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3D Scan for Making Replicas of Sculptures

Scanning sculptures is something new that we are seeing over the last few years. It has caught on in popularity for the mere fact that is cannot only help to repair damaged pieces of art, but it can also be used to expose more people to these magnificent pieces of art that might not otherwise be seen by new people on a regular basis. This article will discuss the process of 3D scanning and create replicas of sculptures as well as other pieces of art.

3D Scanning to Repair Damaged Sculptures

Taking the time to repair some of the damage that is created by time on a sculpture can salvage the piece and allow it to remain on display. This is a far cry from the old days where people had to take a sculpture off display simply in order to preserve it for future generations. With the new advances, this leads to more and more people to be able to see these sculptures and enjoy them as they were meant to be. If a sculpture does become damaged, there can be a simple 3D scan done on it to map out the damaged area and then simply print out a piece that will fit perfectly.

One example of this could be the Liberty Bell, we are all used to the crack that is in the side of it. Technology has come far enough that this crack could be fixed and for the first time in years, the Liberty Bell could be whole again. This is just one of the many examples of how this technology is able to be used to take something that was originally damaged or has become damaged and help to restore it to its perfect state.

3D Scanning to Make Replicas

Pieces of art that are home to one museum may not be seen by anyone unless they come to the museum, even in a virtual tour, these pieces may not be included in order to entice you to come in and see it in person. With the advancements made in 3D scanning, you are now able to see these sculptures in person at your local museum. This is all in part to being able to scan the original and then creating a replica out of many different printable materials.

One such example is a piece that was part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was recently scanned and a 3D model of it was made and put on tour going to several museums around the country. The replica was so close to the original, that curators at the museum had to be careful not to send the actual sculpture by accident.

This process will be getting more and more advanced as the years go by and eventually this will lead to a new chance for people to see these works of art that might not otherwise have ever been seen by anyone else. 3D scanning to make replicas is going to in the end lead to a new experience for those that love art and those whose job is to bring that art to the public.

3D Scanning for Museums and Archaeology

There are a great number of museums that are beginning to use 3D scanning for their exhibits to help and give visitors to their museums a better glimpse into the past. This is a new tool that in the hands of archaeologists as well as museum curators allow them to see details and create images like they had never been able to in the past. There are a lot of advantages to being seen using this technology and why it will be leading the way for the future.

Advantages of 3D Scans

One of the biggest advantages to using this technology is the ability to capture more details than what the human eye is able to catch. This is a lot better in most ways than having to rely on a 2D model that will just not be able to give the level of detail that a 3D model will.

Using 3D scanning can actually help to preserve history. There are certain areas where parts of the area are being destroyed via several methods from cultural battles and other things like erosion. With 3D scanning, the area can be mapped out and preserved at least in a digital form.

3D scanning also allows a new generation of visitors to visit museums via a virtual method. With 3D scanning, virtual exhibits can be created and allow people the chance to go and visit all while never having to leave their own home.

The ability to scan and replicate artifacts from an era long gone. Thanks to the advancements made in 3D scanning, we are now able to scan and print out replicas of dinosaurs and other artifacts that have long since been lost to time and the elements. Once the scan is complete, the archaeologist can print out the replica piece using any type of material that is compatible.

Ways That 3D Scanning Can Be Useful to Archaeologist

There are many ways that this technology can be very useful for an archaeologist. Things from replicating a piece that was thought to be long gone to repairing a broken artifact. These ways will be very useful in helping an archaeologist to bring the past alive for a new generation of visitors.

Let’s take for example an ancient pot is discovered from the Ming Dynasty. There is a piece of it missing, with the use of 3D scanning, an archaeologist can scan and print out a piece that will fit perfectly to fix the broken piece.

Another example is this 11.000 year old ox skull. Thanks to 3d Scanning it can be used for educational and research purposes, without fear of damaging the artifact.

Not only that, but the ability to repair pieces that are damaged helps to reduce the number of exhibits that will have to be removed from display. This is a huge advancement from the days when an exhibit had to be closed due to a piece being damaged. As advancements are made on this front, there will be more and more uses for 3D scanning in museums as well as out in the field with archaeologists. This is one of the tools that will lead the next generation of archaeologist as well as bring history like never before to a new generation of visitors to museums.

