Awesome Stuff: Print Stuff, Make Stuff

from the make-stuff-in-your-home dept

One of the biggest and most important trends right now is the increasing ability for people to make physical stuff that used to be impossible to make themselves. 3D printing is, obviously, a big part of that, but a variety of other advancements are happening at the same time. We're in the very early days, but machines that help you make stuff are getting cheaper and cheaper, as they get more and more powerful. There are a ton of these kinds of things showing up on crowdfunding platforms, so let's take a look at a few:
  • 3D Print on the cheap: The interestingly named Buccaneer 3D printer from the also interestingly named Pirate3D Inc. is one of the cheapest 3D printers around these days, running a bit less than $400. And I remember when people were excited that such printers finally got under $2,000! There are a few other 3D printers around a similar price out there, but it's nice to see that the Buccaneer is focused on both ease of use of the 3D printer, while also trying to make the device itself look nicer than many other 3D printers. Cheaper, easier, nicer looking? Those are things that help 3D printing go mainstream.
    It's worth noting that there are some concerns about the claims made by the company, and at that price, the quality you're going to get is absolutely going to be limited. But, we're on the cusp of something amazing in 3D printers, and I imagine that it won't be long before we see more cheap 3D printers as the quality increases. But if you want to get in early... The Buccaneer shot past its targeted $100,000 very quickly and is looking like it will go a lot higher by the time it's all done.
  • 3D print without 3D printed parts: Honestly, I just found this project more amusing for the fact that it's a 3D printer where the makers spend a lot of time mocking 3D printer output. It's the OpenBeam Kossel Pro, a 3D printer without any parts manufactured by a 3D printer. As the creators point out, 3D printing is great for rapid prototyping, but sometimes good old fashioned mass produced injected molded parts are the right tool for the job, and can make things cheaper on a mass scale. So they've made a 3D printer that is too elitist for its own parts.
    As I wrote this, it was right about its goal, so by the time you read this, there's a decent chance it'll have surpassed the goal already.
  • Make by cutting down, not building up 3D printing is great for building stuff, but sometimes you have to work in the other direction. The folks at Otherlab in San Francisco have built the Othermill, a small, relatively inexpensive CNC mill device so that you can build stuff, such as electrical parts/circuit boards etc.
    This project's about to close way over its target goal, so if you want one, get in fast.
  • Print on stuff: Okay, so the first items above are all about building stuff, but what do you do with that stuff once it's built? Well, you might want to label it, and that's where Tag On That has you covered. It's a printer that lets you label, well, pretty much anything. They claim that it takes the same technology that puts labels on things like phones, computers and keyboards, and puts that into the hands of the everyday consumer. I have to admit, the first time I saw the "print head" template "squash" into the item it was printing on it, it made me smile. I had no idea that's how you do that.
    Watching the video, you suddenly realize just how much you might possibly be able to "tag." Of course, Portlandia fans already know exactly what to do with such a printer ("put a bird on it!"). Unfortunately, it looks like it's still a bit expensive for everyday use, especially since you'll need to pay a few hundred more if you want to be able to make your own templates for printing (cheaper models come with just one template). Still, the project is more than halfway funded with nearly a month left, which tends to bode well for making it over the goal.
  • Print money. Oh, and finally, just because it's funny, we'll link to Regular Everyday Normal Guy Jon Lajoie planning out his Kickstarter campaign to make himself super rich rather than just pretty damn rich. Videos possibly NSFW depending on where you work.
    Satire is fun.
Phew, that's a lot of items this week, so it should keep you busy for a bit. And when you're done, go print something.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2013 @ 10:42am

    I think at some point people will realize that 3D printers are just CNC machines, and modern CNC machines have lots of "heads" that the machine automagically picks up to do a job.

    All those cheap 3D printers could be even better if they could just pick up different heads to print different materials and do finish work with drills, and it is not that difficult, it would add in parts just the cost of a rotary magazine(think of the heads as giant bullets and you get the gist of it) and a lock/release mechanism, the rest is software controlled.

    The next 3D printer could be called Hydra3DP3000 :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2013 @ 10:57am

    Also some people complain about the surface of the printed objects, no problem, just deep it into acetone and pull it out and see it become smooth, that is how transparent screwdriver handles are made.

    Youtube: (4) MakerBot Replicator - Model Finishing Tricks - Acetone Wash
    Youtube: Acetone Vapor Smoothing on 3D printed ABS parts from my Printrbot
    Youtube: So Make It - Acetone Vapour Smoothing of ABS 3D Printed Parts, at UK

     

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  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous, Jun 1st, 2013 @ 11:31am

    @#%^&$ stupid Kickstarter bull$#!^ on this site...

