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Engadget Experiences the Solidoodle 3 3D Printer 70

Posted by timothy
from the strong-enough-to-stand-on dept.
Engadget reports that former MakerBot employee Sam Cervantes has brought to market — or at least to Engadget headquarters in prototype form — a working, cheap(ish) 3D printer from his own company Solidoodle. Originally, the new Solidoodle 3 printer was announced at $500; the price has crept up to $800, but that still sounds like a bargain in the world of home fabrication. Unlike the current MakerBot, it has no built-in card slot, so a computer connection is required for the length of a build.
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Engadget Experiences the Solidoodle 3 3D Printer

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  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @06:03PM (#42303697) Journal

    Saw a makerbot being demonstrated with black ABS plastic at a conference last month. The parts made with it were STRONG. (Replacement components of the print head had been manufactured this way.) Also a sample was being made with internal, hollow, completely enclosed and sealed, honeycomb cells, which made it very light without substantially reducing its strength or dimensional tolerances. Should be ideal for things you need to float. (Try building THAT without a 3-D printer: You'd need to bond two or more pieces together.)

    I understand one of the problems with the makerbot that metal-frame follow-ons like this are trying to address is that the wooden frame flexes and changes size with relative humidity, making tolerances lower than they could be with a metal frame.

    Does anyone know how well ABS works for lost-"wax"-casting originals? Or same question regarding other "hot-glue plastic wires" that could be fed through these machines?

    • by RobKow (1787) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @06:16PM (#42303749)

      The general process that includes lost-wax casting is called investment casting, and while it can be done with ABS, it requires the mold to be baked off in a kiln capable of much higher temperatures than with wax. Burning ABS at home probably isn't a good idea either. I'm not sure about how other materials would work.

    • by MBCook (132727)

      It's been done, but I'm having trouble finding links.

      • ABS strikes me as a bad idea because of the fumes.
      • PLA has been used [reprap.org] to do casting. It's a bioplastic based on corn so I don't believe it's toxic when burned like ABS is.
      • PVA seems like it might be ideal. PVA dissolves in water, so you could make your mold and then just flush the positive out of it with hot water.

      I know I've seen this on Thingiverse. I believe I've also seen people make negative molds on a Makerbot, use that to make a was positive, then

    • by Dekker3D (989692)

      Any printer that uses G-code can use Slic3r to slice up meshes for it. Slic3r has a number of different infill patterns, and I'll admit the honeycomb one is the neatest by far. It does slow the print down a bit compared to rectilinear though, but it's good if you want quality rather than speed.

      People have built Repraps that can do the same thing for $300. The lowest one was $250 or so, I think. Of course, they require self-sourcing and a bit of skill with various tools like soldering irons, screwdrivers and

    • When building a honeycomb structure, is it possible to close over an air gap without building up a structure beneath? i.e. how do you put a lid on over an empty space?

      • i.e. how do you put a lid on over an empty space?

        Same way you put a roof on a house, i.e. start from the middle and work outwards.

    • Check out this guys information on Lost ABS casting [thingiverse.com]. Very interesting!

    • The main point of casting from a 3D print is to change the material from being "3D printed plastic" to being any other flowable thing: metal, urethane, transparent resin epoxy, silicone, plaster of paris, etc. What your 3D printer is bringing to the table is the shape. So the key feature you're looking for, if you want to do molding and casting, is getting the right shape out. Material strength is relatively unimportant.

      ABS has an impressive material strength, but if you're planning on casting, you shoul
      • Like Makerbot, they went closed source for their latest printer - the M2 that you're touting.

        I have an M2, and it's a great printer, but there's nothing Open Source about it, sadly. Well, except for the fact that Makergear looks to the community for help with support and such.

        • by naroom (1560139)
          Aww, damn! I was hoping someone could fill the void in my heart Makerbot left. Ahh well. Thanks for the correction.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @06:17PM (#42303755) Homepage

    The problem with these ABS extruders is not building the frame. The problem is not building a 3-axis positioning system. The problem is that you're welding a hot thing to a cold thing. That's always going to be a marginal operation. Without a better welding process (I've suggested aiming a small laser at the weld point) this will continue to be a flaky technology. I've seen about five versions of this technology in action, and they all sort-of work, but don't yield consistently strong parts.

    The ultraviolet stereolithography technology yields much better part quality, but still costs too much. Formlabs [formlabs.com] may succeed in getting the cost down to $3500 or so. They're demoing at CES.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Formlabs is being sued right now over that printer. I believe 3d systems has the relevant patents.

