At the end of each year, 3D printing expert Christopher Barnatt introduces a run down of his top 10 personal 3D printers on the market today. Barnatt notes the ever increasing range of quality 3D printers available and predicts that the trend will continue in 2015.
Arguably the biggest hurdle holding back the 3D printing revolution is the speed that objects are printed out at. This still holds true whether it be home 3D printing of plastic jugs, or large industrial scale 3D printers making parts for aircraft. Now the US Government, seeing the potential in 3D printing for everything from the military to space research, has given funds to a 3D printing company to try to speed up the process…by up to 500 times!
Speed. We do not like to wait. Printing a document on a laser printer makes us antsy and that’s fairly quick. Printing a large item on many 3D printers takes an eternity, but the U.S. Government wants to help. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has asked machine tool manufacturer Cincinnati Incorporated to help increase the speed and print size of 3D printing — 200 to 500 times faster and 10 times the size.
Currently, 3D printing is slow; so slow that it would take you days to print a large product. Many of the print beds, often less than one cubic foot, are built to print small items and even those take a few hours. Compared to traditional means of manufacturing, that crank out products by the minute, 3D printing is not yet fast enough for our mobile, want-it-now world.
Stratasy have revealed the world’s first 3D printer that can handle both different colors AND even different materials. Using both plastic and rubber as base materials, Stratasy claims that their printer, named the Objet500 Connex3, is the first to be able to create flexible mult-coloured objects. Although the machine costs a whopping $330,000 an is obviously intended for industrial use, hopefully the technology will filter down into home 3D printers before too long.
Stratasys‘ has a new $330,000 3D printer, but this one has the potential to do a whole lot more than monochrome figurines. In fact, the company says it’s the first machine able to create objects in colored, flexible materials. The Objet500 Connex3 3D printer uses rubber and plastic as base materials, although according to Stratasys (the company which now owns the MakerBot series) material combinations will be able to offer different levels of rigidity, transparency and opacity. Colors, meanwhile, are produced by the same mix of cyan, magenta and yellow you’ll find on your inkjet printer at home — it even comes with six palettes of rubbery “tango” colors, if you’re perhaps looking to channel your ’90s tastes into some tasteful flexible booties, as seen above
The largest technology show in the world – the CES – took place this week in Las Vegas. As you would expect, 3D printing stole most of the limelight, with new 3D printers being unveiled by the two firms that currently dominate the market – 3D Systems an Makerbot.
Three new versions of the Makerbot Replicator were launched at the show. The signature new Makerbot Replicator has an improved sleek design and can print as fine as 100 microns, yet build volume has been increased by 11%. It also comes with some other nifty user friendly features, such as a LED screen that shows previews of 3D models.
The MakerBot Mini is a compact and simplified version of the Replicator, whereas the Z18 is intended for industrial use.
Meanwhile, 3D Systems realeased a number of new printers, including the latest version of its flagship Cube 3 printer. The new Cube comes with dual color print heads, meaning it can print out in two different colors at once, with 20 different colors to choose from. Not only that, but print resolution can be as fine as just 75 microns! Like the new Makerbot Replicator, the new Cube comes with LED screens fitted. The new Cube is expected to sell at under $1,000.
3D Systems also made waves with their new food printer – the Chefjet, able to print out edible sugary confectionarys. The Chefjet comes in two versions.
One of the leading online tech magazines – Gizmodo – takes a look at 5 of the leading home 3D printers and compares them according to a variety of important criteria – such as price, speed, and accuracy.
The five 3D printers reviewed are the Makerbot Replica, the LulzBot TAZ 3.0, the Alfinia H Series, the 3D Systems Cube X, and UP! Mini from China.
The criteria compared are filament size (the size of the plastic filament ‘cartridges’ used by each 3D printer), accuracy (printed layer thickness), price, print speed, print surface, print tolerance, print volume and print area (the maximum size of the object that can be 3D printed).
You can see the guide at : http://www.gizmag.com/2013-3d-printer-comparison-guide/30187/
The BBC reviews three different kinds of home 3D Printer :
None of the 3D printers reviewed are generally rated as the best home 3D printers available, and the BBC person admits that a fair bit of technical know how is required to use each one.
3D printing expert and widely regarded futurist Christopher Barnatt gives his rundown of the top 10 personal 3D printers available on the market as of the end of 2013 :
Ray Kurzweil, famed futurologist and head of artificial intelligence research at Google, gives his thoughts on 3D printing :
By the early 2020s we will print out a significant fraction of the products we use including clothing as well as replacement organs.
3D printing is getting a lot of attention. There are niche applications such as printing our replacement parts for machinery, but the opportunity to begin replacing significant portions of manufacturing is still about five years away.
If we look at the life cycle of technologies we see an early period of over-enthusiasm, then a “bust” when disillusionment sets in, followed by the real revolution.
3-D printing buildings of the future
Remember the Internet boom of the 1990s followed by the Internet bust around the year 2000?
That was around the time Google was getting started, and now we have multi-hundred billion dollar Internet companies.
We’re in the early boom phase of 3D printing enthusiasm and hopefully we’ve learned enough to avoid a period of undue disillusionment, but I do see the early 2020s as the golden era of 3D printing.
For example, in the early 2020s, you’ll have a choice of many thousands of cool clothing designs that are open source and that can be printed out for pennies a pound.
Explore: Is 3D printing the dawn of a revolution?
But that will not mean the end of the fashion industry. Look at other industries that have already been transformed from physical products to digital ones, such as books, movies and music.
Despite enormous changes in business models (and the availability of many free open source products) the overall revenues for proprietary forms of these products remains strong.
We can already experimentally print out organs by printing a biodegradable scaffolding and then populating it with a patient’s own stem cells, all with a 3D printer.
By the early 2020s, this will reach clinical practice.
The Guardian points to 6 recent key developments in 3D printing, including the announcement of a cheap 3D metal printer, that point to the next industrial revolution being almost upon us :
- Metal 3D printing at home a reality
- 3D printed gun ban reinforced
- A 3D printer that builds itself
- 3D printed pizza
- 3D printers on the high street
- Affordable 3D scanning
- 3D printing as a service
Christopher Barrat gives us more footage and insights from the recent London 3D Print Show, one of the biggest shows of its kind in the world.
More at 3DPrintShow.com