3D Printing: Still not perfect, but getting better

3D printing has promised much and delivered quite a bit. For example, 3D printers are readily available and relatively inexpensive—at least for creating small plastic objects. The MakerBot Replicator+ (Fig. 1) is just one example. It only costs $2,499.

“Makerbot is known for its quality 3D printers, and the Replicator+ is a testament to that reputation, considering it has been around forever,” noted Cabe Atwell on our sister site, MachineDesign.com“Surprisingly, this 3D printer meets only two of the desirable qualities wanted for great prints: A powder-coated metal frame with an ABS case, but there’s no heated print bed! Instead, the Replicator+ features the company’s bendable Flexible Build Plate with kung-fu grip, which keeps prints from moving and popping off when done.”

Of course, not all developers are enamored by 3D printers. Cabe also highlights the flip side of 3D printers: “But like the movie montage where the kids clean up the house before theirparents get home, they are glossing over the details. What isn’t shown is the effort, the sweat, the tinkering, the trial and error, and the screaming to the gods themselves to please, please let it work this time.”

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