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Cheap 3D Fab Could Start an Innovation Renaissance

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the ab-fab dept.

Hardware Hacking 258

blackbearnh writes "An article over on O'Reilly Radar makes the argument that, just as inexpensive or free software development environments have led to a cornucopia of amazing Web and mobile applications, the plummeting cost of 3D fabrication equipment could enable myriad new physical inventions. The article was prompted by a new Kickstarter project, which if funded will attempt to produce a DIY CNC milling system for under $400. Quoting: 'We're already seeing the cool things that people have started doing with 3D fab at the higher-entry-level cost. Many of them are ending up on Kickstarter themselves, such as an iPhone 4 camera mount that was first prototyped using a 3D printer. Now I'm dying to see what we'll get when anyone can create the ideas stuck in their heads.'"

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FRIDAY! (-1, Offtopic)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 4 years ago | (#34516234)

We're no strangers to love. You know the rules and so do I.
A full commitment's what I'm thinking of. You wouldn't get this from any other guy.
I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling. Gotta make you understand.

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

We've known each other for so long Your heart's been aching but You're too shy to say it
Inside we both know what's been going on We know the game and we're gonna play it
And if you ask me how I'm feeling Don't tell me you're too blind to see

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

(Ooh, give you up) (Ooh, give you up) (Ooh) Never gonna give, never gonna give
(Give you up) (Ooh) Never gonna give, never gonna give (Give you up)

We've know each other for so long Your heart's been aching but You're too shy to say it
Inside we both know what's been going on We know the game and we're gonna play it
I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling Gotta make you understand

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

Re:FRIDAY! (3, Funny)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#34516300)

+1 Informative, if only because I've never been bothered to make out what Rick Astley was mumbling between choruses.

Re:FRIDAY! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516498)

Wow. A 3 digit UID troll being made fun of by a 4 digit UID. Isn't /. great?

Re:FRIDAY! (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#34516688)

Yes it is.

Re:FRIDAY! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516532)

I've got an idea in my head and soon it will be in my ass -- a horse-cock dildo!

Re:FRIDAY! (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#34516956)

Your head is a horse-cock dildo?

Creating the ideas stuck in our heads (1)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#34516576)

"Dude, you need to download this CNC file, man, wait 'till you see what it does!"
Downloads file, begins printing...
And a tiny mechanical Rick Astley begins to sing.

"Haha, good one, man, good one. Pretty funny. But wait 'till you see what I found! No, seriously, it's not Rick Astley."
Downloads file, begins printing...
A large mechanical penis appears, gyrating suggestively.

Yes, I would really like to see those ideas that are stuck in our heads. The "creativity" will be truly inspiring.

Re:Creating the ideas stuck in our heads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516682)

Here, try this link on your desktop CNC: href='goatse.cx/3dmodel.dwg'

or maybe this one: href='two-girls-one-cup.net/animatronic_with_built-in_impeller pump.dwg'

Re:Creating the ideas stuck in our heads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516800)

Hey, give the original thread back, you thief!

Re:FRIDAY! (2)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#34516634)

How long before someone creates a tiny singing mechanical Rick Astley and names the file "NakedAngelinaJolie.cnc?"

Excuse me, but.. (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 4 years ago | (#34516248)

I need to apply for patent lawyer school, pronto.

That, or... (4, Insightful)

DWMorse (1816016) | about 4 years ago | (#34516264)

"What? They want $50 for that part?? Screw that, I can make it myself for $10."

And thus, a new legal conglomeration will be formed, akin to the RIAA and MPAA, but this time to sue people for owning fabrication gear.

Re:That, or... (4, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 4 years ago | (#34516486)

Not until they start trading commercially developed CNC path programs for the parts.

Anyone can make their own music and movies, it just turns out that you get a much more polished product that doesn't take dozens or hundreds (or more) hours of your own time.

The question will be come whether sharing or selling the digital reverse-engineered program you feed to your 3D printer is legal. Physical items are generally not copyrightable, and I believe selling copies of patents (which describe HOW to make an item) is also legal. Now, if a CNC path is simply a set of descriptive data describing a physical object, it may also fall outside of a "creative work." That kind of stuff should clog the courts for a while...if this every takes off. How many people are going to drop $400 and several hundred hours of time to make personal replacement parts?

Re:That, or... (5, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | about 4 years ago | (#34516530)

The path may well be counted as IP and, hence, licensable. CNC programmers (I used to work at an aerospace parts manufacturer, hence why I know this tidbit) can create the same part in many different ways, depending on how fast or how efficient they want the process to be.

So while a model file showing all the dimensions of a part may be freely tradeable, the machine path required to build that part in the least time or least material may well be copyrightable under current laws.

