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The Explosive Growth of 3D Printing

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the print-em-if-you-got-em dept.

Technology 213

MojoKid writes "If you've ever attended a World Maker Faire, the first thing that strikes you is how organic the whole scene is. Inventors, creators, and engineers from all walks of life have their gadgets, science projects, and creations on display for all to see. Some of the creations you see on display range from downright amazing to completely bizarre. One of the big attractions, a technology area that has experienced explosive growth, is the land of 3D Printing. MakerBot took the open source RepRap 3D replicator project mainstream back in 2009 with the release of the Cup Cake CNC machine, then came the Thing-o-Matic and then a little bot called Replicator. With each iteration, improvements in process and technology are bringing better, more capable 3D printers to market, from MakerBot's new Replicator 2, to new players in the field like Solidoodle, Up!3D, Ultimaker, and Tinkerines. To watch a 3D printer in action is like witnessing art, science and engineering all working together in glorious unison."

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Guns (3, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#41512945)

Pity that there is now a bunch of lunatics trying to make printable guns. The world will not be a better place when everyone and their dog can download and print their own guns.

Re:Guns (-1, Flamebait)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41513007)

Todays /. word of the day : Hoplophobia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoplophobia [wikipedia.org]

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513231)

Todays /. word of the day : Hoplophobia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoplophobia [wikipedia.org]

I'd be a lot less "rationally afraid" of the people who bear these weapons I'm "irrationally afraid" of, if they weren't bearing weapons.

Re:Guns (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513471)

So would someone looking to start a shooting spree. They don't choose locations with armed citizens, you know.

Re:Guns (3, Funny)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 2 years ago | (#41513901)

Yeah, that's why nobody ever goes on a shooting spree at Fort Hood and if they tried nobody would die. Oh, wait...

Re:Guns (2, Informative)

Abreu (173023) | about 2 years ago | (#41513307)

Fear of armed people is completely rational.

In my country, over 60,000 people have been killed by drug violence, most of it related to the USA's voracious appetite for illegal drugs and the laughably easy it is to buy military-grade firearms and smuggle them across the border.

So yeah, fuck guns and fuck drugs.

http://www.fpif.org/articles/arms_trafficking_at_the_us-mexico_border [fpif.org]

Re:Guns (2, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41513407)

Perhaps if your citizens were better armed, stories like this would turn out better:

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/11/mexican-marines-reconstruct-death-of.html [borderlandbeat.com]

``Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.''
--- John Stuart Mills

If your government doesn't trust your honest citizens w/ military grade weaponry, then you've only yourselves to blame.

Re:Guns (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 2 years ago | (#41513507)

yeah, the answer is always more weapons. Iran thinks along similar lines.

Re:Guns (3, Insightful)

Schnoogs (1087081) | about 2 years ago | (#41513577)

You're right...making them illegal would solve the problem...look at drugs....anyone who claims to have ever used drugs is a liar...you know....since they are illegal...and therefore not existent in society and not a problem.

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41514025)

who said anything about making them illegal?

Re:Guns (3, Informative)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41513621)

For the record:

  - Iran ranks 79th in the rate of private firearms ownership
  - The rate of private gun ownership in Iran is 7.32 firearms per 100 people
  - In Iran, only licensed gun owners (separate licenses required for owning, possessing, carrying and using a firearm) may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition
  - In Iran, the law requires that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Re:Guns (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513993)

You *are* a moron.

Re:Guns (2)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about 2 years ago | (#41513685)

Won't argue about it being the USA that created the dangerous black market for drugs, but the cartels have lots of entertaining ways to kill people. Maybe as a law-abiding citizen and therefore militia member you should question why your government has disarmed you and left you disenfranchised and defenseless.

Re:Guns (-1, Flamebait)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 2 years ago | (#41513731)

Sorry shit for brains, the vast majority of firearms used by the cartels don't come from America, and those that do are given to YOUR military, where they are subsequently taken by the cartels.

Re:Guns (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#41514135)

Sorry shit for brains, the vast majority of firearms used by the cartels don't come from America

Why do you think that? Have you looked at the evidence [wikipedia.org] :

Research has asserted that most weapons and arms trafficked into Mexico are from gun dealers in the United States.[132] In response to a 2009 GAO report that claimed 87% of Mexican crime guns traced to U.S. origins, the DHS pointed out that DHS officials believe that the 87 percent statistic is misleading (i.e.: out of approximately 30,000 weapons seized in Mexico, approximately 4,000 could be traced and 87 percent of those-3,480-originated in the United States).[133]

So, there is some room for argument, but what is known does not look too good.

those that do are given to YOUR military, where they are subsequently taken by the cartels.

Again, why do you think that? It is well known that thousands of guns are bought by mules and illegally exported to Mexico all the time. (You don't honestly think that Fast-and-Furious was dreamt up for no reason? Or that illegal exports somehow stopped because the effort to trace the guns stopped?)

