3-D Printing: How it is Changing the World

3-D printing has been the latest and greatest trend in nearly every technical industry. What is 3-D printing, and why is it such a game changer? Years ago, you would have to design a prototype on blueprints, then ship it off to a machinist to get it built, just to find out that you cannot use the prototype, or that it does not satisfy your end goal, resulting in starting the process over again. THis was a very time consumptive process. Now, I can design something on  computer animated design software (CAD) like Solidworks and have a working prototype of this thing by the end of the day. What used to take weeks, now takes hours. That is why 3-D printing is the biggest rage, especially in industries like engineering.

So what does this translate into? We have seen 3-D printing grow in exponential popularity in recent years due to time savings, cost savings, and overall success in industries that design things. We are just now starting to see the values of 3-D printing beyond the prototyping and design phases, but now are seeing it as an “instant production machine.”

An article published this week titled Planning a larger role for 3-D printing described how the Air Force is “finalizing a strategic plan to integrate 3-D printing technology into nearly every aspect of its airpower sustainment mission.” The Air Force, in essence, is creating a system to utilize 3-D printers, which can print anything from plastics to metals, which will be through the process of additive machining. Additive machining is essentially creating parts from CAD files to supplement repairs in a system or design through creating while designing/repairing.

The Air Force is not so much planning to use these revolutionary printers for design, but more so for things like “Replacement engine parts, for example, that are currently bought, shipped to the depot, stored in inventory and pulled when needed could instead be printed on demand directly at repair and overhaul sites as 3-D printing advances.” The article goes on to say that technologies like this are especially important for planes like the B-52, which has been around for years, and no longer have parts being manufactured for them.

The 3-D printer is enabling us to repair and design things at cheaper rates than before, which is making our overall design process both faster and more affordable, which eventually is making technology progress further, faster. With that, what other possibilities do we hold for 3-D printing?

Last year, an article was published saying that “The International Space Station’s 3-D printer completed the first phase of a NASA technology demonstration by printing a tool with a design file transmitted from the ground to the printer. The tool was a ratchet wrench.” Sure, a wrench is not much, but look at where we have progressed from: sending every tool into space to simply sending raw materials into space to print anything that we want, from Earth. We are saving fuel and allowing more diverse things to go into space instead of packing a tool that we “might” use later on. That to me, is incredible.

Another random place that 3-D printers have found a home? Surgery. Surgeons are using 3-D printers to make custom arteries, veins, and even skin. Surgeons are printing things that are going into people while people are open. If that does not say something about the power of a 3-D printer, I don’t know what is.

From space to surgery to repairing old planes with instant fixes, 3-D printing is extending beyond the design process to places that we never imagined. With that, what can be next? Where can we take printers, and what can we do with them? The possibilities seem endless, and who knows, maybe someday there is a solution to world hunger in there, or that tool we need on Mars, or that one thing that is can save someone’s life, which is needed immediately in a life saving situation. The bounds are endless, and realistically, it sounds like something just replaced the wheel as the largest contributor to society.

Sources:

“Space Station 3-D Printer Builds Ratchet Wrench To Complete First Phase Of Operations.” NASA. NASA, 20 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Lewis, Tanya. “7 Cool Uses of 3D Printing in Medicine.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 4 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

“Planning a Larger Role for 3-D Printing.” U.S. Air Force. U.S. Air Force, 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Advertisements

Rhetorical Analysis on Three Scholarly Articles on The Development of Logistics Systems in Emerging Markets: Asia

This post is an assignment to analyze some scholarly articles, and the format that they use, with the soul purpose of educating ourselves on how to write, read and understand scholarly journals.

The abstract. A slap in the face summary of what we are about to delve into, in this situation the development of a logistics infrastructure in Asia. The abstract describes what we are about to learn of, and addresses the direct problems and proposals that we will strive to remedy in such an article. In reality, who the hell cares about the package of iPhones which were assembled outside of Shanghai last night and are now enroute to San Bernadino, California for final transfers to the Apple stores all over the world. Well, in case you did, this is where to find what you are about to read more of. An abstract describes the questions at hand, a possible answer to said questions, and sometimes provide further insight into the future evolution of the topic, in this regard.

After the honeymoon phase of the abstract, it is time for the background. For the article “From pre-Medieval to post-Modern times: Logistics routes and their modalities have not changed much,” we are diving into the history of Logistics and trade routes throughout history, all the way back to the beginning. Littered with facts of early stage transport routes, we develop a basis of what trade has occurred over times, and how we transported precious goods from various ends of the Earth to the polar opposite ends of the Earth.