O'course, it could always be counted as a trade secret, but that's another kettle of beans altogether.

Re:That, or... (1)

TheL0ser (1955440) | about 4 years ago | (#34516660)

What if the path is generated by the software? The CNC software I remember using in a class would design a path for you. Granted, most of the time it was terrible, but it still would auto-generate.

Would only a single path be copyrightable? Would other paths that give the same product be considered a derivative work? What about one that was less efficient?

I have a feeling the lawyers are going to be discussing this one for a while

Re:That, or... (2)

KublaiKhan (522918) | about 4 years ago | (#34516780)

If generated automatically by the software, then the path would derive the copyright on the software license that generated it, I think. All the more reason to generate your own paths by hand, then. ;-p

But yes, this seems to be a particularly fertile area of legal ambiguity. The IP flamewars over this are going to be -epic-. I'm going to have to buy stock in popcorn manufacturers.

Re:That, or... (2)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 4 years ago | (#34516788)

Why buy stock in popcorn manufacturers when everyone is now going to have the ability to fabricate their own popcorn?

Re:That, or... (2)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#34517048)

Imagine the power to turn any cheese into Swiss cheese... !!!

Re:That, or... (2)

TheL0ser (1955440) | about 4 years ago | (#34517268)

We already have that. It's called a shotgun.

Re:That, or... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#34516812)

That's not subject to copyright law. It's a trade secret, but the parts are not subjected to copyright, and neither are the plans. It's not anymore subject to copyright than the results of last nights sports game.

And the machine path is even less protected than the designs are. It's governed based upon the rules of physics, not creativity and finding an efficient way of doing it is in and of itself a spur to innovation.

Re:That, or... (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | about 4 years ago | (#34516926)

That's what I would have said about sorting algorithms years ago, but there's more than enough wharrgarble out there about software patents these days...

Re:That, or... (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 4 years ago | (#34516646)

Not true exactly--

You can already get reasonably inexpensive stereoscopic analysis software (Like photomodeler scanner) that, with the recent Kinect drivers, could be used to scan a 3D object VERY quickly- Could be used to rapid fabricate otherwise expensive parts.

Granted, you would need to know how to make your own 3D toolpaths, but that is not, strictly speaking, terribly hard.

What I want to know is if their 400$ mill is 3 axis, or 4(+) axis-- and also, does it accept G-code. If so, what post processor does it prefer? Does it support any industry De-Facto extensions, like Mazak Mazatrol operations? Etc.. Etc..

Re:That, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516876)

I count 3 stepper motors/rails on the sketch in the article, I'm guessing 3-axis.

Re:That, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516734)

Not many individuals, but lots of guys do hands-on stuff for a living.

I could see a small machine shop buying a cheapo CNC machine. Maybe an engine rebuilding shop would have one just for making gaskets.

Re:That, or... (0)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | about 4 years ago | (#34516796)

Until someone starts writing programs that result in the CNC g-codes.

I'm reminded of a time when I was expressly forbidden from inserting my name or email address into the source code of a program I was writing for a communications company. Mind you, this was a private - corporate application that would never see public use....I didn't understand it, developer contact info in source code is a pretty standard practice. So I didn't put my name or email address into the application. I created an SQL query that ultimately resulted in my name and email address. It was an ominous looking query that really didn't do anything other than pick pieces of the table structure apart and perform weird calculations to achieve ascii codes and other nonsense to assemble the output.

Eventually, another developer looked at it and went to management saying that it was a backdoor into the system and that I was hacking their network. When I was contacted by their legal council I suggested that they hire a developer that knew what he was talking about. About a week later I received another call informing me that they would not be filing charges.

I never heard anything else from or about them after that....

Re:That, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34517362)

Cool story. I'm sure it really happened. I also see how it's relevant to the current conversation.

Re:That, or... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34516808)

Add one to your count right now.

I would do it today, if possible. I would also attempt to provide FREE(libre and gratis) CNC paths for everything I ever do. This would mean the people could finally own the means of production, then sell the goods they produce in a free market. That last sentence should have just exploded the heads of about 50% of the slashdot population.

Re:That, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34517084)

You're just being cheeky, I like it.

Re:That, or... (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#34516928)

It is eminently possible that really widespread 3d printing(unlike novelty prototype stuff where the copies are worse and more expensive than the real thing) would simply lead to a change in the law to "address the problem". In this case [copyright.gov] , for instance, the proposal was advanced to create an entirely new form of "intellectual property" consisting of the shape of boat hulls, because it was trivial for company B to copy company A's design just by buying one, taking an impression, and then producing as many fiberglass copies as they could sell.

