We often get into discussions and debates about the potential for 3D printing, especially as it relates to robotics. We tend to take the positive side of the debate, and paint a rosy picture of what we believe to be a not-too-distant future where researchers, developers, and even hobbyists will be able to crank out real-world manifestations of their dream concepts, and test them under practical conditions at reasonable cost and with very short timeframes.
It will be, at least to our way of thinking, an environment that will support quick itteration and increase our learning cycle time ramp by several orders of magnitude.
Of course, our opponents in this type of debate are always quite skeptical and difficult to convince. Finally, no matter how passionate and spirited our arguement is, they resort to the classic Missouri put-up-or-shut-up ploy of demanding that we “Show me!”
Well, now we have a great example to actually show them…
The I, Engineer blog explains the “3D printing of mechanical parts” process and design trade-offs. They also talk about the cost impact of different modeling and manufacturing methods. And, surprisingly, they didn’t have to actually purchase a printer. They used a 3D print-on-demand service that was able to turn their SolidWorks 3D model into printed parts in less than 2 weeks including shipping.
Here’s the result: