Two years ago, a golden future was predicted for 3D printing. It was the future for retail, education, laboratories and the rest of the world. We looked at the Star Trek replicator. At least, the imagination of it.
As with everything from Gartner’s hypeycle, the gap between promise and reality is now slowly shrinking. Because it is possible to print rocket engines. That actually happens, even on the assembly line. Elon Musk’s SpaceX company uses Velo3D’s technology for this. 3D printing is faster and more cost efficient. At the lower end of the market it is IKEA that uses 3D printing. The FREKVENS product line includes a speaker and lighting and the buyer can customize the appearance of these with their own 3D printer. The Swedes are giving away the blueprints digitally. In short: producing items and parts is no longer a manufacturer’s monopoly. The Czech Prusa recently released its Mini printer. It is known for its build quality and ease of use. An entry-level model for interested parties who can rely on chat and good community support. Fun for the hacking consumer, useful for companies that want to test processes, ideas and prototypes. One point that remains: the slow speed of the printing process. The replicator does that much better.
Closer than you think
Consumer applications of 3D printed objects are steadily seeping into our households. Think of a MINI for which you can have personalized panels printed, handles of Gillette razors with separate shapes, but also accessories for printers and vacuum cleaners from Miele.
It is not convenient to have to invent the wheel yourself. That is why there are several forums and marketplaces where hobbyists exchange tips and blueprints. At Prusa that is Prusaprinters.org, but you also have the international Thingiverse and also Shapeways (with Dutch roots).
Commercial space travel is taking shape as it becomes more affordable. That’s where 3D printing of missiles comes in. SpaceX makes its engines like this, but it is not Relativity Space, which wants to manufacture up to 95 percent of the rocket in such a way. In a warehouse in Delft, Dawn Aerospace is working on affordable space engines. It recently received 385,000 euros from the ESA.
What users say
Experts on social media receive Prusa Mini well. Prusa has been a renowned maker for some time now and is known for its ‘better than Chinese’ quality. The kits are easy to assemble and use and deliver good quality products. The Mini is quiet, fits neatly on your desk and has an LED screen with print previews.
Afmetingen: 180 x 180 x 180 mm
Speed: 200 mm / s
Layer height: 0.05 – 0.25 mm
Connectivity: Ethernet RJ45, WiFi, USB
Color screen LED (with preview option)
Supports: PLA, PETG, ASA, ABS and flex
Price: 379 euros
* This article previously appeared in the December issue of Emerce magazine (# 181).
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