If memory serves, something similar was done for IC masks, and in the EU certain geographic regions now have a novel form of quasi-trademark status, not belonging to a company or person; but to a place(ie. Heinz inc. or licensees are the only ones who can see 'Heinz brand catsup'; but anybody can market sparkling wine as 'champagne' IFF it was produced in Champagne, and under no circumstances otherwise.)

I would assume that truly practical 3D printing would draw the fire of incumbents, much the same way that VCRs, MP3s, etc. did, as soon as they become economically viable. It will also be interesting to see if there is some "hardware DMCA" blocking the reproduction of parts that incorporate 'anti-reproduction-technology like microdots or GUID RFIDs or the like'...

Re:That, or... (3, Interesting)

mspohr (589790) | about 4 years ago | (#34516694)

I have an immediate need for two small plastic parts for my car front bumper which spray water on the headlights. They have broken off over the years due to encounters with snowbanks, etc. Dealer wants $110 EACH for them but they look like they cost about $1 to make. I'd love to make my own.

Re:That, or... (3, Informative)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34516770)

If you posted on the reprap forums very likely you could find someone in your area with the means to print objects in 3D.

Re:That, or... (4, Interesting)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 4 years ago | (#34516894)

Assuming he is referring to the injection nozzles, I doubt it you can make a quality part on a reprap. You can probably make ones that work, but they wouldn't be any good IMO.

Re:That, or... (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 years ago | (#34516896)

Yeah, and even with this widget you would need to

1. Find the 3D representation of the little plastic part or
2. Create the 3D representation of the little plastic part
4. Find something on the order of the correct plastic - since it was likely a mass molded part in the first place, you would have to find a plastic that had something similar to the mechanical properties of the original but was machinable
5.Set up your machine
6. Run the parts through the cycle a few times (or a hundred times depending how good a machinist your are or are not)
7.Shut the machine down, clean up, install part
8. Repeat the whole cycle when you figure out you neglected to add the little plastic tab that broke off in the first place thus starting this whole commotion.

Just buy the damn part or use duct tape... People have had DIY 3 axis machines for years with CNC capability (See weird w's post above). Sherline Tools [sherline.com] sells the canonical setup. Cost you about $1000 but you will spend many more hours and dollars learning how to use it. Even with CNC, there is an art to figuring out how to cut something complex out of a block of material.

So I don't think bringing the costs down to $400 is going to make much of a difference. It will still take lots of time and effort and the couple of hundred dollars a dremel tool based rig is going to save isn't going to get you anywhere.

Re:That, or... (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34517044)

Depends on your use case. Someone trying to reproduce parts for their car at first step is probably going to fail.

I want one for milling circuit boards and aluminum panels for synthesizer modules. A small machine like this is perfect for me.

For 3D replication, look at what the Kinect can do. It's only a matter of time before someone finalizes a 3d scanner with kinect -> print with a 3d extruder.

Re:That, or... (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 years ago | (#34517296)

The current technology allows anybody with a couple of grand and a fair bit of time build fairly complex stuff. The major impediment is a rather limited set of materials that are 'easy' to work with. Using other materials (like Stainless Steel) takes much more work).

I don't think you will see devices that can scan a complex object and then 'print it out' without much in the way of user knowledge and intervention. The actual machining aspect is only a small part of this. For your application, there are a bunch of devices that can do the job today. Heck, you can even upload your designs to a number of small run fab shops for very reasonable prices.

Extruder technology is going to be limited to stuff that you can melt or liquify. I doubt anybody has extrudable aluminum as of yet.

Re:That, or... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 4 years ago | (#34516860)

These are exactly the two possible scenarios : an innovation renaissance or a RIAA-like entity preventing it. The shape of the young 21st century will heavily depend on what happens now and how we solve these "intellectual properties" issues about patents. Can we patent "design of X as outputable by a CNC" ? If so, the renaissance is in danger.

Say, have you donated to EFF yet ?

Re:That, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516972)

Imagine if intellectual property laws existed in Star Trek. You can forget about a utopia where everybody has what they need readily available from a replicator. Providing for the entire populace isn't good for companies' bottom lines.

Re:That, or... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#34517122)

that is the plot for the story Makers by Cory Doctorow.

Re:That, or... (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | about 4 years ago | (#34517344)

that is the plot for the story Makers by Cory Doctorow.

Damn, I don't have mod points when I need them. But yeah, I was going to say that.

Link here: http://craphound.com/makers/download/ [craphound.com]

Re:That, or... (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about 4 years ago | (#34517330)

"What? They want $50 for that part?? Screw that, I can make it myself for $10."

I think you just described China's entire business strategy. Make cheap knockoffs of quality products and undersell them. Although I gotta admit the Chinese knock-offs of the small Honda engines virtually the same quality at half the cost. They even take the exact same replacement parts!

