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Frisco, Colorado

August 2, 2015

Filed under: life,review,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 17:16

Frisco is a mountain town of about 2,700 people, located 114 km (71 miles) west of Denver. It is situated at an elevation of 2,766 meters (9,075 feet) and surrounded by mountains. Ten Mile Creek runs through the town and empties into Lake Dillon, which touches the northeast border of Frisco.

Repeatedly, Frisco has been named the top ski destination without a ski resort. Four major ski mountains are within 26 km (16 miles), with Copper Mountain—our favorite—being just 11 km (6.7 miles) away. A fifth is Vail Mountain Resort, which is 42 km (26 miles) away and the largest ski area in the USA.

Frisco is not known to as many as one would expect, especially given its proximity and charm. Many bypass it on their way to somewhere else without knowing much about it. Consequently, it is not as busy and crowded as neighboring Breckenridge—a short 16 km (10 miles) away.

frisco
Frisco’s Main Street

Dentist and friend Ted Mioduski once said, “Summer time in Frisco is a best kept secret.” I could not agree more. Temperatures are in the low 20s C (70s F) during the day and much cooler at night. This makes it perfect for hiking, biking, climbing, fishing, taking a stroll down quaint Main Street, or having a bite or drink at one of the many local restaurants, pubs, or coffee shops.

Frisco and nearby Copper Mountain host many musicians, festivals, and exhibits in the summer. Just last night, we stumbled across an excellent acoustic guitarist and singer while waiting for the Saturday night fireworks at Copper. Returning to Frisco was a quick ride on the complimentary Summit Stage Shuttle.

On Friday, my wife, Diane, and I biked to Vail Pass, located at 3,250 meters (10,662 feet), and then back to Frisco—a 42-km (26-mile) round trip. (Diane turned around a few miles short.) Yesterday, friend Paul Carlton and I climbed Peak One, which is 3,901 meters (12,800 feet) in height. I felt like I might not survive after the seven-hour round trip. Although tired, I’m feeling better today.

peakone
At the top of Peak One, with Copper Mountain in the background

Frisco is small and quiet, yet it offers plenty of activity to keep things interesting. Some joke that the town has more pets, mostly dogs, than people. I doubt it’s true, but it certainly is dog-friendly. The people are open and friendly too. Frisco grows on you the more you spend time there. I can say without reservation it’s one of my favorite places to escape. Just don’t tell anyone.

Stelarc

July 20, 2014

Stelarc is a performance artist and designer that has lived much of his life in a Melbourne, Australia suburb. He was born in Cyprus as Stelios Arcadiou and changed his name in 1972. His work focuses mostly on the belief that the human body is obsolete, but its capacity can be enhanced through technology.

I first met Stelarc in 2005 at the VRAP 3D printing event in Leiria, Portugal. Travel prevented me from attending his presentation, although he was kind enough to provide me with an eye-opening set of printed images and a DVD. Many of his technical developments and works of art are unusual—some of which you’d have to see to believe. Entering “Stelarc” into Google and clicking Images will give you an interesting sampling.

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Stelarc again nine days ago in Brisbane, Australia. He gave an intriguing presentation at a one-day 3D printing event organized by Griffith University. People in the audience of 170 were visibly stunned by his work. An example was the 2007 video footage showing a team of surgeons constructing an ear on his left forearm.

stelarc

The skin was suctioned over a scaffold, which was made of porous biomaterial. Tissue in-growth and vascularization then followed over a period of six months. This resulted in a relief of an ear. The helix needs to be surgically lifted to create an ear flap and a soft ear lobe will be grown using his stem-cells. A small microphone will then be inserted and the ear electronically augmented for Internet connectivity. Thus, the third ear will result in a mobile listening device for people in other places.

I was especially impressed by Stelarc’s knowledge and understanding of biomedicine, robotics, prosthetics, and 3D printing. The content that he presented and discussed and the questions he answered showed that he is not only an artist, but a designer and maker of complex machines and systems. In recent years, he has used 3D printing extensively to support much of his work.

Stelarc is a Distinguished Research Fellow and the Director of the Alternate Anatomies Lab, School of Design and Art, at Curtin University, which is located in Perth, Australia. He has many awards and honors to his credit, including an honorary doctorate from Monash University in Melbourne.

 

Love Hate Relationship

May 11, 2014

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,life — Terry Wohlers @ 07:20

I have a “special relationship” with the Wohlers Report—a 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry study that we’ve published for 19 consecutive years. It started out as a relatively small effort, but it grew into something much bigger. To some degree, it has turned into the “tail wagging the dog,” a situation where a smaller part is controlling the whole of something.

I do not like the word “hate” and rarely use it, but it’s fitting for the title of this blog commentary. Perhaps “difficult” and “challenging” better describe February to May each year—the time when we create the new report. We “cut the fat” and try to make the report as lean and easy to read and digest as possible, with new and up-to-date information and data. With the recent changes in the industry, it has been a challenge. Our goal is always to be “short on words, but long on information,” when developing the report.

Now, for the love: The report was published 10 days ago, so we recently entered into the “love” phase. Already, we are enjoying the contents of the report and hope that our customers will do the same over the next 12 months. I refer to parts of the report daily for details that have been documented. We use it for many of our projects, investor consultations, and presentations. It helps us to articulate our thoughts and provide perspective in a way that would otherwise be difficult.

My sincere thanks to Wohlers Associates senior consultant and principal co-author Tim Caffrey for his tireless efforts associated with the new edition. I appreciate beyond words the work of the 70 co-authors, many of whom contributed a great deal of time, effort, and insight to the report. And, my thanks to the 82 service providers and 29 system manufacturers that shared detailed information that helped us create industry-wide totals in the form of charts, tables, and summaries. I genuinely hope that all of these people and companies have more of a “love” for this annual publication than anything else.

Extraordinary People

April 12, 2014

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 07:54

I have had the privilege of meeting some high achievers in the past. They have provided inspiration to me and many others. A number of them have been affiliated with NASA space program.

Alan Shepard was the first American in space, and he walked on the moon. I was lucky to be seated next to him on a flight from Denver to San Francisco in 1995. We talked about the space program, the Vomit Comet, and the Apollo 13 movie, which was released two weeks earlier.

Jim Lovell is the former astronaut that made the line “Houston, we have a problem” famous. Lovell and Gene Kranz, flight director at NASA Mission Control for the Apollo 13 mission, presented at SolidWorks World 2011. I did not get to meet Lovell, but I met Kranz. The guy, then 77, carried a look that was as tough as nails.

Former astronaut Mike Mullane flew on three space shuttle missions. He is also the author of the book Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I met Mullane at SME’s RAPID 2003 where he served as keynote speaker.

Others that I’ve been fortunate to meet:

  • James Cameron, producer of Avatar, Titanic, Aliens, The Abyss, and many other films
  • Roy Disney, longtime executive of The Walt Disney Company, which his father and uncle, Walt Disney, co-founded
  • Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group that includes more than 400 companies
  • Joel Orr, brilliant speaker, futurist, writer, and friend of 30 years
  • Tony Fadell, considered by many as the “father” of the iPod and leader of the team at Apple that developed the iPhone

I have met others, but these people are among those that stand out. In the 1980s, I had the chance to meet Steve Jobs, but didn’t, and I regret it to this day. I have never met a U.S. president, but I hope to one day.

Playing the Bass

March 2, 2014

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 06:51

I received the Hive bass guitar from Olaf Diegel, PhD of ODD Guitars in August 2013. The Hive is a striking design and is beautifully manufactured. And, in June 2012, I received the impressive Spider guitar from Olaf, which is one of his first creations. I was surprised to learn that he used SolidWorks for all of this guitar designs. To see all of them, including Olaf’s latest designs, Google “3D printed guitars” and click Images or go to odd.org.nz. 3D printing was used to produce the main body of these master pieces—one reason they are so special.

I began to take bass lessons a few months ago, with the goal of being able to play the instrument with other musicians. My crazy work and travel schedule have prevented me from keeping up with the lessons, coupled with weeks of little practice. I have not given up, however, and I continue to play and practice whenever I can. I look forward to getting my hands on the Hive bass and learning to play. It may take a year or longer, but I’m determined to master it.

A big thanks to Olaf for what could become a life-changing experience. Already, I’ve had a ton of fun with it, even if I never make it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I do want to win a small bet I made with our son and our daughter’s boyfriend. The bet is to play with a band in front of an audience. It’s a darn good thing we didn’t tie a timeframe to the bet because I could be old and gray by the time it happens, although I’d like to prevent that from happening.

