Vapors of most heated plastics are very toxic! Check with any chemist who does not work for the plastics or pesticide industries. Treat this process with the same respect you would auto exhaust or petroleum-based solvents, since that is essentially what these materials are. Good ventilation is a must!
Here's an example of PLA being used for large-scale 3D printing of architectural structures: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/design-architecture/in-amsterdam-worlds-first-mobile-3d-printing-pavilion/8736
I've been working on a feature on 3D printing and 3D content creation tools (stayed tuned in November) and I've been talking to a lot of engineers who use the lower end 3D printers either on the job or increasingly in their home, for hobbyist/side business purposes. Consistently, most talk about some of the messiness of traditional 3D printers (I hadn't heard about the smell) and perhaps the choice of PLA is better suited to home/hobbyist use as opposed to an office or shop floor environment. What are others experience with 3D printers on the lower end? They look like office printers, but they don't seem quite as packaged. Let us know.
While I do agree that it does not use ABS, I still marvel at the price point of this 3D printer and the ever decreasing cost of this technology. I remember when the lowest price 3D printers were still well into 6-figures. I look forward to continuous technology and material improvements with these types of printers in the near future.
If PLA is supposedly so difficult to use, I wonder why it's so common in lower-end 3D printing? As Beth's article states, "PLA was chosen because of its strength and ability to make very large prints without cracking or warping." I also suspect some people are a lot more sensitive to the smell than others.
Based on what was said in that video, it is a bit surprising. I found a wiki page on Makerbot's site that provides some insight into their choice of PLA and provides some hands-on perspective from Makerbot users. http://wiki.makerbot.com/pla
Beth, thanks for finding that candid discussion on YouTube – I watched the entire thing, and now have very little faith in PLA, from what the guys were saying. In a Nutshell, its less heat tolerant, less process capable, less robust, so why would they use it-? Only because it doesn't smell as bad as ABS during processing. To me, that's a pretty weak reason for choosing a material. I've been in Injection-mold production press rooms running ABS, and while the odor there is strong, its not intolerable. Maybe the MakerBot apparatus really brings the 'Stink" out of it!
Thanks, Beth, for that video. I got about half way through it. The guy being interviewed, who designed a 3D printer kit, says PLA vs ABS is easier to print with, harder to drill, and doesn't take the high temps that ABS does. Also, that ABS's smell is really bad. He says PLA is great for prototypes, then prints the final part in ABS.
I did some googling on my own to see what others are saying about PLA and come up with this long, but interesting video on Youtube where an engineer and maker of a printer kit is talking about the tradeoffs of PLA vs. ABS and why he sees PLA as the next big thing in home printing. For what it's worth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF-w3eT0CdY
Lantronix Inc. has expanded its line of controllers for sensor networks with the release of a rugged controller that improves management of automation systems used in a number of industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas, and chemicals.
Inspired by the hooks a parasitic worm uses to penetrate its host's intestines, the Karp Lab has invented a flexible adhesive patch covered with microneedles that adheres well to wet, soft tissues, but doesn't cause damage when removed.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is