Thursday, May 24, 2007

It Ain't Smoke and Mirrors!


Back in the early days of video games we were constantly hearing this rumor or that rumor, only to learn that it was all "Smoke & Mirrors". In other words, if it sounds too good the be true, it usually isn't.

We had our own lingering doubts about both of the low-cost 3D printers that are being promised for delivery in the next few months. If the V-Flash actually kicks out some parts in front of the crowd at EASTEC 2007 we can rest a little easier. We'll see.

But, on the Desktop Factory front, we're beginning to see some real movement. Visit their web site and then compare the sites' images with the parts you see here. It is evident that they have been very busy experimenting with ways to help their future users get the most out of their machines when they finally ship.

This image was very important for me. First, it tells me that the surface of the parts created in the Desktop Factory can be polished, smoothed and/or coated to a beautiful finish. Furthermore, they appear to take paint extremely well. Click in the above image and see if you don't observe a fingerprint in the silver gear. It takes a pretty shiny surface to show a fingerprint!

But, it also tells me that Desktop Factory is willing to show its warts, too. The first image that I posted on this blog of a Desktop Factory part came from this larger image. That item and others in the picture, while polished or painted, still reveal the original surface characteristics in interior areas. They could have turned them so it didn't show up; but, they didn't. That's class.

What is unclear is whether the surfaces were polished in some way or that the coating was simply used to smooth the surfaces. If anyone has any information as to how these items were processed please let us know. But, DON'T contact us about using the word "Ain't". We're from the South and Tom taught Science, not English!! Feel fortunate that we didn't use "Ain't Not"!

Yep! It's right around the corner and it truly ain't smoke and mirrors! We just wonder if Tom can actually clear off a large enough area on his desk by the time they are ready to ship. His wife is betting that he can't do it! But, we're pulling for him. There's a desk under there somewhere!!!

1 comment:

Michael Berman said...

I have seen and handled their parts - and your description is accurate. They come out of the machine fairly rough (although it's still early days and they are refining the process) but the material (nylon) is dense and easily finished.

Some of their earliest prototype parts tended to peel at the layers but I think they've made progress on this. There's a lot of experimental engineering to get the temperature and pressure just right.

By the way, the machine uses both a pure nylon material (which is flexible) and a metal-filled nylon (rigid) depending on your needs. All the parts from the Desktop Factory machine pass the "drop test" right out of the machine - compared with the ZCorp parts which tend to be very fragile.

I'll be very interested to hear about the VFlash parts.

I don't know if we'll see a great $5000 printer this year, but it's inevitable within the next 18 months.