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3D Printing

GE bracket Generative Design with Fusion 360

Autodesk workshop about Generative Design with Fusion 360

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Yesterday I went to a workshop in Autodesk Barcelona premises to learn about Generative Design, a new functionality that Fusion 360 will include in few weeks.

We first had an introduction about the new trends, the fact that Autodesk recognized few years ago that with CAD tools there will be no more growth, apart from regular economy cycles. A change of paradigm was needed. Generative Design, and everything that will come afterwards, is the first answer to this change. The EMEA Evangelist that presented the tool imagines a future where engineers, more than knowing how to create 3D models, will have to know how to code to get the full advantages the new tools will bring. Future tools will take care of the main part of design automatically.

What is Generative Design

Generative Design will be a module in Fusion 360, only available to the Ultimate license. And it goes beyond topology optimizations.

Starting with few pieces of information that you supply to the system -preserve regions, obstacles, fixed parts, loads and materials- the system calculates design variations that meet the defined objective: the most usual is mass reduction with a factor of security objective (in the examples it was 2). The nice part is that it makes designs that meet the requirements with not even needing  an input model to start with. It is also possible to start with an object already designed and improve it through the same procedure. The outcome of a generative design can even be used as input for another study, and probably optimize it even more.

GE bracket generative design Fusion 360

The GE bracket defined for Generative Design. Preserve regions in green and obstacles in red (where bolts and hook need to go through)

In addition you can choose which type of digital fabrication you are going to use, simulate the piece as it would be manufactured taking into account this particular technology restrictions, and of course you can get designs without restrictions.

Currently only 3D printing (additive manufacturing) is available as technology but there are others in the roadmap. Additive manufacturing option also has to improve because it makes permutations of the object by printing in different axis without supports (for now just +X, +Y, +Z and the opposite direction is missing). You can see the typical staircase with layers when there are overhangs.

Fusion 360 Generative Design permutations

Processing permutations in different materials and manufacturing technologies

It also takes into account the material used. You can add anything you want (titanium, aluminum, stainless steel, nylon, etc…) but in fact all of them are currently calculated as if they were metals, taking into account its linearity behavior when load is increasing. He explained to us, for example, that plastics deformation is non linear and difficult to calculate: it bends a bit and collapses suddenly.

The exercises

The titanium models are amazing!! like the GE bracket case. A bracket used to anchor plane turbines for maintenance. In this link “GE Bracket Quick Start Tutorial” there is a full tutorial on how to make it with Generative Design. This was the first exercise we did, each one with a laptop provided by Autodesk.

GE bracket Generative Design with Fusion 360

The bracket model that I took, among all options

After generation is launched you can see all results. Some of them are not valid since they do not meet the requirements (for instance factor of security < 2) but they can sometimes be interesting. I insist in this, you have not provided any kind of form, just where it’s forbidden to have material and where it is mandatory.

From all these options you take the one you like more and after giving away some credits, you can download it in SAT or STL formats. SAT is better because you can modify properly in CAD software. Here is for example the same bracket exported in SAT format and imported in Fusion 360.

GE bracket imported in Fusion 360

After this case we did another exercise, less guided, with a shelf support. The tool is pretty easy to use, since it has few options by now. Let’s see how it works when its integrated in Fusion 360.

With a bit of practice you can create models with good aesthetics that meet the weight requirement and others. Obviously this is not for everyone, since it’s focused right now in metal 3D printing, and only available in the Ultimate paid license. In addition to the annual license, there is a pay-per-use with a cost in credits. In fact it could be used for many designs, even gadgets or home spare parts if you print in metal or use plastic filaments but with a factor of security substantially higher.

PS: sorry for the pictures but I had to take them from the laptop lent to me, I had no way to get a higher quality capture.

I will be teaching a couple of courses more of Fusion 360 in Barcelona after vacations, same format as the one I gave (12h in several sessions, you have the full program here). There is no announcement yet but if you are interested just ask me.

 

If you liked Generative Design and want to know more or watch it in action, check this video from Lars Christensen, evangelist at Autodesk.

 

 

Versiones adaptador aspirador Stepcraft

Design of a vacuum adapter for my Stepcraft CNC router

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Today I bring you through the design process of a vaccum adapter for the HF500 spindle from my Stepcraft CNC router. I have shared the files at Thingiverse for those who want to 3dprint it or modify it. Everything done with the trendy CAD tool: Fusion360.

