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Breaking Up With MakerBot

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the caught-cheating-with-stratasys dept.

Printer 185

An anonymous reader writes "Sanders Kleinfeld explains how his experiences with a Makerbot device led him to the decision that 3-D printing hasn't quite arrived as a legitimate, consumer-friendly technology. Quoting: 'Waiting five hours for your Yoda feels like an eternity; you can play approximately sixty rounds of Candy Crush Saga in that same timeframe (although arguably, staring blankly at the MakerBot is equally intellectually stimulating). To make matters worse, I’d estimate MakerBot’s failure rate fell in the range of 25%–33%, which meant that there was around a one-in-three chance that two hours in, your Yoda print would fail, or that it would finish but once it was complete, you’d discover it was warped or otherwise defective. ... The first-generation MakerBot Replicator felt too much like a prototype, as opposed to a proven, refined piece of hardware. I look forward to the day when 3D printers are as cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts.'"

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185 comments

It is a MakerBot after all (2)

Captain Arr Morgan (958312) | about 9 months ago | (#44172873)

There are several other great 3d printers out there. The Up! I first started using is still a fantastic printer.

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 9 months ago | (#44173043)

In fairness to Makerbot, they can produce resolutions that the Ups can't touch - I operate both in my student labs. That said, because the Makerbot Replicators 2Xs we're using are 'higher performance', they're also much more finnicky about working until you've really cinched down on their calibration and preferred settings.

What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

Have these people any idea how long it takes to produce something through conventional CNC, let alone hand fabrication? I have fabricated parts that have taken 24 hours for a mill to produce. That's a lot of angry birds, right there! The ignorance of what goes into the technological artifacts people take for granted is astonishing. I suspect many people today would benefit from activities and hobbies that reward patience and discipline rather than instant gratification.

As an aside, It's interesting that the author uses a time killing game as a yard stick for the waiting period - as if the time spent while printing was 'dead' and couldn't possibly be used for anything productive.

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (2, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 9 months ago | (#44173145)

You can mock the author all you want. But if he acted as you suggest, and took the makerbot's time seriously, he would be dismissed as either a try-hard or a conservative.

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (4, Informative)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 9 months ago | (#44173241)

I had the reverse problem. My Up Mini is virtually useless to me. Firstly, I'm not sure if the build plate is heating adequately, and I can't change that temperature. Secondly, I can't print in PLA to combat curling, since the PLA I can buy just burns in the nozzle and clogs it (and you can't adjust the extruder temperature, either. It has an ABS mode, calibrated for THEIR ABS, and a PLA mode, calibrated for THEIR PLA, which was not available. Both about 30 C higher than the competitors' filament). Thirdly, that damned nine point software levelling system is a pain, and if you get it slightly wrong, you lose your levelling the next time you go to tweak it. Some of my problems with curling and adhesion I can put down to humidity, because I see a lot of steam coming from my Up Mini, a puff of it every couple of seconds. I do live in the tropics, and have no control over the humidity in my house, so I'm resigned to that.

My Replicator 2, on the other hand, although I've only had it a week, I am amazed with it. Even on low quality, it outdoes the best I ever got out of my Up Mini in both speed and overall print quality. I noticed my platform wasn't quite level while I was printing (the raft was getting a little scuffed as the nozzle ran over it), so I tweaked the levelling knobs on the fly (probably shouldn't have, but it worked), twiddled the knobs at each level by feel until the faint tak-tak-tak of the extruder hitting plastic stopped, and the dragon came out fine at 0.2mm layer height. On the Up Mini, every time I screwed up the levelling, that involved cancelling the print, throwing out the wasted plastic, redoing the levelling from scratch, starting it again, and hoping the print sticks and doesn't curl this time. If I had the nozzle close enough to really get the plastic into the perfboard, it would scratch the previous layers on the next layer. If I had it at the right level, there was never enough adhesion on the platform. I just didn't have the patience for it.

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173481)

I had the reverse problem. My Up Mini is virtually useless to me. Firstly, I'm not sure if the build plate is heating adequately, and I can't change that temperature. Secondly, I can't print in PLA to combat curling, since the PLA I can buy just burns in the nozzle and clogs it (and you can't adjust the extruder temperature, either. It has an ABS mode, calibrated for THEIR ABS, and a PLA mode, calibrated for THEIR PLA, which was not available. Both about 30 C higher than the competitors' filament). Thirdly, that damned nine point software levelling system is a pain, and if you get it slightly wrong, you lose your levelling the next time you go to tweak it. Some of my problems with curling and adhesion I can put down to humidity, because I see a lot of steam coming from my Up Mini, a puff of it every couple of seconds. I do live in the tropics, and have no control over the humidity in my house, so I'm resigned to that.

And you bitched about it on Slashdot instead of resolving it with the vendor because ... ??

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (3, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 9 months ago | (#44173247)

It's interesting that the author uses a time killing game as a yard stick for the waiting period - as if the time spent while printing was 'dead' and couldn't possibly be used for anything productive.

That's his point - for the purposes of using the makerbot, it is dead time. You can't iterate before you have something, and you can't have something for 5 hours with a 33% chance that hardware failure was the problem and not the design.