Article not proof read? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 4 years ago | (#34516322)

From TFA:
""everyone should have one" category, and out of the "gee, I wish I couple afford one" tier."

One problem (2)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#34516394)

Autocad, the only fully featured program I've ever encountered that works well with 3D manufacturing devices, is still $4,000+ dollars.

This is like the AutoCad is like the Photoshop to Gimp, in a manner of speaking. Yes you could probably find a free alternative that does what 60% of the people would use it for, but there is a reason Photoshop is still around, and a reason why both Photoshop and Autocad can charge ridiculous prices.

Supply and Demand (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | about 4 years ago | (#34516452)

While at first, at least, the open-source tools will tend to be more primitive and gimp-like, I think it's highly likely that (for instance) SketchUp and others like it will, as a response to the demand for good CAD software, become more functional.

And on the other end, AutoCAD and Catia and their ilk would be foolish not to release 'hobbyist' licenced versions at lower pricepoints. Perhaps older versions?

The motto for this particular nascent movement could well be "Si Factis, Venint"--"If you build it, they will come"

Re:One problem (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#34516454)

The guy seems to have it working with KCam http://www.kellyware.com/kcam/ [kellyware.com] ... which incidentally he'll include on a laptop along with the machine and personally deliver to your door for a donation pledge of $2500 (continental US only)

Almost makes me want to do it if only to kick myself because this was always the sort of thing I envisioned myself doing now when I was back in engineering school :P .

Re:One problem (2)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34516472)

Depends on what your goal is. There's plenty of free 3d modellers, plenty of free or cheap PCB routing software choices.

For actually controlling the mill, in linux there is ECM2 which is a robust platform. http://www.linuxcnc.org/ [linuxcnc.org]

For PCB design there are a ton of choices but a popular hobbiest choice is EAGLE from CADSoft.

In the future there will probably be a repository of available plans for download anyways, so people will be able to mill and print items without the need to design them first.

Re:One problem (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 4 years ago | (#34516622)

Actually, that's 4 types of people. An "x types of people" sig doesn't correspond to how lame you think it is -- a person could have an "x types of people" sig and consider it lame or a sig-less person could consider it not lame.

Re:One problem (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 4 years ago | (#34516716)

The problem with most modeling softwares is that they are polygonally defined geometry. G-Code is more NURBS curves based. (G-Code being what most CNC mills are programmed in.)

As such, most CAD/CAM softwares are internally NURBS, so that you can easily generate arbitrary tool paths to follow a surface. That would be much more difficult to pull off cleanly with a polygon mesh model, due to the lack of true tangent continuity.

Re:One problem (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | about 4 years ago | (#34516904)

For PCB design there are a ton of choices but a popular hobbiest (sic)choice is EAGLE from CADSoft.

EAGLE is utter crap.

Re:One problem (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34517064)

Please elaborate and include alternatives at a similar price point.

Re:One problem (3, Interesting)

ChefInnocent (667809) | about 4 years ago | (#34516632)

You're thinking all wrong man. I own a "vinyl cutter" (Wishblade) that came with some great software. I can do just about anything I want with it. I've made tons of stencils for cakes, woodworking, fabric patterns and other stuff for people. I can scan an image and have it on the cutter in minutes. There's a problem with it. It takes time to learn. It took me about a day to learn and I'm technically adept. My roommate, it would take her a long time to learn. She's been watching me make stuff for a year, and wouldn't know where to begin. She bought a machine which does something similar, but is far more limited. She bought a Cricut. She has made more stuff in the 3 weeks she's had it, than I have all year with mine because it is so easy for her to make stuff. The Cricut is not versatile. It is not cheaper than the Wishblade. It doesn't do half the cool stuff I can do. But she learned it in just a few minutes.

Wishblade made a very nice product, and they will get to sell me overpriced cutting blades at $20 a pop. Cricut will not only sell their blades at $20 a pop, but you have to buy "fonts" to make it work at $20-$100 a pop. Her friends own about a dozen font cartridges each. Her friends don't need to buy expensive software or even own a PC. They just own a Cricut which holds their hand so they don't have to do any thinking outside the box.

I'm trying to figure out how to make a 3d fab machine that takes font cartridges I can sell bajillions of. As a person very capable of doing stuff, I love the Wishblade over the Cricut every day of the week. But there is far more profit selling the Cricut. Photoshop is awesome, but when half the population doesn't understand MS Paint, your aren't going to sell to many copies of Photoshop.

Re:One problem (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | about 4 years ago | (#34516670)

First of all, you shouldn't be using Autocad to do any 3d design. Ask Autodesk and they will tell you the same thing. Maybe you meant Autodesk Inventor, or one of the other software suites designed for 3d design and rapid prototyping. All Autodesk software is free to students- and the licenses last for several years now. If you are too poor to take an online class or a continuing education class at the local community college, then it probably isn't too hard to just say you are a student and get your free software legally.