That said, there is no real link to 3d Printing here. 3d printers can't make the crucial parts of a gun, and there is no shortage of factory-made guns.

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41514121)

Fear of armed people is completely rational.

In my country, over 60,000 people have been killed by drug violence, most of it related to the USA's voracious appetite for illegal drugs and the laughably easy it is to buy military-grade firearms and smuggle them across the border.

So yeah, fuck guns and fuck drugs.

http://www.fpif.org/articles/arms_trafficking_at_the_us-mexico_border [fpif.org]

Damn those drug-crazed yanquis, the root of all evil!

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41514141)

I come from an entire nation which suffers from Hoplophobia, the UK. Our police don't generally carry guns and neither do our criminals. It's a wonderful phobia and we have radically less gun crime than the US... Despite having plenty of crooks.

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41514375)

That's cool that the gun nuts are now inventing words to save time when making a strawman out of the arguments for gun control.

TSA (5, Funny)

Aqualung812 (959532) | about 2 years ago | (#41513033)

The irony of your low-uid username and this comment is awesome.

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513063)

When 3D printers can print rifled steel I'll start worrying about it.

Re:Guns (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41513173)

Firearms designs need not have rifled steel barrels (though not having rifling does complicate the legality --- a smoothbore has to be a long-arm).

Look up P.A. Luty's _Expedient Homemade Firearms: The 9mm Submachine Gun_ which uses BSP and other components readily available at any hardware store.

Re:Guns (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41513461)

Firearms designs need not have rifled steel barrels

Good luck building a firing pin and shotgun barrel from cheap plastic too. Let me know how it goes the first (and last) time you fire it.

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513591)

Of all the wacky stuff in the world to worry about, I find it funny that anyone is concerned about the distant future of printing firearms.

We're nowhere close in plastic printers. One guy made a lower receiver only, which could have otherwise been made out of pottery, that kind of worked for a few rounds of .22lr when combined with all the actual business parts of a firearm, and everyone flipped their shit.

Worry about economic collapse. Worry about being murdered in broad daylight in cities with ultra-strict gun control. Worry about Iranians making nukes. Hell, worry about Romney chaining you to a desk in a sweatshop.

Because all of those are more immediate threats than six year olds printing working firearms off the internet with their parents desktop CNC, which is closer than a 3d printer that can do it.

Re:Guns (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41513197)

When 3D printers can print rifled steel I'll start worrying about it.

Oh plastic would work, once, for a single shot application. Start worrying when you can print out copper jacketed lead crimped onto a brass case full of smokeless powder, in other words pretty much never.

Another problem is in strength applications the printed plastic to handle a force of X pounds is, as a raw material, Y times the cost of steel. So to correct your post:

"When 3D printers can print rifled plastic at less than 20x the cost of traditionally machined steel at the same strength I'll start worrying about it."

Not to say its useless for gunsmithing. I think the idea of laser scanning a hand, and being able to print the exact "reverse polarity" image of the owners hand to make a truely personalized bolt-on handgrip is pretty interesting. Very soon, collectors will see boring cross hatching grips as an indicator of pre-2010's firearms. Perhaps grips with such detail that they match the wrinkles (or hair) of the owners palm. Also embedding logos (probably illegally copied, or course) and other art works.

Re:Guns (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41513309)

Boring cross-hatched grips work with or without gloves on. Most modern guns seem to be getting interchangeable grips already, though, at least back strap plates.

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513979)

Technically a gun is already a device that prints lead

Re:Guns (2)

Radtastic (671622) | about 2 years ago | (#41514177)

Oh plastic would work, once, for a single shot application. Start worrying when you can print out copper jacketed lead crimped onto a brass case full of smokeless powder, in other words pretty much never.

It definitely won't be "never". This technology is still relatively speaking, in its infancy. There are bound to be exponential improvements in materials and bonding/adhesive materials.

And the evolution of nanotech will probably make the home-manufacturing of a whole shell casing possible.

Re:Guns (3, Interesting)

TheSwift (2714953) | about 2 years ago | (#41514285)

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138154/neil-gershenfeld/how-to-make-almost-anything?page=show [foreignaffairs.com]

Within -- "An amateur gunsmith has already used a 3-D printer to make the lower receiver of a semiautomatic rifle, the AR-15. This heavily regulated part holds the bullets and carries the gun’s serial number. A German hacker made 3-D copies of tightly controlled police handcuff keys. Two of my own students, Will Langford and Matt Keeter, made master keys, without access to the originals, for luggage padlocks approved by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration."

The lower receiver is heavily regulated because it is the piece that can convert a semiautomatic rifle to a full automatic if you are able to manipulate it properly. A 3D printer could circumvent what was previously an extremely difficult task to convert the receiver from semi-auto to full auto.

And in the latter half of the paragraph, yet another reference to the TSA. How ironic.

Re:Guns (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513399)

They already can. Metal-printers are not cheap though.

