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A Bid To Take 3D Printing Mainstream 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the grandma's-printed-cookies dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Can 3D printing go truly mainstream? Startup M3D is betting on it, having launched a Kickstarter campaign to create what it terms the first truly consumer 3D printer, built around proprietary auto-leveling and auto-calibration technology that (it claims) will allow the device to run in an efficient, easy-to-use way for quite some time. According to The Verge, the device is space-efficient, quiet, and sips power: 'One of the main obstacles between 3D printers and consumers has been clunky, unintuitive software. Here too, M3D promises improvements, having designed an app that's 'as interactive and enjoyable as a game' with a minimalist and touch-friendly interface.' Do you think 3D printing can capture a massive audience, or will it remain niche for the foreseeable future?"
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A Bid To Take 3D Printing Mainstream

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:23PM (#46686803)

    You think people are going to pay you money so you can get bought out by a bigger company to take 3D printing mainstream? Take it to the VCs.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wasn't that Makerbot?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't think 3D printer ventures or the companies that buy them are interested in violating user privacy. 3D printers don't have eye tracking or potential as an advertising platform (when's the last time your Epson/HP/Brother added a coupon to your printouts?). I guess there's DRM potential but those schemes seem doomed to fail.

      In other words, the Oculus Rift buyout has nothing to do with the majority of Kickstarter ventures.

      • by dousk (829088)

        when's the last time your Epson/HP/Brother added a coupon to your printouts?

        OH GOD TAKE THAT BACK BEFORE THEY SEE IT.

    • You think people are going to pay you money so you can get bought out by a bigger company to take 3D printing mainstream? Take it to the VCs.

      Oh, findest ye of little faith mine disturbation! Methods long established banketh not upon keen foresight and wisdom; Nay, filleth thou offering's orifice by thine heady splendorous shortsights whence upon high thee thighs be they hiketh, yon promiscuous promises. Ye doubteth dark sacred rites though in daylight be they performed, whenst thou hath surely been witness to stupendous powers of Occultist Rift's orders!?

      'Tis a trick older still than even scribes or books, fishes findeth mouths of bait switche

  • clunky software? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whatsisname (891214) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:26PM (#46686833) Homepage

    One of the main obstacles between 3D printers and consumers has been clunky, unintuitive software

    More like the fact that CAD software packages cost many thousands of dollars, and no good free alternatives exist.

    Or that the printers themselves for commercial grade machines also cost many thousands of dollars.

    Or that mechanical design is inherently challenging and is an expensive skill to develop.

    But nope, just have some big buttons on a touch screen and everything will be groovy.

    • by zarthrag (650912)

      And please don't respond "Oh, just use blender!" It's not a CAD tool if it doesn't have parametrics.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:42PM (#46686971)
      Most people just want to be able to download an object from the internet and print it out.
      Missing a part for that new 'some assembly required' doodad that you bought? Hit their website and print it out.
      Cheap plastic part snapped under abusive strain? Print out a new one.
      Cool new gun design available on the internet? Print it out and fire, fire, fire away!
      3D printing will really hit the big time when it is cheap and good enough for stuff like this. People designing and prototyping things is a niche market and not enough to advance the technology quickly. It's like trying to market CD burners only to recording artists.
      • When they find it takes a hour to print? not so much.

        5-10 minutes tops before people are going to accept it. And that's if you can completely remove any user interaction with the technical side.

        It's a 'printer' and they will expect it to work (and likewise the user not work) like one from 2010, not 1980.
        • by Immerman (2627577)

          An overnight print job is still a lot faster than mail-order.

      • by Rob Riggs (6418)

        Most people just want to be able to download an object from the internet and print it out. Missing a part for that new 'some assembly required' doodad that you bought? Hit their website and print it out. Cheap plastic part snapped under abusive strain? Print out a new one.

        Exactly. I have a battery with a broken latching mechanism. A replacement battery is $50. I could print a replacement plastic part for pennies if I had a model for it.

        • Most people just want to be able to download an object from the internet and print it out.

          Missing a part for that new 'some assembly required' doodad that you bought? Hit their website and print it out.

