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Can the Lix 3D Printing Pen Actually Work?

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the steady-hand-needed dept.

Technology 90

szczys (3402149) writes "Brian Benchoff used science and math to prove that the performance shown in the Lix Kickstarter video is questionable at best. Check his evidence and see if he's done an appropriate job of debunking the functionality presented." From the Hackaday post: "While we know the video is an outright misrepresentation of what any USB 3 powered device can do, We can’t figure out if the Lix is a viable product. We’re turning to you. Can you figure out if the Lix pen actually works? All we know is the Lix pen has a 4.5 Watt power supply from a USB 3 port. It’s possible for a USB 3 powered 3D printing pen to work, albeit slowly, but the engineering is difficult and we don’t know if the Lix team has the chops."

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I would be more convinced (4, Insightful)

Lumpio- (986581) | about 7 months ago | (#46909363)

If they hadn't cut small parts out of their video every time the pen was shown in action.

Re:I would be more convinced (3, Interesting)

xclr8r (658786) | about 7 months ago | (#46909517)

Other than the power charging elements.. this doesn't seem too much more complicated than a "hot glue gun sculpture" . Search engine it.

Re:I would be more convinced (3, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 7 months ago | (#46909543)

It really isn't, but the issue here is that the differences in the properties of ABS plastic and the power source mean that this simply isn't possible as presented. A glue gun is powered from a wall, whereas this device is powered over USB. And typical glue in a glue gun melts at a fraction of the temperature that ABS plastic melts at.

Re:I would be more convinced (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909649)

Hot melt glue guns have to melt the end of a large-diameter cylinder of plastic. The lix melts just the tip of a 1.75mm cylinder. Much less wattage is needed. I don't know if enough wattage is available from a USB connection, but it may be. I can easily imagine a 2 or 3 watt light bulb melting the plastic fast enough. I think the USB spec is 4.5 watts at 5v.

The lix is still just a hot-melt glue gun, though a smaller version than commonly seen. There doesn't seem to be a claim on the lix website that it is controlled in any way by the computer, only that it is powered by a USB source. It could just as easily be powered by an external battery or power brick. Any resulting sculpture would be created in real time in the user's hand, and would not be designed before hand.

Re:I would be more convinced (3, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 7 months ago | (#46909875)

Hot melt glue guns have to melt the end of a large-diameter cylinder of plastic. The lix melts just the tip of a 1.75mm cylinder. Much less wattage is needed. I don't know if enough wattage is available from a USB connection, but it may be. I can easily imagine a 2 or 3 watt light bulb melting the plastic fast enough. I think the USB spec is 4.5 watts at 5v.

The lix is still just a hot-melt glue gun, though a smaller version than commonly seen. There doesn't seem to be a claim on the lix website that it is controlled in any way by the computer, only that it is powered by a USB source. It could just as easily be powered by an external battery or power brick. Any resulting sculpture would be created in real time in the user's hand, and would not be designed before hand.

This. The novelty is the ability to extrude by pushing a button instead of shoving the material in manually.

The disclaimer above the video clearly says that portions of the video have been accelerated. Which is normal when watching demos of 3D printers, and also normal when watching artists demonstrate their process via video. So, you could hardly claim it was misleading or deceptive.

There's nothing indicating that there isn't a warm up time involved in using the pen, just like any other glue gun. It would seem pretty self evident to me that there's some sort of thermal mass inside the pen, surrounded by an insulating sheath to protect the users hands, and that you have to let it sit and warm up before you use it.

Did anyone else realize Brian Benchoff's not exactly "Mr Wizard' when they read the second paragraph of his post?

The device is powered through a USB 3 port. In the video, the Lix team is using a MacBook Pro. This has a USB port capable of delivering 900 mA at 5 Volts, or 4.5 Watts. Another 3D printing pen, the 3Doodler, uses a 2A, 12V power adapter, equal to 24 Watts. Considering the 3Doodler works, and they both do the same basic thing, there’s something extremely odd going on here.