What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

That's basically the same as having to wait 5 hours, right?

Have these people any idea how long it takes to produce something through conventional CNC, let alone hand fabrication?

How many amateurs are willing to burn virtually all of their free time for a day to do those things? Very few. Comparing your professional abilities and patience to his amateur abilities and patience is unfair (to put it very kindly).

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (3, Informative)

aXis100 (690904) | about 9 months ago | (#44173265)

I've tried a few times to do unattended long prints on my Solidoodle but often enough something goes wrong partway - not only is the print ruined but a heap of filament gets wasted. Generally I stay close by and work on something else, and a couple of those times I managed to catcha problem that might have damaged the printer (e.g. snagged filament).

Anyway, it's not completely dead time, but it does require a fair bit of nursing. Im slowly improving some of the mechanics and operating parameters so maybe it will get better, but it's far from foolproof yet.

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 months ago | (#44174229)

Comparing your professional abilities and patience to his amateur abilities and patience is unfair (to put it very kindly).

Professionals have resources, amateurs have time. The reason he has to wait 5hrs has nothing to do with his ability and everything to do with his resources. The reason he can't bear to wait 5hrs has everything to do with his personality and nothing to do with his status as an amateur.

Oblig anaology: The guy is like a gardener complaining he has to wait a year for fruit to appear on his tree and that when it does 1/3 of it will be inedible, while at the same time having that much fruit he is giving it away to friends and relatives..

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (3, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about 9 months ago | (#44174543)

Professionals have resources, amateurs have time. The reason he has to wait 5hrs has nothing to do with his ability and everything to do with his resources. The reason he can't bear to wait 5hrs has everything to do with his personality and nothing to do with his status as an amateur.

Not sure I agree entirely here. Even the better printers will take a while to build his yoda, they do it more reliably, so that does translate into saved time but....I think what he really lacks is perspective.

Having what you designed today in hand today, or even tomorow, is a HUGE WIN. Take it back a few steps and what do you have? A design on "paper". Going from that description of a yoda to a yoda could take a long time in more traditional setups.

Sure maybe this means 1-3 iterations per day.... compared to multiple days or more for each prototype. That is really the correct comparison. He is comparing it against his fantasy rather than against the real technology that it is an improvement over.

Because without the 3d printer, he doesn't get his yoda at all, or it takes days to weeks for him to get.

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (2)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 9 months ago | (#44173297)

What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

That is because no-one knows how to make most devices any more. Everything is made by an anonymous team of hundreds or thousands, and you only ever interact with a few of these people. I you don't think about it you could come to the conclusion that everything is trivially simple to construct or produce. It's a result of technology exchange according to Matt Ridley, Matt Ridley: When Ideas Have Sex [ted.com]

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (4, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#44173507)

makerbot sells their products as if they had the same reliability as Up! etc kind of printers. that's not up for debate, that's how they market them.
HOWEVER.. you need several mods and to be lucky that they sent you an unwarped build plate etc. to get decent prints. the gantry design itself isn't too bad and the electronics are pretty simple(they copied the gantry design from stratasys..).

I got two bots now, one makerbot replicator and another is a printrbot style reprap. the makerbot was 3x the price and took longer to get working reliably.
among the shit makerbot has done that has made my experience worse has been stuff like sending 0.2mm nozzles packaged in 0.4mm bags to vendors.
I got ZERO reason to buy makerbot ever again. for the machine as it came out of box it was impossible to print the two color models they used in marketing(as it came out of box it was lucky if it could print for 30 mins without jamming, there's upgrades to the extruder which are a total must to do - and dual color printing objects that size as the pr pieces held by bre were are such that the machine was probably placed in a sauna for printing so the pieces didn't warp). I still have a few upgrades to go(the arms that hold the build plate sag when build plate is heated still).

their firmware upgrades were such that it would have been pretty easy to outright _break_ the machine(I'm using a 3rd party firmware though, it's just much better and the support for it is much better..).

One important thing is that the makerbot design isn't safe to leave to print on it's own. it's a fire hazard - the safeties are all firmware based on a discount microcontroller that is also running the bot, it fails and the heaters can run off - there is no heat fuses of any kind anywhere - and they skimped on limit switches, so buggy gcode can break the machine as well(or if the other end limit switch cables break). notice how they NEVER in their marketing explicitly say that you could just walk away from it when it is printing? well, that is because you shouldn't. however in the same marketing they use models that take 20 hours+ to produce.

btw if you haven't tried yet, try buying some PET filament. rawks! and can be printed on plain aluminum without warping or breaking loose.

now there's plenty of printers that offer the exact same(and better) makerbot experience but cost 1000 bucks less than makerbots offerings.

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 months ago | (#44174123)

What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

Yes 3D printing seems to present about the same level of difficulty to hobbyists as computers did in the 80's. Loading my Apple from an old audio tape recorder failed maybe 30-50% of the time. The trick to getting reliability closer to 4 out of 5 was to mark the position of the volume knob with a pen. Of course that could have been fixed with money. Money could also have removed the annoying "family wants to watch TV" interrupt from the monitor.

