3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

How big do you want to print? Last week in our 3D printing basics series we discussed the history of 3D printing. Today, we are going to explore the wide variety of printer build volumes and tolerances that allow you to create prints ranging from very tiny to quite massive. While all printers work by building a part layer by layer, the machines can vary significantly in terms of quality and functionality. When searching for a 3D printer for your home or office, you can really distinguish one printer from another based upon the printer build volumes and tolerances. Printer Build Volumes The build volume, quite simply, determines how big your machine allows you to print. For years, analysts believed that limited build volumes were the biggest obstacle standing in the way of widespread adoption of 3D printing technology. Today, we are starting to see the design of 3D printers re-imagined in ways that allow them to build full-scale structures, effectively eliminating this critique. Starting at the true desktop level, the printer build volumes for a 3D printer can be quite limited. Many of the entry level printers, especially those around or below the $1,000 mark, have rather small build volumes, mostly less than four inches by four inches by four inches. This means that you can only print something that would fit inside of a four inch cube. While this is enough space to play around with the technology and build little trinkets, if you want to make actual, usable parts, you will find a four-inch limitation to be rather cumbersome. Moving into the next level of printers,...
Animals Saved by 3D Printing

Animals Saved by 3D Printing

With robotic hands, custom-printed splints, and medicine that can be printed to specific doses, the news is full of ways that 3D printing can help humans live healthier, more productive lives. But, if you look close enough, there are also some really amazing examples of how 3D printing has also been helping some adorable members of the animal kingdom.  Here are a few of our favorite stories about animals saved by 3D printing. 1. A pelican’s new beak. When a pelican began acting strangely at the Dalian Forest Zoo, staff members soon realized that the bird’s beak was damaged. Because a beak is vital to both food gathering and determining a pelican’s social status, a beak is crucial to a pelican’s survival. After two attempts at repairing the beak through other methods, zoo workers decided that they would try to use a 3D printer to make the necessary repairs. Because it appeared that there was already some new growth, doctors determined that it wasn’t necessary to print the entire beak. The final product is a 3D printed extension that screws into the pelican’s original beak, allowing the pelican to feed normally once more. 2. A turtle’s new home. A turtle’s shell protects them in a number of ways, including from bacteria and infection. In some cases, poor nutrition can lead to a bone disease which can cause the shell to wear away. When that happens, a turtle can be left painfully exposed. This is the fate that turtle Cleopatra was facing. Luckily, however, Cleopatra was taken in by Canyon Critters Rescue. Here, founder Nicola “Nico” Novelli determined that he...
Print Yourself in a 3D Portrait

Print Yourself in a 3D Portrait

Have you ever envisioned yourself as a real-life action figure? With the new 3D portrait booths, possibly coming to a store near you, you can create your exact replica in amazing detail. Step into the Booth Designed by the Artec Group, a manufacturer of 3D scanners, the Shapify Booth is a high tech scanner that maps your entire body in just 12 seconds. If you’re not sure exactly what pose you want to be printed in, don’t worry, the booth provides you with as many free test scans as you would like. Once you choose the perfect scan, the results are sent off to the company and turned into a printable file within 15 minutes. Then, all you need to do is either print the file with your own printers, or use a print service, such as the official Artec print service. See the booth in action: What moment would you immortalize? So far, the majority of the booths are placed in grocery stores, which means that most customers will be capturing their miniature 3D self in their everyday attire. Artec does, however, point out that the prints are a fantastic way to capture life’s special moments, such as weddings, birthdays, and pregnancies. One of Artec’s advertisements focuses on this idea as it tells a couple’s love story through their shapies. With a suggested starting retail price of $99 and going up to $199 depending on the size, the shapie isn’t necessarily a trinket that everyone can bring home from the grocery store on a whim, which brings the whole business model into question. What do you think? Would...

Autodesk Well Positioned in 3D Printing Market

Advancements in 3D Printing In order to take your 3D part from concept to tangible piece, the part must first be modeled in 3D software. Autodesk, the company behind software like AutoCAD, Maya, 3ds Max, Inventor, and Fusion 360, has been rapidly incorporating 3D modeling capabilities into their existing software. Between Autodesk’s well-established software programs and new software in development, Autodesk is charging head first into the 3D printing market. Over the last year, Autodesk has released a variety of app-based software that is specifically designed for 3D printing. These apps include 123D Catch, a program that allows users to take a series of photos of a model that are transformed into a 3D design, 123D Design, a basic 3D modeling program, and 123D Make, a program that allows users to create 3D models in slices from individual layers. With these apps combined with Autodesk’s Spark, an additional software platform, Autodesk has been described as the “Android of 3D printing.” Autodesk Talks About the Future Recently, IDG Connect was able to sit down with Aubrey Cattell, the Senior Director of Business Development and Operations. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits about the interview. Cattell reiterates that, although the printing industry is 25 years old, it hasn’t yet blown up. In fact, there have only been 250,000 3D printers sold over the last 25 years. Despite this, Cattell believes that we are on the cusp of huge growth, citing studies that predict that the industry will grow to $16 billion in 2018. Cattell compares the current state of 3D printing to a “Homebrew Computer Club.” Essentially, at this...

Using a 3D Printer as a Startup

3D Printers Drive Startups When most people think about bringing in a 3D printer, it is to help expand their existing business. But, with the low overhead of a printer compared to traditional manufacturing practices, some industrious users have turned a 3D printer into their business. Here are some cool examples of how people are putting 3D printing to work for them by a using a 3D printer as a startup. Protos While Protos Eyewear is certainly not the first company to try to design their own glasses with a 3D printer, it is one of the most interesting. With this innovative concept,you start by taking photos of yourself, using a credit card as a reference point. Then, the computer uses an algorithm to determine which glasses they believe will best suite your unique features. The design team will send you three suggestions for different glasses. Of course, if you don’t like any of the options they present to you, you are free to choose whichever glasses you prefer. After you have decided on your frames, your glasses will be 3D printed to your exact specifications. Normal Earphones If you have problems getting earbuds that fit, you may want to check out the offerings at Normal. To make their fully customized earbuds, Normal starts by asking customers to take a photograph of each ear. These photos are a guideline that Normal uses to 3D print custom earbuds out of high-quality ABS plastic. Each earbud is rigorously tested for superior quality. Jewlr When giving a piece of jewelry to somebody special, you want to make sure that it is meaningful....
Spurring Innovation: Autodesk Invests in the Future of 3D Printing

Spurring Innovation: Autodesk Invests in the Future of 3D Printing

Autodesk hopes to bolster the future of 3D printing The Announcement In May of this year, Autodesk announced that they were ready to jump into the 3D printing game. In a blog post by Carl Bass, Autodesk President and CEO, Bass explained how his frustration with the state of the 3D printing industry had led him to seek out a better option. The result of this search was twofold: the development of an entirely new open source software platform, Autodesk Spark, and a 3D printer, the Ember, that would be designed to work with the Spark platform. Through these innovations, Autodesk hopes to help shape the future of 3D printing in a more user-friendly direction. Development for Spark In an update from Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski at the Inside 3D Printing Conference this week, Kowalski spilled a few more details about the software. One of the things that really separates Spark from the competition is its “autocomplete” feature, which allows the software to anticipate the design and complete the shape for the user. The Spark software program will also be able to work with multiple materials and can be used on any available hardware platform. Like the software, Ember, the 3D printer, will be designed through a heavily collaborative process. So far, it is known that the printer will have a resolution of 10 microns and will primarily use photo-cured resin for its material, although it will also print other materials. It is estimated that the printer will go on sale for somewhere around $5,000. Raising the bar This week, Autodesk took their role in the 3D marketplace a...