Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Printer Technology

Breaking Up With MakerBot 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the caught-cheating-with-stratasys dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sanders Kleinfeld explains how his experiences with a Makerbot device led him to the decision that 3-D printing hasn't quite arrived as a legitimate, consumer-friendly technology. Quoting: 'Waiting five hours for your Yoda feels like an eternity; you can play approximately sixty rounds of Candy Crush Saga in that same timeframe (although arguably, staring blankly at the MakerBot is equally intellectually stimulating). To make matters worse, I’d estimate MakerBot’s failure rate fell in the range of 25%–33%, which meant that there was around a one-in-three chance that two hours in, your Yoda print would fail, or that it would finish but once it was complete, you’d discover it was warped or otherwise defective. ... The first-generation MakerBot Replicator felt too much like a prototype, as opposed to a proven, refined piece of hardware. I look forward to the day when 3D printers are as cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Breaking Up With MakerBot

Comments Filter:
  • There are several other great 3d printers out there. The Up! I first started using is still a fantastic printer.
    • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:51PM (#44173043)
      In fairness to Makerbot, they can produce resolutions that the Ups can't touch - I operate both in my student labs. That said, because the Makerbot Replicators 2Xs we're using are 'higher performance', they're also much more finnicky about working until you've really cinched down on their calibration and preferred settings.

      What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

      Have these people any idea how long it takes to produce something through conventional CNC, let alone hand fabrication? I have fabricated parts that have taken 24 hours for a mill to produce. That's a lot of angry birds, right there! The ignorance of what goes into the technological artifacts people take for granted is astonishing. I suspect many people today would benefit from activities and hobbies that reward patience and discipline rather than instant gratification.

      As an aside, It's interesting that the author uses a time killing game as a yard stick for the waiting period - as if the time spent while printing was 'dead' and couldn't possibly be used for anything productive.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
        You can mock the author all you want. But if he acted as you suggest, and took the makerbot's time seriously, he would be dismissed as either a try-hard or a conservative.
      • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:38AM (#44173241) Journal

        I had the reverse problem. My Up Mini is virtually useless to me. Firstly, I'm not sure if the build plate is heating adequately, and I can't change that temperature. Secondly, I can't print in PLA to combat curling, since the PLA I can buy just burns in the nozzle and clogs it (and you can't adjust the extruder temperature, either. It has an ABS mode, calibrated for THEIR ABS, and a PLA mode, calibrated for THEIR PLA, which was not available. Both about 30 C higher than the competitors' filament). Thirdly, that damned nine point software levelling system is a pain, and if you get it slightly wrong, you lose your levelling the next time you go to tweak it. Some of my problems with curling and adhesion I can put down to humidity, because I see a lot of steam coming from my Up Mini, a puff of it every couple of seconds. I do live in the tropics, and have no control over the humidity in my house, so I'm resigned to that.

        My Replicator 2, on the other hand, although I've only had it a week, I am amazed with it. Even on low quality, it outdoes the best I ever got out of my Up Mini in both speed and overall print quality. I noticed my platform wasn't quite level while I was printing (the raft was getting a little scuffed as the nozzle ran over it), so I tweaked the levelling knobs on the fly (probably shouldn't have, but it worked), twiddled the knobs at each level by feel until the faint tak-tak-tak of the extruder hitting plastic stopped, and the dragon came out fine at 0.2mm layer height. On the Up Mini, every time I screwed up the levelling, that involved cancelling the print, throwing out the wasted plastic, redoing the levelling from scratch, starting it again, and hoping the print sticks and doesn't curl this time. If I had the nozzle close enough to really get the plastic into the perfboard, it would scratch the previous layers on the next layer. If I had it at the right level, there was never enough adhesion on the platform. I just didn't have the patience for it.

      • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:38AM (#44173247)

        It's interesting that the author uses a time killing game as a yard stick for the waiting period - as if the time spent while printing was 'dead' and couldn't possibly be used for anything productive.

        That's his point - for the purposes of using the makerbot, it is dead time. You can't iterate before you have something, and you can't have something for 5 hours with a 33% chance that hardware failure was the problem and not the design.

        What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

        That's basically the same as having to wait 5 hours, right?

        Have these people any idea how long it takes to produce something through conventional CNC, let alone hand fabrication?

