Up to now, the 3D printer space has been occupied by two entirely different groups: the high-end, high-priced commercial printers typically affordable only by large firms or service bureaus, and the hobbyist, open-source market of low-end, low-priced devices typically found in DIY kit form. The two groups could not be more different in almost all aspects, aside from a keen interest in 3D print technology.
But after last week's announcement of commercial manufacturer 3D Systems acquiring hobbyist manufacturer BfB the two environments were united, at least at one organization. The interesting bit is the human aspects when the two groups actually encounter each other. A taste of this is written in an account from 3D System's blog in which the commercial engineers from 3D Systems check out a RapMan hobbyist 3D printer:
five engineers who among us have close to 75+ years of experience in inventing rapid prototyping and 3D Printing technology . So when we were asked to test the BFB Printer, although we were very open, we did bring a hint of skepticism. Skepticism in the form of – “What will we learn here that we already do not know?”the entire experience was a pleasant surprise. The installation was a breeze and the systems were up and running within an hour. The systems were very robust and the process of building a part was very forgiving. The approach to starting a build is very simple and designed for a non-technical user. The software was simple and easy to use. Perhaps most surprisingly, the sidewalls and the fat surfaces had very good surface quality.
And that tells the story: the advantages of both environments are now being shared. We're wondering what things the hobbyists will learn once exposed to the decades of experience of the commercial engineers.
Via 3D Systems