Re:Guns (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41513529)

They already can. Metal-printers are not cheap though.

Also strength difference between sintered "technically a metal, but barely" vs (metalurgically) forged and heat treated specific alloy is a whole nother thing.

Re:Guns (3, Interesting)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 2 years ago | (#41513081)

It's OK. Currently the only part of an AR-15 that's considered a "firearm" is the lower receiver and this part can be made entirely of plastic, hence the 3D printer interest. You can buy the rest of the parts such as triggers, barrels, etc completely off the books with no controls.

If the 3D printing of lower receivers become a real "problem" to the ATF they'll just change the definition of which part of a gun is the "firearm". For instance, you can't 3D print a barrel since it has to be made of steel.

Re:Guns (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41513171)

Lunatics vote for lunatics (some you of you call them republicans). We need a law to prohibit that.

Re:Guns (1)

inotrollyou (2526854) | about 2 years ago | (#41513639)

That seems like a bit of a stretch. If you outlaw guns, only outlaws (and the government) will have them. If say, a robber enters a bank, it will prove problematic when they discover that all the legitimate bank patrons are also armed.

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513809)

I'm all for laws that prohibit people from voting for people I don't like, because I'm a fucking moron.

Re:Guns (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41513195)

Unless the technology improves substantially, 3d printed guns are going to succeed largely in stimulating the market for guns that you can operate with multiple missing fingers...

Re:Guns (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41513255)

I got my initials CVS long before there was a CVS pharmacy... I still got emails from CVS pharmacy customers asking about their film that was sent for developing.

Re:Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513389)

You will never 'print' a gun that is any good. To make a gun worth anything you need a forge and decent metal. You can *today* make a gun at any hardware store that would be just as good as what you would get out of a printer.

To do anything else is putting a explosive thing in your hands and hoping it does not blow up in your face.

Re:Guns (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 2 years ago | (#41513511)

Pity that there is now a bunch of lunatics trying to make printable guns. The world will not be a better place when everyone and their dog can download and print their own guns.

More likely they're making plastic stocks and receiver housing and the other peripheral stuff which holds the important bits together. The barrel, receiver, firing pin, magazine, springs, screws and other metal parts of a gun, plus the ammunition would have to be manufactured some other way for the time being. Of course some enterprising fellow who has watched In the Line of Fire might get the bright idea to make the whole gun out of plastic. Maybe it would work but its as likely to blow their hand off, or decorate their face with shards of plastic.

Re:Guns (3, Insightful)

Bob-taro (996889) | about 2 years ago | (#41513519)

Pity that there is now a bunch of lunatics trying to make printable guns. The world will not be a better place when everyone and their dog can download and print their own guns.

Are you implying you'd have to be a lunatic to want to make a gun?

Re:Guns (1)

UBfusion (1303959) | about 2 years ago | (#41513533)

I modded +1 Insightful and it turned out 2, Flamebait, which is totally insane with regard to this post. So I have to post to undo.

The possibility of easily making guns, even from soap (as is done in prisons), is very, very frightening. And don't tell me that it's better to have kids attempt to steal a bubble gum with a plastic gun than actually using a real one!

It won't be long until we read that a kid was suspended from school for life because a plastic printed gun was found in his locker.

Re:Guns (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | about 2 years ago | (#41513567)

The more guns the merrier.

Re:Guns (1)

jason777 (557591) | about 2 years ago | (#41513869)

I disagree. The government should not be trying to limit or ban or regulate guns. With operations like Fast & Furious, the government is setting it up to take away our gun rights. It is inventions like 3d printing that keep the power back to the people.

Not just guns... (1)

Radtastic (671622) | about 2 years ago | (#41514101)

Ease-of-access to guns is just one aspect of technology that we'll just have to get used to. Destroying is always easier than creating, whether it be diy - firearms, diy - bioweapons, or diy - (insert your technology that can be used destructively here)

Re:Not just guns... (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 2 years ago | (#41514431)

Ease-of-access to guns is just one aspect of technology that we'll just have to get used to.

More likely it will be used as an excuse to ban 3D printing when it starts becoming good enough for complex machines. After all, it might cut into the profits of established manufacturers, and we can't have that.

Re:Guns (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 2 years ago | (#41514353)

The world will not be a better place when everyone and their dog can download and print their own guns.

The availability of steel pipe at the hardware store must make you very nervous.

Troll.

And you frist posted it, so 75% of the discussion will be about this bullshit.

Re:Guns...NO (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#41514387)

People have made weapons out of blocks of stone, so we shouldn't build stone or concrete houses...?

Fast 3D parts you can handle, feel, assemble and use, if at least done gently with many of the printer polymers makes analyzing what you can think of for design a very quick process, whether for play or production prototyping.

Emphasis on guns, which is only partially possible is a joke. You still need barrels and other very highly stressed parts that can't be done by RP plastics. True there are RP titanium and stainless steel, but you don't do those materials on a $2000 desktop printer. Try a $500,000 SLS machine.