        How many amateurs are willing to burn virtually all of their free time for a day to do those things? Very few. Comparing your professional abilities and patience to his amateur abilities and patience is unfair (to put it very kindly).

        • by aXis100 (690904) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:45AM (#44173265)

          I've tried a few times to do unattended long prints on my Solidoodle but often enough something goes wrong partway - not only is the print ruined but a heap of filament gets wasted. Generally I stay close by and work on something else, and a couple of those times I managed to catcha problem that might have damaged the printer (e.g. snagged filament).

          Anyway, it's not completely dead time, but it does require a fair bit of nursing. Im slowly improving some of the mechanics and operating parameters so maybe it will get better, but it's far from foolproof yet.

        • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @05:09AM (#44174229) Journal

          Comparing your professional abilities and patience to his amateur abilities and patience is unfair (to put it very kindly).

          Professionals have resources, amateurs have time. The reason he has to wait 5hrs has nothing to do with his ability and everything to do with his resources. The reason he can't bear to wait 5hrs has everything to do with his personality and nothing to do with his status as an amateur.

          Oblig anaology: The guy is like a gardener complaining he has to wait a year for fruit to appear on his tree and that when it does 1/3 of it will be inedible, while at the same time having that much fruit he is giving it away to friends and relatives..

          • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@nospAm.carpanet.net> on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @06:30AM (#44174543) Homepage

            Professionals have resources, amateurs have time. The reason he has to wait 5hrs has nothing to do with his ability and everything to do with his resources. The reason he can't bear to wait 5hrs has everything to do with his personality and nothing to do with his status as an amateur.

            Not sure I agree entirely here. Even the better printers will take a while to build his yoda, they do it more reliably, so that does translate into saved time but....I think what he really lacks is perspective.

            Having what you designed today in hand today, or even tomorow, is a HUGE WIN. Take it back a few steps and what do you have? A design on "paper". Going from that description of a yoda to a yoda could take a long time in more traditional setups.

            Sure maybe this means 1-3 iterations per day.... compared to multiple days or more for each prototype. That is really the correct comparison. He is comparing it against his fantasy rather than against the real technology that it is an improvement over.

            Because without the 3d printer, he doesn't get his yoda at all, or it takes days to weeks for him to get.

      • What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

        That is because no-one knows how to make most devices any more. Everything is made by an anonymous team of hundreds or thousands, and you only ever interact with a few of these people. I you don't think about it you could come to the conclusion that everything is trivially simple to construct or produce. It's a result of technology exchange according to Matt Ridley, Matt Ridley: When Ideas Have Sex [ted.com]

      • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @02:08AM (#44173507) Homepage Journal

        makerbot sells their products as if they had the same reliability as Up! etc kind of printers. that's not up for debate, that's how they market them.
        HOWEVER.. you need several mods and to be lucky that they sent you an unwarped build plate etc. to get decent prints. the gantry design itself isn't too bad and the electronics are pretty simple(they copied the gantry design from stratasys..).

        I got two bots now, one makerbot replicator and another is a printrbot style reprap. the makerbot was 3x the price and took longer to get working reliably.
        among the shit makerbot has done that has made my experience worse has been stuff like sending 0.2mm nozzles packaged in 0.4mm bags to vendors.
        I got ZERO reason to buy makerbot ever again. for the machine as it came out of box it was impossible to print the two color models they used in marketing(as it came out of box it was lucky if it could print for 30 mins without jamming, there's upgrades to the extruder which are a total must to do - and dual color printing objects that size as the pr pieces held by bre were are such that the machine was probably placed in a sauna for printing so the pieces didn't warp). I still have a few upgrades to go(the arms that hold the build plate sag when build plate is heated still).

        their firmware upgrades were such that it would have been pretty easy to outright _break_ the machine(I'm using a 3rd party firmware though, it's just much better and the support for it is much better..).

        One important thing is that the makerbot design isn't safe to leave to print on it's own. it's a fire hazard - the safeties are all firmware based on a discount microcontroller that is also running the bot, it fails and the heaters can run off - there is no heat fuses of any kind anywhere - and they skimped on limit switches, so buggy gcode can break the machine as well(or if the other end limit switch cables break). notice how they NEVER in their marketing explicitly say that you could just walk away from it when it is printing? well, that is because you shouldn't. however in the same marketing they use models that take 20 hours+ to produce.

        btw if you haven't tried yet, try buying some PET filament. rawks! and can be printed on plain aluminum without warping or breaking loose.

        now there's plenty of printers that offer the exact same(and better) makerbot experience but cost 1000 bucks less than makerbots offerings.

        • by bmcage (785177)

          now there's plenty of printers that offer the exact same(and better) makerbot experience but cost 1000 bucks less than makerbots offerings.

          To earn that informative tag, you really should give some links for that. I've seen cheap chinese makerbot replicator rip offs, but those don't give confidence. Personally I'm happy of my replicator. I keep using replicatorg for printing though, that new makerbot software has nice features, but doesn't give me the quality prints I want.

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            flashforge like?
            m-bot?
            you can see newsgroups about them. I've used m-bot parts in my replicator. google up. but I wasn't referring only to those, but also to ultimaker, makergear etc. if you drop two thousand dollars on a printer you're going to get something ok quality for the price and company that will turn things over for you, except with makerbot.

            ff &mbot style are more like 1100 dollars btw and may need the same mods as regular replicators. what makes them different from ultimakers etc is that ff

      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @04:42AM (#44174123) Journal

        What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

        Yes 3D printing seems to present about the same level of difficulty to hobbyists as computers did in the 80's. Loading my Apple from an old audio tape recorder failed maybe 30-50% of the time. The trick to getting reliability closer to 4 out of 5 was to mark the position of the volume knob with a pen. Of course that could have been fixed with money. Money could also have removed the annoying "family wants to watch TV" interrupt from the monitor.

        If 3D printing takes off anything like computing did in the 80's then it will be a gold mine in the 2020's and the hobbyists who managed to make it "just work" (for a reasonable price) will be billionaires. It won't replace mass production but it could seriously disrupt the spare parts industry.

      • What I find continually curious is the idea that a 3D printer in every pot is the ideal end state:

        TFA specifically says " I look forward to the day when 3D printers are as cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts." Guess what? 2d inkjet printers are precisely as easy to use as 2d inkjet printers are(because they are the same thing) and people still choose to get their photos printed by assorted outside services, and buy laser printers if they actually want to do much printi

        • by Trepidity (597)

          I think this is particularly true because of how little progress has been made on making it easy for end users to design their own pieces that can be fabricated. Realistically, a non-savvy user who owns a 3d printer currently, even if the 3d printer works flawlessly and unattended, is limited to printing out widgets from files they downloaded on the internet. But that particular use-case doesn't provide much reason to have a 3d printer in your home at all. If you're downloading files from an online widget l

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        Yes id bet that the Author hasn't worked in a place with a proper "engineering" background making something physical whether with machine tools or a 3d printer is not the same as knocking out some c# or java (the COBOL of the 21st century).
      • What we're really seeing here is the impatience of the Now Generation. What? You have to wait -thirty minutes- for something to be produced?? OMG!

        Not only that, but the author is simply creating trinkets. He has no worthwhile use for this device, and he is too self-absorbed to realize that this renders his opinions largely uninteresting.

        There should be a corollary to Clarke's law about how quickly people develop feelings of entitlement with regard to technology, even though (or because) they don't understand what it takes to make it happen.

    • by GrpA (691294) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:26AM (#44173187)

      +1 - I use the UP! Mini regularly ( weekly and often daily ) and it's about as simply as clicking "print" most of the time.

      Failure rate: About 1 in 20, though I have had a few problems with ABS filament quality of late reducing that to about 1 in 10.

      Just because Makerbot doesn't meet the OP's requirements, it's a little arrogant to declare the death of all 3D printers isn't it?

      GrpA

  • So some time in the 23rd century perhaps?

    Maybe the solution to the 2D printing problem (http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2010/08/25/why-do-printers-still-suck/) is just to print every page as a 3D object.

  • by Chickan (1070300) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:26PM (#44172937)
    Half of the fun of 3D printers is getting angry at them. If you want one to "Just Work" you are out of luck. Some are better than others, but they all are basically hot glue guns with some servo motors, there is no feedback, no control. You can however, print some really cool stuff. Sure I would not let my parents buy one, but I have loved mine personally.
    • I have loved mine personally

      You're a braver man than I Gunga Din.

