Fascinating article, Cabe - thanks for the peek at some amazing technology. Both applications are so exciting and the possibilities are mind boggling. How cool it would be to prototype designs digitally - just print it out! I see a lot of articles about 3D printing on here but have never seen a 3D printer myself - how accessible is it becoming for the average engineer and what skill sets are needed to utilize one?
I agree. The article was very interesting. The solutions that 3D printers are solving are mind boggling and shows the spirit of human innovation at its finest. The video of the 3D printed rocket engine was very impressive. I believe using a 3D printer is not difficult because of the machine's ease of use, the online support from folks like Makerbot, and the free CAD software and files being shared by the online community of Makers. Nice article Cabe!
Not to be skeptical mrdon, but every time my husband tries to rope me in on a project (we sometimes do projects together - he does most of the HW and I do most of the SW) he always comes in with the idea that the programming won't be difficult for the same reasons you mentioned. I guess what is "difficult" is all in your perspective!
Very good point. Software can be tricky and I never take it for granted that its easy to use.If you do run into a challenge with a 3D printer project, I believe the support from the Maker Community and Makerbot will alleviate some of the stress.
Its nice you and your husband work on tech projects together. The DIY electronics tech books I've written and are writing today my wife provides editing and tech support on assembly of the electronic projects. Here's my latest book for building cool electronic gadgets using the Arduino.
Very cool mrdon - I just put your book on "the list" for our family to get in the near future. Isn't it great to work with your spouse on projects?! When things aren't working I always blame the HW and Phil always blames the SW LOL. Off topic for this forum but relates to our discussion since we are both authors - I am literally just putting the finishing touches on this website for a book I have written: www.love2christ.com I couldn't have done it without the support of my husband. Best wishes on your book sales and future projects!
Yes, in many product development arenas, using 3D printing to make quick prototypes is quite common. This is especially effective on concurrent engineering teams where quick feedback and multiple design iterations can be used to rapidly get to market.
Thanks for your observation, Greg. The company I worked for typically lagged 3-7 years behind current technology so we did a lot of making do with what we had. I can see that if we could prove the cost-effectiveness of 3D printing and the increased speed to market that we possibly could have sold the idea of investing in one to management - especially since we had a full department dedicated to CAD.
Many companies now, including mine, have a 3D printer on site. An engineer or a designer will typically send their designs to the machine in the morning and have the parts in the afternoon (or maybe the next day if it is a large/complicated part). This really accelerates development and test cycles from weeks to even days or hours and is a very effective development tool.
The price of 3D printers has been lowered dramatically, so these systems can be within financial reach now. When selecting a 3D printer, it is also important to choose one that has simple operation (so that everyone in the department can run the machine, rather than having a specialized technician only).
Nancy, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable and easy to use 3rd party 3D printering services are today. One of these services, www.redeyeondemand.com allows you to just upload your .STL file to their website and automatically generates a quote on the spot. After purchasing with a credit card, it starts the printing job and a few days later, you receive the part in the mail. Efficient (and even fun) to use.
Thanks for the great information, Greg - I will definitely look into it. Sounds like it could be a lot of fun. There are so many possibilities...I have a lot of projects in my head that I never thought it would be cost-effective to pursue...this could change my mind!
You do not have to be a machinist to work a 3D printer. Though, understanding how the printer work completely will not be avoided. If you need to make a lot of parts, prototypes, etc, then getting one will pay for itself. However, like Greg said, you can always have someone else make one.
Thanks for the additional information, Cabe. The article on Social Network for 3D Printers was very interesting. It would be really cool to see Office Depot down the street offer this service as part of their print center and maybe in a few years they will.
I'd heard of 3D printed partial skull plates, but none this large. Thanks for covering this, Cabe. Here's an entire, artistic 3D printed skull : http://www.ahalife.com/product/1946/3d-printed-filigree-skull/
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.
Independent science safety company Underwriters Laboratories is providing new guidance for manufacturers about how to follow the latest IEC standards for implementing safety features in programmable logic controllers.
Automakers are adding greater digital capabilities to their design and engineering activities to promote collaboration among staff and suppliers, input consumer feedback, shorten product development cycles, and meet evolving end-use needs.
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