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Thread: 3D Printing

  1. #1
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    3D Printing

    I do a lot of 3D printing, here's an album about it


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    3D printing is old as shit.

    This is a picture of the SLA-1, from 1983. SLA, FDM, SLS, and several other major branches of 3D printing tech all came about in the 80s, and were refined in the 90s, then kind of stagnated in the early 00s. The explosion we're seeing now isn't new tech, but rather home tech catching up to what were once multimillion dollar machines. The fact is, there's very little that can be done on a new machine that couldn't have been done on one from 1995, they're just cheaper and easier to make.



    Metal printing isn't coming to home users any time soon.

    Metal printing requires high strength lasers or other electromagnetic beams, as well as finely powdered metal. this powder is incredibly toxic to work with, and can cause a powder explosion if not handled correctly, so clean room conditions are necessary, and technicians need respirators and full body protection to work with this stuff to avoid getting something akin to black lung, only with thin metal filings rather than coal dust, which as you'd guess is just SUPER fun. This is as safe as it's going to get for the foreseeable future, which means it's not going to be at a local workshop for a long, long time.



  3. #3
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    Despite its limitations, 3D printing can do some really fucking cool shit.

    Isabella here has a 3D printed prosthetic arm that probably costs around $60 bucks to make total. Compared to the thousands upon thousands a typical prosthetic would cost, and the fact that the Unlimbited arm here is 100% tailor made to be the exact same size as her other arm, I'd say it's pretty useful. This is just one of the thousands of uses home printers can be put to, but it's certainly a good one.





    3D printable 3D printers aren't a joke, they're actually really common.

    Modern home machines have the RepRap project of the mid 00's to thank for their existence. The goal of this project was to create a 3D printer with as many 3D printed components as possible, to allow them to self replicate. Over time this for the most part morphed into finding a way to make the most precise machine with the cheapest components, but there are some holdouts, like the Snappy here. The only components that aren't printed for the Snappy are the motors, the vertical motion screws, the mainboard, the PSU, the wires, and the hotend (thing that pushes the plastic). The rest of the machine is made out of printable components, and is even able to make all of those printable components itself, making it truly self-replicating.





    3D printing is fucking work.

    Every time I see someone get a quote for how much it'll take to get a print made, they act as though the cost is insane. Well, prints take time. The skull glass (pictured in the next few posts following this) took a grand total of about 38 hours to complete, between the stem and glass. The skull was slightly below the average size of a person's skull, to give an idea on size. If I were to charge for that, I'd probably charge at least a hundred or two, since I need to stay next to my printer and babysit it for the vast majority of any print, so I'm not going to be able to get any other work done while it's going, so I need to charge for my time spent, as well as materials, and the actual power it takes to run the machine. If I didn't watch it, failures like the one pictured here are totally possible. That was supposed to be the top of a box, but it came off of my Printrbot's bed. As the head was dragged around the printbed, and eventually tried to level itself, it yanked the coupler that allows the Z axis to move apart, tore a huge chunk of tape off my bed, and nearly ruined my hotend entirely, which would've been an expensive fix.



    Home 3D scanning sucks.

    Seriously. It just, it sucks. If you ever expect to be able to make an object using a home scanner and something you have lying around, it's not going to happen. Find someone with a good scanner, or just learn how to model it yourself.



    3D printed guns are fucking dumb.

    Yeah, there are legal issues with printing guns, but those aren't what I'm talking about. Printing a gun on a home printer is pretty much guaranteed to get you the nickname "Stumpy" for the rest of your life (Afterwards, I'd be glad to make you a new hand though!). You know what ammunition puts out when fired? Heat and pressure. You know what plastic's really really bad at dealing with? Heat and pressure. There are people out there who've printed guns on home hardware, but that's about all they do, and honestly, even the best guns printed on home machines are only good enough to fire .22 LR, and only a few times before you need to replace them, There are a lot of cheaper, more effective ways to make more powerful guns than printing them.




    Buy cheap, buy twice.

    A lot of the best printers on the market use open source designs as a basis, such as the Prusa i3 MK2, the Lulzbot TAZ 6, and the Rostock Max. This means copies can be made with no permission, royalty, or any other payment necessary to the creators. This is great for innovating, as it means low end machines advance rapidly through crowdsourced design, but it also means less idealistic organizations can take those designs, and whip up something shitty using those designs as the base. Case in point: The Anet A8. A cheap Chinese clone printer you'll see a lot. Printers like these cut corners in every way possible to make a cheap device, which leads to them, unsurprisingly, being almost universally crap. Metal frames are replaced with lasercut plastic, precision milled hotends are replaced with brass bolts with messily drilled holes in them, capacitors on open hardware boards replaced with cheaper versions that can't withstand the same current, the list goes on and on. These are known to LITERALLY catch fire, and that's not even uncommon. Clone printers are a wreck, and buying them only leads to heartbreak.




    Never get a kickstarter printer as a first printer.

    Ever. Never ever ever. While some kickstarted printers have been massively successful, and a few great machines have come out of it, there have been more failures than I can count, and even some of the ones that do deliver end up being an absolutely terrible product (the M3D, for instance). The Tiko is a great, ongoing example of a company doing everything wrong in crowdfunding, though they've yet to go bankrupt, they're already a year late on shipping, with the exception of 200 "beta" units which had an incredibly high failure rate. The hardware making up the machine itself is also just a mess, but I'm not going to get into it on this post. If you'd like more info, I'll gladly supply it.




    Any machine will work well if you dump hundreds of dollars of parts and man hours into it.

    I've seen a number of people boasting about what great results they get with their clone machines. Great for them. Seriously. If you've got a good workflow on a machine that started out junky, great for you. That doesn't mean the device is a good buy, it just means you're capable of making the best of something. Often when I ask these users what modifications they've done, their printers are a variable ship of theseus, with the frame, linear motion systems, hotend, power supply, and mainboard all replaced with upgraded components. It's great that it works, but at that point sometimes these people will have dumped more than $600 to upgrade a $200 printer.

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