          Cheap plastic part snapped under abusive strain? Print out a new one.

          Exactly. I have a battery with a broken latching mechanism. A replacement battery is $50. I could print a replacement plastic part for pennies if I had a model for it.

          Here's your killer app: an online database of battery covers for remote controls. No more duct tape holding your batteries in!

          • Or... I could just program my Android phone to operate all the IR devices in my life instead, which is what I did the last time a battery cover went missing. I don't even know where the remotes are anymore, breeding between various cushions.

            The killer battery-cover app would be image recognition for your phone where the camera takes a shot of the device, figures out what model it is, then runs through the IR pulses for various functions until it detects it turn on/off change channel, volume. A self progra

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          And it would break as soon as you bent the retaining clip putting it in your remote, right back to square one. Good job.

          Materials science is a lot harder than 'just make it out of plastic'. 3d printing has a niche that its fine for, but thinking you're going to be able to print anything you want with the exact properties of the material you need just because you have a printer that takes PLA is ... well, just ignorant.

          • by Rob Riggs (6418)

            This is not for a remote control. It's a simple slide latch for a radio battery. And the problem with the design is that the plastic it was made from was the same as the battery case, which is too brittle for the switch. A less brittle plastic such as ABS or HIPS would actually work better and last longer. Was a material scientist consulted when designing the battery? Doubtful.

            Since you have no idea about the problem I am trying to solve, the "ignorant" comment seems misplaced. Will the solution be id

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        You do realize that anything 3d printed at home is going to be FAR inferior to even the shittiest chinese knock off ABS injection molded part, right?

        You guys don't get it, 3d printed stuff is crap unless you're printing on a 300k machine that prints in materials that cost a fortune.

        You go ahead and pull the trigger on that 3d printed gun, considering even the guys who designed it aren't that stupid ... oh yea, its also easier to just got the local hardware store and get far superior parts than your shitty p

        • Yeah, but they will work perfectly fine for board game pieces, art pieces, simple kid toys, cups, plates.. Yeah, that's about it :)
          But the technology is advancing, give it a few years and you'll be able to create most home tools, Legos, and other everyday objects.

    • by Sique (173459) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:46PM (#46687023) Homepage
      More like the fact that until affordable 3D printing comes along, there is no point in having CAD software targeted at non-professionals. Intuitive CAD software is missing because there never was any demand for it outside of people who actually liked to write CAD packages as a hobby.
      • Intuitive CAD software is missing because there never was any demand for it

        Oh, I wouldn't be so sure. Everyone who's ever edited a few photos wants intuitive CAD tech once they've seen it in action. [youtube.com]

      • There's already CAD software that's easy enough for kids to use, as proven by the fact that kids are using it!

        TinkerCAD and Sketchup are all easy enough that my son was using them when he was six.

        So that's not what's holding 3D printing back. :-)

        Personally, I don't see _anything_ holding 3D printing back.

        Some people just want to download and print things, and for them there's Thingiverse (and to a lesser degree other repositories) with tens of thousands of things available for free. And there are some for-p

    • by Artraze (600366)

      > More like the fact that CAD software packages cost many thousands of dollars, and no good free alternatives exist.
      > Or that mechanical design is inherently challenging and is an expensive skill to develop.

      I'd say that these are not "mainstream" issues but rather content creation issues (and creators are quite niche). While text documents are pretty easy to create for a normal printer, once you move past those content creation becomes much more challenging and niche. DVD burners are pretty mainstre

      • Indeed. Why would I want one of your silly "microwaves" when I can go to restaurants. It'll never take off.

        • by Artraze (600366)

          Microwaves are pretty much totally on my point because:
          A) They cost like $50 for a cheap model
          B) Meals are cheaper than the cheapest restaurant

          If 3D printers get to that point, they may become mainstream.

    • by Travco (1872216)
      Have you tried Sketchup? Even the pro version is relatively inexpensive and WOW! intuitive.
    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Or that the printers themselves for commercial grade machines also cost many thousands of dollars."

