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Makerbot Thing-o-Matic 3D Printer Review

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-for-the-faint-of-heart dept.

Hardware Hacking 117

rsk points out this "review of the $1200 Makerbot Thing-o-Matic 3D printer. After a 16-hour self-assembly and a few weeks of use, a blown PSU was replaced with a higher powered PSU via a mod to the Thing-o-Matic. Video of the Thing-o-Matic printing out little solar panel mounts from Google Sketch-up included in the review. Final thoughts suggest that the Thing-o-Matic is not a great gift for non-engineers: 'You need a decent understanding of robotics, hardware, software, electronics and mechanics, need a little hand dexterity and a ton of patience.'"

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First Thing (0, Offtopic)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961624)

I had to

Re:First Thing (0)

Noog (934684) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961640)

damn you

Re:First Thing (0)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963758)

Where's the 'print' button?

Cool (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961656)

I want to know what software he used to make those cats!

Re:Cool (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34961944)

You know, that was incredibly stupid of him to have operated that machine in front of the cat. The cat was very attentive.

The author will wake up one day to the machine humming along and part after part coming out of it. When he goes to look at what's going on, a laser blaster will be pointed at his head and in the back ground, he'll hear a slow confident purr. I can't tell you the rest because if they find out that I'm posting this I'll be ......[carrier lost]

Re:Cool (1)

joeyadams (1724334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962022)

I want to know what software he used to make those cats!

No, I think the cats are just raw material.

Re:Cool (1)

ConMotto (586959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963192)

Ahaha... I used the Arizona Human Society to adopted Leonidas Snotbomb Lee at approximately four weeks old. :) HE WUVS YOU!!!

Hello (1, Offtopic)

kumma (1077987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961684)

Reprap?

Re:Hello (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34962246)

Should of linked it
http://reprap.org/wiki/Main_Page [reprap.org]

Reprap wasnt designed to be sold at a profit, it was designed to benefit humanity and schools
ironically all this makerbot thing did was copy it and double the price

Re:Hello (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962652)

Apparently, you have generous friends who are willing to manufacture the parts for free.

Re:Hello (1)

phooky (645) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963108)

It's a descendant of reprap; the gen3 electronics were designed for the reprap project. The idea of the Cupcake was to drop the self-replicating constraint and focus on kit manufacturability... which isn't to say the Cupcake can't self-replicate [thingiverse.com] .

the next industrial revolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34961750)

is starting now . Sure there things are crude but compare the first paper printers against the latest colour lasers.

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961788)

You wouldn't steal a car [wikipedia.org] . But soon you'll be able to copy one. Why do I have a feeling this is going to make piracy analogies on Slashdot a lot more interesting in the years to come.

Re:the next industrial revolution (2, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961908)

Fuck you. I would if I could.

PS: Anyone have a copy of Ferrari_599_Fiorano.torrent? Thanx!

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963974)

Swap you a copy of Jessica_Alba_17.tar.gz for it? ;)

Re:the next industrial revolution (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961984)

You wouldn't steal a car [wikipedia.org] . But soon you'll be able to copy one.

I doubt GM / Ford / Ferrari will be too worried about off white lumpy 'cars' with plastic engines anytime in the foreseeable future. Wal Mart might be concerned about your ability to mimic their large selection of plastic junk, everyone else - not so much.

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963368)

I think the first major lawsuit over physical-item-IP-infringement, as relates to individual 3d printing, will be for a brand name shoe. $50k commercial 3d printers (the kind that can print in multiple materials, including plastic, polymers, rubber, etc at the same time) can almost print a commercial-quality shoe today (without laces).

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

d6 (1944790) | more than 2 years ago | (#34965732)

>> I doubt GM / Ford / Ferrari will be too worried about off white lumpy 'cars' with plastic engines

Given the huuuuge percentage of the cars that are built from plastic chunks that are often stupid expensive to replace, they should be worried.

The last window repair I had done required buying an entire (new) actuator with all ancillary parts, because some 20 cent plastic piece gave up in the cold.
None of the scrap yards around here had a used one because - guess what - they all break on this poorly engineered p.o.s. (less than 4 years old, just off warranty)
If I had access to a makerbot/reprap, I woulda taken a stab at making the part myself. perhaps it'd fail, perhaps not.

When these printers get a little more user-friendly and make a decent installed base, it'll be something any company ripping us for small parts will need to think about.