After establishing a basis of information, or a history, we begin to look at the crucial questions that we are reading about. What are the problems? In “Problems and Countermeasures of Green Logistics Development on China,” we learn of the hard questions. We subliminally, yet still directly learn of the “Knowledge of green logistics from government to enterprises and consumers is relatively scarce, and green logistics concept of public is not yet universal.” We identify the problem, and from there, we set up a system to analyze and propose both facts and solutions to the problem. This section screams of Logos, the logical presentation of facts while proposing a solution, which is based on figures and facts incorporated into the article.

We can easily see the incorporation of facts in the article “Logistics sector development potential of world’s oil exporters,” where the author displays the disparities in each country’s production versus consumption of oil, and how we need to ship oil all over the world, building a logistics system to ship oil via supertankers on the “New Silk Road: Oil.” While using these figures, we can see more of a visual representation of the data and facts that the author is suggesting.

After walking through the methodical process of presenting facts in the article, we reach the conclusion. As with most conclusions, we summarize everything we have gone over thus far, and throw them into a statement, which is unbiased and 100% fact based, to show the reader the answer to the questions risen in the Abstract. This is where all of the facts are concluded, built upon, and given as a last hurrah to show an answer, and leave the reader with a lasting impact on an educated, fact based conclusion to the problem. We may beckon another question, or lead to further review, and maybe direct future research in a specific direction.

References:

Kidd, J., & Stumm, M. (2005). From pre-medieval to post-modern times: Logistics routes and their modalities have not changed much. Management Decision, 43(9), 1249-1261. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.libraries.colorado.edu/docview/212070058?accountid=14503

Hongxin, L., & Qunzhen, Q. (2014). Problems and countermeasures of green logistics development in china. Meteorological and Environmental Research, 5(6), 44-46. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.libraries.colorado.edu/docview/1553423497?accountid=14503

Hilmola, O. (2011). Logistics sector development potential of world’s oil exporters. International Journal of Energy Sector Management, 5(2), 256-270. doi:http://0-dx.doi.org.libraries.colorado.edu/10.1108/17506221111146011

What’s a Mistake Fare?

I have booked a few mistake fares, and let me tell you, they are awesome. Basically, you are getting a great deal on an airfare, hotel, car rental or really any other form of travel at an extremely discounted rate. In this post we will look at what exactly a mistake fare is, how to find them, and what to do once you get one.

What’s a Mistake Fare?

A mistake fare is exactly what it sounds like it is. It is a mistake in the pricing unit of an airline ticket, hotel or pretty much anything else. Think of it as you go to the supermarket, buy some chicken that is supposed to be $3, but at the register it really rings up as $1.

Mistake fares can come from various different errors in the coding and loading of prices into the airfare database. Sometimes, they are referred to as “fat finger” mistakes because sometimes it is as simple as simple as missing a key stroke when typing the code into the system…think about it, if you are trying to say that a ticket will be $1000, but instead input it as $100, that one little zero causes a $900 difference.

Mistake fares are obviously not supposed to happen, so once the airline sees that there are an aweful lot more tickets being purchased in Danish Krones than usual, they will start to check it out. Once an airline figures out that something abnormal is happening, then, they try to shut it down. This means that mistake fares are usually around for an hour or two, maybe more, maybe less, you never know who is on the other end trying to shut one of these things down. Ya just don’t know.

How to Find Mistake Fares?

There is no formula to finding these guys, other than stalking airfare all the time. I check Flyertalk’s Mileage Run Forum several times a day, along with a few other websites found in my Resources section, and some others of course.

Honestly the only way to find these is to stumble across them. You never know when they are going to happen, how they are going to happen or to where they are going to happen. With that, checking the correct websites a few times a day does not hurt, since these suckers disappear pretty darn quick, especially within our technological lives which are always connected to things like Facebook and Twitter. With that, social media makes mistake fares travel like wildfire and usually get shut down a lot quicker than they used to. Just the state of the game.

My Mistake Fares

In 2013, the day after Christmas, Delta had a mistake fare where they were offering flights anywhere in the US in first class for under a hundred bucks. I snagged a few of these:

  • 4 days in ALaska with my dad.
  • 4th of July in DC with the whole family.
  • A one way to New York before I left for Africa.

Between now and then, I have not booked many, mainly because they were not really pertinent to my school schedule, although staring at the Etihad fare in January for about 4 hours was stupid, and instead I should have found somewhere to go for spring break, but whatever. Aside from that, i have seen a few other ones, like the KLM one to Africa/ the Middle East and such.

On Wednesday, United had  a fare that they were offering business class seats from the UK to anywhere for about $100. I bought a one way back from Europe for spring break with that one, and a round trip from the UK to the US and back to the UK again, leaving at the end of Thanksgiving break, then heading back to Europe before Christmas so I can see grandma again. This one, we are waiting to hear what is going to happen.

Flyertalk Quote:

During this weeks United fare, MatthewLAX posted this sequence of mistake fare moods on the Flyertalk thread from the recent United fare (it is located in the Wiki section), which I thought was 95% accurate, and 100% funny:

Now comes the fun part.