All I could think was "Did you see that nerd pick up that pen? That nerd is a scrawny wimp. A football player is much stronger. Considering that football players can pick up a pen, there's something extremely odd going on here."

Re:I would be more convinced (2, Informative)

thunderclap (972782) | about 7 months ago | (#46909803)

There are UBS wall outlets now so your comment is moot. Also, there was an assumption that it was powered by a macbook although the editing didn't show that. Sadly, Hackaday is about re-purposing electronics in new different ways. A skilled person could make a windows laptop inside a macbook shell, sand off the apple, put a pear on it (its a Nickelodeon thing) and then do the same video. That shows how pointless his argument was. The pen does have the ability to get hot enough to melt abs. USB specs for 3 and 3.1 allow for more than enough power to power it properly. It was all specious handwaving over whether HE believed it was a macbook even though the video never showed the pen being powered by it. Sad hackaday devolved to strawmen.

Re:I would be more convinced (1)

Mirar (264502) | about 7 months ago | (#46952357)

I have a wireless glue gun (Bosch, works excellently).

I have a hard time seeing why I would want a 3d printing pen that wasn't wireless.

Re:I would be more convinced (1)

Lumpio- (986581) | about 7 months ago | (#46909659)

I'm fully aware that given the correct technology and parameters this is well in the realm of possibility. The particular video just doesn't instil confidence in me.

Re:I would be more convinced (1)

rioki (1328185) | about 7 months ago | (#46917877)

Funny you would say this. I think I would have more trust if they would have used real artists being really astonished by the product, rather a few hipsters doing bad acting under a terrible effect that looks like an instagram filter. Also someone actually using the pen in wider shot may also have helped... The entire video smells of excessive fake marketing hype and that basically means a crap product.

Re:I would be more convinced (0)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 7 months ago | (#46910287)

I don't understand. It's on kickstarter. Of course it's a scam. If it was real they would have got funding from real investors.

Does anybody still believe in kickstarter?

Re:I would be more convinced (1)

publiclurker (952615) | about 7 months ago | (#46910597)

My kid seems to be quite happy with his Sparki robot from Kickstarter.

Re:I would be more convinced (3, Insightful)

laird (2705) | about 7 months ago | (#46911239)

Kickstarters have delivered thousands of products successfully, so they're clearly not all scams. There have been a few scams that made it onto the site, which were shut down as people dug into their claims - the "crowd" doesn't passively hand over money, they dig with impressive thoroughness when they think they're being taken advantage of, and Kickstart shuts down projects as a result of crowd investigations. Of course, Kickstarter also filters out many projects (presumably including most scams), so if you look at Kickstarter, the projects generally look plausible. Not all a good idea, of course, but that doesn't make them a scam. The result, for me, is that of the large number of Kickstarts that I've backed, only one was a scam (or massive incompetence) - the vast majority deliver, and the ones that don't are people who (as far as I can tell) honestly got in over their heads and couldn't pull it off, which is the risk that you have to accept when contributing to a startup. Kickstarter is not a store.

I can compare to the VC route. I've done two VC-backed startups (both ended in successful acquisitions, woot!), so I can make a comparison. If anything, because there's usually a lot less money in a Kickstarter than a VC-backed company, there's less incentive to scam, and greater transparency from Kickstarters than from people pitching VCs. And because Kickstarters are mainly shooting for modest goals, rather than VC's "shooting for the moon", the success rate for Kickstarts is a lot higher than VC-backed startups.

Even though they're both ways to fund things, Kickstarter and VCs are very different worlds. Kickstarter's average successful project raises $40K, and nobody gets equity. Most VCs aren't interesting in any deal that doesn't have a lot more zeroes in it, and of course they get tons of equity in return. Anywhere there's money on the table people will try scamming, but both Kickstarter and VCs have mechanisms to protect them from abuse, that work well enough that overall the systems work.

Re:I would be more convinced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46919939)

I've funded a number of Kickstarters. Most of the successful ones have been local parties (a small obscure music festival, a friend's album recording, a local art shop, a dnd 3.5 extenstion/rewrite). Some of the ones I've pledged to haven't made it. But I haven't had a campaign that didn't send me my rewards.

It all comes back to the traditional caveat emptor. I don't usually jump on any of the big kickstarters. I did get an alpha to Star Citizen, but they've been able to show progress and continued funding to handle the load. Anything I fund must pass the sniff test. If their video looks too polished (i.e. they spent a *lot* on it, it gets too apple-y, promises the moon/stars/galaxy) the I start to get a little turned off. If the product isn't priced close to what similar existing products are, I trust it less. If they don't talk about managing demand of the logistics of who their manufacturers are, I don't want to fund their lack of foresight.

Again, it's your money until the funding ends. It's on *you,* the investor to make sure your money will be used effectively and that you'll have a good chance of receiving your reward(s). That said, slimeballs are still out there (see ars technica's article on a campaign being sued by Washington state over not delivering a special set of playing cards after 2 years).

What scams? (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46911425)

Kickstarter has hardly had any scams. Pretty much everything I've backed has been delivered, sometimes much later than planned but delivered eventually.

If you can't tell what is probably a scam and what is not, that's a problem that will haunt you in many other ways beyond just Kickstarter...

We've reached 3D apotheosis (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909373)

Anyone else sick and tired of the overblown hype, the ridiculous promises and the fanboi delusions? It's molten plastic. I have a hot glue gun already, thanks.

I am baffled at what problem this is solving, what need it addresses and who would buy it?

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 7 months ago | (#46909421)

But, but, but,... Didn't you see that shirt. Only a 3D pen can do that cut-out back design.

I'm also sick of everything first being shown to draw pictures of naked women. Not that I don't like pictures of naked women, but does that have to be the go-to selling point?

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 7 months ago | (#46909499)

Didn't you see that shirt.

Do you mean the shirt that would be destroyed the first time it came into contact with a couch or chair back when the wearer sat down? Then there is the issue of washing the garment. Yeah, I agree, just ore stupid hype to get money from stupid people.

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910427)

DRAW naked women?--I thought it would CALL naked women.
Have to pull my support.

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 7 months ago | (#46911029)

You just don't get it. Naked women are ART!

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (1)

rioki (1328185) | about 7 months ago | (#46917891)

... it depends ...

Capitalism (-1, Offtopic)

mfh (56) | about 7 months ago | (#46909463)

Whenever you have a system predicated on the decision that a person need only say yes to whatever garbage is being sold, you need a hot-button and 3d is that precise hot-button at the moment. 3d movies, 3d printing, and soon enough 3d homemade robot companions engineered to last one year or less only before joining the last model at the dump.

What we really need to do is cure cancer. We need to solve the cancer problem, because that very problem is what is affecting our world at a global level too. When we learn to cure that disease symptomatically identified as bloating of cancer cells [imgur.com] , we will learn to stop the cycle of economic bloat, corruption and oligarchy.

Re:Capitalism (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | about 7 months ago | (#46909879)

What we really need to do is cure cancer. We need to solve the cancer problem, because that very problem is what is affecting our world at a global level too. When we learn to cure that disease symptomatically identified as bloating of cancer cells [imgur.com] , we will learn to stop the cycle of economic bloat, corruption and oligarchy.

Which "cancer problem"? There are over what, 200 different diseases all under the umbrella of "cancer," each requiring a different cure or preventative measure. Yeah, we need to figure out how some of the base line errors occur in cell replication et all, which will help prevent quite a few types of cancer, but there's never going to be a magic bullet -- a "cure" for "cancer."

Re:Capitalism (1)

mfh (56) | about 7 months ago | (#46909905)

You sound like someone who doesn't want to solve the problem.

Re:Capitalism (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 7 months ago | (#46911411)

You sound like someone who doesn't want to understand the problem.

Re:Capitalism (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 7 months ago | (#46910305)

The "cancer problem" is that everyone dies. When you stop them dying of scarlet fever (aka strep throat) they die (50 years later) of cancer.

