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Besides the obvious, where did you work? I'm not answering that folks.

Feel free to ask about the future/past/present/quality/advice/consumer issues et all. I'm here to answer.


How often do you use a 3D printer to fix another and is this then end of humankind?



In the early days, many people were using 3D printers in their factory lines to help manufacture parts for their 3d printers. For everyone but the reprap people that's mostly stopped. 3D printed good are really too brittle to be reliable for long, especially in something that moves as much as a 3D printer.

As for taking over humanity, hah I doubt it. The machines are kind of overrated. They should be called what they were called before the hype:

"rapid prototyping machines"

That tells the right story.


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Whats your take on the change of copyright, so you will not be allowed to recreate parts for equipment manufactured by others? I.E. not using your printer to fix things - only make things yourself.... will this be the rise of Open source design? would you get an open source car or a propitiatory one, once the tech is there?

What printer/material types do well with what things... e.g. for shock loads/fine detail/structural rigidity/other qualities.

Have you used multi material printers?
What is the best can they do currently?
How long before electronics are printed this way, integrated into the structure?

What printer would you recommend to a home enthusiast user? (say 1ft cube print area, and ability to print quite fine good detail, reasonable strength - multi materials a bonus).

Thanks in advance.


>Whats your take on the change of copyright,

During my time in the industry there was a big debate about the responsibility of sites like thingiverse and its many clones in terms of copyright and patent infringements. Most sites were operating under the "safe harbor" protections that most sites that share images use. I.E you are allowed to host content that *may* be infringing as long as you can prove you are not inspecting the content enough to tell it was infringing.

I don't think that copyright/patent holders will really be persecuting 3D printer owners to a great extent. We almost never heard of that sort of thing in the industry, besides a few notable cases. I should note that 3D printers are terrible for *manufacturing* of absolutely anything. They shine in prototyping. So with that in mind, nothing has changed for manufacturer, or someone at home making one off items.

>What printer/material types do well with what things... e.g. for shock loads/fine detail/structural rigidity/other qualities.

Consumer 3D printing has many options. Plastic, plastic, plastic and plastic. There is ABS, PLA, and a few other variations that behave and perform at about the same level. The material is brittle and relatively soft. Think like star wars toys or some other soft plastic action figure. It's technically the same material as legos are made of, but due to the fact legos are injection molded, you would get the wrong idea in terms of hardness from legos.

Industrial grade and much higher end printers have other materials available. There are printers that do metal, ceramics, wood-ish materials. These are high maintenance, highly proprietary devices.

That said, for little fixit stuff ABS plastic basically does the trick. It's hard enough to build a lot of stuff with. The printers are usually accurate enough to make interlocking parts.

>Have you used multi material printers?

Duel head printers have been around for a while. There are actually a lot of issues with making this kind of thing work on a consumer printer. As 3D printers rely on melted materials which are at all times cooling, expanding, and hardening, mixing materials can be... treacherous at best. Current consumer level Reprap software does nearly zero to account for these effects, mostly treating the expanding gelatin like plastic is if it were motionless, heatless, and solid. This makes it harder than you might imagine to pull of a multi material print, as neither the software and hardware is in your favor. To put it in perspective the normal failure rate for a cheaper consumer level printer doing single material prints could easily be over 50%, and we are talking prints that might take over 10 hours to complete.

So from my perspective, people working on repraps need to improve the hardware and software a great deal before multi material printing is "bullet proof"
>What is the best can they do currently?
Print you cool little objects. Think action figures, or other small tchochkees. On the higher end, the sky is the limit, but for repraps and the like, think a 6x6 anything made of plastic. Oh, and no overhangs that can really ruin your day. Not impossible, but a pain for a lot of reasons.


>How long before electronics are printed this way, integrated into the structure?

