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Printer Hardware Technology

Open-Source 3D Printer Lets Users Make Anything 242

Posted by Zonk
from the printer-for-the-people dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Picture a 3D inkjet printer that deposits droplets of plastic, layer by layer, gradually building up an object of any shape. Fabbers have been around for two decades, but they've always been the pricey playthings of high-tech labs — and could only use a single material. A Fab at Home kit costs around $2400 and allows users to print anything from Hors d'Oeuvres to flashlights."
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Open-Source 3D Printer Lets Users Make Anything

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  • Any shape? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2007 @05:41PM (#21204139)
    Can it make a spider-shaped object? Specifically, one in which all of the feet touch the ground, but the torso and head of the spider are above the feet (suspended by the legs), and the knees of the legs are above the torso and head of the spider?

    You can't make that layer-by-layer in a single pass. You have to make the feet first, go all the way up to the knees, and then back down to the body.

    Can it do that?

  • material (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deander2 (26173) * <public&kered,org> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @05:47PM (#21204237) Homepage
    very neat, but it seems like they're hampered by materials. (silicone adhesive is the most permanent of what i've seen with these types of machines) does anyone have any recommendations for more permanent but still liquidish-at-deposition options? plaster of paris? ultra-fine concrete?
  • by mi (197448) <> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @05:56PM (#21204323) Homepage

    This is just an illustration, that manufacturing is a solved problem. Design, research, and development is where the minds and ideas are or should be going.

    The growing emphasys on the Intellectual Property — the kind, that can be stolen by simple copying (thus leaving the original owner, seemingly, unhurt) — is another illustration of the same trend, like it or not.

  • by davidsyes (765062) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @06:15PM (#21204571) Homepage Journal
    See this:

    3D printer to churn out copies of itself []
  • by PybusJ (30549) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @06:18PM (#21204621)
    Then you ought to check out the RepRap project see: []

    An open design from a project at the University of Bath. It has OSS control software and is specifically designed to be self replicating, using only 400 of materials.
  • Re:material (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @06:53PM (#21205011)
    I saw one for military use that liquefied metal and deposited it in fine drops to build up a final piece. It was intended to build replacement parts in theatre so they didn't have to be shipped. The machine size was about that of a washing machine, and the company claimed it parts were as good as a machined original. You had to machine the final piece to get a usable say disk brake rotor but still very impressive.
  • Re:Any shape? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mikael (484) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @06:53PM (#21205013)
    Yes, it can. And object inside objects too. These system typically work by having a container of liquid combined with a base that slowly moves down. A laser traced out the intersection of the object with an imaginary horizontal plane. This causes a chemical reaction that converts the liquid into solid. This layer will bind to the layer immediately below. So as the base moves slowly down, the intersecting plane moves up along the height of object.

    I've seen the results of these systems. They could model everything from differential gear systems to gearboxes and implicit surfaces.

  • Re:who cares (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nefarious Wheel (628136) * on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:11PM (#21205821) Journal
    Actually there is large scale industrial adoption of this technology already for prototyping, in engineering shops and major manufactured goods factories today, especially in the auto industry.

    PTC / Windchill manufacturing [] business process software includes pathing for fabbed model creation, for example, and accepts quite a number of 3D drawing file formats incorporated in the workflow. One of the guys we just hired on at our SI comes from mfg background and clued me. It's considered a must-have in a number of different mfg software packages now.

  • Re:More Discussion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheBrutalTruth (890948) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @08:11PM (#21205823)
    Thank you - this is indeed old news. However I love the extra exposure for the Fab@Home project - it's awesome. Also check out RepRap - []
  • by ricree (969643) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:27PM (#21206845)
    And at least according to the reprap website, the additional parts should only run about $500 or so dollars. They seem to have the instructions for a completed first version up on their website. I'd say that it's definitely worth checking out. []
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:33PM (#21206925)

    Right now the problem is that you need a scale - if you have a stick you use to measure things by, you add to the error of *every* measurement with each generation... which prevents self-replication.

    It's not just that. Because we can't yet build at the molecular level, we have created all sorts of diverse and complex ways of achieving what we want using bulk processes. The diversity of these means that we need hundreds of huge factories to make all the components for a typical piece of gadgetry. So for example, if a hand-held video camera breaks on a future base on Mars, there is no way they can make another one without thousands of square miles of factories and thousands of workers to produce the components they need. With molecular level manufacturing, you eliminate the necessity of needing a huge set of factories.

    With a molecular manufacturing machine, building something would be a case of having the required data file. I should imagine that there would be a vibrant open-source community designing all sorts of weird and wonderful things which you could download and "print". The potential of such a technology is enormous. There will be all sorts of issues to consider though. How do you prevent people from "printing" hand grenades and machine guns or Sarin?

    If you are interested in this sort of thing, you should read "Engines of Creation" by Eric Drexler which is a non fiction book that explores these ideas. Drexler is the guy who coined the term "Nanotechnology" back in the 80s. You can read it all online here [].

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