G3DP
August 24, 2015 7:09 AM   Subscribe

 
At first I was all, 'oh look, another medium in which 3D printing is making things that are not as good as traditional methods.' But then they get to the end and shine lights through those shapes and I was all 'Ooooooooooooooooh. Pretty. Want. Pretty. Oooooooooooooh.'
posted by jacquilynne at 7:31 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


At first I was all, 'oh look, another medium in which 3D printing is making things that are not as good as traditional methods.'

That's a little like complaining that inkjet printing isn't 'as good' as hand printed engravings. True, in a sense, but entirely missing the point.
posted by signal at 7:40 AM on August 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm just thinking DO NOT TOUCH THE PRINTHEAD.

The Kiln Cartridge operates at approximately 1900°F and can contain sufficient material to build a single architectural component

I am impressed that they can operate at this temp -- things like lubrication get difficult when the printhead wants to set fire to most lubricants, and the whole printer is operating at a temperature that means a lot of materials are simply out of the questions.

And glass is really quite difficult to work with -- you have to keep it just flowing, then let it cool *just* at bit to solidify, but not too much, or contraction will shatter it. Once the piece is done, you can take it to an annealing oven and slowly cool it to room temp. But there's a thin range of workability. That's why they're always spinning glass while blowing it, they're keeping in in the plastic range, but to print in, you've got to jump it from plastic to non-plastic, but not shatter it.

Really, really tough to do.

This is a really impressive bit of engineering -- really, to me, the 3D printing part is sort of just the cherry on the top. Just getting any machinery to work that consistently at those temps at that small of a scale is really quite the feat.
posted by eriko at 7:52 AM on August 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


The trick (if you can call it that) for most FDM printers in managing the whole mess is keeping the actual melt zone rather small. This does help in managing the heat issues, but that is still really (really) hot.
posted by twidget at 8:27 AM on August 24, 2015


Awesome, does this mean Chihuly can start laying off his already-underpaid assistants?
posted by 7segment at 8:33 AM on August 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's a little like complaining that inkjet printing isn't 'as good' as hand printed engravings. True, in a sense, but entirely missing the point.

I don't not get the point of 3D printing, but there's a lot of breathless, "this is the most amazingest amazingness ever" stuff written about 3D printing, and it's tended to leave me kind of eye-rolly about the whole thing. 3D printing is a cool technique, and useful within certain parameters, but the actual physical things it spits out are generally not amazing. They are usually low resolution copies of things that could be made much better (if over a longer, more expensive time period) via other means. If you saw them in a dollar store next to the same item made by injection molding, you wouldn't be impressed.

This is one of the few instances I've seen 3D printing has created an object that because of the inherent qualities of 3D printing is more cool and amazing than it might otherwise have been. I imagine you could do some similar things with traditional glassmaking techniques, but they might not turn out as well as these did.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:33 AM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


What a great way to make ribbed lampshades.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:36 AM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nifty, but I wish people would use Vimeo a little less. Their player really doesn't handle limited bandwidth that well, nor does it offer any options for managing stream quality. Spool, play, stutter, play, stutter...
posted by Samizdata at 8:41 AM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, the ribbing kind, especially with the looped turrets, makes me wonder how well these things can be used as vessels. Pretty is nice, pretty that can hold things is better.
posted by Samizdata at 8:46 AM on August 24, 2015


but there's a lot of breathless, "this is the most amazingest amazingness ever" stuff written about 3D printing

I think a lot of that, though, is the inherent future possibility in what we understand is an infant technology right now. It is amazing, it will do amazing things*. The phrase "game changer" is dumb but apt. We're watching the game change.

*Already is, especially in applications where components need to be custom-produced to incredibly precise (and variable-to-unique) measurements, like in medicine and engineering.

Yes, it's a leaky vase, but it was printed with semi-molten liquid glass, y'all. Chances are really good they're not just going to stop at leaky vases, or glass.

Having a sense of wonder is not a weakness or personal failure.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:49 AM on August 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


Having a sense of wonder is not a weakness or personal failure.

