I'll buy one
But will they give me a refund if my mini-liberator explodes in my hand?
When a technology hits the High Street, you know it's making its way into the mainstream. 3D printing isn’t there quite yet, but it’s perhaps only a step away as Dixons’ stores PC World and Currys will tomorrow start selling a consumer-oriented additive manufacturing rig online. The printer in question is 3D Systems' Cube, a …
I think you'll find in the same way that they take the piss with the cost of printer ink this will go the same way and it will never be as cheap to run these kind of printers as it should be.
We need an open source hardware one that uses/grinds up old milk/coke/water bottles to reuse the plastic [*]- make the Eco's happy too.
* - yes I know its not that simple
Yes, you can now get devices that will convert plastic pellets into filament for you. In theory you can recycle plastic with them. In practice the quality of the filament falls so not something you want to do too frequently. On the other hand the raw materials in the form of pellets and colorant cost less than £10 per killo.
A bit like this one?
But if you read up on the Cube it's strongly implied that their refil carts feature DRM 'so that the printer knows how much filament is left' (AKA so that you can't just feed it cheap PLA from someone else)
Not that old chestnut. You can make a gun quicker, easier and more reliable in a moderately equipped metalwork shop. Are we going to start banning lathes now? Only the very stupid or very desperate would consider printing a gun, and they still have the problem of obtaining ammunition afterwards.
£1,200:£52 Looks like a much better ratio than you get for the supplies on ink jets.
And like inkjets, the price for the printer will fall, the price for consumables won't. Although the moment that a new printer with a set of cartridges will be cheaper than a replacement cartridge for last year's model may be some time off still.
Most of the reason why inkjet manufacturers get away with the shit prices on ink, is they are giving the printers away at below-cost.
So, what's Cube's excuse?
And as people above have mentioned, I'm waiting for a version that will take any old ground-up thermoplastic. 52 quid for something that should be costing about 50p? Fuck off.
The problem is that you can't just use any ground-up thermoplastic. There are so many different kinds of plastic that quality can't be assured with recycling. For example, you can't just grind up polyurethane and expect to be able to use it again (it's a thermoset plastic; once set it STAYS set). Plus, what happens when different kinds of plastic mix?
For that matter, just what kind of plastic is being used in this machine? PVC? PE? PP?
... so I could print out my own parts to make the Rubik's cube type puzzles I design using SketchUp. Currently I use Shapeways and they charge $1.40 per cubic centimeter, so the costs quickly escalate - my latest design is going to cost me nearly £280. As to the printer material, as it uses ABS or PLA, and these are readily available from several suppliers, I don't see any problems obtaining this for many years.
Shapeways are really expensive for anything other than odd one- or two-off jobs.
Surprisingly (or not) nobody puts a $/cm3 on their product pages - supermarket style. However, Makerbot did a test not long ago with a 1kg spool, and they got 382 chess pieces from it. At £52 that's actually pretty good.
As for PLA & ABS supplies... this is where it all falls down. There's PLA and then there's crap PLA. I wonder which Dixons would stock.
I think home 3D printing market is too small at the moment...not just number of users, but the technology is still in the discovery phase. It's not about the price, rather the quality of the results. Shapeways may be expensive, but they have serious gear beyond what we can do with a £1-2k printer atm.
There are other uses. How about using it to build a mold for fancy plaster of paris thing - coving etc?
The fun starts when you get a 3D scanner.
You can use the plastic to make a mold, turn out a clay mold from that, either for clay objects or go on to metal. Yes, A factory in china is cheaper for mass production, but its probably easier to sell unique items at a local market than set up a global supply chain, or replicate something you bought where there was only one.
A friend of mine designs hand made furniture, kitchens and the like. Most normal people simply can't read drawings, and so can't visualise what he's trying to do - so he doesn't usually use CAD, but instead does them watercolours of what the new room will look like. I got him to do me some stuff recently and was rather impressed that he can do 3D sketches upside down while explaining his ideas to you. When this becomes just a little bit cheaper, I can see him doing his designs in CAD (you need a decent drawing to make the stuff anyway), then giving people a 3D model of their new kitchen.
It would also be lovely to have some sort of scanner, so when a little fitting breaks, you can fabricate another. Things like the little plastic feet on laptops - or the bigger ones on tables and chairs. They don't tent to break, but rather to disappear. Although I don't know at what point that creates IP issues, if you're directly copying someone else's design. Surely not on a laptop foot, but almost certainly on someone's designer kitchen plastic gewgaw.
A few years ago, we had a prototype valve design 3D printed. It died after a couple of days testing - but it was bloody impressive that it worked at all. And it certainly proved the design a lot more cheaply than custom manufacturing one.
Perhaps when they make Terminator 3*, the new baddie will just be an ordinary terminator, with a printer for all the guns, sunglasses, stabbing weapons and whatnot that he needs. Surely the maintenance requirements for the T1000 models must be appalling...
*Yes, I'm aware that someone made Terminator 3 and 4 already. In fact I even
paid wasted good money to see them. For which I apologise to other cinema-goers, as all that did was to encourage them. But I don't see why, with all the remakes Hollywood now does, we can't introduce a system where unloved sequels/prequels can be struck from the record and remade competently. It's probably going too far for them to allow us to just airbrush them from history (they like their money too much). But then we could wave goodbye to the Phantom Morass, Terminator Judgement Day and I suppose the extra Matrices. Not that I was a massive fan of the Matrix, but it was fun, and it's sequels mostly weren't. Oh, we can also really annoy Hollywood by printing our own action figures. You can just see the new messages on DVDs now. Piracy 3D Printing is theft and funds terrorism.
"It would also be lovely to have some sort of scanner, so when a little fitting breaks, you can fabricate another."
They're getting cheaper, and better. Makerbot's is just out, and there are other smaller ones (all the way down to $99 if you follow the kickstarters and don't mind naff quality -- measure to your needs).
"... the aforementioned retailers expect you to cough £1,195."
"... software running on a Mac "
Ah! I can see that the market that Dixons are aiming at from the two quotes.
I suppose that as the printer is pre-assembled and ready to go it would not appeal to the Linux crowd.
They would probably go for a RepRap.
You missed my point.
What I was trying to say was that Mac users are generally people who want to use the PC as a tool. Linux users on the other hand are more willing to get their hands dirty and make, assemble or devise their own O/S.
I said nothing about Mac users not being IT literate.
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Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but I can't see any branch of Dixon's keeping their 3D printer up and running often enough to be relied on. The minimum wage till monkeys won't care when it breaks if they ever get properly trained to use it at all. Staples can't keep their 2D printers running half the time.
Though it is very interesting, the price seems very high for the components that make it up.
Hopefully there'll be plenty more of these to come, bringing the price down considerably.
I was told that items made with it can be returned to the company for recycling, in return for some credit against your next cartridge.
What could really get the ball rolling is if Disney release the inevitable full cast of figures in Episodes 7, 8 & 9 as 3D models to print & paint. Possibly a "droid foundry" styled printer to make them with too. Because if they dont, it is a certainty that someone will scan the figures and upload to child-unsafe filesharing sites - better to experiment with nurturing a potentially huge new area of the toy market than inevitably fail to supress illegal downloads that cannot be ignored but would never fulfil their true potential.
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