3D Scan and Printing for Recreation of Old Paintings

We are all familiar with a number of the more famous paintings. We hear their names and immediately are aware of the artist that created the magic. Many of us have had to sit back and admire these works from a distance as touching these works simply was out of the question. As with many other fields, the world of art is coming into the modern age and thanks to the world of 3D scanning. A new group of people is able to enjoy art like never. These people are able to take a hands-on approach to these works of art, something that in the past was just unheard of.

Reasons Why Art Can’t be Touched

There are several reasons why the public is not allowed to get up close to the works of art. The main reason is the risk of damage to the painting itself. If people are allowed to walk up and touch these works of art, then there is a damage that is done to the oils used to make the painting. This over time will break the oil down and as a result, a priceless piece of art will be destroyed.

Another reason for this is due to the fact that having access that close to the painting does in a lot of ways lead to a security risk. This makes theft of the artwork that much easier and therefore will lead to there being a higher risk that someone will try to run off with it. While these have been good reasons in the past to limit access to these paintings, the advancement of 3D scanning makes it now possible to touch and feel the paintings in a whole new way.

3D Scanning for New Art Lovers

There is a whole new generation of people that are falling love with art and thus, they are able to through the advances that have been made in technology are able to touch art that had never before been able to have hands placed on it. This allows these people to be able to get closer to the art than they ever had in the past.

Thanks to advances in 3D scanning, priceless art pieces can be scanned and a 3D version of the painting can be made since it is being printed with materials that can stand up to people touching them, there is little to no concern that this would lead to the art deteriorating over time. This advancement is giving a new generation the chance to experience art in a way that has never been possible.

As time continues to go by, there will be more and more advances that will allow people to experience art like they never had before and bring a new experience to the art lover. No matter the artist, these works of art will live on forever in our hearts and in our minds.

The Variety of 3D Printing Materials

The 3D printing technology has grown a lot, thanks to the global awakening to this new technology. Today when we talk about the possible materials that can be used to manufacture objects using this technology, almost all materials known to humans seems to a prospective candidate. Polyamide, aluminum, cobalt derivatives, gold, silver, bronze, materials used in Ceramics, meat and sugar everything and more can used in 3D printing technology. Metal 3D printing permits you to make practical models and mechanical parts from different metals and combinations.

Mechanical metals are laser sintered from metal powder. Accessible materials incorporate aluminum, stainless steel, bronze and cobalt chromium.

Let us take Aluminum

Aluminum is the main metal we offer that is combined and liquefied utilizing a laser from a bed of metallic powder. The 3D printing procedure is called specific laser dissolving. Creation happens on an assemble stage with backings to grapple the part. A bed of aluminum powder sits over an assemble stage. One layer at any given moment, the powder is liquefied by a powerful laser. The softened powder is immediately cooled to harden the metal. To shape the following layer, the fabricate stage is brought down and another layer of powder is dispersed with a coater. This procedure is rehashed layer by layer until the part is finished. Level ranges and edges print with a naturally created bolster structure to keep the component from drooping into free powder. The support is then expelled and cleaned far from the part amid post-preparing.

Specific laser dissolving is exceptional in light of the fact that the powerful laser gives enough vitality to warm the aluminum powder over the liquefying point. This procedure completely liquefies the powder as opposed to simply sintering it, making strong, homogenous aluminum composite. Aluminum has a matte dim wrap up. There is an inconspicuous shimmer brought about by the silicon particles in this material. Since this material is printed with bolster structures that are expelled amid post preparing, certain surfaces (where the structures were) can be marginally rougher, while the others are smoother.

The backings are required keeping in mind the end goal to abstain from listing into the free powder underneath that can bring about distorting or defects in your model. At times, these backings are hard to expel and desert a defective surface. The generation organizers do their best to arrange your models ideally to limit the measure of bolster structures required.

Plastic and Rubber

With Rubber-Like Plastic (Tango), you can recreate elastic with different levels of elastomer attributesincluding Shore Scale A hardness, extension at break, tear resistance and rigidity.

This material empowers you to recreate a wide assortment of completed items, for example, non-slip or delicate surfaces on buyer gadgets, medicinal gadgets and car insides.

The above text just studies a partial list of materials that can be used in the 3D printing technology. The list is endless. With the ever-growing funding for research and development for the AM technology new materials are bound to be added to the list.

Development of 3D Printing Technology

When we think about the 3D printing technology, most of us think of it as a recent development. Not many are aware of the fact that seeds of the technology were sown way back in the 1980’s. Then known as Rapid Prototyping technologies it developed into the amazing world of 3D printing. Broadly speaking a process to manufacture 3D objects of any geometrical dimension by using digital model data derived from a 3D model. This process has the entire ingredient that triggered the industrial revolution. This is because the procedures were initially considered as a quick, cost effective and more practical technique for making models for developing product in industry. The fascinating side of the story is that the main patent application for RP innovation was recorded by a Dr. Kodama, in Japan, in May 1980. Dr. Kodama did not apply for the full patent specification before the one year due date after the application, which was disastrous as he himself was patent lawyer. It was in the year 1984 when Charles “Chuck” Hull came up with the process of stereo lithography and claimed the patent rights for it. One of the biggest corporations operational in the field of 3D printing was then co-founded by him – The 3D Systems Corporation.

Old vs. New technology

At a time when casting, stamping, machining and fabrication were the in thing in manufacturing process of 3D printing technology (also called AM – Additive Manufacturing) using successive layers of materials to synthesize a 3D object by computers digital model data revolutionized manufacturing. Late 1980’s say the first Rapid Prototyping commercial system. The SLA – 1 developed and sold by 3D Systems. Simultaneously in the year 1987, Carl Deckard form University of Texas developed a parallel RP technology called the SLS (Selective Laser Sintering). He filed for the patent and issued on in the year 1989. With the whole idea catching up, new technologies and research to refine the concept began to take roots. Another process implemented by basic 3D printing machines RepRap model based on Fused Deposition Modelling patented by Scott Crump in the year 1992.

Europe was not to be left behind. In 1989 the German company EOS GmbH put its money on Laser Sintering process to carve a name for them in the world of 3D printing. The refinement continued with 3DP by Emanuel Sachs, LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing) by Michael Feygin, Itzchak Pomerantz patenting “Solid Ground Curing Technology,” and William Masters patenting “Ballistic Particle Manufacturing.”

Application

The simple but ground breaking implementation of inkjet printer technology has grown tremendously in the 1990s and 2000s. Today, we find 3D printing technology implemented to various industries like medical, jewelry, aviation sector, manufacturing and automotive. The year 2002 saw a fully functional miniature kidney developed using this technology that was to filter blood in animals. The year 2008 saw the very first self-replicating printer capable of printing a major portion of its own parts and components. The same year produced the first 3D printed prosthetic leg.

The potential of 3D printing technology is enormous. The technology is set to revolutionize the industries with research and developments into the existing technology being funded on large scale.

What is Reverse engineering or back engineering?

Reverse engineering is the method by which an object that has been created using the human creativity gets deconstructed with the motive of revealing the designs, architecture or even the initial information about the object that is equivalent to the object data and the available scientific research having to be a natural phenomenon. Back Engineering can be applied in the following fields: mechanical, electronic, software, hardware engineering, systems biology as well as the chemical engineering.

How does it work for surface reconstructions?

Reverse engineering Projects astonish people in life. Paleontologists always have to work with too old fossils having about many million years existence on earth which is a practice that seems bizarre to many biologists and other professionals who are always accustomed to the living creatures. Depending on the history of the development of the fossils on earth, they come in different weird forms that may not be understood by many people. Some of the creatures may sometimes lack critical characteristic features such as legs, eyes which makes it difficult for people to relate them with the tree of life. At such circumstances here essential elements are lacking, the exercise of determining the science of paleontology also gets harder. Such a situation was experienced during the Ediacaran period, which lasted in the early times from 635 million to 541 million years ago.

Some of the fossils discovered from the period were unique soft-bodied objects and were referred to as the Ediacaran biota. Although the research about the minerals has taken place for over seventy years now, science is yet to come to closure of how the earlier organisms could be related with the modern animals through their unique features. There has not been any information revealed about the evolutionary history of the animals with the use of the discovered fossils up to date. Scientists have decided that instead of looking at the available features from the minerals and trying to link them with those of the known animal groups, it would be essential to take a different route and use computational fluid dynamics technique which would allow reverse engineering to take place and reveal how the previous organisms lived in the ocean environment.

Mystery fossil

Ediacaran period, for example, is essential in the study as it forms a necessary part of the Earth’s history. When the period began, it marked the end of the “snowball Earth” times when science has it that ice initially covered the Earth for many years. Ediacaran period also gives way to the Cambrian geological period where the existence of the first world animal creatures recognized at present times was first discovered and given the name Cambrian explosion. During the Ediacaran period, large and complex fossils were, and many scientists were hoping that this would be a great link to showing the relationship between the animal groups that had earlier been discovered in the Cambrian era. However, the found fossils between the two periods were completely different and could not give links to any similarities in the animal’s relationship.

Frond-like rangeomorph fossil by Avalofractus

The rangeomorphs represented a collection of organisms made up of leaves and mat-like substances and containing a unique fractal architecture that was made from sequences of branching the frond materials of centimeters lengths and having other frond elements within itself. Tribrachidium was also composed of a minor hemispherical creature that has three raised branches meeting at the top and curving towards the margin of the organism in a counterclockwise way. Looking at the evolutionary tree of life, it has not been discovered yet how these creatures were formed or what came before or after they were formed. Paleontologists have in the past tried many ways of understanding the organisms and their formation through adopting many approaches in their quest to look for evolutionary answers. They decided to abandon all the information they had about what the animals might have been thought to be related to in the past and concentrated more on having answers for the relevant research questions that might have been there.

Some of these questions could be if the previous animals had the abilities to move, feed, and their way of reproduction among others. Scientists were convinced that through getting answers to the fundamental questions, they would be in a position to understand their ecology and biology better and therefore have hints to how the organisms were related to other lifeforms. Reverse engineering would thus be achieved through this strategy.

Modeling Fluid Dynamics by Back Engineer Fossils

Scientists have explored the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which is a possible method that stimulates fluid flows virtually in the objects through the use of computers. The technique focusses on observation of the behavior of the organisms in the current oceans. Research shows that majority of the plants living in the shallow marine environments have over time undergone evolution to adaptation which allows them to survive in the currents either by interacting or manipulating them to minimize the drag effect or prevent them from being swept away, or in feeding. The organism’s biology and ecology can be understood better by watching its behavior in moving fluids. Modern species play a vital role in the research through helping scientists learn animal behavior in the fluid flows. However, when it comes to creatures that have over time become extinct for a very long time like Ediacaran biota, then the only approach that can be of very great significance is the virtual simulations using CFD.

Methodology

The 3-D model of the fossil is obtained and appropriately placed in the virtual flume tank. Water is stimulated to flow around the now digital fossil and viewed. Through visualizing patterns of flow and the recirculation of water to the organism, scientists can test the hypotheses of ways in which the animal moved and fed. The methodology is excellent in helping scientists to understand many characteristics of animals that have become extinct for an extended period such as the Ediacaran biota and understanding them better.

3D Printing Basics for Beginners

We all have been hearing about the amazing world of 3D printing and the storm in the form of revolutionizing the manufacturing sector. This very concept will turn the current manufacturing process of machining, fabrication, casting and stamping a thing of past. So, what is it? Broadly speaking a process to manufacture 3D objects of any geometrical dimension by using digital model data derived from a 3D model.

There are two aspects of 3D object printing. The first, all the data of the object to be printed in digital format and second, and a machine that reads the digital data and pours in layer after layer of the manufacturing materials to create the final product. Example: you have a tube of toothpaste and you start squeezing it while drawing different shapes. But in real life scenario the deposition of materials to form the final object is controlled by a computer’s 3D images and the digital dimensional data provided by it.

