Friday, July 19, 2013

Prototype Samples

I put this page together today to answer a job posting in Craigslist. I didn't want to clutter the email with a scrolling pile of image files so, I laid out half a dozen pages and set them into one image. Aside from the SLS and Robotic Milling, (Liberty, Chrysler, Big Gummy and Ice Cream Cone) This page marks an end to my relationship with the Makerbot Replicator 2. When it was printing well it was like magic.
I was often astonished by the quality of what it could produce but, success with the machine was far less frequent than failure. The machine suffered problems from it's first day out of the box and had been back to the factory for repairs on 4 separate occasions. Finally, I convinced Makerbot to send me a new machine. It arrived, made one medium resolution print (Mickey) and then refused to print anything else. I tried 3 other prints, all contiguous mesh, all relatively low poly counts and no success. After spending 18 hours trying to get it to print last weekend, I'd had enough. Makerbot has agreed to refund my full purchase price and I will reinvest the sum and a bit more for 3d Systems CubeX. Cnet rates it as the best machine of its kind and it's capable of printing nearly 4 times the Makerbot's build volume.

 I've checked the machine out in person and it is a splendidly made thing. So much of what is plastic in the Makerbot is Stainless steel and laser cut Aluminum in the Cubex. By it's construction and capabilities, it looks like it should cost 4 times more than a Makerbot but, it's only a few hundred dollars more and it's made by a parent company that has years of experience building professional machines that serve the aeronautic, medical and automotive industries. 3d Systems was printing engine blocks for General Motors when Makerbot was building Cup Cakes.

It's not all paradise though. The PLA or ABS (its able to print both) comes in a cartridge and costs twice as much and the slicing software isn't written for OSX so, I've spent the past few days cleaning up my computer so that I have sufficient room to partition my hard drive with Bootcamp so that I can run windows on my mac. In truth, with the emergence of 123d Catch (photogrametry program) by AutoDesk and a host of other programs that aren't written for Mac, I've been thinking about doing this for a while.

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