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From Austria, the World's Smallest 3D Printer

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the make-it-with-a-makerbot dept.

Printer 120

fangmcgee writes "Printers which can produce three-dimensional objects have been available for years. However, at the Vienna University of Technology, a printing device has now been developed which is much smaller, lighter and cheaper than ordinary 3D-printers. With this kind of printer, everyone could produce small, tailor-made 3D-objects at home, using building plans from the internet — and this could save money for expensive custom-built spare parts."

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Scotty, beam me down (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161890)

Surely this is an important breakthrough. Just as surely, it is not that wealthy nations can now make small toy objects more cheaply than (developing nation). This is Enterprise Transporter 1.2

Re:Scotty, beam me down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161942)

no, it's a replicator. But instead of making you a delicious meatball sub, it only makes you a plastic thing that looks like a meatball sub.

Not good enough for printing Scotty (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162482)

Instead of making you a quirky Scottish engineer, it only makes you a plastic picture of him. That might be good enough for Kirk on occasion, but certainly not for Scotty.

Re:Scotty, beam me down (5, Informative)

CoopersPale (444672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161978)

It's small, but probably not as cheap as a Rep Rap [reprap.org] which is a fully open-source implementation of a 3D printer that's been around for a few years. They've developed the first iteration into the 'Mendel' which has addrssed some of the issues they came across in initial development.

Re:Scotty, beam me down (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162074)

if you bothered to read the 1 page article you would know its not cheaper than the Rep Rap, it weighs in at 1200 euros

BUT! the rep rap is at best a toy with little practical use outside of a hobby market, this on the other hand could be used for light commercial applications

Re:Scotty, beam me down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162124)

Why do you say that? The Rep Rap can produce the same quality as this commercial 3D printer if built properly and can fit in a better form factor if you really needed it to. What can this device do that the Rep Rap can't?

Re:Scotty, beam me down (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162164)

Why do you say that? The Rep Rap can produce the same quality as this commercial 3D printer if built properly and can fit in a better form factor if you really needed it to. What can this device do that the Rep Rap can't?

This thing has sub millimeter precision levels - I don't think the Rep Rap is quite so precise. That puts it in the potential tool category. The Fine Machine also uses a 'resin' based substrate and might well be strong enough and stable enough to make useful objects. The Rep Rap seems to be limited by it's relatively weak thermoplastic material.

Do Want.

Re:Scotty, beam me down (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162454)

I'd think the precision on makerbot, rep raps, etc. is sub-millimeter given that similar stepper motors I've seen driving the carriage and platform could get you there.

What's interesting though, is as you mentioned, using this light activated resin with none of the usual extruder complications. I'd really like to see some finished, intricate product out of the prototype. At 20th of a millimeter layer thickness for Z resolution, and good X,Y res, I'd like to see what you get.

Re:Scotty, beam me down (2)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162766)

Resolution is limited by the deposition process, not the Cartesian robot. On the typical RepRap, thats around 0.5mm, although some guys are experimenting with finer nozzles. High res 3D printers exist -- one I have seen prints UV curable resin using something like an ink-jet process. Outrageously fine resolution.

I have a CupCake -- it's tweaky. It's fun for hackers, but it isn't turn-key, it's a lifestyle choice.

Re:Scotty, beam me down (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163252)

I figured that would be the case.

Have you seen any other better designs out there worth considering? I have occasional use for knocking out little prototype parts, but it always seemed like anything below expensive, commercial turn-key was kinda... as you said... "tweaky".

Re:Scotty, beam me down (2)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162918)

RepRap can produce parts as big as this whole printer is big.

I think the finest detail size to manufactured object size ratio is on RepRap's size, and commercial application of this is primarily limited by absolutely tiny work area. And the resin is expensive. Sure this has its place where one needs tiny precise custom parts. But I believe objects bigger than a cubic inch are in higher demand...

There was a different project, that utilized similar approach but much better work area. http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/04/homebrew-liquid-resin-3d-printer-gets-resolution-boost.html [makezine.com]
This actually has a potential to be cheaper, because it uses pretty normal LCD screen, not LED projector one with microscopic pixels.

Re:Scotty, beam me down (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164476)

I agree. Plus, since it is open source, someday you will not only be able to build the laser with it but the shark too!

Re:Scotty, beam me down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162002)

I wonder if a developing nation's workers protest when machines take their jobs.

Re:Scotty, beam me down (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163788)

Not only is it far from cheap, the chemicals used in the resin are far from cheap. Previous DIY versions (e.g. http://3dhomemade.blogspot.com [blogspot.com] ) are much cheaper to build, though to my knowledge there has yet to be a breakthrough in finding a cheaper (near)UV-activated resin with the right characteristics.

