As with any other technology, you must use the correct tool/process to get good results. The one who commented about the funnel, due to the constraints of the process, a funnel is probably one of the worst products to make using this process. Large work envelope and the finished product has a very low volumn of material for tha space it occupies. Similar to turning that same funnel from a solid piece of alluminum. Lots of empty space.
It is a prototyping medium. As such, anything made by this process can be made cheaper in volumn. There are some parts that will turn out to be cheaper by this process, and it may not always be obvious which parts are the best for the process. As a macinist I had some simple parts that could be made very profitably on the 1 CNC machine we had. Other simple parts could be made cheaper on a manual machine. We had some complex parts that were much cheaper when made on the much higher cost per hour CNC machine. Others that came off the more expensive process becasue the results were better.
The one thing this procees makes availbla is the ability to make a part without having to have a shop with a variety of expensive machines that require aexperience to run. It can be done by reltively unskilled people on a desktop. Now they just need to learn some of the other engineering that helps them understand the limitations of the process and products.
@etmax: Good point about comparing the cost of these printers to expensive smart phones. Once you cross the $500 price point, you are definitely on par with a lot of equipment people are already buying.
I bought myself one of those "cheap" 3D printers from Cubify (~$1300), and have been using Alibre (personal version ~$200) which is as easy to use as non-Google Sketchup, and was able to create an object 130mm circular at a height of 25mm for around $6. That to me is difinitely consumer ready given many consumers have an $800 iPhone and $900 iPad or some Android equivalents. I had a little trouble with some designs that had wide shallow sloping angles, but the chess pieces were brilliant
There are several ways of designing in 3D. The most common one to date is 3D CAD, but that limits 3D computerised design to those who are 3D CAD proficient, which is a tiny percentage of the population.
For everyone else, at least for those who might like to design, the alternatives are:
1. Cheat - just download someone else's design from Ponoco, Shapeways etc.
2. Use some of the free design packages such as Sculpteo and Google SketchUp (or is without the 'Google' now that it has been sold?). Limited capability but interesting for some applications. SketchUp does not produce brilliant .stl files for printing so far, I have been told.
3. Use our products!
At A1 Technologies, we offer two ways of creating 3D designs, which are low cost, quick to learn, easy to use, and powerful in that they can do and deliver.
You can get a laser scanner for around GBP450 which enables you to create a virtual 3D file of a physical object. This can then be replicated (reverse engineering) or the file an be used as the starting point for a new design.
We also offer a hapticated (force feedback on the mouse - virtual sculpting) 3D creative design package for under GBP600. The youngest user has been 3 years old, and the oldest 85! Teenagers have told us it is "cool". What higher praise is there?
We do not claim that our products are the ideal solution for every application, but for our target market, which is schools and colleges, they hit the spot, and allow youngsters to be creative, and to turn their concepts into 3D modles, which they can then turn into physical models using our Maxit £d printer (under GBP1,000) or our 5 axis CNC mill (under GBP9,000). But you do not have to be a school or college to benefit from a unique portfolio of 3D tools.
I went to a online site for consumer 3D printing, sculpteo.com. They provide software online to design your object. I wanted a custom funnel shape with 6 inch wide mouth and 5 inch length. After going through the design process using their software, cost was $274 quantity one made from the cheapest plastic material they had to offer. I would have to say that 3D printing is not consumer ready.
Great slide show. Image 10 hits on a subject that will be important in the long run. By making 3D modeling systems for novices, Dassault will open the venue to kids who might later become engineers, industrial designers, or architects. In ten years, we'll have a whole generation of up-and-coming engineers who will be ready to use these systems for tasks we can't even imagine yet.
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