The Big Think

January 17, 2012


Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 11:25 am

So the saving for the 3d printer continues. I’m sure glad I’m waiting. MakerIndustries just announced their Makerbot Replicator as the next advancement in low cost 3d printing tech.

Pros: much bigger print area (about the size of a loaf of bread), dual extruders so you can print with two colors, comes fully assembled, better resolution.

Cons: comes fully assembled (I kind of wanted to assemble the thing myself), still uses clunky GCode and Replicator G, higher priced ($2,000 as opposed to the $1200 I was shooting for), ABS plastic spools are still expensive (around $65 for a 1kg spool).

So there’s still a ways for the technology to go. I’d like to see it get faster and have the materials get a little cheaper. Actually, recyclable materials would be the way to go. Print something out, then when you were finished with it simply feed it to the (printed out?) recycler and get a nice spool of ABS plastic to start the process over. As far as the cost of the machine I’m okay with the price increase as long as consumables come down in price. Initial outlay isn’t much compared to feeding the thing over time (the “razors/razor blade” or “printer/ink cartridge” approach).

I don’t want to get on a treadmill where I’m constantly waiting for the next revision before I commit, but I feel like the Replicator is aaalmost there. Maybe by this time next year I’ll feel good about buying.

So I’m considering putting off the purchase another year so that I can keep saving. I have about $950 saved and am adding to it at $50 or so per month. At this rate I’ll be up to $2,000 in two more years. Maker Industries might introduce a more expensive one in that time, in which case the goalposts move again, or the next rev (and some competition!) might make them cheaper. But what I don’t want to do is buy something that’s still in the hobby category and isn’t as useful as I’d like.

I’ve been building props the past few weekends and still have two weekends to go. It’d sure be nice to be able to print out a prop (from SketchUp?) and lay it down on a full scale stage model. That’s the long-term plan.

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