I just returned from a very interesting conference dealing with 3D printing (including hardware and software issues). It was great to see old friends and even better to meet a collection of new ones. What I liked most at this conference was the real diversity of viewpoints relating to additive manufacturing (AM) issues.
Evan and Hod brought us the Fab-at-Home (a personal fabricator system) back in 2006! The Fab-at-Home system was the first available 3d printer kit (plus it had multi-material capabilities built-in)! We had ours running in December 2006. Fab-at-Home’s employ a syringe drive extrusion system . This syringe drive system can extrude almost any material. The Fab-at-Home site has a materials page which lists some of the materials (about 19-ish) which are known to provide success (along with guidelines for some materials). One of the cheapest materials and also one of the favorites is silicone bathtub caulk. Imagine soft rubber parts coming out of your RepRap!
Hod gave an overview of the new Additive Manufacturing File Format (AMF) and an overview of his many projects. Evan gave an overview of Additive Manufacturing, an overview of his PhD thesis work and a status report on NextFab. Both of these talks got everyone really buzzing.
Adam Mayer from MakerBot ran the whole group through a “How to” tutorial on 3D printing and MakerBots. He also served to chief officer keeping the two Thing-O-Matics running for attendees use. (Considering most attendees were new to this technology, Adam was very understanding).
You might remember that MakerBot had a syringe extrusion system called a “Frostruder“. Further, a quick search of Thingiverse yields over 20 things related to Frostruding. The good folks at Unfold.be (with Jonathan Keep) modified a RapMan to attach a Claytruder (thingiverse:3604) to extrude ceramic art materials.
Here’s the bottom line — Do you want to 3D print in new/interesting materials? Do you want to 3D print in food materials? Anything that you can extrude out of a syringe (i.e. Frostruder/Claystruder) can potentially be a 3D print material. Almost every new material on this web site can be syringe extruded (almost every material used in powder printing including metals). With multiple heads, multi-material systems are completely possible now!
We all want 3D printers to take the next step. Well, an easy modification to any RepRap/MakerBot/Huxley, etc. is the addition of an Extruder. What’s holding you back from Extruding today?
P.S. If you have a Fab-at-Home, there was some recommendation that a stone ground wheat cracker with a multi-material build of turkey and celery tastes amazing.
Looks like the team over at UltiMaker have been having syringe extrusion fun too.