Only one question... (3, Insightful)

Yaa 101 (664725) | about 2 years ago | (#41513005)

How long will it take before all the legalese crap breaks loose?

Sooner or later powerful people will want to appropriate this while shielding and litigate the rest of us.

Re:Only one question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513059)

The lawyers are just waiting for someone to print a shiv...

Re:Only one question... (5, Interesting)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41513123)

Already started.

Thingiverse has received DMCA takedown notices for a couple of models, some legitimate (Games Workshop probably has a pretty clear-cut case for copyright infringement), others resolved (over a Penrose Triangle based on a design from the 1930s) and at least one other which I recall, but can't find a link for where a parent printed up a replacement part for a broken toy but took it down at the request of the toy manufacturer (if memory serves).

Re:Only one question... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41513251)

For the moment, costs and material limitations are probably keeping things on that front (mostly) in check. There are a few areas(like the Games Workshop figurines), where the price is quite high based largely on copyright and there is also a demand for numerous replicas(though, incidentally, I'm told that the real 'pirates' tend to use conventional mould-making and casting techniques, since those are reasonably efficient for small batches and far cheaper than a 3d printer that can capture fine detail properly).

There just aren't too many things that are made of dubious-quality plastic but are expensive enough to clone at current prices. Nothing like music where, even on dialup, the price of a CD worth went from $15 to ~$0...

Re:Only one question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41514057)

Is there a maker market for custom models like a focused etsy? Seems the best use for dubious-quality small plastics would be toy add-ons. Guns/swords for standard action figure grips, lego/playmobile tools and props (obviously all unassociated with the name-brand and sized by 'grip size'), etc. Seems like a market of 100s of toy-grippable objects would be awesome to browse and print and play.

Re:Only one question... (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41514293)

There're already companies making weapons for Lego mini-figures:

http://www.brickarms.com/ [brickarms.com]

but they make them by traditional injection molding --- the resolution of 3D printers is still not fine enough to make parts which will properly interchange w/ real Lego bricks (which are made using tons of pressure to a precision of ~10 micrometres).

William

I Thought We Agreed (4, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41513083)

The Explosive Growth of 3D Printing

I thought we agreed not to print printable machines that print more printable machines. It's Second Life all over again ... IRL!

Re:I Thought We Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41514189)

Yo Dawg, i heard you like...oh forget it, none of you will get this reference since we're all mature and hardworking individuals.

For those of us looking to buy a 3D printer (2)

ebh (116526) | about 2 years ago | (#41513085)

...Maker Faire was a goldmine. Every major vendor was there, and they all had samples of the classic objects everybody uses for demos, so it was very easy to compare the quality of the output. (That is, presuming that the ones that stood out didn't just print 500 identical objects and bring the one good one.)

Re:For those of us looking to buy a 3D printer (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41513315)

I'm glad to hear that you got to see the quality of the output of many different 3D printers, so up for doing a quick review of what was good and what was bad?

Re:For those of us looking to buy a 3D printer (5, Informative)

ebh (116526) | about 2 years ago | (#41513675)

Since all I looked at were completed objects, I can't say anything about how fast they were produced, how reliable or easy to calibrate the printers are, etc. What I mostly looked for were irregularities. In a 3D printed object, the layers are very visible. If you think of a cylinder, you expect the sides to be as smooth as possible, i.e., no protrusions or indentations. The layers should be completely horizontal, no glitches or waviness that make you think the printhead jiggled or anything. If you think of a sphere, the topmost layers should look like perfect concentric circles, and the top shouldn't look like it's about to cave in.

It was insanely crowded in the 3D Printer Pavilion, so once I decided that a vendor's objects were not the best, I moved on. But there were two noteworthy units: Sorry to say, the new Makerbot 2 was a disappointment, given that it's one of the most expensive units at $2800. The objects they had on display were some of the worst. The surprise winner, and the one I'm recommending to a nonprofit children's museum I'm working with that wants to buy one, was the Tinkerines Ditto. It produced the best objects, and at $900 in kit form or $1400 assembled, it was amazing bang for the buck.

Tinkerines is new to the scene, so they don't yet have a dual-nozzle head, nor do they yet support ABS plastic (the necessary heated base is still being developed), only PLA. But for our application, it's perfect. The people were really nice too, despite the crowds and the cacophony in the tent.

(Disclaimer: I have no connection with any vendor except as a customer or with Maker Faire except as an attendee.)

Re:For those of us looking to buy a 3D printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513379)

I'm especially looking forward to this printer, which uses stereolithography: [wikipedia.org]
TheIr kIckstarter page [kickstarter.com]

Extra E (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 2 years ago | (#41513093)

Anyone who adds an e to town, old, or fair deserves a kick to the nuts, especially if those words are used in combination or with the word ye.

