With the 3D printer industry hitting the mainstream earlier this year, new printers and related technologies are abound. As 3D printing grows in the engineering market and (some would argue) even more so in the consumer market, a clear roadblock is access to useable, related technologies.
A recent analysis determined that even though 3D printers are becoming more consumer friendly, 41.1 % of 3D printers are being used for prototyping or scale models – this technology is still heavily used for engineering-related tasks, and less-so for creating customizable figurines and at-home fixes.
Read: Coming to a Desktop Near You
Granted, it can be said that many of these numbers may be engineers who are working on a startup via Kickstarter or some other venue outside of their professional engineering careers. Either way, it appears that though the market is growing fast, 3D printers are still a somewhat niche technology, but maybe only due to the accessibility of useable technology, i.e. 3D printer accessories.
Read: PD&D’s Top Ten 3D Printers
This gap between 3D printers and the tools that make them more productive and easier to use inspired this list of the top eight accessories for 3D printers – all of which we wouldn’t mind getting to sample in our Madison offices.
Similar to my interest in the MakerBot Replicator 2X, I want to see what all of the fuss is about with this scanner. Though there has been some vitriol surrounding MakerBot’s software, the scanner has received rave reviews for its price point. At $1,400, the scanning is cheap among its peers, but it may be considered the bane among professional scanners.
Read: 3D Printing Failures: Afinia H479
The Spider from Artec is a 3D scanner that boasts real-time scanning and alignment with no calibration and no markers. The Spider is a handheld scanner meant for CAD applications. It scans with an accuracy of up to 30 microns and resolution up to 100 microns. Precision is the name of the game for Artec, and this scanner begs to be put to the test. I mean, if it’s good enough for Bioshock and Honda, it’s good enough for me.
This handheld 3D scanner’s biggest perk is the point and shoot functionality, which makes setup and rigidity while scanning almost nonexistent. The Go!SCAN’s LED technology allows for a large scanning area and fast measurement. The device boasts a short learning curve, which is what drives my want to take this thing for a spin. An accuracy up to 0.1 mm is also quite appealing, as I know the entire Engineering Newswire crew would like to be made into PEZ dispensers.
Read: 3D Printing Failures: LulzBot TAZ
The ExtrusionBot is a Kickstarter success story that creates filament for traditional FDM 3D printing in short order. The system uses stock material (ABS or PLA pellets), and extrudes them as thick, threadlike filament that fits most desktop 3D printers. The advantage of this machine is entirely based on cost. Filament spools can cost anywhere from $35 to $65 (even up to $700 for IDM spools), depending on the type and quality of the material, while the pellets are stock media and can be purchased much cheaper.
The Geomagic Touch is a professional haptic device, meaning you use it to manipulate a digital interface and that interface provides haptic feedback, i.e. you literally feel a response. This motorized device has uses in everything from 3D modeling to training doctors for surgery, but I just want to use it to manipulate digital clay that can translate to 3D prints.
FilaMaker is a device that utilizes high pressures to grind up failed prints and extrude them as usable filament. Since failed prints are a leading waste of filament material, this device could be a market disruptor. As the system uses pressure, less heat is required to extrude filament, which prevents plastic degradation After seeing numerous half-finished prints go into the garbage after a misalignment on the printer or a lifting print, this device could be a big money-saver.
Go!MODEL is a reverse engineering and design tool from 3D Systems, which was developed in a partnership with Creaform. This software allows users to captures 3D scanner information and directly model renderings and designs that easily translate to 3D printers.
Read: Shot in the Face
Rapidform 3D software
Rapdiform’s 3D software, now a part ofis a powerful tool for processing 3D scan data for 3D printing and non-mechanical reverse engineering. Though many 3D scanners have provided software, the Rapidform software offers unique second-generation shape capture applications, which has potential to better read scanning data and develop higher-quality 3D files.
Did we miss an innovative accessory? Comment below or email [email protected].
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Product Design and Development
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Madison, WI 53713
Filed Under: Rapid prototyping