The time has finally arrived. After months of anticipation, our Makerbot Replicator 2X 3D Printer is on it’s way from New York to it’s new home at JPro Studios. 3D printing is a technology we have had our eye on for a while. Recent projects have encouraged us to look further into the technology and what I can do for our customers. There are many machines out there with various degrees of resolution, and ability. The Replicator 2X suited our needs best, but there was a waiting list until it released finally this week. We’ve received confirmation that it is en route and should be here by the end of next week.
JPro Studios has been doing CNC machining for several years now. CNC machining (or milling) is what is called a “subtractive process”. This means you start with a piece of material, many times in our case this is foam. And you remove pieces of it until it looks like your desired part. You are left with your sculpture or shape, and a pile of dust. This is the process the great masters used when sculpting from marble. – Subtractive process. A 3D printer is very much a CNC machine, in that it uses numeric code to control the robotic internals of the machine to move here, or there. However, instead of removing material, it is adding it. it only puts material where you want it. There is little waste if any. It’s applications are very much different than CNC Milling. Some of it’s limitations are:
-Speed: It is a very slow process, some projects may take as long as 24 hours or longer to print.
-Size: The 3D printing technology of today, limits us to parts of a reasonably small volume. We will be able to print almost anything you could fit in a 9.7 L x 6.0 W x 6.1 H in box.
-Material: Right now, we’ll have the ability to print ABS plastic. With the ability to print PLA (a plastic made from corn) in the near future. Other materials may be available in time.
This is really where the biggest differences are. Our CNC machine of course can cut certain materials 8ft x 4ft x 8in thick. And in many cases in much less time than 24 hours.
In the near future, we’ll be showcasing some projects that can be made on the 3D Printer. It is a very handy tool for rapid prototyping of small projects and ideas. I am confident that as we use it, we’ll find more and more uses for it, and we hope our clients will too.
Here is a timelapse video done of a scale model of a building. This was done in the maximum build volume at the finest resolution setting (slowest, but most detailed). This print took 24 hours to complete, so it’s sped up quite a bit. A model of this detail level built from scratch would take weeks by hand, and would cost a great deal more than what it cost to have printed.