Tag Archives: printing

Make Magazine Is Planning The “Ultimate 3D Printer Shootout” Issue

If any single publication can claim to represent the maker movement, I suppose Make Magazine is it.

John Abella says they are working on a massive guide to 15 hobby-level 3D printers, to be released in November. It looks like some of the designs they’ll be comparing are the Printrbot, 3D Touch, SeeMeCNC, Felix, Lulzbot, Up!, Solidoodle, Makerbot Replicator and Ultimaker.

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WikiWeapons – To Print A Gun Or Not

3D printing, when it works, is a remarkably easy way to turn a very complicated design file into a physical object.

Open source, when it works, is a great way to innovate on and distribute an idea quickly.

What if that idea was a design for a gun?

The Defense Distributed project seems to be coming to open source 3D printing from a philosophical perspective. They assert that designing a 3D printable personal defensive weapon system is a challenge to numerous entities that they either disagree with or believe don’t go far enough in their beliefs.

More after the jump.

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Brian Proffitt and Tim Worstall on Open Source 3D Printing

3D printing (can we all agree on whether or not to hyphenate and/or capitalize the “d”) is a hot topic for speculation in certain circles. Lets look at some now…

Read the original article by Brian Proffitt over at ReadWriteWeb.com or just the highlights here.

The potential of 3D printing to transform the way we get things – the market is predicted to hit $3.1 billion in the next four years – gets a lot of press. But not much of that attention has focused on the unique role of open source hardware in enabling 3D printing to realize its promise.

Open source hardware is a component or device that has been licensed to allow anyone to examine, duplicate and modify the hardware as they wish…Open source hardware doesn’t get much attention outside of geek circles, but it is starting to have a real-world impact.

Arduino’s hardware is completely open sourced (under Creative Commons), with design files and specs available, as well as control software (under the GPL) and documentation (also under Creative Commons). The only thing non-free about Arduino is the trademarked name – and that’s just to keep standards in place.

Making it easier, faster and cheaper to produce physical objects could fundamentally shift the manufacturing paradigm. As 3D printing, powered by Arduino and other open source technologies, becomes more prevalent, economies of scale become much less of a problem.

One little blue-and-white microcontroller may not be the fulcrum to move the world, but open source hardware is definitely making the lever longer and easier to push.

Read the original article by Tim Worstall over at Forbes. Or not. Here are some excerpts for your brain.

Is 3-D printing going to change our world in the decades to come? Sure it is, it’s going to, in fact it already is, entirely change the economics of low volume manufacturing. That, in turn, changes the economics of high volume manufacturing and so we’ll end up with an entirely different product mix, what gets made where and how.

… it’s easy enough to see a time in which one has such a [3D] printer just as much as one has a paper printer. Need something, call up the part design over the web, pay a buck or two perhaps (and no doubt there will be open sourcers as well) and print out whatever it is that you wanted.

However, I’m continually seeing the old Luddite point beng made. If we don’t need factories full of workers to do things then won’t everyone be poor as they’ve got no jobs?…I continually pound my head onto the desk when I see this argument.

If we’re getting as many physical goods from our 3-D printers as we desire then there’s no shortage of non-physical goods, services if you like, that that same displaced labour can now go and provide…But the second, and clinching, argument is about cost. We will obviously only use our 3-D printers to create everything if they are cheaper than the more traditional manufacturing methods…let us go to the extreme and assume that they are cheaper: so much so that manufacturing really does disappear. What does that do to wages? Yup, a fall in the costs of things is equal to, is by definition the equivalent of, a rise in real wages. So if 3-D printers do take off it can only be because, by definition, they make us all richer.

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RepRap 3D Printer Color Mixing Nozzle by James Corbett

If you’ve done any desktop 3D printing and, lets be honest, who hasn’t, right, then you’re aware of the limitation imposed on your creativity by the color of the plastic you’re printing in. Makerbot has sort of addressed the issue with their dual extruder, but it’s really only a tease. Being able to switch from one color of plastic to another only highlights the fact that you can’t print in any of the colors in between.

At first people tried to solve the problem by coloring white ABS filament with markers just before it entered the extruder. This approach worked. For example, the Filament Colorizer by cyclone holds two sharpies and makes your prints new colors. Dry erase markers also work, as demonstrated by scocioba. Also RyGuy. As an alternative, James Corbett has developed an extruder that mechanically mixes different colors of plastic. The idea is that you could have a roll of plastic in basic colors (like CMYK and black) that you just push into the mixing chamber in different proportions to create the full color wheel.

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Testing the marker thing was pretty straight forward. People just rubbed a marker on the plastic filament and it did pretty much what you’d expect. Testing the mechanical mixer was an entirely different story. Corbett went through several passive and active designs before he found one that successfully mixed the plastic. Follow the jump to read the conclusion and way ahead from his paper on the subject.

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US Gov Jumps on 3D Printing Bandwagon with National Network for Manufacturing Innovation

Well 3D printing has officially sold out. The Pentagon is going to fund a new program called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). It will be 15 institutes which will each serve as a hub for “manufacturing excellence.” It will be managed by the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Commerce’s NIST, the National Science Foundation, and friends.

Wanna read President Obama’s speech on the subject? Of course you don’t, so here are the important bits:

I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation –- and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes…To do that, we need Congress to act.  Hmm.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s true.  (Laughter.)  But that doesn’t mean we have to hold our breath.  We’re not going to wait — we’re going to go ahead on our own.  Later this year, we’re going to choose the winner of a competition for a pilot institute for manufacturing innovation — help them get started…And sparking this network of innovation across the country – it will create jobs and it will keep America in the manufacturing game.  Of course, there’s more we can do to seize this moment of opportunity to create new jobs and manufacturing here in America.

An interesting note from the Request for Information is that, “Each Institute will have a clear focus area that does not overlap with those of the other Institutes. The focus area could be an advanced material, a manufacturing process, an enabling technology, or an industry sector. The federal government does not intend to create or provide a complete list of focus areas for the NNMI. The NNMI solicitation will invite applicants to propose such areas.” The RFI offers additive manufacturing as the first example of a potential focus area.

This whole thing will be overseen by the brand new Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office which will be hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The FY13 budget (pdf) “makes available” $1 billion to help the NNMI establish an “ecosystem” of manufacturing activity.

Hopefully this endeavor will manufacture more than just acronyms.

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