     

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  4.  
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    maximumdx (profile), Jun 1st, 2013 @ 1:17pm

    Re:

    Not sure what the success rate of Kickstarter projects is, but a lot of the projects don't seem to be sustainable business models.

     

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  5.  
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    Haudenosaun, Jun 1st, 2013 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Hacker spaces (Fab Labs) are sprouting up around the globe that not only have 3D printers and laster cutters etc., but which also teach people how to build their own. Who knows what innovations will sprout from this.

    It offers the possibility of citizen manufacturing and a start to moving away from corporate dependency.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 1:03am

    Re: Re:

    That is beautiful, it brings back experimentation in a scale not seem in a long time.

    Also some of them could probably surprise you in how they work and you could learn a thing or two from others.

     

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  7.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 2:58am

    Limitations of Three-D Printing-- The Special Case of Guns.

    Three-D printing is interesting in the abstract, but at present, and for the foreseeable future, it seems to fail the test of practicality. By this I mean that Three-D does not seem to be a particularly practical means producing things which one could produce or obtain by other means, particularly, if one is willing to make an effort commensurate with their value.

    The business about making guns in Three-D printers has attracted a lot of press attention, and has become a symbol of what Three-D printers can do. However, this is merely a matter of officialdom making an extremely poor choice of the part which they consider to define as a gun. Officialdom chose the lower receiver, when it should have chosen the barrel. No doubt this error will be rectified. The makers of gun barrels will start stamping numbers on them, and keeping track of the numbers. A gun will have two serial numbers instead of just one.

    I found a curious anecdote in Thor Heyerdahl's _Fatu Hiva_. While doing fieldwork in the Marquesas Islands of the Pacific, during the 1930's, Heyerdahl had the opportunity to buy a Winchester rifle which had purportedly belonged to Paul Gauguin. That's as it may be, but at any rate, the shoulder stock had been artistically carved in a not-incompatible style. When Heyerdahl brought the rifle back to civilization, he ran into French colonial officialdom, and gun control. So he unbolted the shoulder stock, and surrendered the rest of the rifle as contraband. The officials accepted this, because obviously some native could carve a new shoulder stock. The steel parts of the rifle were what a native could not easily replicate, and official policy was more or less to keep modern firearms out of tribal feuds.

    Here is another example, from the economic mobilization and war production during the Second World War. It emerged that gun barrels were a choke point. Their extreme length and narrowness dictated specialized machine tools, rather than general-purpose machine tools which might have been used to make other things during peacetime, and the pressure the barrels were subjected to during firing meant that stamped metal could not be substituted for machining. Consulting a couple of books on custom gunsmithing, I find that custom gunsmiths buy barrels from a handful of specialized manufacturers, that being the one part they cannot make for themselves. What a gunsmith can easily do is to convert a semi-automatic rifle to full-automatic fire. That is basically a matter of mechanical clockwork.

    Still more fundamentally, the best solution is probably to control ammunition. Automatic weapons use a lot of ammunition, and, for practical purposes, they cease to be automatic weapons if they don't have a lot of ammunition. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons tend to damage cartridge cases in the course of firing, because they use the cartridge's own power to extract it from the chamber. The cartridge is not particularly well adapted for functioning as a piston. Let us say that the diameter of a brass cartridge is a tenth of a millimeter greater after being fired than it was before. That can be enough. It requires a little bit more force to move the cartridge from the magazine to the chamber, and then to extract it. In automatic firing, it only takes one "dud" out of twenty to hopelessly jam the gun. It is unlikely that a home-ammunition-reloader would be able to achieve the required degree of quality-control.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 5:05am

    Re: Limitations of Three-D Printing-- The Special Case of Guns.

    You can produce all parts of a gun in your home today.
    Home 3D printing although not capable of printing metal directly can print wax parts that can then be heat treated to have the desired characteristics it needs.

    With simple tools available to everyone you can make any small metal parts one could possibly need.
    Youtube: Lost PLA 3D Print to Metal Casting; Complete

    Ammunition can be made as easily using any carjack to create a forming press, maybe not even that since the bullets walls are not that thick, or metal spinning, again using the carjack to create a cutting press and spin forming the case on a lathe.

    Now here is the thing.

    All industrial machines that do that kind of stuff are really just speciallized CNC machines, when those little home machines start having several heads for each job, a 3D printer start being a multi-purpose machine.

