Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday August 14 2011

August 14, 2011

This month on Online Insights we look at incredible printing technology, furniture planning software that allows you to order your design, troubleshooting bitter coffee and a fun poke at MySpace.

3D Printing

Dungeons and Dragon Dice (Image:
Dungeons and Dragon Dice (Image:

During a workshop in Murray Bridge recently for Regional Development Australia, I met Andy Ide, a man obsessed by the technology known as 3D printing.

When he mentioned it to me on the night I nodded cautiously, thinking I knew what he was talking about but it was when I walked through his website and watched a video of the process that my jaw dropped and I realised I was listening with a 20th Century mindset to 21st Century science!

In essence, 3D printing is when three dimensional plans are applied to a printer that can spew resins and different substances from its printing head, rather than just ink.

These special printers lay down their special substances in very fine layers so that, bit by bit, the 3D object is ‘printed’ into existence.

Still lost?

Then watch this video to see a large, working spanner can be printed into existence before your eyes – it will be worth your while.


All I can say is, ‘wow!’

Andy’s goal is to keep promoting this technology until the price of domestic 3D printers are cheap enough for all of us to have one on our desk and simply print a new appliance or toy or spare part on a whim. His particular goal is to be able to print a new blender. Current printers are around $30,000 at commercial level and $1200 at domestic level.

You can build in plastics, nylon, any metal that can be melted (titanium, aluminium, steel, silver etc) and ceramics. There are even people working with chocolate in the UK.

Recent articles on his site (August 2011) show:

  • how someone printed a spare part for a Bugaboo pram and saved themselves $225
  • Cufflinks made in the shape of detailed security cameras
  • the use of 3D printing to restore somebody’s face during surgery after injury


I also hear people are wearing bikinis printed on 3D printers. The mind boggles.

You can find out more on Andy’s website.

Print your own flat pack furniture

In a similar vein to the 3D printer (at least in part), open source software called SketchChair is now available that lets you design your own furniture then send detailed plans to a fabrication house to produce a flat pack for you.

What I like about this is that it taps your creativity and allows you to design furniture to fit your room (and needs) exactly.

What’s more, in the video below, the creators talk about (and show) using this to make small prototypes (even doll’s house furniture) and items of all sizes/uses.

While they recommend Ponoko as the place to send your designs for build and delivery, when you make small objects they say a good quality printer and paper cutter will see you through.


You can find out more in this article.

Three reasons why your cup of coffee tastes bitter

Three reasons your coffee might taste bitter (Image: Baristador Coffee)Right, changing tack now, let us return to coffee!!!!!!!!!!!!

In all the years of doing this segment, I have never featured anything I’ve written myself but a blog post on why your coffee is bitter got me so much dramatic feedback that I thought I would share it with you tonight.

Over on the Baristador website, I wrote an article about how to protect your coffee from tasting bitter after someone who bought some Baristador Coffee commented that it was bitter.

This was surprising because it is actually a top shelf coffee product.

So I wrote this blog for him, he applied the suggestions and reported back that his coffee experience had been transformed dramatically.

So, what are the three points?

  • Over-extracting your coffee
  • Using water that is too hot
  • Using the wrong grind size

You can read the article about why coffee tastes bitter here.

Google Plus

Last month I mentioned my involvement in the new social network being rolled out by Google called Google+.

It has more than 100 million members already and it offers one of the smartest innovations – the ability to mute a comment.

I have voiced publicly my wish for Facebook to allow you to choose whether you want to hear all subsequent comments on a post instead of having to delete a post or block a user.

Google+ allows you to do so.

With that in mind, this video just tickled my fancy.

Ever wondered what the conversation would be like between Google+, Facebook and MySpace? Take a look (sorry in advance – this is nerdy humour)