Friday, 15 March 2013

3D Printing

Imagine "printing" objects at home!   This is the promise of a new generation of small 3D printers.   I hadn't heard about these until I read an item in Choice Computer, but when you search for them on the internet, there seem to be quite a few around, such as this one.  Here's another.

I guess this is something we do in fact need - although I can't think of an immediate reason why I should invest one just so that I can "print" a model rabbit!

The printer uses microscopic droplets of melted plastic instead of ink, and "prints" layer on layer as the item is built up

But, apparently it's not fast!  Choice Computer reported that the demo file that came with their printer took 3 hours to "print" a model rabbit.  And the size of the object is fairly modest,  up to 120 x 120 x 120 mm.

If you've got the software, you can design your own products.  However, for those of us (probably the majority of people) that don't have the necessary skills , there are free designs on the internet, such as at Thingiverse.   

At present the entry-level prices for these "printers" start at over $1000, but clearly this will drop in the future.  Moreover, at this stage, the consumables are generic.  However, can such a good deal last?   Who knows what the manufacturers will get up to!

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