Green Line Solutions News

3D Printing

Thomas Topp - Sunday, April 16, 2017

Although household 3D printers are a relatively new fad, the process, which was originally called Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM), developed during the 1980’s. During this time, the main use of ALM was “Rapid Prototyping,” which allowed manufacturers to create representative models quickly and inexpensively out of plastic polymers.

For those unaware of the process, ALM creates a solid object by stacking layers, slice by slice, from the bottom-up. By creating objects this way, the layers can be very complex which allows ALM to produce moving parts, like hinges and wheels. Modern machines are capable of printing one object from several materials, including plastics, metals, ceramics, and even chocolate!

There are several methods for manufacturing products by ALM; the most common for home printers is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), which produces an object by extruding melted material that immediately hardens after leaving the nozzle. On an industrial level, a common method is Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), which uses a high power laser to fuse small particles of plastic, metal, ceramic or glass powders into a single mass.

In the early 2000’s, Loughborough University, UK, began a project to create the first printed building. Rupert Soar formed the Freeform Construction Group to explore how existing technologies could be expanded to large scale construction. In 2005, the group secured funding to build a machine that would use components like concrete pumping, spray concrete, and gantry systems to print an entire structure.

In 2014, Chinese company WinSun took this technology a step further by printing the first multi-story building (five levels and 11,840 square foot), complete with decorative elements inside and out, at Suzhou Industrial Park. The machine was developed by Ma Yihe, who has more than a decade of experience in designing 3D Printing Arrays, and is 20 feet tall, 33 feet wide, and 132 feet long.

“The machine uses a mixture of ground construction and industrial waste, such as glass and tailings, around a base of quick-drying cement mixed with a special hardening agent,” CNET reports. The parts are produced in large pieces at WinSun's facility and the structure was “then assembled on-site, complete with steel reinforcements and insulation in order to comply with official building standards.”

By using this technology, construction waste can be reduced by more than a third, while production time and labor costs can be decreased by almost three quarters. Using recycled materials also eliminates the need for quarried stone, which is better for the bottom-line and for the environment.



Thomas Topp - Monday, March 20, 2017

Exoskeletons: Human Performance Augmentation


Give Em The Finger

Thomas Topp - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Give ‘Em the Finger

The Use of Biometrics in Court Cases

Biometrics -- distinctive and quantifiable traits utilized for identifying an individual -- have been used in the form of fingerprint locks on smartphones since 2011. However, it wasn’t until 2013, when the iPhone’s Touch ID was released on the 5S, that the technology gained popular momentum.

Using one’s fingerprints to lock smartphones or sensitive content is appealing because everyone’s fingerprints are unique and therefore believed to be a personalized passcode that cannot be hacked. It also saves the user from forgetting the password or having to type anything on the screen. However, in May of 2016, Russell Brandom, contributor to The Verge, posted an article describing many of the pitfalls of this technology.

One of the biggest problems with using fingerprint biometrics is that vast databases store fingerprint information for government and law enforcement agencies, and not just on criminals. As Brandom writes:

Homeland Security policy is to collect fingerprints from non-US citizens between the age of 14 and 79 as they enter the country, along with a growing number of fingerprints taken from undocumented immigrants apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol. The FBI maintains a separate IAFIS database with over 100 million fingerprint records, including 34 million "civil prints" that are not tied to a criminal file.

By using information from these databases a mold of an individual’s fingerprints can be created with ease. However, using a left behind print, dental cast and mold the same thing can be accomplished in an unofficial manner. Perhaps the most condemning aspect of using biometrics is that they are permanent. Unlike a password that can be changed if it’s hacked, once a theft of biometric data has happened there is no option for such a recourse.

Recently, in the case of The State of Minnesota v. Matthew Vaughn Diamond, a legal precedent was set by the Court of Appeals. The case originally began with a burglary in October of 2014, after which Diamond’s phone was seized but not able to be unlocked. He was eventually ordered to provide his fingerprint to unlock his phone and the evidence gathered resulted in a 51-month sentence.

In the appeal case, which was decided on in January of this year, the court ruled that such an order was not a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, citing that police have the authority to gather blood, hair, urine, handwriting and fingerprint samples even against that person’s wishes.

The Judge, Tracy Smith, wrote that the order to provide a fingerprint for the purposes of unlocking a personal device does not violate a person’s privilege against self-incrimination, nor is doing so comparable to being made to testify against oneself in court. The differentiation can be seen clearly when the former is thought of as a confirmation of who you are, and the latter as a confirmation of what you know.

Surprisingly, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Weisman, a federal judge in Chicago, denied the FBI’s request for a warrant mandating the use of suspect’s fingerprints to unlock their smart devices. While the case is actually concerning charges related to child pornography, evidence suspected of being on the cell phones could help convict.

In an article from The Chicago Tribune, the ruling was described as “narrow in scope” but did provide an important blow to “ federal agencies looking for sweeping powers to search individuals' cellphones without probable cause,” as stated by Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the nonprofit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation.

As biometric technologies become more and more ubiquitous the issue spreads from those involved with illicit activities to law-abiding citizens by increasing the amount and types of data samples that can be collected by law enforcement without express permission from a judge.