    • by KingSkippus (799657) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:04AM (#44173085) Homepage Journal

      I remember when CD writers were like this, about 25%-33% you tried to burn were coasters because your machine couldn't keep the write buffer full, so you had this delicate balancing act of setting it to burn and OH GOD DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING and hope for the best. They still blew my mind with how handy they were, and now CD/DVD burners are so dirt cheap and reliable that it's hard to imagine the days when they were so sensitive. I figure in a few years, 3D printers will get similarly more reliable and mainstream, and continue to fall in price, until people are churning out all sorts of widgets without giving it much thought or worry.

      • by MtHuurne (602934)

        I had relatively little problems burning even in those early days, but I had a SCSI burner, not an IDE or some proprietary sound card interface. The biggest challenge I faced was figuring out which brand of CD-R would be read by the largest range of CD-ROM drives. (Which was complicated by the fact that a lot of brands didn't actually manufacture their own CD-Rs and switched suppliers from time to time.)

    • by ikaruga (2725453) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @01:09AM (#44173343)

      It's not just cheap 3D printers. My workplace has whole collection of professional 3D printers at our disposal: multiple Dimension ABS printer models, an Eden Acrylic printer(hate this one in particular), and a couple of Vantage poly-carbonate printers and we're getting ourselves ready for a million dollars DMLS metal 3D printer. The plastic ones have a malfunction at least once every 4~6 months. The metal one can literally kill you if the Argon gas, used to avoid metal oxidation at high laser temperatures, leaks(death by asphyxiation). 3D printers are just another type of printers after all. Anyone would be just fooling themselves if they think that Stratasys products are more human friendly than the usual HP/Xerox/Cannon/Brother products.

      Now back on the original topic. I think the technology is ready for consumer level. But being a consumer product doesn't necessarily make it a mainstream product. 3D printing is useful for people that know how to intelligently use it and already have a specific set of objectives in mind. The average Joe has no business with 3d printing. Buying a 3d printer for an occasional toy/statue that you casually downloaded from the internet is just not worth it. 2D printers succeeded in the mainstream market because everybody NEEDS to print school reports, tax reports, CVs, invitations, tickets, pamphlets, etc.
      On top of that 3D printing was(and still is) just immensely overhyped by the internet. Blogs/News websites/Comments and people who never even used a 3D printer before just treated the tech as if it was the ultimate home appliance: "buy a 3D printer and print everything else you need". For example another currently overhyped tech field that will suffer the same "disappointing" effect is VR: occulus/omni/hydra VR paraphernalia is useful for some applications but are far from the "holy grail" of gaming/computing for dozens of reasons. Eventually I believe all these techs will become essential parts of daily life but there are still many obstacles to overcome, from product features and services to user mentality and place in the society.

      • by Chickan (1070300)
        The metal DMLS printers are designed to constantly "leak" some Argon, as they are always purging a bit, and adding in new argon to the system. And yes Argon is dangerous, but as long as your room is ventilated you are fine. My office is in the same room as a DMLS printer that I run daily. Keep the doors open, and be cautious, and you are fine. Be warned about the metal ones, they fail as often or more often than the plastic ones. I have been running mine for 6+ months, and I still struggle with printin
        • by ikaruga (2725453)
          Yeah. The deadly metal 3d printer thing is more like a joke than any real danger. Not only our company is installing in a well ventilated area but we also have a sensor that goes off on the entire building in case the O2 concentration goes bellow 18.5%(which is still safe). However according to the experts installing the printer, if by any chance Murphy's Law decide to work and you have simultaneously, ventilation power failure, sensor failure and uncontrolled Argon leakage and the O2 concentration goes bel
          • by Chickan (1070300)
            The problem with Argon is that is it is a direct replacement for Oxygen in the brain. Your brain thinks it is Oxygen, but it is not. You feel fine, and never realize you are having problems. It will eventually move out of your brain, but it takes time. As for the printer, ours is from a different company, SLM. EOS is the biggest, but we prefered the powder handling of the SLM. Concept Laser also makes a nice product.
            • There are sensors in the aorta and carotid arteries which detect the gas levels, not in the brain. It is the level of CO2 which leads you to think you have to breath. If the O2 levels go down, your heart/breathing rate will increase to compensate, but you won't register a need to breath unless CO2 increases at the same time. If you're breathing in Ar gas, or any other inert gas, you won't realize you're in trouble until you pass out (and then promptly die).
        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          And presumably have an alarm? At my first place (on campus at CIT) we had a large experimental rig that used freon as the working fluid we had separate alarms for fire and freon release and two sets of firemans breathing gear at the lab entrance) that we had people trained in so that in the case of a leak they could go in and rescue people.
      • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:28AM (#44174947)