True Geeks (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 2 years ago | (#41513187)

I assume this event is for True Geeks which would normally be dressed in chain mail and carry swords a la Dungeons and Dragons.
The extra E seems appropriate.

Re:True Geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513295)

I assume this event is for True Geeks which would normally be dressed in chain mail and carry swords a la Dungeons and Dragons.

The extra E seems appropriate.

In this case, it's "chain-like resin mail".

Re:True Geeks (3, Funny)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 2 years ago | (#41513331)

One of my favourite Dave Barry quotes: "We should enact an 'e' tax. Government agents would roam the country looking for stores whose names contained any word that ended in an unnecessary 'e,' such as 'shoppe' or 'olde,' and the owners of these stores would be taxed at a flat rate of $50,000 per year per 'e.' We should also consider an additional $50,000 'ye' tax, so that the owner of a store called 'Ye Olde Shoppe' would have to fork over $150,000 a year. In extreme cases, such as 'Ye Olde Barne Shoppe,' the owner would simply be taken outside and shot."

Re:Extra E (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#41513241)

Viva la difference. Ol'Bill of the Shaky Speare would also beg to differ with you.

Re:Extra E (5, Interesting)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 2 years ago | (#41513289)

Or as my French speaking girlfriend suggested: Faire is the French word for "To make" so it could be a play on words?

Re:Extra E (1)

Olix (812847) | about 2 years ago | (#41513479)

I read 'World Maker Faire' and I think, "wow, that sounds shitty." 'Faire' is obviously terrible, but 'Maker' isn't a great word either. Can't they think of something that sounds less naff?

Comparison (2)

freeze128 (544774) | about 2 years ago | (#41513121)

The 3D printer of today is a lot like the VCR. It has elements of robotics, complex control circuitry, and some even have an onboard LCD interface. But with all that technological brilliance, it's WHAT IT DOES that matters the most.

Re:Comparison (3, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41513311)

The 3D printer of today is a lot like the VCR.

In other words pr0n is going to drive the market. Home printing of customized "marital aids" and "massage machines" are going to drive the market. Whichever 3-d printer is first to market with a silicone print head wins. Also lots of size bragging... no one's going to admit a reprap huxley that can only print 5 inch long things (well, more on the diagonal) is "big enough".

Computer-controlled Plastic Extrusion (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#41513425)

How incredibly 1970's... I think we're about to see an explosive growth of profits by hippy glass blowers, who reinvent themselves as "3D Silica Printers".

How was this achieved without patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513191)

How can we innovate without the use of patents? Oh wait aren't these people innovating in a patent vacuum, either through their own ignorance or lack of jerks trying to lay claim to ideas that everyone else can come up with?

It's time for patents to go, they provide NOTHING.

How do you get started? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513247)

Honest question here. How do you get started with 3D printing, and how do you do it cheaply? If somebody's at a "curious hobbyist" level, where do they start?

Re:How do you get started? (1)

teaserX (252970) | about 2 years ago | (#41513337)

Should no help be forthcoming in this thread, your question would make a fine "Ask Slashdot" submission. :)

Re:How do you get started? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41513495)

how do you do it cheaply?

Its all at the level of a thousand hours vs thousands of dollars with a pretty smooth tradeoff in between. If you were hoping for $100 and a couple hours its not quite there yet.

This will probably be seen as heretical, but try an eggbot kit, if the electronics, mechanics, software, or price scare you away,han replicators aren't for you. However if you do the eggbot thing then say to yourself, "self, I can now handle 10x the challenge of an eggbot" then you're ready for a replicator.

If somebody's at a "curious hobbyist" level, where do they start?

http://www.reprap.org/wiki/Main_Page [reprap.org]

Even if you don't go reprap, you'll learn the terrain there.

Re:How do you get started? (3, Informative)

Bram Stolk (24781) | about 2 years ago | (#41513589)

... If you were hoping for $100 and a couple hours its not quite there yet.

I can recommend starting with using a 3D printing service.
Even if you use a commercial printing service, much of the experience of 3D printing is still there, like the design, the anticipation of outcome, etc.

Google for Sculpteo and Shapeways.
They're pretty affordable, and do a lot of the messy work for you.
I had this printed for 90 bucks or so:
https://twitter.com/i/#!/BramStolk/media/slideshow?url=pic.twitter.com%2FJmiojXxJ [twitter.com]

Re:How do you get started? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513565)

Consider limiting yourself to designing objects and have them printed at online services like Shapeways for now. Learning how to design objects that fulfil all the objectives in a single iteration is a challenge in itself, and you will profit from learning that in a few years when better and cheaper equipment becomes available.

Re:How do you get started? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 2 years ago | (#41513779)

Be prepared to spend at least $400, and that's if you do all of the part sourcing and assembly yourself including soldering the electronics. The reprap.org forum [lulzbot.com] and wiki [reprap.org] are good resources (though very slow lately!), as is the #reprap IRC channel on freenode. My experience is the community is generally quite helpful and inviting.