Re: Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913871)

No sweat. With antibiotic resistance building, folks will start dying of scarlet fever again before they have time to develop substantial cancers. No more cancer problem.

Re:Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913885)

there's never going to be a magic bullet -- a "cure" for "cancer."

And if there was, it would probably destroy the economy and educational systems around the planet.

Re:Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910089)

What we need to do is cure the world from capitalism, in particular the delusion that economic growth will be sustained forever. This mistaken belief can, and will, kill many more people than cancer. Think war.

Re:Capitalism (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 7 months ago | (#46911671)

What we need to do is cure the world from capitalism, in particular the delusion that economic growth will be sustained forever. This mistaken belief can, and will, kill many more people than cancer. Think war.

Economic growth would have been sustained if we had kept our citizens from sterilizing themselves. Too late now though.. damage is done.

Re:Capitalism (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 7 months ago | (#46914399)

Yeah 'cuz resources are infinite, right?

Re:Capitalism (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 7 months ago | (#46917501)

Yeah 'cuz resources are infinite, right?

From a practical perspective, yes, they really are. We use property laws, artificial scarcity and built-in obsolescence to create the fiction that they aren't so a few people who were born to power can maintain control over the rest of us. But it's all bullshit.

Re:Capitalism (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 7 months ago | (#46917671)

And this whole time I thought it was entropy, accelerated with an almost complete lack of forethought on recycling the finite amount of raw materials that exist in the first place that was the problem....

Re:Capitalism (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 7 months ago | (#46917761)

And this whole time I thought it was entropy, accelerated with an almost complete lack of forethought on recycling the finite amount of raw materials that exist in the first place that was the problem....

You thought wrong. The earth is vast and we huddle in our cities occupying a tiny portion of it.

Re:Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46925395)

It isn't about space, you idiot. Never was, never will be.

Re:Capitalism (1)

kyrsjo (2420192) | about 7 months ago | (#46912181)

If you're playing the "we, as a civilization, should only be focusing on our worst problems" - why pick cancer? People are dying much earlier of completely treatable diseases, or just lack of clean water and proper sanitation. I would say that on a global scale, these are worse problem than cancer, and our resources would stretch a lot longer trying to fix these problems, as they *per person helped* are relatively simple problems.

So, what are you doing to fix this problem? Other than whining on ./?

Re:Capitalism (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 7 months ago | (#46914405)

I don't believe that those who are dying of clean water or sanitation are considered to be 'persons' under U.S. foreign policy so really the focus here is cancer of those considered to be persons.

Re:Capitalism (1)

kyrsjo (2420192) | about 7 months ago | (#46915169)

Well, the world is bigger than the US. Don't assume that all /. readers are from there (I, for one, is not). I hope I'm still considered as a person, even if my home country has oil & gas reserves...

Re:Capitalism (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 7 months ago | (#46915535)

As soon as you admitted to not being a person I stopped acknowledging your reply.

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909469)

I presume you're still running a Commodore 64, then. How's that working out for you?

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909573)

I presume you're comparing information processing to manipulating matter? How fast did a 747 fly in 1985? How fast does it fly now, even with fancy new computers?

Computers have been solving problems since the census, artillery tables, computing payrolls, scientific problems.

Ask a Commodore 64 what is 2+2 and you get 4. You got 4 then, you get 4 now. You also got 4 on an Atari, and Apple, or a mainframe, or a PC, or a supercomputer.

3D printing is more like getting 3.9 if you're extra-careful and skilled, and your friends get 3.5, and even you can't get the same 3.9 over and over again.

How's being scientifically illiterate and pig ignorant working out for you?

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910197)

How's being scientifically illiterate and pig ignorant working out for you?

Appears to be working well for you.

Today's 3D printers are the Sinclair ZX80 of the replicator world. People like you mock them the same way the Luddites mocked the ZX80, yet its descendants now run the world.

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911431)

...but your hot glue gun isn't nearly as toxic!!

