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Makerbot Thing-o-Matic 3D Printer Review 117

Posted by timothy
from the not-for-the-faint-of-heart dept.
rsk points out this "review of the $1200 Makerbot Thing-o-Matic 3D printer. After a 16-hour self-assembly and a few weeks of use, a blown PSU was replaced with a higher powered PSU via a mod to the Thing-o-Matic. Video of the Thing-o-Matic printing out little solar panel mounts from Google Sketch-up included in the review. Final thoughts suggest that the Thing-o-Matic is not a great gift for non-engineers: 'You need a decent understanding of robotics, hardware, software, electronics and mechanics, need a little hand dexterity and a ton of patience.'"
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Makerbot Thing-o-Matic 3D Printer Review

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  • I would think... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Friday January 21, 2011 @08:22PM (#34961802) Journal
    Wouldn't it be more accurate to move the head around rather than moving the part? What if your plastic hasn't set yet? Jiggling it around while it is hardening is probably not good for getting an accurate part.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2011 @08:42PM (#34961934)

    Have you seen the parts this thing prints? "Accurate" is not what I would call it.

    I'm not sure why people like these so much. Yeah it's a cool idea but these are barely useable because the results are not even remotely smooth, they're brittle and only loosely resemble the model.

  • by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Friday January 21, 2011 @09:29PM (#34962164)

    Did you see the first personal computers? They were useless toys compared to even the minicomputers of the day. Barely any RAM and no interactive display. Entering programs was laborious and error prone.

  • Quality control? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by detritus` (32392) <awitzke@we[ ]so.org ['say' in gap]> on Friday January 21, 2011 @09:33PM (#34962194) Homepage Journal

    I was seriously considering picking one of these up as i tend to do a lot of low level fabrication (right up to casting noble and non-noble metals) and have yet to find a reasonable and quick method to fab plastics. However looking on the website and reading the review the quality of this product seems extremely questionable, not only did this one unit have 2 major issues within the first day of running (with a complex system like this not exactly a horrid start) but the company itself has a blog post on the front page about how its favorite customer service interaction was one in which the customer decided to fix all the problems on their unit themselves. So my first two impressions are that this unit will most likely be in a state of disrepair in between quick burts of usefulness? I'd rather just submit my renderings to online stores and pay the shipping, etc. simply for the lack of frustration. Now if they got these problems under control i'd have one tomorrow.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday January 21, 2011 @11:21PM (#34962672) Homepage

    I think I'd rather have the laser burn table that they used to cut out various parts of the Thing-o-Matic (such as the plywood shell), than a machine that prints stuff from plastic.

    The desk-sized laser cutters are the most popular machines at TechShop. They're easy to use, easy to program (all they need is line art), and will cut up to 3/8" plywood. The size limit is 18" x 24". They'll cut wood and many plastics, but not metals - that takes a much more powerful model.

    Making small plastic parts by injection molding is an incredibly cheap operation in quantity. Making one-off parts with a MakerBot like device is a slow, expensive process, and the surface quality will be lower. On the other hand, cutting stuff out of sheet stock with laser cutters, plasma cutters, and water-jet cutters is fast; it's useful as a production process.

  • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@@@hotmail...com> on Friday January 21, 2011 @11:38PM (#34962754) Journal

    large, real metal cutting milling machines can also be had used for that price range, and you can add CNC over time while first learning the tricks of the trade. Instead of cutting plastic or sugar, learn to make real fucking machines with a real fucking machine.

    Not everyone wants to commit the time and money to train to be a fully-fledged machinist. Not every job requires (or is even properly done with) metal parts. Not every designer wants to spend a week in the shop making ten identical copies of a widget for a prototype when his time would be better spent at the drafting table. Not every shop wants to hire half a dozen machinists when they can hire one to oversee a bunch of CNC mills.

    In short, don't be a condescending ass.

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