Originally posted by fleabit
40 microns? Woooo! Amazing! That's a whole thousandth and a half of an inch! Too bad things like bearings and other "precision" type parts
require fits in the ten thousandths and even smaller range, which is an order of magnitude or two better than the capability of this kind of
Don't get me wrong, it's definitely cool tech which has come a long way since it first appeared in the 90's, and has multitudes of valuable uses, but
we're a LONG LONG WAY from printing real machines with the same capabilities as the ones we currently manufacture "old school", yo.
Did you watch the link I put up of the fully 3D printed turbo-prop? It's 10'x10' and has 188 parts. And it works. At full speed? Perhaps not. But
it uses engineering thermoplastics - it's the real deal. So.. no, I don't think they are a "long long way" from printing usable machines.
Perhaps a long time before we can print out a new fuel pump for our car at home, sure. But tech improves at an amazing rate - it might be sooner than
Ok, now I'm home and watched the vid you posted.
The tech shown in the vid you posted, Stratasys, is FDM tech, and probably the least capable of all the 3d printing processes. FDM inherently has much
worse surface finishes than sinter type 3d printing, is very prone to "delaminating" (the layers coming apart) and the turboprop "model" is exactly
that. A model. If you could hold the parts in your hand and look at them closely, you'd see the layers stacked on one another similar to a rope
basket. Saying it's "the real deal" is like buying a plastic airplane model, snapping it together, and claiming it's the "real deal" as well.
We sometimes run nylon SLS impeller fans up around 20,000 rpm. A stratasys model would fly apart at that speed.
Again, I'm not "dissing" this technology at all. It is truly amazing. I still feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I break open a part cake and
start dusting off the components I grew overnight. It's even sweeter when they get assembled into a working prototype!
But for anyone to look at this type of tech and think "OMG, we're soooo close to being able to print out any machine!" is just plain wrong. It's like
someone looking at the first Model T off the assembly line in 1908 and thinking "YES! We'll be flying to the moon in these within a decade!"
3D printing has it's niche, and that is prototyping and very low volume, specialty production such as surgical implants.
Components of a single (very limited choice) material. That's it. Tolerances are typically +/-.005" (pretty coarse)
Assemblies of varying materials, electronics, ultra precise surface finishes and tolerance, all the things required to make real "machines" cannot and
will not be printed in a single step until we're able to do said printing on a molecular level with all available materials. It's just that simple.
I'm sorry if that salts anyone's cheerios.
edit on 21-3-2012 by tjack because: (no reason given)