Solidoodle 2--the first sub-$500 3D printer. Is this the next big thing?

Bill Loguidice's picture

As an admitted techno-luster, I've been following the trend of 3D printing with intense interest, particularly as prices continue to drop from previously stratospheric levels. Gizmag reports that Solidoodle 2 has broken the $500 barrier--which puts it right in line with that sweet spot for home/hobbyist use. With that said, the output does look far rougher (particularly texture-wise) than I've seen from the more expensive units (which are double or more in price, though), but I'm sure that will improve over time.

Personally, I think many of us will have these in our homes within five years, particularly as various manufacturers start to see an uptake in ownership. If you really think about it, if you have the right machine, you can manufacture your own replacement parts for small parts/items - say for a dishwasher or other appliance, as just one example - that would take too long to ship or might be too niche to find in a local store. Obviously, we have a long way to go for this home-based nirvana, but this is definitely the next big/coming thing, potentially equivalent to the personal computer revolution of the 1970s (and hopefully not the still-born personal robot revolution of the 1980s). There are even more expensive units that can output objects with moving parts, which clearly would make things even more interesting. So, what do you guys think of all this? Certainly at the moment this is a somewhat limited solid toy/object maker, but the overall potential seems pretty clear.

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TripHamer
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And he's drinking out of it?

And he's drinking out of it? Yikes. Plastic toys, plastic replacement parts, yes. Containers that hold food.....not so much....I wouldn't eat out it.

I wonder how durable the plastic is.

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clok1966
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Makerbot has been around

Makerbot has been around awhile at about $1000, one of my friends has one and I 'almost " bought one a year or two ago. The problem is for anything real complex its not as simple as printing like they want you to think.. it has to be input (designed) in some cad type program. Not many users will ever have the ability to do that.. There are tons of premad things on the maker bot forums (and I understand this one is basicly the same thing at a cheaper price).

As for the plastic (Trip) its the same plastic used for alot of stuff.. its all as safe as any other pastci to drink out of. i belive there are 3 current kinds they can use ABS (the plastic in your car panels, a cup, a DVD case is this) which is general purpose stuff.. not real strong, very flexible. Then a softer type ( cant remeber name) that you would make stuff like toys and such out of.. and then a slightly stronger but easier to break kind (think of a plastic fork)... This is the reason I never delved into one.. most of the stuff that breaks is a type of very hard and durable plastic (again, sorry dont know exact name).. (laptop case, most plastic switchs, etc.. its used in most cases whre an item is stressed and used repeatadly.. (and often breaks)..) this type is not avialble for those machines yet.. (from my understanding, please correct me if im wrong). Currenlty they are kinda a novelty as they can make simple stuff you can get ready made cad type inputs (dolls, cups, etc..) but again, unless i understand it wrong you need to work some type of cad type thing to make the stuff it prints, and the average person wont be able to do that.

I must admit the $500 price has me lookin again.. GLow in the dark plastic, more colores.. lots has changed sicne i last looked.

Bill Loguidice
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Oh, I agree Clok, that until

Oh, I agree Clok, that until the software matures, the average person won't be making much, but I expect the software to evolve right along with the price-dropping hardware. As you say, there is also a huge library of pre-made designs ready to utilize and/or modify.

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TripHamer
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It's says they can use ABS

It's says they can use ABS plastic AND PLA if need be.

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clok1966
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Some of the software they are

Some of the software they are using with camera's or even Kinect could make some of this proto tyyping quite easy at some time.. The possiblilties are quite amazing. As I say I was very close.... a lost remote cover, that broken memory retainer from a motherboard, a bttery case from a radio.. it would be quite cool to make that stuff. But as i thouhgt about it a long time, i just couldnt see it used for to much for the $1000 price.. now $500 is alot more inline if I knew my ability ot designs stuff would match it i would have one for sure.

Rowdy Rob
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Strange New World: Physical Piracy and Ground Floor Opportunity!

3D Printing: The New Piracy?

Most of the talk of "piracy" centers around software and media piracy (music, movies, games, etc.). But with devices like the 3D printer, will we be seeing controversies surrounding piracy of physical objects in the future?!?!! Think about it: Disney figurines, fashionable belt buckles, "Star Wars" Lego sets, Barbie dolls and accessories, .... even illicit items like police badges; all could theoretically be reproduced by these printers, especially when the technology improves and the prices come down!

Do you think we have problems now with the MPAA and RIAA over software and media piracy? Think about what will happen when big league companies like Kenner, Mattel, Walmart, and others join the fight against "piracy!" That's almost way too much corporate money to fight a legal or political battle against!!

I don't see devices like the "Kinect" to be accurate enough to realistically recreate most items, but there are devices such as laser scanners that can digitally recreate objects with an extremely accurate level of detail. Such "plans" could be released through the usual "pirate" channels, making it near impossible to stop. Perhaps the "plastic resin" needed to "print" these items might make it cost-prohibitive, but otherwise, it's definitely going to happen! Rather than having to deal with shady companies or back-alley crooks selling knock-off items, you can just "print" your "Spongebob" drinking cup at home! Welcome to the New World!

Ground Floor Opportunity

As "Clok1966" mentioned, these devices need "plans" to create objects from, and the ability to create these "plans" is beyond the abilities of most people. However, those who do have such technical abilities might be able to make money selling their own plans! If you create interesting decorative items using "CAD" programs, you might be able to get a cult following for your plans! 3D printers could open up a whole new "craft" hobby alongside "macrame" or "doll-making." You could sell plans for toys, trinkets, cups, model kits, and even functional items of practical use!

Heck, just off the top of my head, I could see making plans for "Dungeons and Dragons" style tabletop figurines! I'd design fighters, mages, monsters, "loot" items, and so forth. The players could then print as many "orcs" as needed! All the nerds will buy my plans! Mo' money, mo' money! MwaHaHaHaHa!!!!

You Can Do CAD!

Although "CAD" might seem to be a technical field that would seem beyond the abilities of most people, basic usage of most "CAD" programs is not as obscure as most of you might think. I don't think CAD is beyond the abilities of anyone here on AA, especially if you've messed with 3D art programs such as Blender, Maya, or Lightwave before. Even now it's commonplace to convert objects from 3D art programs to AutoCAD DXF files, so perhaps you don't even need a CAD program, and can just use Blender to design your objects!

There's lots of fascinating possibilities (and controversies) on the horizon with the arrival of 3D printing. Some of the more expensive current 3D printers can print larger objects with greater accuracy than the "Solidoodle," but as the prices come down, I can see 3D printing being a great hobby or source of income for some people.

Unfortunately, I don't see 3D printing being as commonplace as a regular printer. Most people can use a "paper" printer to print photos and documents, but the need to print physical objects is not a regular need for most people. I can see small businesses or individuals (computer shops, storefront print shops) adding this service to make money, though. Maybe that individual is you!

TripHamer
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In any case it's getter a lot

In any case it's getter a lot closer to where I'd consider buying one.

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Bill Loguidice
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Here's a Kickstarter for a 3D

Here's a Kickstarter for a 3D printer that has already been funded: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/deezmaker/buko-3d-printer-raising-th...

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Bill Loguidice
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Wired's 10 cool things to

Wired's 10 cool things to make with your 3D printer: http://www.wired.com/design/2012/05/10-makerbot-projects/?utm_source=twi...

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clok1966
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ikeep convincing myslef not

ikeep convincing myslef not to buy this stuff, and you keep showing my reason to buy it STOP IT!!!!! :)

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