I had no idea this technology was out there!
Oh yeh, this has been out there for years. Myself, as well as some friends, have used 3D printing services to have our models (designed in CG packages like Maya, Cinema4D, 3D Studio Max, etc.) printed in a resin material, which you can then sand down and paint, or assemble to create characters or prototypes or whatever.
you might enjoy browsing Shapeways
Whenever this comes up, I wonder how long it will be until you can print highly complex systems, like a computer, which has hundreds of different materials, although it would have to be able to print down to individual atoms/molecules for this to work. Even better if you could just put waste into a hopper and it disassembles it to get the required elements, making it the ultimate recycling machine (the dissembling could also be used separately).
I recently read about a guy who has created a working automatic rifle, including printed bullets. Apparently it doesn’t shoot properly all of the time, but that’s probably a matter of refining the design.
You just heard about this? They’ve been using this tech for years now to do stuff as mundane as printing out a figurine of your World of Warcraft character.
Also, is it just me, or does the dude with the wrench in that video totally sound like Al Franken?
I thought it was still in the make a solid plastic object stage like a doll or something.
How the hell they can scan and “print” a working wrench all in one piece with moving parts is beyond me. There are separate 4 pieces to an standard adjustable wrench like the ione they are copying..
I don’t see how you can make a wrench all at once with the parts being separated from each other. I would think you’d have to scan and make the parts individually then put them together for them to work.
I swear I just read a headline that someone had created an exoskeleton for a disabled child using a 3D printer, but damned if I can remember where I read it. Ah, here we go.
I think this technology is much more important than we know ATM. My husband thinks I’m insane.
My company actually sells 3D printers, including the exact brand used to print that girl’s exoskeleton in fact. The 3D printers, as a relatively affordable technology, came out in 2004 or thereabouts, but we’ve been doing rapid prototyping/additive manufacturing since the company was founded in 1994. These include stereolithography, selective laser sintering, and fused deposition modeling, from which 3D printing is derived.
It does seem to be getting more common and much more sophisticated though, instead of just being a “isn’t that cool” curiosity.
I think printing living hinges, springs and even clothes is also fascinating. If you follow Shapeways they’ll update you on the latest technologies and materials (they had rubber for a time, I think they still do color sandstone). I’d try my hand at 3D printing, but Shapeways is too far away and the delivery costs are too high.
Also - didn’t 3D printing use to use a liquid precursor and laser-curing system? I saw that on TV many many years ago. Now they seem to use powders.
They use all sorts of things. There’s even fairly successful research into 3D printing of living tissue. Bone, skin, organs, etc.
I’d love to get a home 3D printer kit, but so far they seem to be only able to make SMALL stuff. Once they hit the ability to make something 18x18, I’d love to get one to play with.
The photo-polymer UV-cured resin system is still used. It’s fairly expensive, however, since the specialty resin isn’t cheap, but gives better fine-scale resolution than other systems.
The powder-based 3D printers are cheaper and can use a wider variety of materials, since they’re basically gluing together grains to make the desired shape. Usually they need an after-coat of glue to bond everything for proper strength once done. The big advantage of these is that the print head that sprays the binding agent onto the powder can also deposit ink at the same time, so you can print in any color.
The really cheap machines coming on the market now use plastic filament, with a print head that melts the plastic and deposits it in a line to make the printed part. They’re really cheap to own and operate, but slow and produce parts with blobs and grainy lines all over their surface. Still, useful for many purposes. We have one here at the office that has already paid for itself in building custom jigs and fixtures, and I’m building one for home use.
Here’s a home printer that prints up to 8.9 x 5.7 x 5.9 inches. This is Soooo tempting, but as with all printers, it’s the ‘ink cartridges’ that put you in the poor house.
The ‘ink’ isn’t as bad as you might think for these. It’s about $21 per pound for most colors, and a pound of plastic lasts a pretty long time. You can get it cheaper from Ebay or overseas sources, but the cheaper stuff isn’t really recommended as it might not print as evenly, or could even damage your print head.
The printer I’m working on at home will have a print area that’s approximately an 8 inch cube, which is about the largest you’ll see in any hobby-grade machine. Larger than that and you start running into problems with the part warping as it cures and cools while still being printed. Avoiding that requires you to have the entire print chamber enclosed and temperature-controlled, and that gets expensive.
Oh, fascinating! They print using glue? I thought they’re Selectively Laser Sintered.
SLS is used for printing with metal powders. It’s useful for making metal parts that need to have actual strength. It’s also fairly expensive.
Selective Binding uses a head that sprays glue (and optionally ink) onto a powder of plastic (or ceramic, or many other materials) to selectively bind them. That’s what’s used to make full-color objects, or to make things from ceramic or other non-metal powders.
It looks like Ponoko has “making hubs”, where they take your designs and do the fabrication for you: http://www.ponoko.com/about/the-big-idea
It looks like it could get pretty expensive pretty quickly; if I calculated correctly a solid 18x18x1 3D piece would start at just under $1700 to make. But if you really want to try out large-scale projects, it might be worth looking into.
Also, kind of a tangent, but here’s another approach to 3D fabrication that could become a reality in the near future: smart sand.
This is really cool stuff!
This is such a bad thread for me! I’m rarely into toys… but I’ve been working on casting something in concrete and have been watching the videos on that site… I’m >this< close to buying the dual head printer… If I were rich, the thing would have been bought about an hour ago!