And I implied that it was where, exactly?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:56 AM on August 24, 2015


they haven't solved either of the two big, obvious problems with printing glass: everything needs support and the surface is strongly curved (it's not "transparent" in the sense that you can see through the result in an undistorted way).

it's cool that they've got another material that can be used in "basic" 3d printing. and the presentation is (as you'd expect from mit) excellent. but i think the scepticism in various posts above comes from those two unsolved technical issues.

i wonder if the optical quality can be improved by using a smaller head + annealing? for unsupported structures i have no idea.
posted by andrewcooke at 9:01 AM on August 24, 2015


I can so make an awesome ashtray with that gizmo!
posted by 2N2222 at 9:01 AM on August 24, 2015


Seriously, I was reminded of an ashtray we had when I was a kid. Are fancy ashtrays even a thing anymore? I hardly know anyone that smokes. Those that do treat it like a shameful addiction in the shadows or are really not much for fancy.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:04 AM on August 24, 2015


we got a fancy ashtray as a present just a while back. from someone who owns a shop that sells fancy ashtrays.

so i guess they do exist, but aren't making much of a profit.
posted by andrewcooke at 9:11 AM on August 24, 2015


we got a fancy ashtray as a present just a while back.

My brother-in-law, who (still, grar) smokes, made the mistake of calling a piece of murano glass he and my sister received for a wedding present an ashtray. It became an ongoing joke as he declared any vessel they opened an ashtray. And it was funny, because back then the guy would use anything as an ashtray, including his hand.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


3D printing is a cool technique, and useful within certain parameters, but the actual physical things it spits out are generally not amazing. They are usually low resolution copies of things that could be made much better (if over a longer, more expensive time period) via other means. If you saw them in a dollar store next to the same item made by injection molding, you wouldn't be impressed.

That's exactly the ideal application of 3D Printing...making cheap prototypes of parts that will be injection molded. Designing and manufacturing injection molding tools is a painstaking and very expensive process, and not something you want to do twice because you got something wrong. Having an actual-size prototype to do precision fit tests with is a godsend.
posted by rocket88 at 9:25 AM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


G3DP is an additive manufacturing platform designed to print optically transparent glass

Eh.

Let me know when it can print optically tranparent aluminum.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2015


That's exactly the ideal application of 3D Printing...making cheap prototypes...

Which makes total sense. Thing is, if you listen to certain corners of the geek-o-sphere *COUGHboingboingCOUGH* you'd think that we're just a year or two away from 3D-printing entire vehicles. In our own garage. Which we also 3-D printed.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:45 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's nice for ribbed hollow shiny glowy things, but perhaps I have a limited appetite for those.

There's a more interesting technology around called Luxexcel that can print perfectly smooth, transparent optical components, and that really does have possibilities. It's available, too - you can send them designs and get stuff back - although I don't know how close it is to being commercial. I've been looking for an extant use that's interesting enough to pitch as a story, but haven't found it yet (and the company hasn't been able to supply one), so I guess they're still in that big 3D printer hinterland (the 'printerland', if you will) where there are plenty of answers but not many questions.
posted by Devonian at 10:07 AM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


*Already is, especially in applications where components need to be custom-produced to incredibly precise (and variable-to-unique) measurements, like in medicine and engineering.


Really? When is 3D printing incredibly precise and compared to what? I can understand that 3D printing is cheaper than other methods for one-off or small run production, but is the precision really better than what can otherwise be achieved?
posted by ssg at 10:11 AM on August 24, 2015


This is very cool, and also the music is GREAT and evidently by this guy.
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:18 AM on August 24, 2015


3D printing right now is in the same state as personal computers were in 1979.

They were cranky and ornery and you had to have a serious love of spending a lot of time fiddling with them to get things just right and then when you show your friends, they respond with a confused look of "is that it?"

What it is doing right now really well is making it possible to replace broken crappy plastic or metal parts on things that would otherwise cost vastly more (where vast might be measured in time or in money, such as "this thing hasn't been made for 10 years, good luck finding the replacement, so the cost is close to infinite") or making things that would otherwise be a serious PITA to make. For example, a decade ago I wanted to make a clock with tuned chimes kicked by solenoids. I found some surplus ones and was stopped by them being pull not push. Flash forward to the present and I made a dozen little mechanisms and housings that hold the solenoids and convert the pull to a kick, which I did with a CAD program while the kids were watching a movie and printed the parts while we were eating dinner.

But the printers suck and the slicing software sucks and the CAD software sucks. That's not just 3 times you have to have forgiveness in the process, it's 103 times because each one compounds the other.

So whoo-hoo for glass 3D printing! And woo-hoo for 3D spray cheese printing! I'm all for it. The inevitable improvement in technology will be like the ability to take a JPG to a grocery store and they will print it on some edible paper with edible ink and put it on your cake.

Yes, I do want my 3D printed cake and yes, I will eat it too.

Mmmm....3D printed cake.
posted by plinth at 10:21 AM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The music in the video is beautiful. A comment on the Vimeo page lead me to its composer's site, http://www.keepalive.org - haven't figured out if he sells stuff anywhere.
posted by egypturnash at 10:25 AM on August 24, 2015


3D printing right now is in the same state as personal computers were in 1979.

