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Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

Posted August 22, 2012 10:03 AM

From ExtremeTech:

No one can deny that 3D printing is really cool from a purely technological standpoint. The idea that physical objects can be rapidly fabricated from digital files is fascinating, and could change the world. However, it's very possible that we've all gotten so caught up in the 3D printing hype that our collective hopes have been unduly raised. 3D printing is going to spur a legitimate manufacturing revolution; just not in your home.

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#1

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/22/2012 11:23 AM

This is like any technology,

At first there was a need for a prototype created cheaply to prove out concept. But the costs kept it out of the regular consumer's hands, (with the exception of a few curious hobbists).

But when the price started to come down, it came to replace itself from a tool, to a novelty item. When the novelty wears off, so does the interest, with few exceptions.

One exception that I can think of would be a toy that makes toys, that are on the same lines of play-doh, legos, tinker-toys, lincoln logs, fright factory.....

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#2

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/22/2012 3:55 PM

I don't think this will ever catch on at home. There's just not enough need for it, unless you're making your own Plastic blocks.

I've seen Maker-bot parts. They are pretty cheesy. And the materials are not high grade engineering materials.

Then there's the design, and translation of the design, into a finished product. Doable, but not necessarily simple.

Not for me, thanks.

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#3

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/22/2012 8:33 PM

For a small company it is ideal for quick prototyping,

one of my hobbies is tabble top wargaming (figures and tanks), this would be great for homebrew miniature and vehicle design (if the price becomes reasonable)

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#4

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 12:17 AM

1. Recently, CR4 contributor "vexxed" had a need for a plastic stop nut to repair a motorized shade for a skylight. He could not find any information about the manufacturer, nor could he find any readily available substitutes. I printed four of them for him. Not in my garage- in my living room. Scroll down to comment #35 to see a photo of the printed parts.

2. I recently broke one of the feet on my keyboard that keeps it at a decent angle for typing. Rather than buying a new keyboard, I printed a new replacement foot- it's still cooling, so I don't have pictures of that yet- I will try to upload some pictures over the weekend, when I return from another trip to the jungle. Again, not printed in my garage, but in my living room.

Yes, I have use for my 3D printer. However, I, too, feel that we won't see every home with a 3D printer. But the limitation is going to be that one needs some expertise in CAD, and a little bit of understanding of CAM, and some real insight into the limitations of the process (of course, different processes being used for 3D printing have different limitations). I recently helped another fellow analyse the *.stl file he generated for something he designed in Google Sketchup- no, Google Sketchup is not a valid design tool, and the generated *stl file was totally useless. It was easier to regenerate the design in a real CAD package than to try repairing the output from Google Sketchup. I do expect to see more and more interest in people offering print-on-demand services...

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 1:05 AM

OK, I had time to take some pictures of my keyboard foot while the wife packed my suitcase for my trip. Here they are:

These are about 5/8" wide. Note on the edge extending from the pivot there is a little extension that sets into an indent in the keyboard base to lock the foot in the extended position- we were able to preserve this detail.

Here is the new foot installed on the keyboard:

So far, it can handle my heavy-handed typing...

Again, printed in my living room, not my garage.

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#7
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 8:19 AM

Living room V garage? Same room in the house normally.

You are fortunate that you seem to be reasonably proficient in AutoCad. All the power to you!!

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#10
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 8:30 PM

It's been so long since I have even thought about AutoCAD (except for translating drawings provided by others to a format I can use) that I don't think I could be considered "reasonably proficient" in AutoCAD. Pure Open Source- in these illustrated cases, Salome platform, which was originally designed as a pre/post processor for FEA/CFD analses...It's so easy to use, I have drifted away from BrlCAD.

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#9
In reply to #5

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 9:07 AM

I recognize that keyboard. I think I own one.. Logitech, right?

I think I'm missing a leg too...

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#11
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 8:32 PM

Yup- Logitech. I am impressed that you could recognize it- especially from the back.

Want me to run off a couple of feet for you?

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#12
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 10:24 PM

If logitec had his own printer or one he could readily access then all you would have to do is email it to him.

We are seeing the future unfold here. This has the potential to really disrupt (in a good way) supply chains.

A 3D printer in every garage living room.

Do you reckon you could print an LP record that plays?

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#14
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 10:30 PM

"Do you reckon you could print an LP record that plays?" Maybe not a real LP, but there was a children's toy record player that functioned something like the old player pianos or music boxes- little nipples that activated a tuned spline- I could print one of these....

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#6
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 7:59 AM

good for you,

I like to add that the need lays with the imaginative, The imaginative will find a market, and to find a market does not happen sitting on a fence, telling other people what you should have done.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 8:23 AM

instead of say "telling other people what you should have done."

I meant to say, "listening to people sitting on a fence telling you what you should have done."

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#13
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 10:25 PM

Do you think you could possibly print - using electron-propelled photons - a pic or two of your Living Room Mounted 3D printer for our perusal (and inspiration)?

Better yet, can you make a video of it in operation and upload it to either a YouTube account or to Google+?

And how did you input the 3D model of your lame keyboard's foot into a form wearable by the 3D printer? How accurate is the input method?

I'm very interested in this 3D-printing concept.

Oh, three more questions (sorry): Can you 'print' plastic foams with it? What's the resolution? What kinds of plastics?