Re:Scotty, beam me down (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36166410)

This is a litigation timebomb that is going to loudly and messily explode in the near future.

If technological progress has taught us one thing, it is that industries with a vested interests against this progress have caused huge problems in the uptake and development of those technologies. Witness the lack of standards for both web audio and video despite 20+ years of research and development. Witness the paltry excuse for digital media distribution in the music and movie industries(though things are slowly improving). Witness the insulting excuses for digital distribution from the book publishing industry.

In the case of all these industries, copyright industries, we have seen time and again an open hostility towards new technological innovations which challenge the status quo. Hostility which breaks out in the form of legal action, and overally battery of the fledgling new industries which are emerging. Effectively, new technologies and industries are crippled, hindered and even driven underground for decades(Do we even have a real digital music industry today?).

This is all going to happen again with 3D printing.

The first industry that is going to fire the fire legal shots in the coming war will be the wargaming and hobbist modelling industry. Companies like Games Workshop and model aircraft makers are going to throw indignant holy fits when people start making, distributing and and printing off Ork warrior and Spitfire models.

Expect companies like MakerBot to be promptly sued within the next two to five years and service like Thingiverse to be taken down with DMCA notices left and right. Companies that sell model 747 aircraft at +$100 a piece will choose to litigate rather than see their handsome margins evaportate as people being downloading and printing entirely user created models of such 40+ year old aircraft.

After this, toy companies like Mattel, Bandai, and the Lego group will join the legal parades, stomping 3D printing into the gutter along with file-sharing service. Craftwork, construction supplier, and possibly major retailers will also get in on the game if they feel their margins are threatened. In the end, 3D printing will remain legal, but so smeared and risky that no true industry will be built on it for a decade or three--or four.

And if you think that will be bad, just wait until the food and drinks industry gets wind of the 3D food printers! The first website to release downloadable blueprints for a chocolate bar or a recipe for pseudo-coca-cola, and the Rep-Rap will be declared as a weapon of mass destruction!

Re:Scotty, beam me down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36166942)

The first website to release downloadable blueprints for a chocolate bar or a recipe for pseudo-coca-cola, and the Rep-Rap will be declared as a weapon of mass destruction!

You know that there are recipes for people to make their own copies of such foodstuffs? People are doing that in their own kitchens at this very minute. Also, did you know that you can't copyright recipes? There is nothing stopping you from recreating Coca-Cola exactly. You can't market it as Coke due to trademarks, but you could replicate it and sell it.

Your broader point about industries throwing a fit over replication technologies is valid, just not for the food industries. People have always been able to 'pirate' food recipes, and yet restaurants survive. It's probably a good object lesson.

1200 clams ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161914)

for $1200 you can get this instead :
http://store.makerbot.com/makerbot-thing-o-matic.html

Re:1200 clams ? (2)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161968)

Agreed. Or a reprap for $800 USD http://www.makergear.com/products/3d-printers [makergear.com]

What's impressive about this device isn't the price (at twice the mendel reprap), it's the precision (.05 mm) at that cost.

Re:1200 clams ? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162088)

its not 1200$ thats 1200 euros dink

Re:1200 clams ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162764)

Yeah that's like $5000 US nowadays, or $1200 CDN. What goes around comes around... love from Canada.

Re:1200 clams ? (1)

headLITE (171240) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163482)

It's 1200 euro, but that's the cost for their prototype. For a prototype it's pretty good considering it looks like a product ready to be mass produced.

The makerbots and repraps you can buy for less are all kits that you have to assemble yourself. There's a cost to that, too.

Trolollolo (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36161950)

Lego and Games Workshop are going to be so thrilled if these ever get mainstream

Re:Trolollolo (1)

Whiternoise (1408981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164044)

You'd think so, but I'm not sure it would be a problem.

Lego has fairly simple shapes - one if its many strengths - but you need loads of them to make decent structures. There may be a market producing spare bricks when yours break or if you lose one little block in your kit. I don't think I've ever broken a Lego brick, but I have lost lots over the years. Simply for convenience that might win, but I imagine that Lego will still be cheaper when bought as a kit. Lego is moulded and using a very specific process which is why each brick fits perfectly - you need a relatively high level of precision to print the smooth sides and connectors. It's a combination of high temperature and high pressure which means you get a good brick every time and their defect rate is supposedly around 20 per million bricks. Really, you're never going to achieve that sort of success with a desktop printer.