Kits typically start around $700 or so but involve a less assembly work and contain everything you need. I'm a happy owner of a Prusa Mendel machine built from a kit sold by Makergear [makergear.com] (not to be confused with Makerbot!) that set me back ~$800. (Kit comes with some plastic but I ordered extra). I can honestly recommend them for what it's worth.
=Smidge=

Re:How do you get started? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 2 years ago | (#41513787)

Somehow I managed to not copy the link to the forum properly... clipboard derp on my part.

http://forums.reprap.org/ [reprap.org]

=Smidge=

Mid/long term speculation... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41513317)

So, does anybody care to speculate about the mid/long term distribution/ownership of these things?

I keep seeing the breathless predictions of 'desktop manufacturing, one in every household!'; but I also see that (among the people, friends, family, neighbors needing computer assistance, etc. who I have cause to know about) ownership of inkjets is actually falling, despite the fact that those are nearly free; because it's easier to just upload the pictures to some service that owns a $20k+ printer but will sell you a tiny slice of it for under 10 cents a print. Laser printers are holding the line, so far, among people who push paper.

As a technology, 3d printing is obviously here to stay; but the value proposition of actually owning one, rather than renting a tiny slice of somebody's much classier one over the internet, seem about as mainstream as the economics of owning a high quality large format photo printer or a machine shop. Definitely something that certain professions would lead you to do, and definitely something that a hobbyist would want access to; but not necessarily something that you would seriously consider owning...

Re:Mid/long term speculation... (3, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41513537)

I've thought that obvious places for this would be:

  - local car dealer --- in the shop where they could print up small trim parts rather than having to maintain inventory / having them shipped
  - local hardware store (w/ integrated 3D scanner) --- scan the thing-a-ma-bob which they customer brings in, be directed to a particular aisle / shelf if in stock, if not, print up a quote to have a replacement printed / milled.

The problem is the run time on these devices is rather lengthy, making it hard to run one profitably --- look at the charges at www.ponoko.com --- they're all way higher than the intrinsic value of the bits to most people. The original laserprinters / inkjets were competing w/ offset printing and mimeographs which were a lot less convenient and significantly more expensive on a cost-per-page basis for short runs. The VCR was competing against Cable TV or the classic movie projector, both of which were far more expensive.

I've been contemplating a milling machine (for woodworking) and would love to have a lasercutter / engraver though.

Re:Mid/long term speculation... (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about 2 years ago | (#41513549)

My thoughts exactly, it certainly is exiting tech, but not likely to be the device that everyone has in their home. Hackerspaces could be the way forward in my mind, especially as they allow the customer to come into contact with the manufacturing process and take advantage of the resident experts.

The lack of one in my local area has led me to look in to the possibilities of starting one myself.

Re:Mid/long term speculation... (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41513579)

Certain people will buy one. It will not be like laser printers and inkjet printers, in that 3D printer will be cheap enough to own one. It will be like high end laserjet or wide format printers in that the price will be within the range of hobbyist who want one. It will be like color laserjet and inkjet printers in that people will realize that the expense is in the consumables, not the printer itself. It will not be as bad as a chap color laserjet, where refilling the consumables is more expensive than the printer, but it will be close.

Most decent size firms and colleges have at least one 3d printer. Some places they are restricted due to the cost. Even at major research centers I have seen them idle, something I would not this expect if they were being used as a significant tool. It can take a day to make a decent sized object. For the common maker it wil be a curiosity where something is sent out to be made as a lark. One of the cool thing about making is using found objects to create significant machines, because we mostly don't hav the ability to create completely new parts. 3D printing does give us that ability, and at a relatively low cost, but stil higher than many can afford. For instance, I still might throw away my $200 machine because printing the little plastic peice that broke might still cost more than the machine.

Re:Mid/long term speculation... (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41513615)

An insightful observation, but I'd add that you need to factor in the reprap factor. If it goes makerbot, meaning no self replication, then you've got it, but if it goes reprap, meaning self replication, then things could get weird. If my laser printer could print another laser printer...

I'd say the best reprap analogy is livestock farming. Yes it reproduces itself to a first approximation for free, but its going to take up time and some specialized supplies, lots of specialized knowledge (although in the olden days every peasant knew everything about chickens, or thought they did, anyway), and space, and smell (molten PLA is not as stinky as molten ABS, both pale in comparison to the smell of a laser cutter exhaust or chicken droppings, but...). Admittedly for most people, chicken is what comes in little wrapped trays at the supermarket, or more likely the fast food drive thru...

My metal lathe can make another bigger lathe, but that's pretty rare in the hobby because its a lot of work, worse than printing reprap parts...

Re:Mid/long term speculation... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41513695)

Having built a reprappro mendel last month, I can agree with you to an extent, the novelty for downloading knic-knac models off the net wears off quickly, The appeal for me is learning electronics with a fun project first off, and second, to be able to design my own objects, print, tweak, repeat, until it's right.

