A Time Waster?
I spend a lot of my time working on 3D printing. I may be spending too much time. The actual printing is a hands off do nothing period. The printer just runs and does its thing. The waster is watching it do its thing.
With three printers, I switch between them. I often have all three running at the same time. That’s melting a lot of filament per hour. Each print normally takes hours to run. That means there is a lot of down time not doing anything with the active printing.
I use that time working on the CAD or drawing portion of the creative process. I have often said the printing process itself is not a profession. Operating the printer is a low to medium skill job, that has to be done, but I don’t suggest it as a career.
I believe a career is in the CAD and creative engineering that develops the application of 3D printing, then creates the usable, properly engineered and designed drawing that is the input to the printing process. The printing process is simply an output, a machine operation.
In this perspective 3D Printing engineering is a subset of a higher professional engineering career.
The printing allows the engineer to produce prototypes than can be eventually manufactured in durable materials if the printed item is not the final product. Seldom in the real world are complex parts designs produced off the first drawing or manufactured part. Prototypes are a part of the development process. 3D printing non-durable prototypes reduces costs.
The simple things I design, often work well on the first drawing. But not always. I have discarded printed items I discover are not exactly what I intended. Many times it is because a need a certain dimension tolerance. I can make the first part then measure for the fit I require.
I see a lot of publicity in the media over certain items that have been produced by the process of 3D printing. Unfortunately, the printed item gets all the attention and very little credit is given to the engineering that created the item.
The prosthetic hand is a good example. The story is presented as, “WOW! This hand was created with 3D printing!” “Look what 3D printing can do for the handicapped!”
The real story is, “WOW! Look what that prosthetic engineer designed and created!” He has given that person a device that can make his life with a missing limb a bit easier!” The way the hand was made is unique and less costly, but it was the engineer and not the printer, that designed the device.
To me it is like proclaiming how that great my new house is because a plutonium powered hammer was used to build it.
Yeah, I know the reporter is simply hyping the new technology of 3D printing, but I feel the story that is presented is mostly about what was created, the hand. The story tells very little about the printer itself and limited information about the engineering work to developed it. OK, so I get it. People make the story. The story IS about the device that was made, and 3D printing at least gets a bit of credit.
My distress is the message that a process (3D Printing) somehow just makes it happen. That’s true in the very broad sense of 3D printing as an engineering process. But it requires far more than running a 3D printer. The opportunity for career building is learning to design things that can be produced by the process of 3D printing.
My advice is don’t wast time watching the printer run. Yeah, it is hypnotic. Instead, spend time discovering and engineering mechanical or creative (artistic) uses for the process. The career is in the design of items made using, not the operation of, 3D printing. The prosthetic hand as example.
Right now they seem to be made from pure unobtainium. They are made in three sizes. 0.2mm, 0.4mm and 0.6mm. One of each comes with a new printer. I ordered a spare 0.2mm and 0.4mm nozzle as part of my printer order on October 13, 2017. That is now almost a month ago.
Cetus3D, I Am Impressed!
Cetus3D has produced a winner in the minimalist 3D printer classification. It is what it is and it does it quite well. The standard out-of-the-box set-up is providing very nice high-quality 3D prints. Better prints than most I produce on my other printers. No visible surface “ringing” patterns at all. Great quality bearings are certainly the reason as well as proper belt tension.
I think I may have just avoided loosing $300 I was going to spend on a Cetus 3D printer. It’s a made in China product that got started through a Kick-start campaign. I tried to register on their web site so I could place an order for their smaller machine.
It seems there is no one at home in China at 1:30 in the afternoon (their time) The website would not generate the confirming email to which I must respond to prove I am a real person. I eventually sent an inquiry to them through their support desk. I received two very quick and obviously automated replies from Jason Wu. aka "Team Cetus"
If nearly burning down my Delta printer isn’t bad enough, I also have a problem with the Cartesian printer. It has so many run-hours on it, I have worn out the bearing in the extruder cold-end cooling fan. There is probably a sleeve bearing in this axial fan and the blades are barely spinning. It is supposed to run all the time at full speed when the printer power is on. Well, it doesn’t spin full speed now. It almost stops spinning. I can count the revolutions by just watching it.