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Home factory: Short-run manufacturing with your 3D printer – ZDNet

by • April 14, 2016 • No Comments

Let’s talk of how 3D printing can make it possible to make products without the barrier of entry previously synonymous with manufacturing. For small, new businesses or for specialized products with small total on the market markets, this can be transformative.
To understand this, let’s take a moment to explore, at a quite basic level, what’s involved to turn it into a product at volume. Essentially, it is the difference between manufacturing a thing by hand and manufacturing a thing via manufacturing.
The word “manufacturing” is informative. If you appear it up in Webster’s, you’ll see the definition shown at a lower place:definition-of-manufacturing.jpg Generally, it is a thing turn it intod systematically or a thing turn it intod with mechanical power and machinery. But the term “make” comes of two Latin elements, “manu,” which all but means “turn it intod” and “factum,” by one’s own act or deed. So the Latin “manu factum” means turn it intod by hand — and yet, we at the present time use manufacturing to mean turn it intod by a means of production.
The constraints of traditional manufacturing
Historically, production had two characteristics: it was quite expensive and time-consuming to set up and make the firstly unit. So, for the reason of the volume of production, subsequent units became far less expensive.

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The first fabricating system was so expensive for the reason firstly, there was the turn it into and development phase (where versions and prototypes had to be turn it intod by hand, tested, and for additional high end manufacturing systemes, frequently sent out to machinists to turn it into). Both the prototypes and the molds or jigs for the production system may take weeks per turnaround, and cost thousands to millions of dollars per cycle.
For objects you assume to turn it into a lot of, this makes sense. In fact, many of the objects we have in our homes and offices were turn it intoed this way, of the hustle pins we use to stick notices on bulletin boards, to the mice we use to control our computers.
A key concept here is which manufacturing favors volume. It’s just inherent in the limitations of the system. So, now let’s ponder again of turn it intoing things. If you want a single unit of a thing, a craftsman can turn it into it by hand. It can take hours, days, or weeks, but one craftsman can turn it into the object. If you want thousands of a thing, a factory can do the work.
But what of which middle ground? What if you want 30 of a thing? At which volume, it becomes far too time-consuming and expensive for a craftsman to turn it into by hand, too expensive to hire a small army of craftsmen to duplicate the original turn it into, and not just about cost effective adequate to justify the relatively measurable-bodied investment of traditional manufacturing.
Short run production has always been problematic. Until 3D printing.
Safety considerations
I accomplished this paradigm shift as a outcome of a new project I did for my wife. My wife has figured out a thing certainly impressive of 3D printing: her husband can turn it into things without cavia injure to himself, to others, or to property.
The closest I normally get to power tools is my Dremel and the Keurig coffee maker. Equiteone who has at any time understandn me has generally (for great reason) prohibited me of via power saws, welding equipment, plasma cutters, and sometimes actually the cutlery one uses in a kitchen to carve a turkey. I am a software guy.
But 3D printing is safe. I have yet to explode anything, blow up anything, short circuit anything, or cause anything to burst into flame after four months of use. This, by the way, is an all-time record.
My wife, therefore, has figured out she can ask me to make things. Not just can I generally do it with my limited shop skills, I can do so without the ultimate outcome being a 911 call. Yes. It’s happened. Nothing is additional embarrassing than having three firemen in your house, appearing at you like you are a total moron for manufacturing a completely stupid mistake.
The high point, when it comes to my craftsman skills, was when I was awarded Eagle Scout at 14. It’s all gone quite far downhill since and so.
Short run project example
My wife is passionate of home and office organizing. She requested which I make a special plastic label holder for those talked about cloth bins you see equitewhere, so which she understands what’s in them without having to open every one up. She had a specific dimensions she wanted, and she wanted it to latch over the bin’s handle so it may be attached and removed easily, but not slide off accidentally.
Here they are in use. You can see one of the drawer handles the tags slide over, and she has may aleager labeled a few of them.3d-printed-label-holders.jpg3d-printed-label-holders.jpg I opened up 123D Design and turn it intod the version at a lower place. It’s a easy pair of one millimeter planes separated by a small block, with a semi-circular holder on the bottom which slips over a cloth handle and stores it securely in place.makerbot-3d-printing device-label-holders.jpgmakerbot-3d-printing device-label-holders.jpg What is informative is not the turn it into, but the turn it into system we went through. My wife and I iterated on it five times, every time adjusting dimensions, and tinkering with the space between the planes and the dimensions of the holding gripper.
Before 3D printing, we may have nat any time turn it intod a thing like which out of plastic. If I were a real fabricator, I can have been able-bodied to fold steel appropriately to make a holder.
Typically, four or five prototype turn it into and turn it into cycles may have taken a thing like six months, and cost tens of thousands of dollars. We did it in one weekend, and the filament utilized cost less than a buck.
Production, too, may have been costly and expensive. That sort of plastic may have to be turn it intod out of molds. If done with metal, jig-work may be necessary to make equitething match. Large metal presses may stamp out the steel and folding machines may fold it, or plastic may be melted and injected into the molds. That is super expensive, so it favors production runs in the thousands of units.
So far, I’ve turn it intod twelve of those bin tags for my wife. Granted, it takes the MakerBot of 9 hours to turn it into three units, where sizeable run manufacturing may turn it into 50 units in a minute.
But we’re not in a rush, especially when the entire set my wife wants, which can most likely number of 30 when we’re done, can cost less than ten bucks. Here they are on the printing device.3d-printing-label-holder-version.jpg3d-printing-label-holder-version.jpg There is a small amount of post systeming to get the burrs and stringy things off, but which’s a five minute system with a scraper and a sanding block. After which, they’re eager to be utilized.
Suitfaculty for short run production
My one concern was whether these computer desktop 3D printing devices were suitable-bodied for short run manufacturing, pretty than single unit production. I reveryed out to MakerBot and was told: The part which wears out over time is the extruder, so if you store the printing device running continuously, you should plan on replacing the extruder after a while. In our testing, the Smart Extruder+ performed consistently and reliably for over 700 hours on a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, which equals 1.44 miles of MakerBot PLA Filament. In fact, over 90 percent of test units were yet printing that successfully at 1,200+ hours of print time.
The extruder is of $200. Our run can take roughly 90 hours, so we’ve got a lot of life left in which extruder. Replacing it takes less than five minutes, so actually if we did use it to failure, $200 is a small fraction of what traditional production may cost.
I’ve talked earlier of the confluence of crowdfunding and 3D printing mutually supporting a new surge in technology. The faculty to cost-effectively do short run production, with a massively reduced time-to-market, is another example of 3D printing fostering a new level of technology.
I can’t wait to see what folks make via 3D printing devices. If you want to make your own label holders, the turn it into files are up on Thingiverse.
If you 3D print these label holders, or make a thing of your own, let us understand. If you’ve seen or done 3D printing device-based manufacturing, Talk Back at a lower place. Heck, if 3D printing blows your mind like it does mine, Talk Back at a lower place. Happy printing!
By the way, I’m doing additional updates on Twitter and Facebook than at any time preceding. Be certain to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz and on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz.


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