It's 2025 and I'm changing random 1s to 0s in an unlabeled CFG file for two hours because my 3D printer keeps spitting out malformed blobs instead of a little model of Doomguy.
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2015


Really?

Yes, for example in medical devices (surgical, prosthetic, etc) to specifically fit the place they are going to go, made quickly to precise measurements. (The surgical implications - many of which are really primitive today and won't be ten years from now - are pretty amazing. See also pharmacology.)

Last fall a 3D printer was delivered to the ISS for testing microgravity 3D printing (it worked), which is the sort of thing that will be necessary for any sort of long-term manned (or unmanned - imagine a Hubble replacement that can print its own replacement parts and robotically install them instead of needing a visit from a person or service module) project.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:32 AM on August 24, 2015


I have the coolest 3D printed thing from a tour of Z corp some years ago, but the skeptics have real point. The biggest customer for that innovative pioneer for years was tennis shoe prototyping. (ergh :-)

One issue that I think is often glossed over is materials science is complex in ways software just isn't. Many things need many steps before they are strong or flexible to be useful. But a whole lot of buttons and cases and stuff is plastic and could be trivially replaced if a 3d bill of materials was delivered with a device. It requires a non-obsolete-ish mindset that does not seem to be the way the "just replace it" world is going.

3D printing has been used in industrial environments for years, say, when a complex cog would have a month lead time. The printed part may have 1/10 the life expectancy but... print it again.
posted by sammyo at 11:22 AM on August 24, 2015


The best use of 3d printing that I've seen is complex plastic prototyping and fixturing. The mechanical engineers used to spend a couple weeks making a design change, then would send it off for a "quick" build with a six week turnaround time. Then they would discover a flaw, or the electrical engineer would change their through-hole size, or marketing would upset the basket, and they would do it again, and again, and...

With a 3d printer, that 8 weeks becomes about 8 hours. Things that took years now take weeks. Combine that with a modern UX system that tests different designs in the hands of users, and you've got some great products being made.
posted by underflow at 12:00 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


back then the guy would use anything as an ashtray, including his hand.

Mental Wimp, anything's a dildo an ashtray if you're brave enough.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:12 PM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering how they could make a video of this if the temperature constraints are so tight. When they open up the oven to look inside at about 1:48, I was thinking, "Oh, no, you're letting all the heat out!" Apparently it didn't make a difference, but, I'm not sure why.
posted by straight at 12:40 PM on August 24, 2015


@jacquilynne: there's many a part which could only be injection molded with complex, very expensive multi-part molds which can now be more cheaply printed in metals to within very exact tolerances.

So for a small run of up to, say, a thousand peices, of a complex part with a complex surface texture and exact tolerances, it will be cheaper to 3d print that and you'll get a part which is indistinquishable from an injection molded part.

Actually, it WILL be distinguishable: it will not have any mold lines.

Profesional 3d printing has been better and cheaper than injection molding for at least 5 to ten years, now, if you're not making runs of hundreds of thousands of units.

As another use case, a button of my Microsoft explorer trackball, which has long been discontinued and runs for $350-$500 on ebay (even secondhand!) broke. For a few bucks (and actually quite some time creating the complexly curved piece in 3D) I had a replacement.

@sammyo: that's a great idea! To reduce obsolesence, require a full partslist in an open 3d format to be downloadable for any consumer appliance!
posted by MacD at 12:54 PM on August 24, 2015


An aside...I used the MeFi pop-up to play that Vimeo video and it demanded I turn Flash on. Really, Vimeo? Still stuck in Flash?

*sigh*
posted by Thorzdad at 12:59 PM on August 24, 2015


Thing is, if you listen to certain corners of the geek-o-sphere *COUGHboingboingCOUGH* you'd think that we're just a year or two away from 3D-printing entire vehicles. In our own garage. Which we also 3-D printed.

How else are we supposed to get a garage into space?
posted by hellphish at 3:00 PM on August 24, 2015


As far as I'm concerned, the real limitation shown here is that it doesn't allow you to print objects that *can't* be cast. So, even as a tool for making art, it's still limited.

It's also not clear (ahem) what the optical results would be if you smoothed the surface using traditional glass working methods (wet cloth on a stick!)

Be fun to see if they could integrate optical fibre coating in there, though....
posted by jefflowrey at 3:39 PM on August 24, 2015


Oddly, Disney Research has been doing some interesting research in 3D printing. ...for example
posted by moonmilk at 6:03 PM on August 24, 2015


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