But, realistically, you are probably just trolling for mod points because noone who does rapid prototyping would ever consider using Autocad.

Re:One problem (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#34516902)

All Autodesk software is free to students- and the licenses last for several years now. If you are too poor to take an online class or a continuing education class at the local community college, then it probably isn't too hard to just say you are a student and get your free software legally.

That's not true, the software is still a couple hundred dollars, unless the institution happens to pay for a site license that allows the students to install it on their machines.

Re:One problem (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | about 4 years ago | (#34516958)


Now go download your free software like I said.

Re:One problem (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 4 years ago | (#34516678)

You should try Dassault Systemes Catia.

Although, it is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more expensive than Autocad. (It also does a shitload more, and is easier to use, IMHO. Want to design a radar waveguide? There's a DEDICATED workbench for that! Etc.)

Re:One problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516784)

How about ProEngineer Wildfire?

Re:One problem (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 4 years ago | (#34517366)

ProE doesn't have very much market share these days. One of the best all in one packages is actually UGS NX which features integrated CAD/CAE/CAM. It's hella expensive, but it commands a significant share of the CAM market. Powermill from Delcam and Mastercam from CNC Software are also really good.

Re:One problem (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | about 4 years ago | (#34516772)

At one time, compilers and developing kits were also very expensive. As the cost of the machines comes down, so will the cost of tools to drive them. Some day there will exist a program like Blender, but using parametric surfaces and will be more like Pro/Engineer or Solidworks than like Maya.

And packages like Pro/E, doesn't really cost all that much when your printer costs $35 grand or more, your engineers cost 100 grand/year or more, their workstations a few thousands, and injection molds for your prototyped parts that easily cost 50,000 each. Reduce the prices of all the other things and the price of the software will fall. Engineer time will still be expensive, but vendors will have to compete with free software offerings.

Please support this project! (4, Interesting)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34516400)

This is the cheapest path for a CNC and 3d printer in every home.

I have done quite a bit of research on it and it's competitors (Zen Toolworks CNC, Mantis CNC, Makerbot, Cupcake CNC) and none lead to a completed kit for this low of a price without serious time investment, trial and error, and knowledge.

Re:Please support this project! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516558)

How does anyone trust the unit price targets on kickstarter?

I can see people spinning some money out as support for some who knows what they're doing, but....

Re:Please support this project! (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34516610)

I trusted it enough to back the $390 for a kit.

I emailed the creator and he was very quick to respond, and seems very genuinely excited and interested in this project.

I agree there is definitely a risk in the project since it's not proven, but after contemplating it I decided to take that risk.

One step closer... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516464)

To being able to 'steal' the neighbors BMW.

Re:One step closer... (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | about 4 years ago | (#34516578)

Someone please mod parent "funny"; I very nearly had a coffee-keyboard interface incident.

And yes, AC, that does bring amusing dimensions into the whole "would you steal your neighbor's car" salvo in the pirating debates.

Re:One step closer... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34516950)

You wouldn't copy a car would you?

I for one sure as hell would. I would probably be more likely to use a FREE one though.

Unit can also do 3d printing (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34516494)

With a relatively modular design, it would be simple to interchange the drill for a 3d extruder.

This would then be able to work as a 3d printer like the Makerbot, or RepRap.

Re:Unit can also do 3d printing (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#34516598)

Is there a reason that no one combines extruders and millers in one machine? I was under the impression that extruders waste less materials but cheap ones lack precision for small features, why not extrude a 'rough' shape and mill it down to be more precise. You'd still be limited to materials that can be extruded, but it seems like it would be give really good performance without having the hassle and cost of a super high resolution extruder.

Re:Unit can also do 3d printing (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34516652)

I believe one of the issues is you design a mill for power, and an extruder for speed.

The drive electronics can't really be both. For a hobbiest it shouldn't matter too much though, your designs will just be created slower.

Re:Unit can also do 3d printing (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | about 4 years ago | (#34516758)

Hold on, though...I think there may be something to this.

Why not modularize the electronics, as well? Swap a couple plugin carts and you can have more or less speed or precision as required. Further, this would create a huge industry for CNC mods; there'd be people selling their "revolutionary" drive modules in the back of every industry magazine.

All it'd need is a standard interface with the guts of the thing, and a standard set of driving instructions...

Re:Unit can also do 3d printing (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 4 years ago | (#34516994)

Haha, you've never worked with a real CNC machine before I take it? Trust me, you don't want to be futzing around with it on a daily basis. You want it to produce parts, and do it as quickly and precisely as possible. The machines tend to be rather unwieldy to work on as well. Changing the spindle in a CNC machine takes a full day, and then the machine has to be checked and indicated so that it cuts accurately. When your machine is accurate down to the .0002", you don't really want to fuck around with that.

I realize you're referring to a hobby machine, but you can't put the cart before the horse. First there needs to be a significant hobby CNC market before a "plug and play" market is developed.

Re:Unit can also do 3d printing (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | about 4 years ago | (#34517232)

Jeeze, what are you doing down at .0002"?

Even aerospace parts are cut to .007"-ish--something down around 2/10k would require exquisite temperature control.

Your typical hobbyist is likely going to be perfectly happy with .015"-ish. That's well within properly built modular assemblies.

And yes, you need a market--but why not make the market possible by allowing for the possibility of modification at the start? It'll help with the factory-replacement parts as well.

Re:Unit can also do 3d printing (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34517010)

It could be done but a lot of the cheaper devices have the lead screws bound directly to the motors with epoxy. So you can't really swap out the axis motors that easily. The spindle seems easier on a lot of designs though.

Seems like most people after building one machine, eventually build another, and another :) They're complimentary, once you have one you have the main tool needed to build another.

Yuo fail i7? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516582)

all along. *BSD Niggers everywhere Keep 0nnecessary contact to see if cuntwipes Jordan to get involved in to get involved in

"Hello world" (2)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | about 4 years ago | (#34516606)

Finally every CS student can bring their time-honored declaration into tangibility!

Unlikely (1)

bky1701 (979071) | about 4 years ago | (#34516626)

If the ability to copy information is any indication, there are powerful people who are going to work very hard to make this sort of thing illegal. Unfortunately, they will probably succeed here, given the requirement of specialized hardware.

Re:Unlikely (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34516752)

They haven't gone after reprap or any of the other more expensive hobbiest options for a CNC or 3d printer like makerbot, zen toolworks CNC, etc, etc.

You will probably see legal action when 3d designs start showing up on bittorrent :)

Re:Unlikely (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#34516960)

I hope so, given that they aren't subject to copyright protection. At best they'd be looking at patent suits, and lets face it, they'd be suing even before the plans went online if they could.

Customized! (4, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | about 4 years ago | (#34516650)

And the customized sex toy industry takes off!

'Makers' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516662)

I'll just wait until I see The Story, or DiaB is released.

Nothing New (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 4 years ago | (#34516760)

Other than maybe "it's already packaged".

Search Google for "Home Made CNC" [google.com] . People have been making these out of OSB & plywood for a while.

Here's a pretty nice one using an off the shelf router [lumberjocks.com] .

Hack a day has an article from 2008 [hackaday.com] .

Another. [freewebs.com]

They do require some technical knowhow. But that's about it. I think the most basic use parallel ports for IO.

Re:Nothing New (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 4 years ago | (#34516816)

You don't even have to use a router as a "payload". Get an industrial laser and make it a laser etcher [tinet.cat]

Pens, markers, pencils could be used for an interesting drawing/large plotter.

Re:Nothing New (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34516940)

You are definitely correct, however...

I've been researching these for the last month, and what I found is that there are similarly functional kits available that would work out to be about $600 apiece.

Alternately people have been building them from scratch for about $200-$300. While you use the parallel port for I/O you need a stepper driver board to provide the voltages necessary to drive the stepper motors. A quality board like that costs over $100 on it's own. You need to figure out the math for the power supply to provide the right voltages to your motors, the right parts, a workshop for cutting them, etc, etc. It's a huge undertaking in time.

This is the cheapest option for a complete kit at your door. It's also the cheapest option at $520 for an assembled unit at your door.

Re:Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34517190)

Or Build your own CNC machine [buildyourcnc.com] .

Sure he's selling kits for big bucks now, but check-out steps 1 through 36 on the left-hand side of his home page to see how he built his first CNC machine for some handy tips.

Re:Nothing New (1)

suburbanmediocrity (810207) | about 4 years ago | (#34517326)

Logged in to make this comment. People have been doing this for a long while. Over at http://www.cnczone.com/ [cnczone.com] you can find dozens of people who've built their own machines as well as links any and all material that you might need to buy. And they build all types of machines from 8-axis titanium milling to 2-axis wood routers. It's a fairly big hobbyist industry.

Desktop CNC (4, Informative)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 4 years ago | (#34516810)

As someone who works with CNC machinery on a daily basis as a manufacturing/mechanical engineer, having a cheap low cost DIY desktop CNC would be incredibly useful for home usage. However, this will be limited in it's capabilities. Cutting metals like aluminum usually requires coolant or else the material will melt and jam up inside of the flutes of the tooling. Steels can be air cut with the right carbide tooling, but I don't think this machine will have the structural rigidity required to cut steel. Generally the rule of thumb in machine design is to make your machine as heavy and rigid as possible. There is a good reason why these machines aren't cheap.