As I have a lot of bare electronics projects, printing my own enclosures is a lot more polished looking than an off-the-shelf project box or an altoids tin.

reprap was a lot easier to build than I expected, documentation is on the button, the nozzle hot end part I thought would be difficult, but if you can install a CPU fan and tighten a few screws it's a piece of cake. layer resolution (Z) is 100 microns and XY resolution is .5mm (Replicator 2 is Z = 100 microns, XY = .4mm)

For people who don't want to build/maintain a 3D printer and just want something that works, Form 1 on kickstarter is the price of a Makerbot Replicator 2, has free tech support, doesn't need bed leveling maintenance between prints, better software, higher resolution at XYZ = .025mm, and print more complex parts without wasting support material.

Re:Mid/long term speculation... (1)

gregor-e (136142) | about 2 years ago | (#41513701)

You're right, it isn't so much ownership of a printer that (normal) people want, it's having customized stuff. Until the price of the filament or resin comes down, 3D printers and their output will continue to be relegated to the expensive toy category. $20 per cubic inch is a bit more than most people are willing to pay for small plastic trinkets. If the final cost of production comes within, say, a factor of 2 of the cost of bulk injection molded plastic items, then the age of mass-customization will be upon us. Handy people might buy a printer for use around the house, making replacement doorknobs and coathooks, but the average consumer will be more interested in uploading a series of photographs from different angles and receiving a 3D print of their favorite person or thing from the CostCo 3D photo-printing service.

People who predict desktop manufacturing (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#41513757)

Are full of crap. While such a thing might be possible in the future, current 3D printers just make plastic models. Now that's nice and all, and there's plenty of uses for it (industrial prototyping is a big one) that is far from household manufacturing. They can't work with metal, never mind electronics. You don't just go and print out a cell phone or something.

The only market that might possibly be threatened is the 3D miniatures market. Though I don't know how good they do at colour (all the ones I've encountered are monochromatic) so you might still need to paint things. Aside from that, there is little in the commercial space they threaten. They are extremely cool toys, but little more than that.

In terms of home manufacturing if they gain the ability to work with metal, particularly multiple metals, which would require a major change in how they operate, then they could produce more useful items. If they made metal and plastic parts on a fairly fine scale, they could manufacture many every day items. However unless they could either work on the micro/nano scales that electronics work on, or in some other way make use of it (like be loaded with various kinds of chips to use) their market would still be really limited.

They are nifty for making examples out of a somewhat weak plastic (it isn't super fragile but it isn't high impact) but a universal constructor they are not.

Re:People who predict desktop manufacturing (2)

TheSwift (2714953) | about 2 years ago | (#41514077)

They can't work with metal, never mind electronics.

Not so my friend... http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138154/neil-gershenfeld/how-to-make-almost-anything?page=show [foreignaffairs.com]

You'll people are already making parts to guns and master keys that can unlock anything from baggage padlocks to police handcuffs. Yes, these are probably laboratory grade 3D printers, but it won't be long before the public can get their hands on something similar.

Re:People who predict desktop manufacturing (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41514341)

In terms of home manufacturing if they gain the ability to work with metal,

Rather surprised no one has taken a mig welder and used that to do 3D printing.

Re:Mid/long term speculation... (1)

Koreantoast (527520) | about 2 years ago | (#41514005)

I can see this in a few steps. You'll start with the larger manufacturers expanding the use of 3D printing and then the shift to smaller and mid-sized manufacturers. Then you may see things like auto-body shops and parts suppliers begin to move into the realm. At least for the next ten, twenty years, it may be more of a Kinkos model where you'll have small, franchised 3D print shops that print up components and parts for you. We may eventually get to home printing, but in order for this to be successful, you'd need 3D printers that can print a much larger variety of goods. However, to produce this broader range, we'll need to figure out a better way to distribute the wider range of raw materials at a cheap cost. If you remember, it took a while for even color inkjets to reach an affordable price.

Re:Mid/long term speculation... (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 2 years ago | (#41514065)

The real benefit of a printer is probably the short "shipping" time. If you realize that you want a plastic part or a photo print tomorrow at the latest it's too late to order now, but if you have a printer you can get it today.

I'd like to have one (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 2 years ago | (#41513523)

But they're still above my "fun toy" expense cap. If the MakiBox ever goes into production, I'll probably buy one just for fun but $300 is as much as I'd want to spend. It's cool to have the potential to just print off any little parts you need for a project but the reality is that it takes a lot of time to design objects. It would take hundreds of hours of practice to get competent at it and thousands to get good.

Two Things (0)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 2 years ago | (#41513583)

1) Every experience I have ever had with a printer has sucked. While every other aspect of technology gets faster and smarter, printing keeps getting slower and dumber. Logic would dictate that 3D printing would suck just as much as 2D printing, as well as sucking in an additional dimension.

