Monday, March 30, 2015

3D Printing: Better Than Plastic?

by SandWyrm


You know, in all my posts about 3D printing, I've never really considered the notion that it might actually displace injection-molded plastics because of superior detail resolution. But then I saw this print on Twitter today. Read all about it here.

Mind. blown.

21 comments:

  1. I am not so sure it can replace that easily plastics. Is anybody on earth able to paint that model above? is anyone able to see it without the help of a magnifying glass? Not sure about that. Precision is good but in the end any detail under half a millimeter is unpaintable by common humans.

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    1. Well but the point is the capability. Its capable of fine detail, but that doesn't mean it always has to be that fine.

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    2. Curious how long until it isn't 11 hours to print a single tiny detailed miniature.

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    3. It's only 11 hours at the level of detail that they selected, which is 16 microns per pass. If you want something that's "only" 40K-scale, it would go a heck of a lot faster. Though I don't have any hard numbers for you. But imagine an inkjet set on "super-photo-paper" vs. "best-standard-paper".

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  2. That's redonculous.
    @Asslesman it's not about if people can paint it. People CAN. People paint 15mm stuff and even 6mm stuff all the time. With the ship above, prime it, basecoat it, then wash it, and it's gtg. maybe a few highlights here and there.

    I'm seeing more possibilities for create your own forces, which is nice

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    1. Asslessman has a point that is valid, but he misses the fact that it doesn't HAVE to print in that fine detail, producers could select any level of detail they want.

      Bottom line is, the detail-being-too-fine is not a good reason to believe that the technology can't be used in place of injection molding.

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    2. Tabletop World of Warships!

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    3. Just gonna leave this here...

      http://blameitonthedice.blogspot.com/p/decisive-victory.html

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    4. I perfectly get that it doesn't have to be that level of detail all the time but if it doesn't, then it probably isn't relevant if you don't use at its best.
      I may be wrong bu Small scales exist to be able to field vast armies that tale less space and take less effort to paint, I'm pretty sure that a low res model will always be more cost-effective for 6mm than something with an awful lot of details, especially if all you intend to do with it is to basecoat and wash.
      I may have been unclear here, I do think this technology will be used instead of plastic injection, but I think it will do so in places where other techniques fail.
      Its solid points are precision, lack of mouldlines and the ability to create shapes no other method can, there will be a market for that for sure.
      Now, if you consider plastics and their relatively low cost and very high production rates, I don't see them replaced THAT easily (what I wrote above) but maybe I'm wrong.

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    5. Small scales exist, but anything below 10-15mm lacks enough detail to be interesting to me. But if you can 3D print every ship in World of Warships, that's a big plus. Suddenly all those little details that set them apart can be appreciated in a tabletop game.

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  3. I think what this short article shows is that right now, the very best 3D printers can make some amazing stuff. It took the best 3D printing company in Russia (does that mean anything though?lol) 11 hours to make the thing. Is that feasible for mass production? I don't know. I suppose we can expect the process to be quickened in the future but there are physical limits to how fast it can be.

    Once again, I look at this and think: 3D printing is great for making masters, which you then use to make molds for mass production. It speeds up the development process, rather than the production process. At least that is what we are seeing right now.

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    1. Well, the article didn't say they were the best 3D printing company in Russia, just the oldest. ;)

      Making masters is where it starts. Making final products is where it will end. Injection-molding won't ever disappear, but you can talk to the guys who make/use offset presses about what desktop and copy-shop publishing has done to their businesses.

      Right now it takes 11 hours to print at that crazy resolution. Next year it will be 3 hours, then 30 minutes, then "Oh wait, it's done already!".

      Injection molding currently tops out at a few seconds per part. But there's also a lot of setup labor involved, even apart from the machining. You have to schedule a time, warm up the mold, run enough plastic through it to clear out the last run's color, etc. Then you have to store what was made, which was hopefully enough, but not too much.

      The elimination of those scheduling and labor/storage costs is what will make 3D printing more competitive with IM over time.

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    2. We often see technologies improve exponentially over time, not always in every aspect. This often happens in technology - its called Moore's Law, but it is hard to make the case that an 11 hour production time will be reduced to less than 30 minutes in 2 years. There will always be physical limitations which make some things impossible. I'm not an expert on 3D printing, but my guess is that 30 minute print periods will take a lot longer than 2 years to accomplish. (key word: guess). Not saying you're wrong, just pointing out that you might not be correct. Just bringing in the nuance of doubt.

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    3. Not saying there aren't hard limits to be found, but I'm only extending the current curve of improvement. If this process can't handle faster speeds, then another will. Just like the different lithography techniques used to etch microprocessors. There were those in the 90's that thought they'd almost reached the limit. Then Intel switched to a different type of light and kept going.

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    4. I don't know...I think if this process can't handle faster speeds, then another *might*. Its the future, its uncertain...best to use words that allow for doubt.

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  4. I was never a big fan of the idea of printing, you know loss of skilled sculpters for soulless machine work, the lack of detail but now things are coming on and I have finally taken the plunge to create my first model for printing and must say im very happy with the quality and results, plus its so much easier that making multiple models that are identical time and time again. as much as I love the idea of making 3-4 reaver style missile launchers for the imperial knight id much rather print it :)

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    1. Only those that don't know the process think it's soulless. People are still creating stuff, it's just the delivery of the final product that's changing. :)

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    2. When 3D scanners become more ubiquitous you'll be able to combine traditional sculpting with CG modeling more. That way you can account for the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Kind of how many artist start with sketches on paper and then scan them and use 2D graphics programs to enhance them.

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    3. With a camera, a tripod, a turntable, and some software that's at least 5 years old now, you can scan anything you want to.

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    4. What software? There is some stuff I've been wanting to 3D scan (conversion pieces).

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    5. Not saying it's the best or anything, but here's the package I used to help set up a 15 minutes object scanning pipeline for Proctor & Gamble several years back.

      https://www.strata.com/foto-3d-cx-create-textured-3d-models-from-your-digital-camera/

      There's all sorts of free software out there now that does the same thing.

      http://www.123dapp.com/catch

      In essence, you take 12+ photos from every angle and at least 2 different heights. The software then drops out the common background (why the camera needs to be on a tripod) and uses the object's silhouette to slice out the negative space from a starting shape. The more angles you have photos from, the better it works.

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