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913997)

Anyone else sick and tired of the overblown hype, the ridiculous promises and the fanboi delusions? It's molten plastic. I have a hot glue gun already,

No, but I'm sick of the constant negativity. To continue your analogy, I have a ballpoint pen, so why do we need inkjet printers?

My problem with the lix is that the only way you're going to create some of those "examples" is to mount the pen in a 3d printer... and I'm equally baffled as to what the intended use is.

Re:We've reached 3D apotheosis (1)

laird (2705) | about 7 months ago | (#46916791)

It's making something like 3D printing accessible to people who aren't into CAD. I have had a 3Doodler for a few months, and it's been a huge hit with my daughters, who are very artistic but not CAD-oriented. Even though it's the same extruder and plastic, the experience of drawing with plastic is very different from 3D printing with a printer, and it appeals to different people.

For some examples, see: http://kickrev.blogspot.com/20... [blogspot.com] .

3D Doodler - it's been done before. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909401)

See here, this has been done before. [the3doodler.com] I see your theoretical Thermodynamic analysis and raise you something that actually works.

Re:3D Doodler - it's been done before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909437)

3d doodler has a 20W heater running off a 12V 2A supply.
The video shows the Lyx running off a 5V/1A USB port at *higher* extrusion rates.
aka "something smells mighty fishy here".

Re:3D Doodler - it's been done before. (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 7 months ago | (#46909447)

You're assuming that the doodlers PSU is used at 100% of capacity.
This may or may not be true.
In principle, better insulation could help somewhat too - though this is tricky while avoiding melt-back.

Re:3D Doodler - it's been done before. (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about 7 months ago | (#46909819)

http://www.usb.org/developers/... [usb.org] I see your 3d dooddler and raise you the actual specs for USB 3. Yes it can receive the power it needs to do what it claims it can do.

Re:3D Doodler - it's been done before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910165)

Or if you can't be bothered to go looking for yourself:

In July 2012 the USB Promoters Group announced the finalization of the USB Power Delivery ("PD") specification, an extension that specifies using certified "PD aware" USB cables with standard USB type A/B connectors to deliver up to 100 W of power at 20 V

PoweredUSB is a proprietary extension that adds four additional pins supplying up to 6 A at either 5 V, 12 V, or 24 V.

Re:3D Doodler - it's been done before. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 7 months ago | (#46910895)

Afaict back in the real world "USB Power Delivery" is only used on dedicated chargers for some of the more power hungry tablets/convertables and "PoweredUSB" is only used on POS equipment.

Re:3D Doodler - it's been done before. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46912579)

"any USB port" != "any USB port implementing USB-PD and providing at least X watts"

Duh. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909417)

Of course it can work, just not continuously at that feed rate.
Ever had a cheap hot glue gun where you had to wait north of a minute after not even half a stick so the internal thermal mass can heat back up to working temp? Same idea.

Re:Duh. (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#46909509)

No mod points here, but hopefully my reply will draw some your way. Seems like a pretty reasonable assumption.

Re:Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909515)

So if it can't work continuously... what's the point? Wow, I melted a gram of plastic! Pack the bags we're going to Mars!!!!

Re:Duh. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 7 months ago | (#46913581)

Many devices do not have a 100% available duty cycle. Welders, compressors etc. They tend to rely on your work-practices involving periods where you're not using the device. For a 3D pen, possibly would would be repositioning your work or considering your next step.

Re:Duh. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#46909709)

The pen is also huge for what it does. Maybe it has batteries inside and charges them when the power isn't needed for direct heating. The other thing that the claims aren't clear on is the power draw. USB3 can provide 100W. The 4.5W is an assumption based on the chassis holding the USB port. Who says they can't gut a MacBook for a trial? Though the wording in the video says "any USB" not "USB 3.0 capable of 100W operation". The debunk article makes so many assumptions that aren't in evidence that it has no value.

Wrong math (5, Insightful)

Doub (784854) | about 7 months ago | (#46909471)

Hackaday's maths are wrong, they build it on the assumption that a length of filament clearly shorter than two fingers width is 13cm long. Hackaday's news quality has been going down lately, I wonder why Slashdot is quoting them more and more.