Re:the next industrial revolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34962042)

I'm pretty confident that most Americans would steal a car worth $100,000+ that was unlocked and untracked, if they knew they wouldn't be seen or fingerprinted, and if they knew of a way to safely sell it. As usual the reluctance has nothing to do with ethics... it's all about risk vs. reward.

Re:the next industrial revolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34962674)

I'm pretty sure your post says more about you than about Americans.

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962840)

You wouldn't steal a car. But soon you'll be able to copy one.

Not until you can make - finish - assemble - and test - 15,000 to 20,000 parts of any arbitrary size, shape, weight, composition, and precision.

   

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#34966012)

Don't forget that the Thing-O-Matic can print parts after parts without any user intervention. Let's say only four hours per part... Hey, it'll take less than seven years to print your car!

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34964290)

Obligatory you wouldn't steal a car. (for some reason /. seems to be refusing to put my link in, so : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALZZx1xmAzg [youtube.com] ).

Anything that makes piracy analogies on Slashdot more interesting is good by me.

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34961828)

the next industrial revolution is starting now . Sure there things are crude but compare the first paper printers against the latest colour lasers.

And where, exactly, is this DIY colour laser printer?

See... 3D printers are far from crude - see shapeways.com / i.materialise.com / 3dmetaltec.com . It's just that the DIY 3D printers tend to be rather crude.

If you're saying that eventually these 3D printers will work their way down to the prosumer and later consumer level, then sure.. but that 'revolution' started around the time ZCorp et al made their machines available at reasonable (for small studios/manufacturers/etc., not individuals) prices, way down from the usual rapid prototyping machines' costs, quite a few years ago.. not 'now'.

sounds a lot like the kinect (1)

Dan9999 (679463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962082)

What MS did with a generally non accessible device (due to price and integration with the current market) to make it 150$ is truly remarkable.

Now if only Apple will come out with the iMadeIt, or the iBuiltIt or iTem or iDontKnowWhatever.

Re:the next industrial revolution (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963404)

I hope they can raise the quality of these things. I'd like to get one to print out electronic parts to fix my headphones. Things such as the tiny bits of plastic that hold the ribbon to the circuit board would be perfect for this thing to print. Unfortunately the size and quality needed makes it impossible for these things to print. :(

Screws would be another thing. All my electronics come with tiny weird screws, if it could print new metal ones that would be awesome.

Guess we're going to have to wait for the quality to get better though.

And that was that site... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34961768)

The slashdot-effect - every webpage nightmare...

Re:And that was that site... (1)

freedumb2000 (966222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962036)

They should have made a few more web servers with the Thing-o-Matic *ducks*

Re:And that was that site... (2)

theMoleofProduction (842123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963056)

The wiki is still up, and more informative than the store site. Wiki - MakerBot Industries [makerbot.com]

Re:And that was that site... (2)

theMoleofProduction (842123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963072)

FWIW, I have a Makerbot Cupcake CNC, and it's freaking awesome. It takes a LOT of work to get it running and tuned properly, but once it's working, you can use it to make improved versions of every part. It's a self-feeding hobby. I've spent days building new parts to make things run better, just so I can use it to print even better improvements that require more precision.

Re:And that was that site... (1)

VolciMaster (821873) | more than 2 years ago | (#34965948)

FWIW, I have a Makerbot Cupcake CNC

what does a CNC-made cupcake look and taste like? And really: how many parts can it take?

I would think... (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961802)

Wouldn't it be more accurate to move the head around rather than moving the part? What if your plastic hasn't set yet? Jiggling it around while it is hardening is probably not good for getting an accurate part.

Re:I would think... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34961934)

Have you seen the parts this thing prints? "Accurate" is not what I would call it.

I'm not sure why people like these so much. Yeah it's a cool idea but these are barely useable because the results are not even remotely smooth, they're brittle and only loosely resemble the model.

Re:I would think... (4, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962164)

Did you see the first personal computers? They were useless toys compared to even the minicomputers of the day. Barely any RAM and no interactive display. Entering programs was laborious and error prone.

Re:I would think... (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962304)

and they were accurate (not counting user error) .. just sayin

Re:I would think... (0)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962342)

Hand over your geek card. [wikimedia.org]

Re:I would think... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962504)

you'd better hand in your geek card if you think the Pentium is anything remotely like the processors of the first personal computers.

