There is replicator mentality with 3D printing. A whole workshop is compressed into one machine. The plans and material go into one end and out pops a finished product on the other side. Just describe what is wanted and the machine does all the work. Star Trek had the idea decades ago. Thank you, Gene Roddenberry.
I feel the public impression may be the printing machine does ALL the work. The printing process is fascinating and even mesmerizing. A whole bunch of invisible work occurs before the printer can perform its dance. My goal here is to make the design process visible. There is more to 3D printing than downloading someone else’s creative effort and just printing.
One thing the machine doesn’t do is creative thinking. As far as I can tell with my own experience, a human mind is still required. Engineers and artists have a new creative tool that takes a conceptual idea from their imagination and rapidly translates it to a tangible item.
The actual printing is not very fast, but as an overall process it is amazingly quick.
At the personal user cost level, there is a media limitation to plastic or thermoplastic like material that can be heat extruded. It’s called the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) method, the process seen on this website.
Filler materials can be mixed with plastic such as wood fiber and carbon fiber. There are many variations and totally different methods of 3D printing other than FDM. The cost is usually high, far from most private user reality, but affordable by commercial business ventures that have a return on investment with the process. They all require the same "front end" creative design work.
This blog that will concentrate on the non-machine specific “front end” aspects of 3D printing. That's why I call it Ramblin’ Dan’s 3D Print Design Studio (RD3DPDS). All the work of design and creativity occurs before the actual act of printing. The conceptual planning and Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) are the heart of the process. Digital Scanning is a planned future process for design input when resources become available.
The printing is dramatic but nonparticipative result of the creation process. Of course, limitations and requirements of the specific printing process are considered in design. Once the design is sent to the properly configured printer, it is just a sit back and watch process. No human guidance required.
We will use the FDM printing process unless we can attract a deep pockets sponsor for exotic hardware. Nothing in the business plan for that event, but it is a thought.
The importance and proper set-up of the chosen printer and process is not ignored. The printer is treated just like a tool. The “blade” must be kept sharp to work properly. There is an old computer adage that works here, Garbage In - Garbage Out. (GIGO).
RD3DPDS has just come out of the ground as a new start-up. Focus is on creating useful design. The 3D printing is the proof of concept. It is an exciting creative adventure.