Re:Wrong math (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 7 months ago | (#46909477)

Another assumption is that the pen is being used continuously. But what if the pen has a little battery/charger inside?

Re:Wrong math (1)

Rei (128717) | about 7 months ago | (#46909677)

Exactly. That's like saying a 1.3hp compressor can't run a nail gun, operating on the assumption that you're constantly shooting nails out of it. Most hand work involves periods of activity mixed with periods of rest in-between.Depending on the task, a few seconds to a few minutes of buffer is usually enough. Even if we assume 10 minutes buffer, at an average of 4.5W that's 0.75Wh. If we assume a low li-ion energy density of 100Wh/kg (laptop cells are more like 200Wh/kg), that's a 7.6 gram battery. Is that really unrealistic?

Still, I don't know why someone would design a gun like that which relies on heat and cooling. Why not UV-hardened epoxy?

Re:Wrong math (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#46909503)

I agree - that's nowhere near 13cm, unless the demonstrator is Andre the Giant.

Which it can't be :(

Re:Wrong math (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#46909735)

They also make the assumption that a MacBook-looking computer must be a MacBook, even when it isn't stated in the video. If I wanted to make my pen look cool, I'd put a 100W USB 3.0 port into a chassis that others would assume would be something different. That the technical details are so light on the kickstarter page indicates they know they are perhaps a little questionable. It's a small hot-glue gun with good marketing. How could something that simple not work?

Re:Wrong math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910009)

It was obviously a typo. 13mm is "clearly shorter than two fingers width". Geez, people...

Re:Wrong math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46914097)

I think you've identified the real story here: it's easy to make wild clams based on bad math and generate a lot of traffic.

I'd like to see them write a new story, "3D pen obeys laws of physics when using rational assumptions" and see how popular that is.

yes (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#46909513)

Ok, I don't know if USB3 has enough wattage to do that. I've no idea what kind of plastic they're using, and that's going to be the most important factor here. As far as we know the things they created will melt if left in the window on a warm day. If that were the case, I'm fairly sure USB3 would have enough wattage.

When I was much younger I worked for a time running injection molding machines. As with most things in a factory the machines were getting old and had issues. One of them was that they'd leak after they were put into standby. 2 very heavy steel molds would come together and a nozzle would come forward and put 30 tons of pressure behind hot plastic. When it was break time I'd put the machine in standby which would keep the plastic and nozzle hot but relieve the pressure. Well, not all the pressure was gone so the nozzle would leak rather slowly. I quickly learned that if I took a piece of cardboard I could manipulate the flow of plastic out of the nozzle and make neat shapes. They looked almost exactly what they made in those videos. I find that a bit too much of a coincidences, so I'd have to say there's at least some credibility to what they're doing.

That being said, notice you can never see their other hand? I believe they are having to manually feed the plastic. Also, I don't think they are building vertically as it appears. The plastic probably wouldn't cool fast enough to allow that. I believe they are laying the plastic out on the paper, letting it could, then moving its position and tacking it there with a spot of new plastic. This was what I'd do. I made screwy flow pots, vases, coasters, etc... Finally, I want to point on that the ability to make stuff pretty much ends with what you see in the video. There wasn't much else you could do with it. Making anything that was robust enough for actual use would be nearly impossible.

Re:yes (1)

qvatch (576224) | about 7 months ago | (#46909693)

no one argues that the concept is impossible, just this implementation. The 3d-doodler is an available ABS extruding pen, just bulkier and with a beefier power supply.

They raised a million dollars for this? (1)

Animats (122034) | about 7 months ago | (#46909525)

So you need a computer, or at least a power supply with a USB port, to power a heater and motor? I have some doubts about the thing being cool enough to hold, too. Your fingers are about 3mm from a 180C heat source.

