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Peachy Printer - The world's first $100 3D Printer (3ders.org)
351 points by jschwartz11 on Sept 21, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 112 comments

Kickstarter link @ http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/117421627/the-peachy-pri...

This is such a cool concept -- I backed it! I do not want to highjack the conversation, but I think it is worth mentioning, that this is kind of a "grinds my gears" [1, 2] moment when someone links to a summery, which borrows the video and images of a Kickstarter campaign, you are essentially diverting the campaigns traffic, why not just link to the campaign? This article was kind enough to at least link to it in the last paragraph. This summery is currently #1 on HN, which it likely driving tens of thousands of people to this suboptimal page [3, 4].

[1] http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Grinds%20my%2...

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHtRnOXXZ0w

[3] http://aberrant.me/front-page-of-hacker-news/

[4] http://www.backwardcompatible.net/179-traffic-hacker-news-ef...

Indiegogo link @ http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-peachy-printer-the-fir...

I really like what i've seen so far :)

But i do not understand why they are running a kickstarter and an indiegogo campaign at the same time for the same product with the same setup and rewards. Only the campaign duration is slightly different. Anyone got any ideas why this would make sense?

PS.: On indiegogo the early bird special is still available ...

Advertising in two similar, but not exactly the same markets at once?

Although, I feel like the indiegogo should have some sort of outreach to it as well. Like, "$25 gets you resin or a t-shirt and you (along with 5 other people) will sponsor a printer for a school" or something like that. Or perhaps focus on how the money from indiegogo will be used to make the software more accessible and easy to use for all people, not just those skilled in CAD.

EDIT: The indiegogo uses a fixed-funding model like kickstarter. I wasn't aware that projects could do that there.

It's strange that they chose a fixed-funding model for indiegogo. Even though the kickstarter has reached its goal, the indigogo project might not.

Aside from the lower price of the remaining early bird specials, is there any reason to fund it through indiegogo instead of kickstarter?

Man, I got used to the kickstarter campains that try to sell me hot water and make it sound like it's the greatest thing on earth.

This is refreshing, it's simple, clever. A true hack in the best meaning of the word.

3ders is a summary site. All their articles are on this level. And yes, they are scummy like this with most of them.

This is the first 3D printer I've been excited about since the very first one I saw maybe a decade ago.

The reason is that it is actually a novel approach that I can see is in its very infancy...and it's clever as hell. The reality of 3D printers is that at this stage of their development, they aren't useful for a lot of people; at least not useful enough to make them a cost-effective purchase.

This, however, begins to make it seem a reasonable purchase for a wide variety of people. Any hobbyist or artist that builds things would find this an awesome tool for taking their ideas to the next level. Table top gamers can make their own models. People who work on electronics can make their own boxes and internal parts. The possibilities are pretty broad. They've always been broad...but the printer options have always been expensive, or required you to build it yourself.

We're getting close to a 3D printing revolution. I'm not the first person to say that. But, this is the first time I've ever said it, because it's the first time I saw a glimmer of hope that it would actually soon be in the same league as laser and inkjet printers in terms of cost.

And, this may be the time when I finally opt to jump into the pool and try out this new tech. If I can think up something I'd actually want to regularly use it for, I probably will.

Anyone know how tough the resulting objects are? Could I use it for something, such as gears or a chassis for an outdoor computer, that needs to take a lot of abuse and expect it to hold up?

Those galvos don't look very accurate (at least not without a lot of calibration and low-tolerance manufacturing). But who cares... its a $100 3D printer! I'll buy one -- but only once it's ready to ship.

I've heard the resin resultant objects are pretty brittle at least on the Form1, so I'm not sure it could do what you're hoping.

You would be better served with an FDM printer if you want to be able to use it as you describe, but then you need to be careful of the direction of the grain (or rather, the layers) so that they're opposite the direction of stress if there's specific ways it will take stress.

> pretty brittle at least on the Form1

This is true (at least on the SLA printer I've used). The problem is that the resin never stops UV curing, so it just gets more and more brittle over time. Small parts get really fragile (Maybe you can paint/cover them to avoid this - I'm not sure). FDM or SLS printers are generally better with functional parts, while SLA is better for prototypes that don't need to last.

What if you use a spray primer to completely coat the object?

Not a clue! You'd have to ask somebody more qualified than myself.