Tabletop games are on the opposite end, they don't require any fancy colours when printed, but the models are generally fairly well detailed. Detail means expensive and honestly you'd be better off just making a mould of one of each of the standard figurines and then casting more yourself.

So, it's feasible that this will allow people to produce custom parts for their Lego sets and a new breed of Skaven, but realistically Lego and Games Workshop have no need to worry just yet.

Re:Trolollolo (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36165982)

Custom models would be a great use for this by games workshop themselves.
Put a 3d model viewer on their website, let players pick the model, armor, facial expression, weapons, and gear, and let them pose the figure by manipulating the joints. With that model saved to a server the player could order it online or take a code to a local game shop (that has a licensed model printer) and get it printed right there.

Hmmm... Makerbot? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36161966)

What about Makerbot? [makerbot.com]

It may not be as small, but just about -- and a kit is $1299US, cheaper than $1707US ($1200EU), but some assembly is required, and it doesn't harden a bath of patented chemical liquid with LEDs -- Makerbot builds things using a plastruder (high res hot glue gun) and a spool of "lego" plastic.

Still waiting for the "revolution".... I feel that it's just around the corner.

Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162008)

I enjoy watching a friend of mine try to make small objects with his temermental makerbot.

Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (1)

Zelig (73519) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162020)

Makerbot's got way worse resolution, and is a bloody bear to calibrate.

The newer version appears to be better than the one we bought and built, but so far all the depositional printers I've messed with seem good for building other printer parts and little toys.

This laser-based one has far better precision and resolution.

Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162072)

I have a MakerBot -- I wouldn't call it a "bear" to calibrate, but it *is* tweaky. The one linked to here has much better resolution than a makerbot, and presumeably is turnkey. The MakerBot isn't turnkey -- it is a lifestyle choice :) but great fun if you are the tinkering type. But nobody would confuse the output with service bureau SLA output.

Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162360)

I think I'd be more interested in a tabletop CNC mill, personally. They're fairly comparable price-wise, but they don't limit you to working with plastic. I'd expect them to be a lot more precise, too.

Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (4, Informative)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162644)

Well, yes, but a totally different animal. I own a makerbot, and have used a Tormach, a ShopBot, and a Techno. The MakerBot is far simpler to use, and far less messy. Our makerbot is in the living room. No CNC mill is going to live there, spitting chips and collant all over the place, and potentially ripping the arm off an unwary passerby. It's very handy to be able to print small widgets in plastic quickly and easily, even with size and resolution limitations. But there are times when that doesn't cut it, and you go machine plastic, aluminum, brass, or steel on a mill.

Don't be taken in by the little CNC mill ads that you see for little guys like the Sherline -- not that the Sherline is bad, but most people that haven't used a mill don't understand the limitations. The work envelope is so small you can't make much of interest, and the machine isn't rigid enough to do anything harder than aluminum and even then you need to take pretty light cuts. And guess what -- end mills and dial indicators and so forth don't cost less just because you are going to use them on a Sherline -- the mill is just the beginning of the expenses and buying a cheap mill is sort of silly when you compare the cost of the mill to the tooling. The smallest, wimpiest mill I would even consider spending my money on is a Tormach. http://www.tormach.com/ [tormach.com]

And then there is ease of use. My 12 year old daughter prints doll house furniture on the MakerBot. In a CNC machine shop, the machinist that has been there ten years is "the new guy" -- there is *huge* amount to learn to become anything beyond a hack hobby machinist like me.

Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162646)

I think I'd be more interested in a tabletop CNC mill, personally.

I own a tabletop CNC Sherline mill. I have also used 3D printers. They are not really comparable. The mill is definitely more precise, and can shape metal and very strong engineering plastics like acetal. But it is much more limited in what it can do. A mill cannot carve out an internal cavity, it cannot cut sharp internal angles or overhangs, and for complex parts it requires frequent user intervention for tool changes and repositioning. CNC mills and 3D printers are different tools with different strengths and weaknesses.

Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (1)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162664)

The makerbot has a much lower resolution - this thing can do 20 layers/mm (about 500 layers per inch, so close to the resolution of a laser printer).

Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162942)

I'm not all that interested in making the unit smaller since I'd like to make something other than freaking cufflinks or shirt buttons.
Make that thing bloody bigger! I want to print out a new car!
Ok, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but wouldn't it be cool?

Could have used one many times this month. (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162034)

Dishwasher track wheels: $40 for $1 of material

Analog button for thermostat: replacement full unit $80 (no parts supply, just full unit)

New gas cap for car, still broken.

Cheap toys for kids, countless possibilities.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162062)

gas cap is complex. track wheels you want a lathe. button I can't tell.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#36166192)

gas cap is complex. track wheels you want a lathe. button I can't tell.

Computer - want a PC, Laptop, or even cell phone. What did people do in the early days? They bought an Apple, C64, or Atari ( I had an Interact). Mainframes existed at the time, better languages existed than BASIC. Think of these things as the early stages of a revolution. As people grow up with these inferior tools, they will be inspired to make better ones, and to learn about the good ones that already exist.

Yes they suck, but it's the fun of DOING stuff that counts. And you certainly don't need a real machine shop to make toys.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162186)

dishwasher wheel can be made with a drill (preferably drill press), a bit of round stock plastic, and a sharp chisel

putty epoxy and little thought

gas caps cost like what 20 bucks for a locking model

cheap toys? go to dollar tree, might not poison little johnny with chemical residue from half melted plastic and fibrous threads

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162774)

Hurr durr why make stuff just buy it. You totally miss the point of this thread, what are you even doing here?

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36165724)

cheap toys? go to dollar tree, might not poison little johnny with chemical residue from half melted plastic and fibrous threads

Baahahahahaha. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? No, instead you'll poison little johnny with crap PVC which bleeds dioxin and with lead paint which turns up on dollar tree items AGAIN and AGAIN. I'm on the CPSC recall list and they are probably the single worst offender of the federal lead paint standards. Stuff is made FOR them, virtually always in China, so they are directly responsible.

I am on a crusade against the dollar store because they carry lead paint warnings in English only in a store which is shopped heavily by Mexicans.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36165950)

what do you think most people feed these things, pvc

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162202)

Dishwasher track wheels: $40 for $1 of material

I'm guessing you've never used a lathe, milling machine, shear, press brake, injection molding machine, or other serious piece of equipment to make something from scratch.

The cost of materials for an item is typically a small fraction of the final cost of that item, labor is a far greater cost.

Even for parts that are massed produced there are significant costs associated with packaging, transportation, inventory keeping, and sales.

Sincerely,
A weldor/fabricator who actually turns raw materials into useful products for a living

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162272)

Surely, then, you are familiar with the concept of "economies of scale"?

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162840)

Surely, then, you are familiar with the concept of "economies of scale"?

Something that scales: A dishwasher made of 100 parts. As time goes by parts are changed as improved to make the whole system better

Something that doesn't scale: Everyone needing one (but not the same one) part, of 100 parts of 100 models.

And don't tell me the solution is to make just the one kind of dishwasher. That kind of thinking would have everyone today driving (black) model T's.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162298)

Except that those things are injection moulded in quantities of hundreds of thousands, so the cost of production setup is negligible once amortized across the production run. And you have to make those parts in order to build the device in the first place. Thus, those costs are sunk costs whether you sell a single repair part or not. This effectively means that you have to build those cost into the cost of the product, not the repair part. The repair parts are just a few hours of extra production at the end of the run, and are effectively free except for the materials cost and the negligible labor.

The products are shipped in bulk from China on a boat in runs of ten thousand or more, so the per-unit transportation cost to the U.S. is also negligible.

And sure, there's overhead from keeping stock around, but it's also mandated by law that a manufacturer keep repair parts around for a certain number of years, so that's also a sunk cost that occurs on your balance sheet whether you sell a single part, and must therefore be built into the cost of the product, not into the cost of the repair parts.

So by any reasonable means of cost accounting, repair parts are a giant screw job, with prices deliberately inflated by orders of magnitude to encourage consumers to buy new products rather than repair existing ones.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162326)

I'm guessing you've never used a lathe, milling machine, shear, press brake, injection molding machine, or other serious piece of equipment to make something from scratch.

That's kinda the point. There are a lot of items that require moderately high precision but aren't produced in large enough quantities for huge economies of scale to kick in (or for there to be a lot of competition between different producers.)

However 3D printers, given a high enough quality which this particular example seems to possess, will allow individuals to print out new parts for the price of materials plus electricity, with the cost of the printer amortized over the number of uses they find for it. (Assuming they can find or create a design for whatever they need.)

Such miscellaneous parts aren't necessarily overpriced now given current methods of production, but they will get much cheaper once this technology becomes common.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162604)

That's what the normal machine tools he listed are for though, low run, custom stuff.

For mass production you get custom dies for stamping and cutting, blow molding, casting, etc, and CNC for the tricky bits. Things that cost more in initial setup but speed up, reduce skilled labour requirements, and labour in general, so it pays off in the end.

