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3D Printer
Old 07-10-2011, 09:03 AM   #1
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3D Printer

Amazing. From the article in The Economist linked below:

"The industrial revolution of the late 18th century made possible the mass production of goods, thereby creating economies of scale which changed the economy—and society—in ways that nobody could have imagined at the time. Now a new manufacturing technology has emerged which does the opposite. Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands and thus undermines economies of scale. It may have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did."



Technology: Print me a Stradivarius | The Economist

3D printing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 07-10-2011, 09:34 AM   #2
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Wow, that's impressive.
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Old 07-10-2011, 09:59 AM   #3
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We have used these. While they are very clever, they are also trying to charge what the market will bear to sell these things. In a few years, the prices will come way, way, way, way, way, way down and it will become a kid's toy much like the Vac-U-Form was in the 1960s.

Think how expensive digital cameras and cell phones used to be. These printers should drop to about $100 or less in price. And they are not really printers; they are more like robotic glue guns.
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Old 07-10-2011, 10:03 AM   #4
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That is amazing.

I wonder if that is the same machine that Jay Leno uses. Saw a video on his Jay Leno's Garage site where he "printed" out parts for the old cars that he collects since they may not even manufacture those parts anymore.

It still has me scratching my head. That the wrench that was scanned actually works like a real wrench.
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Old 07-10-2011, 10:06 AM   #5
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Okay..here's the Leno one:

Jay Leno?s 3D Printer Replaces Rusty Old Parts - Articles - Jay Leno's Garage
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Old 07-10-2011, 10:33 AM   #6
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and what the heck - a solar version:

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Old 07-10-2011, 10:34 AM   #7
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And I'm still adjusting to digital photography.

That is beyond way cool.
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Old 07-10-2011, 10:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
We have used these. ... And they are not really printers; they are more like robotic glue guns.
We had sample parts made by this process over a decade ago. It was expensive then, but cheaper than the alternatives to that kind of turn-around time. At that time, the samples were delicate, just for display or evaluation. IIRC, it was a laser, and a pool of liquid rather than powder, but the same concept - build it up layer by layer.

The current machines really are 'printers' - they use a basic ink-jet printing engine. The only difference is they replace the paper tray with that deep box that holds the powder, and can drop the box down in the third dimension to build the depth. They print a layer at a time. The cartridge he showed sure looked like a standard ink-jet cartridge, just filled with the binder.

edit/add: I just watched the Leno clip - that machine is not like an ink-jet printer, it feeds a plastic wire into some kind of head. I hadn't seen that type before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
That is amazing.

....

It still has me scratching my head. That the wrench that was scanned actually works like a real wrench.
I'm also a little lost on how they got the moving part from a scan. I'd bet there was some tweaking of the scan required, that they didn't show.

And it is amazing. I know someone who owned one of these and was trying to make a business out of it. He said they were getting to the point of making the parts strong enough to make tools and hard parts like they show here. The military was interested - instead of having to keep an inventory of spare parts, they could make them as needed.

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Old 07-10-2011, 10:44 AM   #9
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These things are amazing. My last employer had several of the big industrial sized units, which the industrial design people would use to construct prototypes of new products.

I'd directly credit the design team's use of this tech for some of the most successful products we made.

What I find really exciting though is the development of realtively cheap machines, including new designs that can fabricate most of their own structural components. Alas, printing metal parts, electronics, or complex electromechanical parts like stepper motors is quits a way off. Still, I can see where this tech is headed, and I like it.
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Old 07-10-2011, 10:52 AM   #10
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Here's an article about something similar ...for 'printing' body parts.....

http://www.economist.com/node/15543683?story_id=15543683

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Old 07-10-2011, 11:02 AM   #11
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So, how will "Miss July" turn out ?

(you know somebody had to ask the question...)
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:04 AM   #12
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These have been around for quite awhile. I recently saw an article on one at uses chocolate as its material, and you can print things in 3D in chocolate. I'm sure some simple googling will find it if you're interested. I know the wife was
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:13 AM   #13
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Here's a TED talk by Dr. Atala on making body parts/growing organs....



I found it fascinating.