A New Approach

The current process of manufacturing is a subtracting one and the new technology of 3D printing is additive one. If we have to make a pulley, today we cast it first and then using machining process slice away parts until you have the final product of the right dimensions. Something likes stone sculpting. You chisel out unwanted stone to get the final carving. 3D printing on the other hand is the exact reverse. You keep adding material in the exact proportion until you get the final shape as guided by a digital data feed. So, there is no material waste. There are quite a lot of that go into making a 3D printer. The important being the computer system that controls the movements to the exact nano dimension, the modelling and finishing.

New avenues in development

The official term used by the United States of America and the ISO technical standards committee is Additive Manufacturing (AM) to broadly define the process. Today this technology can be applied to almost anything. It is used in the making of Pizza, chocolates and other food items. It has been so fascinating that NASA has their eyes set on using this technology to print food in space. This technology has found its way into 3D printing of dresses, automobiles, aerospace and medical science with joint replacement and craniomaxillofacial reconstructions. Soon you would probably have a 3D printer at home that would be good enough to prepare you breakfast, lunch and dinner. That makes you thing if one day you could have a printer that could make a gun or a customized mobile phone for you. Well, that is a possibility. All we can say right now is that the process, standards and the laws governing them are in its infancy. With clear thinking and refinement everything would be put into place and we would have the right system in place.

With worldwide interest generated in this new concept, funds are being poured into research and development to refine the process. Today we can have a 3D printer for around $1000 though a very basic printer device.

The Recycled Materials for 3D Printers

Despite the increase of materials used and the higher speeds available for 3D printers, there is not much data available on the usable recycling materials. According to a 2017 report by CNBC, nine billion tons of plastic have been produced across the globe since the 1950’s. Approximately nine percent has been recycled. The concern is the additive manufacturing combined with the increased use of 3D printing will fill the landfills. The good news is recycled materials are the most commonly used filament type with the most minimal entry barrier. The optimization of print settings and PLA formulas has made recycled materials the best choice for the average project and creation of home goods for the last several years. The report is attempting to gather more information regarding any other materials. It should be noted PLA is more difficult to recycle because it is a biodegradable thermoplastic. The issue is a closed loop is used to test the sample. This may not provide an accurate representation.

The Details of the Process for Recycled Plastics

The polymer is slightly degraded due to the process of going from the printer to the tensile tester and returning to the printer. There was not much fluctuation in samples recycled numerous times using closed loop studies. The issue begins when plastic is included that has an unknown origin or has been degraded. PLA has more sensitivity to temperature and UV light than ABS. It is difficult to determine what mechanical properties would be established if the material were recycled because it has a better chance of degrading. The current knowledge regarding 3D printed materials is still limited despite the recycling platforms available. These platforms will assist in waste reduction when tested for fit, form or even knick-knacks. There were issues with recycled PLA in comparison to virgin PLA. The recycled material clogged the nozzle. A 3D printer was used to extrude the PLA into shear and tensile specimens. The materials were ground after testing, made into filament and printed again with a 3D printer. The mechanical properties prior to and after recycling remained very similar. The results for the recycled filament were more varied. The nozzle clogging caused by the recycled filament did not occur using the virgin filament. Despite the similar results, more testing for recycled 3D filament is necessary. The additional data is expected to reveal how to create better designs for recycled materials.

PET vs. HDPE Recycling

PET or polyethylene terephthalate recycles well. After 2,000 cycles, the mechanical properties remained close to the published values for closed loop testing. The results were similar in open loop testing but it was impossible to determine the number of times recycling occurred. HDPE or high density polyethylene is subject to chain scission due to a cross linking of the chains and will degrade. The strength of the material is increased by cross linking. The impact strength showed variations in open loop tests, the material degraded and the impact strength varied. This shows the origins of the polymer must be understood. Recycled batches can be tested and produced and the material may stay in the published values when additives are used. Plastics may be cheap but this process costs money. When the additives and tests are included in the pricing it becomes difficult to remain competitive with virgin plastics. It may be possible to create a Filabot from bottles and print parts.