Something like this will probably be useful for cutting plastics, wood, and maybe aluminum if your willing to mount a cooling and reclamation system. Also this system will be SLOW most undoubtedly. However it will have it's uses. Cutting HDPE to make molds for silicon casting would be one, great for modelers. Precisely making printed circuit boards would also be another useful feature. Drilling wouldn't be too bad as long as the machine has enough torque. I think something like this would work well with one of the homemade 3D printers such as the MakerBot or Reprap.

I'm very curious on my end, might end up building one if I can get my boss to let me utitlize company machinery to make one.

Re:Desktop CNC (3, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 4 years ago | (#34517052)

Good luck with the latter... Machine time is expensive. :(

Personally, I'd use this to make specialty cabinets. Simple 3-axis is all you need, and if you keep the spindle speed down, wood does not need coolant.

For a coolant "enhancement" though, you could add another opcode to the G-program to turn on essentially an aftermarket watergarden fountain pump, and mount the machine over something like a bathtub. That way you could turn on coolant for soft metals like aluminum and copper.

Mild steel would be OK with the right cutters, but anything in the hard steel category would most certainly be outside the cutting abilities of the proposed spindle for this DIY kit. (Prototype specs a dremel tool.) You would just need to sacrifice speed for utility by turning up the spindle speed and radically reducing the depth of cut.

Granted, that would RADICALLY shorten tool life-- and cutters aren't cheap.

Re:Desktop CNC (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 4 years ago | (#34517092)

I'm curious, my knowledge of this technology is limited, and I really want to know: I've held examples of the output of these 3D "printers" in my hand, they seem to be most useful for making prototype objects. Although the resulting resin forms seem pretty tough, is this technology transferable to production-quality things made out of steel? Seems like the technology would be limited if it only made things out of that resin. And if they can do steel, then obviously they can't be very cheap.

Re:Desktop CNC (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34517120)

Just wondering, why can't you just cool the tool itself with something that does not need to be reclaimed?

I am thinking blasting high pressure air at it, or cut very slowly and dip the tool into an oil tank every X seconds.

Barrier to Entry (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 4 years ago | (#34516818)

The real barrier to entry with these systems is finding someone who can design it in the computer. Or, having software that is simple enough that the end user can do with little training. I'm pretty well versed in CAD but moving to 3D is quite a step. Usually these programs assume an extruded material, which is then carved out, using logical operations. I think using real world tools - planes, knives, sandpaper (for smoothing) etc would translate better for the user.

Re:Barrier to Entry (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 4 years ago | (#34516898)

That's odd, I always told the students at NIAR that catia was so easy to use, that an angry shaved monkey could probably use it. (Granted, this was as a joke, but I still think it is damn easy to use.)

can you create a 2D nurbs path? Then you can create neat objects with Catia. V5 uses the "Sketcher" interface, and is very similar to sketchup, only more powerful. Oh, and Catia has a fully featured CAM module for 3, 4, and 5+ axis milling. It even has a rapid prototyping workbench for a 3D printer, as well as kinematic simulation abilities.

You can get the student version for about 300$, if you can prove you are an engineering student.

(You can also get the pirate version from PirateBay for 0$...)

Catia is the shit.

Re:Barrier to Entry (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#34517110)

I'm pretty well versed in CAD but moving to 3D is quite a step. Usually these programs assume an extruded material, which is then carved out, using logical operations.

So you have to code the logical operations yourself? This will get big when you can submit a 3d model and have the computer figure out how to do it.

In Soviet California... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34516836)

Many of them are ending up on Kickstarter themselves, such as an iPhone 4 camera mount that was first prototyped using a 3D printer.

Next step: mount your iPhone 4 onto the prototyper as part of an automatic 3D scanner and duplicator.

Department is all wrong (1)

somaTh (1154199) | about 4 years ago | (#34516918)

This has nothing to do with Ab Fab [wikipedia.org] !

MIT's Fablab (1)

bbasgen (165297) | about 4 years ago | (#34516990)

The Fab Labs program, spun out of MIT's Media Lab, is a champion of the overall approach of individualized production. It is a beautiful conceptual framework, and they have created a large number of labs around the world. Please have a look if you haven't investigated them, they are doing some wonderful things.

Re:MIT's Fablab (1)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34517266)

Their Mantis bot looks inviting at first: $100 DIY CNC.

At closer look, that's $100 without the electronics, and you need to cut the wood yourself. The DXF file provided on the website is incomplete as is the BOM.

