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3-D Printer Technology and it's uses...Who has used one?

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posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 08:25 AM
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Good Morning my fellow members, I have a question I need a bit of help with if someone is able to supply it. I think it's a question others may very well come to have too, so why not just post it out here to discuss? It may help others down the road, just as much.

What I seek to learn here:

Are 3-Dimensional Printers viable at the consumer level for production of things to be used by regular people in daily life? It may sound silly to ask, and the thing is, it'll probably sound silly to different people in two very different ways. People familiar with this tech will likely wonder why I'd ask something so self evident for being yes. Many others would likely wonder, at consumer level, why I'd ask about something as yet, out of reach.

Well, recently I found myself in the Staples office store getting school supplies, when, what do my eyes discover but a big display for.....Consumer level 3-D Printers. In fact, sitting right there like a prop from a buck rogers episode was just such a creature. Available to anyone who wants to make something from nothing, for the low price of $1,299 and change. So, it seems, the era of 3-D printing at the home desktop level without 'geek credentials' has arrived.

DOES IT WORK THOUGH? This is my boggle. Yeah, it'll make the receiver for an AR-15 rifle that may even take a whole magazine up the well before it fails. Woo-hoo! For those into that sort of trial by error..I wish 'em well and I'll check back some day on that progress. The Emergency Room may be a good bet for where..... This isn't what I mean.

Help!

Is there anyone here on ATS who has worked with these on any level, day in and day out, in a professional way to know how they function? The obvious is...well..obvious. What I need to know is what I don't know, not what Youtube shows anyone with a half hour to watch. What are the strengths and realistic issues with this tech and what it produces? The realistic side which only comes from tools or systems in daily "damn thing did it again!" type experience?

To help a bit, what I'm thinking of would entail 3 Dimensional printing of a flat sheet. 8x11 inches, as a measurement to start and just standard size. On that sheet, I'd be looking to create a very high resolution relief map of a specific real world location. Something a blind disabled person would understand for real world relationships in space and distance.


Anyone able to help shed some light on what this technology actually can and cannot do vs. impressions and theory?




posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 08:35 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Haven't used one yet but in my opinion its not guns that are the concern ....but bioweapons. I think it will be possible to clone a virus or bacteria and print it out someday....im talking advanced 3d printing but still....imagine that. 3d printing seems so freaking cool to me....



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 08:39 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Yes, it already works and will get better and cheaper very quickly.

Much like information is now, parts will be nearly without cost.

Just don't try to print a tesseract!
edit on 13-3-2014 by greencmp because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 08:59 AM
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I have never used a 3d printer but they seem to work by extrude polymers, i don't think you can make detailed textured surface like that.

How 3-D Printing Works

They are used for making 3d models, not to make textured surface if that is what you was planing to do



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:18 AM
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You can get a RepRap cheap and they're open-source technology. You typically build it yourself from a kit or sourced parts. Then you can even start selling parts that you make. There are several huge communities of people to help, and all of their free code as well. I know a lot more about these DIY machines than the silly consumer models, yet I still don't know much. I program and operate CNC milling machines though, which is very similar in nature.

Wow.




Wrabbit2000
To help a bit, what I'm thinking of would entail 3 Dimensional printing of a flat sheet. 8x11 inches, as a measurement to start and just standard size. On that sheet, I'd be looking to create a very high resolution relief map of a specific real world location. Something a blind disabled person would understand for real world relationships in space and distance.


Anyone able to help shed some light on what this technology actually can and cannot do vs. impressions and theory?


Your question is difficult to answer because the variety of machines and their unique abilities is staggering.

The truth is that NOTHING is impossible, and very little has been achieved with respect to what can be done. A moped bike can get 75 mpg but they also make cars with horsepower in the thousands, and jumbo jets.... 3D printers are as diverse as fossil fuel transportation. Undoubtedly there is a machine for your needs, just do the research.

This reprap forum addresses technical issues forums.reprap.org...
edit on 13-3-2014 by DeadGhost because: stuff



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:19 AM
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It's being done as we speak. Here's a link to a height converter for gray scale maps to stl at thingiverse
thingiverse link
There's tons of stuff on the web about this but I haven't tried one yet. I could of used one 20 years ago as I used to prototype out of wood and hdpe .
[Mod edit, March 14: I fixed the link for you. Should work fine now. JustMike]

edit on 3/13/2014 by Kukri because: fixed link

edit on 3/13/2014 by Kukri because: (no reason given)

Cant get link to work! search for >thing:15276



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:20 AM
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The technology is making great strides all the time, they can even make wood prints. The damn things even sand and paint like wood when your done. In the linked video he states that while he was printing with wood it made his whole room smell like a wood shop. Now if that's not reason enough to buy one I don't know what is. ;-)

I for one can say with some level of certainty that I'll be getting one eventually.