Re:I would think... (1)

fizzup (788545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963028)

You're right, of course. The processors used in early [wikipedia.org] personal [wikipedia.org] computers [wikipedia.org] didn't have any bugs [wikipedia.org] at all.

Re:I would think... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#34965326)

jokes on you, the 6502 was introduced as a cheap, feature-reduced alternative microprocessor for $25 for when the over $150 8080 and 6800 were too expensive. Cheap..and buggy. Kind of like the piece of shit FDM machine of this article....

Re:I would think... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 2 years ago | (#34966820)

They were actually sold as hobby electronics kits. They were quite literally toys.

Re:I would think... (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962358)

Yeah, there's no way you could use parts printed from something like RepRap to make something as complex as say, another 3d printer. ..oh wait...

Re:I would think... (1, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962542)

hahah, RerRap is a joke, it can't make its circuit boards, motors, sensors, not even its threaded rods for that piss-poorly "engineered" tinker toy frame. A child's toy for today's arrested development boys in men's skins. A milling machine can replicate itself, motor and all. Note I didn't even put the letters CNC in front of milling machine, replication of non-CNC milling machines by themselves was a done deal in the 1950s or perhaps even earlier.

Re:I would think... (2)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963380)

There are already prototypes for the next generation of reprap that can print their own circuit boards. These are all just incremental steps, and they are getting closer together. Combining an additive printer with a subtractive milling machine is coming.

Re:I would think... (3, Interesting)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963018)

Maximum PC did an article on this thing. They managed to print a whistle (with the captive pea inside). One Cathal Garvey, a geneticist, is using it to stave off having to buy a few million worth of lab equipment; see the dremel-powered centrifuge [thingiverse.com] or the microlathe. [thingiverse.com]

So, it's not perfect or self-replicating, but you can do some cool stuff with it. Non-geneticists might appreciate being able to machine replacements [thingiverse.com] for all the brittle plastic shit that can break, or just get their own Master Chief [thingiverse.com] statue.

Re:I would think... (1)

risom (1400035) | more than 3 years ago | (#34964288)

So, it's not perfect or self-replicating, but you can do some cool stuff with it.

Quite an interesting development, indeed. If a higher level of self-replication is wanted, however, it's worth mentioning Reprap [reprap.org] , of which Makerbot is a commercial spin-off (e.g. Makerbot is to Reprap what Ubuntu is to Debian). Reprap has an explicit design goal of maximizing the level of self-replication.

Re:I would think... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962284)

well not that I have one, but have used one ...

1) the plastic is not that wobbly, its not gel :-)
2) everything I have seen that was made by a home made extruder requires finishing to some degree, accuracy is not the 100% goal if you pursue a machine of this type

Re:I would think... (2)

sircastor (1051070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962384)

Previous printer designs put a lot of stress on the head moving around because it had the full extruder on it. Cupcake (and subsequently the Thingomatic) had stationary z-axis-only head. Like it was said below, they aren't jiggly. The plastic firms up quite quickly.

Re:I would think... (3, Interesting)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962868)

I've played around with a makerbot. It might seem like the plastic would jiggle on the moving base, but it really isn't a problem at all.

The biggest problem I've seen with the makerbot is the z-axis, the standard bars are too flexible, causing alignment problems on taller objects.

My verdict on the makerbot: toy, not tool.

Re:I would think... (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963390)

You need a set of wobble arrestors [thingiverse.com] .

Re:I would think... (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 2 years ago | (#34965450)

Actually, wobble in the Cupcake comes from sloppy assembly. First, make sure the rods are straight. But even given straight rods, realize that you are putting imperial size threaded rods into a metric bearing -- lots of slop there. The best fix is to get some solid wire of the right gauge (#28 or so) and wrap it in the threads before putting the rods into the bearings. That keeps the rods centered as you tighten them onto the bearing. Wobble gone. Wobble arrestors are a band-aid on the symptom, not a fix for the root cause.

And to the grandparent, the Cupcake is *capable* of very good results -- but it takes tuning. A lot of people building Makerbots have very little experience with CNC machines and wonder why it doesn't work perfectly straight out of the box and lack the skills to diagnose the issues.