      I paid 10.000$ for my first 2D black&white Postscript Laserprinter >25 years ago and I liked it.

    • by Tom (822)

      More like the fact that CAD software packages cost many thousands of dollars, and no good free alternatives exist.

      Cheetah 3D [cheetah3d.com] is like 70 bucks and I've used it to create models for 3D printing.

      It's not free, but if you're into 3D printing then 70 bucks is nothing as everything else involved costs you a lot more.

    • by mercnet (691993)
      Autodesk has a cloud based CAD software, Fusion 360, which you can rent monthly. It does allow you to export files for 3D printing. http://www.autodesk.com/produc... [autodesk.com]
    • More like the fact that CAD software packages cost many thousands of dollars, and no good free alternatives exist.

      - Blender?
      - Sketchup? (for basics)

      I've always used Blender for modelling 3D game assets.
      The good thing about free/open software? If something doesnt exist in the product, you can code it in yourself for free!

    • What most folks would want is an easy way to 3D scan the little plastic doodad (probably off their car) that has been temporarily been super-glued back together again just to get the proper shape file. Maybe a little sculpting to clean up edges or build back up worn edges, but that's all that will be needed.

      I suppose, however, the real reason a 3D scanner won't ever be included is that is a sure way to be sued for facilitating the dreaded IP THEFT. Sigh.
  • There are two barriers right now - cost of the printer and time to print.

    For cost, you just need a Kinkos or OfficeMax or USPS or FedEx store model - where you have an account and have it printed there and you pick it up.

    For time, the above model works fairly well.

    We actually have quite a few 3D printers on campus and use them for a lot of things, so you can see it moving - you can even print stuff at the UW Bookstore (which also prints books in the public domain of rare editions).

    • Are you at University of Washington or University of Wisconsin?

  • 1: Start a promising buzzword based Kickstarted project.
    2: Sell to large company turning everyone's Kickstarter contributions into a steaming pile of ....
    3: (No ??? step, we've been here before)
    4: PROFIT!!!
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Kickstarter pledges are gifts.

      If you think they are loans or investments, you were too stupid to read the page they made you click an 'i understand' checkbox on when you donated the money and you deserve to get screwed.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:36PM (#46686917) Journal

    This will be good for creating random toys and knick knacks. The problem with 3d software for the masses is that it's technical. When you create a part for use (as opposed to a blob of toyness), holes, edges, parts have to be in a specific place. That requires math, which is beyond the reach of the average user. It's like trying to create a technical drawing with an iPad sketch program. You can make pretty pictures with your finger (okay - artists can, you can just make ugly dogs and weird looking trees), but you can't make a scaled technical drawing for fabrication.

    Oh, and kickstarter is not a mainstream consumer outlet. Call me when they have the model for sale at WalMart or Staples.

    • 3D modelling is way easier than producing good technical drawings, and you don't need the drawings for 3D printed components. The only time you would need them is if you had to submit them to another company or for checking the part for tolerances.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Is there really and truly any reason why a user can't reasonably expect to sketchup (or use some other similarly simple modeling program) a toy with a line drawn through it in a couple of places marked "axle" and expect software to figure out how thick that axle needs to be, and how a 3d printer is going to lay down some bearings around it while printing the toy truck or duck or whatever with wheels on it? Software can already handle turning the "solid" parts of solids into structured voids to save material

  • It'll stay niche until people come up with more useful things to print than a handful of Yoda figurines or a gun barrel that's guaranteed to blow up in your face. While there are some people who've made useful things with 3D printers, the average person is not going to produce the engineering quality 3D models that are needed to build such useful items.

  • Most people can't even bother with making coffee from scratch, what makes anyone think they want to deal with calibration, software, consumables, and other aspects of 3D printing.

    • From scratch as in growing the beans, or roasting them or grinding them or just dumping then in a cafietere?

      • by Molt (116343)
        As Carl Sagan said, "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe".
  • My new book (Score:4, Interesting)

    by koan (80826) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:39PM (#46686943)

    How To Get Rich Off of Kickstarter Without Delivering.

  • by Molt (116343) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:39PM (#46686953)

    Over the last few years 3d printing has come on dramatically, it's great for rapid prototyping.

    Unfortunately though the average home user doesn't really have much need for rapid prototyping, and most of the things which come out of current 3d printers just don't look polished enough to appeal. They're still very rough looking, more the type of thing which'd come out of a Christmas cracker than the type of thing most people would want as decor.

    In terms of software I don't think a more user-friendly 3d editor will help too much. I view 3d product design as similar to writing software, you can make it more accessible but most people are just going to be interested in the library of things other people have developed. Make a library of designs which the average person (not the average current 3d printer owner, they're more enthusiast) will find interesting, attractive, and useful and maybe you'll break the mainstream- until then it's the realm of the tinkerer and the hacker. Most people don't need or want a print out of the Stanford rabbit.

    I'm not saying this isn't of interest or use, I may have pledged for one myself if I didn't find paying the import duties to the UK to be so painful (Anyone want to Kickstart a business importing other business' Kickstarters?), but it's still just another 3d printer. I don't think it's the type of thing I'd be recommending to my parents and neighbours though, I just don't think they'd want to deal with the hassles that 3d printers currently bring in exchange for the benefits. How much 3d printing do most people actually need?

    What I do see as becoming more popular is the shared printer. People at home make orders for larger and well-finished 3d objects selected from a catalogue and printed on a very nice printer, and they either post them or make them available for collection at central points. I know businesses like Shapeways do this already but the price isn't right for most people yet, it needs to be the case where printing a vase isn't that much more expensive than buying one, and printing a piece to fix your plumbing should be easily affordable.

    • I totally agree that it will end up having more to do with having a great library of designs that the average person can print (or even modify!) easily.
      I would imagine getting a 3D printer right before having children, and I would want it for the following things:
      Toys
      Kitchen utensils, plates, cups, bowls, etc
      Decorations / spare parts

      So I would need a library of such things, a printer that could print in various colours with foodsafe, microwavable materials, strongly enough that items wont break under normal

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        I think the easy modification is what has potential to sell it. If you can print an easily customizable (as in adjust few sliders) lampshade design, etc. you've got the potential for mass-market appeal. If you can only print out pre-designed items then mass-production can provide ea higher-quality version of the same thing, and it'll probably be cheaper as well. And that will keep 3D printing as the domain primarily of hobbyists and prototypers.

        • But to me that sounds like a library and software problem, which can easily be upgraded/updated over time (or provided mostly online)
          Obviously the consumables have to come down in price to so that economy of scale starts making sense. I don't care about 1 lampshade, I care about all the hundreds/thousands of little plastic things (tupperware, tupperware lids, jugs) that I have to buy over time and the convenience of acquiring them.
          It would be a lot easier for me to buy lots of plastic consumables in bulk k

          • by Immerman (2627577)

            >But to me that sounds like a library and software problem

            Certainly. And the problem is that until the software reaches a certain level of ease-of-use there will be no demand for 3D printer hardware except by enthusiasts. What do you suppose the modern market for PCs would be if the hardware were at its current level, but the state-of-the-art OS was still a single-tasking text-only command line with no graphical support? The hardware is only half the product.

            Why would you buy a 3D printer and consumab

            • Printer filament will always be more expensive then a mass produced injection molded part. The filament has to be extruded, the part molded.

              Also the printed part will suck, strength wise vs the molded part.

              The only place it makes any sense to print 'plastic junk' is when you can print a part and extend the life of something valuable. 3d plastic printers are for prototyping.

              • by Immerman (2627577)

                As far as cost is concerned, Not necessarily. Injection molding is a batch process, and in fact often starts with plastic pellets that were themselves extruded as filament that was immediately chopped into tiny lengths. Extrusion is potentially far more efficient since it can be done as a continuous process.

                For strength you are correct, assuming an equivalent quantity of plastic. On the other hand in most cases there's no reason you can't use more plastic to create stronger parts. Especially as personal

                • They have fancy injection molding machines that rotate a bunch of molds under a single extruder like barrel. But I get the point.