2) I attended Maker Faire this year, and I have to say the single most disappointing aspect of it was the 3D printing exhibits. Booth after booth displayed rather cool-looking little trinkets that had absolutely no use whatsoever. From the looks of it, 3D printing is a technology that exists purely for its own sake. Thousands of geeks used hundreds of devices to produce massive piles of useless crap.

I'll consider being impressed by 3D printing as soon as someone actually starts doing something useful with it.

Re:Two Things (2)

rbrausse (1319883) | about 2 years ago | (#41513693)

I'll consider being impressed by 3D printing as soon as someone actually starts doing something useful with it.

This [wired.com] is IMO impressive: Instead of shipping plastic parts around the world the company simply published CAD files. It's a start.

Re:Two Things (4, Interesting)

Archon-X (264195) | about 2 years ago | (#41513801)

My company makes figurines and toys (primarily) for gaming companies.

With the advent of 3D printing, we can get the 3D resources from the client, print out the model in 3D within a day, with accurate dimensions, colours and precision, make changes, before we send it off to our factories to produce the molds for production.

Previously, each mold would cost around $5k to make, with each change costing hundreds of dollars - significant changes resulting in another $5k to restart the mold.

Cost savings aside, we also save about 6 months development time. The clients love it, because they can see a physical version of their model / figurine instantly; we love it because we can work easily with the client to make changes, and the factories love it because they have a final product and order without months of delays.

It might not help you, but it sure helps us.

Re:Two Things (3, Informative)

Archon-X (264195) | about 2 years ago | (#41513819)

Same poster, second point.

There is at least one 3D printing company that I know of that offers 'printing' in brass, bronze and titanium.

They're using a very old and well known technique, the lost wax - but the wax is printed with the 3D printer, and then the metal poured into the mold.

This is not only an amazing evolution on an existing technology, but because the final products aren't built up layer by layer, they're structually equivalent to anything coming out of a foundry.

The ability to print custom tools, gears and moving parts in titanium is incredible.

Makerbot (2)

Applekid (993327) | about 2 years ago | (#41513647)

MakerBot took the open source RepRap 3D replicator project mainstream back in 2009 with the release of the Cup Cake CNC machine, then came the Thing-o-Matic and then a little bot called Replicator. With each iteration, improvements in process and technology are bringing better, more capable 3D printers to market, from MakerBot's new Replicator 2.

The Replicator 2 which is now closed source. That's one way to thank all the hard work of those who toiled and released open source hardware.

When can I print my contact lens? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41513651)

I have bad eyes. And the only thing that works is a gas permeable semi hard contact lens. Not the flexi use-and-throw kind. Nor the extended wear kind. I spend five minutes every morning diligently rubbing cleaning solution on the lens, wash it many times before changing my status from legal-blind to perfect 20/20 visionary :-)

I just wish I could print a brand new ready to wear set of contacts every morning!

Still looking for decent software though. (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41513803)

Blender doesn't work on my computer, but I could never figure it out anyway. (Maybe it's related to the viewport bug?)
While the prices of printers have plummeted, capable software remains high cost. Most people I know what it for engineering replacement parts, which include screw threads, but working screw threads are almost impossible to get right unless you're also making the other side of the fastener as well. While free-form modeling programs are common, Anyone know of a good parametric program?

I have experience in many CNC oriented CAD/CAM packages (SolidEdge) and other CAD packages (Rhino3D, Autocad), but I no longer have the access to these at work.

Feels more like hype to me... (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about 2 years ago | (#41513815)

Seems like rather than actually growing explosively, its being pushed very hard on /. I rarely hear a peep about it elsewhere.

I'm sorry but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41514291)

...what are they useful for?

I've seen all sorts of statements about how this is the second industrial revolution, people are going to be able to print medicines at home, etc. Such statements seem somewhat premature and misplaced. It's additive printing, of plastics.

I can get that they'd be useful to hobbyists who want to make some custom bits of plastic to go with devices. Outside of that, I've not hugely seen the point. Maybe they might get some use in the automotive industry, where retaining spare parts for the lifespan of a vehicle starts to be a bit of a burden. That is, of course, for plastic parts which don't need to be particularly strong. Similarly for equipment repair of eletronics, replacing broken laptop parts, but it's all very niche.

So what's left? Art objects for geeks?

This is just the beginning ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41514311)

Remember the Altair 8800. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altair_8800 [wikipedia.org]

The Altair was a pretty primitive and useless computer by today's standards but it was really the first personal computer. Looking at it, you wouldn't have predicted all the ways personal computers have changed our lives.

The 3d printers we have now are primitive and fairly useless. Almost nobody 'needs' one. What about thirty years from now? I'm guessing than many people's lives will be transformed. Many tradespeople will see their industries upended. Old style sign painters had to face competition from unskilled bozos with personal computers and a vinyl cutters. Skills that took a lifetime to learn no longer provided a competitive advantage. The 3d printing revolution promises to be similarly wrenching.

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