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Thing-O-Matic Complete (3D Printer)

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geotek

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I built one of the 3D printers from MakerBot, it's called the Thing-O-Matic. It's pretty neat. I've had most every other type of machine tool over the years, nothing is quite like this.
The first thing most people make is the whistle. It's an example file supplied with the CAM software.
I also designwd a set of 10DP gears in Alibre Design. The red spur gear would be easy to make on a lathe and mill, but the green internal tooth ring gear would be another story.
I'm not sure yet what I'll use it for, but it would be great for replacing broken plastic parts. It may also work well for making investment casting patterns.
Today I "pimped-it-up" a bit with some blue LED strips.

tom.JPG 10dp gears.jpg whistle.JPG blues.jpg
 

Gadget

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Nice, I'd like to build one someday.
 

Twisted Road

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I've had my eyes on these for a while. It seems like they've made some significant improvements with the extruder head. I really want to hold a sample part in my hand just so I can get a feel for the strength. I'm also curious about the dimensional accuracy. If they could increase the work envelope and nail the accuracy, it would be killer. Of course, they have to keep the price down in the "early adopter toy" zone, so I'm probably dreaming. None-the-less, I hope to have one of these, or whatever is out a couple product generations later when I can afford it.

Please share your thoughts and experiences. Since your background includes a lot of machine tools, your opinion will be different than many of the folks who buy these things.

--Mike
 

churchjw

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This is on my build list. Very nice job. I think a section for this kind of thing would be cool in the group. I have my eye on it to do molds for casting as well.

Jeff
 

geotek

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They were $1299, but I guess they must be on sale. It takes about a month or so to get it in. Mine is serial number 6311, so they have made quite a few.
I looked at some of the others out there. Many of these machines were designed so the the machine can replicate itself. The first one was called the Rep-Rap and that has evolved into other models. The problem with the Rep-Rap type machine is that it looks like a Tinker Toy project. Makerbot stepped back from the self-replicate and designed the machine from scratch. It uses good quality parts and electronics. The shafts for the linear bearing are made by Thompson, it's good stuff. Now I've just got to learn how to drive it.
There is almost a counter-culture out there working with these. Some believe large manufacturing is dead, and that in the future, people will have machines such as this and make all there stuff at home. You would just down load a file from the web and print out the parts. I would scoff at this, except I remember about ten years ago an engineer friend told me that in the near future, long distance would be free, I thought he was crazy.
 

ScrapMetal

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I could only see it as "the future" if it was able to make things with more durable materials as it's not practical to make everything out of "plastic". Some things will also need to be made with different/multiple materials to be useful, like an axle for a moving part.

There may already be things out there or ones that are still in the labs that may solve some of these issues. I'm the last person to try and predict where technology is going to go in the future (some of my stock picks are proof of that :rolleyes:).

-Ron
 

4R8

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Rumour has it that the multicolour machines and the later single colour machines are capable of multi temp extrusion allowing moving parts within tight(for this kind of work) tolerances.
With the right cad/cam design, the late machines can make a complete rear diff/axle assembly which works! Albeit still plastic.....
 

lazyLathe

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If it uses .stl files i have quite a few of them if you are interested!
Everything from a complete chess set to a Porsche and a sail boat!

Let me know if you are interested in anything!

Looks like a cool machine!
We have two Projet DP3000's at work that i am free to use and experiment with.
Printed off a few things i have designed in Solidworks and they work really well!

Andrew
 

geotek

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The Thing-O-Matic uses the FDM (fused deposition method). It has an extruder that pulls in a plastic filiment of 1.75mm, melts it at 225C, and extrudes it through a 0.4mm nozzle. On each pass, the new material is deposited on the previous layer. This means that it is difficult to achive overhangs. Overhangs are limited to about 45 degrees. If the overhang is too flat, the new material can not bond to the previous layer. This is the major drawback of this technology. It can span fairly long sections, as in the whistle above. It's interesting to watch. The fine thread spans across a void. When connected at the other side, the thread cools and pulls tight. I was suprised how well it worked.

The fluid bed machines have a tank full of a liquid polymer or a fine powder. The tool head fuses the material with lasers, chemicals, or heat. The object is formed on a platform that slowly lowers in the tank. When done, the excess material must be removed. These machines are capable of very high resolution, and they do not have the overhang problem. They are quite expensive to operate. I once saw an experimental machine that used sugar. It used a small heat gun on the tool head and fused the grains of sugar. The part produced were not very strong, and they has a rough texture, but they were edible.
 

pdentrem

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There are metal fusion powders now in use. There is a rocket motor made with a 3d printer. Very cool stuff, my brother is looking at this for more than prototyping.
 
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