Re:I would think... (5, Informative)

phooky (645) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963060)

We initially inverted the head/model relationship because (at least when we were getting started) the extruder was a heavy, delicate bit of equipment, and the models being printed were very small and light. Moving the model means moving less mass. If you're printing in ABS, the material is viscous and sticky enough right out of the nozzle that it isn't perturbed by the platform motion. The disadvantage of this scheme is that it reduces your build area significantly, you need good model/platform adhesion, and tall models have a bit of an inverted pendulum effect. However, you don't have to worry about the head getting jammed or shaking apart as it slams back and forth at high speed.

Re:I would think... (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963230)

That's still kind of sidestepping the question.

The commercial models I have seen all move the head, not the part.

Re:I would think... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963540)

I just watched a carabiner being printed on a thing-o-matic ("just" as in "and then I drove from Watsonville to Santa Cruz and drank a glass of water and began Slashdotting") and it leaves quite a bit to be desired. The machine is flimsy and has weird harmonics if you step around jaggedly, which is often quite handy to do. The stock hot head and its control board are crufty at best. The work area is 1/4 the size of the competitor and the means for controlling the amount of working material delivered is not very well designed as it has no feedback mechanism. The stock system provides no feedback about temperatures or other information while printing is in progress. And yes, practically the whole thing moves around instead of just the head, and it shakes around on its feet quite a bit during direction changes, to the point that it is notably quieter if you just hold it down.

The problem isn't that you can't get good results with the system, the problem is that you can get better results easier and cheaper with another system.

Re:I would think... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963670)

If so, I would be interested in knowing what that system is.

Re:I would think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34964604)

People may want to know where to get a cheaper system. I received a TechZone Lasercut Mendel kit [techzonecom.com] last Saturday and am in the middle of the build. Print volume will be 8"x8"x6" (200mm x 200mm x 150mm). It doesn't have a heated or automated bed, but at $799 it's a steal compared to the $1200 Thing-o-matic. I think you can build a heated bed conveyor for less than $400. If I'm wrong, the Thing-o-Matic's print volume is only (120mm x 120 mm x ??? ). The Mendel can ship within 2 weeks and Thing-o-Matic has a seven week lead time. Which is the better deal?

Re:I would think... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965066)

I am indeed talking about the reprap which has four times the printing area (2d). My impression is that height is increased as well but I only know about the X and Y (or is that X and Z?) My friend with the thing-o-matic hopes to sell it quickly while someone might still buy it, and buy a reprap with the money and as much additional money as necessary. The lack of effective material feed control is something of a show-stopper.

Re:I would think... (1)

theMoleofProduction (842123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963096)

The extruder assembly is much heavier than the largest plastic objects you might print. with this machine you can print a lot faster (with cheaper, smaller stepper motors) if you move the build platform rather than the extruder.

Self Assembly (0)

JoelWink (1846354) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961826)

So in just sixteen hours it assembled itself? Cool!

Re:Self Assembly (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962546)

T1000 self assembly was cool. "16 hours" of gooey glue spit job resulted in well... but we have to praise them for trying, enthusiasm and pioneering...

"3D Printer?" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34961900)

Why not call it what it is, a consumer-oriented CNC milling machine. It is arguably in the same family of devices as the 5-axis Hermle C60s in the factory where I work. (We use those giant machines to cut some really *tiny* parts, it's pretty awesome to watch them do their thing.)

I'm not knocking the Thing-o-Matic in any way. I want one.

Re:"3D Printer?" (4, Informative)

Speare (84249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961928)

Why not call it a milling machine?

Er, because it doesn't perform any milling? It performs deposition - adding of material. Milling is carving away - subtracting the material.

Re:"3D Printer?" (4, Funny)

RobbieCrash (834439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961942)

So, why not call it a gnillim machine?

Re:"3D Printer?" (1)

Yeb (7194) | more than 2 years ago | (#34966408)

For milling type machines along the lines of a makerbot, see the Contraptor:
http://www.contraptor.org/ [contraptor.org]

Re:"3D Printer?" (3, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34961932)

Why not call it what it is, a consumer-oriented CNC milling machine.

I hope you're not looking to work in marketing.

Re:"3D Printer?" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34961970)

Why not - he's got the terminology pat, but doesn't have a clue what it means. Sounds like a marketing pro to me.

Re:"3D Printer?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34963632)

Why don't we call you an idiot?