                  But my point is that making a precise filament is not trivial. Neither is making mold set. But they are both similar in cost. One gets you an almost finished product, one gets you a feed stock for yet another machine.

                  Making my own filament would not strike me as a good use of time, especially if it's a solved problem. Uneven filaments have to lead to stuck screws and clogged

  • I don't see how the "mainstream" market would really have a need for 3d printers. Those who are hobbyists will always find a use for it, but "mainstream?" Maybe I don't understand what the author means by that.
    We use a 3d printing service at work when we are prototyping hardware and light fixtures and such. Those services are getting cheaper and I see that as the way the "mainstream"market market will go. The only thing I have found to make is custom lego mini figure accessories for the kids.
    • by KindMind (897865)

      I think this is a key question for any 3d printer / software setup. Most of the posts on Slashdot seem to center around "designing something for real" (prototyping, replacing a part, etc.)

      But I think a recreational version would take off if done right. For example, my 7 year old granddaughter loves minecraft, and spends hours building things there. I think she would love the ability to print out stuff she has built there. She also likes to make her own videos. She will arrange her dollhouses and stuff

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        An *excellent* idea.

        I suspect once 3D printing becomes commonplace people will finds lots of uses for it, BUT very few people will consider buying one for those purposes. Bit of a chicken and egg problem. On the other hand if you can make the thing easy and reliable enough for a child to operate, and very importantly make the design software similarly easy to use, then you've got a chance of getting a foothold in the lucrative toy market. Then, so long as you make sure you can still print objects from more

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:59PM (#46687147) Homepage

    This is Yet Another Crap Extruder based printer. That whole class of machines sort of works on good days. None of them Just Work.

    The fundamental problem is that they're welding a hot thing to a cold thing. That sucks for metal welding, it sucks for soldering, and it sucks for plastic welding. It's how you get bad welds, cold solder joints, and fractures in 3D printing. The heated build plate systems usually start a build OK, but a few cm from the build plate, that heat source isn't close enough to help much. So many taller builds fail around 2-5 cm.

    For this process to work, it needs better temperature control. A heated build chamber (that's patented). A hot air jet or small laser aimed at the target just before the weld (larger plastic welders do this). But nobody seems to be doing that. They just keep coming up with variations in the 3-axis motion mechanism (not hard to get right) and the software (not really the problem). Or they add DRM and overcharge for "print cartridges".

    • by ultranova (717540)

      The fundamental problem is that they're welding a hot thing to a cold thing. That sucks for metal welding, it sucks for soldering, and it sucks for plastic welding.

      Does it absolutely need to welding? Could you use a quick-curing resin and a constant pour from, say, a mesh top plate that rises steadily to stay a few millimeters above the gelification front? You'd get a totally smooth surface that way, too (since it's kept that way by surface tension as it cures), and it wold be easy to extend this system to

      • by leftover (210560)

        Fused-filament is actually welding because the molten material is the same as the 'base' material. The real problem is shrinkage in going from melt to solid. The same problem occurs in 2-part polymers since they shrink as they both polymerize and cool. (They get bleep-ing HOT during the process!) Some of the other processes (selective UV curing, selective laser sintering) avoid that problem and produce much better surface quality but at the cost of even longer build times and extremely more expensive materi

        • Fused Filament printing is just another technique, with benefits and weaknesses. On the 'pro' side, it's very cheap, and it lets you make things that are quite strong, so they can stand up to routine usage. On the 'con' side, the resolution is limited, and you need to cool prints evenly or there can be curling or cracking. The issue isn't in going from liquid to solid, because until the plastic is solid it can't cause any stress on the part - when it's soft is just stretches! The issue is actually a bit lat

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      >None of them Just Work.
      Isn't that what this project is claiming as its goal? No, it won't solve the cold-welding problem, but from what I've seen for most non-load-bearing applications that's not really much of an issue - the far larger issue is constant repairs and recalibration, and having to babysit the machine while it's working. Make something cheap and simple enough that little Tom and Suzy can reliably print out custom Happy-Meal grade toys and you've got something that would have mass appeal.

