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3D Printing

I have taken a hard long look at where Additive 3D printing technology stands today. I have determined it is a viable high quality creative process in the high end commercial and industrial marketplace. This is because it is a large investment to get top quality output. 

I have no first-hand experience using any 3D printer, so my judgement is based on available video and information gleaned from internet sources. A condensed reference for 3D printing is available on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing.

The bulk of the consumer grade 3D printers, up to one thousand dollars, are really playthings. (Don’t hate me if you own and love one. It’s just my studied opinion.) Up to and around five thousand there are acceptable quality (output) jewelry wax machines and small prototype laser fusion machines available. The really high quality large commercial machines are far above that range.

The bulk of the under one thousand dollar machines are hobby grade and use a glue gun type material extrusion technology under CNC stepper or servo motor control. The hardware works most of the time and the output can be reasonably useful. There exists probably a dozen or more types of plastic like materials that can be hot extruded as the building “ink”. These materials vary from hard, to flexible, and even water soluble. Many machines can only use one or two materials. PLA and ABS are the most common. Some open architecture machines can be programmed for a wide choice of other materials. Many printer makers want to sell their own proprietary materials.

PLA (PolyLatic Acid) is a biodegradable plastic derived from material like cornstarch while ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a synthetic type plastic and is more durable than PLA. Leggo bricks are ABS plastic. I am not going into more detail on material. That’s not my intent in this post.

I see low cost 3D printers being used to produce one off prototypes where quality of finish right off the printer is not highly important. Tiny ridges in the surface is OK. Second operation finishing can be used to smooth the appearance of printed objects.

I called the under one thousand dollar machines toys. But that doesn’t mean that I would not love to play with those toys. I am sure it is the lowest cost way to develop an understanding about this new high tech tool. My investigation clearly indicates quality of the output of these filament media systems seldom puts them into a professional class as far as the finish quality of the parts produced. It is more a proof of concept that 3D drawings can be sliced into stacking layers that can then be used to stack build an object, layer by layer.

Right now eager entrepreneurs are creating a huge variety of beginner machines and trying to get hobby enthusiasts to purchase them. I read about some of them being scams just looking for investors in new style machines. The money is being made in producing the machines for hobbyists, not the product that the machines can make.

A small printing service industry has developed offering to print objects that other people create digitally. Pretty much like the regular printing business where you deliver the code for what you want printed and the business has enough work to afford running it on a high quality printer. A reasonable option if the goal is the object printed rather than the experience printing it.

So money can get you what you want if you have enough of it. You get out of a 3D printer what you can pay to put into it.

As I said, I would love to have one to play with. But that would be the only reason. I can’t and won’t pay for a high end 3D Printer and I can’t (yet) think of any product a hobby type printer will produce that could pay for the time spent. Of course I realize, I heard the same question and reasoning when I first started playing with my homemade personal computers. You have to start somewhere.

Complaining

squeekyI was going to say, “I hate to complain” but then I realized that wasn’t true. Sometimes I love to complain. Complaining is the motivator for change. The problem is to complain and then do nothing more. I think a complaint should be a personal call to action. I am talking about my complaints which by their very nature of being mine, are perfectly justified. I can’t claim that about OPC (other peoples complaints)…

I have personally discovered that there are almost always an alternative for the things that annoy me. I don’t always want or like the alternative, but I know it exists. Its like complaining about my terrible life, I can always end it. No… I am not really going to take that alternative. Just illustrating a severe alternative. By the way, my life is NOT terrible.

I can complain about pot holes in the road. If I complain to myself or my spouse, that isn’t going to fix the pot holes. I could pick up a shovel and fix them myself. If it was my private road then that makes sense. If it a public road, I could still do it myself, but that may not be a good solution. Complaints have to be targeted to the folks that have the ability to create change. Otherwise it is just a lot of noise coming out of my mind and mouth.

Most of the time I am not “out to change the whole world” with my complaints. Life is too short for me to be that kind of activist. Most of the time I only want to change the experience that has created my reason to complain.

Rather than enjoy the weather, I could complain about the cold and winter snow in Ohio. I can move to Texas where there is little of that to complain about. But then, what little there is may still raise a complaint. So move farther south…

If I complain about quality of brand X peanut butter, My complaint is mostly to inform others of my opinion of the product. Most reasonable makers of things want to know too. If enough voices agree and also complain, then perhaps Brand X will change its product. But where I live, in a land of choice and plenty, the real solution for me is to spend my money on a brand I like. That is what free enterprise is all about. It’s called, “putting your money where your mouth is.”

That is not a literal statement. It means back up what I say with appropriate action. If I don’t like brand X then I don’t eat it. I make a reasonable and appropriate change within my personal sphere of freedom of choice. A fanatical action like smashing every jar of brand X I can find is not an appropriate to resolve my complaint.

Sometime there is no choice. It’s a fact of life. The point then, is that constant complaining is not going to change an unalterable fact of life. Complaining can be “worn out” if it used without expectation or ability of change.

Complaining about my peripheral neuropathy to everyone around is not going to change the fact of life I have it. I find ways to work around the limitations without complaint. I have the power of how hard or how far I push my limitations. If I over do it, I know what I have to endure. No one to blame but myself. The people I love already know and don’t need to hear me complain.

A good life requires managing the things you can change and knowing the things that you can not change. I am always encourage by the vast number of things, conditions and experiences I can change. An urge to complain is my indication to investigate what I can actually do about it.

If I need help I can ask or look for it. I feel a complaint is not a good substitute for a request.

“I can’t find the dang car keys, they’re hiding!”, is a statement that sounds like a complaint. “What did you do with them?”, is definitely an accusation aimed at others. Tis k…Tis k…

“Hon… Do you know where the keys are?” is a request for help. Oh, if life was only so perfect… and I could practice it so well… Ha!

A Small Business Plan – for Now

I recently received a nice email from a visitor who read some of my blog posts and postings in my e-store regarding my thoughts about operating a very small business. He thanked me for opening his eyes about retail sales, especially marketing on the Internet.

I am retired now from my real income source. In my last position I worked for a very large international corporation for over 17 years. During that period, I created a very small personal retail business as a sideline. It was big enough I had to collect sales tax, report income to the feds, and operate in every way as a genuine […] Continue reading » A Small Business Plan – for Now

OneNote Saving Story

I usually don’t write directly to my blogs. Editing live  online within a web page has some danger. I have lost considerable work from touching the wrong key and having everything disappear from the screen. I forget the golden rule in computers which is to save constantly.

I usually use Word  or OpenOffice to write my posts. They work fine but are a far more powerful tool than required.  I have rediscovered an MS Office tool called OneNote. It provides a host of organizing information features and centers around a simple text editing engine. The power is it can save multiple types of files in grouped […] Continue reading » OneNote Saving Story

Love What You Do

The KautzCraft Studio (KC) is now my main retirement vocation. I wonder if that means I am not retired. Well, I feel retired so I will keep the designation. KC doesn’t provide me anywhere near a real income, but it does stop me from robbing banks. Banks, because that is where the money is kept… Ha! I think Willie Sutton is reputed to have said that.

I’d much rather be working with silver than in a chain gang.

I see an endless number of options and creations I can make while working in my studio. I like working with all kinds of materials with silver so far being the only […] Continue reading » Love What You Do