Answering several questions here, sorry for the length.
Here’s the example I like to give for the uninitiated to the modern miracle that is 3D printing: Jay Leno had a part for a 1907 steam car break.
Obviously, no one makes those parts anymore, but he used a machine (a Kinect can actually be used) to “scan” the part’s shape, he 3D printed the
object, put the part back in the car, and the car worked!
Basically, you have a spool of plastic that feeds into a small furnace and a robotic track moves the extruder around and places plastic layer by layer
to fabricate real objects (I'm a visual person - you have to watch a video to really understand what it does). Right now, 3D printing is mostly ABS
plastic, but metal 3D printing is also common and I am reading stories about 3D printing of food, leather, and biological parts. What you can print
is truly up to the imagination. Some 3D printers are only a few hundred dollars now and 3D printers can even assemble new 3D printers! You just have
to buy the metal frame and motor essentially.
We plan on creating our own models using CAD software (right now FreeCAD because it is free and we are broke), but you can also scan real parts to
save the effort of modeling something (since it can get difficult quick). Patents are one area that current companies will use to fight 3D printing,
but you cannot patent useful things like gears or chairs, only designs or unique features. The build volume is about 10” x 6” x 6”, which
doesn’t sound like much, but when you think about it, there are millions of small plastic objects that frequently break.
It is true that you can make your own cups and other such objects, but at this time the plastic costs about $15 / kg (2.2 pounds), so smaller objects
are much more economical. The ABS plastic itself costs about $0.10 a pound, so if we took raw plastic and melted it ourselves with an extruder, it
would be much cheaper and thus economical to make larger objects. Eventually, though, the price of ABS plastic spools will come down substantially as
more people make them.
It is possible to compete on price because it doesn’t cost millions of dollars to buy a mold for plastic injection and you aren’t shipping the
parts all the way around the world. I was planning on focusing on high profit margin items. For example, one of my friends is into guitars and he
designed a “truss rod cover”, a decorative piece on the end of a guitar. They sell online for $9-$29 and cost us about $0.10 in material to make.
There are just technical details in making it look nice and finding a design that will sell.
I had thought about medical items since there are so many baby boomers retiring and home health care items since many are taking care of their parents
at home, but not sure what specifically to make.
Guitar knobs with indicator notch so you can feel where the knob is at
Custom made bracket for guitar pickup (some can be hard to find in certain shapes evidently)
For more ideas on what can be 3D printed, thingiverse.com hosts files you can simply download, push a button, and the 3D printer will get to work
making that object.
The currency plates idea is hilarious – that is definitely possible with 3D printing. The Fed counterfeits money every day, so why shouldn’t
I am curious how common people can use forex as a tool against central bankers. It would seem that it would be tough to fight a torrent of
quadrillions that simply appear at their whim.
I think that covered everything
Thank you all for the welcoming!