New Projects Try to Solve Plastic Waste Problem

The 3D Printing ProtoCycler

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace. One of the latest advances concerns 3D printing. These printers can be found in living rooms, schools and university labs. Unfortunately, they discard little ends and plastic corners that are increasing the landfills. There are three students at a University in Canada who took exception to all this waste. They created a device called the ProtoCycler. The device was created to grind plastic waster into a plastic filament used by 3D printers. The device uses anything from plastic food take out containers to Legos. The concept is similar to a juicer but instead of strawberries this device juices plastic. The device is good for the environment while saving people money on filament for their 3D printers. These ingenious students have even created more color options than the spools available in stores. This proves yet again necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

The Dutch Entrepreneurs

Research has established the growth of 3D printing is soaring due to the opportunities it offers. A Dutch company has launched their version with a sustainable and social design to help eliminate waste. They have created a filament actually made from waste. The project originated as Perpetual Plastic over five years ago. Plastic was turned into a substance similar to wire to be used for physical objects. A workshop was run at a local festival, beer cups were turned into amazing items and people enjoyed a sensational experience complete with memorabilia. The Dutch proved the experts were wrong and plastic could be turned into something usable. Filament is usually made from scratch. This company makes it from recycling plastic. Nearly ninety percent of all plastic is not recycled. The filament is made using car dashboards, portions of refrigerator doors and PET bottles. A company called Reflow purchases the plastic, gets it clean then cuts it up. These pieces become the filament used by 3D printers. The profits are being used to provide the waste collectors supplying the plastic with health insurance. This is a social cause that is working incredibly well.

The Quest of the United States Army

Even the United States Army is looking for ways to make PET filament from discarded plastic bottles. Soldiers serving the country in the battlefield will be able to use waste material to make spare parts from 3D printers. The discovery of how to use items such as yogurt containers and milk jugs to make the military more self-reliant, reduce demand for supplies and cut costs resulted from the collaboration of the US Marine Corps and the US Army Research Laboratory. This is a valuable source with extensive possibilities for applications. 3D printers can be used to produce medical implants and temporary parts for aircrafts. The advantages over standard manufacturing include a reduction in cost and time to produce parts. The filament is made using 100 percent recycled plastics and bottles with no additives or chemical modifications necessary. This enables FDM or fused deposition modeling for 3D printers. Once the issues of crystallization, moisture absorption and melting temperature are resolved, additional filaments and plastics can be used. The US Army believes using the waste most often found on battlefields will decrease the need to transport parts to the bases and reduce costs for waste disposal.

In Short: The 3D Printing Process

3D printing process is not a very complex process. In fact, all the different components and tools have already existed in the current manufacturing sector before.

3D printable models can be created using a CAD software bundle implementing a 3D scanner, or by a plain advanced camera and photogrammetry programming. 3D printed models made with CAD result in lessened mistakes and these can be corrected before printing and fine-tuned before it is ready for implementation.

Computer Aided Design for 3D Printing

The manual displaying procedure of get ready geometric information for 3D PC illustrations is like plastic expressions, for example, chiseling. 3D checking is a procedure of gathering computerized information on the shape and appearance of a genuine protest, making an advanced model in view of it.

Printing

Before printing a 3D show from a STL record, it should first be inspected for mistakes. Most CAD applications create mistakes in yield STL files gaps, confronts normal, self-convergences, clamor shells or complex errors. A stage in the STL era known as “repair” fixes such issues in the first model. Generally, STLs that have been delivered from a model acquired through 3D checking regularly have a greater amount of these errors. This is because of how 3D examining functions as it is frequently by indicate point obtaining, remaking will incorporate blunders in generally cases.

Once finished, the STL document should be prepared by a bit of programming called a “slicer,” which changes over the model into a progression of thin layers and creates a G-code record containing guidelines custom-made to a particular kind of 3D printer (FDM printers). This G-code document can then be printed with 3D printing customer programming (which stacks the G-code, and uses it to teach the 3D printer amid the 3D printing process).

