Services for makers
The 3D Print Show 2013 demonstrates how the growing is happening faster than expect. We have seen, in part 1 and in part 2 of our articles about the exhibition, the improvement in desktop 3D printers, materials to be used and technologies, but the progress is happening, also thanks to the experimentation of the communities that shares projects and knowledge online and at community workshops. Ultimaker has his own forum where troubleshooting and experimentations are discussed and Youmagine is the website for sharing projects, seeking advice, collaboration and learn. MakerBot has his own counterpart in Thingiverse where a massive amount of ideas can be downloaded for free and uploaded in an edited version. A rich number of makers are already at work and an increasing number of people are attracted by the phenomenon despite the cost of a printer is still over one thousand pounds. It is possible to save some money, building the printer at home (Ultimaker send the first model as a kit for 505 € less than as assembled) or following the guide for a RepRap.
Ultimaker 1 as a kit
The Reprap 3D Printer
Then, it is required a minimum knowledge for setup the machine, installing the drivers and give the right instructions for printing the object by the specific software of the device. Even though, having the fund for a printer, buying it and learning how to make it works functionally, it doesn’t mean that every object or project that comes in mind will be possible to be printed with that machine. Every 3D printer has his own features and one can be better at quality, but another one can be better at speed or build volume for example. For this reason, the birth of services for makers is fundamental. In specific there is one online start up that is doing on variability of tools available from the community, his point of strength: 3D Hubs founded in Amsterdam by Bram de Zwart and Brian Garret.
3D Hubs Website
They have “unlocked” the London hub in combination of the 3D Print Show: registered users are now unable to work. The concept of the platform is straightforward: a user can register himself as a maker and if he owns a printer, also as a 3D Printer owners. The maker uploads a file for an object to be printed, the inner software of 3DHubs checks if the file is compatible and then the maker choose between the 3D printer owners in his city, sifting through distance of printer, price, range of colours and materials and delivery time. For newbie is an inexpensive opportunity for giving a try to this fascinating world, and at the same time, as said early, for a maker is a chance for experimenting in different ways. Moreover the aim of the platform is not only to connected users virtually, but also to make them meeting each other and showing how the thing happens, no better way for building collaborations. The approach to 3D printing is happening from diverse kind of people with disparate necessity, but no matter what it is a service exists or is becoming available.
Digit2Widgets Stand at the 3DPrint Show 2013
Digits2Widgets, a London Based professional firm, has developed a pricing system that is cutting down the unknown for giving an estimate cost: twelve sizes, each one with a different price, of Nylon SLS containers to accommodate the objects to be printed. They use professional printers that prints in two materials, one is supported by the other that will clean out, leaving the box with inside the objects printed. The high quality is not comparable with consumer 3D printing and the service will benefit designers and business in need to print prototypes. Designers and artists skilful to model by softwares can print and sell their creations through i.materialise. The online platform is based on the 3D printing factory based in Belgium where they have machines able to print plastics, resins, metals such gold and titanium, rubber-like materials and ceramics. On the other hand, users that doesn’t know how to model can find objects to be printed at My Mini Factory. Several categories are available and if they do not find the object they want they can request to the registered makers. Lastly, Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others, not only for 3D printing burt for the all word of DIY.