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Printer Technology

3D Printing On Demand 106

Iddo Genuth writes "The Netherlands based company Shapeways is beta testing a new service allowing people to print three-dimensional models. Customers can upload designs or use a creation tool hosted at the Shapeways website, then order a printed model of their designs for less than $3 per square centimeter. The printed items are shipped to the customer in ten days or less, bringing 3D printing to consumers and not just companies large enough to afford their own printers."
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3D Printing On Demand

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  • Waaaaaah? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:07AM (#25344371)
    So will they mind if some of the 'prototypes' have an eerie resemblance to 40k minitures?
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:27AM (#25344407) Journal
    Right now this process is quite expensive, so this isn't going to be a problem, but I can imagine this getting cheaper.

    Some people are going to be using this to make 3D copies of cheap plastic items they own. Another poster mentioned Warhammer miniatures, and I could imagine lots of other small but expensive items being copied.

    Once someone with money takes notice of this, I guarantee a legal battle tying to make it illegal.
  • Re:Eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deniable ( 76198 ) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:55AM (#25344487)

    They may be measuring the area printed in each layer. Find out the layer thickness and you can convert to volumes. I'd say it's still going to be expensive.

  • by inviolet ( 797804 ) <slashdot@ideasma ... g minus caffeine> on Sunday October 12, 2008 @10:03AM (#25345243) Journal

    Some people are going to be using this to make 3D copies of cheap plastic items they own.

    I'd like to see the following system put in place:

    • Every manufacturer of anything that has plastic components, is required to upload the components' specs to an escrow agency. Things like plastic cases, battery door covers, hinges, knobs, you name it, all will be escrowed.
    • While the manufacturer is in existence and offering spares for sale, you buy your replacement parts from them in the u$ual way.
    • After n years, or if the manufacturer goes under, the escrow agency releases the specs to the public.
    • You can then download the specs and print out your own replacement parts.

    This wouldn't affect anyone's bottom line, and it wouldn't let you rip off their electronic components (which is where the real investment is at)... it would simply let you get replacement parts during those times when, traditionally, you couldn't.

    Some companies might even choose to release their plans early, on their website or whatever, in order to get goodwill.

  • by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @11:24AM (#25345565) Homepage

    but none of them offer such services at a price range accessible to the average person.

    if you actually click on the links in the Google search results you'll see they're nothing like the service discussed in the article. they don't allow customers to upload designs and instantly order a print. they require you to contact the printer by e-mail or phone for a quote, and unless you're ordering bulk prints it's going to be financially impractical. that's because these existing services are aimed at businesses not consumers.

    it's like saying consumer CD burners weren't news when they first came out because people could already call up a CD-pressing factory and have a single CD made for them for $100. it's not even close to being the same thing.

    and if you RTFA or visit the Shapeways site you'll see that the service is paired with an online community for sharing/discussing 3D designs. this is more like DeviantArt instead of just a commercial printing service.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @03:28PM (#25346943) Homepage

    You're kidding yourself if you think this wouldn't impact their bottom line.

    For instance: mechanically/electronically, my IBM Thinkpad X30 is identical to how it was when I got it. It works great (though software has gotten more bloated in the meantime, and its argueable whether the Intel graphic chip in it is worth half a damn - point being, it works as designed.)

    However, the plastic case has cracked, broken, and otherwise been deformed over the past 5 years I've had it. The hard drive cover - held in by a screw - is long broken and gone. The thin plastic frame around the sides of the keyboard is broken in several places. Overall, it makes the laptop feel "old" and "busted".

    Would I pay a couple bucks to bring the Thinkpad back to "new"? Certainly; it'd put me off from buying another one for a while.

    There are a LOT of people who would rather fix what they've got for cheap than buy a replacement. Not everyone's a gadgethead.

  • Re:Reprap (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:05PM (#25347733) Homepage Journal
    I don't know where you have seen these, but the results are far from crap. The ABS machines produce very solid and accurate representations of the 3-D model. The celluoid based machines produce accuracte mockup in colors and is faster than the ABS solutions. I have created some detailed and durable objects with the ABS technology.

    Both are hugely expensive methods, and are probably one economical form prototypes. I estimated that the cost is a few dollars per cc. It is, however, likely cheaper than creating the prototype by hand.

    In any case these printers are widely available for price.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @05:06PM (#25347745) Journal
    But will this always be the case? Is it impossible that improvements in the system and in the plastics will result in something of better quality?
  • by bYonder ( 464240 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @12:49AM (#25351255)

    A blatant copy of Bathsheba Grossman's Quintrino http://www.bathsheba.com/sculpt/quintrino/ - Bathsheba's math sculptures are, to me, the pinnacle of 3D printed art on this planet... who can resist the klein bottle beer bottle opener?

"It ain't over until it's over." -- Casey Stengel