If 3D printing takes off anything like computing did in the 80's then it will be a gold mine in the 2020's and the hobbyists who managed to make it "just work" (for a reasonable price) will be billionaires. It won't replace mass production but it could seriously disrupt the spare parts industry.

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (3, Insightful)

GrpA (691294) | about 9 months ago | (#44173187)

+1 - I use the UP! Mini regularly ( weekly and often daily ) and it's about as simply as clicking "print" most of the time.

Failure rate: About 1 in 20, though I have had a few problems with ABS filament quality of late reducing that to about 1 in 10.

Just because Makerbot doesn't meet the OP's requirements, it's a little arrogant to declare the death of all 3D printers isn't it?

GrpA

Re:It is a MakerBot after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44174727)

He didn't declare "death of all 3D printers", not once. He even looks forward to the day when they work as easily as today's cheap inkjets. What he said is that they are not ready for the mass market where devices are expected to work every time, and not take several hours to print a trivial item.

You obviously read nothing more than the title. Go to your room in shame!

Um (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44172879)

"I look forward to the day when 3D printers are as cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts.'"

Specifically
"Cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts.'"

I don't. :)

Well no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44172885)

It's not ready for the general consumer yet, but what it represents is a complete upheaval of the modern manufacturing process. It's the primordial first step on the path to Star Trek replicators, and having to completely rethink our understanding of intellectual property rights (again).

Would you download a car? I fucking would.

Re:Well no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44172959)

if all you want is fragile garbage toys from a 5000$ machine, otherwise they are useless outside of rapid prototyping, and I dont mean here is my new product, more like did I fuck that angle up and will it still fit

Re:Well no shit. (4, Insightful)

crakbone (860662) | about 9 months ago | (#44173055)

The first personal computers were on the order of about 3 to 6 grand in price. You can now buy one far beyond the capabilities of those systems for $50.00 bucks new. Even in that day the price tag was worth it for some processes. I know a guy in aerospace that was able to prototype load handling for engine mounts on a vector graphics system in a matter of hours instead of days it took on the main frame. That was back in the early 80's. Imagine where the capabilities of these systems will be in ten or twenty years. You already have systems that can use two different plastics and removable filler materials. You have systems that doctors are able to print out bones that need to be moved into position. You have systems that can print custom art on cupcakes and some that print living tissue. There is a system that will print actual walls and another that prints glass bowls using the sun. And another that prints wood objects. Shoot Jay Leno is using them to prototype out parts for cars that they no longer make parts for. The expansion and the innovative designs is amazing. To blow the current systems off as just making garbage seems short sighted about where this technology really is and where it will be shortly.

Re:Well no shit. (3, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 9 months ago | (#44173417)

Sintered metal 'printers' can make jet engine parts.

Re:Well no shit. (4, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 9 months ago | (#44173865)

Interestingly, I was talking to some Airbus designers, and they mentioned that they 3D print brackets used in ailerons out of sintered titanium. If they tried to machine the same part it would either weigh twice as much or cost twice as much for all the machining to lose the extra weight from its complex geometry. The 3D printing process let them only put material in the key loading directions the part had to be strong in, and nowhere it didn't. It made for a much better part.

Re:Well no shit. (5, Insightful)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 9 months ago | (#44173077)

Well, that's a tiny bit of an exaggeration. The harsh reality is that a 3D printer is a cool, fun, convenient way to make one-off and limited runs of plastic parts that would otherwise have to be injection-molded or extruded.

Yes, I know some systems can print starch that dissolves so you can (sort of) end up with spaces and gaps in the finished item, but in the real world, it's basically up to you to drill the precision holes, sand the rough edges, remove the burrs, and do the actual assembly yourself. We're a LONG way from "download the plans to some finished consumer good & stick it to The Man(tm) by printing yourself an unauthorized copy".

Buying a hobby-grade 3D printer today is kind of like spending $800 to buy a copy of Sculpt-Animate 4D for the Amiga 3000 20 years ago -- full of promise, totally cool, and the greatest Christmas gift someone could possibly get you... but at the end of the day, frustrating as hell.

Back then, you'd spend days, if not WEEKS, defining 3D objects, start a render at 2am before going to bed, crawl out of bed the next morning for school, be happy that you weren't greeted by 30-40 scanlines of black (indicating that it didn't like your lighting for some reason), spend the day at school praying obsessively that you'd be greeted by 2/3 of a badly-rendered image when you got home instead of a guru meditation number, and if you hit the jackpot... your preview didn't look like total shit, and vaguely resembled whatever it was you were trying to render.

A few days later, you'd go to render a raytraced preview the size of a postage stamp, then go away for the weekend, because that's about how long a 16-25MHz A3000 took to render a 80x50 thumbnail. Assuming it didn't crash, and there wasn't a thunderstorm to reboot the computer. OK, months passed, and you're about to go take a 2-week family vacation, so you launch into the Holy Grail -- a 320x200 HAM animation with 8-16 frames. You start the rendering job, go away, come home a few weeks later... and to your despair (but non-surprise), are greeted by either a guru meditation number or a rebooted computer courtesy of Florida Power & Light.