  1. Discovery – mistake fare is posted on FT. Novices frantically checks how much vacation time they have and if the dates of availability mesh with their schedules. Experienced FTers just book it and worry about contacting spouses or their boss later. Word spreads like wildfire.
  1. Excitement – Tickets purchased, confirmation emails received and dates of travel shared with other FTers. Discussions of what to see and do and where to stay crop up in other threads. Novices contact source to change seats or inquire about upgrades, Seasoned FTers sit back and enjoy reading the discussion threads.
  1. Stress Stage 1 – Concern over paper ticket delivery – Novices Frantically check otheFedEx website every few hours, constant monitoring of driveway for FedEx truck. Seasoned FT veterans sit back and relax.
  1. Glee and happiness – Paper tickets in hand, vacation request submitted, spouses finally informed, hotel reservations made and bragging to friends and co-workers begins. Both novices and experts get very excited.
  1. Stress Stage 2 – Rumors of fare not being honored, discussion threads about the airline and ticketing agency ensue. Rumors crop up like crabgrass at this stage. Many FTers begin to worry excessively about whether or not the trip will happen. Novices make non-refundable and financial committments to their trip. Seasoned FTers make mixed drinks (and maybe a sandwich) and is patient.
  1. Reality Check – Accurate information is obtained – usually takes place a week to 10 days after mistake fare is published. Confirmed information from the source as to whether or not tickets will be honored.

7a. Pure Joy (Icelandair style- Fare is Honored) – Lots of happy people, FT threads on shared information regarding hotels, restaurants, tours, etc. Jealousy from others sets in. First “FT guinea pigs” embark, post confirmation threads that all is ok.

7b Hostile Feelings (Copa Airlines Style – fare is not honored) – Many angry and disappointed FTers. Refunds are issued. Novices have multiple discussion threads of lawsuits and hostile correspondence, FT pros mutter “c’est la vie” and look for the next fare mistake.

8a Success (Honored) – Trip Report thread becomes very active

Another version of this (although it has 13 steps and is slightly funnier, especially the Guantanamo part) was posted on Will Run For Miles, also found in that infinitely long Flyertalk thread.

In reality, this is exactly how mistake fares go, except people need to chill the fuck out a lot more. If it happens, cool, if it doesn’t, maybe next time.

What to do Once You Find a Mistake Fare?

Book this shit as fast as you can. Seriously. You can not be wishy washy with one of these fares, otherwise they will disappear, never to be seen again.  But what if I am not sure if I want to go to where the mistake fare is being listed to? Well, you are in luck. MOST websites here in the US of A have a thing called Free 24 Hour Cancelation.  That is right, most of the time, most websites offer free cancellation for your freshly acquired tickets. I can not tell you how many plane tickets I have purchased, even if I think they are just a good deal, and canceled within 24 hours of booking just because the logistics didn’t work out (getting to Mexico City to catch that $200 ticket to Iguazu Falls for 5 days over spring break was a bit much…). Of course, don’t always assume that every website is the same. For instance, on United, you can book and then just call them to cancel, where on American, you have to put the ticket on hold, where they hold it for you until the next day, or something like that. In short, ALWAYS check the website that you are buying something on before committing to it…which really means reading those Fare Rules that no one really reads (there is some good stuff in there actually).

The next thing is to get your ticket number. Ticket numbers are really important because they mean that the airline has physically booked the ticket that you requested to buy. Look at it this way: You are trying to buy a house, so you go to a realtor. The realtor takes you around in circles showing you houses until you find one that you like. You put an offer in on the house at 5% below the asking price (in this case, maybe that asking price is the one available on the airline’s website). The realtor contacts the seller and tells them the offer that they have, and the seller can wither accept it or not. If they accept it, you get the house, if they don’t you don’t get the house. In airplane terms: If they accept the offer for the ticket that you purchased, you get a ticket number. If they don’t, you ain’t goin’ anywhere.

Once you get the ticket number, you wait. See if the airline honors the ticket. This is the part where people start to freak out and shit, but in reality, everyone just needs to calm down and hang out. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. You do have something going for you, though. The Department of Transportation has a law that says some cool stuff. What kind of cool stuff? Basically, it says that an airline cannot cancel a ticket on you if you have payed in full, and it cannot increase the price of the ticket either. The exact law is as follows:

399.88 Prohibition on post-purchase price increase.

(a) It is an unfair and deceptive practice within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 41712 for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, or of a tour (i.e., a combination of air transportation and ground or cruise accommodations), or tour component (e.g., a hotel stay) that includes scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation, tour or tour component to a consumer, including but not limited to an increase in the price of the seat, an increase in the price for the carriage of passenger baggage, or an increase in an applicable fuel surcharge, after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of an increase in a government-imposed tax or fee. A purchase is deemed to have occurred when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer.