Ethan H is a friend of mine (1)

Goner (5704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962084)

He is mentioned in this article. He is awesome and deserves all of the adoration he will receive for his work at Makerbot.

Truly.

Hmm... (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962086)

I think I'd rather have the laser burn table that they used to cut out various parts of the Thing-o-Matic (such as the plywood shell), than a machine that prints stuff from plastic.

But then, I like to make big things, instead of little things. :)

Laser cutters are more useful (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962672)

I think I'd rather have the laser burn table that they used to cut out various parts of the Thing-o-Matic (such as the plywood shell), than a machine that prints stuff from plastic.

The desk-sized laser cutters are the most popular machines at TechShop. They're easy to use, easy to program (all they need is line art), and will cut up to 3/8" plywood. The size limit is 18" x 24". They'll cut wood and many plastics, but not metals - that takes a much more powerful model.

Making small plastic parts by injection molding is an incredibly cheap operation in quantity. Making one-off parts with a MakerBot like device is a slow, expensive process, and the surface quality will be lower. On the other hand, cutting stuff out of sheet stock with laser cutters, plasma cutters, and water-jet cutters is fast; it's useful as a production process.

Re:Laser cutters are more useful (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963622)

Laser cutters are useful for other types of work than 3D printers. A laser cutter is 2D. For my hobby (building scale models) a 2D cutter has limited value because most of the parts I need are in 3D.

Quality control? (4, Insightful)

detritus` (32392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962194)

I was seriously considering picking one of these up as i tend to do a lot of low level fabrication (right up to casting noble and non-noble metals) and have yet to find a reasonable and quick method to fab plastics. However looking on the website and reading the review the quality of this product seems extremely questionable, not only did this one unit have 2 major issues within the first day of running (with a complex system like this not exactly a horrid start) but the company itself has a blog post on the front page about how its favorite customer service interaction was one in which the customer decided to fix all the problems on their unit themselves. So my first two impressions are that this unit will most likely be in a state of disrepair in between quick burts of usefulness? I'd rather just submit my renderings to online stores and pay the shipping, etc. simply for the lack of frustration. Now if they got these problems under control i'd have one tomorrow.

Re:Quality control? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34962298)

I was seriously considering picking one of these up as i tend to do a lot of low level fabrication (right up to casting noble and non-noble metals) and have yet to find a reasonable and quick method to fab plastics.

Small, relatively cheap (about the same price as this Makerbot) CNC milling machines can carve up blocks of ABS or Teflon or whatnot like there's no tomorrow.

Re:Quality control? (1, Flamebait)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962572)

large, real metal cutting milling machines can also be had used for that price range, and you can add CNC over time while first learning the tricks of the trade. Instead of cutting plastic or sugar, learn to make real fucking machines with a real fucking machine.

Re:Quality control? (3, Insightful)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962754)

large, real metal cutting milling machines can also be had used for that price range, and you can add CNC over time while first learning the tricks of the trade. Instead of cutting plastic or sugar, learn to make real fucking machines with a real fucking machine.

Not everyone wants to commit the time and money to train to be a fully-fledged machinist. Not every job requires (or is even properly done with) metal parts. Not every designer wants to spend a week in the shop making ten identical copies of a widget for a prototype when his time would be better spent at the drafting table. Not every shop wants to hire half a dozen machinists when they can hire one to oversee a bunch of CNC mills.

In short, don't be a condescending ass.

Re:Quality control? (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963024)

In short, don't be a condescending ass.

Perhaps you should take your own advice...

Re:Quality control? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34963432)

Um.. did you even read what he typed, or is your mind placing things there that are not there?

Re:Quality control? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34963128)

A condescending ass on slashdot? No way man, I don't believe that. Slashdot is full of follower males enraged at the alpha and too stupid/weak to do anything about it.

Re:Quality control? (1)

ConMotto (586959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963214)

Hi, I'm the author of TFA. I generally agree with you. It's definitely NOT something you'd use to replace $200K of aircraft-grade machinery, but more than adaquate for computer geeks (such as myself) for the occasional project. Considering that the price of such machines is only going to come down in the next 10 years, I don't see any reason why all manner of engineers couldn't--in the forseeable future--have one at their disposal. With a bit more polish and robustness, home fabrication could eventually become more like a household applicance than something only for geeks. Kindof like computers.

