3D printing is hot

3D Printing Flies High now. Articles on three-dimensional printers are popping up everywhere these days. And nowadays there are many 3D printer products. Some are small enough to fit in a briefcase and others are large enough to print houses.

Everything you ever wanted to know about 3D printing article tells that 3D printing is having its “Macintosh moment,” declares Wired editor -in-chief Chris Anderson in cover story on the subject. 3D printers are now where the PC was 30 years ago. They are just becoming affordable and accessible to non-geeks, will be maybe able to democratize manufacturing the same way that PCs democratized publishing.

Gartner’s 2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Identifies “Tipping Point” Technologies That Will Unlock Long-Awaited Technology Scenarios lists 3D Print It at Home as important topic. In this scenario, 3D printing allows consumers to print physical objects, such as toys or housewares, at home, just as they print digital photos today. Combined with 3D scanning, it may be possible to scan certain objects with a smartphone and print a near-duplicate. Analysts predict that 3D printing will take more than five years to mature beyond the niche market. Eventually, 3D printing will enable individuals to print just about anything from the comfort of their own homes.Slideshow: 3D Printers Make Prototypes Pop article tells that advances in performance, and the durability and range of materials used in additive manufacturing and stereolithography offerings, are enabling companies to produce highly durable prototypes and parts, while also cost-effectively churning out manufactured products in limited production runs.

3D printing can have implications to manufacturers of some expensive products. The Pirate Bay declares 3D printed “physibles” as the next frontier of piracy. Pirate Bay Launches 3D-Printed ‘Physibles’ Downloads. The idea is to have freely available designs for different products that you can print at home with your 3D printer. Here a video demonstrating 3D home printing in operation.

Shapeways is a marketplace and community that encourages the making and sharing of 3D-printed designs. 3D Printing Shapes Factory of the Future article tells that recently New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut the Shapeways‘ Factory (filled with industrial-sized 3D printers) ribbon using a pair of 3D-printed scissors.

The Next Battle for Internet Freedom Could Be Over 3D Printing article tells up to date, 3D printing has primarily been used for rapid commercial prototyping largely because of its associated high costs. Now, companies such as MakerBot are selling 3D printers for under $2,000. Slideshow: 3D Printers Make Prototypes Pop article gives view a wide range of 3D printers, from half-million-dollar rapid prototyping systems to $1,000 home units. Cheapest 3D printers (with quite limited performance) now start from 500-1000 US dollars. It is rather expensive or inexpensive is how you view that.

RepRap Project is a cheap 3D printer that started huge 3D printing buzz. RepRap Project is an initiative to develop an open design 3D printer that can print most of its own components. RepRap (short for replicating rapid prototyper) uses a variant of fused deposition modeling, an additive manufacturing technique (The project calls it Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) to avoid trademark issues around the “fused deposition modeling” term). It is almost like a small hot glue gun that melts special plastic is moved around to make the printout. I saw RepRap (Mendel) and Cupcake CNC 3D printers in operation at at Assembly Summer 2010.

There has been some time been trials to make 3D-Printed Circuit Boards. 3D Printers Will Build Circuit Boards ‘In Two Years’ article tells that printing actual electronics circuit boards is very close. Most of the assembly tools are already completely automated anyway.

3D printing can be used to prototype things like entire cars or planes. The makers of James Bond’s latest outing, Skyfall, cut a couple corners in production and used modern 3D printing techniques to fake the decimation of a classic 1960s Aston Martin DB5 (made1:3 scale replicas of the car for use in explosive scenes). The world’s first 3D printed racing car can pace at 140 km/h article tells that a group of 16 engineers named “Group T” has unveiled a racing car “Areion” that is competing in Formula Student 2012 challenge. It is described as the world’s first 3D printed race car. The Areion is not fully 3D printed but most of it is.

Student Engineers Design, Build, Fly ‘Printed’ Airplane article tells that when University of Virginia engineering students posted a YouTube video last spring of a plastic turbofan engine they had designed and built using 3-D printing technology, they didn’t expect it to lead to anything except some page views. But it lead to something bigger. 3-D Printing Enables UVA Student-Built Unmanned Plane article tells that in an effort that took four months and $2000, instead of the quarter million dollars and two years they estimate it would have using conventional design methods, a group of University of Virginia engineering students has built and flown an airplane of parts created on a 3-D printer. The plane is 6.5 feet in wingspan, and cruises at 45 mph.

3D printers can also print guns and synthetic chemical compounds (aka drugs). The potential policy implications are obvious. US Army Deploys 3D Printing Labs to Battlefield to print different things army needs. ‘Wiki Weapon Project’ Aims To Create A Gun Anyone Can 3D-Print At Home. If high-quality weapons can be printed by anyone with a 3D printer, and 3D printers are widely available, then law enforcement agencies will be forced to monitor what you’re printing in order to maintain current gun control laws.