        The Argon won't kill you instantly if you breath it. I work for a specialized welding shop where we use NdYAG lasers. The liquid argon dewars frequently purge off excess pressure that builds if you don't manually vent them. The dewars are not in an enclosed room but a somewhat open loading dock area. When those dewars are vented they are spewing hundreds of cubic feet of argon every few seconds easily filling the area with argon. Noone has ever been harmed by that.

        If your room is small, enclosed with little ventilation and you have a LARGE gas leak such as an open cylinder valve or burst high pressure hose then yes, you will eventually be asphyxiated. But it takes a lot of gas and the little gas that leaks from the box is nothing. We have glove boxes in small static free rooms for welding oxygen/moisture sensitive electronic parts. One is nitrogen the other argon. Both are kept at positive pressure (4 inches water column above atmosphere) so they constantly leak. Those rooms are 100% safe because the gas bleed is next to nothing, same for your metal printer.

        Its not as dangerous as you think unless you have a major leak which is quite loud and noticeable.

        • by jbengt (874751)
          Really, if there is a possibility of a leak that could asphyxiate someone, you should have a sensor that alarms on a drop in oxygen (or a rise in the other gas) and kicks in a ventilation system to can purge the gas and replace it with breathable air. You're probably violating mechanical codes, OSHA regulations, etc., if you don't have that.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Half of the fun of 3D printers is getting angry at them. If you want one to "Just Work" you are out of luck.

      So pretty much like 2D printers then, only replace "fun" with "soul destroying anguish".

  • I'm still waiting for my 2D inkjet printer to be as cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as a pen and paper.
  • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:36PM (#44172985) Homepage Journal
    The promotion of the 3D technology to the mass market is exactly the same as inkjet. The hope is to sell ink. Unlike inkjet printers the application for the average person is not so clear. Sure, one can download files, but most do not have the experience to use the 3D modeling software. It is an order of magnitude more difficult than desktop publishing, and has not had 20 years to mature in usability.

    Even one the printing gets done, the job does not end there. It is like publishing a book using an inkjet. There are skilled steps that are required to finish the product. On the printer I used, it required that I manually removed supporting material. If the design does not take this into account, this process will lead to damage of the part. Other printers use ultrasonic cleaners to remove support material, but I hear this has issues as well.

    I have been in the position to acquire some nice machines, but the support, cost, and payback never made since. I can image for the hobbying who wants to do something original it would be a good investment. I also imagine that, like my high speed color printer, it might see significantly decreased use after a period of time.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Unless you do massive volume it is cheaper to just order photo prints online or at a shop. Running a photo quality printer is expensive and frustrating.

      I hope we see more places offering 3D printing services soon.

    • How I understand it the filament has a high price from limited demand. I have been watching the price go down slightly in the past couple years, ignoring the vendor lock in attempts, and the selection increase. Makerbot is horrible. They are gimicky, overpriced, and really gave the finger to the community that helped them off the ground. I hope a better/smarter company swoops in and takes their lunch. This is really a hobbyist technology. You really have to enjoy the tinkering and troubleshooting. If all yo
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:39PM (#44173003)

    I remember the failure rates for burning CD's early on was probably around 40%. Now if I burn a CD or DVD I don't think I've had a failure in a couple years now.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I had a CDD521 upgraded to 2x that was a hand-me-down from Tivoli. That thing was quite good, only about 1 in 10 discs made with CDRwin turned out to be a coaster. Of course, it was the only thing attached to a 2940U... And my disks were on one of their early Ultra160 cards. Those were the days... the days of spending a whole lot of money if you wanted storage devices worth a crap.

    • by imsabbel (611519)

      You mean like never?

      Or were you just incompetent?

      I remember back when a CD-R cost >$20, and there was still >95% success rate.