I frequently work with a CNC router from Stepcraft, built as a kit more or less a year ago. It has an add-on to connect a vacuum cleaner directly under the spindle and around the mill, so you can reduce the amount of dust small pieces fo wood floating around.

But short after I started using it I found a problem. At Artecitos I cut a lot of MDF and since it’s pressed fiber it makes a lot of dust that tends to stick everywhere, so the original adapter got clogged quickly.

Since then I spent quite some time cutting the “manual” way, which means I hold the vacuum tube 😉

But it’s not practical at all. You cannot leave a CNC router working alone, this is clear, but it would be enough to stay around with attention.

The design process

So I started hands on to design with Fusion 360. Since I wanted to reuse the rest of parts I used my digital caliper to measure anything that came to my mind.

It’s not a piece of engineering, so I made it quick and dirt as you can see from my notes…

cotas adaptador aspirador stepcraft       adaptador aspirador Stepcraft

From there I went to Fusion360, to create a sketch and have this first plane drawn in 2D. You can import pictures as canvas and I used that with this picture from above. Works better the higher you are because the camera lens deforms the perspective. You can see it a bit in this one, but I used it mainly as a guide to know where the big parts were located. For the rest I had my measures.

Interfaz Sketch

Form there it’s just a question of making extrusions and some more complex operations until you get the shape you want.

Designing is synonym of iteration

It’s very difficult to make something perfect at the first try, you usually have to make iterations, and in my case I made several. You can see here the six prints I tested with the original part.

 

Versiones adaptador aspirador Stepcraft

From left to right, back to front:

  1. first test to verify measures for the main holes are correct.
  2. almost final model, without magnets. The lateral clamp breaks and I need to reinforce it. The internal tubing is still not wide.
  3. design with holes to insert magnets. I thought I could warm the magnets with a soldering iron and push them down to their place but it was to much distance to travel and I made a mess.
  4. four magnets inserted (pause the print, insert the magnets and resume printing on top), lateral clamp thickened but still breaks.
  5. five magnets inserted, internal cavity improved, clamp reinforced and everything well adjusted. But the magnets do not hold with enough strength the curtain (don’t know in English…) so I can use it reliably.
  6. the one mounted: 8 magnets inserted, reinforced clamp is nearer but still leaving some space to mount it easily.

Well, there are more changes between versions but this is the main stuff. The point is that I got a functional part in the end and I am pretty happy with ito 😀

This is how the final design looks like.

Interfaz Model

Since I know other people found the same issue, I shared it in Thingiverse.

 

And this is the final look that it has. Cutting happily again 😀

Stepcraft HF500 spindle vacuum adapter

 

PS: you may be interested in this, only for Spain. At Artecitos Instagram we are making a draw with a price of earrings or keychain, up to the winner. Check the draw terms in the post. Everything is cut with tho machine!

 

Interfaz Model

Preparing a Fusion 360 workshop at Punt Multimèdia

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During May and June I will run a 12h workshop, split in 6 sessions, at Punt Multimèdia in Barcelona. I share the link of Fusion 360 course in case you want to join.

Fusion360 is a very powerful and complete CAD/CAM tool, coming from a fusion of several legacy tools from Autodesk. If you don’t intend to use it in a business with more than 100k$/year income, the license is free. Unfortunately the interface is not available yet in Spanish, and the software works only in Windows and Mac but not Linux.

I started to use it more than a year ago when I bought a CNC router, because the very same software can manage the design piece and the CNC router programming piece. And I love it!! it became my only design software nowadays.

I take now the opportunity to share the course curriculum that I prepared and, well, if you have any suggestions they’re welcome in the comments.

 

Session 1 – May 15th

  • Introduction to interface and navigation
  • License types, modules brief overview
  • Model module
    • First Sketches in 2D using dimensions and constraints
    • Extrusion of some 2D sketches

Interfaz Sketch

 

Session 2 – May 22nd

  • Model module in full
    • using construction planes
    • creation of basic solids
    • operations to create volumes: extrusion, revolution, sweep, loft, etc.
    • Boolean operations: join, cut, intersect
    • split bodies and faces
    • final modifications: fillet and chamfer

Interfaz Model

 

Session 3 – May 29th

  • Patch module – creating faces, not bodies
    • operations to create faces: extrude, revolve, sweep, loft, patch, offset
    • modifications on faces: extend, trim, stitch, create a body from faces (stitch and thicken)
  • Insert and modify vector graphics (SVG / DXF) and objects (STL)
  • Disegning for 3D printing. The watertight concept and tolerances. Be careful with Patch!!