You screwed with it a few more times after that, but the magic was gone. The blue smoke evaporated. It just took too damn long to render anything meaningful, and the program had an 80% chance of crashing before it finished anyway. And when it didn't crash, it was Florida before UPSes became affordable, so 2-second power outages were almost guaranteed to nuke any multi-day rendering job before it finished even if the program DIDN'T crash. Such was life on the bleeding razor's edge of computer graphics ~20 years ago. Sigh.

Re:Well no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173363)

Cool story Bro, but 20 years ago the bleeding razor's edge of CGI was not an Amiga 3000.

Re:Well no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173473)

And neither is makerbot today.

Re:Well no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173995)

What was then? Video Toaster, Lightwave, and the Amiga had pretty high ground in the early 90's. I remember a number of shows using them for their effects.

They may not have been at the top, but they was about the only affordable one of the time, from my memory.

Re:Well no shit. (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | about 9 months ago | (#44174163)

Probably some outrageously sexy SGI machine, like a Crimson, or an Onyx. You can probably pick one up today second hand for a fraction of the cost of an Amiga 3000 toy.

Don't look forward to anything being like inkjets (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44172923)

If they became anything like inkjet printers, the printers will be $20 and the consumables will cost $60, replaced weekly.
It won't come with all the required cables either, you'll need to buy that USB cable for $30. Also no linux drivers.

"easy to use as their 2D ... counterparts" (1)

SmokeSerpent (106200) | about 9 months ago | (#44172931)

So some time in the 23rd century perhaps?

Maybe the solution to the 2D printing problem (http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2010/08/25/why-do-printers-still-suck/) is just to print every page as a 3D object.

That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (3, Interesting)

Chickan (1070300) | about 9 months ago | (#44172937)

Half of the fun of 3D printers is getting angry at them. If you want one to "Just Work" you are out of luck. Some are better than others, but they all are basically hot glue guns with some servo motors, there is no feedback, no control. You can however, print some really cool stuff. Sure I would not let my parents buy one, but I have loved mine personally.

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | about 9 months ago | (#44173085)

I remember when CD writers were like this, about 25%-33% you tried to burn were coasters because your machine couldn't keep the write buffer full, so you had this delicate balancing act of setting it to burn and OH GOD DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING and hope for the best. They still blew my mind with how handy they were, and now CD/DVD burners are so dirt cheap and reliable that it's hard to imagine the days when they were so sensitive. I figure in a few years, 3D printers will get similarly more reliable and mainstream, and continue to fall in price, until people are churning out all sorts of widgets without giving it much thought or worry.

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173171)

>> [...] OH GOD DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING

So true! I LOL'd from "nostalgia" / flashbacks of rage! Thank you! :-)

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173335)

They still blew my mind with how handy they were, and now CD/DVD burners are OBSOLETE

FTFY

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (2)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 9 months ago | (#44173365)

I had relatively little problems burning even in those early days, but I had a SCSI burner, not an IDE or some proprietary sound card interface. The biggest challenge I faced was figuring out which brand of CD-R would be read by the largest range of CD-ROM drives. (Which was complicated by the fact that a lot of brands didn't actually manufacture their own CD-Rs and switched suppliers from time to time.)

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (1, Offtopic)

ouachiski (835136) | about 9 months ago | (#44173373)

I remember when CD writers were like this, about 25%-33% you tried to burn were coasters because your machine couldn't keep the write buffer full, so you had this delicate balancing act of setting it to burn and OH GOD DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING and hope for the best. They still blew my mind with how handy they were, and now CD/DVD burners are so dirt cheap and reliable that it's hard to imagine the days when they were so sensitive. I figure in a few years, 3D printers will get similarly more reliable and mainstream, and continue to fall in price, until people are churning out all sorts of widgets without giving it much thought or worry.

I have a TDK 4x4x8 cd burner that still to this day had not burnt a coaster. I had a Memorex 2x2x4 and a LiteOn DVD burner that was as you described....but I found if you buy good burners what you say is not a problem. When I replaced the aforementioned LiteOn I got a Plextor for ~$100 and have had no problems.

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173523)

around the time when they got faster than 2x it got a lot better. for one they made models that didn't just freak out on buffer running out..

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (3, Interesting)

ikaruga (2725453) | about 9 months ago | (#44173343)

It's not just cheap 3D printers. My workplace has whole collection of professional 3D printers at our disposal: multiple Dimension ABS printer models, an Eden Acrylic printer(hate this one in particular), and a couple of Vantage poly-carbonate printers and we're getting ourselves ready for a million dollars DMLS metal 3D printer. The plastic ones have a malfunction at least once every 4~6 months. The metal one can literally kill you if the Argon gas, used to avoid metal oxidation at high laser temperatures, leaks(death by asphyxiation). 3D printers are just another type of printers after all. Anyone would be just fooling themselves if they think that Stratasys products are more human friendly than the usual HP/Xerox/Cannon/Brother products.

