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Printer Build Technology

Interviews: Ask Bre Pettis About Making Things 69

As co-founder and CEO of MakerBot Industries, Bre Pettis is a driving force in the Maker and 3-D printing world. He's done a number of podcasts for Make, and even worked as an assistant at Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London after college. Makerbot's design community, Thingiverse, boasts over 100,000 3D models, and inspires countless artists and designers by allowing them to share their designs. Bre has agreed to set aside some time from printing in order to type answer to your questions. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.
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Interviews: Ask Bre Pettis About Making Things

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ask about making things? What can you tell me about making Slashdot Beta go away?

  • Materials (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It seems consumer 3d printers mostly deal with plastics. Will we see other materials soon? I'm specifically interested in printing metal objects.

    • by LoRdTAW ( 99712 )

      The problem is cost. The best process is sintering using either a laser or electron beam. Additive systems using a welding head are nowhere near accurate and very dirty in terms of smoke and soot. Sintering has its own can of worms including a cheap source of powdered or granular metals.

      To sinter with a laser you need a laser and a box to put it inside of filled with an inert gas like nitrogen or argon. Nitrogen is cheap but people would have to buy or rent gas cylinders and keep up on getting new filled cy

  • How much did you pay to get a Slashvertisement?

  • Do you think it would mop the floor with the competition simply because they'd make it so that any granny could pick it up and use it easily?
    • Ideally you'd want the combo printer-scanners [] that are starting to come out, combined with something as simple and intuitive as SketchUp [] (but volumetric "clay" instead of shell/boundary) to let users modify the model by stretching, patching, or copying elements. That might have been something that Jobs' Apple could have done, but Jobs is dead.

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @12:25PM (#46715367) Journal

    Many of the things I want to build with a 3D printer are not complicated but are outside the build envelope of the printers out there. Like my truck grill which is about 48" wide, 12" tall and 3" deep.

    Why don't we have bigger print envelopes? This should just be a matter of more steps of the stepper motor.

    • This physics of melted plastic are the limitation here not the robotics. To get good quality prints with anything larger than what most printers usually offer you'd need a well regulated heated build chamber surrounding it which is actually patented by Stratasys.

      • They patented an incubator or heat lamp?

      • I'm very interested in this problem. Why does it matter?

        • A printer uses heat to melt the filament then extrudes it. The object as it's being printed dissipates that heat at the edges and the center of the object tends to be warmer than the edges. As the edges cool the plastic contracts which cause the edges to curl up. On a small print this problem is much more manageable. On larger prints it's crucial to make sure the object cools down uniformly. Hence the heated build chamber.

  • When will I be able to make my own space rocket from a pile of rocks to a finished product?

  • Stratasys (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @12:28PM (#46715401)

    Stratasys acquired Makerbot a few months ago. Has things changed on the hardware or software side? What changes await for the future?

    Will Makerbot release a cheaper FDM 3D printer?

    Does Makerbot have any plans for an UV 3D printer, either laser-based or projector-based?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have heard from the BBC, forums and other internet hangouts that 3-D printers are unreliable. You can start to print something and the printer errors, or the process is somehow falters , causing you to restart all over again.

    I this true, and do you expect as the tech captures more attention, so will reliability?

  • I note that the Replicator 2 and Replicator 2X share many components.

    Will there ever be plans to release an upgrade kit for the Replicator 2 which adds a more powerful Power Supply, Heated Build Plate, and/or a second Extruder Head Assembly?

    It would be nice to be able to add those options to the Rep2 in order to print ABS and other materials, or to do multi-color prints.

    Follow up Question relies on the proviso that an upgrade kit is planned....

    Will you shut up and take my money already?!

  • beyond novelty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:09PM (#46715755) Journal

    Mr. Pettis thanks for taking the time. Your 3D printers are nice.

    My question:

    What is needed to take consumer home-based 3D printing beyond novelty items? Specifically everyday home consumers not pure hobbyists.

    Of course 3D fabricators are used for more than "novelty items" in several commercial and industrial applications, but for several reasons, not the least of which is cost of the 3D fabricator, most of what people make is just knick knacks, novelty items, and bric-a-brac.

    What will we need to see technologically to take consumer home fabrication beyond things like action figures? Ex: making something like a flashlight or toothbrush

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:31PM (#46715937) Homepage

    How close to mainstream will 3D printers become?

    I've talked to makers who predict everyone will have a 3D printer in their home. I've heard other opinions that 3D printing will become a common hobby like building model railroads, astronomy, or programming. Yet others believe it is a fad and it will return to being a tool for professional engineers only. What do you think?

  • What do you say to the many articles that are along the lines of "3D printers in every home will print anything"? Today's 3D printers have nowhere near that capability. The materials available are quite restrictive and the output is relatively crude. I have read many articles making outrageous claims that home 3D printing will change the face of manufacturing very soon. When I look closely at the claims, such as printing electronics, I see they are impossible. It has gotten to the point that I don't believe

  • by Warbothong ( 905464 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:36PM (#46716003) Homepage

    What kinds of useful objects do you envisage being printed which aren't available from a local store? I've been following 3D printing for a while and have helped build a few machines, but the only objects I've seen printed are either purely aesthetic (eg. keyrings) or could be bought from a local shop in less time than the print takes.

  • Many useful items that one could build require some metal bits in addition to 3D printed parts. I've recently encountered this situation when trying to make a little gizmo with motor drive. Small gears, shafts and so forth are very hard to come by. Have you considered starting an ancillary industry that provides the sorts of things that the company Small Parts used to offer, before Amazon killed them?
  • Fuck turncoat Petis. I don't want to ask him a god damn thing.
  • Similar to the metal powder sintering question above... MIG welding is an additive process that could be used to make 3D parts, similar to the way a plasma CAM cuts out parts.... is there any hope that 3D printing will go this direction or is it too imprecise to make decent parts?

  • by nietsch ( 112711 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @05:39PM (#46719221) Homepage Journal

    You started out as a 3 man company, but somehow you have 'lost' the other two founders. Was the size of your ego to blame for that?

    And: why are your printers not allowed to print during shows and conventions? Too much chance something goes wrong with them?

  • Bre:

    In the larger world of 3-D printing, obviously there are manufactures who have never been particularly maker-friendly. You started off, though, with very affordable kits, and a connection to the RepRap foundation, which emphasized open source code, reproduceability, openness, etc.

    (Wikipedia's a bit out of date on this front, but as of this moment, the entry there says "MakerBot Industries' products are designed to be built by anyone with basic technical skills and are described as about as complicated a

  • How did the transition from being an open source darling to a danger to the whole 3d-printing community work out for you? How do you feel about kicking out your two co-founders because big money demanded it?
  • Dear Mr. Pettis, Why did you join the dark side of the force ?