Feeds

back to article Ten 3D printers for this year's modellers

You may not know why but you probably want a 3D printer. These are intrinsically cool devices: A mix of engineering, electrical engineering, material science, chemistry, electronics and software. As an emerging technology you need to understand a bit of all of these to get the most from a hobbyist device, just as early computer …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge

£300! Had no idea there were kits at that price. All we need now are the 3D scanners so we can scan an example we would like to get again (sorry, we don't make that widget any more, not a problem).

6
0

and all available from Amazon apparently, must be something wrong with the links, the Amazon search results don't show them, such a pity Amazon have just left the Nectar scheme.

1
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

I have access to a 3d scanner- A Leica HDS C10. But at €70,000, it might be a little expensive for the average hobbyist.

2
0
Silver badge

Cheap 3D scanners

There is the XBOX Kinect at just over £100, using open source software, and also the pricier Windows Kinect with either open source software or the MS SDK. More suitable for body-sozed figures than faces. There are also software solutions- for free is Autodesk's 123D which can create a 3D STL file from a series of 2D images.

Other software solutions use a web-cam plus a cheap (£30) line-laser.

1
0
FAIL

Yes, El Reg missed a trick there. Should have set up an Amazon Associates account, just in case any of us with more money than sense was in "impulse buying" mode.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Cheap 3D scanners

What about something like a nut with an internal thread?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Cheap 3D scanners

>What about something like a nut with an internal thread?

Most of the engineering CAD packages have 'feature recognition', so scanned meshes are converted (if possible) into geometric data. e.g, if you scan a cylinder, the result will be an approximation- a collection of triangles. Feature Recognition will attempt to turn this collection of triangles back into an ideal cylinder, with a smooth surface defined as being a constant from a central axis. This parametric model allows you more control, parts can be defined relative to each other, so design changes result in the entire model being updated. An internal thread will be the same- it is better if the CAD software re-creates it (threads are often included in the parts library) or just creates a plain hole that can be tapped after the shape is printed or milled.

The amount of user 'massaging' of the data seems to vary on the 3D scanning method, software and subject.

0
0
Silver badge

"£300! Had no idea there were kits at that price"

Well, let's see any of these print a moon base out of a hopper full of dust. Not only will NASA be pleased, I shall be VERY impressed.

1
0

Amazon Associates

They do have an account. Notice tag=regtopten-20 in the URL when you click the button (after you are redirected.)

1
0

@Ledswinger

An artist has already built a Solar powered unit to work with sand.

http://boingboing.net/2011/06/25/solar-powered-3d-san.html

1
0
Anonymous Coward

wonderfest will never be the same again

0
0
Silver badge
Pirate

No RepRap?

I guess it's a sign of how far we've come that you can fill a "10 3D printers" article with credible suggestions, and still leave out some of the biggest names.

GJC

13
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Stop

Re: No RepRap?

But owning one still don't make much sense (except the £300 hobbyist kits, possibly). If you actually need the produced output (like the mentioned "no we don't make that anymore" cases), you get it from a place like http://www.emachineshop.com/ --- then you can have it in either a useful form (say metal), instead of some doubtful plastic ('has a shelf life').

Because in the real world, you need stuff from specific plastics, or spring steel, or sterling silver, or other; and you need it moulded, extruded, milled or etched. These are one-trick ponies, some with arguably useless tricks ('good for hearing devices' but the plastic degrades rapidly?).

Possible exceptions I can imagine, like the architecture firm that can fire its model maker, and would be OK with printing in some brittle plastic as long as a large spectrum of colours is available (with surface possibly hand-finished). But on the whole each of them seems quite limited or too expensive.

1
3
Silver badge

Re: No RepRap?

One of the best things about 3D printing is when you use a casting wax to print the model.

What do you mean everyone doesn't have a foundry in the backyard?

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: No RepRap?

Some of us don't even have backyards, you insensitive clod!

I would love to have a backyard foundry, I just need enough money for a backyard :-(

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: No RepRap?

I'll supply the back yard - mine's just gathering weeds, you supply the foundry...

4
0
Silver badge

Re: No RepRap?

If you actually need the produced output (like the mentioned "no we don't make that anymore" cases), you get it from a place like http://www.emachineshop.com/ --- then you can have it in either a useful form (say metal), instead of some doubtful plastic ('has a shelf life').

The commercial shops that can print $stuff in materials other than PLA or ABS are (still) quite expensive, so you may want to print your design on one of these, test if the design actually fits, tweak it, print it again, lather, rinse, repeat, and only then send it off to be printed in the actual required material. For myself, I've printed a headlight clamp for my bike, and at the hackerspace we print (on a Mendel90) all kinds of brackets, frames and other such mounting widgets and doodads. Using PLA; its strength and durability is more than sufficient for almost all the desired applications.

