I was excited to see 3D printers a while ago and figured just like most other high tech products it was only a matter of time before it become available to regular consumers. Technology is generally inversely proportional to price so as technology gets better the price seems to reduce. Just like in the early days of computers, printers, microwaves, etc. I expect the same will be with the 3D printers.
While the price isn't an issue think, I will wait until after the next couple of generations to see what advances are made before purchasing one for myself.
It's always been an issue of what to make with low price, high volume parts. Plastic forks, spoons or sporks is an example. They are so cheap retail stores have to sell them 200 at a time. Now i am not saying this will be viable for our homes any time soon. But rather then mass producing items of no value why not mass produce 3D cartridge. The day will come when the market will only trade 3D priners, 3D ink, and energy :) it might be hundreds of years too early but it will come.
Rob, I think you have a point there. In the late 1980s we bought our first home computer. It cost us $4,500 with a dot matrix printer and 2400 baud modem. We had a 25% discount at the IBM store becuase we worked for a large company that purchased a lot from IBM. Considering that high end laptops are running $1K to $2K. This is well within the reach of lots of people. It might even become something that is used for school projects in some areas.
Beth, can you tell us what materials this machine uses but also what additive manufacturing process it requires? Whether the end result is a kid's toy or an aircraft component depends on both the process and the material. The two classes are quite different.
That's a great point about prototypes and products oftentimes needing to be made out of materials which can't be handled by 3D printers. This is where the whole notion of a commodity market for small production runs hits a major stumbling block, and I'm surprised it hasn't prompted more discussion. The reality is, for many products this takes 3D printing back to its original purpose, which was prototyping. The movement towards small production runs, which everyone is all excited about now, may be a niche -- albeit an extremely broad niche -- application.
I've been watching 3D printing mostly for creating quick models for product design. Finished products often need to be made out of materials not practical for 3D printers.
So, my question is, what type of plastics are handled by this printer? Thermal set, air cured, epoxy? It looks like a fun gadget for making Cracker Jacks box toys and Flash Gordon secret decoder rings. But what about thermally resistant parts? What about parts that can conduct electricity?
Think about some of the stories we've read here about poorly made consumer appliances whose hard to replace plastic parts broke after a year or so of ownership. Fridge door ice cube dispensers come to mind. Instead of strugging to epoxy the part back together one could, with the right 3D "ink" cartridge, recreate an improved part on demand.
Wow, that's an amazing price. Even the hardcore DIY hobbyists who have been using the $1099 MakerBot (http://store.makerbot.com/thing-o-matic-kit-mk7.html) will be tempted at the $1299 ready made package.
The good news is that these things will only get cheaper over time -- and more and more models will be easily downloadable from the web.
I think that's a great point, Chuck. With products like these easily within reach of kids with a curiousity and interest science and engineering, there's no telling how far they can go. Prices still need to come down, though, but it's a definite compelling start.
Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types.
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