    Modern CNC milling machine head magazine.
    http://www.colourbox.com/image/a-cnc-milling-machine-milling-heads-in-metal-industry-imag e-3283943

    Instead of milling imagine those little 3D home machines being able to print in several materials, milling, buffing, spray coating, laser cutting and more.

    It becomes a mini-industrial park on its own right.

    3D home printing it is in its infancy, looking ahead things can get scary or wonderful it all depends in which way you want to look at it.

    Nonetheless it is good enough to be really useful for almost any purpose, it may not be able to directly produce something but it greatly helps out, its like having a master artisan in your home that can shape things to any form you desire.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    sandi, Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 9:00am

    about stuff

    Print on stuff: Okay, so the first items above are all about building stuff, but what do you do with that stuff once it's built? Well, you might want to label it, and that's where Tag On That has you covered. It's a printer that lets you label, well, pretty much anything. They claim that it takes the same technology that puts labels on things like phones, computers and keyboards, and puts that into the hands of the everyday consumer. I have to admit, the first time I saw the "print head" template "squash" into the item it was printing on it, it made me smile. I had no idea that's how you do that.


    sooooo nice
    thanks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Jared, Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    Everyone is buzzing about these 3D printers but it was always an industry goal to go 3D. Having a complete sensory experience is the ultimate achievement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 5:36pm

    Re:

    I think at some point people will realize that 3D printers are just CNC machines

    They're kind of the opposite of CNC machines. CNC machines grind down the material while 3D printers build it up.

     

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  12.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Limitations of Three-D Printing-- The Special Case of Guns.

    Still more fundamentally, the best solution is probably to control ammunition.

    The solution to what problem, exactly?

     

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  13.  
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    ChronoFish (profile), Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 6:00pm

    Re:

    I fully admit that I could be wrong.... but my understanding is that CNC machines are subtractive in nature (drill, saw, cut, sand, etc) Where as 3D Printing is additive (print x, y till "picture" is complete; drop (or increment) z-axis; print next picture).

    To your point, a combined additive, subtractive, parts placement, assembly "robot" would be awesome.

    -CF

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    horse with no name, Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re:

    It's one of the problems you will see in these sorts of things, the longer term business model beyond "make some stuff and pre-sell them here" seems weak. I also think that many of the projects you see will exhaust their entire market potential on the initial run.

    The biggest issue however is the delay between funding and actual product delivery. There is a big enough gap here that, on a product with perhaps wider market appeal, that bigger companies could come in and mass produce long before the original product really makes it to market. Not only does that limit the business plan of the original creator, but it also has a knock on effect of hurting future kickstarter projects. Some people may feel that betting on kickstarter ends up being a very poor bet, not a good one.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 11:33pm

    Re: Re:

    The CNC acronym stands for "computer-numeric-control".

    Any tool controlled by a computer can and is usually called a CNC, not just the usual automated milling machines, but cutters(e.g.: bandsaws, disk saws, reciprocating saws, laser cutters, water cutters, etc) and 3D printing machines.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 11:48pm

    Re: Re:

    http://www.colourbox.com/preview/3283943-762842-a-cnc-milling-machine-milling-heads-in-metal-industr y.jpg

    I think that is an old photo of an old CNC milling machine head magazine, some modern ones keep the heads on the walls now in several racing tracks.

    This is what manufacturers of those devices still didn't realize, you don't need to build one head to do all jobs you need to build a custom body head that attaches to several instruments and keep a lot of them so the machine just picks up what it needs.

    It can be a drill bit, it can be a laser cutter, spray nozzle, hydraulic press, extruder, pippets, vacuum succing cups, basically anything there is a hand tool that exists can be put in there.

    One 3D printer can pick up a circuit board, mill it, blow off the dust, pick up components, place them and solder it, while printing the enclosure, one could do chromatography with it, is just mind boggling what could be done.

     

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  17.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 3:49am

    On The Limitations of Fabricating Electrical Circuits.

    One of the advertised capabilities of the Othermill is that it can construct electric circuit boards, merged with plastic sculpture. The developers of the Othermill presented, as an example, a pink plastic pocket watch, with a circle of LED's which light up to show the time. The obvious alternative to the "Othermill" is the Arduino. The Arduino team looked at a micro-controller, identified standard sets of additional hardware required to make it broadly useful, and designed and manufactured, on a mass production basis, small circuit boards implementing those sets of hardware. Their first product was to supply the hardware required to connect the micro-controller to a desktop computer via a standard serial cable, so that there was no need for a special chip-programming device. Since then, they have devised other standard sets, evolving with the capabilities of micro-controllers.

    At some point, a micro-controller is going to have to acquire its own little LCD or OLED video screen (say, 100 X 50 Pixels, on a one-inch display), and this will be able to communicate information in a more satisfactory way than blinking lights could ever do. There should be provision for six buttons, next to the screen, which constitute a minimal general command input (up/down/left/right/yes/no) Furthermore, the small screen is not locked into a particular project-- it is one of the general capabilities of the small computer. The leading edge of consumer electronics went through a LED stage about thirty or forty years ago, just before a computer with a screen became economically feasible. There were things like dedicated chess computers, which would blink their LED's to indicate the move. History is simply repeating itself at a smaller scale.

    There is something of a case for making an Arduino which resembles a desktop computer's power supply. That is, a little box, which is designed to be bolted over a hole in a larger box, and which has various things which are meant to be externally accessible fitted in the portion of the little box which corresponds to the hole. Things which are not meant to be externally accessible would be on the other side, and, as in the case of the power supply, they might well take the form of little cables rather than pins. There would be two different models, one for battery power, in which case the battery compartment would be designed to be externally accessible, and one for plugging into an electric socket via a cord. In the latter case, it would probably be convenient to have two modules, one for the front of the case, and one for the back, connected by a suitably insulated and shielded cable harness. This would make it possible for the whole business to be UL and FCC certified.

     

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  18.  
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    ChronoFish (profile), Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hence the reasons for patents.

    Some will argue that it takes LONGER to secure patents than it does to go to market. Others will be fundamentally against patents for all the issues that the TD readership will be more than happy to tell you about.

    Regardless, that IS the reason that the patent system was created. To give inventors a *temporary* monopoly in order to allow them time to bring their product to market without some large corporation burring them before they even get off the ground.

    -CF

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Limitations of Three-D Printing-- The Special Case of Guns.

    It's a solution to the unnecessary fear that people get from the media.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why Arduino doesn't suffer from that? any big manufacturer can copy their designs after all they are all open source or open hardware in their case and still they have become a leader on their market segment.

    Most big manufacturers think like you, small runs are of no consequence, there is no demand for it and bla bla bla, when they finally can be certain that something work they can't just enter the market, the little guy is already there making a name for itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2013 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well if you ask me I would rather prefer to be in an open market than one dominated by patents anyday of the week.

    Yes big guys can copy you, and you can copy them in an open market, in a closed the guy with more legal resources wins almost every single time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Jun 4th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Limitations of Three-D Printing-- The Special Case of Guns.

    You've heard of lost wax casting it seems. To do lost wax casting, you make a model in wax (or plastic), and then you pack wet clay (or sand) around it, around it, and then you fire it in a kiln, so that the wax burns up and the clay fuses into pottery. Clay/Pottery has a uniquely useful property: it is a liquid which becomes a heat-resistant solid. Pottery has a rough surface, an inevitable consequence of air and steam escaping from the material as it dries and is fired. You pour your metal into the pottery, and it cools, and comes out with a rough surface, which subsequently has to be machined if it is to be precise. Ordinary machine tools are not capable of reaching down inside a hole, a fifth or a third of an inch in diameter and, say, two feet long. If you just take a drill with a long shaft, you have to worry about the shaft bending. The shaft cannot be much more than a tenth of an inch in diameter to allow room for the debris to exit. People in the firearms industry have developed special machine tools to give the inside of a barrel a smooth finish, and then rifle it with helical grooves.

    I know a bit about the process of making a pre-industrial craft rifle, a Kentucky Rifle such as Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett might have carried, and have indeed visited with a gunsmith who was making such a rifle. Without much specific knowledge of the modern barrel-making process, in engineering terms, I can imagine how one might adapt the old techniques to make a modern rifle barrel, of much smaller bore, to operate at much higher pressures, for example, using certain types of electric welding instead of a blacksmith's weld, and using X-ray equipment inspect the completeness of the weld. One would have to bring selected bits of metal to full melting point, so that they could undergo crystalline reorganization. Ordinary gas welding does not produce this result-- it produces a comparatively porous material which has caveats about its strength.

    A second point is materials. Lead, or various alloys of lead, such as solder, are commonly used for decorative metal objects because they melt at a modest temperature, six hundred degrees F or less. Indeed, reading through the table of metals and alloys in Perry's Engineering Manual, I found one alloy which melts at only a hundred and twenty degrees F. Steel, and its alloys, however, are something quite different. A typical melting temperature is about twenty-eight hundred degrees F. That is literally as hot as fire. It's not something you can do in your bedroom.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2013 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Limitations of Three-D Printing-- The Special Case of Guns.

    I didn't know that!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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