Re:Quality control? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#34965156)

but this type of FDM system just has abysmal tolerances on the parts it produces, too horribly bad for any useful "widget" it's not being a condescending ass to say "why blow large amount of money for half-assed crap when you can get something really, really good that can work in sugar or plastic or steel, that can last your whole life"

Re:Quality control? (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 2 years ago | (#34965738)

but this type of FDM system just has abysmal tolerances on the parts it produces, too horribly bad for any useful "widget" it's not being a condescending ass to say "why blow large amount of money for half-assed crap when you can get something really, really good that can work in sugar or plastic or steel, that can last your whole life"

Your condescending remark would have made more sense (but wouldn't have been any less gratuitously rude) had you been replying to a comment endorsing the FDM 'Thing-o-Matic' system in the article. The post to which you responded, however, was discussing small CNC milling systems designed to work in plastic and capable of generating useful parts with reasonable tolerances. There exist situations (not particularly uncommon ones, either) where having a smaller, less-capable CNC mill makes more sense as a purchase than larger, more-capable, non-CNC equipment -- even at the same price point. I recommend that you re-read my post, in case you missed or misunderstood the list of several such situations and circumstances I already provided.

Re:Quality control? (1)

Tintivilus (88810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963014)

Man, why is this concept so difficult to grasp? It's. Not. A. Milling. Machine.

It's an FDM [wikipedia.org]

Jobs for one are rarely jobs for the other

Re:Quality control? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#34965240)

And what did people do before the FDM became good enough in the 90s, for plastic housings and soft tools and molds? What do they do NOW when they need a solution with better than the hundredths of an inch sloppiness of typical FDM? Back to the milling machine.....jobs for the milling machine often can't be jobs for the FDM, you're half right.

Re:Quality control? (1)

thunderclap (972782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963242)

and then you can hire copious amounts of pseudo-porn stars to use said machine. www.fuckingmachines.com (yes, real. YES, VERY NSFW) and I do believe you cab do that on a cnc. But what about the latex? ;)

Re:Quality control? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34964790)

My cousin works in the industry, during the last down turn he would go to auctions and said that some milling machines were selling for scrap metal prices.

Re:Quality control? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962676)

Have you ever actually seen a cheap (or even an expensive) milling machine in operation?

I can see what the attraction is with a printing solution rather than a cutting solution. Milling is messy, and certainly not something you'd want to do in your lounge room.

Re:Quality control? (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34964810)

Milling is only messy because the impetus of industrial machining is minimizing machine time to minimize cost and increase profits. If the depth and speed of cut is modified from maximum productivity to chip control, the mess can be effectively contained. [assuming you are not cutting 304L stainless or similarly disgustingly obstinate material]. Tooling will need to be chosen to minimize heating instead of maximizing cut volume.

Re:Quality control? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34962310)

"Now if they got these problems under control i'd have one tomorrow."

That's what I tried to tell people about these horseless carriages, but they didn't believe me. Still have my trusty steed. I remember a joke about GM making cars like Microsoft; look who's laughing now.

- Mr. Ed

Re:Quality control? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34962386)

That's one of the reasons I don't own one of these. I researched the 3d printers that they make for a while and it just seemed like very few people actually had them up and working without what seemed like months of "fixing".

Re:Quality control? (1)

theMoleofProduction (842123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963168)

That's correct in my case. I had a lot of trouble with the extruder hot end assembly (Cupcake CNC that shipped with a MK4 extruder). I had to order some spare parts, and I had to sift through a lot of conflicting data. I knew what I was getting into when I bought it, and I enjoyed the ride. It's running beautifully now.

Re:Quality control? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 2 years ago | (#34965958)

TBH sounds like the same complaints people could've made about home computer kits in the late 1970's. Give this technology 20-30 years and it will be smooth, shiny and work out of the box - providing it isn't killed by the content holders.

website about mods to the thing-o-matic (3, Interesting)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962578)

The Smell Of Molten Solder In The Morning [softsolder.com] blog has spent the last week and change writing about mods he's done to his thing-o-matic, with sections on reducing static buildup [softsolder.com] that can discharge and fry electronics, rewiring part of the power supply [softsolder.com] to allow separate volatile and high-power sections, and thermally characterizing and modifying [softsolder.com] the heater system on the extruder head, including a big chunk on how to calibrate thermocouples.

I'm looking forwards to seeing what he builds once he's gotten done rebuilding the machine.