Now back on the original topic. I think the technology is ready for consumer level. But being a consumer product doesn't necessarily make it a mainstream product. 3D printing is useful for people that know how to intelligently use it and already have a specific set of objectives in mind. The average Joe has no business with 3d printing. Buying a 3d printer for an occasional toy/statue that you casually downloaded from the internet is just not worth it. 2D printers succeeded in the mainstream market because everybody NEEDS to print school reports, tax reports, CVs, invitations, tickets, pamphlets, etc.
On top of that 3D printing was(and still is) just immensely overhyped by the internet. Blogs/News websites/Comments and people who never even used a 3D printer before just treated the tech as if it was the ultimate home appliance: "buy a 3D printer and print everything else you need". For example another currently overhyped tech field that will suffer the same "disappointing" effect is VR: occulus/omni/hydra VR paraphernalia is useful for some applications but are far from the "holy grail" of gaming/computing for dozens of reasons. Eventually I believe all these techs will become essential parts of daily life but there are still many obstacles to overcome, from product features and services to user mentality and place in the society.

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (2)

Chickan (1070300) | about 9 months ago | (#44174693)

The metal DMLS printers are designed to constantly "leak" some Argon, as they are always purging a bit, and adding in new argon to the system. And yes Argon is dangerous, but as long as your room is ventilated you are fine. My office is in the same room as a DMLS printer that I run daily. Keep the doors open, and be cautious, and you are fine. Be warned about the metal ones, they fail as often or more often than the plastic ones. I have been running mine for 6+ months, and I still struggle with printing "thick" (1/2" or so) pieces. The distortion in the metal printers is generally worse than ABS, have to strongly fixture the part to the base plate with supports. What kind of metal printer are you getting? We have an SLM-280. As for the Stratasys ones, another department here purchased one and just now realized you have to buy their ABS, it will not work otherwise, which is exactly like 2d printers.

Re:That is true of all cheap 3D Printers (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#44174571)

Half of the fun of 3D printers is getting angry at them. If you want one to "Just Work" you are out of luck.

So pretty much like 2D printers then, only replace "fun" with "soul destroying anguish".

"...discover it was warped..." (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44172943)

That only matters if you're NOT printing a dildo, you insensitive clod!

We can't all get what we want. (2)

dubious elise (1200247) | about 9 months ago | (#44172953)

I'm still waiting for my 2D inkjet printer to be as cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as a pen and paper.

Sell Ink (2)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#44172985)

The promotion of the 3D technology to the mass market is exactly the same as inkjet. The hope is to sell ink. Unlike inkjet printers the application for the average person is not so clear. Sure, one can download files, but most do not have the experience to use the 3D modeling software. It is an order of magnitude more difficult than desktop publishing, and has not had 20 years to mature in usability.

Even one the printing gets done, the job does not end there. It is like publishing a book using an inkjet. There are skilled steps that are required to finish the product. On the printer I used, it required that I manually removed supporting material. If the design does not take this into account, this process will lead to damage of the part. Other printers use ultrasonic cleaners to remove support material, but I hear this has issues as well.

I have been in the position to acquire some nice machines, but the support, cost, and payback never made since. I can image for the hobbying who wants to do something original it would be a good investment. I also imagine that, like my high speed color printer, it might see significantly decreased use after a period of time.

Re:Sell Ink (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#44174579)

Unless you do massive volume it is cheaper to just order photo prints online or at a shop. Running a photo quality printer is expensive and frustrating.

I hope we see more places offering 3D printing services soon.

There's no point in denying it (-1, Flamebait)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about 9 months ago | (#44172989)

ushering in the “Wild West of 3D printing” among our sedate sea of MacBook Air laptops running Adobe InDesign

Once again Apple's walled garden has broken the potential of a wonderful technology freedom. At what point do we all put pillow cases on our heads and hunt down the MacoPhytes? We should do it before Apple ruins the potential for us to print our 3d guns or there's no hope left!!

Re:There's no point in denying it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173025)

wonderful technology freedom

Forget the pillow cases, I'm setting my army of lawyers onto your for that broken jaw of mine you caused to crash to the floor!

Re:There's no point in denying it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173243)

You're trying too hard. I suggest you buy a Macbook and a latte and enjoy the moment.

Yeah, geez, ya figure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44172991)

The whole notion is dumb. It's hit the peak now, it's downhill from here. It doesn't matter if some large company with a staff of engineers and a three-phase 600V power hook-up can do something that vaguely resembles "3D printing", it means nothing for the average layman at home. We've had several forms of computer-controlled machine tools since the 1960s, how many people have CNC setups at home? It's rare, because it demands a specific, rigorous skillset, time, money and place.

Then you get people comparing home 3D printing to word processing, as if they still don't get that you can't compare information processing to handling matter. It's not the same, and never will be.

Re:Yeah, geez, ya figure? (2)

silanea (1241518) | about 9 months ago | (#44174475)

The whole notion is dumb. It's hit the peak now, it's downhill from here. [...] Then you get people comparing home 3D printing to word processing, as if they still don't get that you can't compare information processing to handling matter. It's not the same, and never will be.