Interfz Patch

 

Session 4 – Jun 5th

  • Body vs Component
  • Assemblies, joining components
  • Sculpt module, distorting forms and creating more organic bodies

Interfaz Sculpt

 

Session 5 – June 12th

Other modules:

  • Sheet metal, for metal lovers 🙂
  • Render, applying materials to bodies and faces, lights and more
  • Animation, show how things move based on created assemblies
  • Simulation, analyze the structure of an object, apply forces and find out where it will suffer
  • CAM, program a CNC router from the very same software
  • Drawing, to make 2D drawings showing design specifications

Interfaz Render

 

Session 6 – June 19th

This is a session fully dedicated to practice.

We will design a complex object using all the knowledge acquired in this workshop.

We will define the model to be cerated based on the attendees interest.

 

If this appeals you, you know already, join the course Fusion 360 at Punt Multimèdia. They have symbolic prices for the content it will have, probably subsidized 😉

PS: the model used in the example pictures is from a design I made of a vacuum adapter for the Stepcraft CNC router that I use. Later on it was printed with magnets inserted.

tinkercad iphone cover

TinkerCAD workshop for teenagers

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On Wednesday March 21st we made a workshop about TinkerCAD modeling for teenagers in STUCOM, in the context of their Technology Days.

TinkerCAD is a CAD design web tool which is very intuitive and recommended to beginners, that’s why it’s THE TOOL for this type of courses.

Used to 3D Print Barcelona group talks and workshops with highly involved adults, dealing with 30 teenagers is another thing because of their level of dispersion. Luckily Natalia, who is hooked up with TinkerCAD, helped me as support dealing with punctual doubts while the group continued moving forward. Anyway I noticed my vice suffering because I was talking with a higher pitch than usual 😛

The majority of students had already seen a bit of Inkscape and 3DS Max in their studies, and this helped a lot because many concepts were already acquired.

jornada stucom

So we could dig into TinkerCAD tools, including SVGs import, MineCraft export, etc… in addition to a short introduction to 3D Printing and an overview of sectors where it is currently used with plenty of examples from gaming, skateboards, etc.

It is clear to me that the content has to be adapted to the audience to make it more interesting and attractive. So in addition to the usual explanation of standard TinkerCAD functions (navigation, object modifiers, group, align, work planes,…) we saw also the following with plenty of success:

  • view in Minecraft format to export
  • view in Lego format
  • download your own cellphone cover from Thingiverse, import the STL and tune it as you wish. The more advanced brought their own SVG logo and applied it to the cover.

 

tinkercad iphone cover

During the basic functions we made a simple keychain with your nickname, and then printed it with the brand new 3D printer available in the school to shown the results.

There will be a long queue to use from now on 😀

Introducción a Fusion 360

The free meetup events and the no-shows

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Today I am a bit angry, but I can’t do much in respect apart from venting out through my blog as a megaphone to share my pain.

The 3D Print Barcelona group about 3D Printing exists since 2013, and we perform events through meetup platform from the beginning.

Fusion 360 módulo Sculpt

Fusion 360 interface in Sculpt module

 

Today it was my turn, an introduction event to the Autodesk Fusion 360 tool. I’ve been using it for some months now and I love it.

So I felt I was empowered enough to give an Introduction session, obviously with the corresponding prep work that was a couple of days.

During the 2h that the session lasted we were going to see how to model a revolver starting from a picture model.

Revolver S&W_60_3in Fusion360 Revolver SW render

I obviously modeled this before hand to have a clear view of the steps to follow. Here is a picture of the real revolver and a simplified version render.

The damn no-shows

The question is that for today we had RSVP of 27 people.

From these years experience I am used to see that more or less 1/3 do not show and do not cancel or anything at all. We are so civilized.

Buttoday, after an hour and a half preparing the eventes in place setting up all the computers software, only 8 out of 27 came.

