Home 3D Printers Not Practical?

By on October 28th, 2009 in blog


Plastic Pals recommends not using the current generation of 3D printers (such as Fab@Home, RepRap, RapMan, MakerBot, etc.) for printing quality models:

There’s a significant cost:quality/size trade off when dealing with home 3D printers. Even the cheapest commercial-grade printers cost around $15,000 USD. Alternatives such as the aforementioned MakerBot CupCake CNC ($750 + materials), are cheaper but the quality (resolution) of the 3D print may be unsuitable for practical purposes and limited to a relatively small build envelope. The surface of a part may need to be finished with resin or putty to smooth out the lines that form as the part is printed layer by layer; larger parts need to be broken up into smaller pieces for printing; and smaller, fine detail parts may be too thin or flimsy to print properly at all… For these reasons, artists will probably skip the at-home printers for now, but roboticists may want to look into them.

We tend to agree, although there are many reasons to use the current-gen home 3D printers, because there are other purposes where fine detail is not a requirement. For example, printing replacement plastic parts or fixtures. This is not unexpected, because the home 3D printers are still very new. We are certain there will be gradual improvement in their capability over the next few years and at some point those who require finer resolutions or different materials will begin using home 3D printers. After all, the same stream of technology progress occurred with the big commercial vendors years ago. It will happen again, this time at lower prices.

Via Plastic Pals

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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