People have been experimenting with this for a while. Personally I've haven't seen much use for it , as it's fairly easy to simply order a few PCBs from a manufacturer made to your specs. This is perhaps why I haven't seen too much in terms of "printing circuits" outside the maker zone but it could be someone in industry is working on it. I don't really see a need for one off PCBs with a 3D printer that a breadboard couldn't fill better, but people do some to want it, so it may be a thing eventually.

One hurdle that such efforts will have to overcome is lead, and other hazardous fumes. See 3D printing lucked out in the sense that we found out, more or less after the fact, that ABS is fairly benign to breath under most circumstances.

The same cannot be said for the materials which comprise circuits, and for a fully functional PCB printer to exist, a fumehood or some sort of air circulation would be necessary. This kind of limits the appeal in terms of consumer product, but it isn't much different than the requirements of smaller laser router machines.

So yeah, maybe someday. Still in development at the moment.

>What printer would you recommend to a home enthusiast user?

Depends on your background and temperment. If you are patient (and you will want to be patient with these machines) I would go with whatever the state of the art in open source RepRap style printers is.

Now I say that more or less from the perspective that open source is better in this particular situation. The *design* of repraps is not necessarily better than any of the consumer printers, some of them being rather over complicated. The advantage is that the whole thing is documented decently and you don't have to reverse engineer it too much. On the other hand if you buy a propriatary printer like a Makerbot, you have someone to call when it breaks.

But do you?

One thing to remember is 3D printer support has always sucked from all companies, and even the big companies sort of expect you to be an engineer about it and figure out how to maintain the thing yourself.

So before even going down this path start researching printer control boards, stepper motors, rates of failure, basic robotics, kinomatics etc... this will make your life with the printer much much less sad. I will tell you this instance: You will need to tinker, it will break, you will fix it, the help wont be much help, and you will have to reverse engineer *SOMETHING* to get the thing to work. Be prepared with solder, glue, bolts, and what not and don't expect too much of the manufacturer in terms of help.

By the time you are competent with the thing you'll already have your own ideas for fixing them.

On that note, one BIG problem with nearly all consumer 3D printers is that they all run on an open loop control system. That means the "head" of the printer has zero idea whatsoever where it is in space besides the computers reckoning of it's relative movements.

This means if the head ever goes off trick it stays there, forever. So if you have a loose bearing, belt, cable, motor, whatever....


Let me know if have any questions, despite the NaCL I like the little things when they decide to work. Just go in with open eye



i'm trying to make some 3D printed animal skulls to scale to size. i'm noticing that no matter what I do, that I still keep getting the lines. i've thought of sanding it or using something to smooth it out but it also removes a lot of very prominent grooves in the printed bones.

do i need to just continue configuring more to get a much smoother, nigh negligible printing lines, or do i need a new printer (printrbot simple with a heated bed)?


I always see 'futurologists' making all kinds of wild forecasts about 3d printing. I also remember in the 90's when these people were saying we'd have flying cars by like 2010.

I guess my question is what industries do you see 3d printing revolutionizing and how?



>do i need to just continue configuring more to get a much smoother, nigh negligible printing lines, or do i need a new printer (printrbot simple with a heated bed)?

You will always have lines as long as you print with a filament based printer. It is a natural consequence of the process, and consumer printers do not have the accuracy, precision, or reliability to mitigate it. The thing I said before about the heat / expansion in the material not being taken into account by the software goes double here.

Think about it this way, the accuracy of the printer is in some way limited by the diameter of the nozzle. Anything is "squirts" under it can only be controlled to the area of the nozzle opening, with some error.

Easiest way to a smooth print:
Build an acetone vapor chamber and melt the lines off. Sanding wont work very well, but you can try.

3D printing has been great for industry for over 30 years. It was in industry long before there were consumer printers. The consumer printers are the new revolution. Companies like HP have had these things since like 1980.

As for makers in their homes, there are already plenty of start up success stories. If you need a cheap prototype that's about a 6x6x6 concaveish shape, then it works fairly well.

However, if you have any money whatsoever, you are almost always better served by going to a service like shapeways. The quality is better, and you don't have to spend the rest of your days repairing the thing.