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FAA threatens $25,000 fine for weaponizing drones

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It’s perfectly natural for a red-blooded American to, once they have procured their first real drone, experiment with attaching a flame thrower to it. But it turns out that this harmless hobby is frowned upon by the biggest buzzkills in the world… the feds.

Yes, the FAA has gone and published a notice that drones and weapons are “A Dangerous Mix.” Well, that’s arguable. But they’re the authority here so we have to hear them out.

“Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items. Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.”

They’re not joking around with the fines, either. You could be hit with one as big as $25,000 for violating the FAA rules. Especially if you put your attack drone on YouTube.

That’s the ThrowFlame TF-19, by the way. TechCrunch in no way recommends or endorses this extremely awesome device.

Of course you may consider yourself an exception — perhaps you are a defense contractor working on hunter-killers, or a filmmaker who has to simulate a nightmare drone-dominated future. Or maybe you just promise to be extra careful.

If so, you can apply to the FAA through the proper channels to receive authorization for your drone-weaponizing operation. Of course, as with all other victimless crimes, if no one sees it, did a crime really occur? The FAA would no doubt say yes, absolutely, no question. So yeah, probably you shouldn’t do that.

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The Pad & Quill Gladstone Briefcase offers plenty of storage in a beautiful design

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Comments are closed The Pad & Quill Gladstone Briefcase offers plenty of storage in a beautiful design Comments are closed

Pad & Quill makes some of the most handsome leather goods for the modern world, and its Gladstone Leather Briefcase is no different. This bag harkens back to the day of gentlemen with newspapers tucked under their arms and an Ascot on their head. This bag has an air of permanence and longevity, and yet it’s designed for people with modern needs.

The bag features a smooth, hinged top that spreads to reveal a large opening. The bag doesn’t collapse inward when it’s empty or open; it retains its shape thanks to its sturdy structure, making it easy to sort through the contents. The inside is lined with a tough herringbone fabric that seems like it will hold up well.

For me, the bag is heavy. It weighs more than four pounds, and that’s a lot for an empty bag. But with the weight comes confidence that it’s constructed out of durable leather.

I’ve always been a big fan of Pad & Quill’s leather goods. I reviewed one of the company’s roll-top messenger bags last year and still use it. The leather has aged nicely, with light scrapes and scuffs adding to the character.

This bag has a traditional look thanks to the contrasting stitching. It might not be for everyone. It looks Western more than most modern leather goods. For me, I dig it, as the stitches convey a sense of confidence in the quality. It looks the part.

Pad & Quill’s Gladstone bag has all the right organizational pockets. There’s a small exterior pocket on one side and a large, open pocket on the opposing side. Inside there’s a padded laptop pocket, a zippered pocket and several small spots, including a few spots for pens and pencils. This amount of organization is rare in most leather bags. I’ve found most leather bags offer just a few compartments and instead look to the user to bring their own small bags to hold cables, cameras and the like.

This is a good-size bag and able to easily hold a full-size laptop, DSLR and a lens or two. It’s thicker than a water bottle and has ample room to hold everything a person needs for a day.

The top is secured with a looping strap that feels a bit superficial. The hinges are tough enough to keep the top closed and the strap is a bit tough to secure. Maybe I need to use the bag a bit more. Over the couple of weeks I carried this bag, I never used this strap nor felt like the top would accidentally open without it. Maybe this strap should be detachable?

The Gladstone costs $500 (though it’s on sale for $420 at time of publication) and it feels like it should last. It’s a lovely leather bag that uses a proven hinged opening. The leather is thick and durable. For me, that’s a winning combination.

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Silicone 3D printing startup Spectroplast spins out of ETHZ with $1.5M

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Comments are closed Silicone 3D printing startup Spectroplast spins out of ETHZ with $1.5M Comments are closed

3D printing has become commonplace in the hardware industry, but because few materials can be used for it easily, the process rarely results in final products. A Swiss startup called Spectroplast hopes to change that with a technique for printing using silicone, opening up all kinds of applications in medicine, robotics and beyond.

Silicone is not very bioreactive, and of course can be made into just about any shape while retaining strength and flexibility. But the process for doing so is generally injection molding, great for mass-producing lots of identical items but not so great when you need a custom job.

And it’s custom jobs that ETH Zurich’s Manuel Schaffner and Petar Stefanov have in mind. Hearts, for instance, are largely similar but the details differ, and if you were going to get a valve replaced, you’d probably prefer yours made to order rather than straight off the shelf.

“Replacement valves currently used are circular, but do not exactly match the shape of the aorta, which is different for each patient,” said Schaffner in a university news release. Not only that, but they may be a mixture of materials, some of which the body may reject.

But with a precise MRI the researchers can create a digital model of the heart under consideration and, using their proprietary 3D printing technique, produce a valve that’s exactly tailored to it — all in a couple of hours.

A 3D-printed silicone heart valve from Spectroplast.

Although they have created these valves and done some initial testing, it’ll be years before anyone gets one installed — this is the kind of medical technique that takes a decade to test. So in the meantime they are working on “life-improving” rather than life-saving applications.

One such case is adjacent to perhaps the most well-known surgical application of silicone: breast augmentation. In Spectroplast’s case, however, they’d be working with women who have undergone mastectomies and would like to have a breast prosthesis that matches the other perfectly.

Another possibility would be anything that needs to fit perfectly to a person’s biology, like a custom hearing aid, the end of a prosthetic leg or some other form of reconstructive surgery. And of course, robots and industry could use one-off silicone parts as well.

ethz siliconeprinting 2

There’s plenty of room to grow, it seems, and although Spectroplast is just starting out, it already has some 200 customers. The main limitation is the speed at which the products can be printed, a process that has to be overseen by the founders, who work in shifts.

Until very recently Schaffner and Stefanov were working on this under a grant from the ETH Pioneer Fellowship and a Swiss national innovation grant. But in deciding to depart from the ETH umbrella they attracted a 1.5 million Swiss franc (about the same as dollars just now) seed round from AM Ventures Holding in Germany. The founders plan to use the money to hire new staff to crew the printers.

Right now Spectroplast is doing all the printing itself, but in the next couple of years it may sell the printers or modifications necessary to adapt existing setups.

You can read the team’s paper showing their process for creating artificial heart valves here.

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