  • First world problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:41PM (#44173013) Journal

    "Waiting five hours for your Yoda feels like an eternity"

    I just realized why online retail will never completely beat brick-and-mortar.

  • Stratasys, a company specializing in industrial 3d-printing will likely complete their acquisition of makerbot in the fall. For better or worse, this should change things in the consumer 3D printer space.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Stratasys, a company specializing in industrial 3d-printing will likely complete their acquisition of makerbot in the fall. For better or worse, this should change things in the consumer 3D printer space.

      I don't see it really changing anything.

      makerbot lacks any unique technology and statasys bought them for their Wired(etc) visibility... there's a bunch of manufacturers in the makerbot grade(but cheaper) space now though.

      there's literally dozens of companies now coming with better slicing sw and more user friendly electronics now though.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @11:48PM (#44173033) Homepage Journal

    This is a technology in its infancy. We're just getting good at printing with one material at a time, we're just starting to mess with printing with multiple materials, 3d printing rigs generally only use a single technique in a given machine, etc etc. Give it some time.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      This is a technology in its infancy. We're just getting good at printing with one material at a time, we're just starting to mess with printing with multiple materials, 3d printing rigs generally only use a single technique in a given machine, etc etc. Give it some time.

      well yeah.. but makerbot sold bots they said would print perfect dual color prints 1.5 years ago, which thanks to a heated build plate wouldn't warp(yeah right maybe if you print in a sauna..).

      now their dual model is "experimental". they never said sorry or anything. this is the point, makerbot did hell of a job in mainstream media marketing for selling the company but that didn't really match up to their machines or customer supports(customer support tends to detoriate if you sell a machine that 50% of peo

      • by daid303 (843777)

        You are so right on this one. Makerbot is all marketing all the way down. Their machine isn't special (hotend+extruder copied from the UP!, Z platform copied and slightly improved from Ultimaker). Their move away from OpenSource also hasn't done much good to the "hacker crowd".

        But, reporting from Ultimaker here (you know, the 15 man company from the Netherlands that sells 3D printers). Dual extrusion is possible in a good way. We're working out the kinks and don't think it's ready to mass sell as Makerbot d

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          You are so right on this one. Makerbot is all marketing all the way down. Their machine isn't special (hotend+extruder copied from the UP!, Z platform copied and slightly improved from Ultimaker). Their move away from OpenSource also hasn't done much good to the "hacker crowd".

          But, reporting from Ultimaker here (you know, the 15 man company from the Netherlands that sells 3D printers). Dual extrusion is possible in a good way. We're working out the kinks and don't think it's ready to mass sell as Makerbot does it now. But we are getting towards Ultimaker quality.

          yeah I know ultimaker, they seem to actually employ the people who work on designing the machine - which makerbot doesn't seem to!

          well dual color printing small objects would have been feasible with my replicator IF.. and here's the big IF, it had shipped with better extruders(the plunger-non-spring-loaded method they used just sucks, it's sooo bad) and if the firmware as it shipped hadn't been practically broken in regards of it(they broke the calibration script, how nice of them). I did get couple of good

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:07AM (#44173097)

    " 'PC Load Filament'? What the fuck does that mean?"

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:19AM (#44173151) Homepage

    Extruder-based machines aren't a very good technology. The fundamental problem is that you're trying to weld a hot thing to a cold thing. Welding metals that way produces flawed joints, and soldering that way produces cold solder joints. Heating the build platform helps a little, but once you've built something of any height, the heater is too far from the action. Some of the machines have better temperature control of the build area than others, but they're all rather flaky. TechShop has tried four different brands, and they range from mediocre (Replicator2 ) to useless (the Up).

    The UV polymerization machines seem to work quite well. The high-end machines produce consistent results and don't need to be watched while running. They're still slow, though. The Form1 printer [formlabs.com] may get there, if they ever really ship the thing in quantity. The ship date has slipped from April 2013 to October 2013, even though their Kickstarter funding was way oversubscribed. They also charge $149/liter for their custom resin. (I suspect that resin for 3D printers is going to be a similar racket as ink for inkjet printers. The stuff isn't inherently expensive; a slightly different formulation is routinely used for making printing plates, where it costs about a quarter of the price.)

