Fig. B: A growing map of fabber “garages” around the world. Not 100,000 yet, but it’s a start. Fig. C: An Adafruit
Industries Ice Tube Clock kit with a laser-cut acrylic enclosure. Fig. D: The newest RepRap, Version II “Mendel.”
It’s both bigger and smaller than Version I: it can make bigger things, but is physically much smaller.
Fig. E: CandyFab is an open source 3D printer designed to print candy or other 3D objects using low-melting-point materials like sugar.
reproduced elsewhere, by many others.
And the prices for both “subtractive 3D printers”
(CNC tools) and 3D additive printers have become
much more affordable. Together, these digital
fabrication tools contribute to the emerging
understanding of how digital models of practically
anything can be translated into real objects: a laser
cutter can make a plexiglass clock, a 3D additive
printer can produce a housing for an electronics
project, and a ShopBot can cut out children’s
furniture. Digital fabrication makes a new type of
Phillip Torrone and Limor Fried, Adafruit
Industries, open source hardware pioneers and
electronics kit-makers adafruit.com
We’re cautiously optimistic about 3D printing.
We’d love to use one just like we use our Epilog 35W
laser — to create enclosures and cases for kits in an
economical way. The laser cutter ($20,000 a couple
72 Make: Volume 21
years ago) paid for itself many times over. But as
2009 ends, there isn’t a 3D printer for what we want
to do at a price that makes sense for us yet.
We’re on the lookout for a $10,000-range printer
that can produce models with fairly good structural
strength, can support things like threaded screws,
and with good “cosmetic quality” without needing
to paint, sand, and finish the model. We might get
a CNC machine, or go with injection molding, and
we’ll likely continue investigating contract 3D printing services for now, since it’s more affordable than
settling on a so-so machine.
That said, the Solido 3D printer ( solido3d.com)
caught our eye. It uses sheets of plastic, cut out with
glue and anti-glue, and builds up the model a sheet
at a time. While there are variations, the Solido uses
a PVC-based plastic, it can be drilled, it’s dust- and
powder-free, and it's just under $10,000.
And, we think CandyFab and Bathsheba Grossman’s art are two of the coolest things we’ve seen.