Cartestian Robot Roundup.

Time passeth.


This is a link dump of various developments in the wonderful world of robots that have XYZ planes, and they kindof do stuff within that. Repraps do it. 3D printers. I still haven’t got one.

I am (however) one of those people who makes a living from a cartesian robot – a laser-cutter… and while I still do do programming odd-jobs, the robot is the main source of income now. So yea, I should probably get another one. Have 2 incomes.

That picture at the top is a random pic from google-search for “cartesian robots”. It’s from the Indian version of Aliexpress… from a company called “Constance Technology”… which is a pretty clear indication that if you’ve got a country with a billion entrepreneurs… you’re going to run out of names. Still… it looks polished… and just kindof stood out as a pin-point in a timeline of “how these things are supposed to look”. Year of Our Lord, 2014.

And it reminds me of Huey/Dewey/Louie of Silent Running.


1) Multi-Machines

Machines that can do more than just 3D print/cut are starting to show up… I quite like this one:

Because it’s a proper fuckin machine… big and steel and dependable. I’m not convinced by all this nimminy-pimminy plastic stuff – that seems to be de-rigeuer with 3D printers do date – possibly not surprising, because they make nimminy-pimminy plastic stuff, and the originaly idea, was that within that medium, they can self-replicate.

But I’m a viking. I like metal. I also like the people in this, because they look like real people. King Of The Hill real. I’m not sure if that sort of thing goes over with the vast biomass of kickstarter funders though, who seem to have a soft-spot for people similar to themselves, ie: Bright young things who’s eyes shine with the cult-like snow-blindness of startup culture.

The injection moulding thing takes about $20k off the injection-moulding process as well… which is cool, because they only want $30k.

There’s a couple of others, eg: Omnimaker… and a subset of that appears to be modularity of printing material, eg: MM1, which claims to be able to switch from chocolate to plastic to ceramic to play-doh. Which is cool.

2) General Embetterment


3D Pandoras – also (ain’t they all?) from Kickstarter (is kickstarter actually a new type of science fiction?).

This one looks cool because it does proper 3d, 9600 * 2400dpi full colour printing. Uses powder rather than extruded plastic… which I guess is how they manage to do it, because something tells me that extruded plastic colour-mixing is never going to be dimensionally better, than its ancestor: stripy toothpaste.

Looks like it can do different types of powder… eg: gypsum, rice-husks, sugar… and there’s mention of using it as a molding compound for copper, aluminum alloys, though how that works specifically, I don’t know – and the truth is, this whole thing is exploding sideways so fast that it’s rapidly going from science to miracles… assuming it happens.

Another quantum-leap improvement in consumer (ie: Kickstarter) level machines is going from 3 to 5 axis… as in:



Which to me looks incredibly cool – another multi-tool thing. Can do milling and water-jet cutting as well as 3D printing. And touch probing. For $5k. Feckin bargain if they pull it off.

They’ve made a grasshopper script to reduce the learning curve with getting the thing to go. I must learn how to use grasshopper actually. That’s the software that makes all those mad voronoi patterns.

Something else I’ve noticed with this stuff is that the people putting together these projects have been working on them for years. 6 years in the one above. Which is no bad thing I think. I seem to recall thinking it was once (not in the spirit of the thing)… for established companies to be using kickstarter. Now I’m not so sure. Better to do that that accept the poison of VC money (where the fuck is Craig Venter?), but I think I’d introduce the caveat “no patents”. But then I’d do that for everything all the time anyway. “Intellectual Property” is a dysfunctional absurdity.

3) Out here on the perimeter

a) handwriting bots

Which are being used for advertising? Advertising of the kind that tricks people into thinking they’ve received a personal letter?

Please. Don’t do that.

b) garden bot


Which is cool if you’ve got about a million chilli pepper plants to cultivate, and you don’t want to hire people, but then you find you’ve got no one to sell them to because no one has a job, so you wind up having to eat the whole lot yourself. Chariots of fire my friend, chariots of fire.

Sure – dispense with work… but until you also dispense with the housing market, you’re headed for a violent revolution.

That said, I have actually attempted to make plant-automation systems myself, so whatever.

c) wheely printer


It’s not very good. Reminds me of that hexapod CNC back in the day, which showed so much promise, and then nothing happened.