I was originally looking at building one of those but after realizing how open-ended the work would be I've moved onto the idea of getting a kit. This CNC looks perfect for me and is the cheapest option.

So let me get this straight (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#34517038)

So let me see if I understand this, the thought here is that I donate to fund their building a product they will sell?

Why in the hell would I do that?
If the plans were FREE, that might be something, if the software was FREE that might be a reason, but to me this looks like asking me to invest in their company without any possible upside for me.

Re:So let me get this straight (3, Informative)

th0mas.sixbit.org (780570) | about 4 years ago | (#34517152)

You have it wrong.

You pledge to support X dollars. Depending on your pledge, if the funding reaches it's goal, you get the CNC. If the funding doesn't reach it's goal, you pay nothing.

So you decide what you want (just the plans, the electronics, the entire kit, or a preassembled unit), pledge the right number of $ and select your reward.

You aren't giving them money for nothing. Consider it a preorder system where you don't have to pay unless they get enough orders.

Crap design (1)

random coward (527722) | about 4 years ago | (#34517062)

It's using a dremel as a tool head. It is not going to be easy to square it. Its going to be an open loop CNC. Maybe they should just make a kit to fit a grizzly mini mill [grizzly.com] ?

Crap CNC machines (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 4 years ago | (#34517124)

It's easy enough to build a crap CNC mill, but not very useful. This one is made of wood, and the bridge isn't even cross-braced. It's not going to be stiff enough to do decent work. Just because the cutting tool is a Dremel tool doesn't mean you can skip on rigidity. Dremel used to make a drill-press rig for their tools, and it wobbled so much it was useless. And that was just drilling. In milling, you have side loads.

Little CNC mills have been around for years. Roland [rolanddga.com] makes a nice little one. The usual little mill is a Sherline, and those can be equipped for CNC, although it's a retrofit. A Sherline can mill aluminum and mild steel. The MicroLux [micromark.com] , at $499, is about as low as it gets in milling machines that can cut metal. That's not a CNC machine, but retrofits are possible.

These guys aren't the first to propose building a toy CNC mill. The Art Institute of Chicago [diylilcnc.org] has a little wooden CNC mill. And unlike these guys, who are peddling vaporware, the Art Institute machine exists. The Art Institute machine can be made from flat stock with a laser cutter. It can't mill hard materials, but if you're just making models of designs to look at, you can use various easy-to-mill foams, plastics, and waxes. A slightly bigger wood CNC machine is at Build Your CNC [buildyourcnc.com] . Those are all proven designs.

Hype about CNC milling seems to be highest among people who've never used a milling machine. CNC mills are great devices, but they're not magic. The smaller machines don't cut very fast, the cutting tools are expensive, the process is messy (if you're cutting metal, you're constantly pouring coolant on the cutter, and in high-speed machines, the coolant flow is garden-hose sized), and for complex objects, clamping the work out of the way of the cutter is a hassle.

If you want to play with CNC on line, download the demo version of VCarve [vectric.com] , which is a CAD/CAM design tool for 3-axis milling machines. VCarve will give you a sense of what you can and can't do with a 3-axis mill. VCarve can simulate the cutting process in 3D and show you what the finished part will look like. There's a really impressive solid modeling engine inside that program. VCarve (the pay version) will output the files to drive a CNC mill to make the part.

At the high end of CNC, there are 5-axis machines with tool changers, and software that can use all those features to full advantage. Watch this demo of Hypermill driving a Daishin 5-axis mill [youtube.com] . The software package alone for that costs $20,000. The software figures out which tools to use in what order, and how much clearance is required to get the cutting head near the work. That's approaching the "replicator" level of CNC.

Now what would be interesting is to put a Dremel tool on a multi-axis robot arm, with force feedback from servomotors and Hypermill-like smarts. That would allow real 3D work, not just top-down 3-axis work. Most of the dumb 3-axis machines use steppers, so they don't know how much load is on the structure, and can't compensate for deflections under load. With servomotors, the software could compensate for some lack of rigidity.

I can do that for a Dollar (2)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#34517170)

Buy a pen-knife.

Larn to whittle.

Get off my lawn.

I made me a CNC machine - laser that cuts metal. (2)

ratwing (1956802) | about 4 years ago | (#34517204)

Its pretty cool, and written up here: http://nilno.com/ [nilno.com]

Example (4, Interesting)

pgn674 (995941) | about 4 years ago | (#34517264)

Here is an example of what happens when you have an idea stuck in your head, and you have pencil and paper at hand: YouTube - Doodling in Math Class: Infinity Elephants [youtube.com]

And here's what happens when you have the same idea and a 3D printer on hand: Vi Hart: Blog: Entry [vihart.com]

Just drawing stuff and 3D printing stuff because it's nifty. This is one of the places where awesome things come from.

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