Poll: When would you start using a 3D Printer?


A little poll to see where people stand on 3D printers, an up-and-coming technology that is still too expensive for most people to own (myself included).


Maybe a bit more info about 3D printing would be useful for people who’ve never looked at it.

An article about design students using 3D printing to bring CAD designs to life. One can easily imagine CG modelers doing the same thing with CG characters, vehicles, environments.


A few examples of 3D printers that are somewhat expensive today but could form the basis of cheaper devices in the future.

The website of the upcoming V-Flash desktop modeler which will break the $10,000 cost barrier when its released


The website of the upcoming Desktop Factory which will break the $5,000 barrier when released


A review of an Envisiontech Perfactory (pretty expensive) which builds 3D models using photo curing.


A review of a Zcorp 450 color printer (medium priced) that works by depositing powder


A review of a Graphtec XD700 (entry-level price by 3D printer standards) that works by building 3D models up from slices of clear laminate



A second factor would be the cost of the “ink”. I saw one printer that quoted about $1 per cubic centimeter. That would add up quickly.


The machines are pretty expensive today. The few places that have them are usually companies that can shoulder the acquisition and maintenance cost quite easily.

The “ink” is probably priced accordingly.

3D printers are something of a specialist tool with high-end pricing today. Until there is a mass market for them the cost of material refills for these machines will probably stay quite high.


The problem with the printers I have have used yet is the fact that long periods (about 2 weeks) tend to clog up the machines, therby damaging them.

I´d probably wait until technology has become more robust making occasional printings possible without wasting 15.000 Euros for a year or two of service


I can’t wait until they become advanced enough to built usable items such as cars, furniture, buildings etc. Don’t laugh, it’s been predicted for the future. :thumbsup:


I remember catching an article somewhere, a while ago, that talked about an Open Source 3D Printer project. You could buy the kit from them, for around $2,000, build it at your house and then it printed on some sort of sugary substance, so in essence…

you are printing candy.

I can’t wait until we fully develop and exploit this technology.


We have a CNC machine here at the University of Oregon (I’m taking a class learning it). Is there much of a difference between this and a 3d printer?


I would get one when I have enough jobs so it pays for itself in 3-6 months of work.


Yes a lot of difference. CNC will start off with a material and cut it according to the info you provide it. CNC is mostly 2D though. 3D printing actually creates the material by building it up in layers completely in 3D. It can only create prototypes using a particular resin though, where as CNC cuts the shape into the final material. The simplest use of CNC is cutting out flat shapes from sheet metal or sheet wood. CNC milling can also cut depth, and CNC lathing can turn objects, but in each case CNC is essentially a computer operating a machine that traditionally humans used to operate, and you need a different CNC machine for each process, so one for cutting, one for milling, one for lathing etc.


Interesting results coming in although not unexpected. It seems like a given that 3D printers under 5K - 3K and particularly under 1K would be most popular.

With regards to CNC milling, there’s two types of prototyping.

Additive prototyping.

Subtractive prototyping.

Anything that builds a model up from an empty build platform or build chamber is additive. The model is built by ‘adding’ material where there was none. Most 3D printers are additive prototyping machines.

Anything that builds a model by selectively cutting, milling, burning or melting material away from a provided block of material is subtractive. CNC mills are subtractive prototyping machines.

Subtractive prototyping is currently faster, cheaper and can use a wider variety of non-specialist materials. Woods. Plastics. Metals. Almost anything.

But it typically can’t get ‘inside’ a 3D object and is limited to shaping outer surfaces.

Additive prototyping can build anything. A 3D printer can print a closed gearbox with working gears inside. Or an object with air pockets and complex interior cavities under the surface.


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