The new Popular Mechanics did a spread on the item below. They are
now priced about $5,000 which is way cheaper and smaller than other
units out there. The prediction is for machines under $1,000 within 2
years. This could get interesting.
It would be interesting to know how long one of those 5'' x 5" x 5"
objects takes to turn out, because if it was fast enough, you'd have a
whole new way of doing small run model kits.
In fact, you could have programs for thousands of models on hand and
turn them out on demand as they were ordered by customers. It would
certainly be less labor-intensive and messy than resin models and RTV
molds as far as production went, and if the program was detailed enough
should be able to capture small details fairly well.
On the other hand, creating the program to make something could be
extremely time intensive by the time you get down to fine details like
rivets, and might take longer than creating a master that would then be
Maybe one would make a master model by the usual means, then optically
scan it into a program, rather than trying to do a detailed 3D rendering
of it to create the program.
on 8/14/2007 4:00 PM Pat Flannery said the following:
I saw one of those things on a TV magazine show.
After the computer did its thing with a statue graphic and sent it to
the 3D printer, they dug out a 3D model of the computer image from a
large box of , what looked like sand. The statue model was about a foot
tall, and appeared to be a solid form of that sand.
eventually you'll put the object on a glass with 360 degree scan capability,
hit copy and whoa-laa. i suspect there will be a computerized way to enter the
specs and have the pc do it all. pc's can do vitually anything if you know how
to program it.
we are still a pre-scientific species. once we learn to think and ask
correctly, you'll REALLY be impressed.
But you'd still have to paint it... now assuming it was an aircraft, and
they managed to place the whole cockpit into it during manufacture...
you are really going to have some fun painting the inside through the
cockpit opening (although I've done this in a few occasions)
There's also the fact of that layer thickness of .01 inch they mention;
that's not good enough to manufacture a really super-smooth surface,
like is needed for a car body or a canopy, although it might work for a
If detail fidelity goes way up, you could still manufacture
sub-assemblies via this method that would be glued together like a
conventional resin kit. It seems to be a lot of trouble to go to to
manufacture a limited edition model though unless you can assure
yourself of fairly numerous sales. One of the smaller aircraft models I
have is a 1/72 scale Ba-349 Natter rocket fighter; that's probably
around 4-5 cubic inches of material, so actual material cost using this
process would be $4 - $5, which is pretty reasonable; you could sell
them for $10 each and make a profit. But consider the number of
man-hours that would go into writing the program that the machine will
use to make them to the level of detail of a injection-molded or resin
cast kit, and the economics don't look as good unless you sell quite a few.
On small things this may work, but as the size starts increasing, things
don't look as good; a 1/72 scale B-17 is going to be around 50 cubic
inches of material or more, so now cost is up to $50 just for materials.
Once you go beyond that size things go completely off the deep end as
far as material cost go due to the square/cube law in relation to size
and volume goes... a hypothetical 1/32th scale B-17 now ends up costing
several hundred dollars for materials alone even if it's all made very
There's also the problem of how you get the excess unsolidified forming
production material out of the inside things of like the tires, where
there is no obvious way for it to be poured out.
That could get expensive fast, and drilling holes into the model to
drain the unsolidified material out of it sort of defeats the purpose of
making it in one piece.
I don't think we'll see this being used in a large scale anytime soon
for making models, as the technology doesn't seem to be a great leap
over what we have when it comes to effort and production cost versus price.
At best, it might be used for quite small models where someone sells you
the files needed to allow your home replicator machine to make a model
of something. But I think they are going to need to get their fidelity
level up a order of magnitude to around .001 inch thickness per layer to
make it competitive with injection molded or resin cast kits.
I attended a demo class on a competitor's machine and it took about an
hour to turn out a gang (five or six at a time) of little spiral shaped
bottles...but the cool thing was that the bottles came off the tack
board with screw-off lids...fully assembled. I've got one on my desk...
But you wouldn't really want to use something like this for production -
as you point out, you'd use it to make durable masters...and pour resin
for model part production.
Another interesting prototyping process I've seen around work uses
compressed butcher paper and a laser - the resulting parts are somewhere
between hardwood and plastic in appearance and texture. I've seen
spheres (smooth spheres) cut inside cubic cages using this method. Very
cheap materials, very precise, very fast...more expensive.
I've personally seen parts made on these machines polished and chromed
and smooth as glass - it can be done. Whether it's done cheaply is the
question...hence why you use these to produce rapid masters, and not for
not bad, but when i put specs in and get a panther model 120 out, i'll be
really impressed. even if it take a couple of days. of course i don't expect
any acid in the battery or petrol products anywhere. wouldn't want to really
: The new Popular Mechanics did a spread on the item below.
Hard Corps Models is now doing that. They offer 1/35
Sherman vision port brush guards and LVT tracks.
Previously, the vision port brush guards were grossly
out of scale if done in injection molds, or were flat if done
with PE. I thought the container was empty initially, the
5 brush guards are VERY delicate.
The LVT tracks are very interesting, as the real verhicles
had a wavy face for propulsion in the water. This is very
difficult to reproduce with molds, either RTV or metal, as
the wavy face was very thin. The main problem with the tracks
is that they are $90.00 a set.
I see it as a boon to scratch builders. Sure, with 0.01 step size the
contour would need sanding. However, that may still be easier than
sanding/finishing carved wood or urethane foam.
Yeah, it probably would NOT work for transparencies like canopies,
where sanding a clear material doesn't work well. But do the canopy
seperate- just use this device for non transparent parts that will be
I'm still waiting for laser cutting machines to get cheaper. I'd like
to have one, but not a current prices. I am very skeptical about the
2 year thing for this 3D printer.
On the other hand, I would like to see the availability of services
where you'd send the CAD files, and have companies do custom photo
etch, laser cutting, and these 3D printing things. I understand there
ARE such services available for PE and laser cutting, but they do not
seem to advertise in the scale modeling magazines, so I have no idea
what the services cost, or how to contact them.
Right now using the higher res. machines the only cost effective use is
rough mastering to be cleaned up and detailed to produce "normal" resin
kits. The resolution isn't high enough and the unit cost is not low
enough to make it viable for full kit production yet.
Pat Flannery wrote: