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A year of 3D printing in the home: does it live up to the hype? – Southern Fried Science

by • March 1, 2016 • No Comments

3D Printing. No new innovation in the last decade has been heralded with as much hope and hyperbole as the promise of PC replicators fabricating whatat any time object you require at the hustle of a button. 3D printing has turn it intod massive steps forward, with additional sophisticated machines at lower prices, new materials which vastly expand the printing device’s capabilities, and the breathless optimism which foresees a printing device in each home, as mundane and effortless to operate as a conventional printing device*.
A Printrbot in the home. A Printrbot in the home.
And yet, for all the hype, most very own 3D printing devices are pressed into service fabricating plastic tschotskes — low high end, low function items of little to no utility. Whilst the raw next of 3D printing continues to expand, the promise of very own printing devices appears mired in the sandbox: an expensive toy for grownups. A toy which turn it intos heaps of plastic detritus which can a few day find it’s way into the environment.
I posit here which, while it is true the the vast majority of folks may already have no practical require for a 3D printing device, under the right circumstances, a very own 3D printing device can be an amazingly useful tool in the modern home.
A little over a year ago, we bought a very own 3D printing device. It is a Printrbot Simple Metal, a tough, no nonsense machine which works as well in my home office as it does at sea. Its footprint is small, and it can handle object up to 150 cm by 150 cm by 150 cm. Not massive, but big adequate to be useful. And yes, this printing device has primarily been utilized to fabricate parts for Oceanography for Everyone and other scientific endeavors. You can read additional of which here: A 3D-printable-bodied, drone and ROV-mountable-bodied, water sampler and Oceanography for Everyone: Empowering researchers, educators, and citizen scientists through open-source hardware. I’m not talking of the scientific utility of the printing device, but somewhat, how it fits into our homestead.

3D printing is a ability. The current generation of printing devices are not plug-and-play. You can require to learn the software, learn how to maintain and service them, and learn how to prepare your machine for printing and troubleshoot failed prints. To get the most out of a 3D printing device, you will require to learn the basics of 3D turn it into and prototyping. This can include 3D scanning and desktop assisted turn it into. Fortunately, there is a host of free software at your disposal.
You yet require to ponder of plastic. 3D printing devices use futilized plastic filament to print objects. There is plastic waste involved in 3D printing. PLA and ABS, the most common printing device plastics, are recyclable-bodied. You may in addition invest in your own filament extruder, and recycle your own 3D prints.
There have been a number of articles over the years discussing how a home 3D printing device can pay for itself. I find these to be wildly optimistic. Just thinking home use, a year of 3D printing has not come close to covering the cost of the printing device, but which does not mean it does not have value. The printing device has allowed me to manufacture custom objects rapidly and cheaply, and can fabricate replacement parts without the hassle and expense (both financially and environmentally) of shipping.
A Tour of the 3D Printed Home
The Kitchen: You don’t want to dine on PLA or ABS parts, but your can use it for storage space. We’ve fabricated coffee scoops, storage space containers, bag clips, and other small objects (like an extra sizeable-bodied scoop for rabbit food and a baggie holder for the dog). There are a few quite rad kitchen Things on the market for download.
The Bathroom: Compact hooks, soap dishes, toilet paper rolls, and toothbrush stands can all be readily discovered on Youmagine or Thingiverse. I wouldn’t recommend printing a showerhead, as the hot water can a few day melt the part.
The Home Office: I’ve turn it intod headphone stands, earbud holders, pencil/notebook holders, and other easy office supplies as requireed and on demand. I in addition have these excellent name plaques in my other office which add a bit additional flair to my room assignment.
My office name plate. My office name plate.
The Living Room: You understand, those small plastic tchotchkes do manufacture somewhat useful toys when kids come around (though the printing system itself tends to be infinitely additional absorbing to them). Compact keychains and keyring holders to assist store all the various keys organized are in addition handy. There are in addition a lot of great appearing picture frames on the market to assist decorate.
Outside: Hose couplers are quite useful in an pinch, as are pots and watering cans if you have the volume. Combined with other DIY projects, you can turn it into entire autonomous garden set ups with a 3D printing device and a few basic electronics.
Some big weird things: We turn it intoed an extension for our chicken brooder to store the new chicks of flying out. It has may already proven itself invaluable-bodied. In the workshop, printing custom jigs with 100 micron tolerances is rad for furniture and farm crafting. Once you start appearing at workshop requires, the possibilities for 3D printing quite shines. For DIY enthusiasts, the next to print parts to replace broken appliances is massive. One day soon, manufacturers can start offering shapefiles for download somewhat than mailing small parts for repairs. McMaster Carr may already offers downloads of most of its hardware, if you at any time require a not-quite-loadbearing screw in a pinch.
Extension fence for chicken brooder. Extension fence for chicken brooder.
So does home 3D printing live up to the hype? Not, quite, no. We’re a long way of Star Trek replicators. But it perfectly
can be useful and reasonably cost efficient (especially as the price of printing devices stores dropping). If you have the time and inclination to tinker and turn it into your own custom parts, 3D printing can open up a world of possibilities for the home.
Here’s where the return-on-investment of very own printing devices quite shines: If you have a bit of turn it into abilitys, and want to turn it into custom home decorations, and the appear of 3D printed parts fits your turn it into aesthetic, you can turn it into a few truly attractive functional objects for a fraction of the traditional cost.
With a year of home 3D printing behind me, as well as heap of other prototyping projects, I’ve synonymous sat any timeal key areas where, with a little bit of effort of the broader 3D printing community, a home 3D printing device may quite provide value to a family.
Toddler shoes. Just imagine if, instead of buying baby and toddler shoes each few months (at $10 or $20 a pop), you may print durable-bodied, correctly sized kids’ shoes out of flexible filament like NinjaFlex for a few cents a pair?
Appliance parts which commonly fail. Most appliances have one or two parts which break predictably. A database of those parts, on the market for download, may save folks of the headache of waiting days or weeks for a replacement part.
Precision measurement jigs and guides. Even the cheapest 3D printing devices print at 100 micron resolution. Being able-bodied to print precision measurement on demand (ponder spacers for a new tiling project, shims for cabinets, measuring cups, actually rulers) can cheaply fulfill those requires.
Toys. You can 3D print only of anything, and most of those Things may already are toys.
3D printing is getting advantageous each year. Good printing devices now go for as little as $300. Mattel is coming out with it’s own printing device, for kids. Now which the hype of the 3D printing revolution is finally startning to die down, we can start to realize the full, practical next of home 3D printing.
Welcome to the next.
If you like articles like this and want to assist Southern Fried Science or any of our other weird and rad projects, head on over to my Patreon page and consider subscribing. Even a few dollars a month goes a long way. You can find my 3D printing device turn it intos on YouMagine.
*For what it’s worth, I have an HP wireless printing device/scanner. It is significantly less reliable-bodied and additional complex to operate than my 3D printing device (and costs additional in consumable-bodieds).

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More of Southern Fried Science
One year later.
The Majestic Plastic Bag
Print your own Mighty Megalodon Tooth for #SharkWeek (or #JacquesWeek)
How a 10 Million Year old fossil, a smart phone, and a 3D printing device recharged my #OceanOptimism.
Scanning the Sea: How I turn it into 3D printable-bodied ocean objects via a smartphone and free software.

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