back to article Hopefuls rattle tin for customisable snap together 3D printer

DIY 3D printing is very much flavour of the month, and whether it's the third industrial revolution or a load of old cobblers remains to be seen, but there's a veritable extrusion of makers vying to get their print nozzles in the trough. Kickstarter is the street corner of choice for these pioneers to rattle their tins, and …

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Wake Me Up

Wake me up when they make a 3D printer that can print a 3D printer.

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Re: Wake Me Up

You mean a Von Neumann's 'universal constructor'?

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Re: Wake Me Up

Or at least when they work out a problem that this kind of thing makes a cost-efficient solution for.

And preferably one that's every-day for Joe Public, and doesn't involve caveats like being in space.

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Re: Wake Me Up

If there was one in a shop in town then I'd pay to use it, but there is no way I can justify the outlay.

Maybe it's a business opportunity I'm missing, or maybe mail order has it all sewn up. When amazon are doing drone deliveries then they should invest in some...

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Re: Wake Me Up

Almost downvoted that. As both this design, and many others can "print" themselves. Sadly though not all the parts, just the structure.

This one is close though, as a cutting tool could cut all those parts and be fitted to a printer/CNC. It's just making simpler/different parts or making more complex/varied manufacturing. As currently, the simplicity limits what it can make, where as designs that can make anything become too complex to easily reproduce/source/afford.

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Re: Wake Me Up

I'm sure the killer application for DIY 3D printing is minature wargames piracy.

If there aren't laser scans of Games Workshop minatures on the pirate bay at this very moment, there really ought to be.

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Re: Wake Me Up

Or just port the existing 3d meshes from the videogame

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Re: Wake Me Up

>Or just port the existing 3d meshes from the videogame

I actually found myself trying to do that once... some architects had supplied a 3D walk-through of a newbuild museum as a Unity executable... we needed the geometry of the building to submit a proposal for a site-specific artwork. A quick assessment suggested that it would be quicker to rebuild the structure from a series of 2D AutoCAD plans than it would be to extract geometry from the Unity file.

If Games Workshop were smart, they might consider 'augmented reality' board gaming... 3D cameras and projectors focused on the real miniatures etc...

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WTF?

Re: Wake Me Up

That old boring chestnut again. Would you postpone buying a cnc mill until there's one that can build itself? And forego the stuff you can make using one that can't in the meantime?

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WTF?

Re: Wake Me Up

Or at least when they work out a problem that this kind of thing makes a cost-efficient solution for.

So, as a hobbyist/tinkerer, you would only buy a drill press when it would be cost-effective? A CNC mill? A lathe? A MIG welding rig? A plasma cutter?

I would buy those when I would have a reasonable need for one (so far, three and a half out of the six devices mentioned), and have sufficient spare moolah. But cost-effective?

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Re: Wake Me Up

I was, long ago, involved in this hobby. Not Games Workshop, but the same sort of cast metal figure.

You can make a master-figure from many different materials, and then produce a mould. Making the mould can be done in various ways, and the processes can destroy the master figure. The mould-making processes vary in cost and final quality.

The usual process involves making a mould of vulcanized rubber. The master for making this mould is slightly different from the final figure, the mould wears out, and the master figure may be ruined by the heat and pressure of the process. Games Workshop, building on the collecting element of the hobby, can exploit this limit on production. But even within their product range there are figures which need a longer production run.

There is an obvious advantage in being able toi use 3D printing to make master figures from which to make a mould.

But the printing process affects the possible shapes, and the process resolution sets a limit. One of the classic model soldier figures is the man throwing a grenade, in the sort of pose seen used by the bowler in a cricket match. If you are lucky, he still holds his rifle, but how do you support those arms while they are printed? Can you reliably print the detail of the rifle?

The basic idea of using 3D printing to make a master for a casting process still looks good. But is the result good enough? It is a step beyond prototyping, but does it make sense for the hobby user?

It is all different enough that the hobbyist might do better to go back to the old techniques, of 40 and 50 years ago. I don't recommend the precise method Donald Featherstone described, there are better materials now than plaster of paris, but that 3D Printer looks like a waste of money.

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Rol
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I get the impression, there's more money to be made selling pick axes, than prospecting for gold.

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"I get the impression, there's more money to be made selling pick axes, than prospecting for gold."

there's a Levi Strauss on line three for you.

