Just a few years ago, it would have cost thousands of dollars to buy a 3D printer. 3D printers now range in price from a few thousand to a couple hundred dollars making them much more affordable to the masses. The evolution of 3D printers has been quite remarkable and it doesn’t look like adoption will be slowing anytime soon. With the price for a 3D printer finally under a couple thousand, I decided it wouldn’t be breaking the bank to buy my own printer to experiment with. Since getting my printer a little over a month ago, I have had a lot of fun learning how to use the printer and experimenting with different designs. This is the first post of a two-part series on building and using my first 3D printer. Continue reading
Microsoft is adding 3D printer support with the release of Windows 8.1. The idea is to make the process for 3D printing as simple as sending a Word document to your inkjet printer. Microsoft is even baking in the ability to adjust certain characteristics of the design before it is sent to the 3D printer to be sliced. The video (link below) shows a Microsoft engineer capturing a 3D image of themselves using the Microsoft Kinect and easily sending the design to a Makerbot to print. What is beautiful is that Microsoft is releasing an SDK that will make it easy for developers to integrate support directly into their own applications. Support is expected for a wide variety of popular printers, including the Makerbot, Cubify and open-source printers. Microsoft’s adoption of 3D printing will hopefully help bring down one more barrier to the mass adoption of 3D printing.
SOURCE: The Official Microsoft Blog
Jasper van Loenen, an independent designer in the Netherlands, has created a very clever set of 3D printed clamps that can make any object a drone. Mr. Loenen has provided the necessary STL files to print the plastic components. Get yourself a receiver, four electronic speed controllers (ESCs), a bluetooth module and a flight controller and you too can have your very own drone. Who said you couldn’t make your textbook fly?
Layer By Layer, a 3D printing marketplace, puts a new twist on the process for downloading and printing 3D objects. There are already some great marketplaces out there, including Shapeways and Thingiverse (Makerbot), but both have their limitations. Shapeways is great for designers because they get paid when their designs are printed, but it doesn’t allow users to download designs to print on their own 3D printers. Thingiverse provides the platform for downloading designs, but designers can’t monetize their creations. This is where Layer By Layer is trying a different model. Continue reading
The reaction to first learning about 3D printing is usually one of intrigue and then pondering what the capabilities are for the technology. The simple answer to the functional use question is that 3D printing streamlines the process for prototyping a product. The futuristic idea is that the technology will make it possible to print anything right inside your house, without the need to ever go to the store. The reality, however, is that the technology has far wider implications beyond commercial use.
Jennifer Lawrence, Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and her team of researchers from Harvard and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created a 3D printing process for making microbatteries that could be used in a wide spectrum of applications, including micro medical and communication devices. Continue reading
The rumors of a sale are true. Only weeks after opening their swanky new facility in Brooklyn, NY, Makerbot has been acquired by Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS). We might never know all the interested parties in acquiring Makerbot, but Stratasys’s acquisition shows the market is heating up and consolidating. Stratasys already went through a $1.4 billion merger in December 2012 with Objet, an Israeli based 3D printing company. The acquisition places Stratasys in direct competition with 3D Systems, another major player who already has a consumer printer, the Cubify.
Makerbot has sold 22,000 printers since their founding in 2009, which includes 11,000 of their newest printer, the Makerbot Replicator 2. When the acquisition closes, Stratasys plans on maintaining Makerbot as a separate subsidiary with current CEO Bre Pettis still leading the division.
When I went to order PLA filament for the first time for my 3D printer, I started with a list of suppliers on the RepRap Suppliers wiki. I systematically went through and clicked on all the websites and compared their prices. After going through the list, I was really surprised that none had a decent website, great prices (except for Chinese suppliers) or a large variety. I felt like I was looking at the early days of the internet. Continue reading