    • by daid303 (843777)

      http://daid.eu/~daid/IMG_20130... [daid.eu]
      Printed on a "crap extruder" printer, without problems.

      You're generalizing. Just because it does not work for metal does not mean it does not work for plastics. Plastics have a very different thermal conductivity.

      Heated chambers are not patented. A specific implementation of the heated chamber is patented.

      (Do have to agree that they concentrate too much on the machine. The machine is hardly the problem)

  • by Guano_Jim (157555)

    I think 3D printing as we know it today is likely to remain in the realm of the hobbyist for the foreseeable future. BUT... at $300 a pop this new printer's going to open up the process to a lot more hobbyists who might be scared off by a MakerBot's monster price tag.

    A printer like the M3D would be put at a price point where it wouldn't be unusual to find one at an elementary school. I could see this becoming a great educational tool.

    • Re:No. (Score:4, Informative)

      by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:02PM (#46687731)

      A 3D printer for under 500$USD is nothing new.

      The Printrbot Simple Kit [printrbot.com] has available for months, for 349$USD.

      Still too expensive? For 200$USD, you can get a Makibox A6 LT [makibox.com].

      Want to go even lower? You can get a Peachy Printer [kickstarter.com] for only 100$CAD.

      • The point isn't just that it's cheap ($300!), it's that it's a consumer-friendly printer that can be used "out of the box". So price matters, but so does the "out of box experience" and usability.

        The Printrbot Simple is a very nice little printer. But at that price it's a kit that requires assembly, and the result looks like a weird machine made of wood and wiring with moving parts exposed. And the software is the same techie-looking software everyone uses. Which means that it's not an option for someone wh

  • I'm still waiting on those claims to come true of 2D printing.
  • For repair purposes, I can see people with skill at operating 3d printers and scanners providing replacement part services to people who (paid or unpaid) fix things for the local portion of a massive audience. In particular 3d printed parts could be useful when the repair person finds that the problem is a broken or worn piece of plastic, like a plastic gear with a broken tooth, or a plastic key with a broken stem on a remote that got dropped. Much of the time it will be cheaper to just replace the entire
  • Huge (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Jim Sadler (3430529)
    3D printing is a huge game changer. It may be the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel. A 3D printer that can build a home apparently already exists. A canoe or a camper might be rather easy to generate. Combine 3D printing with robotics and the handwriting is on the wall. On top of all of that we now have tiny computers that are surprisingly capable. What might a 3D printer do with material to build a robot powered by a Raspberry Pi?
    • by ndrw (205863)

      What might a 3D printer do with material to build a robot powered by a Raspberry Pi?

      Destroy humanity?

    • by axlash (960838)

      Too bad I don't have points to mod this up. Love the way you send up the hype.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      What might a 3D printer do with material to build a robot powered by a Raspberry Pi?

      Find Sarah Connor
  • Theoretically you need to;
    - Level the build plate and calibrate it
    - Learn any 3D modeling software to create or modify objects, often at millimeter level precision
    - Learn the slicing software which converts your 3D object file into a file your printer understands as instructions

    That's it. Frankly, the second one is a huge investment of time and energy, and while some simple 3D design is possible in very stripped-down programs, nothing BUT simple design is possib

    • by ndrw (205863)

      I'm not sure you're entirely correct here. I think you're right that "average" people won't be able to do good 3D design, but I'm seeing more and more gallery sites open with very interesting 3D models available for free. I think there's a good analogy to the early computer industry. We had very few users that weren't power users, because it was a pain to learn. But then, more and more people created interesting software and the hardware advanced and it became cheaper and easier to get involved (thanks to s

  • The Bucaneer [pirate3d.com] had this same concept for over a year ago...

  • There are many products that people buy, including food, which are readily producible by people who wish to do so but the DIY crowd is a minority because most people just want to consume the best of whatever humanity can devise, at the cheapest price and with the greatest convenience.

    Look at ceramics, very old tech with readily available materials and technology, but how many people make the plates they eat off?