Still… I think these are potentially the most terrible and amazing things ever. The ability to work outside the box, as it were. To do that though they need to be using closed-loop systems to check precision/location as they work. Once that bit is figured out then the entire world could well go a little weird. That’s kindof a major evolutionary leap.

4) Closed Loop Systems

Closed loop is something I’ve been going on about for ages – that’s how you get proper precision in iffy environments – make sensor loops that check their location a million times a second. This machine gets .025mm precision, which is about 4x better than current 3D printers. It also has a fairly huge work area – which could be split into work areas, so you can prepare one area, while it’s working on the other.

This one could fit into all of the above categories – it’s multi-tooled embetterment, and a bit peripheral as well. It’s passed it’s Kickstarter goal, so should be happening.

5) Ghost Guns


Cody Wilson again – the 3D printed gun guy is now selling reprap-sized milling machines with the specific intent that they’re to be used for making the only part of an AR-15 that isn’t a spare part.

I’ve never liked where this guy is coming from. He’s a Libertarian, and libertarians seem to be people who have been steeped in conservative propaganda their whole lives… and who have morphed these profoundly mal-adaptive notions into a profoundly mal-adaptive radicalism.

That is why billionaires fund libertarians. The American right has taken the entirely legitimate grievances of ordinary people and constructed this radical proto-fascist ideology that plays entirely into the hands of oligarchy, while making all of the problems of ordinary people, radically worse.

Tax is not theft. Tax is how we organise ourselves to buy shared infrastructure.

If our governments become corrupted by the rich (as they have), then our pooled resources are wasted on war and cronyism… our taxes wind up in the pockets of the rich. But that is a separate issue. It is no the tax that is the problem, it is the corruption. Libertarianism is for the selfish, short-sighted and gullible. It’s pathetic that anyone takes it seriously.

That said,

We’ve just had an election in NZ, and the most corrupt govt in living memory was re-elected by a huge margin (the same number as those people who didn’t bother to vote), so all of the 5-eyes countries are run by right-wing governments who are using EVERY excuse to roll back civil rights, civil liberties and everything that was won for ordinary people via The New Deal. Inequality now is worse than it was in Ancient Rome. Everything in these countries (and quite a lot of others) is getting worse. Fast. There is a full-blown corporate coup of the world underway.

And then there’s Climate Change. We’re losing the planet.

Life on this planet is incompatible with corporate control of democratic governments. Something needs to change, and it needs to change now.

Personally, I’m with Chris Hedges – violence is a hyper-masculanized way of dealing with issues, and contains the same DNA as corrupt-power… and what comes after violent revolt is likely to be every bit as bad as what came before. We’re far better off building our way out of this, but we’re sliding into global police-statehood. America is already there if you’re poor and black.

So although I (now) have some sympathy for Cody Wilson, I think our efforts might be better spent ending the Mainstream Media – by creating a way of routing around it. By creating something that people tune into every evening. The greatest tragedy in the destruction of the unions, is that it destroyed a system of communication. Time was, the union rep would explain to people how economics worked, how politics worked… now an awful lot of people are left with nothing but television, and television is corrupt.

We need:

A napster of housing/land
A napster of currency-mechanisms
A napster of food/water
A napster of medicine
A napster of energy

The napsters of communication/information are already well underway (in fact this whole 2000 year old story is largely about the democratisation of information)… but the mainstream media is still responsible for horrific contamination of the zeitgeist, and we need to get rid of it.

A napster of violence is what Cody is attempting.

I guess that’s kindof a force of nature by now. Maybe it’s just a continuation of the Agincourt phenomena – where old weapons are superseded not by what is better, but by what is cheaper… by things that make the human part of the arrangement cheaper. Anyone with a decent tool-shop can make a gun… but there’s quite a lot of technical expertise required as well. What this machine does is get rid of the need for (quite so much) technical expertise.

Into the valley. God knows what’s up ahead.


Though to be fair to the guy, I am judging him on stuff from years ago. More recently…

He’s smarter than I am.

I’m still not sure he’s right – the whole “property rights” thing to me seems inextricable with local bully syndrome. The cartelisation of local bully syndrome.

I think he’s a couple of steps ahead of me – probably because America is a couple of steps ahead of the countries I come from in terms of disintegration.

Here’s the difference as far as I can see – I’m coming from a point of empathy/compassion. He appears to be coming from sociopathy. Within what comes out of that though, there might be a useful overlap.