3D Doodler [kickstarter.com] already has one of these things. Theirs seems to work, although they speed up the video too. For both, the results look like Silly String. [wikipedia.org]

Their calculations are wrong (1)

Duncan Booth (869800) | about 7 months ago | (#46909527)

As one of the comments points out, where they claim the video shows 13cm extruded in about 5 seconds the actual amount extruded is nearer to 3cm. Using the same assumptions that the article makes 3cm in 5 seconds is well within the power available from the USB port.

So many possible answers (2)

xonen (774419) | about 7 months ago | (#46909607)

* It preheats some element or reservoir for a limited time duty cycle
* It just draws more power from USB ; powerbanks happily support 2A and the '900mA specced USB port' on their macbook might also capable of delivering much more.
* The pen includes a rechargable battery capable of delivering more peak current. The pen could easily hold a 1Ah 3.7V lithion cell.
* They provide an adapter to plug it in 2 USB ports
* *

That's absolutely real, there is already a product (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 7 months ago | (#46909633)

That's absolutely real, there is already a product like it, but bulkier.

Re:That's absolutely real, there is already a prod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910215)

If you'd have RTFA you'd see that they already referenced that 3Doodler and use it as a point of comparison.

Where is the data? (1)

mikerswain (966407) | about 7 months ago | (#46909687)

Even if it works this is not 3D printing, at best its a craft tool - 'printing' requires reproducibility. Move along...

You're all missing the obvious (4, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 7 months ago | (#46909799)

This isn't so much a hand-held 3D printer as it is a hand-cramp generator.

Re:You're all missing the obvious (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about 7 months ago | (#46911151)

This isn't so much a hand-held 3D printer as it is a hand-cramp generator.

So is porn but you don't see people complaining about it.

Special plastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909835)

To get the heat need they could mix the plactic
with chemicals which develops heat.

Analysis Is Suspect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46909965)

"The math is also generous, as it doesn’t consider the phase change of the filament which would require even more energy. I didn’t include this because I can’t find a reference for the heat of fusion for ABS."

A cursory read of this analysis reveals the author didn't even understand ABS is an amorphous polymer and has no heat of fusion. The second sentence of the Wikipedia ABS article [wikipedia.org] mentions this. With a lapse in understanding this large, one has to wonder if the author is competent in basic thermodynamics.

yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910033)

i think AC declaration is about as reliable a resource as hackaday 'thermodynamics'

Chops (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 7 months ago | (#46910115)

Anyone who uses the word 'chops' in that sense, invalidates their position.

The numbers don't lie- if there isn't enough power (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 7 months ago | (#46910603)

it can't melt the plastic fast enough.

It wouldn't have to have a motor to drive the filament. It may work like a mechanical pencil where pushing a button/lever under your finger will feed the filament into the hot-end. It would certainly be simpler and smaller that way.

Re:The numbers don't lie- if there isn't enough po (1)

laird (2705) | about 7 months ago | (#46916763)

It has buttons labeled "speed controls" so I'm pretty sure that the filament is motor driven. Manually driven filament would be way to uneven.

They also only say that it works on USB 3 or wall power, and they include a USB wall plug for anyone with USB 2.

Not sure how they got a motor small enough to fit into a pen and feed filament...

I would think this could be done without any (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 7 months ago | (#46910619)

electric power at all by using something like one of those propane powered cordless soldering irons. A small flame could melt the plastic and a mechanism like that used in a mechanical pencil could use finger power to push the plastic into the hot-end.

Crappy video anyway. (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 7 months ago | (#46910667)

I commented on a different site that their video was crappy. It was 1.5 minutes of self promoting douche bags showing nothing. Then a bunch of useless examples of the pen starting something and then poof done, just like a crappy 80s cooking show. Then in the end I saw no purpose for the stupid pen. Basically beyond some crappy 60's style art about the most useful thing they did was oddly repair a horribly torn shirt.

So to find out that these douchebags are not probably able to deliver surprises me not. I am also willing to bet that some MBA (who thinks he is smart) has a whole business plan where they will sell the consumable used by this pen for an absolute fortune.

All I can say is that my prediction is that with all the scummyness that I have seen so far that we actually haven't seen the worst yet.