    A 3D printer is a mini factory and if it cannot produce a product that is "better" overall that w

  • Let's see (Score:5, Informative)

    by janoc (699997) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:14PM (#46687851)

    This topic has been re-hashed here before several times (e.g. here [slashdot.org])

    Let's see what is actually innovative or different on this printer when compared to the existing ones:

    - automatic leveling - ok, but they seem to use a sensor ("motion sensor chip"?!) in the printer head (?!) and not moving bed. I am not really sure how this could actually work ...
    - non-heated bed - they claim it is not needed because of autoleveling, but that is BS. You need heated bed for ABS to stick to it, level or not level, otherwise the moving head will lift the print or it will warp. Nothing to do with the bed being level.
    - tiny working volume
    - autocalibration - again some magical "motion sensor chip" is mentioned, without any explanation what that autocalibration is nor how it works ...
    - they are keen on the artistic look of the thing, but I have serious reservations about the rigidity and accuracy of the device - the claimed 15um is only the theoretical resolution of the steppers, not actual resolution of the printer (depends on the nozzle size which is 0.45mm by default!). The ABS body doesn't instill much confidence!
    - reduced power consumption is somehow supposed to make things lighter and cheaper (?!) - that argument seems backwards to me ...
    - startup, they don't have any other products - who knows when they will actually be able to deliver. The August date is completely unrealistic.
    - their team doesn't instill much confidence - 1 electronics guy, 1 CNC guy, 4 CAD people, 2 sw people, but they have 8 artists, 2 PR agencies and 4 lawyers! Not a healthy balance, IMO ...

    - incredibly cheap price ($300), but you get what you pay for IMO
    - they have exceeded their funding target 10x already ...

    Honestly, I don't see how this printer will make 3D printing somehow accessible to the unwashed masses - there are still all those issues of CAD, mechanical design, toy-like device with nebulous claims and nothing to back it up.

    • There's certainly room for 3D printers to drop in price by improving the design manufacturability. Some of what they're doing makes sense to me.

      - Use injection molded case as the structure. This costs more up front, but eliminates many parts. Very similar to how printers went from big machines with lots of screws and rods to almost all plastic. Sure, it's not as durable and rigid, but that might be an OK tradeoff for really cheap.
      - Use of lighter components (carbon filament rods, etc.) allows use of smaller

  • 2D printer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:47PM (#46688249) Homepage
    So you mean they will soon get as clunky and unreliable as 2D printers?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I get it's not an investment, but it's proprietary. There is not advantage to this. There is no reason or incentive for me to put out good money when someone else is going to gain from it, and nothing of value (such as freedom, etc) is gained.

  • Sure, you can print their library of files that have been prepared specifically for the machine, but what are those files? Little bits of plastic junk you can buy at Walmart for almost free anyway. How long will the novelty of printing salt and pepper shakers last?

    At $300 grandma and grandpa are going to be buying these for the grandkids instead of the cheesy microscopes and telescopes they used to buy in that price range. Unless the kid is seriously motivated to learn how to get the best performance fro

  • 3D printers will be attractive to consumers when they are sub$500 AND provide quality prints quickly. People take print time into account along with price so if it takes hours to print an object that they can buy over the counter, people will just buy over the counter and avoid the hassle of a machine thumping away for hours. My prediction has always been that 3D printing will be done in a shop front or via mail order. This latest unit is just taking advantage of the dissatisfaction with the current crop of

  • The idea that 3D printing won't take off because people are not well-versed in designing their own 3D products with expensive CAD software is like saying printers won't take off because people aren't really good writers and can't afford a word processor. How many people use their printers for printing off their own words from a word processor? How many people use their printers for printing off PDF files, manuals, brochures, etc. from the Net?

    Why won't 3D printers take off again?

  • By the way, as additive manufacturing becomes commonplace, do you really think even a penny of the (3x? 10x?) savings over subtractive will be passed onto the consumer? Of course not; just like CDs that were oh so expensive to produce initially and then became pennies per due to scale and advances. Yet the prices stayed about the same at the consumer level. Lather, rinse, repeat (getting screwed by corporations).

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