I kindly disagree. Today's machines indeed are only really useful for a limited audience, but once the complexity of use - both in software and hardware - decreases sufficiently their usefulness will expand to fields not even thought of today. I am looking forward to using the 3D equivalent of facsimiles of historical material in history classes. Just consider the possibilities: Instead of showing a picture of a Stone Age arrowhead or a Pope's seal - or, looking at other subjects, molecules, DNA, bacteria, organs... - I could pass around a life-size replica. Not just one taken from the limited collection my school has seen fit to purchase, but one chosen specifically to fit into my topic.

Similarly we are currently evaluating different 3D printing options for the volunteer emergency service I am a member of for producing scaled models of damaged buildings, vehicle wrecks etc. for strategic training. It would open up scenarios currently infeasable to simulate with our hand-built models.

It still is a long way off. But so were ubiquous cheap colour print-outs just 20 years ago.

Remember the first CD Burners... (3, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 9 months ago | (#44173003)

I remember the failure rates for burning CD's early on was probably around 40%. Now if I burn a CD or DVD I don't think I've had a failure in a couple years now.

Re:Remember the first CD Burners... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173027)

See? Another one bringing up information processing that only requires a tiny signal to make a tiny change on a tiny bit of (mass-produced in a factory by single-purpose machines fed with industrial-grade chemical feedstocks and with dozens of workers) material, complete with redundancy and error-checking, in two dimensions.

Why would you extrapolate that to placing matter in 3D with no error correction and no redundancy? How does that compare? Why would you think that's at all relevant or comparable?

Remember when computers only had 16K of memory? Now they have 16 gigs! So jet engines will also get a million times more thrust soon! LOL RITE!?

Can you tell me if that extrapolation is valid or not? And why you think that?

Re:Remember the first CD Burners... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173173)

Right, -1 the truth while you mod up the computer geek with no clue. Yeah, that'll help 3D printing.

Re:Remember the first CD Burners... (3, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 9 months ago | (#44173501)

I think your question-to-statment ratio in that post was way out of whack, leading to a -1, This Guy's a Loony moderation. Just speculating, of course.

Re:Remember the first CD Burners... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44173113)

I had a CDD521 upgraded to 2x that was a hand-me-down from Tivoli. That thing was quite good, only about 1 in 10 discs made with CDRwin turned out to be a coaster. Of course, it was the only thing attached to a 2940U... And my disks were on one of their early Ultra160 cards. Those were the days... the days of spending a whole lot of money if you wanted storage devices worth a crap.

Re:Remember the first CD Burners... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173643)

God I remember those things. Long after they were stopped being produced many of those models were the holy grail to evil pirates in the days of ever increasing disc based anti-piracy measures. After awhile it was hard to find burners that could do 1:1 raw with under/over burn.

Re:Remember the first CD Burners... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173497)

The only cds or dvds I've burned past decade are linux installation disks for hw that doesn't support booting from a memory stick.

Re:Remember the first CD Burners... (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about 9 months ago | (#44174101)

You mean like never?

Or were you just incompetent?

I remember back when a CD-R cost >$20, and there was still >95% success rate.

Re:Remember the first CD Burners... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44174201)

Competence implies competition. Were you trying to grind the highest success % or something back in the day?

First world problems (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#44173013)

"Waiting five hours for your Yoda feels like an eternity"

I just realized why online retail will never completely beat brick-and-mortar.

Now MakerBot is to be acquired by a larger company (2)

dmomo (256005) | about 9 months ago | (#44173017)

Stratasys, a company specializing in industrial 3d-printing will likely complete their acquisition of makerbot in the fall. For better or worse, this should change things in the consumer 3D printer space.

What? (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 9 months ago | (#44173021)

I look forward to the day when 3D printers are as cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts.'"

Super expensi... .. print head dried up, get a new one.

Learning to fly (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44173033)

This is a technology in its infancy. We're just getting good at printing with one material at a time, we're just starting to mess with printing with multiple materials, 3d printing rigs generally only use a single technique in a given machine, etc etc. Give it some time.

Re:Learning to fly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173193)

Except that it isn't. Stereolithography has been around for decades. They were talking about it 20 years ago in electronics magazines. There's nothing new about putting a glue gun on a plotter. So all your arguments about the progress of technology are not applicable and irrelevant and just plain wrong.

Re:Learning to fly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173315)

OMG decades! A bit longer than the space program and where are my damn flying cars!

Re:Learning to fly (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#44173551)

This is a technology in its infancy. We're just getting good at printing with one material at a time, we're just starting to mess with printing with multiple materials, 3d printing rigs generally only use a single technique in a given machine, etc etc. Give it some time.

well yeah.. but makerbot sold bots they said would print perfect dual color prints 1.5 years ago, which thanks to a heated build plate wouldn't warp(yeah right maybe if you print in a sauna..).

now their dual model is "experimental". they never said sorry or anything. this is the point, makerbot did hell of a job in mainstream media marketing for selling the company but that didn't really match up to their machines or customer supports(customer support tends to detoriate if you sell a machine that 50% of people have a problem with.. and not just because they're stupid - but because you sent them defective parts that didn't work right, were bent, had broken wires..).