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#15
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 10:49 PM

Europium-

You can find a description of the trials and tribulations of building a hobby-level 3D printer (Open Source) here. Yeah, maybe this blog would fit better in "Hobbies", but it is, in it's ultimate manifestation, a testament to the power of Open Source. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see features of my living room (i.e., the floor tile, etc.).

To build the foot for my lame keyboard, I sat down with my trusty calipers (which speak only English Dimensions), an open source program that converts English dimensions to metric, and the 3D modeling software Salome (linked elsewhere in this thread). I decide where zero exists on the original model, and everything else falls in to place (unless, of course, I mistakenly apply a diameter measurement when a radius is called for).

I am getting about 0.2 mm resolution, or better (if I really, really concentrate on the details), with the machine as it currently sits. I believe, with some tweaking, maybe a little design modification, I can get down to half that. Tolerance limiting factors' drive belt stretch creating backlash, and the fact that my z axis uses two separate motors from the same controller- but sometimes one of the motors skips a step or two (a gravity issue, due to unequal loading on the two motors).

I am not sure what you mean by "plastic foams". Both words are used to described so many different concepts...My prints generally are not solid- my preferred "fill pattern" (as it is called in the community) is honeycomb- my preference is more due to my experience pulling a 50 cal. bullet intended for my head from a honeycomb panel in a helicopter. Others might have real engineering reasons for preferring a honeycomb pattern, dealing with strength/weight ratio, etc. I don't know if this falls in to your inquiry about "plastic foams", but it gives me the chance to tell another story...

Right now, I am limited to PLA (polylactic acid, which is actually an organically derived polyester), and ABS. Temperature limits me from going on to my dream material, HDPE. Others are printing in Nylon with the same set-up that I have. If you want to get in to really exotic materials (i.e., dental prosthetics, bone implants, metals, etc.), you will have to spend a whole lot more than the $1200 or so I have invested.

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/23/2012 11:13 PM

By 'foam' I mean something having the structure of, say, that dark-grey, open-pore packing foam typically used for shipping delicate instruments. I'm sure you've seen it: usually slabs of the stuff glued together and containing voids carved-out to accommodate the items shipped. Another variant has a closed-cell 'skin', but is open-pore otherwise (when you cut into it). Another variant would be fully closed-cell foam. (a quick illustration of 'closed' or 'open' cell construction will answer the question, "Can you sponge water or oil with it?").

I'm interested in printing foams rather than merely buying them OTS, because the printed foams will contain embedded periodic structures and/or voids in addition to the porous structure, which is also printed. Provided I can find - or build - a suitable 3D printer (which must handle HDPE, btw) I have several applications in mind which require fine control over the the porosity as well as the placement and dimensioning of the embedded periodic structures (either voids or solids, depending). Hence my questions about the resolution.

Very articulate and informative response on your part, btw; both above and before. Thank you. GAs.

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#17
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/24/2012 6:22 PM

The materials I am using are way too stiff for your foam application. Theoretically, it should be possible, but one would have to be more specific about the material structure. There are systems available, for instance, that can extrude silicone (or chocolate icing) quite nicely- possibly one of these extruders could be adapted for something like the self-expanding foams that set when exposed to atmospheric humidity- although dimensional control might be a challenge.

You may also want to have a look at Objet's offerings- these are commercial grade machines, and, depending on the price you are willing to pay, they do offer a much wider selection of materials (and processes) than one finds in the hobby universe. Or 3D Systems. It's rather hard to keep up with which companies are still independent- there is some consolidation going on in the industry. Stratsys is one of the pioneers, but I believe they have been bought up by one of the other major players. Z Corporation is now apparently a part of 3D Systems- this is the company that did the 3D print of a large crescent wrench for one of the TV shows that can be seen on YouTube...

What limits me from using HDPE right now is that my x carriage, which supports the hot extruder components, is fabricated from ABS. I am not sure I would want to run this up to the temperatures required for HDPE (although some people have had good results with the same setup using Nylon- but I believe Nylon goes liquid at a much lower temperature). To convert my setup to HDPE capable, the minimal thing I would have to do would be to replace the x carriage and the extruder housing with a metallic structure. One of the hobby printers may already be HDPE capable, since I occasionally come across a reference to using the material.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/24/2012 6:27 PM

Actually, cwarner, the foam must be stiff for my application (not even close to a sponge). Wish I could spill more beans put I don't think my patent attorney would approve.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/24/2012 6:44 PM

OK. Let me know if you want more information. We can take any discussions private if you prefer.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/24/2012 6:55 PM

Tnx. Enroute 2 airport. Will contact u l8r.

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#21

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/25/2012 2:09 PM

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

-- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC, 1977

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out anyway."

-- President of Decca Records, rejecting The Beatles after an audition, 1962

"Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become
a practical proposition."


-- Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962 History is littered with comments and assertions, predictions for what won't happent and what won't come to pass. 3D Printers will be as common household appliances as the televison and pc. robert p mclean, ~the3dprinter~

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/25/2012 2:17 PM

Certainly a new twist on "Hot off the press!"

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#23
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Re: Why the 3D Printing Revolution Won't Happen in Your Garage

08/26/2012 8:36 PM

i wonder in a few years we only have 3D printers? for printing the schematic or the prototype!

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