3D Printing Hype

3D Printing Insider Myths and Truths

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Is 3D Printing Over Hyped? What Are The Problem?

So, no revolution?

The main issue lies with raised expectations, build quality, price and usability. So here we go, my list of reasons 3D printing isn’t all you think it’s cracked up to be.

People’s expectations: They’ve seen a 3D printed violin; a crazy shoe, and a wrench (yawn) which actually works, straight out of a printer. A very, very expensive, high-end printer which uses lasers or resins. These people think that they can create objects as well without much input or training, on a machine which costs $800 or less. Imagine you’d lived on a planet that had never seen a car before, and all of a sudden the newspapers start reporting about the car, a vehicle which can do up to 250mph, carrying up to 10 people, and cost as little as $300. All true, but as we know, that’s not the full story.

The name: ’3D printing’ makes it sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Do you think if it were still called ‘rapid prototyping,’ people would be saying “I can’t wait to get a rapid prototyper in my house’?

Strength: 3D printed parts are not as strong as traditionally-manufactured parts. Their layer-by-layer technique of manufacturing is both their biggest strength and their greatest weakness. In something like injection moulding, you have a very even strength across the part, as the material is of a relatively consistent material structure. In 3D printing, you are building it in layers — this means that it has laminate weaknesses as the layers don’t bond as well in the Z axis as they do in the X and Y plane. This is comparable to a Lego wall — you place all the bricks on top of each other, and press down: feels strong, but push the wall from the side and it breaks really easily.

Surface finish: People hear you can print in plastic, so they visualise a plastic item. This is likely to be gloss and smooth. They don’t visualise a matt finish with rough layer lines all over. Many companies offer a ‘smooth’ surface finish, but often neglect to add the suffix ‘for 3D printing’. You can also post-process parts, but this generally involves labour and/or chemicals like acetone (really nasty stuff) and loses detail and tolerance on parts.

Cost: Cost is based on material used, so big things are expensive, and small things are cheap. That’s it. Nothing to do with complexity, and nothing to do with number of parts. The beauty of it is that there is no tooling — this opens up a world of opportunity to the designer, the creator and the hacker, but does it really help people who just want a replacement door knob? There is also no economy of scale, so one item is $X pounds, and a thousand items are $1000s. So, producing anything in bulk that is bigger than your fist seems to be a waste of time.

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3D Printing Hype Video Show Cartoon

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3D Printing And the Re Birth of US Manufacturing – Will 3D Printing Save Us?

Forbes has derided the notion of a U.S. manufacturing comeback as “a cruel political hoax.” And the New York Times recently ran an editorial by Steven Rattner entitled “The Myth of Industrial Rebound.”

A lack of detailed data has made it hard to assess what’s really going on within the U.S. manufacturing sector. To help remedy this, L.E.K. Consulting conducted a study of decision makers in 10 U.S. manufacturing industries, including aerospace and defense equipment, chemicals, industrial components, automotive equipment, and electronics. The study, which focused on large companies with more than $500 million in revenues, also involved in-depth interviews with high-level executives about the factors driving their decisions on where to locate their manufacturing. Will a consumer 3d printer change any of this?

The picture that emerges from this research is less black and white than either the cheerleaders or the naysayers would suggest. Overall, we see a modest improvement in U.S. manufacturing but not a wave of reshoring. More companies are investing in the U.S. or considering it as a location for new manufacturing facilities. But this is essentially a rebalancing after many years in which manufacturing shifted overwhelmingly to lower-cost nations such as China.manufacture chart

The media has been full of reports lately about a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing. The cheerleaders cite an array of heartening examples, including a $4 billion investment by Dow Chemical to boost its ethylene and propylene capacity on the U.S. Gulf Coast, an announcement by Flextronics of plans to create a $32 million product innovation center in Silicon Valley, and a decision by Airbus to build a $600 million assembly line in Alabama for its jetliners. These stories have prompted much talk about the “reshoring” of manufacturing jobs to the U.S. from China and elsewhere. Indeed, President Obama recently hailed “a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.”

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5 Reasons 3D Printing Won’t Catch On

1. Before the majority of Americans could wrap their heads around how 3D printing works, a man named Cody Wilson designed, printed, and successfully fired a 3D printed gun. The STL file was available for free on his website the next day, and 100,000 people downloaded it before the U.S. Department of State ordered him to take it down. Since an all-plastic 3D gun probably won’t catch on, other companies are working on using SLS technology to print a metal one. So, in December 2013, Congress voted to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms that could slip past metal detectors, though it didn’t add any new restrictions on plastic guns. Philadelphia was the first city to ban 3D printed firearms. A Chicago lawmaker wants to make it illegal to use a 3D printer to make gun parts unless the user has a federal gun manufacturer’s license.