And honestly after this shock I looked backwards and realized that there is a growing trend this last year in this no-shows behaviour. Which is to RSVP for an event andthen don’t show up, don’t give notice, don’t cancel, or anything at all. If it was a third in the past, now I think it’s more around half or even more.

I was once in a Woocommerce event, free of course, where more than 20 people had RSVP and I found myself there with just two other guys that sowed up. I was really feeling bad for the presenter who had all the chairs setup and in place for a normal group size.

I don’t know what can be done about it, but I surely have an opinion in respect, and this is that I find it completely unacceptable.

Introducción a Fusion 360

In today’s event

Solutions

There is in fact no miracle solution. I was once in meeting of meetup groups organizers to discuss the topic of no-shows and how each one was trying to solve it, with no clear conclusion.

There are groups, e.g. those of mountain activity, that directly ban the members after two no-shows because in general it implies to leave someone else without room. or if he drives to leave others with no option to come. But applying this implies creating a list and checking in every event, to setup and perform a no-show control for every member of the group. Then the group instead of being a meeting of happy and open people becomes something else. And this control job is not appealing to anyone.

Other groups request a symbolic payment of 2-3€ because when people pay they think better what they do in terms of RSVP and they value more the event. It’s sad but it is like this. But the drawback is that it implies someone has to become responsible for the money collected, and worse, those who cancel within the appropriate timeframe are entitled to a refund and you will have to manage a new control again.

Others just send email reminders stating that there is limited room and they have to cancel if they don’t come. It has some effect but I don’t think it is much. When we have done this we kept having no-shows. It is tru that for this Fusion360 event the date was scheduled before summer, and it can ahppen that people that RSVP at that moment already forgot, but unless the platform is not working as it should anymore they keep receiving messages in particular with the event details update few days before.

In our meetup group 3D Print Barcelona we are not in favor of setting up controls or any other coercive measures. We like to spread  and share our knowledge for free, and the reward is the people that appreciate this and then join us to share also themselves.

But these behaviours sort of blur the group intrinsic motivation, which is just a pure hobby.

The future ahead of us

I don’t know what I will do in the future, I think the next event I will be presenting myself and that implies preparation work is going to be paid, as per this experience. For the usual events in presentation format with no preparation required like Introduction to 3D Printing that we are used to perform, I don’t care if people does not show becuase we don’t have RSVP limits or anything like this.

In any case, I keep for myself the satisfaction of being useful for those eight people that came today and enjoyed the event at full 😀

If anyone has any suggestion, I really welcome them in the comments!

And I take the opportunity to remind that on Saturday, October 28th we organize the Printer Party, an open event for everyone. More info at 3D Print Barcelona.

 

Draudi paso3

First experiences with a BCN3D Sigma

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This week Tresdenou delivered tome a BCN3D Sigma R17 3D printer.

I was looking for a Dual Extruder and that it was quite plug’n’play for once 😉

And my choice was between this one and the one from Ultimaker. I went for BCN3D being cheaper and local.

Sigma R17

The first experiences this week are very positive, still few things could improve.

The packaging shows a good deal of thought behind, interface is simple and there are plenty of improvements compared to my BCN3D original 4 years old already.

As you start an assistant kicks in that lets you load filament and calibrate heated bed and the extruders. Very simple and effective.

And then you make it work as usual with a SD card.

The software seemed to me a bit basic because it is a customized version of Cura for BCN3D and it is not updated. So I am missing some functionality for example the support options are limited. There is also the option to use Simplify3D but I haven’t tried yet.

With the software you also get profiles for different materials and quality by default which makes things easier.

The same night I unboxed I was already printing, after doing the setup process 🙂

With BCN3D I have a problem that I need to sort out. It doesn’t print with exact size on Z axis. Since I had to change the electronics a couple of months ago, I don’t have a clue of the reason behind…and I think it was happening already before that. The fact is that for 3D printing services that require exact measurements I was not in a condition to provide them, wile for figurines and other objects without precision there was no issue at all as we speak of a difference of 1 mm over 150 mm total height.

And now with the Sigma I just got a couple of requests packed in this week about parts for 3D printer kits. Waiting for the feedback 😉

 

While I am writing this I am 3D printing a Draudi in two colors, a must!!