Editor’s note: Olaf Diegel is also an associate consultant at Wohlers Associates.

Nelson Mandela

December 9, 2013

Filed under: event,life — Terry Wohlers @ 09:08

Nelson Mandela is viewed as one of the most respected individuals in modern time. After leading a campaign against the South African apartheid government and spending 27 years in prison, he chose to unite rather than seek revenge. He is credited with guiding the country to democracy and was elected as South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

In my years of visiting South Africa, my understanding and appreciation for what Mandela had done for the country has grown considerably. He meant so very much to so very many because of what he stood for and had given to the country. President Obama said last week after his passing, “We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make.”

In 2002, Mandela gave a keynote speech when accepting an honorary doctorate from Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, South Africa. I’m sure it was an extraordinary occasion, and one that I wish I could have attended. Two years later, I received an invitation to accept an honorary doctorate from the same institution, much to my surprise. It came with the request to give the keynote at the graduation ceremony—an experience I will forever treasure, especially given Mandela’s previous involvement.

The 2004 graduation ceremony coincided with the 10th anniversary of democracy in South Africa. This made the event even more special. I will forever view Nelson Mandela and South Africa in a very special way. As an extraordinary person and example, his legacy will continue to serve as inspiration to South Africans and others around the world for decades to come.

Rain

September 15, 2013

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 09:29

We woke up this morning to a downpour of rain. This comes after some of the most rainwater and flooding that Colorado has ever seen. Prior to this morning, we had received about 14 cm (5.5 inches) of rain, according to our rain gauge in southeast Fort Collins. This may not sound like a lot, but it’s more than one-third of the average total moisture that we receive in a year. Areas around Boulder received 38-43 cm (15-17 inches) of rain.

With the foothills and mountains to our west, heavy rain causes water to accumulate quickly, filling rivers, valleys, and low lying areas. Yesterday, in increments of about every 10 minutes, we would see large military helicopters overhead. This morning’s Coloradoan newspaper reported that they were carrying food and supplies, as well as many stranded people to safety. By yesterday evening, more than 1,750 people had been rescued. Four have died and more deaths are expected. About 500 people have not been heard from, including 350 from Larimer County. (Fort Collins is the country seat.)

Erick Nielsson, emergency manager for Larimer County, said that this is worse than Big Thompson. The horrific Big Thompson Canyon flood of 1976 claimed the lives of 143 people. Nielsson, an emergency medical technician at the time, never thought he would say that. It is sad to see the destruction of so many roads, bridges, homes, and other structures in this canyon. Areas from Fort Collins to Pueblo have flooded.

The weather forecast for today and tomorrow is not good. We can only hope and pray for some sunshine, and the well-being of those most effected. Until then, be careful and safe if you’re in a flooded area.

Looking Ahead

July 8, 2013

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 17:36

My wife, Diane, and I were riding our mountain bikes along Lake Dillon three days ago. We were on a paved bike path and about to cross the dam. Diane was in the lead and to the right of us was Lake Dillon. I looked to my right and noticed a steep drop off with rocks leading to the water. I wondered to myself what would happen if you were to accidentally go down at that point on a bike. Would you reach the water? At that moment, the rocks and water were obstructed from view and then they came back into view. I looked to my right to get a good look.

In less than a second, I heard the crashing of metal against metal and felt my bike and body hitting something very solid. I hit the ground hard, landing on small and large rocks. Much of the 84 kg (185 lbs) of my body weight landed on my right shoulder. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet.

Diane heard the crash and turned around. In seconds, I was on my feet, but not feeling well. Using my left hand, I grabbed my right shoulder and could feel a bone in a place that I had never felt before and knew something was not right. I observed the 30-cm (12-inch) diameter steel and concrete pylon that I hit, head-on. The pylon was located in the middle of the bike path to prevent automobiles from driving onto the path.

Weighing our options, Diane and I decided to peddle back to Frisco and then go by car to a medical clinic. The 20-minute ride to our place in Frisco was not much fun, but not as painful as it sounds. Two people asked if I had injured my shoulder because of the way I was holding my right arm tight against my body. Both offered assistance, but I declined.

