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Comment Nope. Still not consumer items. (Score 1) 143

Sure, you can print their library of files that have been prepared specifically for the machine, but what are those files? Little bits of plastic junk you can buy at Walmart for almost free anyway. How long will the novelty of printing salt and pepper shakers last?

At $300 grandma and grandpa are going to be buying these for the grandkids instead of the cheesy microscopes and telescopes they used to buy in that price range. Unless the kid is seriously motivated to learn how to get the best performance from this thing (learn to use CAD software, etc.) it will end up like those microscopes and telescopes- on sale for $0.50 at the next garage sale.

3D printers are for hobbyists who make things. There may be a few nascent hobbyists out there who haven't been making things because they lack the means, and this may be the thing that pushes them to actually start producing stuff, but for most it will be an expensive toy that will quickly fall into disuse.

I like the autoleveling and I'm interested in seeing how they print ABS without heating the bed. Both are useful developments if they work.

Comment Having lived through the period in question (Score 3, Insightful) 1037

I've noticed that religion has affiliated itself more and more with the right wing political party (in the US). During that period the ideas coming from that political party have often designed to pander to deeply religious people, have become nuttier and nuttier. The Republicans recognized that there was a large group of people who were used to doing what they were told by an authority figure and targeted that group to perpetuate their existence, hence the religion/right wing party affiliation, in spite of the fact that the right wing party promotes ideas that are often in direct conflict with the religious- ideas and attitudes about caring about the poor, sick, etc.

It seems that while the original goal might have been for the republicans to insinuate themselves into the religion (Xtianity in its various forms), the opposite has also taken place the religious leaders saw an opportunity to get more control and power and impose their beliefs on a larger population by insinuating themselves into the Republican party. Recently it appears that the Republicans have been trying to distance themselves from their more religious affiliations by making a show of standing up to the Tea party (the religious parasite that is sucking the life blood from the Republican party), but the two are now hopelessly entangled and if religion goes down, they will drag the Republican party down with them.

The next 20 years are going to be interesting.

Comment Re:I designed and built my own 3D printer (Score 1) 251

I don't understand what it means when you say 3D printing is just cosmetic. I print parts for other projects that are mechanically functional (see the SnakeBite extruder for an example) as well as items that are more decorative. As long as the functional object is subjected to limited stresses and temperatures (a surprisingly wide envelope) a 3D printed plastic part can do the job. Yes, in many cases metal might be better, but in many cases having to use metal would make the project impossible to finish and so it would never get done.

If I didn't work on such projects all the time I would question the value of having a 3D printer. But I do, so I don't. The 3D printer lets me build things that I would not be able to build using machine tools.

Comment Re:Join you local Maker Lab or Hack Space. (Score 1) 251

I second that!

I built my printer at the Milwaukee Makerspace ( Access to tools and expertise and even parts that went into the printer. You can't beat having people with similar interests around to bounce ideas off of, and guys who know how to run machine tools to help with the fabrication issues.

Comment Re:I designed and built my own 3D printer (Score 1) 251

I don't get your point. A 3D mouse isn't just a shell that covers a regular mouse. It is a very specialized piece of hardware/electronics that requires specialized software to work. So, yes, I can build a 3D printer but I can't build a 3D mouse. You can learn more about 3D mice here:

Whittling is a subtractive process more accurately comparable to CNC machining. 3D printing is an additive process, nothing like "whittling".

Comment Re:Great for hobby projects, rarely sell anything. (Score 1) 251

If you want to have a business, you have to approach it as a business. Don't buy/build a printer then go looking for stuff to print and customers to sell those things to. You pick your market, find out what it needs, figure out if you can make money doing it, and then invest in a printer that does what is needed. You can print plastic trees for model railroaders and sell them for $0.25 each or you can go after the medical market and print titanium bones for $5000 each, or something in between. It all depends on how much you want to make and how hard you want to work.

Comment I designed and built my own 3D printer (Score 1) 251

from mostly surplus machine parts. I designed it to have a build capacity sufficient to print full-size human skulls extracted from CT scan data. So far I have spent many hundreds of hours and about $1k on the machine.

Skip the low end of the printer market. They will not produce quality prints and build capacity is too small to satisfy for very long. First and foremost, look for a machine with a rigid frame (not plywood!). Avoid machines that have unsupported guide rail or screw ends. Quality prints require controlling the motion of the entire printer. You don't want anything wobbling or flopping around.

If you think you want to make money printing stuff, I recommend talking to a local oral maxillofacial surgeon. When they do reconstruction surgery for people who have experienced trauma or are otherwise disfigured, they frequently get 3D models printed to aid in planning of the surgery. One of the local guys here says a complete skull costs $1500 and a partial skull typically about $500. That's a lot better than you can do on etsy! You'll have to figure out how to extract the data from a CT scan (try DeVide or Osirix, combined with Blender, Meshlab, and Netfabb) to create a printable model, but if I can figure it out, you can too.

Lately I have been experimenting with an extruder design of my own invention. It uses counter-rotating nuts to drive the filament into the hot-end. It is working but still requires some tweaking of firmware and slicing options to get best results. You can see it running here:
and download the files to print one here:

I use Sketchup for a lot of my models because it is fast and easy, but I do run into its limitations quite often. For those situations I use Designspark Mechanical, another freebie that works well but has a little steeper learning curve. If you're going to do a lot of this stuff (and you will once you have a printer) invest in a 3D mouse. I picked up a SpacePilot Pro on ebay for $200 and it was the best $200 I have spent in a long time. Once you get used to using it you won't want to touch CAD without it. I am hoping someone will release a good CAD package that runs under Linux so I can ditch Windows forever. The existing packages for linux just aren't quite there yet.

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