 

(b) A seller of scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States or a tour (i.e., a combination of air transportation and ground or cruise accommodations), or tour component (e.g., a hotel stay) that includes scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, must notify a consumer of the potential for a post-purchase price increase due to an increase in a government-imposed tax or fee and must obtain the consumer’s written consent to the potential for such an increase prior to purchase of the scheduled air transportation, tour or tour component that includes scheduled air transportation. Imposition of any such increase without providing the consumer the appropriate notice and without obtaining his or her written consent of the potential increase constitutes an unfair and deceptive practice within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 41712.

Link to Cornell Law Website where this was found is here.

For some more of an English interpretation of the law, check out this post on The Flight Deal about it. There is some rumor that this law may soon change, which would be too bad, since it is one of the better ones out there, but if it does, we will just have to rely on airlines like Etihad, who said “honoring a mistake on our behalf is just the right thing to do.” That’s what you want to see.

Once you find out if the airline honors it or not, you can do a couple things. If they don’t, you can file a complaint with The Department of Transportation saying that they are breaking the above law, which is probably what I would do to be honest with you. It is the law, it is a good law, so why not use the law. Beyond that, if they strike you down, I would drop it. What is the point of fighting something like this beyond the elementary level. That is where the entitled ass holes seem to come out.

If the ticket is honored, book your interior things like hotels, car rentals, other flights and the works. Don’t do this though until you know for sure if it is honored or not, otherwise you might have just wasted some money, and time.

The Morals of Mistake Fares, and My Views

A lot of people think that mistake fares are immoral to book, and should not be taken advantage of, whereas some other people feel that it is someone’s mistake so let’s go and book a solid 10 tickets from it to capitalise on it as much as you can. I don’t know how you feel, and that is for your opinion, but this is how I feel:

If someone makes a mistake, they should pay for it. With that, I think all mistake fares should be honored. Look at it this way:

  • If an engineer designs a bridge that then fails shortly after construction, they will be held responsible, and an explanation will be demanded from it, and maybe even charges.
  • If a surgeon makes a mistake during an operation, like leaving a sponge inside of you, they will have a pretty hefty lawsuit waiting for them, and maybe a career that is down the drain.
  • If a store marks something for sale at a certain price, then you get to the register and the price is different, they can’t just say “I am not going to charge you the price that is advertised.” (If it is King Soopers they give it to you for free!).
  • If someone mischarges you tax while purchasing a pair of skis (I am looking at you K2), then demands you to pay the tax, that is wrong. You messed up, so you have to figure it out.

See where I am going with this? If people make a mistake, and don’t check their errors, you should give the benefit of the doubt to the receiving person. You can’t just advertise certain things and then not deliver. With that, you also need to check your work. If you publish something and did not check your work, then you definitely can’t place blame on the people that are taking advantage of the deal that you published.

With that, if you bought 15 tickets to and from London for the next year using the United mistake on Wednesday, you should probably cool it a bit. I bought two tickets, a one way and a round trip, and I was content with that.

What I am getting at here, is this: If you make a mistake, own up to it and let it fly. If you don’t want to make a mistake in the future, double or triple check to see what you are posting. You can’t get mad at a bunch of people that buy a few tickets from your mistake (except for the D-Bag that buys 15, then goes all class action on you are stuff). It is the law, but that can only go so far. With that, for the United mistake this week (basically, United published a fare, which was the correct fare, but the conversion got all messed up while switching the Danish Krones. If you bought the ticket through the Danish United website, then it was about $100, instead of the 5k GBP (~$7500) they were supposed to charge. That is the short version.) I filed a DOT complaint, simply because it is the law. If I don’t get to go to Europe for spring break, i’ll figure something else out, and not take it any further. We do make mistakes, except when I made a mistake on my Diff Eq test this week, it lowered my grade. So, it should lower United’s revenue. No one is exempt in this world in my opinion, but people also don’t know how to just call it quits…you could be starving and have Polio instead of sitting in that Business class seat in a metal tube, just to put it in an “entitlement” perspective.

My biggest advice for a mistake fare is to not get too emotional. If it happens, cool. If it doesn’t cool. Emotions run high with copious amounts of adrenaline running through your veins, so reign them in and make educated, smart and efficient decisions. If it doesn’t happen, wait for the next one (they happen about every month or two, so just keep you eyes open).

Note: This post was only written because my friends asked me “what the fuck a mistake fare” was and this is the respond to them. Not to be a bandwagoneer in discussing all this stuff like pretty much every other blog on the interweb. If that is what you think, I am sorry. To calm your tensions, here is a photo of a some nice mountains from my last mistake fare:

IMG_5511