Software Advances Do Their Part to Spur 3D Print Revolution article tells that much of the recent hype around 3D printing has been focused on the bevy of new, lower-cost printer models. Yet, significant improvements to content creation software on both the low and high end of the spectrum are also helping to advance the cause, making the technology more accessible and appealing to a broader audience. Slideshow: Content Creation Tools Push 3D Printing Mainstream article tells that there is still a sizeable bottleneck standing in the way of mainstream adoption of 3D printing: the easy to use software used to create the 3D content. Enter a new genre of low-cost (many even free like Tikercad) and easy-to-use 3D content creation tools. By putting the tools in reach, anyone with a compelling idea will be able to easily translate that concept into a physical working prototype without the baggage of full-blown CAD and without having to make the huge capital investments required for traditional manufacturing.

Finally when you have reached the end of the article there is time for some fun. Check out this 3D printing on Dilbert strip so see a creative use of 3D printing.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How Desktop 3D Printing is Moving From Makers to Pros

    Thanks to a number of factors, desktop 3D printing is finally moving out of makers’ basements and into professional offices and factories.

    We’ve all seen the results of desktop 3D printing. And let’s be honest, the results have often been less than impressive. Things like homemade toys and models have a certain cool factor, but once that wears off you have to ask yourself, is a desktop 3D printer just a $3,000 tchotchke maker?

    That’s not to discount however the things being done by makers and the DIY movement. Armed with a 3D printer and a Raspberry Pi, a creative hobbyist can make all sorts of gadgets. But the question for the 3D printing community at large, as well as printer manufacturers, is how can desktop 3D printing move out of the hobbyist realm and deliver on its promise of becoming a professional tool as ubiquitous as a desktop PC?

    “For years, even 10 to 20 years ago, we’ve talked about a 3D printer on every engineer’s desk. But it’s becoming more and more reality. When [desktop 3D printers] started they were for makers,”

    The upside to all of this Kawola said, is that many makers are engineers in their day jobs. And this open-source community that has sprung up around 3D printing hardware, software, and materials is creating a natural ecosystem that is moving desktop 3D printing into offices and factories.

    “I credit that to the open-source nature of desktop 3D printing,” he said. “The customers now have a range of materials they can use. There are now hundreds, maybe thousands, of entities developing filaments for desktop 3D printing. That wasn’t true two to three years ago and it’s part of why desktop 3D printing is becoming more useful in a professional environment.”

    He continued, “At a $3,000 price point for a quality printer and the low cost of materials now, customers are saying, ‘Let’s try that.’ They’re not sure if it’ll work, but it’s such a low cost they try it anyway, and if it works they win.”

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Stratasys Mimics Real Organs With 3D-Printed Models

    Stratasys has introduced BioMimics, a suite of 3D printing technologies that allow it to 3D print models of organs that look and feel like the real thing.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Printing of Metal Parts Is on the Rise, Expert Says

    In applications needing light weight and intricate geometries, direct metal laser sintering is emerging as an alternative to traditional metal fabrication techniques.

    3D printing is a viable solution for metal parts in applications where the geometries, production volumes, and end goals well are suited to the process, an expert told engineers at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing conference in Anaheim this week.

    “Direct metal laser sintering has some huge advantages when the geometry is appropriate,” noted Jeff Schipper, director of special operations at Proto Labs. “But in those situations where traditional manufacturing is more appropriate, you’re going to find direct metal laser sintering to be a lot more expensive.”

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Water Cooling a 3D Printer

    It may seem like a paradox, but one of the most important things you have to do to a 3D printer’s hot end is to keep it cool. That seems funny, because the idea is to heat up plastic, but you really only want to heat it up just before it extrudes. If you heat it up too early, you’ll get jams. That’s why nearly all hot ends have some sort of fan cooling. However, lately we have seen announcements and crowd-funding campaigns that make it look like water cooling will be more popular than ever this year. Don’t want to buy a new hot end? [Dui ni shuo de dui] will show you how to easily convert an E3D-style hot end to water cooling with a quick reversible hack.

    Water Cool a 3D Printer Nozzle for Cheap and Easy!

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CPAP Hacked into Super Charged 3D Printer Cooler

    The Mother of All Print Cooling Fans
    Remote print cooling using a centrifugal air pump from a CPAP machine.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DeWalt Flexvolt 60v Battery Adapter

    A 3D-printed adapter enables the 60 volt mode of the DeWalt Flexvolt batteries.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Upgraded cheap 3D printer into a high quality

    I upgraded my cheap $154 3D printer into a high quality 3D printer with 3D printed parts which you can download for free.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *