3D printer, all you need to know
This is the ultimate level of DIY: moving from assembling to manufacturing components.
Three-dimensional printing will it follow the same path as virtual reality, with promising prospects, but in fact a commercial release in very small steps, 3D screens being one of them?
In fact there is a fundamental difference is that virtual reality interacts with the human body that can not accommodate all the ways we change the perception, while 3D printing is only for objects. Its use is much easier and it can evolve faster.
From drawing to solid object
The principle is to translate the design of a 3D object, we can move on a screen and see under every angle, into overlapping surfaces. A printer can then move from 2D, to drop the materal at each point of a plan by moving the print head, to 3D by adding plan after plan.
There is no limit to the complexity of the objects produced, as shown on the image to the right. China has chosen this technology to restore items from the Forbidden City degraded by time or men, or whose parts were missing. The originals were scanned or reproduced by a 3D software and replicas made by a team of Loughborough Design School in the East Midlands of England.
There is no limit to the size of objects as long as you uses appropriate equipment. The Contour Crafting site shows that we can build a house with a folding printer that can be placed in the trunk of a car.
Several technologies are used, stereolithography is the most common and involves depositing a resin then cured with heat.
The model of the object is created with usual software of computer-aided design as Blender for example. The CAD file is then used by the firmware of the printer to make the translation into overlapping surfaces.
The Skeinforge software may be used to cut the model in printable slices and generate commands to the printer.
What materials can you use?
3D printers do not use just plastic. If the printer model is sufficiently advanced, such as one of the Eden series, it can use as well many material:
- Precious metals for jewelry.
- Recycled glass.
All these and many other materials, at least 25, are available for sale at Shapeways for a price ranging from $ 2 for a cm3 cube to $ 20 (for silver).
These materials also offer a choice of different colors.
Models of printers
- Rep Rap. Printer to assemble itself, made in plastic so you can repair it by printing its own components.
- You may also build your own Buildatron printer.
- The Portabee based on the RepRap cost less than $500 $ if you assemble it yourself. But we can usually only print small objects with these models for different reasons.
- Solidoodle. Another 500 $ printer.
- Open source metal printer. Schemas to build yourself a printer able to make metal objects.
- Da Vinci. Offered to 500 $, very cheap for middle-sized objects. The material is in the form of cartridges in 12 different colors, for 28 $ per cartridge.
Models of objects
- 3D Warehouse. (Google).
- Autodesk 123D. A software which makes a 3D model of what is in front of a tablet. Easy to use with a simple interface. AutoDesk 123D Catch, video.
- OpenSCAD. Another free software for all systems.
- Codeable Objects. For programmers-designers (POV users for example), a library of functions from MIT to help make 3d objects from predefined formulas.
- Matterport. This is a device coupled to a computer that can scan a concrete object to produce a 3D model, which will be printed to reproduce the original. Video on the site.
Purchasing items manufactured from a design
Until stores are created in the neighborhoods, it is possible to get produced on request objects of which patterns are customized.