Microelectronic gadget creation techniques can be utilized to play out the 3D printing of nano scale-size articles. Such printed items are regularly developed on a strong substrate, e.g. silicon wafer, to which they follow in the wake of printing as they are too little and delicate to be controlled post-development. In one procedure, 3D nanostructures can be printed by physically moving a dynamic stencil veil amid the material testimony prepare, fairly practically equivalent to the expulsion technique for conventional 3D printers. Programmable-tallness nanostructures with resolutions as little as 10 nm have been created in this mould, by metallic physical vapor affidavit mechanical piezo-actuator controlled stencil veil having a processed nano pore in a silicon nitride layer.

Just to Sum It Up

The whole technology and the concepts have given birth to different process in the world of 3D printing. The following are some of the processes to name a few.

  1. Stereo lithography(SLA)
  2. Digital Light Processing(DLP)
  3. Fused deposition modelling (FDM)
  4. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  5. Selective laser melting (SLM)
  6. Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)

With the world-wide interest shown in the process and funds being poured in to research and development for the refinement of the whole technology, we are soon to witness new horizons being conquered in the very new future.

Comparing Open-Source and Low-cost 3D Printers with Commercial Products

When the typewriter was introduced in 1868, it was to people what virtual reality is to us now. It was something people had never seen before, a new idea that added value and made things a little more perfect. The typewriter created perfect typography, but one mistake meant the paper had to be re-written. The same is true today as more and more people learn how to use 3D printing and rapid prototyping. One over-looked mistake in the design of a piece can be fatal to a budget or to the project itself. For that reason, in this article we will discuss the implications and differences between open-source low-cost 3D printers, and commercial rapid prototyping machines.

Open-Source Low-Cost 3D Printers

Open-Source is the term given to software that is free to use and be edited by people other than the creator. This made a shift in the way that creators and 3D enthusiasts create objects. Imagine if the software was not open-sourced, what would happen? People would have to create and design their own 3D objects from scratch which would have made the industry grow at a much slower pace. By making it an open-source concept, people can simply look for designs they like on websites like TurboSquid and download them to print on their 3D printers.

The difference between these low-cost open-source models is that they’re often free and not protected by patents or trademarks. This is one of the major differences between commercial RP machines and low-cost 3D printers.

Commercial RP Machines

We gave you an example of an open-source website where people can simply download the designs they want, and they can further edit it to fit their individual styles. When using rapid prototyping machines or companies that will do it for you, the designs and processes are not open-sourced and so one must abide by their rules and regulations. Because of this same reason, using rapid prototyping will cost a lot more.

There are many reasons why commercial rapid prototyping machines are more expensive and we will discuss those in detail in this section. Commercial Rapid Prototyping machines are more expensive and often protected (not open-sourced) because of the following things:

  • Precision: These machines have been perfected for much longer than low-cost 3D printers, hence why they are so precise in the final product.
  • Materials: Commercial RP Machines have the ability to use a wide range of materials such as metals, powder, and even cement. This allows a large degree of freedom on the products they can create.
  • Size: Some commercial RP Machines can fit a human inside of them, whilst the biggest 3D printer is only a couple of feet high.
  • IP: Intellectual property is what keeps Nike and other top brands at the top. They protect their designs and ways of producing products, to that one can tell right away when a fake Nike product is produced. It’s the same with these commercial rapid prototyping companies.

Examples

Low-Cost 3D Printers: Here’s another resource if you are looking to purchase a low-cost 3D printer. It is TechRadar’s list of the best 3D printers to use in 2018. Prices range from $206 to $4,000 and can be found anywhere on Amazon, e-bay or directly from the 3D company’s site.

Commercial RP Machines: On that note, low-cost 3D printers will cost no more than $4,000, but commercial RP and 3D printing machines start at around $6,000 and can go up to $750,000 depending on the size they can render, what materials they use, and the precision of the final product.

Main Differences between Low Cost and Commercial Products

We have summarized the differences between low-cost open-source 3D printers, and commercial rapid production machines. We provided resources to websites like TurboSquid, an open-source 3D printing object design company dedicating to sharing 3D designs with the world. We have also shared places where you can purchase low-cost 3D printers that start at $200 and go up to $4,000 with an emphasis and contrast to commercial rapid production machines which start at $6,000 and can go up to $750,000.