Copy the real world

Terry and I have looked at getting a 3D printer.
Once again however, for us, it’s a solution looking for a problem.
There have been very few times in the past 2-3 years that I have wanted (needed) to build a replica of part that I already have.
There have been even fewer times when I have wanted to make a part from a CAD drawing in the computer.
I get that some people (like Kickstarters) would want to print a bunch of stuff…. We use them at work as well to print prototypes of new parts we are looking at building…..
For your average guy at home? Not so much.

All that said, the makers of 3D printers have not stopped at trying to make 3D printers so cheap and friendly, that you can not ignore them.
(Bit like wide screen monitors really – they came when no one asked for them).

This one is trying to make the whole end to end process as simple as possible to ‘photocopy’ real world objects.
They see that the common man is not going to want (or have the skill) to design a part from scratch, with a mouse and a whole lot of time.
Rather, they are more likely to want to copy something they already have (why, I have no idea, but don’t let that get in their way).
So, this thing is a laser scanner and printer all in one.

The AiO is a closed box that contains a full ABS 3D printing system as well as a laser 3D scanner. A turntable under the built platform spins objects slowly as a laser takes in their contours and the resulting objects can be printed directly from the scanning software. It is literally a 3D copier with true object-in/object-out systems. In short, it is a Star Trekian replicator – within reason.

There are size limits of course, you are not going to print yourself a Smart Car with this thing, but for fist sized objects, it might be just the ticket.

First, lets’ take a moment to marvel at what this thing truly is. You can place an object into it and make a 3D copy of that object. If you really think about what that means you realize that we have moved from the age of bits into the age of atoms. While the AiO might not be the best 3D printer in the world it does bring 3D copying into your home or office. Let that sink in. A few years ago that was deemed impossible, the realm of science fiction. But no longer. But that’s not the most amazing thing. The most amazing thing about this printer is its $799 price tag. That’s right: $799 gets you a 7.8×7.8 x7.5 inch build envelope in ABS as well as a 3D scanner. A good color laser printer cost that much in 2013.

I will leave it at that.
The price is coming down, the features and friendliness of the process is going up.
There is no question that a 3D printer is in my (or Terry’s) future.
Just like the Raspberry Pi sat on my shelf for 2-3 years before I found a task for it, this thing is much the same, only I am not going to buy one to have it sit around, as the technology will only get better and better over time.
When the need arises, I will pick one up from the local hardware store.

3D printers. Its a thing. They are getting better, cheaper and faster.