Video
edit on 13-3-2014 by andr3w68 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:26 AM
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I do appreciate the feedback in what folks have read and heard. Let me try and be a bit helpful in adding though, I have spent long hours researching this, learning about these and understand the basics as well as anyone. I may have mis-communicated that, but saying it that way...while perfectly accurate...makes it sound like I know more than I do, not having USED the stuff in real life.

Book/Youtube/Internet learning is a world and a half apart from real world, actual, hands on use.

It's that gap that is important for the very narrow and highly specialized application I've been considering for a bit now, related to relief mapping. There is a project ongoing to do something similar, and I've read about their work at Openstreetmap. It's similar...but, radically different in some ways, too. Different enough to really need to find someone who knows the tech from direct 1st person experience with the equipment producing things.
edit on 13-3-2014 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:36 AM
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Perhaps it would be better if you ask your question in a more specialized forum.

Best of luck in your endeavors



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:36 AM
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It's still a quite few years out from being a viable replacement for going to the store and picking out hard goods in my opinion. As of now it's a cool thing to play with and print parts to build things however as you pointed out in your gun example the materials it can print with are limited and not ideal for printing a gun for arguments sake. Although they are making breakthroughs constantly on some metals and ceramics. As for the poster who questioned the biological concerns I think that's decades away if a concern at all due to the complexity of these types of chemistry and material limitations.

That being said the implications of this technology are unlimited. It will change the world and our notion of shopping. People will be able to "pirate" items as the technology improves and is perfected. Of course this would mean solving the current problem they have with with using multiple materials and I doubt we will see "working items" out of 3d printers with no assembly or post finishing for a long time on a consumer level.

For now it's an incredible powerful tool for tinkerers and designers. Making one off parts, and prototypes of things that still require lots of finishing and assembly and things of that nature.

The future is happening constantly and it is exciting especially when dealing with technology!



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:56 AM
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Indigent
Perhaps it would be better if you ask your question in a more specialized forum.


You mean, like, Science and Technology?
lol....

I really do appreciate the responses..it's just a very new field with new technology and life has taught me one lesson well for that difference between "learned" and "experienced". Is the material durable, for example, in daily handling if we're talking about...say...braille lettering, or does it wear quickly with current materials and how these turn something out, today?

I'm trying to get some background on an idea that will see 4 figure dollars drop in the near term future to make happen, if I can get a few things nailed down for theory vs. reality, and avoiding trial and error to find some critical detail theory overlooked.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 09:59 AM
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I use one for making custom cases for micro computers like the raspberry pi and adruino boards. Also handy if you want to build your own cheap SSD drives.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 10:00 AM
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I Have one. There's a LOT of tinkering to be done. You may have to print a part several times before it comes out right. Every part needs different settings, and there are hundreds of settings. And they have to be perfect.

Strength of the part is not commercial grade. I print with ABS plastic and although it is a durable plastic (Same as used in legos) because it prints layer by layer, under stress the layers can pull apart.

With that said I think it's a great investment. I have printed a new knob for an old propane heater that I couldn't get anymore. Also made a comb for my hair with my name on it for probably about 10 cents worth of plastic versus getting one from the dollar General for $1. Oh also used it to prototype an invention which I raised $223,000 for in kick starter... Not that the 3d printer was crucial but it did save me money vs. Hiring a prototype company which probably would have been as expensive for the parts as I paid for the whole printer.

Long story short don't expect to be able to buy one and print anything you want instantly and easily. But it is fun to play with and can save you money and hassle in the long run. If I didn't have the 3d printer I probably would have had to throw out my propane heater. Could not get the special sized knob anywhere anymore...



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 10:03 AM
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reply to post by WP4YT
 


what is the smallest feature you can print?



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 10:06 AM
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WP4YT
I Have one. There's a LOT of tinkering to be done. You may have to print a part several times before it comes out right. Every part needs different settings, and there are hundreds of settings. And they have to be perfect.

Strength of the part is not commercial grade. I print with ABS plastic and although it is a durable plastic (Same as used in legos) because it prints layer by layer, under stress the layers can pull apart.

With that said I think it's a great investment. I have printed a new knob for an old propane heater that I couldn't get anymore. Also made a comb for my hair with my name on it for probably about 10 cents worth of plastic versus getting one from the dollar General for $1. Oh also used it to prototype an invention which I raised $223,000 for in kick starter... Not that the 3d printer was crucial but it did save me money vs. Hiring a prototype company which probably would have been as expensive for the parts as I paid for the whole printer.

