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Printer Technology

Breaking Up With MakerBot 185

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.'"
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Breaking Up With MakerBot

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  • by Chickan ( 1070300 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:26AM (#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.
  • First world problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:41AM (#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.

  • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @01:38AM (#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 ikaruga ( 2725453 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @02:09AM (#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.

  • Re:Well no shit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @04:30AM (#44173865)
    Interestingly, I was talking to some Airbus designers, and they mentioned that they 3D print brackets used in ailerons out of sintered titanium. If they tried to machine the same part it would either weigh twice as much or cost twice as much for all the machining to lose the extra weight from its complex geometry. The 3D printing process let them only put material in the key loading directions the part had to be strong in, and nowhere it didn't. It made for a much better part.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.