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      heating the build platform is not meant for layer to layer adhesion. anyhow, the layer to layer adhesion isn't a problem in my experience really, the new layer melts the layer it hits and the end result is fairly solid, enough that it if you push the part to breaking point it is not certain that it will break at the layer.

      heating the build platform is a hack meant to fight warping of the parts due to the plastic contracting as it cools. the reason I say a hack is because it's a hack, the proper way is to he

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      Your conclusions seem limited to the hobby-based machines. If you look at the broader market you will see that some of your assumptions do not hold.

      Extruder-based machines aren't a very good technology...The UV polymerization machines seem to work quite well.

      The term for extruder-based machines is "Fused Deposition Modeling" or FDM. If FDM machines aren't very good, then why did companies replace their UV polymerization machines with extruder-based machines over a decade ago? UV polymerization is an older technology that hobbyists are excited about because of the Form1. But unless something has changed, the part

    • I run a fan over the print surface to cool the print while the printer is going. If the object is too hot the plastic extusion layers slides around and the object falls apart. I think people are expecting a higher print resolution then what is realistic. They see molded plastic and want exactly that which is probably near impossible using the extruder technology.
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      The UV polymerization machines seem to work quite well. The high-end machines produce consistent results and don't need to be watched while running. They're still slow, though. The Form1 printer may get there, if they ever really ship the thing in quantity

      http://www.3ders.org/articles/20120911-a-list-of-diy-high-resolution-dlp-3d-printers.html [3ders.org] For comparison

  • When did rounds of Candy Crush become a measurement of time? I thought the reward of the maker movement was the process in which you can design and iterate and produce your own prototypes, not the end thing itself. Once you have your design nailed down there are more cost effective and quicker production methods.
  • There already are much faster printers, like the Ultimaker. The high failure rate might be from your individual setup, because that shouldn't happen that often.
  • I chuck an absolute tantrum whenever I am exposed to an inkjet printer. They are hands down the most stupid and irritating piece of technology known to mankind. I eastimate the success rate of an average inkjet printer to be in the 7 - 9% range.
    • I love old printers. The older the better, because the older ones are a good source of 8mm or even 10mm smooth rods and NEMA17 stepper motors to make 3D printers.

      I'm getting an old HP DeskJet 500 and Apple ImageWriter II in a few hours, can't wait to rip them apart for spare parts. The rest will go to the local electronics recycling center.

  • After a few decades of existence, they still can't get the printers to cancel the operation properly. Lol
  • After years of struggling with an inkjet I dumped it for a B/W laser printer. The ink was always dry every time I needed to print something and cartriges are worth their weight in gold [yahoo.com]. So should I need to print in color -- it's a trip to a local pharmacy.

    So assuming that 3D printer is somewhat related to inkjet in principle but more complex, it is probably only meant for dedicated shops and some hobbyist garages, not for mass market. And even if the above mentioned issues are overcome, handling 3d design
  • Some perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @01:43AM (#44173435) Homepage Journal

    This is coming from someone who built his own lathe. My experience with building my own machine tools has taught me that not only does the algorithm (i.e. tool motion) matter, but also the properties of the material being machined.

    With the traditional CNC machine, the method of material removal works the same irrespective of the stock material, with minor exceptions. A CNC mill can make parts from materials as soft as waxes to as hard as steel with little more than a bit change, and perhaps the addition of cooling lubricant.

    A 3d printer, by contrast, is a deposition method which depends to a very large degree on the properties of the feed stock. Even at their best, they'll do no better than a mill.

    And 3 hours to make a part is ridiculously long, especially given the failure rate. A trained machinist would instead choose the best tool(s) for the job and turn it out in short order.

    Just for perspective: I spent one and a half hours building a molding machine from scratch. Rather than print out the part with a 3d printer, he could have made the molding machine and molds in the same amount of time, with the added advantage that he could make an almost arbitrary number of copies. Sometimes the old ways are just faster.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      With the traditional CNC machine, the method of material removal works the same irrespective of the stock material, with minor exceptions. A CNC mill can make parts from materials as soft as waxes to as hard as steel with little more than a bit change, and perhaps the addition of cooling lubricant.

      A 3d printer, by contrast, is a deposition method which depends to a very large degree on the properties of the feed stock. Even at their best, they'll do no better than a mill.

      And 3 hours to make a part is ridicu

  • New Thing Will Get Better Over Time
  • If you spent hours staring at a Makerbot - the problem is not the device. HINT: how long do you spend staring at your washing on the line?