Architecture firms tend to employ laser cutting to build their models (faster, and you can easily build models larger than the cutting bed size), unless it's a horribly convoluted curvy shape.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: No RepRap?

agreed its not like the replicator from voyager, but ffs it's early days!

for £300 i would have thought just making cool crap to clutter up the house would be fine, if i want a new crankshaft for my 'rarri then of course i need a real engineering firm

3
0
Thumb Down

Re: No RepRap?

Not only leaving out the biggest names (such as RepRap), but also the fact that you can buy a complete Mendel kit for about £500, means that people who are genuinely interested may not know that some of the most important kits out there are even available, also the whole MakerBot open/closed source history is a story in it own right.

0
0
Paris Hilton

Question from ignorance...

Do they all support a common file-format for upload of designs so I can download my latest Nike's from ThePirateBay?

2
0

Re: Question from ignorance...

I can only vouch for a few of the open sourced printer software suites that I have tried but they are STL based. Most 3d packages are capable of exporting STL files. STL is the usually offered file format on Thingiverse.

1
0

Re: Question from ignorance...

That is of course assuming that you want Nike's from ABS or PLA.

2
0
Linux

Wot no Ultimaker?

Pity that the best hobbiest 3d printer isn't listed.... The Ultimaker (www.ultimaker.com). I print on mine at 0.08mm layer height and have gone down as low as 0.04.... I've compared directly with prints from most of the printers on this list and the Ultimaker blows them all away. As a plywood contraption it doesn't look as good as some of these,but it excels where it counts.

Also, I just have to toss in my 2p on the Replicator.... Makerbot are going the way of Apple... they had a great hacker community but now they've evolved into a corporate environment and have close-sourced everything and are moving towards a closed non hacker-friendly eco-system. They've taken work done by the community and have built proprietary work on it without giving anything back.

Cheers,

Troy.

7
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

I have no need for a 3D printer but for some strange reason I want one.

66
0
Thumb Up

Copied

I liked your quote so much, I have copied and reprinted it to use as my own statement too.....

I have no need for a 3D printer but for some strange reason I want one.

4
0
Silver badge

"I liked your quote so much, I have copied and reprinted it"

But not in 3D, so I guess you do need a 3D printer!

1
0
Gold badge
Coat

Postulate: 3D printers are to techies as designer shoes are to women.

Discuss.

7
4

Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

0
0
Anonymous Coward

"Postulate: 3D printers are to techies as designer shoes are to women."

I do have a use for a 3D printer. As an amateur modeller in clay - my moulding and casting is currently outsourced to a workshop. I've done the masterclass on the process - but decided it needs too much practice, and some specialised equipment, to achieve the best results. Months of work can be ruined if the the moulding process goes awry.

I always take lots of pictures of a finished clay piece. The hope is that one day 3D capture from the pictures will enable me to use 3D printing. Is there a viable product yet?

The cost of 3D printing seems almost economical. PLA stock seems to be about £30 for 0.75kg - unfortunately with no indication of the volume that it would produce. Compare that with traditional silicone moulding and cold casting at typically £200 for the mould and ca £70 for each cast from it. However it could be argued that cold-cast bronze-loaded resin is a superior exhibition material to plain plastic.

2
0
Mushroom

@TeeCee

If only you'd said "...as designer shoes are to fashionistas" or even more fitting around here: "...as iPhones are to baristas" you'd have earned a hearty upvote from this commentard - instead of a slightly irked downvote.

1
2
Bronze badge

I think you have just described the 3D printer industry's business model

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Photogrammetry

"The hope is that one day 3D capture from the pictures will enable me to use 3D printing. Is there a viable product yet?"

If you don't already know, photogrammetry is what you are looking for. A quick google search returns...

http://www.creativebloq.com/iphone/photos-3d-models-iphone-912732

0
1
Ogi
Happy

"Postulate: 3D printers are to techies as designer shoes are to women"

I sure have a use for a 3D printer, and it is on my list as soon as my savings account has enough money (probably go with a reprap, but might go with a commercial offering, we will see).

For me, the biggest benefit is to make small/medium plastic parts, either because I want to fix something, or change it. Things that pop right into my mind are:

* small cases for electronics projects (I can get away with beige boxes, but not the best finish)

* Custom parts for case mods (e.g. I need a hard disk caddy for my current case, and so far have been unable to make a decent one that lasts. Currently using some glued together acylic).

* Custom car parts. My car is a classic, my choice of plastic parts are usually from scrapyards, and the plastic is brittle after so many years. Otherwise I can pay an extortionate amount to the car manufacturer for some "new old stock", if they even have it anymore. The ability to print my own will be a godsend.

* I also like (astro)photgraphy, and being able to manufacture my own custom lens mounts, interconnects, filter mounts, tubes, etc... would be nice.

If I had a backyard I would have a foundry, and then use the lost wax casting technique to make my own aluminum parts as well.

When I see 3D printers, I see so much opportunity, it just fires my imagination, they are as far away as the possible to the concept of "designer shoes" to me. I have a lot of practical ideas for one :)

(if this home manufacturing trend continues, then they future may well be more awesome than I expected)

3
0
Flame

You can cast aluminum direct from a 3D print

You can cast aluminum direct from a 3D print

"Lost PLA Casting from 3D Prints

http://3dtopo.com/lostPLA/

This page describes my first successful attempt casting aluminum parts directly from 3D printed PLA parts. The process is practically identical to lost wax, but instead of burning out the wax, I burned out the PLA plastic (which is a bio-plastic)."

Not me not my site. I'm going to give that a try at some point. The process is involved, but allows one to preform all steps oneself at home. I have a Robo 3D http://www.robo3dprinter.com/ on order and am on the list for a Filabot http://filabot.com/ to bring my costs down.

1
0
Thumb Down

@Ogi

That's the principle, the reality is far different!

Unfortunately to get these things working correctly takes hours and hours of fiddling with the machine, then hours and hours of fiddling with the models to get what you want.

Yes that plastic clip for a 40-50yo car costs £20, but if you include your time, usually it's cheaper to just buy the clip and enjoy the car.

0
2
MJI
Silver badge

I want one

But was working out if it can go long enough.

Make your own model railway bits, but can I do a whole body shell?

0
0
Silver badge
Holmes

3D printers are what the first inkjets were to techies.

Do try and keep up.

0
0
Silver badge
Headmaster

Where's my reply?

0
0
Thumb Up

Re: You can cast aluminum direct from a 3D print

That's a pretty good step-by-step guide for those of us who still don't know much about practical applications. Has made worthwhile reading the comments, thanks!

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: @Ogi

@annodomini

So? Hours and hours fiddling with the machine to get it right? You seem to be blissfully unaware of how much time a dedicated owner of a classic vehicle spends in maintaining it, scouring fleamarkets and swapfests for that one part they need to keep it running, keep it looking tiptop, and their budget spent on special tools and workshop equipment. Even spending days would be considered a trifle.

And some printers don't even need 'hours and hours' of fiddling to get the adjustment right. The RepRap Mendel90 we have at the hackerspace (and which I'm going to build for myself) took maybe fifteen minutes.

Yes that plastic clip for a 40-50yo car costs £20, but if you include your time, usually it's cheaper to just buy the clip and enjoy the car.

That applies only if you can still buy the damn clip in the first place. And if you need a dozen of them to hold some panel trim, printing them yourself becomes more than tempting. Plus, you can then sell them to your fellow car owners for £2, and both you and them will benefit.

3
0
Silver badge

@MJI Re: I want one

Make your own model railway bits, but can I do a whole body shell?

Just look at the specs, The larger ones can probably do a H0 or TT scale model shell just fine. With scale 0 and up you'll have to break up the design into several parts, which might not be a bad strategy anyway: for a steam locomotive for instance you'd want to print the boiler vertically. For N or Z they may be too crude.

0
0
Silver badge

MX80

It's impressive, but I suspect the results of many are at the level of an MX80 doing graphics. But back in 1982 a plotter was horribly expensive and an MX80 could do images not just charts.

Does just one on the list do voids / overhangs? I think that's more important than colour. I like the dual function idea of fitting a Dremel too for hobbyist (small PCBs, tiny aluminium parts, accurate smooth holes) but really you need very beefy chassis and very level bed to even for a Dremel based CNC/Mill.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: MX80

PCB mills have been available for years for a fraction of the price that can do pretty much anything relatively flat, not quite as powerful as a Dremel but certainly a match for the traditional PCB or dentist drills. I have one here that'll take full 12x18 boards I bought a couple of years ago for under £500. It's useful for what it can do - relatively quick and the resulting boards are fairly cheap. It's also really nice being able cut and drill on the same machine with just a change of tool. The downside is that very small burrs don't seem to be available which affects how fine you can go - if you want to mount ½mm pitch SMDs you'll be out of luck.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: MX80

Have a look at this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/digital-nuisance/8397892203/in/pool-hack42 and the adjacent pics in the pool.

(7cm high, printed on a Mendel90 with a 0.35 nozzle)

Overhangs are handled by the slicing software, the bit that converts STL to the stuff the printer understands.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I've a an idea to make a fortune......

....make Toilet flush buttons, the ones on top of cisterns you'll make a bloody fortune.

10p bit of plastic broken? New Cistern please.

6
0
Bif
Thumb Up

Re: I've a an idea to make a fortune......

Take out the metal ring which surrounds the flush button. Grease the inside, and put it upside down on a flat greased surface. Press in hot polymorph (http://www.maplin.co.uk/productsearch?criteria=polymorph). Bingo.

1
0
Silver badge
IT Angle

Re: I've a an idea to make a fortune......

Toilets have buttons over there? How weird.

0
0
Silver badge

For printers, the biggest cost is always the consumables, not the purchase price. I don't suppose many people (yet) are using these devices to produce large numbers of objects, but it would be useful to know how much it costs to produce a model of (say) 1 cm3.

3
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.