have outputs that reach the MW range"

For values of "Mega" that are more like "Giga".

Most power reactors being built today are in the 1.7GWe (EPR) to 1.1GWe (AP1000) range.

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Re: This is not "post scarcity"

Buy up deserts for solar power farms? It would be less harmful to the environment to build more coal-fired power stations. Eventually Hydrogen Fusion will render both technologies obsolete, but right now Coal is the cheapest source of electricity (in places where hydro dams cannot be built).

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Re: This is not "post scarcity"

How is it hurting the environment to put solar panels in a desert? What is being hurt by covering up sand and rocks with solar panels?

Fusion will hopefully become the future, but until we get it working at economic scales it won't be. Nor will the power be free. What if installing solar panels costs less per watt than it costs to buy fusion power from the grid?

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Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

Bollocks! A small fraction of the Sahara desert alone could generate more electricity than the human race currently uses.

The Solar radiation flux onto Earth's surface is about a kilowatt per square meter. Allowing 10% for harvesting efficiency and a factor of two for dark night-times. you need 20 m^2 per kW power-station output. A large power station is a Gigawatt: a million kilowatts, or 20 square kilometers of desert covered in solar panels.

10% for harvesting efficiency is a nonsense. I refer you to Wikipedia:

Solar cell efficiencies vary from 6% for amorphous silicon-based solar cells to 40.7% with multiple-junction research lab cells and 44.4% with multiple dies assembled into a hybrid package.[11] Solar cell energy conversion efficiencies for commercially available multicrystalline Si solar cells are around 14-19%.[12] The highest efficiency cells have not always been the most economical — for example a 30% efficient multijunction cell based on exotic materials such as gallium arsenide or indium selenide and produced in low volume might well cost one hundred times as much as an 8% efficient amorphous silicon cell in mass production, while only delivering about four times the electrical power.

However, there is a way to "boost" solar power. By increasing the light intensity, typically photogenerated carriers are increased, resulting in increased efficiency by up to 15%. These so-called "concentrator systems" have only begun to become cost-competitive as a result of the development of high efficiency GaAs cells. The increase in intensity is typically accomplished by using concentrating optics. A typical concentrator system may use a light intensity 6-400 times the sun, and increase the efficiency of a one sun GaAs cell from 31% at AM 1.5 to 35%.

You're looking at a 20% conversion efficiency probably, so you need to increase your area by a factor of five. So that's 100km² / GW. The area of the Sahara is 9.4 million km². That gives you a total power output of 94,000 GW, or 823.4 PWh per annum. Planetary energy consumption in 2008 was approx. 144 PWh. So the Sahara, assuming you could cover it ENTIRELY with solar panels, keep them clean, and with an exact 50/50 split of day/night, and that each panel was generating it's maximum possible theoretical output the entire time it was in sunlight, would provide about half of the planetary energy requirements. Realistically, probably more like a quarter or less.

And then, on top of all that, you've got transmission losses to take into account. You'd lose another 10% or so in that. Again, from Wikipedia:

As of 1980, the longest cost-effective distance for Direct Current transmission was determined to be 7,000 km (4,300 mi). For Alternating Current it was 4,000 km (2,500 mi), though all transmission lines in use today are substantially shorter than this.

Can anyone spot any problems with this plan? Answers on a postcard...

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Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

I ran out of edit time:

But let's not even consider the embedded energy of the array either.

Polycrystalline panels have an embedded energy of 4.07 GJ/m² ( http://perigordvacance.typepad.com/files/inventoryofcarbonandenergy.pdf ). So to build the entire array would require:

9.4 million km² x 1 000 000 m² / km² x 4.07 GJ/m² = 3.8258 x 10^13 GJ.

1 GJ = 0.001044444 GWh, hence 3.8258 x 10^13 GJ = 3.9958 x10^10 GWh = 39 958 PWh.

Therefore, to build the array, we'd need to utilise the entire energy consumption of the planet as it (just about) currently stands for 39 958 PWh / 144 PWh / annum = 277.5 YEARS just to build the array that wouldn't even power a quarter of the planet.

Does that seem like an efficient use of resources to anyone?

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Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run

Cock.

Just realised I've misread a decimal place:

You're looking at a 20% conversion efficiency probably, so you need to increase your area by a factor of five. So that's 100km² / GW. The area of the Sahara is 9.4 million km². That gives you a total power output of 94,000 GW, or 823.4 PWh per annum. Planetary energy consumption in 2008 was approx. 144 PWh.

Not 82.3 PWh as I initially read while I was typing. So the entire Sahara would generate about FIVE TIMES the current energy consumption of the planet, so including for losses etc. you'd realistically need to cover only about 40-45% of the total area.

Which is STILL over 4 MILLION SQUARE KILOMETERS!

Which would STILL require over a HUNDRED YEARS WORTH of our current energy usage to create the array.

And it STILL wouldn't generate power for 50% of the time, no matter the fact that the 50% capacity reduction was taken into account, so we'd either need to store the excess (in ma-HOO-sive batteries for example) or simply turn off the planet when it's night-time in North Africa.

It's still a f**king stupid idea, whichever way you look at it. Just because it's only 40% of a stupid idea doesn't help.

[Slinks away in shame at making a rudimentary mathematical error when typing]

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The scarecest resource of all

> post-scarcity society

Where the rarest resource is, as now too it would appear, common sense.

Quickly followed by the simple, innocent, yet very hard to answer questions about where the raw materials will come from, the sustainability/cost/efficiency of the energy the printer uses and possibly something about reliable designs, as well?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The scarecest resource of all

Afaik many advances in technology happen because of military use, I don't think it will be too long before someone finds a 'killer app' for these things regardless of initial costs and difficulties

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Re: The scarecest resource of all

"I don't think it will be too long before someone finds a 'killer app' for these things regardless of initial costs and difficulties"

AIUI the US military has been using 3d metal printers in war theatres for the bast part of a decade to print basic automtive parts, up to and including truck driveshafts.

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