Cura con Draudi

Cura customized version for BCN3D

The progress up to now:

 

From this four days here is what I liked more and what I liked less:

More

  • Initial experience. The packaging is well thought, with documentation, tools and first steps properly guided.
  • The 3D printer management is simple with clear menus, and the usual functions maximum two clicks away. Filament change and calibration are walked through and easy to perform. The slicer piece could be simplified a bit more, but they already provide default profiles and their website has a profile generator that makes its use even easier. However, I think Cura shows too many options if it is for a newbie that only wants to always get good 3D prints and that’s all.
  • Dual independent extruder. It looks pretty good and has plenty of potential. After the Draudi in two colors, PVA supports is the next thing to try 😀
  • Quite silent, as fara as I heard it is an important improvement to the previous Sigma version.
  • Amazing jump compared to my first 3D printer, the BCN3D, from the same company called RepRapBCN at that time.

Less

  • The interface is simple but the trade-off is that it is also limited. For instance if you have a problem in filament load process you cannot stop it. It happened to me that I started the setup again since I did not complete it in the first round and I messed up (user fault :P). The filament load started when I already had filament loaded and I could not stop it, unless I switched off the machine. The outcome was that the motor kept pushing filament as in normal procedure and made a dent to the filament while it was blocked in the end. Then it could not push anymore. I had to find a way to push the filament a bit more so it got grip again. It also happened to me that when the filament is not caught at first try it pushes following the procedure but may get only to half the bowden tube. Then, following the next procedure step of fine tuning load you have to keep pushing the button many times at low speed until you get it loaded properly, caught in a process that was thought for the last mm probably.
  • I understand it has bowden because there is enough complexity in X axis with the IDEX system, but it does not seem to me that it get the speed advantage that a lighter carry would bring. Like in Delta printers for example. For now I 3d printed properly at 100 mm/s.
  • LEDs are nice, but I am afraid there is no way to switch them off. If oyu leave the printer working at night, you know the drill…

Several disclaimers

Although I know BCN3D Technologies and its CEO Roger, I have no relationship with them. I bought this printer because I think this is a good machine among Dual Extruders.

In fact I bought it at Tresdenou, a shop in Poble Nou (Barcelona) managed by Rafa and César. They are members of the 3D Print Barcelona group for three years I guess, but less involved lately since they have to cover the commercial schedule and we meet just at the other side of Barcelona.

Good people, always willing to help, and I did not doubt for a second buying from them since I know I would have excellent local support if I need it. ¡¡Very recommended!!

I bet for local. You know, if you buy from China you better be independent to repair all the issues that the machine may bring at the beginning, or those that you can make afterwards.

This post is not in any case a review of the machine, simply my first impression as advanced user. I do not perform thorough reviews and I do not have intention to perform them. For this you have several youtubers that have already published.

makerfaire rome

Enjoying our 3D printing project: the VIT

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We are just few days from the Makerfaire Rome, after the craziness of Barcelona Printer Party this Saturday where I am also part of the organization. And in just a couple of days we leave for Rome.
makerfaire rome

Days of intense activity. We continue at top speed with the last external finish details of the third VIT prototype, a low cost laser sintering 3D printer. There are few options in the low cost range for 3D printers of SLS technology, and we expect high demand at least from the request received up to now from interested resellers.

VIT 3D printer front

The VIT 3D printer prototype version 2
In addition, we are preparing a crowdfunding campaign for Kickstarter, to be launched when I return form Nepal. The initial aim was to launch by mid October, but the campaign preparation requires more work than we thought.
When you watch others campaigns you get the feeling that it’s two guys that met, made a video and took some pictures and that’s all…but everything needs to be thought and calculated. The major difficulty is to define what you get in exchange of the rewards. Because if you make a mistake it goes against you, and it does not happen often to ask for additional money and it is not well considered anyway.

One aspect that is becoming more complex than expected is shipment, for example, since the volume of a machine plus the 10kg powder is a European pallet of 130cm height and almost 140kg.
Well, I said this before shooting the video!! this will really be difficult 😛
These are intense moments, but also very exciting. What we do now determines the future of the Natural Robotics company and its growth. Let’s see how we remember this in a while!!
I got friends that started an entrepreneurial activity related to 3D printing and had to shut down. I hope I learnt something from the mistakes they shared with me…

Mochila reparada

Backpack repair with 3D printing and the Delta Black

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3D printing is so polyvalent, that one gets lost with the amount of things you can do, be printing existing objects from repositories such as Thingiverse or Youmagine or create new designs.