I suppose a 3D printer is like a really shitty CNC mill equivalent, that can't handle metal. Guess you can't expect much though.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163514)

It's like your 2D printer that will never replace an offset press, but (eventually) people not skilled to work with professional tools or without money and space for a well equipped workshop could use one for decent quality personal or professional one-off pieces.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (2)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164784)

But with a 3D printer you don't need all those normal machine tools. If it's a part that the 3D printer is capable of printing at high enough tolerances and in the right material (and as the technology continues to involved the quality of both the printing process and the materials used will improve) then it will be cheaper to print it yourself than to order it from someplace using old style mass production techniques. The cost of the equipment that needs to be amortized is far less that way, and there are less people involved in the chain who need to make a profit.

Of course in reality at least some companies will switch from custom dies and CNC and such and just print the parts out themselves, lowering the cost. Others may decide it's cheaper to sell you the plans and let you print it out yourself (either on your own printer or at the local Kinko's.) And of course some companies will switch to the new production method, keep charging just as much as they did for the old production method, and sue anyone who tries to print out the parts themselves.

Like the other commenter pointed out, this is just like the switch from large scale printing presses to personal printers. You can still save money in some circumstances (very large print runs) but most of the time it will be cheaper to use your own printer for single copies and small batches rather than dealing with a whole supply chain.

Arguing that the _old_ cost of printing is justified because of the amount of labor involved in carving out the woodblocks for the images is.... kinda irrelevant?

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162440)

The sick thing about it is that the replacement part is so over-inflated that making a one off good enough part yourself starts making economic sense even though it is typically made in runs of many thousand with almost no labor per unit..

Put another way, are we really supposed to believe that fully half of the cost of the dishwasher was the track wheels? I don't think so.

It's a rip-off pure and simple.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162566)

I owned a home once so have plenty of tools for woodworking, nothing for metal or plastic but a hacksaw and a dremel. It's the clips which hold the wheels on that would be the pain point using stock materials. I'd much rather invest in something like this 3d printer for random small parts though. Still too pricey for general utility unfortunately. I may come up with a revenue hobby to write off the expense, maybe making dishwasher track wheels ;)

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36166068)

you can make stuff like those little clips with nylon stock and a file. No joke.

Re:Could have used one many times this month. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36166796)

So there is a significant difference between cost of wheels that are in the dishwasher and wheels that are not a part of it?
Or do you purchase $40 wheels to install in $500 ($300 bulk) dishwasher before shipping it off to stores? If you add up cost of all parts it would appear that by assembling the dishwasher you reduce its price by 80%, because bought "in parts" it would be above $2000?

I'm not buying your bullshit. The material costs actually $0.02, the whole manufacturing and distribution would place the price around $1 and that's about the price the bulk manufacturer pays for the set of wheels for the dishwasher. The $40 is a bullshit price set to discourage repairs and encourage unnecessary purchases. It has no bearing on the real product value whatsoever (it's the same $1 set of wheels set aside for service, and it was shipped in the same container as the dishwashers, adding 300gram to the 15-ton load), but by pricing it at 40000% the real value you assure people will seek out to replace the whole dishwasher. With one that has parts designed to break as the warranty expires, to assure a new sale. Incremental improvements? bullshit. More like reduction of costs (by using shittier materials, thinner construction, cheaper alternatives) to allow better profit margin for the same price.

Poser porn? (1)

Sikimak (2170956) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162054)

The casual user could find some use for this, making custom Lego bricks or parts for their hobby models. Also for porn made in Poser!

Re:Poser porn? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162470)

Lego bricks have precision that is *FAR* higher than what is apparently obtainable with this device. You may very well be able to make your own Lego parts, but they probably wouldn't fit regular Lego very well.

Mega Bloks!!! (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162552)

Lego bricks have precision that is *FAR* higher than what is apparently obtainable with this device. You may very well be able to make your own Lego parts, but they probably wouldn't fit regular Lego very well.

Okay so you get to make Mega Bloks instead!

Re:Mega Bloks!!! (2)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162792)

Ha ha! So right. Mega Bloks are sucky. Lego is outrageously precise injection molding -- that's one of the reasons they cost so much, the tooling is super precise. On the spectrum of machinists there are hack hobbyists like me, professional machinists, mold makers, gods, and Lego's mold makers.

Re:Mega Bloks!!! (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36165484)

Even Mega Bloks' precision is higher than this machine, which has a stated minimum feature size of 50 microns. Mega Bloks utilizes a precision of about 10 microns, while LEGO molds are made within a tolerance of only 2 microns.

That picture (1)

h4x0t (1245872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162056)

is fantastic.

Re:That picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162274)

speaking of which the english full resolution links seem broken, this [tuwien.ac.at] will suffice.

grey goo! (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162066)

the smaller and more precise these things get, the more chance they have of becoming a self-replicating machine.

i, for one, welcome our new colourful plastic overlords.

Re:grey goo! (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162198)

yea you have not held this material in your hands, its "strong" but just not at the seams ... which is like every 10th of a mm

Yay! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162068)

I can finally make a tiny Giraffe!

GET OUT OF MY HEAD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162256)

I've only been researching this for the past 4 months, and here it is! Gah! Get out of my head!!

Albeit, I'm more looking at manipulating 3D crystal structure rather than static resin structures.

I'm completely ignorant on this subject (1)

scream at the sky (989144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162268)

So, can someone explain to me how this is different from a small personal CNC mill? With the obvious exception that this is plastic goo, instead of a block of alloy to start with.

Better question, what advantages does this have over a small CNC mill?

Re:I'm completely ignorant on this subject (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162414)

So, can someone explain to me how this is different from a small personal CNC mill? With the obvious exception that this is plastic goo, instead of a block of alloy to start with.

Try to do something like this with a CNC mill [shapeways.com] .
The image was linked from the shapeways.com [shapeways.com] site and used only as an example (I'm not endorsing or promoting their services - just been impressed of some 3D printed models I found there).

Re:I'm completely ignorant on this subject (1)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162460)

One advantage I can think of right away is for making hollow objects with a complex interior surface and lack of openings large enough for the tools of the CNC mill to reach into.

Re:I'm completely ignorant on this subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162526)

This widget falls under the category of a StereoLithography Apparatus (SLA). Google it for the general details.

As for specifics, some googling led to a machine called the "Perfactory" which is seems to be the big, professional version of this research project. The general gist is you get a piece of glass, and puddle some photosensitive polymer liquid on it. Shoot a projector image up from the bottom into the goo, which hardens some of it. Lift the solidified goo up a bit and repeat.

On the up side, you can build things that are plain impossible to machine - massive undercuts, hollows, weird shapes, sharp inside corners. On the down side, you are limited to special resins, which may have compromises to the physical properties, are expensive and toxic. Take your pick.

Incidentally, if they're using a standard LED projector with a 800x600 resolution, with a work area on the order of 3cm on a side, they might be able make features that are on the order of 40 micron large. Not many small CNC machines can claim to work with this feature size - this is wandering heavily into 5 digit price tags.

Re:I'm completely ignorant on this subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162628)

have you tried machining complex surfaces with small personal cnc mill? you'll need 4th axis and even with that you have a lot of limitations. The tools in cnc machine for example always need a bigger hole in closest side of block than the hole being made behind the closest side. Try making a small fuel tank with cnc machine and compare it to 3d printing. Hint: you'll have to solder the other fuel tank together.

Re:I'm completely ignorant on this subject (4, Informative)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162676)

Milling is a subtractive process. Start with a block of stock material and a drawing of the part you want. Cut away everything that ain't your part.

3D printing is an additive process. Start with feedstock material of some kind, and through some process fuse bits of it together to form your part. The machine in the article solidifies a resin slurry. Many 3D printers extrude plastic rod through a heater barrel, and deposit the molten plastic onto previous layers and let the whole thing solidify again. There are many 3D printing processes with various advantages and drawbacks.

Both milling and 3D printing involve a Cartesian robot that moves the tool head and/or the build table to achieve X/Y/Z positioning. A key difference between something like the MakerBot is that there are zero side forces on the tool head as it moves around. When you are driving cutting tool through steel stock on a mill there are big-time side forces. This is the key reason 3D printers are small, light, and office friendly, and why mills are big, nasty machines that weigh thousands of pounds and can rip your arm off.

Bucky would be proud (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162376)

...first thing you should do when you get your hands on one of these? Make another.

Re:Bucky would be proud (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162818)

The first machine that could reproduce itself was a lathe. One of the oldest machine, now some are computer controlled but still take a human to operate.

Re:Bucky would be proud (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163122)

A twin spindle lathe with live tooling and a bar feeder can crank out parts all shift long -- the only thing a person needs to do is add stock to the bar feeder on occasion.

Re:Bucky would be proud (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163856)

The first machine that could reproduce itself was a lathe.

How is the lathe powered? Maybe if it's powered by a donkey on a treadmill, but I'm not sure how you'd make the geatbox for a lathe. If it's electric, I'm fairly sure you can't make an electric motor with nothing but a lathe...

Re:Bucky would be proud (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164128)

You can easily cut gears on a lathe. The one my father owns even has auto-indexing so that it turns the stock as it passes by the cutter.

