back to article 3D printers now emitting merged manufacturers

The 3D printer market is starting to carve itself into a new shape after Stratasys, purveyor of the consumer-friendly Mojo and the industry-focussed devices like the bar-fridge-sized uPrint will hand over $US403m worth of stock to acquire MakerBot and its rather more prosumer-friendly Replicator range. Stratasys will operate …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Self replicating?

    Right now I can't see any reason to buy a machine that can only squirt out a few, small, pieces of plastic. When they can deal with a decent rangeof materials, say from aluminium and glass through to cotton-wool THEN they might start to have some day-to-day domestic uses. However, once they get that accomplished there won't be any need to *buy* one as you could just borrow a friend's and knock out a copy for yourself.

    1. Ru

      Re: Self replicating?

      you could just borrow a friend's and knock out a copy for yourself.

      Do you really expect 3d printing to go directly from its current form to fully replicating without any intermediate stages?

      Also, some materials will not be replicable without nanotechnology, and that's a hell of a lot further away than cheap metal laser sintering.

      When they can deal with a decent rangeof materials, say from aluminium and glass through to cotton-wool THEN they might start to have some day-to-day domestic uses

      Inability to find a personal use for 3d printing even in its current nascent form is a failure of imagination rather than a failure of technology. You may be forgiven however, if you never break or lose anything, and don't have any hobbies which require inconvenient-to-obtain parts.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        The new wok?

        > Inability to find a personal use for 3d printing even in its current nascent form is a failure of imagination rather than a failure of technology.

        I suppose that depends on your approach. That philosophy is fine for a toy - imagine all the fun that kids have with a cardboard box, lots of imagination being put to good use there.

        However if you're talking about giving a 3d printer the same status as a domestic appliance, then (apart from all the stuff that's bought, never used and consigned to the cupboard under the sink) it needs to earn its keep. It's clearly ludicrous to pay a kilobuck for a device that is only going to be used to print a $3 phone shell or ten.

        The third possibility is the geek alternative. If that thousand smackeroos confers on you (either within your peer group, or just within your own mind) an elite status and the value of that position is worth the money then: fair enough. Go ahead, buy one - safe in the knowledge that it's an immature technology and that next year's model will be better, faster, cheaper, sexier (!) and more useful. But by then it'll be on sale in Personal Computer World and any possibility that it's a geek status symbol will have vanished.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: The new wok?

          The problem is the term "3d printing" has become a catch all for every type of additive manufacturing. We aren't likely to see consumer level selective laser sintering (SLS) machines for a while yet but the current set of fused deposition modeling (FDM) or fused filament fabrication (FFF) is useful for far more than toys depending on the material used and the abilities of the printer. You could print anything from custom chocolates to replacement or custom car parts. Lots of cars today have plastic intake manifolds and some FDM machines will handle thermoplastics with the needed heat properties. You can also overprint substrates so if you needed a part with metal threads it would be trivial to start the print, insert a metal nut as required and finish printing the rest of the part encapsulating the nut. Taking it another step these printers are good for making wax patterns for casting metals at which point the SLS machines aren't really necessary.

          Sure, I see your point that 3d printers aren't going to be like TVs but so what? TVs are leisure devices not productive ones. Productive devices are tools and generally people buy the tools they find useful and particularly it's the low cost, easy to use, multipurpose tools that are most frequently bought. These printers aren't any different from sewing machines, not everyone has one, not everyone has a need for one but for those who have and use sewing machines they are very useful, domestically. It all depends on what your "day-to-day domestic uses" are.

          Oh, I'm not clear on what you mean by "The new wok?". Is the wok the utensil which consigned all the other cookery to the cupboard or is it a piece that has been so consigned? I know mine is used almost daily but that doesn't mean my black iron skillet, stock pots and waffle iron aren't used. Notably the waffle iron is mostly used only on weekends but then it is rather specialized.

          1. annodomini2

            Re: The new wok?

            @Eddy Ito,

            Agree in the most part, except:

            SLS has a major advantage over casting, you know the metal is there.

            This is why aerospace are looking at replacing billet cnc machining with SLS and equivalents for these high integrity components.

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    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Not sure what happened there, need that edit button.

      You could make a new case for your iphone.

      There was a story yesterday about someone using titanium in a 3D printer to print larger versions of insects.

      Imagine being to print missing pieces of jigsaws or the broken part of a kid’s toy. In five years it might be possible to just buy the pattern and print it at home.

      Games Workshop have already had to take legal action to get 3D scans of their products taken off some servers.

      It is too expensive for general use at the moment but the potential is obvious (though it is the stuff that surprises us that will turn out to be the really interesting stuff).

  3. Justice
    Thumb Up

    Iron Man Armor

    'nuff said.

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Stratasys are dicks

    Don't forget they're the folks that repossessed the printed-gun bloke's printer because they didn't agree with what he was doing with it. I certainly will no longer be considering Makerbot when I get enough of a pile to buy a printer.

    At least it wasn't HP, they'd be out of jobs in a week and 3D printing would be set back years.

  5. JP19

    Consumer level 3D printing is a fad with no real future.

    3D printing is a viable manufacturing technique for almost nothing. Too slow, too expensive, and low quality.

    It is and will continue to be used for very low volumes which can not justify the cost and time setting up more conventional manufacturing processes.

    Low volumes means prototypes or objects which are almost unique. Things like personalised ear buds or dentures would be likely targets. Perhaps art or fashion items where being unique is a desirable quality. Anything with moderate and higher demand is better produced conventionally and will be. The advantage of getting something a bit sooner by printing it at home will rerely justify the costs.

    Was personal 2D printing a revolution? Did books, bookshops, magazines, newspapers and all the printing presses disappear? The biggest revolution was in conjunction with digital camera technology which did make film and photographic processing and printing disappear. That had the big advantage of all the material being unique. Even now many people can't justify the cost and hassle of a colour printer and take their memory sticks to ASDA or somewhere to be printed.

  6. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    The 'Jeffy Test' is to 3D print a fully functional 3D printer

    ...without ordering all the non-trivial bits and subsystems from eBay.

    Until then, it's just a slow boring method for making the odd (plastic) part.

    But don't hold back on the farcical over hype.

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