    • by imsabbel (611519)

      If the washing could at any point catastrophically fail and need intervention?

      • by mark_reh (2015546)

        Unlike the washing, there is no intervention in a 3D print going bad except to turn off power, throw away the botched print and start over again.

  • Maybe the problem is that most people don't have a real use for a 3D printer and after the novelty wears off, boredom sets in. I mean really, how many 5 inch Yoda head does somebody really need? Now, on the other hand, I know many hobbyists who use 3D printing to make parts for various hobbies they are engaged in that would have used lost wax castings in the past, a milling machine, or some other time consuming or costly process. For these people, 3D printing is a faster, cheaper alternative to the traditi

  • Wait, inkjet printers are "cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use?"

    Could have fooled me.

  • If you play Candy Crush Saga, you probably shouldn't be messing with 3D printers anyway...

  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:38AM (#44175023)

    We printed out dissertations in Graphics mode on needleprinters with Windows 1.03 which needed 10-12 hours and we liked it.

    Kids nowadays can't wait a couple of hours until their new toys come out of the printer.

    Get a grip.

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:28AM (#44175511) Journal

    I would tend to agree with Mr. Kleinfeld. 3D printing is a tweaky, fiddly process that requires a lot of time, energy, and specialized knowledge to get to work properly. The machines are finicky, the software requires far too much knowledge of detailed printer specs and the raw materials that feed printers are produced with little or no quality control resulting in unpredictable performance from the printer and frequent recalibration.

    The printer designs are not particularly well done either, especially the bed leveling. Most use screws at the corners of the bed to do the leveling. That makes no sense as anyone who has had a geometry class will tell you. 3 points define a plane. Since one point can be fixed, there need only be two leveling screws. That is what I designed into my printer and it works perfectly. One screw adjusts tilt along the Y axis and the other adjusts tilt around the X axis and neither affects the other. Leveling took about 1 minute and now I can completely remove the print bed and replace it and never have to tweak the settings.

    My printer is designed to print big(ish) stuff. The print bed is 300x300mm and vertical print capacity is 280mm. I designed it so that I could print full-sized human skulls from CT scan data. If you're going to print big stuff you have to have everything working reliably. I ran into the extruder problem early on and have been working on that for a while.

    There seems to be two problems with extruder failures. One is the variations in quality of the filament and the other is in the design of the extruder itself. I can't do anything about the quality variations in the filament but I can make changes to the extruder design to make it more immune to those variations. My original extruder used a gear on a stepper to push filament into the hot-end. I found that the filament would often got hung up in the hot-end and the extruder would keep trying to push and the gear would carve a divot into the filament assuring that the extruder could never push that filament again. It is notable that I have never had the nozzle actually clog- every time the extruder has hung up I have been able to manually push the filament and have it come out the nozzle. My reedesign mimics a wire feeder in a MIG welder and uses two steppers to push the filament. Preliminary tests indicate that it is working, but further tests are ongoing.

    Progress can be monitored here: https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/milwaukeemakerspace [google.com] and on the blog at http://milwaukeemakerspace.org/ [milwaukeemakerspace.org]

  • I look forward to the day when 3D printers are as cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts.

    With a 25-33% print failure rate, it sounds like they're already there.

  • Using the knowledge and experience you gained from that miserable makerbot, you now have the ability to reconsider your initial idea of printing a gun...
    That is, assuming you haven't blown yourself up already.
  • The title of the article shows the author misunderstood what a 3D printer is for:
    "Printing Plastic Tchotchkes Was Fun, but MakerBot Was Just Too High-Maintenance"

    Don't buy a 3D printer to print trinkets. I use mine (mostly) to print gears, axles, motor mounts, custom train tracks, replacement parts, etc. If you want trinkets, buy them from China. This is similar to 2D printers: When color dot matrix printers and inkjet printers were cool, everyone bought one to print silly signs, banners, and jokes. But

  • It seems they had reached the level of inkjet printers...

  • "easy to use as their 2D inkjet printer counterparts."

    "PC LOAD LETTER? [wikiquote.org] What the fuck does that mean?" [wikipedia.org]

    In a lot of ways, 3d printers already are as easy to use...

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

Working...