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Old 07-10-2011, 12:27 PM   #14
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A manufactured object is fundamentally composed of information and execution. The information can now be downloaded and the execution done remotely. Just think of the impact that this technology will have on the transportation industry (no need to truck stuff across continents, less impact on the environment, less demand for oil) and on remote industries such as mining in the Arctic.
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:05 PM   #15
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Amazing. ... Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands and thus undermines economies of scale.
What is amazing to me is the semantics of this sentence. Try substituting "expensive" for "cheap" and "makes impossible" for "undermines". It's just as true (but doesn't sound nearly as nice).
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Old 07-10-2011, 09:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purron View Post
Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands and thus undermines economies of scale.
Actually, that statement is not true. It shifts economies of scale, it doesn't undermine them. There is still a point where making large quantities is cheaper than making them one-by-one with this process. I think one of the videos mentioned something like 33 hours to make a part. If you were making tens of thousands, castings and machining would be cheaper in most cases.

It's still amazing and is having an impact and I think there is room for it to expand as the techniques improves and the cost comes down even further.

As a parallel, there are some sites where you can put in a simple drawing ( a 2D part, you specify material/thickness), and they will machine the part for you out of a variety of materials. The machining is generally laser or water jet, all computer controlled right from your drawing. It's all automatically and instantly quoted based on some algorithm of the complexity of cuts and material. For a hobbyist, or other project, wanting to make a few dozen identical parts, it could make good sense. Here's one:

Big Blue Saw


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Old 07-11-2011, 06:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purron
Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands and thus undermines economies of scale.
Just for clarification, the quote above is from an article in The Economist. I provided a link to it in the OP. Here's more discussion from the article regarding this point:

"The additive approach to manufacturing has several big advantages over the conventional one. It cuts costs by getting rid of production lines. It reduces waste enormously, requiring as little as one-tenth of the amount of material. It allows the creation of parts in shapes that conventional techniques cannot achieve, resulting in new, much more efficient designs in aircraft wings or heat exchangers, for example. It enables the production of a single item quickly and cheaply—and then another one after the design has been refined.

For many years 3D printers were used in this way for prototyping, mainly in the aerospace, medical and automotive industries. Once a design was finalised, a production line would be set up and parts would be manufactured and assembled using conventional methods. But 3D printing has now improved to the point that it is starting to be used to produce the finished items themselves. It is already competitive with plastic injection-moulding for runs of around 1,000 items, and this figure will rise as the technology matures. And because each item is created individually, rather than from a single mould, each can be made slightly differently at almost no extra cost. Mass production could, in short, give way to mass customisation for all kinds of products, from shoes to spectacles to kitchenware.

By reducing the barriers to entry for manufacturing, 3D printing should also promote innovation. If you can design a shape on a computer, you can turn it into an object. You can print a dozen, see if there is a market for them, and print 50 more if there is, modifying the design using feedback from early users. This will be a boon to inventors and start-ups, because trying out new products will become less risky and expensive. And just as open-source programmers collaborate by sharing software code, engineers are already starting to collaborate on open-source designs for objects and hardware."
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:24 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purron View Post
Just for clarification, the quote above is from an article in The Economist. I provided a link to it in the OP. Here's more discussion from the article regarding this point: ...

Thanks Purron - I did realize that quote about 'undermines' was from the article, not your words. I just thought it over-stated it a bit and was surprised to see The Economist engaging in what appeared to me to be hyperbole - but I see one definition of 'undermine' is 'to erode', and that seems valid.

At any rate, it is fascinating tech, and there are many positive ramifications. That was a great point about the customization at effectively zero added cost. Very interesting.

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Old 07-13-2011, 11:27 AM   #19
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I also had a prototype part made way, way, WAY back in 1989 using something similar to the technique ERD50 mentioned. I cannot recall all the details but I think it was a small turnbuckle that was about the size of a grain of rice with ports for injecting epoxy to glue a carbon fiber thread into it.

Used a resin and a laser that made the part by hardening the resin in 1 or 2 mil layers and the blueprint was a CAD/CAM generated 3D image.

Seemed like Buck Rodgers stuff back then and the 3D printer is a nice evolution of the technology.
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Old 07-22-2012, 03:06 PM   #20
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A 3D printed bicycle - primitive, but a great proof-of-concept
Printing a bicycle with a 3D printer - YouTube
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