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Printer Technology

3D Printing For Everyone 183

mmacx writes "Technology Review has up an article about Shapeways, a new online rapid-prototyping service that allows users to upload digital designs which are then printed on 3-D printers and shipped back. A spinoff from Philips Research, the service gives small businesses, designers, artists, and hobbyists access to prototyping tools that were once available only to the largest corporations. The fee for a typical printed object is $50-$150. Their video shows the steps behind the process." We've been talking about 3D printing for years.
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3D Printing For Everyone

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  • by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:25AM (#24433281) Homepage Journal

    Every time 3-D printing comes up I like to consider what this will do to my favorite hobby, model-building...

    Styrene injection kits have been around for ages, and they're generally the cheapest way to get a kit made in large quantity - but because it costs so much to set up the molds, usually they're pretty hesitant to make a kit of anything that's not a pretty sure-fire seller... Additionally the hobby has been dying by inches for a long time.

    To fill all the niches of interesting subjects that nobody's bothered to make injection kits of (this would be, for instance, things like the Serenity cargo ship) there's resin kits - but because of the high degree of manual labor involved in casting the parts, as well as the material expenses and the initial sculpting work divided over a run of maybe a couple hundred kits, they're pretty expensive for the person buying the kit...

    But then you think about stuff going on these days, like papercraft - people making model designs, putting them online in a form that other people can print out and build dirt-cheap. The results aren't generally as good as injection or resin models but it's quite impressive, and inspiring what they've accomplished...

    So it's fun to think about what fabrication could mean for the hobby. On the one hand it may actually mean less people buying and building models, or scratch-building parts themselves. Rather, once the technology is cheap enough, more things will be simply fabricated. But on the other hand - to think of something that would today be a garage kit, only done up as a downloadable design for fabrication... that would be pretty damn cool.

  • Bah... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:28AM (#24433321) Homepage
    Holler when they can selectively print with highly conductive and non-conductive inks. I can then design 3D, flexible, massively interconnected PC boards.
  • by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:44AM (#24433639) Journal

    I would love to be able to print my own replacement model parts. Next time I break a rotor blade on my heli, just print one out. Need a new control horn, print it out. Servo arms, wing assemblies...such a home capability might bring back a renaissance of RC building that is becoming a lost art due to RTF products.

  • Interesting issue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:18AM (#24434235) Homepage Journal

    When everyone can accurately 3d-print objects, does getting the design for, say, a type of chair then 3d-printing it without paying, count as theft? After all, you're not depriving anyone else of the model chair the 3d specifications were based on.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:19AM (#24434265) Homepage Journal

    This Shapeways 3D printing service requires models in Collada (or X3D) format. Other than running Windows SketchUp under Wine, which is so buggy that it crashes when you try to save a file, what's a really good, basic Linux 3D studio, suitable for learning in about 10-15 minutes how to sketch out accurate scale models of houses and basic landscape, that imports and exports Collada format?

    Then I can 3D print the models, and I can export them to Google Earth. I could even download and import my neighborhood, tweak it, and 3D print it for my trainset.

  • Re:direct link (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rdschouw ( 139250 ) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:32AM (#24434469)

    Actually we are private beta now. But you are right. We could show a bit more information without requiring a beta login.

    Let's see what I can do!

  • Re:direct link (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Friday August 01, 2008 @02:15PM (#24437483) Journal

    Thanks for the clarification....

    I would like more clarification though.
    1) I have SolidEdge.
    2) Could you define "per piece" - Volume constraints (size), weight, etc...

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.