Re:Crappy video anyway. (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about 7 months ago | (#46911169)

It was 1.5 minutes of self promoting douche bags showing nothing..

Congratulations I believe you have just described every political ad back to the 70s. For the record, they worked especially well during the last four political elections. What does this have to do with the pen. Everything. Its marketing.

Assumptions are flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911095)

The analysis hinges on the action shown in the video being in real time, when the kickstarter page clearly states that the video has been sped up.

I don't think that they proved anything... (1)

laird (2705) | about 7 months ago | (#46911287)

The 3Doodler exists, and people were making devices like that from spare 3D printer extruders for many years before that, so there's no doubt that you can melt and extrude ABS.

The only question with the Lix is whether they can convert power into melted ABS efficiently enough to do so from a USB port. Technically USB 3 can provide 100 watts of power, which is far more than is needed to melt and extrude plastic. So if USB 3, with its power budget, is their target, it's doable.

Where it's iffy is the "any USB port", which means going back to 500 mA @ 5 volt USB 1 ports, which is only 2.5 amps. If they are extremely efficient at heating the ABS (most 3D printers' extruders radiate significant heat, since power efficiency isn't the priority) it might be possible to do it. Though it might be pretty slow. The 3Doodler requires some patience, so if the Lix is a lot slower, I think they'd get a lot of complaints. Though "it's slow on very old USB ports, faster on newer USB ports" isn't a bad story.

To the people saying that you can't extrude plastic vertically - you can. I've posted pictures at http://kickrev.blogspot.com/20... [blogspot.com] . It takes some practice, and a steady hand, but it's very doable.

Re:I don't think that they proved anything... (1)

laird (2705) | about 7 months ago | (#46911291)

Correction, 500 mA @ 5 volt USB 1 ports, which is only 2.5 *watts*.

Move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911877)

Nothing new here and the "drawing in air in 3D" has been implemented before this.

The Lix Team (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 7 months ago | (#46914155)

The Team doesn't look like they are trustworthy individuals at all. They feel like what I would imagine the Russian mafia or israeli intelligence or something like that to be. Creepy, really.

Apparently no one here knows much about USB3 power (1)

metaforest (685350) | about 7 months ago | (#46915769)

USB 3.0 and 3.1 can supply 5V@2A or 12V@3A or 20V@ 5 Amps.
I think with 100W available melting a little plastic should be no problem.

I double checked their Kickstarter... (1)

laird (2705) | about 7 months ago | (#46916755)

I double checked their Kickstarter, and they say that it comes with a USB cable and a USB power supply, that it works with USB 3 and they're looking into a USB 2 solution. So they're not saying that the LIX will work on any USB port, they're saying that it'll work on their USB power supply, and with USB 3 (which has a much higher power budget, optionally). Given that running an extruder off of a battery is a dumb idea (it likely draws as much or more power than your laptop), running on wall power makes sense. Do you really need to do freehand ABS extrusion on an airplane?

Give that, it's pretty much the same functionality as the (awesome) 3Doodler, but in a sleeker package. It uses straight filament, has a motor and an extruder. The main difference is that it runs on 1.75mm filament instead of 3mm filament. 1.75mm filament shouldn't change the power consumption - basically you need to transfer the same heat into the plastic to melt the same volume of plastic to extrude, whether it's coming in a 1.75mm or a 3mm diameter filament.

Caveat: if the LIX extrudes a thinner line of plastic, then either it'll draw faster, or use less power. The LIX says it has an 0.6mm nozzle. I'm not sure what the 3Doodler's nozzle size is - about the same size, I think. And 3Doodler just announced a range of accessories, including smaller and larger nozzles. So it'll be interesting to compare them.

I will say that, after a fair amount of testing, running the 3Doodler on curved filament from a spool didn't work out too well - it tends to jam in the straight path through the pen. That's not so much of an issue with ABS, but PLA is pretty stiff, at least the 3mm filament that 3Doodler uses, so I'd recommend using the straight filament that the vendors sell, not filament from a spool.

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