      • by gr8_phk (621180)
        They're being sued over the automatic generation of easily removable scaffolding which has weak points created by reducing the exposure time of the resin at those points. If they turn that feature off, they may no longer be infringing. However, I don't know if that will help prevent their demise, since they've already infringed, and the company suing seems to want them gone.
        • They haven't shipped and the device hasn't been used commercially ... 3D Systems is basing their suit completely on supposition. No way in the world even the dumbest jury in Texas would judge it infringement if they simply removed the feature, no the real problem is that they are going to drag out the proceedings to run up legal costs.

  • Make & Re-use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xeoron (639412) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @06:29PM (#42303809) Homepage
    I wish someone would make a companion 3d printer product that will recycle plastics into the plastic used to print things with some of these 3d printers. If you could turn most any plastic into a strong plastic ink source, then the cost of owning one of these printers goes down and gives people a reason to recycle with a fast gratification of making stuff.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Check out the filabot on kickstarter.com.
      It turns plastic into little shards which it then melts into a filament.

      Issues: Different plastics have different melting points, some break down before they melt, some shrink as they cool, and some don't stick to themselves unless both sides of a weld are hot.

    • "I wish someone would make a companion 3d printer product that will recycle plastics into the plastic used to print things with some of these 3d printers."

      That might be a good idea, but it probably would not be a cheap device (cheaper than the "printer", though).

      In the meantime, commercial recyclers have sprung up that will buy your waste. Not at a wonderful price, but it's better than nothing.

    • Re:Make & Re-use (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dekker3D (989692) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @07:13PM (#42304121)

      These exist. There's even a contest to build a reliable, sub-$250 home filament extruder. Filabot used to have the lead, but http://www.3ders.org/articles/20121023-making-a-plastic-filament-extruder.html [3ders.org] is also fairly interesting. But none of them seem to be close enough to finalized to actually use in daily life yet. I've heard someone say that it'd be easier/cheaper to just buy loads of plastic pellets rather than dealing with impure plastics from recycled materials. Pellets seem to be about 1/5th to 1/10th the price of good filament.

    • 3D printers are not Mr. Fusion. You can't just toss in any old banana-colored plastic and get good results. You've got to know the difference between thermoset and thermoplastic families, and then the properties of the individual resins in each (PET, ABS, PVA, HDPE, etc. etc.) Then you've got to consider the numerous additives that most plastic parts will have in them, UV inhibitors, metal particles for EMI shielding, etc. Some plastics and additives are benign, others are quite toxic when heated.

      If you wan

  • What does it need a "card slot" to make a sound when done? What's wrong with a good old fashioned piezoelectric buzzer to make a beep?

    • by Dekker3D (989692)

      It needs a card slot to store the print instructions on, so you don't need a computer to be on, active and not-disrupting-the-usb for the duration of the whole print. Trust me, it can be immensely frustrating if your print is halfway done and suddenly your computer goes "welp don't need that usb anymore oh hey that's a usb let's recognize it again!"
      Then again, that computer was always a spaz.

      • that's a clear argument for serial port use. since almost all motherboards have that, that is what should be used for machine control. just as serious department stores and restaurant POS systems use the serial and not USB, that "spazzing" behavior you mention is a problem

        • by Dekker3D (989692)

          What's ironic is that most of the electronics sets use a simulated com port for communication.

        • Um, you're being funny right?

          Most motherboards I see today do not in fact have serial ports anymore at all because USB has taken over.

          To be fair, I'd use Wifi direct or Bluetooth to transfer the instructions to the device wirelessly to its on-board memory.

          • by rubycodez (864176)

            don't know everything about your machine's motherboard, do you? post the model number for me.

            no, I'm not being funny. go look at the motherboards on egghead.com or fryes. they have serial port - the header pins will be there and can be hooked to cable going outside the chassis even if most of the time that isn't done.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Originally, the new Solidoodle 3 printer was announced at $500; the price has crept up to $800..."

    The Solidoodle 3 was announced a month ago, for $800: http://www.solidoodle.com/2012/11/solidoodle-3-3d-printer/
    The Solidoodle 2 has been shipping since last summer and still costs $500.

    • by Zeussy (868062)
      Although the base SD2 comes with no bed heater which makes it basically useless. The bed heater upgrade has "crept up" from $49 to $99. Although now some people are modifying theirs to not use the underpowered bed heater, but to use a large silicon heat mat instead. So if you want to go that option the base model is useful.
  • by Mister Liberty (769145) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @07:49PM (#42304331)

    The Answer to Everything is ... wait a minute -- uhmm...

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

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