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Or, as the bitcoin mining rig roundup kind of suggests, sell a pickaxe you won't deliver for a couple of months, which you use in the intervening time to mine for gold, then when it's gone a bit blunt, deliver it to the person who paid for it and use the new orders to pay for a new more efficient pickaxe, which you won't deliver for a few months...

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No real advantage over a standard RepRap

It's a snap-together pile of bits rather than bolt together. Kickstarter backers are looking for something more than this at the moment. Multiple extruder heads, higher precision, little or no assembly work (something approaching CE easy of use), CNC capabilities or just very cheap. This fails to tick the boxes and I doubt it will get funding.

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Re: No real advantage over a standard RepRap

True. I'd kill for a 12x12 work area and sell my immediate family to get a 24x24 work area, with high precision and multiple heads (as well as a larger variety of workstock).

Well, like any other industry, baby steps, then giant leaps.

But, for a really, really basic unit, it would be nice to have around the house. Print out replacements for the various odds and ends that break, such as the brake on my father's rolling walker.

Now, something to *really* shake the market would be a scanner that scans an object into the computer and it spits out the design for the printer to print.

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Re: No real advantage over a standard RepRap

@Steve. I think you're missing the point. From what I can see, this printer is more than just ticking, or not ticking off, the boxes. Sure, you want a printer that works. From what I can see, this one does, yet it's doing something different from other printers as well.

It's really an educational tool as much as it is a decent 3D printer.

While a RapRap could be potentially frustrating and difficult for a kid (or adult) to make, this kit makes it doable. The learning can take place while making it possible for a child to succeed. It's a project kids and adults can do and learn together. They learn about structures, joining components, alignment, and learn about how to build machines. I can see it being used at home and in educational settings. Plus, it can be built, taken apart, and built again. A child can "own" it because he built it.

Full disclosure: I'm not affiliated with the project, but I saw it at NY Maker Faire and saw how excited my kids were building parts of it.

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Re: No real advantage over a standard RepRap

Kickstarter is probably the wrong place to launch it if that's the case, and it's the wrong approach if you want to use it as a teaching aid. Either you want something pre-assembled to teach how to use a 3D printer (which will be most of the use case) or you want generic robotic parts, Lego style, that can among other things be used to build printers.

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Re: No real advantage over a standard RepRap

"Now, something to *really* shake the market would be a scanner that scans an object into the computer and it spits out the design for the printer to print." - I've seen not one but several of those on Kickstarter; market tremors are still unaccounted for. Their main problem is that the additional scanner part tends to rack up the already significant price quite a bit; to replace the occasional snapped-off bit of curiously-shaped plastic most people just can't justify that kind of expenditure. This would work way better as some sort of common "shop" or "service" than the current aggressively pushed mantra of "One Printer Per Home" unless you're an enthusiast who regards fiddling with a 3D printer as its own reward.

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Re: No real advantage over a standard RepRap

>Now, something to *really* shake the market would be a scanner that scans an object into the computer and it spits out the design for the printer to print.

Your options:

Affordable:

1. MS Kinect or similar. Resolution isn't tuned towards human-face scale objects.

2. Turntable, inexpensive line laser (sold as alternative to a spirit level) and some-open source software - suitable for smaller objects

3. Intel's RealSense 3D scanner/tracker that they're pushing out to laptop OEMs.

Not affordable:

4. Cameras calibrated for lens distortions, multiple shots processed by some pricey software - manual finessing required.

5. A ruby-tipped Renishaw contact probe (as seen 5 minutes into the iPhone 5 promotional video, and the £20million house of the company's MD was used in the latest episode of Sherlock) - very expensive, suitable for reflective parts that might confuse lasers, possibly not suitable for flexible materials like skin, requires a X,Y,Z transport to be mounted on.

6. A laser scanner. Leica et al can sort you out.

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24" cube work area, multiple heads

I don't know about the quality or precision, but Sumpod have one that fits that bit of the requirement.

disclaimer: I have no link with the company.

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Re: No real advantage over a standard RepRap

So something like this then

http://structure.io/

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So easy to make....

....we charge you an extra $200 for an assembled one...Hmmmmmm

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Mushroom

Re: So easy to make....

Yes the $200 also includes a 'guaranteed to work' premium. If you assemble it yourself then it would be your fault that its doesn't work!

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Re: So easy to make....

> If you assemble it yourself then it would be your fault that its doesn't work!