Another guy doing similar things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162514)

http://3dhomemade.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Which is a homebrew version of EnvisionTEC's commercially available machines. Which makes this essentially the same thing as the linked machine but another person doing it.

1200 euros for this? (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162532)

Until it gets below $1K I personally don't see home 3D printers taking off. Until it comes standard with a turntable & infrared camera for the average person to scan & replicate their own items, it'll just be too expensive for the average person when you can get a MakerBot for $1300USD. Don't get me wrong I see them sticking around, but remember until the Apple // got an (official) hacked shugart floppy drive it was just a hobbyist machine that played cassette games.

Re:1200 euros for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162700)

You really should compare this to commercial $30k+ bigger scale models that just have entered the market in a year (similar tolerances and adhesion technology)

As it is said in the article, mass production and further development of the device most probably will bring prices down, that is not too bad a price for a working prototype at all...

Depositor + CNC Mill (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162656)

What always gets me is this: what if you combine the two? Have a depositor with a pretty fine tolerance (say a 0.1mm nib), and a small CNC unit built into it, say 4 axis. I imagine you could get some pretty insane shapes and really nice tolerances. Especially something that can deposit multiple materials, say wax, plastic, etc. With wax you could then coat it in plaster and sand, melt the object out and voila, you can caste a metal part.

Re:Depositor + CNC Mill (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162732)

Well, except that the resolution limit in 3D printing isn't the Cartesian robot, it's the material and method of deposition. With the print head I'm currently using on my makerbot, the extruded thread of ABS is about 0.45mm give-or-take the phase of the moon, the color of the plastic feed stock, etc.

But essentially you are correct -- if you already have a perfectly good Cartesian robot, just put a 3D print head on it. Although if you use a plastic extrusion process you will also probably want a heated build platform and a temperature controlled build chamber -- which aren't difficult, just more stuff. The real trick is is that RepRap/MakerBot G-code is wacko -- it would require some translation effort to drive your CNC mill around from they typical RepRap CAM back-end.

Re:Depositor + CNC Mill (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163580)

The problem is that a cartesian bot for milling needs to be far stiffer and far powerful than one used for extruding plastic, making the bot needlessly expensive, although there is a guy on the reprap forums who made a printer from lathe parts. Building his own controller and writing his own G-code interpreter.

Re:Depositor + CNC Mill (1)

Big_Breaker (190457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36165496)

The machine has to be stronger for milling, yes, but not as strong as if the machine had to mill from a solid block. Also we are talking about milling plastic here, not steel. The 3-d printer can make a reasonable approximation of the final shape additively and that "rough" is milled down to perfect dimensions. It's not crazy at all and the fabber/maker/cnc community kicks the idea around a lot.

Personally I think mold making is the killer app for fabbers and cnc. Casting gets around lots of material limitations and many casting methods allow for reuse of the mold, so speed and replication are there. I think Thingiverse has files detailing the molds needed for Reprap.

this, used for RepRap mission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36162684)

RepRap has a lot of problems in accomplishing its mission -- self-replication -- low precision (you can even see it in the images), and lots of non-printable parts like metal shafts come to my mind. Neither could the device from TFA self-replicate, I assume, but it wins by quality.

Now I don't think RepRap's original mission was possible at all. Self-replication takes a lot of different parts which have to be produced by lots of different machines. If you want to get a lesson in self-replication, learn how living cells reproduce. You'll find a large set of machines (proteins) in there, each doing a *relatively* understandable job, working together to reproduce the whole set of machines. No single machine will be able to do this (unless, of course, it's simply a set of machine in a single package).

Which brings me to the conclusion that if we manage to build self-replicating machinery, it's going to be a large set of different machines working together. And this isn't going to be in everybody's home in the near future. However, I could imagine that relatively small shops pop up that offer cheap manufacturing from downloaded plans for cheap, and do so using a set of self-replicating machines designed in cooperation with similar shops around the world.

Similar to... (1)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162782)

This is remarkably similar to another 3D printing project that I've been watching closely:

http://3dhomemade.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

This guy is using a DLP projector, some custom software, and a working surface that raises very slowly out of the printing resin.

From Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snOErpOP5Xk&feature=player_embedded [youtube.com]

There has been quite a lot of speculation about the project, with most of it centered on the resin that he's using (which he hasn't divulged yet). I've done some researching and found that UV activated masking materials may be a likely candidate as they cure quickly and form thin layers.

If it can be developed for under $1,000 (excluding the projector), I think it would be very successful.

Ink is a crap material (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36162952)

Has anyone here worked with 3D printers? The results I've seen are great for prototyping but not much more than that. The material they produce is soft, wears easily, melts / warps at a low temperature, and isn't very smooth.

It would be great to have at home a small CNC mill would provide something that could produce a sturdy and useful end result. For the most part 3D prints I have seen so far could never be used as spare parts for anything... well not for a very long period of time... or even really a short period.

Re:Ink is a crap material (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163132)

yes, I've worked with several 3d printers. there are many technologies. Some do fused metal deposition. Steel parts straight off the printer into the application.

Re:Ink is a crap material (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36163160)

3d systems sterolithography models are a hard plastic and *can* be used (for instance in a vacuum cleaner) but the resin (not to mention the machine itself) is very expensive.

Re:Ink is a crap material (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36163722)

This new one uses a photopolymer resin, rather than thermoplastic. That should be a substantial improvement. Still not up to the standard of conventionally moulded plastic, but getting there. It'll be harder, stiffer and less easily melted than the previous printers.

Where is the cheap part? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36163006)

For 1200€ you can build three RepRap http://reprap.org/, which seem to be better supported by the community and more open.

Small = bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36163546)

When it comes to 3d printers, smaller is NOT better. It's like announcing an A5 printer instead of A4. Unless it can adapt to any object size by moving, that is :)

Re:Small = bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36166062)

For the Americans and Canadians out there, no, A5 is not bigger than A4.

I don't know why they decided to go with the "smaller number means bigger sheet" logic, it's completely backwards.

scaling this up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36163770)

They are using LED beams to harden the plastic at a high resolution.
I would wonder if something like texas instruments' DLP technology
http://www.dlp.com/technology/how-dlp-works/
could be used as that idea is scaled up to larger size/production volume.

Austrian? (1)

xcut (1533357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36163834)

GET TO THA PLOTTAAAA...

Moving parts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36163912)

Does anyone know if the “additive manufacturing technology” mentioned in TFA can actually "print" something containing moving parts?

world's smallest 3d printer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36164010)

world's smallest 3d printer was used to print world's smallest 3d violin and the world's smallest 3d violin player. Then the world's smallest 3d violin player printed himself world's smallest 3d gun and tried shooting the guy who printed him, but the world's smallest 3d bullets didn't work on a standard size Homo Sapience, so the world's smallest 3d violin player ended up shooting himself. Last time we checked, the guy who printed it all, was playing world's smallest 3d violin during the ex-world's smallest 3d violin player's world's smallest 3d funeral.

Toy home 3D printer? (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164298)

I imagine this would be one way to introduce the concept to the non-maker/hacker proletariat. Something relatively inexpensive that doesn't really produce anything practical right out of the box, but is fun as hell to use. You can just picture the commercials - "Make dinosaurs! Race cars! Amaze your friends!" It'd be great if the material is reusable like Play-Doh, unless your goal is to make money on the goo rather than the machine. Soon enough users will start hacking the toy version to use different materials, have greater precision, etc, which is when you roll out the "pro" version.

Wait till the Chinese hackers ... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164548)

Wait till the Chinese hackers start printing this tiny 3D printer using the tiny 3D printer! And should these self replicating 3D printers ever become sentient, OMG! all hell would break loose!

can it print me contact lenses? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36164560)

I have to wear hard (gas perm semi hard) contacts. These things cost about 100$ a pair, but most painfully require cleaning everyday. If only I could print a fresh one once a week ...

Re:can it print me contact lenses? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36166094)

This is nowhere near precise enough. This printer will do down to 50 micrometre. Corrective optical lenses have tolerances at or below 1 micrometre.

2011 in 3D printers is 1980 in PCs (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 3 years ago | (#36165678)

The current generations of machines are the equivalents of PDP or Data Generals (for serious work) or the Kim for hobbyists (eg, maker bot)
In 10 or 15 years, you will be able to buy a 3D printer from HP or Epson or Canon that is....amazing.
Aside from hardware, cheap, usable 3D printers will also requrie cheap, sophisticated software that is seamless from design to tool path; none of htis clunky crap you get with CNC mills where you need $$ software to design the part (solid works) and $$ software to translate the solidwork into tool paths

Also, I don't get why you need a rigid mill for CNC - can't you compensate for that with on the fly adjustments ? to take an extreme example, suppose you have 3 laser beams shining on the tool, so you have realtime 3D locations; it doesn't matter if the mill spindle is moving around in cheap bearings, or the table is flexing - software compensates in real time...

3D Key Hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36165954)

So, the next thing to be posted on slash dot is some hack whereby someone takes a picture from a distance of someone taking out a key(s) from their pocket and reproducing a working version of said key(s) using the 3d printer.

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