Sure, it's a lot of work to put into a brand-new machine, but anyone who has bought a Chinese mill or lathe machine knows that a right-out-of-the-box rebuild sure helps the accuracy [mini-lathe.com] . Even with simple tools like wood chisels, the first thing you do is resharpen them because the from-the-factory job is nearly worthless, so it's hardly surprising that an amateur-designed, amateur-built, and kit-built-by-amateur 3D printer would need some work.

It not turnkey, it's a lifestyle choice (4, Interesting)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962682)

I've had one of the Makerbot Cupcakes for quite a while. Great fun to build and operate -- if you are a tinkerer and enjoy making things work, and tweaking them until they work, and tuning them again when they quit working. If you don't happen to have the tinkerer gene, then they are not for you. I tell anyone that asks me about it: "It's not turnkey like a laser printer, it's a lifestyle choice."

Outrageous good fun, though, if you like that sort of thing. My last few prints: a pair of wheels for a robot, a bracket to mount an Android phone on a robot, and a cookie cutter to give as a gift. In between, my daughter has been printing doll house furniture.

After a 16-hour self-assembly (4, Funny)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962688)

After a 16-hour self-assembly

Now I'm impressed, I had no idea that it could self assemble, I expected that the guy who bought it would have to put it together.

Re:After a 16-hour self-assembly (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34962742)

After a 16-hour self-assembly

Now I'm impressed, I had no idea that it could self assemble, I expected that the guy who bought it would have to put it together.

I can't tell if you're kidding - but it didn't self-assemble. I guess the submitter either didn't read the article, or else doesn't know that self assembly [wikipedia.org] has a specific meaning in engineering parlance.

Re:After a 16-hour self-assembly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34964348)

I had no idea that it could self assemble

Not only that, but after it is fully assembled it will print copies of its own parts which will then assemble themselves too!

Makerbot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34963384)

Real 3D printer enthusiasts use parts from their Darwins to make Mendels.

my favorite part (1)

or-switch (1118153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34963614)

was the kitty

3 Sec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34965504)

I love the 3 seconds total of the machine itself and the 25+ of a monitor showing software leaving the rest for teh lolz catz.

Cupcake Photos (1)

Yeb (7194) | more than 2 years ago | (#34966384)

I just started assembly of a Makerbot Cupcake. Unboxing & some assembly photos here:
http://www.alephobjects.com/photos/printers/makerbot/cupcake/ [alephobjects.com]

I have some other printers as well, in various states, more photos:
http://www.alephobjects.com/photos/printers/ [alephobjects.com]

The Makerbot stuff is very well documented relative to the other projects.

-Jeff Moe

Owning the original makerbot cupcake... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34966776)

This is an amazing piece of work open-source wise and education-wise.

What I seriously don't like about this project, is the attention of press and hype vs. the real world results.

Let me explain: Open source is great, needs a lot of good press and success stories, but when you end up on time magazine, "fastest growing open source business" and all... average joe thinks, wow, this must be an amazing thing to own.

it is... ...only if you know what you are getting into, and this is the part where it actually hurts:

- If you're not into mechanics/electronics (at least to an hobby level, which is enough to get it to work and ask questions for troubleshooting) you're in for a lot of frustrations.
- If you think you pay 1200$ and it's done... you'll print and never pay another 200+$ for parts and upgrade (other than plastic), you're in for a surprise.
- If you think you can just model any object and print it out, you're in for a lot of deception as an extrusion-based system is extremely limiting (even with support material recently added)
- If you think it comes with a warranty and is solid like any off the shelf products, you'll probably end up putting it in a closet or whatever's left on ebay!

So my advise: know what you are getting into, read the forums, check for alternative suppliers (makergear has been offering amazing alternative parts at decent price) and don't assume anything because this is what grows from a fun project to a lot of frustrations.

I'm not bashing it, mine is still assembled and sitting on my desktop, but I've been looking to upgrade the print head to a stepper motor for the last 3 months and all the information is scatterred and incomplete so I'm waiting until makergear has an actual packaged solution back in stock before continuing as I will never buy anything from makerbot again. Selling something "easy, for everyone, that just works" like if your mom could operate one is just plain wrong, however I give all credits to the guy for creating the movement in the first place and to close on a positive note: What an amazing hobby or student project for hacking and experimenting!

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