The doctor studied three x-rays of my shoulder, examined me, and determined that I had torn a ligament that holds together the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. She said I may have done additional damage, but could not tell without more sophisticated medical imaging, such as CT or MRI. She recommended that I see an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible.

The moral of the story is to always keep your eyes on the route in front of you, and this applies not only to riding a bike. The only other time I had a fairly significant bike accident in recent years was when I took my eyes off the path when mountain biking. Riding a bike is a lot like other sports, such as snow skiing. You want to “see” a line in front of you and then follow that line. If you can’t visualize it, you can’t follow it, so something unintended could happen.

My Dad

April 15, 2013

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 07:20

As time passes, my appreciation for what my father taught me strengthens. He was a successful building contractor, so I was surrounded by tools, materials, and opportunities to make things. And, I took advantage of it. He taught me the right and wrong ways to use tools, the meaning of form, fit, and function, and the importance of precision. He had an eye for quality, especially when making hardwood cabinets and fine furniture. My dad could build almost anything out of wood or metal, so I learned from one of the best, while gaining precious hands-on experience. This helped establish a foundation of understanding and know-how that I’ve enjoyed for more than 35 years.

After graduating from high school and going to the University of Nebraska at Kearney, I worked for another building contractor for four years. This work helped pay the bills and get me through the four-year program. Without the previous experience, I probably would have been flipping burgers or bar tending. I was lucky enough to learn even more during this period as I used my hands and head.

In recent years, most of my time has been spent in the office, with travel, snow skiing, hiking, biking, and other recreational and family activities. Maybe someday, I will set up a proper shop with space and tools. In the meantime, I would not trade my hands-on experience for anything.

Children growing up on farms and in rural areas get their hands dirty and learn how to fix things—something that does not happen as much in cities. As urbanization continues around the world, fewer young people are given the chance to learn how to work with tools and materials. For this reason, I’m happy to watch the recent maker movement unfold. Hacker and maker spaces are popping up in many communities here in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Shanghai Government Technology Committee (Shanghai, China), for example, initiated the launch of 100 community hacker spaces and “innovation houses” more than a year ago.

For communities and countries to prosper, it’s important for them to create products of value from materials of much lower value. This helps to create a thriving economy. My father indirectly taught me this, although I didn’t quite get it at the time. Service industries are important, but they only move money from one pocket to another. Making stuff creates wealth and prosperity—something I value more now than ever. Thanks, Dad.

Urbanization of China

April 1, 2013

Filed under: future,life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 15:15

I spent three days in China last week and it was one of the most interesting trips in a long time. It was my fifth visit to the country, and I found that change continues in a big way. I spent time in Hefei, Anqing, and Huaining—all in the Anhui Province, home to 67 million people. The three cities are relatively close to one another and located about 500 km (310 miles) west of Shanghai. Hefei to Shanghai is one hour by jet, three hours by high-speed train, and five hours by car.

Hefei has a population of more than 7.5 million and is the capital of the Anhui Province. About 500 million people live within a 500-km radius of Hefei, and the area represents 48% of China’s gross domestic product, so it is a very important region to the country. Hefei’s 2012 GDP was RMB 416 billion ($67.1 billion), which is a 13.6% increase over 2011. A new international airport, with non-stop service to New York and Frankfurt, will open near Hefei at the end of May.

I was especially impressed by the construction of high rise apartment complexes. Clusters of 20 or more buildings are going up about everywhere you look. I doubt more than five minutes passed between seeing a new group of them when traveling by train from Hefei to Shanghai. The expansion is nothing short of astounding.

Urbanization is occurring at a rapid pace. At the end of last year, 52.6% of China’s people lived in urban areas, up from 26% in 1990, according to Wikipedia. A Chinese government official told me that about 10% of the entire population of China (135 million) would move from rural areas to urban communities over the next several years.

China’s success in manufacturing has created tremendous wealth in the country and this has led to much of the development in real estate. When I visited Beijing in 1998, the streets were filled with bicycles. Now, they are filled with trucks and cars, including many expensive European brands. You will see some bikes and three-wheel vehicles, still without lights or reflectors at night, but they are disappearing. Meanwhile, clusters of high rises are covering the landscape and I’ve not seen development like it anywhere else.

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