Re:Learning to fly (1)

daid303 (843777) | about 9 months ago | (#44174259)

You are so right on this one. Makerbot is all marketing all the way down. Their machine isn't special (hotend+extruder copied from the UP!, Z platform copied and slightly improved from Ultimaker). Their move away from OpenSource also hasn't done much good to the "hacker crowd".

But, reporting from Ultimaker here (you know, the 15 man company from the Netherlands that sells 3D printers). Dual extrusion is possible in a good way. We're working out the kinks and don't think it's ready to mass sell as Makerbot does it now. But we are getting towards Ultimaker quality.

3D printing gold rush (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173053)

only people who win are the 3D printer vendors

Yeah, right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173073)

... we're all looking forward to the day when 3D printers only run on Windows, require proprietry model-specific plastic reels (with chips to stop you reloading the plastic) and contain government-mandated secret counterfeit detection routines.

Re:Yeah, right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173081)

oh, and "mysteriously" fails exactly 1 month after the warranty expires

"...easy to use...2D inkjet printer counteparts." (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173097)

" 'PC Load Filament'? What the fuck does that mean?"

Re:"...easy to use...2D inkjet printer counteparts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173323)

"Why does it say filament jam, when there is no filament jam!"

Re:"...easy to use...2D inkjet printer counteparts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173937)

Absolutely, why the fuck would the container for filament be called a paper cartridge?

Re: "...easy to use...2D inkjet printer countepart (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44174493)

Plastic cartridge?

Airplanes, boats, and loose women (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173107)

What was it, I read an interview with a wealthy hedge fund manager, when asked about stuff he owned he said, if it doesn't make money, I don't want it. House in the Hamptons? Rented. Apartments in NY and London? Rented. Car, leased.

3D printers are like airplanes, boats, and loose women. Far far better to rent than to buy. Kinda like printed circuit boards, seriously you don't want to have anything to do with the production side of things, unless that's how you're making your money.

Extruder-type 3D printing just sucks (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 9 months ago | (#44173151)

Extruder-based machines aren't a very good technology. The fundamental problem is that you're trying to weld a hot thing to a cold thing. Welding metals that way produces flawed joints, and soldering that way produces cold solder joints. Heating the build platform helps a little, but once you've built something of any height, the heater is too far from the action. Some of the machines have better temperature control of the build area than others, but they're all rather flaky. TechShop has tried four different brands, and they range from mediocre (Replicator2 ) to useless (the Up).

The UV polymerization machines seem to work quite well. The high-end machines produce consistent results and don't need to be watched while running. They're still slow, though. The Form1 printer [formlabs.com] may get there, if they ever really ship the thing in quantity. The ship date has slipped from April 2013 to October 2013, even though their Kickstarter funding was way oversubscribed. They also charge $149/liter for their custom resin. (I suspect that resin for 3D printers is going to be a similar racket as ink for inkjet printers. The stuff isn't inherently expensive; a slightly different formulation is routinely used for making printing plates, where it costs about a quarter of the price.)

Re:Extruder-type 3D printing just sucks (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#44173567)

heating the build platform is not meant for layer to layer adhesion. anyhow, the layer to layer adhesion isn't a problem in my experience really, the new layer melts the layer it hits and the end result is fairly solid, enough that it if you push the part to breaking point it is not certain that it will break at the layer.

heating the build platform is a hack meant to fight warping of the parts due to the plastic contracting as it cools. the reason I say a hack is because it's a hack, the proper way is to heat the build enclosure.

you can source resin based home grown printers from ebay today too, but they don't produce as strong parts.

New SI unit? (1)

agendi (684385) | about 9 months ago | (#44173157)

When did rounds of Candy Crush become a measurement of time? I thought the reward of the maker movement was the process in which you can design and iterate and produce your own prototypes, not the end thing itself. Once you have your design nailed down there are more cost effective and quicker production methods.

Faster printers (2)

Peetke (1681018) | about 9 months ago | (#44173229)

There already are much faster printers, like the Ultimaker. The high failure rate might be from your individual setup, because that shouldn't happen that often.

time (1)

Zurd3 (574979) | about 9 months ago | (#44173285)

5 hours is not so bad, it's a fast grow compared to some crops/trees which are 12 hours in farmville 2. Reminds me 10 years ago when you wanted to rip a DVD, would take about 8-12 hours on a Pentium 3, still, everybody was still doing it.

3D printing is expensive and/or for early adopters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173309)

Get off my lawn you mainstream kids!

Easy to use as an Inkjet? (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | about 9 months ago | (#44173319)

I chuck an absolute tantrum whenever I am exposed to an inkjet printer. They are hands down the most stupid and irritating piece of technology known to mankind. I eastimate the success rate of an average inkjet printer to be in the 7 - 9% range.

Easy to use as their inkjet printer counterparts? (2)

Rachel Clarkson (2854251) | about 9 months ago | (#44173355)

After a few decades of existence, they still can't get the printers to cancel the operation properly. Lol

...as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts (1)

Shompol (1690084) | about 9 months ago | (#44173399)

After years of struggling with an inkjet I dumped it for a B/W laser printer. The ink was always dry every time I needed to print something and cartriges are worth their weight in gold [yahoo.com]. So should I need to print in color -- it's a trip to a local pharmacy.