Damn I didn't quite realize the ingenuity of using a mirror instead of fixed axis until I read this:

>Build volume: There is no certain limit on build volume. In the same way that a flashlight beam gets bigger the further it shines, so does the build volume of the Peachy Printer. Although this has not been tested, we have high hopes to print a full size canoe! This will require a build volume of approximately 3'x3'x16'. The real limiting factor in build volume is time... It could be possible to calibrate the Peachy Printer to print a house, but it would take years![1]

And here I am thinking it was to save money on the rods and stepper motors.

[1]: http://www.peachyprinter.com/?_escaped_fragment_=printer-spe...

But the larger the build area, the harder it would be to control accurately. If you double each axis, could this printer still hit the previous layer when making thin walls?

You're right but the thing is if you're printing some object that is 5x5 feet you probably don't need 0.5 mm thin walls and if you do need smaller features on a larger design you can print the object with the precision portions directly under the center where you have really fine grained precision and the bulk of the object can still be a couple of feet from the center as long as you don't have a need to print a canoe with 0.5 mm walls.

The resolution will look like the graph of dθ/dx with theta being the angle of deflection of the laser. The plot of the resolution with respect to height and displacement can be seen here: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=h%2F%28h%5E2+%2B+x%5E2%...

What would be awesome is if they made their model printing software optimize the placement of the model in order to maximize accuracy where it was needed but without putting the laser so close that the outside features are crappy including rotating the model maybe upside down if the more precise portion of the model is on the bottom and it is physically possible to print it that way. That'd be a really interesting software engineering project in my book.

P.S. in case anyone was wondering about the math behind the plot, if you integrate the function for a fixed value of h and take the area from x=0 to h you get pi/4 for any value of h which lines up perfectly for a 45 45 90 triangle.

Hmm, this is pretty much getting into impulse buy territory (for a 3D printer), and it even helps with my #1 problem justifying getting one which was that I haven't really learned any 3D modeling, by being capable of scanning (though I guess you could also do something similar with a Kinect). Could anyone with more insight into these things explain further why this is unique and whether there might be drawbacks? This almost seems too good to be true.

(for background, I just want a 3D printer to tinker with, and if it works at all for $100 I'll be satisfied - I might have as much fun building it as using it)

If you watch the videos in the kickstarter and on his site, you'll see he removed a ton of parts every other printer has to have. For example, the Z axis is now water...that's a lot cheaper than all the parts you need for a bed and the precision motors to normally raise/lower a platform. He did this in quite a few areas, which quickly plummets the price.

I wonder how much error is introduced by the use of the headphone jack to drive the printer - you've gotta deal with line noise from the computer's sound card, mixing latency/glitches from the OS, and the device sampling rate, along with any noise introduced on the audio cable.

Does a 3D printer like this not actually require high-precision data to work correctly?

Audio output of modern computers is high precision. 16 bit resolution is pretty damned precise...even once converted to analog. I'm certain the mechanical parts being driven by it is a much, much, larger source of errors than any decent computer output would be.

That said, there is measurable and audible differences between a stock audio output and a high end (or even prosumer) audio output. A nice 24 bit audio box could, possibly, be a useful upgrade in the future...when the mechanics finally catch up. But, I suspect it'll be years before the mechanical side of this design is precise enough to even show the errors in a 16 bit output. If ever...

I'm not referring to 16 bit precision per sample, more to 44khz and the potential for multi-millisecond audio glitches on most modern PC configurations. Glitch-free audio is pretty tough, still.

That's not true at all and hasn't been for a long time. Maybe if you're mixing more than 8 tracks on a low-power CPU, but even a chromebook can do that sort of thing. Even my phone (several years old) can do that. Playing back stereo audio (which all that's required here) is something that can be done from a device that fits on your keyring. What you're arguing hasn't been true since the 90s.

Certainly, it would be bad if this thing relied on every last available bit of audio bandwidth all the way up to 22.05 Khz, but there's no particular reason to do that.

I'm not talking about 'can you play back audio', I'm talking about 'can you play back audio with zero glitches'. This becomes a problem of scheduling precision, whether or not scheduling will 'stall' if a driver hangs while processing an IRQ, whether or not the graphics driver has a potential to hang due to a rendering operation, etc, etc. These are all a reality on modern desktops even if they're fairly rare (I don't think I see audio glitches on my desktop more than maybe once a month).