My view is that at he beginning people get caught with printing things from those repositories, but quickly discover he part that brings more passion in 3D printing: to imagine something, to model it and to print it. What I like most is to build small solutions. Quick and pragmatic. And I applied this to several things at home or with mountain equipment. Knowing that the strength of pieces is almost zero compared to what is required in mountain activity, just be careful. No belay material. And don’t dare to print a carabiner!

The problem

The other day I broke a backpack, one of those you get in courses, a piece of cloth with metallic parts that did not last long. But looking at the design, it does not surprise me.

Mochila rota

The metallic supports for the small ropes had a very small contact surface, so the cloth just broke apart from the metallic piece. Then I took the caliper, and started measuring the current piece in order to have a starting point to improve it.

The solution

I just had to do a top for the small ropes that as enough wide to avoid breaking the cloth again.

I keep using MOI for modeling, especially when you look at something more organic. In fact it’s a spin-off form Rhino…

MOI tope mochila

I uploaded the model to Thingiverse here.

Mochila reparada

This is what I really like from 3D printing, the capacity to solve things. You will see plenty of jars and figurines 3D printed in the fairs. But what really adds value is the ability to design, model and create useful objects, and not talking about prototypes. In my case what gives me more satisfaction i exactly this, to repair or to improve something in a matter of minutes of design work. And some more to 3D print it.

3D printing at ultrafast speed 500 mm/s

In addition, since I co-founded Natural Robotics I have plenty of Delta Black 3D printers at my disposal. If there is something to mention that makes them special its their speed.

In less than four minutes I had the object printed. I took the opportunity to record a video, the first ever that I am talking :O

And the thing is that it went very improvised, and so you notice because yes, it’s totally improvised 😛

 

This is the perfect use case to print at maximum speed, the amazing 500 mm/s. The piece was a top that goes inside the backpack, and is not visible so if the print finish is not completely perfect nothing happens. My goal is to print it in the lower possible amount of time.

This is also applicable to prototypes where you only want to check the shape, more than details. We have performed quality printings at 350 mm/s, which is a speed highly outstanding already if we take into consideration that a cartesian 3D printer usually prints at 100 mm/s.

New spool holder

Updating my 3D printer – spool holder

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I have a BCN3D 3D printer that starts to be a relic now. I built it three years ago in a workshop from bcn3dtechnologies, reprapbcn at that time.

And during these years I did several upgrades at different moments: layer fan, full metal extruder, and an auto bed leveling that I have not finished yet because I need to tweak the firmware. Hardware is in place and I am waiting that we organize the next 3D Printer maintenance workshop in 3dprint Barcelona group to finish the job.

The Marlin firmware provided by RepRapBCN had several functions skimmed, so I need to pick up a recent Marlin version and transfer all the configs from my printer, plus check if there is any function out of standard that I need to transfer.

It’s in my ToDo list…

In the meantime, some weeks ago I upgraded the spool holder. The original one broke in several points, due to a design shortcoming. This is clearly due to

moving the 3d printer around, to different events such as maker faires, printer parties and so on. By the way, we are organizing a Printer Party in Barcelona for October 8th.
I took the original spool holder STL files from BCN3D+ 3D printer and reused some of the material I had in my broken spool holder.

Old spool holder

Final result is here. I would have liked something more flexible to change the holder position according to the spool size, but I do not have time to work on it right now. In fact with independent screws for both sides it’s probably easy to adjust.

New spool holder

Anyway this is more for nostalgic feeling, I got now plenty of Natural Robotics 3D printers at my disposal 😀

Check the Delta Black, a fast FDM 3D printer…

Yoda ABS

3D printing – the hype is finished

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We are all human and we cannot avoid to get excited. This explains some of the bubbles, magnified by the natural drive to greed for some people.

3D Printing for consumers

We also suffered this with 3D printing. In fact, it follows the natural cycle that Gartner points in the Annual Hype Cycle Chart.

lt’s interesting to see in this blog the evolution of Gartner charts since 2012. Consumer 3D printing moved from the peak of Inflated Expectations to way in the Trough of Disillusionment. However, Enterprise 3D printing is approaching the Plateau of Productivity.

