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The 3D Printers of CES: Extruders, Nozzles, and Metal Medium ( 49

szczys writes: It's that time of year again, the Consumer Electronics Show leaks out of every media crevice. Although we've passed peak 3D Printing hype for the general public, the 3D Printer offerings being shown are notable in one way or another. Makerbot continues to flounder with questionable extruders, Lulzbot continues to excel with dual extrusion and by supporting a wide range of print materials, 3D Systems has an uber-expensive direct metal printer, but the entry level printer price floor keeps falling.
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The 3D Printers of CES: Extruders, Nozzles, and Metal Medium

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  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @03:53PM (#51250969)

    WTF is a nozel

  • Efficiency (Score:4, Funny)

    by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @04:13PM (#51251137)
    The printers are now so efficient, they only need one z.
  • by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @04:17PM (#51251183)
    The nozel-based printors may be cool new technolligy, but can they print metel with a nozel yet? So far I have only seene plasstec printid via nozel, and metels can only be printid using laisre cintering. It would be a maijer advance in rapped prototaiping if metel objicts could be fabrecaited with an extruzhen-like addetive prawsess. You know, like with a nozel. Whew. That was hard to write.
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      I believe that iMaterialize has one metal (their lowest cost steel) that is kind of printed by a nozzle - indirectly. They print out steel powder with as little binder as possible to hold it together, sinter it into a porous steel sponge, then fill in the gaps in a subsequent step with molten bronze. Not exactly an at-home process for laypeople. More commonly used is lost-wax casting with the mould being 3d printed - again, not a home process for laypeople. For the really large scale I've seen one syste

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        It would be cool if you could print out a desktop PC case that could be assembled as a flat-pack unit. I'd also like to print out a backcover for a MSI gaming laptop so that it doesn't take the removal of seven screws just to add a new SSD. Older laptops used to have little covers for each component that only required a single screw to remove.

        • It would be cooler to be able to buy it on amazon and have it delivered to your door the next day, faster and less expensive than you can make it yourself, and have it professionally made looking.
          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            Unfortunately most of the 3d printing services out there - while they have quality in spades - are very lacking when it comes to turnaround time. And of course, those processes that require expensive machines (like metal sintering) or those with a lot of labour (like casting or surface finishing) cost them a lot of money too, which they have to pass on in their pricing scheme.

            Getting prices down and reducing the amount of post-print labour to get a quality product are really key to helping 3d printing reach

    • Perhaps wit such a devis yu cud bild a Feersum Endjin?

    • you do not need "laisre cintering" (or even laser cintering) to print metals (or metels). I've never printed plasstec, but I have printed plastic, wood, bronze and copper with my fused filament printer.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Thursday January 07, 2016 @02:44AM (#51253955) Homepage Journal

      it's just plastic.

      makerbots new extruder: makes for "better" reliability. the old one on the 5th gen makerbots(that won best of the year awards at ces based on prints done with previous generation makerbots) was so bad that it would have bankrupted makerbot if stratasys had not bought them a little earlier(I am not kidding, huge consumer returns on the 5th gen line because it did not work reliably). the replicator 1 and 2 extruders were modifiable easily to be much, much, much more reliable. the fallout was so bad that they had to close their consumer support forums. those forums had provided users of previous generations with tips and tricks how to actually make the machines do what they are supposed to do, but due to design and closed source policy with the 5th generation the community was unable to do so.

      ultimakers exchangeabe nozzle: yeah uh, the article says that this is a feature not seen commonly. but in real life, of the cheap sub 1000$ printers, almost all have changeable nozzles apart from cube line or other drm'd in some way or another systems. ultimakers extruder design was an outlier. in fact, even the mentioned makerbot has had changeable nozzles since forever.

      lulzbot has a new dual extruder. they already had a dual extruder that seems pretty much the same in design. who cares.

      the 3d systems laser sintering machine? here's a hint. the lineup of this generation has already 100, 200, and 300 models. just a new model in old line. cool, yes, new technology? no. consumer technology? fuck no.

      nothing noteworthy to consumer was announced. absolutely nothing. none of the extruders are providing anything new. makerbots smart extruder+ is a band aid design change on their already on the market model(ironically still being inferior to their previous generation, while being way more expensive. it has nothing in it to justify the large price tag).

  • by Rei ( 128717 )

    These prices are actually getting... reasonable. But they need to get the quality up to what you can get from online services.

    And of course, what the market really wants is non-plastic printing on a home-scale budget. Some day....

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @04:34PM (#51251349) Homepage Journal

    I've been waiting for 3d printers to get cheap enough to buy for amusement's sake, so I've been watching the low end of the market for one that would be afforable, yet more fun than a PITA. Most of the ones in that sub $500 range print reliably in PLA only; metal is totally out of the question.

    But it makes me wonder -- why not print in some wax-like material instead? That would allow you to do lost-wax casting. If you were making things one-off you could even skip the moulding step and 3d print the model with the "spruing" (channels for molten material) in place. For home use you could make the final product with some kind of low melting point metal. Some fusible alloys melt at less than the boiling point of water; many cooking ovens get hot enough to melt useful lead-free tin/bismuth alloys. You can get tin/bismuth ingots for about $15/pound that melt at roughly the temperature you cook a turkey at -- well above the boiling point of water.

    Is this just something people wouldn't be interested in? Or is there some technical reason it wouldn't be practical?

    • I had the same thought recently. Shapeways [] offers parts printed in wax for casting. I question the value, though, as shipping may well warp waxy materials. There are also others selling materials intended specifically for lost investment casting. Still others [] thought to see whether PLA could be used directly for lost investment casting with good results. The author at the second link used foam strips, presumably because it's cheap and fast, which 3d printing generally isn't.
      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        Interesting, thanks for the link. I still like the idea of using an alloy that can be melted at typical cooking oven temperatures, though -- say 350 degrees. That eliminates having to find a place to run a furnace that will get to 1500 F you need to get your aluminum to so that it'll get to every part of your investment.

        • Charcoal, a hair dryer, a crucible and in insulated chimney are all you need to melt aluminum for casting.

    • One of the hackers at my makerspace has successfully used lost-PLA casting to cast steel. The result was a functional part used in a battle bot. That's using a standard consumer 3D printer.

      Jewelers have been using 3D printers for lost-wax casting for years; there are specialized 3D printers sold for this.

    • But it makes me wonder -- why not print in some wax-like material instead?

      Sure---it's called PLA. :)

      There's quite a lot of instructions about lost plastic casting on the internet now. Basically, if you have a device which can melt aluminium, then you have something capable of burning out the PLA from the mould.

      The problem with printing wax like (i.e. lower temperature materials) is that the heat from the stepper extruder itself is enough to soften the filament, which makes extruding it much harder. Only qui

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