The people I talk to who do professional audio recording and mixing insist that it is still a difficult problem; it was back when I did mixing (early to mid 2000s, not 'the 90s'). The prevalence of custom APIs for glitch-free low-latency audio playback like JACK and ASIO suggests to me that you still can't rely on just feeding samples to the OS and having them come out of the sound card at the appropriate rate 100% of the time.

FWIW, Windows introduced an entirely new audio stack in Vista that was tuned specifically to address these problems. Their first iteration managed to cripple ethernet bandwidth because of the scheduling requirements imposed for glitch-free audio.

I'm an audio nerd; I went to school for it, and I'm back to working professionally in the field (after a 15 year hiatus where I did it as a hobby). Serious audio problems do still exist on Linux systems, and it is a source of huge annoyance for me that my system still causes my (very expensive) studio monitors to pop when switching between some sound sources in some situations. But, these are mostly to do with the sound server and switching sources rather than with glitches in actual audio.

I still can't use Linux as my primary OS for audiovisual work because there are still issues with getting many channels of low latency, high resolution, audio playing and recording reliably.

But, the issues you describe as they apply to this task are mostly a long solved problem, at least for very simple tasks, like reliably playing 16 bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo audio. Honestly, there's never been a time that I can remember when I couldn't reliably play a stereo 16 bit, 44.1k, file back on a Linux system...going back to 1995, or so, when I first started using Linux. The problems come when you demand a little more of the system.

Once again, errors of the level that exist today (which are completely inaudible to even trained ears in most cases), in terms of latency, jitter, dropouts, etc. are so tiny and insignificant that they would be impossible for the current hardware to replicate. The hardware is so much slower than the input signal that noise from the audio signal will be lost in the much larger noise of the hardware. You can see the hardware noise in the printed objects. It's vastly larger than anything the computer output is going to screw up, and it'll be many generations before that stops being true (and, by then, maybe Linux will finally have its act together on audio).

Windows, BTW, finally does have its act together on audio, and has for five+ years. I can reliably play a couple dozen 96k 24 bit tracks while recording more on slightly high end laptop. Obviously Mac is also solid on this front.

It's only a problem if you need very low latency. This system doesn't, so you can just set a massive interface buffer size. Scheduling is a complete non-issue if you have several seconds worth of output buffer.

When professional audio people talk about the difficulties of glitch-free playback, they're talking about running their CPU at near 100% utilisation with 64 or 128 samples of buffer. Playing back a clean and glitch-free audio stream is trivial and has been for years.

I am a professional sound recordist for film and I also make electronic music; my office is a studio. I do not consider this a problem for this application.

Latency and glitching can become an issue when you're trying to record and monitor in real time while also operating plugins and multiple tracks. That's not the case here.

In passing, I'll tell you what is really a problem on current iterations of Windows: MIDI over USB. Audio is OK, MIDI is atrocious.

I've had good luck with my Focusrite Saffire USB device. Both Windows and Linux. I recall orneriness in older devices...my old Firewire Focusrite had problems.

But, it's sad that any MIDI device can possibly have problems anywhere so long after its invention. I have a MIDI interface on a Commodore 64 that works reliably! Likewise, I used to do sequencing on an Amiga...worked fine for MIDI. Multi-track 16 bit audio was more of a challenge on such a small machine (started doing digital multitrack work with an Amiga 2000 with a 7.14Mhz CPU).

I was having a converstion with some friends about this the other day - people still miss their Atari STs and decades-dead products like Opcode's StudioVision. Microsoft just does not seem to get MIDI, which is one reason (among several other non-MS related ones) that I do almost all my sequencing in hardware.

There's still a large community of people making music on those old machines. Mostly chiptunes, rather than MIDI-oriented stuff (as far as I know)...but, some folks are driving their old machines via MIDI and simply using them as sound devices.

Boots Riley of the Coup talked about using an ST for many, many years after it was out of date. I think he was using it up until Party Music (released in 2001, but it might have been the prior record. Atari Teenage Riot also keep pounding away on their STs well past their prime.

I use a C64 and a Game Boy for music production these days; but I mostly play the 64 live (using the keyboard...not even a MIDI keyboard of piano overlay) and the Game Boy just exists as an independent music device. I've never tried combining its output with anything else. But, probably will eventually. If I were to find an Amiga 1200 or one of the latter day STs, in really good shape for not a lot of money, I'd probably pick it up. But, there are so many collectors of the old machines now, and so few remain in working condition, that it's not common to find them. I need to acquire a backup C64, though, for sure. I don't think there's good resources for repairing them the way there were when I was a kid.

People making hardware focused on audio typically use real-time operating system versions, because of the schedule requirements imposed by the audio sampling.

I disagree on the premise that audio glitches can and do happen on non-realtime operating systems due to the lack of guaranteed scheduling. For this 3D printer, it doesn't really matter, but for a lot of other things, I would feel uncomfortable trusting a desktop PC soundcard, OS, and drivers to perform glitch-free audio I/O. I would much rather send self-clocking commands from a PC to a hardware device which takes care of the realtime task on its own.

But wasn't he talking about controlling it with your laptop? On Linux, this'd be no problem. But on Win7 I have this weird issue that causes my audio to go BZZZZPPT every few minutes or so (I think it's something to do with USB driver interrupts, but I haven't been able to dig up the root cause). It's usually not very noticeable small glitch (though annoying enough that it makes me rewind videos sometimes), anyway, but that would probably make for some "interesting" glitch lines in 3D printed models.

Looking at the videos, a few milliseconds would correspond to ~1 drip, maybe 2. It isn't going to introduce a real significant flaw in anything.

That could be enough to cause X-Y positional problems though.

It depends on how fast the resin cures. I have the idea that it sends (and repeats) the same layer for a bit longer than milliseconds, so I don't see it mattering.

Perhaps, with slightly more hardware, you could rig it up to kill the power to the laser if the sound level dropped to zero (which is typically how computer audio hiccups manifest). Printing would stop for a moment, but you wouldn't have the laser curing anything it shouldn't.

This doesn't really work, though, because to the 3D printer, 0 volts is a valid signal in the domain of the input. Never use a value in the domain of your input as a null value. Additionally, it is difficult to define what the sound level of a continuous signal really is, since it is usually computed using an averaging, integrating, or low-pass filter (not sure which.) Just like an old-fashioned VU meter, it takes a moment for the needle to fall down to 0. By the time this happens, the glitch is over.

Also, consider that not all audio glitches are of the type that cause zeroes to be emitted. Some audio glitches are known as buffer underruns, where the ring buffer holding audio is not filled up in time, and eventually runs out, causing the same few milliseconds of audio to play over and over again until more audio makes it into the buffer.

I'm thinking you would throw in a cheap microcontroller and basically use it as a modem to control the printer. If the carrier signal is lost, then it stops printing. This would retain most of the benefits of using the audio jack, including being able to re-compute prints and play them back with something like an mp3 player instead of a proper computer.

This does make it a bit more complex though, because the microcontroller, though simple, still needs a board and some kind of power supply, and a reasonably accurate DAC for controlling the galvanometers. The microcontroller would have to spend the time in between DAC timer interrupts to perform the "modem" function. Not too bad since for this project the DAC only needs a frequency of 8kHz or less, but still mildly challenging. You could just use an RS-232 or USB interface instead of trying to create a modem since that would be easier and perhaps more reliable.

I wonder what mp3 compression would do to your objects :)

> the 3D printer, 0 volts is a valid signal in the domain of the input.

Only if you consider a centered rod of minimum thickness "valid".

It may not require low-latency dynamic audio at all. It could be that you could transfer many ms of signal to the hardware in advance to ease your timing requirements.

Line noise is a bit of an issue, but that's usually quite high frequency which means it can either be filtered or that the errors will be correspondingly small. Latency and glitches are not likely to be an issue at all, even the crappiest computer nowadays can handle multitrack audio and delays of a few milliseconds that would interfere with music performance are not going to have any impact here. Likewise sampling rate shouldn't be a problem, anything above 8Khz or so should be adequate for purpose here and most cheap uCs could handle that. Cable noise is generally negligible over short runs. A bigger problem would be ground hum from poorly isolated transformers/power supplies, but that is on a fixed frequency and can be eliminated with a HPF. Certainly the output is a little crude but it will be 'good enough' for many purposes.

Note also that the audio input allows playback from an mp3 player or other sources, suggesting the audio can be wholly precomputed. Imagine how useful that could be in places like Africa so that you could print thing without necessarily needing a high-power device like a laptop.

Thanks for the points on how trivial it would be to handle line noise and playback glitches. Makes sense to me; I just don't know my hardware and analog circuits well enough to know how cheap it is to filter that stuff out.

No problem. Sorry if my other comment wasn't informative.

> Note also that the audio input allows playback from an mp3 player or other sources, suggesting the audio can be wholly precomputed. Imagine how useful that could be in places like Africa so that you could print thing without necessarily needing a high-power device like a laptop.

This is an awesome idea. You could broadcast objects over FM radio! Just like they used to do for software when early home computers used cassette tapes for storage.

I've seen sound cards with all kind of glitches such as outputting one of the channels with an inverted phase. I'd be also concerned with whatever audio filters the card may have. Sound cards are just not meant to control precision equipment like that.

Including a low cost USB adapter (even an audio one) that is tested and calibrated to work with the printer could prevent a lot of headaches in setting this up.

The resin takes a certain amount of light exposure to fully cure. I doubt that noise or buffer glitches would seriously cause a noticeable effect on the print. More likely, soundcards with improper equalization, and galvanometer impedance and group delay would be the cause of shape distortion.

I was wondering why they didn't use USB or something similar. How will they interface with, e.g. laptops or phones that don't have a microphone jack? If they're committed to using audio to drive the device, what about a usb audio device, similar to a usb headset with microphone?

On the other side of the concept of using audio as their output system, what would a cube sound like if played through speakers instead of through their printer? And how would a Mozart symphony look when printed?

The kickstarter video mentions using audio io to reduce cost. Using USB would require a microcontroller and the usb interface. The microphone jack is used for scanning, so as long as your device has 16 bit audio out, I'm assuming you could print just fine.

And yes, I am going to get one just so I can see how Pink Floyd compares to Daft Punk when printed.

I would imagine any music would print as a random porous rectangular blob

That's all a telephone line modem ever was, a specialized soundcard...

That's the "Woz-est" engineering I've seen in some time.

This is great stuff. I have no idea what I'd use a 3d printer for, but this guy's awesome approach to engineering has me wanting to buy one just to reward his work.

Where I work (large university) the instructors and professors teaching engineering labs build pretty much all the setups for the experiments using 3D printers and off the shelf components. It allows them to iterate very fast on designs and can also change the experiments year after years, since they are not stuck with some expensive machine or piece of equipment. It really is an amazing technology.

I used one for a personal project I'm working on. I'm building a robot and had trouble finding wheels for it that fit my design, so I just made my own!! Got some silicon rubber strips from McMaster-Carr and now I have very fancy and functional wheels! Of course I am very fortunate to have access to a very good 3D printer, which is a few years out for most people.

After a close look at the simple and clever design and the not quite practical printing method, I'm about to say this is the ZX-81 of 3D printers. Not quite an Apple II, but cheap and may serve to ignite some imaginations.

"Grayson wrote an add-on to blender which translate 3D model into an audio waveform".

This guy probably has a t-shirt that reads "What would McGyver do?"

This guy probably printed a t-shirt that reads "What would McGyver do?". Using a waffle iron.

this may be obvious to everyone else, but took me a while... stereo!

[there are two mirrors to drive (or, equivalently, a point in 2D to target with the laser) and i couldn't see how to do that with a single audio signal.]

It's even called stereolithography :-)

Ha, glad I wasn't the only one. I feel less stupid now.

At this price - I would love to see an array of these printing into a larger vat to produce large objects.

This will make it so meta-printers can be hacked together:

Mount the Peachy onto XY motion capabilities (whats the word for this?) axes? -- and it should be trivial to make a hydrolically lifted resin system that is quite large indeed. (that was the most ingenious part of this design, IMO.

It should be easy to create a resin vat calculator where you simply provide the XYZ dimensions of your container and it will calculate the drip-resolution for you so you know at what rate to adjust the flow to get whatever resolution you need.

I'm getting several of these.

I was just talking to my mom about 3D printers on Friday, trying to explain the processes of the different types, and how the most accurate ones like this (lasers, laser-sensitive liquid, directed high precision curing) are the best but also the most expensive. That conversation would have gone much differently had I seen this project a few days ago.

One hundred dollars is a major game changer. I've been somewhat reserved on the 3D printing hype because of a lack of necessity for most people, and a lack of precision/usefulness at the lower price range. This can change all of that. For one hundred dollars you no longer have to worry about longer term entertainment value or interest for children. It's the cost of a couple of video games. And for project work, you don't have to worry about needing it for multiple projects. At $100 a single use justifies the cost many times over. I'm looking into spending $400 right now on a single 3D print for a small product I'm working on.

I love rewarding ingenuity. BACKED!

> The software we wrote as an add on to blender takes the data from that 3D model and translates it into an audio waveform. It then plays the audio file out to the printer through the headphone jack in your computer. This waveform drives a pair of electro magnetic mirrors. The higher the volume, the higher the voltage, the more the mirrors move. The purpose of these mirrors is to reflect and control the path of the laser beam. By using the audio waveform generated from the 3D model data to drive the mirrors, we are able to get the laser beam to draw out the shape of the object. That's takes care of the X and Y axes.

I look forward to people doing weird interesting things with this!

I have no idea how lissajous figures could work, but they're cool and in 3d resin print they'd be cooler.

I look forward to people doing weird interesting things with this!

my first thought was: do they have a reverse add-on as well? And then: I would love to see the output of various types of music :P

This is a bit too good to believe, but at $100 i'll bite. I've been into 3d printing for years now, and my main concern is material. If this resin is durable, and doesn't get soft in the car on a warm day, this design could be really groundbreaking. If not, it'll be a waste of everyone's time. The quality looks pretty decent given how awful low end 3d printers can be without a ton of tinkering. My current printer cost me about 2K and ABS/PLA at $40ish/kg actually adds up when prototyping. I'd love to have something really cheap like this to test out prints before finalizing them in ABS.

It looks like the resin they are using is "Makerjuice" (http://makerjuice.com/). I don't know anything about that resin though.

$40 for one liter of red, that doesn't seem too bad.

$40/liter for small prints

$45/liter for large

Not cheap if you want to print anything larg-ish.

Eh, only if you make the large-ish thing solid - this can easily make hollow / drain-able structures. And since it's partially supported by the liquid as it's built, you don't need as much temporary supporting structure as an extruded plastic version.

In this case, the suspension is some with salt water, which would provide very little support.

The resin is buoyant in salt water; is the cured resin?

So long as the liquid resin floats on salt water, I don't see why salt water should provide less support than liquid resin.

Awesome product! The beginning of the video needs to be redone, stop switching the camera angle and get rid of the techno music. I'd recommend starting the video with a timelapse of a printing with some basic explanation audio.

Mount a Raspberry PI to the side of it (with a USB microphone)and you could treat it as a network-attached printer :-)

The Raspberry Pi only has 12 bits of audio output resolution and - at least historically - has had problems with latency-related audio glitches due to Pi-specific drivers spending too much time with interrupts disabled.

I wonder if the precision would matter a lots.

Lots of lag may cause problems:-\

Couldn't you fix that with an USB sound card? My headphones included quite a nice compact one.

Raspberry Pi audio output is pretty bad though. Low quality and glitches..

Use the RaspberryPi Camera, and you've got your scanner!

Cost just went up by ~$30 if you do this...

$130 for a network connected 3D printer is still a steal.

Why when I visit this website I get a torrent downloade automatically? widgets_tweet_button.html.torrent

It's clever and really neat. That said, please don't think you are going to get parts of the quality, accuracy, surface detail and durability attainable through other more established methods.

The only reason I am funding it is to support someone thinking outside the box. I really have no use for it due to the issues listed above. I'll probably gift it to someone who might. I've done that a number of times with KS projects.

If you wouldn't mind, could you indicate which other methods you are referring to? I'd like to check them out. As far as I know stereolithography is the most accurate method known. And I can't foresee any accuracy issues inherent in this particular solution that can't be improve with a slight increase in materials cost.

In talking to a number of people who've purchased or built a range of what I would characterize as hobby machines the common thread is that they are nearly unusable or a complete pain to use for real commercial work. Everyone I know who uses 3D printing for non-trivial business purposes either contracts out the work to 3D printing service bureaus with heavy duty commercial grade machines or they actually invest on such machines to do the printing in house.

That's not to say that hobby-grade machines are useless. The degree of interest these projects garner on sites like KS means something. Perhaps it means that people are clamoring for significantly cheaper solutions. Or, perhaps, it means they are happy to have 3D printers that perform reasonably well with some TLC.

At some level I equate it to what happens with CNC machining equipment. I've built and purchased many low cost home-brewed CNC machining solutions. In retrospect they were always a pain in the ass to use in one form or another. It was always far more time and cost effective to send parts out to have them machined by capable shops with capable industrial-grade machines.

I eventually purchased my own industrial-grade machines. I had Haas VMC's and a lathes in house. That's when I saw the light. The difference between the hobby/garage machines and what the pro's are using is massive. It went from screwing around with the machine to make it work, maintaing tolerances, deal with software issues, repairing it, etc. to just using it and producing very high quality parts every single time.

CNC machining, at that point, became a source of creativity that did not detract from the design process but almost added to it.

This drip 3D printing gizmo is great. Like I said, I am supporting it. I could be lots of fun. A professional tool it is not. Not at this stage anyway.

This is perhaps a bit like how an SLR-owning photographer would have looked at cameraphones when they came out. Or how a mainframe programmer looked at microcomputers.

They, and you, were absolutely right to observe that these devices were massively less capable than the existing devices, and to foresee that they would never become as capable, and to explain that the reduced capability translates directly into less freedom to create, and to predict that they would not replace the existing devices.

Where they might have gone wrong (i note that you do not!) would be to conclude that these devices were therefore never going to be successful. They did not displace the existing devices from their niches; they carved out an entirely new niche, surviving by making small profits from huge numbers of people.

The boosters are talking rubbish when they say that 3D printing will revolutionise manufacturing. But it might just revolutionise DIY.

I got my first ever 3d printer today (Makerbot Replicator 2). It is seriously the coolest piece of tech I've ever seen, which is really saying something. I can't wait for the price to drop, and for damn near everyone to have a 3d printer of some sort.

I really like it and its entirely analog nature is refreshing. It makes sense to set aside something like a raspberry pi for it (I would never use a PC, especially on update tuesdays. And I would not want to set my PC audio to full blast so the output swings the full +-2.5V).

Mechanically delicate though. Vibrations disturbing the surface of the liquid will skew the print and cause poor layer adhesion. And you have to make sure your surface is perfectly level.

This is rad! As I looked through the list of people involved, I learned that one of the guys doing it was a close friend of mine through EE school.

And I have to chuckle a little bit about how much of a prairie farmer hack this is. People around here build crazy hacks like this all the time on their farm equipment, glad to see them getting some publicity!

I wonder if this will work with a combined headphone/microphone jack.

Regardless, I love the approach taken here; really quite clever.

Awesome idea. But isn't mirror inertia a problem?

Also constant velocity of z-axis movement might pose some inefficiencies because if you want to print a box you have to set the rate of ascend low enough for the laser to create full bottom and you can't speed up when you are building sides of the box.

Just print the box titled a few degrees :-)


It's on a feedback loop, so you could probably manually twiddle the water valve to speed it up.

My wager is that, especially for this initial release, that's being tossed into the sure-but-adds-complexity bin. Perhaps later versions will have a variable drip rate to speed up the process, but the complexity isn't needed in this version.

Is the resin for this a standard type of resin? Seems like you don't get much of it with the kit.

why does the site, before it finishes loading, want me download a *.torrent file?

Not here (and I tried it with my sandboxed adblock-free honeyypot browser). Maybe an ad?

Chrome downloads this http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/tweet_button.html as torrent.

I didn't experience this.

I wonder if you're able to get accurately sized objects for gears and such. The resin for photolithographic printers normally suffer from shrinkage after printing.

On makerjuice.com you could get the SubG+ resin that shrinks "less than 3.5%", but the shrinkage should be consistent enough to compensate for that by printing slightly oversized parts.

It should also be noted that this guy seems to be a genius.

I just heard a few weeks ago that the patents on laser 3-D printers expired. I really hope this freedom from lawsuits will inspire many more Inventors.


Nobody seems to get that this is the first 3D printer with which printing can be easily parallelized! This is going to be huuuuuuuge!

So why does it have to use audio? And why can't it use servos to move the lasers?

Both were due to cost, especially the servos. But I think a microcontroller capable of usb would not be particularly expensive, though more expensive than not having it.

It also removes a lot of code complexity, or at least moves it to the computer where it's easier to write and update.

Very clever ideas in this design. I hope it can scale up the way he suggests!

I wouldn't trust the dimensions of things made by this one millimeter.

beautiful approach. love the audacity 'model preview'.

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