 

gartner-hype-2012-to-2015

The effect is already visible, with several movements and announcements:

Pinshape joins Formlabs

3D Printing for Enterprise

In Enterprise 3D Printing there is not much to say. The industry existed for thirty years, formerly known as Rapid Prototyping and it will continue to grow. I don’t know the 2015 stats, but until now and for all these years this industry experienced annual growth rates of 25-30%.

Whv? Because 3D printing has obvious advantages for prototyping. In addition, during this hype period new fabrication techniques and tools, or substantial improvements, have moved 3D printing from the prototyping scenario to final product fabrication. This is the case of aeronautical companies, automobile, health and others that benefit of 3D printing fabrication of high value added products.

lt is true that 3D printing allows making objects with complex geometries, impossible to build in another way. So they simplify the fabrication process, add lightness and strength with maximum customization, and these advantages keep spreading into more and more industries. Enterprise 3D printing will not stop growing since there is a clear driver for improvement.

Conclusions

On the other hand, the consumer 3D printing is decreasing. Deception among consumers?
Probably. The manufacturers also deserve it somehow. I remember pictures of Makerbot a couple of years ago where they were showing objects that were not made with their own printers, pure unfaithful marketing. The consumer has not been properly educated, giving the impression that it was another home appliance and as easy to use as an appliance, only thinking about selling and selling more. While in fact the printers have maintenance, have problems, bottom line you need to be patient. And all this to make objects that are not wonderful in fact.

You reap what you sow, so here it is: Disillusionment.

In our 3D Print Barcelona group we have been using 3D printers for years, and we make clear the constraints and limitations in our Introduction events. Sooner or later you will have to deal with the 3D printer. Our group events continue to be fully crowded, so I cannot tell from this if there is a downward trend.
In fact events like “3D printing workshop: from your mind to your hands” had a waiting list longer than the attendees numbers. We scheduled another session and we had waiting list again. What is special here? it is hands-on. We explain how to make the whole process starting with the idea, modeling with an application, slicing to transfer it to the 3D printer and finally the printing.

There is no star use case for consumers. For example, 2D printer avoided people to go to the printing shops then. I think it was more about comfort than price, since the price per liter of the ink is way higher than any other liquid on the planet. Now 2D printers are also in a downward trend because the smartphones adoption has made us all more digital. One example: you don’t need to print the ticket anymore to attend an event, or the boarding pass to board a plane.
In 3D printing you have two options as a consumer:

  • You model objects yourself
  • You download models from a repository

Using only the second option does not justify the cost of a 3D printer. However, there was a study that concluded that printing your day to day objects was even cheaper than buying them so you could offset the printer cost.
When I started in 3D printing 3 years ago I thought modeling was the bottleneck, the one thing that prevented 3D printer massive adoption at home. I was thinking about the long learning curve of a CAD application then. But when I see software so intuitive as TinkerCAD, I think this is not the problem anymore.

The problem is to have something to print. And I am not talking about the usual Yodas and vases. I am talking about something that people need, in the broader sense of need.

Leaving hobbies particular cases apart and the prosumers who use the printer for some professional or almost professional activities, what people around me is printing at home is:

  • Replacements and repairs. Old spare parts that broke and there is no replacement. You model it and you print it. e.g. an old microwave button.
  • Objects improvements. Tuning stuff. e.g. a bicycle support, GoPro accessories.
  • Practical customized objects. e.g. small drawers to keep something in particular, USB cables support to fit at your table, etc.
  • Decoration. The vases and the Yodas!

Yoda ABS

You have to be passionate about the topic to get involved, honestly.
How many 3D printers may be parked somewhere at people’s home? Who knows…
Anyway I am ta king at macro levels. The big sales and consumer industry growth are gone, does not mean that there are niches that will continue to grow.

In prosumers it’s obvious, the DLP 3D printers bloomed and there are more and more jewelry shops that use them. Designers need to see their creations quick and with the ability to perform iterations, no sense to order it outside since you offset the printer cost pretty soon.
Makers are always making stuff, it is a nice tool to combine with other things.
And we have the hobbyists. They find multiple options to apply 3D printing in their hobby. If it is related to small dimensions they may need a DLP 3D printer, for example for train models.

Let’s see how this evolves in the following months.