Tell me about it! I'm just about to down tools and go to the pub, after a weekend of assembling a RepRap Ormerod (the one they've just started selling through RS). I've completed the mechanical construction, and have begun to converse with it's Arduino-based controller... just enough enough to know that I need to chase down what is probably either my wiring fault, or a dodgy thermistor.

My background is in CAD and Product Design (i.e I'm not quite the 'average Joe'), but whilst I'm intending to have fun with it (and I will be able to use for small production run items, prototypes and jigs), I'm struggling to think of 'killer application' for end-use parts. A £500 machine and days of assembly to create a missing curtain-rail mounting bracket to save £1.99 and a trip to the ironmongers...

Still, I've enjoyed constructing this RepRap - it's like a LEGO Technic set when I was boy (but with IKEA-like issues with fettling parts and unpolished documentation)!

Anyway, did I mention the pub?

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Re: So easy to make....

Mind you, if these go the way of "printers" and come down to £50 each, then who needs a killer app for some good old fun? Print off something as you would a photo etc, and it needs less "functionality". :)

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Re: So easy to make....

> For £50? Yep, it's worth remembering that my old school's first Laser Printer cost them £5000... these days yours for £50.

The RepRap Omerod kit contains 4 x stepper motors (£10 ea on BangGood), 1 x 500W atx PSU (say £50), 1 x custom Arduino + driver board £110, PLA filament @ £20... so that's £200 before you include 2 x aluminium extrusions, threaded rods, belts, plus a handful of laser cut and 3D printed parts, nuts, screws, sensors, dodgy microSD card... RS have them, for £500.

[bloody open source wotsits... had to change my laptop's date to November 2013 before the Arduino drivers would install on Win7 64 due to an update on Saturday... upon return from pub no progress has been made... what kind of name is github anyway? Sounds like my local ConClub to me...]

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Re: So easy to make....

What you fail to realize is that your current run-of-the-mill printer is already half a 3D printer; if it can be sold so cheaply, so could a truly mass-produced 3D printer. Whether that would involve selling the kit at near loss only to recoup the price on the 1000% markup of the consumables as is the current standard practice with printers remains to be seen.

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Re: So easy to make....

@DropBear

Haha! On the idea of £35 3D printers using £1000 /kg consumables, a la conventional inkjets... the filament could be marked with a barcode along its entire length... if the printer doesn't recognise the filament as 'official' it will refuse to work!

[must stop giving them ideas]

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Re: So easy to make....

Yeh, I ordered one when they came oot, then had second thoughts about the construction involved.

In the end, I cancelled and got a Flashforge makebot clone - 2 extruders all built and ready to go with 2kg of filament for 730 quid.

And I've not looked back since - it's been enough of a learning curve learning to use the printer, learning to model in 3d, etc, etc so I'm really glad I've spent my time on that, rather than trying to put the thing together in the first place.

My main achievement so far has been almost filling a box now with 3d printing crap that didn't work - but it has all been my fault in design - not the printer which has been rock solid reliable, and that is using dual extrusion a lot too (with dissolving HIPS filament as support).

I've been learning SolidWorks for the past month with an eval version and it's fecking amazing building a really complex inventions and then a few hours later holding it in your hands.... god knows what I'm gonna do with my eval runs out.

You're right - it's not for printing out clothes pegs, but for prototyping stuff it is awesome.

I'm using mine for my new invention/product:

www.rocksolid-tech.com

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Re: So easy to make....

Don't worry. They already have the idea.

3D systems Cube printer. Domestic level filament printer. needs cartridge packed filament. To make it "easy to use"..

Happily, most seem to be avoiding that trap, and are allowing standard off the shelf filament and a choice of open slicers and front ends. We shall have to see what the big names do when they come on the scene.

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Why?

Why would I bother with a kickstarter when I can just go down to my local Office Depot and buy one. If it doesn't work, I can take it back to them to get my money back.

Seriously, there's no need for the kickstarters on this unless the thing includes some way to do away with the whole "3d design" part. In other words, let me put a part in and have it duplicate it. Just like a copy machine.

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Re: Why?

How can they get someone else to pay for their research?! ;)

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Anonymous Coward

I think the reason its finding it harder to ger backing

Is that extruded-filament 3D printing just isn't sexy.

Look at the quality of the DLP-based resin printers that use a projector to draw out your shape layer-by-layer, or the currently-in-beta $100 Peachy Printer with its target of printing a full-size canoe.

Even the cost of the resin is coming down significantly.

Given the near-lack of moving parts & higher resolution on multiple axes, Filament based printers don't have a chance.

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