Long story short don't expect to be able to buy one and print anything you want instantly and easily. But it is fun to play with and can save you money and hassle in the long run. If I didn't have the 3d printer I probably would have had to throw out my propane heater. Could not get the special sized knob anywhere anymore...


Great reply, I think that's the gist of it for the average consumer like myself. I love the idea but I believe I lack the knowledge and determination to learn the knowledge on the technical side. I'll wait till Apple comes out with the IPrinter and it's user friendly and I can just draw a picture or type in what I want in a user friendly format.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 10:08 AM
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reply to post by PsychoEmperor
 


Just make sure you are printing Apple approved shapes or you might find yourself in front of a judge.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 10:46 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


I have used 3d-printing quite a bit. It can be very useful, when it comes to making casings for certain products. It depends on the machine, although on the one I used, I encountered two "problems" - time consuming (it can take hours to print out some product), as well as the accuracy was worse than predicted so different parts needed to be honed (I don´t know the exact English word for it, you can use sand-paper for doing it or some special brushes/tools. We were newbies back then though, using for the first time.

You need to also consider the cost of printing. Depending on the product, although at least currently for many things, it is cheaper buying them from the store than printing out, unless you want a really unique one. 1 kg (2 lbs) of ABS can cost over 30 dollars, so making a small thing can cost quite a bit.

Although I would say, this is a useful tool and at the end, you learn the most with experience. Every machine differs a bit, different materials differ. Currently the main materials, at least round here, are ABS and PLA plastics, by strength definitely not comparable to metals, but reasonably strong. When designing products, there are many different aspects to consider - how the material flows,how fast it cools down, gravity, common sense knowledge of how the machine works so you would not do some "stupid" mistake, just common sense etc. It is possible to create near to anything, although there are certain tricks you need to know for more complex products, when using different materials on the same product, their properties have to be accounted for etc. Youtube can be good, at least when learning such things, as that is the major area where such experience is shared. For design you need to learn some 3-D program, I personally used Solidworks and later converted the files (which is easy). There are certain pages also, for example grabcad.com, where people share their 3d-designs. Can be useful


In the near future, the costs will possibly go down significantly, although 1300 dollars already seems very cheap considering what can be done with the machine. Although I personally believe/hope new materials would be discovered, which would be cheaper/stronger. It is believed in near future, even houses will be 3d-printed so who knows
Technology with incredible potential. Getting one is definitely justified, at least in my eyes. Experience can be very useful in the coming years, especially when working at a field, which uses 3d-printing.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 11:02 AM
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Indigent
reply to post by WP4YT
 


what is the smallest feature you can print?


With things smaller than 5mm square, the detail it's not as good. This can be fixed by getting a printer with a smaller nozzle like a .2mm nozzle instead of a .4mm nozzle like mine. But smaller nozzle also increases print time of bigger objects. So maybe something the size of an iphone takes 4 hours to print instead of 1 hour.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 11:09 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


I have no practical experience of 3D printing - so cannot directly answer your question

but such an item could also be produced by 3 axis machining CNC / router - in acrylic sheet - you wouold have a " resolution " of 0.2mm max [ exact resolution " would depend on the profile of each pass ] - but suffice to say - the smaller the mill diameter - the shorter it is

the 3d "picture " - would be simply formed by makind a series of profiles - starting at 1 end of the piece - and repeat the new profile advancing the cutter width with each pass

sounds complex - bit it isn't really - ie for a 275mm long picture - at 1mm reolution - you would just cut 275 profiles in sequence



posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 01:51 PM
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I met a guy who brought his along to the conservation expo i attended last weekend. He said his cost around $25 grand, and that a spool of his plastic (he used PLA) ran him anywhere from $30 to $60, depending on if he bought it China or US-produced. Seemed like a spool wouldn't last him very long either. And the quality of the printer didn't seem the best either, he had done several modifications to it. It was cool that some of the mods he had actually made with the printer.

He seemed very excited about it, he's only had it since Christmas. He said you could build anything you want, just a matter of drawing it up in CAD and then having the material you want to make it out of. I asked him what were the coolest and most challenging things he had printed so far, he replied that it was some sort of nail or screw holder for his toolbelt. Didn't sound so cool to me..


What he had on display as some of his projects were a bunch of small fake flies, some fly swatters, business cards that he had yet to correctly make, a couch that was worth like $20 or $30 because he had accidentally printed it solid, not hollow (I wanted the couch), some furniture for his daughter's doll playhouse, and a praying mantis that was kinda neat. The mantis was printed out in about 8-10 different sections and then assembled. He had one assembled and the other only printed out. About 60-70% of his projects were printed from other peoples' files he just copped off the internet. Didn't seem like he had quite the knowledge on the matter to be justifying spending all the money he has. I know if I had one I'd be having a little bit more fun, a little more creative than a fly swatter



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