What I’m looking for in my next 3d printer

So I eagerly tuned into the Makerbot Replicator2 release event. What new thrills would this growing, innovative company bring to the low-cost 3d printer market?  Would some of my 3d printer feature-wish-list be granted?  Er, no.

Now this won’t post won’t be a rant about a good company lead down the closed-source path by venture capitalists.  That’s been done over and over.  Instead I want to share what I hope to see in the next generation of affordable 3d printers.  As a relative newcomer to 3d printing I have not immersed myself in technical minutia and instead focus on cranking out prints for my students.  My printer runs six to eight hours a day.

In no order whatsoever:

1. print queue- lots of wise people are comparing the current state of 3d printers to that of desktop publishing.  Agreed.  So let’s learn from that path.  I want to be able to queue up three prints sequentially in such a way that they will print on the build platform without bumping into each other.  Sure there’s a workaround available now by combining multiple files into one file.  But how about three print jobs from three different designers?  I need a queue for my 3d printer.

2. conveyor belt 2.0- Makerbot gave this a shot with the Automatic Build Platform.  My recollection is that it was not a success.  But the idea is compelling and would be incredibly useful.  How I would love to combine a conveyor belt with a print queue in 3d printing.  That leads to a small factory in my workshop.  Granted, there are real issues here.  How does the object get removed (scraped) off the build platform?  What does it get deposited into?  Does it have to be heated?  Overcoming these obstacles will be well worth it to users who run their printers non-stop during waking hours.

3. a preview window- this goes back to a learning from the desktop publishing model.  It took 15 plus years for the document duplication industry to bring this to market.  The 3d printer people shouldn’t wait.  I want a small LCD display on my 3d printer that will show a preview of the object, the filename, which extruder will be used to print.  All this before I start the print job.  And this display should be integrated in such a way to recognize that not all 3d printers will live on a workbench height piece of furniture.

Here goes my RANT: I was stunned that Makerbot released a new product, with a heavy emphasis on aesthetics, and persisted in using the same small, four line LCD on it’s new machine.  Then they put it down towards the bottom of the device.  People stand.  People sit.  People are different heights.  Put the display on a swivel, tilt or gooseneck so I don’t have to squat down to read the info. Yes, I am over 40.  RANT over.

4. include a plexi shield or sneeze guard- if heat, drafts and/or noise are an issue with the printer then include a plexi shield.  After a few months of masking tape and plastic sheets to keep my prints from peeling and warping I invested in plexi shilds and hood.  The improvement in print and resulting noise reduction was great.  But not including the plexi is like making car doors an accessory purchase.

That’s my next gen 3d printer wish list.  What’s on your list?  What did I miss?

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2 thoughts on “What I’m looking for in my next 3d printer

  1. Pingback: Managing 3d printer workflow (how do you keep all the eager users happy?) | 3D Printing in the Classroom

  2. Pingback: MakerBot stole my idea. And I’m glad. | 3D Printing in the Classroom

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