So assuming that 3D printer is somewhat related to inkjet in principle but more complex, it is probably only meant for dedicated shops and some hobbyist garages, not for mass market. And even if the above mentioned issues are overcome, handling 3d designs is probably more complex than an average comsumer wants to deal with.

Printer Failure Rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173403)

The failure rate on my 2D printer is at least 25%. Damn thing is brand new and can't load paper for shit.

Your MakerBot mileage may vary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173431)

We have one in our shop. We do development work that requires one-off parts that take considerable time to machine. Our MB2 lets us print parts that may need some finishing operations (still can't print 8-32 threads, sorry) but that save us much time overall. Yeah, it's a hassle figuring out whose slicing algorithms are best, and sometimes the printer screws up 4 hours into a 5 hour run, but on the whole, it's been really a help to us. I expect like any technology, it will become both better and cheaper over time.

Some perspective (4, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | about 9 months ago | (#44173435)

This is coming from someone who built his own lathe. My experience with building my own machine tools has taught me that not only does the algorithm (i.e. tool motion) matter, but also the properties of the material being machined.

With the traditional CNC machine, the method of material removal works the same irrespective of the stock material, with minor exceptions. A CNC mill can make parts from materials as soft as waxes to as hard as steel with little more than a bit change, and perhaps the addition of cooling lubricant.

A 3d printer, by contrast, is a deposition method which depends to a very large degree on the properties of the feed stock. Even at their best, they'll do no better than a mill.

And 3 hours to make a part is ridiculously long, especially given the failure rate. A trained machinist would instead choose the best tool(s) for the job and turn it out in short order.

Just for perspective: I spent one and a half hours building a molding machine from scratch. Rather than print out the part with a 3d printer, he could have made the molding machine and molds in the same amount of time, with the added advantage that he could make an almost arbitrary number of copies. Sometimes the old ways are just faster.

Yoda? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44173483)

if all you want is a plastic yoda, go buy one and stop complaining how long it takes to print one, jeez. 3d printers are more suited to prototype parts, not plastic toys.

Had similar experiences (1)

Ralph Barbagallo (2881145) | about 9 months ago | (#44173613)

I wasn't using a MakerBot, but a BukoBot and felt the kit printers are just garbage for anything real. I ended up printing the same object (a 6 inch tall figure) using a low-end pro grade printer (uPrint SE...uses the same type of extruder/FDM print technology) with kind of spectacular results (before and afters here): http://ralphbarbagallo.com/2013/05/02/diy-3d-printing-is-not-ready-for-prime-time/ [ralphbarbagallo.com]

Also the price difference between the low end uPrints and the Replicator 2X isn't that great. About 2.5X. Now that the company that makes uPrint owns MakerBot, I'm hoping we see consumer printers as robust as these high end machines (that are as large as a refrigerator!)

Still took 20+ hours to print my figure on both machines.

The kit scene reminds me of the personal computer scene in the '70s. I expect rapid progress in this area. We've already seen drastic improvements in quality on the consumer side with the Replicator 2X and Form1.

I still kind of don't like stereolithography because although it's way higher detail, you can't use a support material--right? You still have to print 'fluff' that you crack off by hand?

Makerbot is not the problem (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | about 9 months ago | (#44173973)

If you spent hours staring at a Makerbot - the problem is not the device. HINT: how long do you spend staring at your washing on the line?

Consumer Friendly? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44174017)

3D printers aren't for Consumers, those worthless sheep.... 3D printers of for Makers, Producers, and Creators.

Mabye the problem... (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 9 months ago | (#44174441)

Maybe the problem is that most people don't have a real use for a 3D printer and after the novelty wears off, boredom sets in. I mean really, how many 5 inch Yoda head does somebody really need? Now, on the other hand, I know many hobbyists who use 3D printing to make parts for various hobbies they are engaged in that would have used lost wax castings in the past, a milling machine, or some other time consuming or costly process. For these people, 3D printing is a faster, cheaper alternative to the traditional way.

So, yes, 3D printing probably isn't ready for the average consumer. But, that is probably because the average consumer doesn't have much need for 3D printing.

Re:Mabye the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44174607)

how many 5 inch Yoda head does somebody really need?

42

I so relate to this, I switched to Laser cutting ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44174487)

I got a Thing-O-Matic, and I must say I'm really disapointed... My failure rate is much more than 30% when trying some other people STL file. Though, my own creation had a higher success rate. They finally added acceleration support, well I should say Makerbot DIDN'T... They basicly stop supporting older model and improving on them... So thanks to some hacker, they added it. But software still need lot of work, and hardware update a definitly needed.

I personally moved away from 3d printing (I still have my ToM on the shelfs), and bought a laser cuter which is MUCH MORE FUN ! I got a 99% success rate on simple job so far, and the look of the final result is MUCH higher...

But I hope for the day of better 3d printing... I can't afford any new toys now since I bought a house, but I'm sure the new high res one will be available within a few years.

Re:I so relate to this, I switched to Laser cuttin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44174689)

Laser cutter? Shit I thought 3D printers were expensive. Then I looked at laser cutters. $10k for a basic unit? Fuck. That. Shit.

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