Wilson’s plastic 3D printed gun showcased these loopholes in the law and caused an uproar across the country about the potential dangers of 3D printing technology. Whether you agree with it or not, the ability to easily print and distribute weaponry will surely cause skepticism about this technology for some time.

2. 3D printers aren’t that user-friendly

Setting up a 3D printer will need to be as easy as hooking up a traditional HP printer. The 3D printer needs to have fewer wires than a television and fewer buttons than a computer for it to become a household electronic, and right now, that’s not the case. The printers use high-voltage power supplies and specialized equipment and parts. Some of the cheapest printers can’t even connect to wifi and most have low resolution.

Because of the hype around the potential and the cute plastic toys that they produce, 3D printers have come across as easier and more useful than they actually are. The best products that have been created—think tools, musical instruments, car parts—are made using huge, high-end printers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those sub-$1,000 machines that sit on a desk just aren’t going to be as productive.

3. Complex design software

Downloadable files from Thingiverse and Shapeways are easy to get, but they are not moderated and therefore may not work on every type of printer. If you want to design your own file, you need a working knowledge of CAD design. Setting up the model and using the printer takes quite a bit of patience and time, which is another reason the technology has primarily been used by enthusiasts up to this point.

4. 3D printers are still slow

3D printers are great for mass customization, but are still too slow for manufacturing lots of objects. To change the manufacturing industry, the parts need to be printed in minutes, not hours. It currently takes anywhere from several hours to several days to print, depending on the size of the model and the quality of the printer. Receiving an order from Shapeways, the company that customizes and 3D prints a variety of products, can take up to two weeks, depending on the materials used.

5. Safety concerns

The FDM printers, which use plastic filament, are relatively safe to use—they are often made for desktops and contain both the mold and the residue—but they aren’t foolproof, and they reach very high temperatures.

Powder-based printers are messy and potentially explosive depending on what is being made from them. They operate at extremely high temperatures and produce waste. It’s not something a consumer would want in their home office. Indoor air quality and the emissions from 3D printers, particularly SLS printers, are also cause for concern.

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3D Printing Debate – Why Should People Own a 3D Printer?

There has been a lot of hype on 3D printers at last year CES and now this year I saw tons of competitors offering low-end models as well as high-end professional desktops. XYZprinting Inc. from Taiwan, a new entrant revealed their da Vinci 3D printer with a starting price of just $499, cost as much as a color laser printer a few years back. It is a simple plug-and-play design for small business and personal use. Now I am not sure how often if you need to use one if you’re not a designer. The nice thing is it allows access to a database for free 3D models and 12 different color filaments to choose from. I guess you can print your iPhone case, earings or even chess set. Still hard to think of a reason to own one at home other than novelty.

On the higher end,ChefJet 3D printer and the ChefJet 3D Pro printer costing between $5,00 to $10,000. There is the Solidoodle’s 4th generation printer priced at $999 which I have not tried out. And there is the MakerBot’s Replicator priced at $2,899 but this year they introduced a compact Replicator Mini which will cost $1,375. Another 3D printer maker Cube will be introducing a new model which will be priced under $1,000. We can see these printers selling below $500 in a year as they will get aggressive in pricing to gain market share. The quesion remain what is the reason to own one?

The real money is in the business market such as the ability to print spare parts, or complete part without assembly and complex inner structures too difficult to be machined. 3D printing makes it possible to manufacture pretty much anything in just 5-10 hours depending what you’re printing, and, as you can surely imagine, this capability would come in very handy in product parts which sometimes take days to locate and ship due to inventory supply issues. A piece of equipment breaks and your repair technician can print it for you.

3D printing has attracted a lot of interest but still at it’s infancy, the material science necessary for a lot of these claims about printing tooth or even human organs just isn’t there yet. You can’t use the same plastic or metal for different parts. It comes down to different tolerances and they are critical. So we’re a few years away. And we will get there

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3D Printing Industry History and 3D Printing Predictions


Where was the industry and where is the 3D Printing Industry heading? Bioprinting, scanning and rapid manufacturing are all trends. Will they be mainstream in the next decade?