As regular readers may know, I am fascinated by things which may prove to be the ‘wave of the future’, but which today look and feel odd or ungainly. So welcome to Makerbot Thing-o-matic which is a build it yourself kit for a 3D printer. I have used 3-D printers at work and they are gob-smacking. When designing a complex object it is easy to make design errors. With 3-D printing it is possible to reasonably cheaply produce an exact replica of the 3-D object in plastic with the surface feel and hardness of lego. This allows us to try out designs before manufacture in a more expensive material by more laborious routes. If we wanted the thing made in plastic it would be finished in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks.
We have all become used to being able to print images, but the transition to printing objects puts amazing power into ones hands – the power to create without having to learn about machining or carpentry, and I think this is the wave of the future. For now this is a slightly inelegant $1000 toy. But if it were mass produced it could easily become a much cheaper everyday workhorse.
- The Thing-o-matic web site : this is a DIY kit – more professional models (e.g. Hewlett Packard) are available.
- Printing Videos (rather crude but gives you a good ides)
- The Thing-i-verse often rather crude, but gives some hint of the possibilities
- 3-D Scanner for capturing an objects shape
I really think these will be everywhere soon: What do you think?