3D Printing At Large: Needs vs. Wants

As Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies like 3D printing continue to gain attention worldwide, the number of people researching how these technologies can assist their manufacturing needs increases every day.  Through my experience of manufacturing all of CryptoPrinting’s 3D prints – and through other professional AM experiences – I have had the opportunity to learn a lot and offer engineering advice to problem solvers of varying backgrounds.  This post aims to orient newcomers by helping them understand some of the different AM and 3D printing applications currently available.

Need vs. Want

While there is a ton of hope and hype around AM, the quantity and variety of additive manufacturing processes and 3D printers currently available makes investigating the benefits of AM confusing for anyone not familiar with the field.  Some articles will tell you that AM is the wonder-technology of the future, leading many to conclude that it will solve some need that they have.  Realistically, when 3D printing XYZ does not immediately solve the problem at hand, researching it can easily distract you from achieving what you were really hoping to accomplish.  This is particularly true if you don’t have your own 3D printer and want to see what other options are available for your AM needs.

Current 3D printers have limitations, including those of cost.  Sometimes AM isn’t the answer, particularly if there is a another method, which may be cheaper, faster, simpler, or smarter for engineering reasons.  Maslow’s Hammer (a.k.a The Law of the Instrument), or “the over-reliance on a familiar tool,” is worth considering here.  For CryptoPrinting in particular, “engineering reasons” has translated into having consulted several potential customers toward other means of production because the process at hand was not suitable for their application.  As a result, we would like to address the issue by providing the following 3D printing checklist:

3D Printing Checklist

If you are thinking about using 3D printing for some application (even if it’s not an order with us), please make sure that you’ve considered the following points:

1. Does your design really require 3D printing to make? 

Artistic works might require it, but certain engineering projects can be handled in other ways.

  • Do you want us to print a flat plate?  You might be better served by buying a polycarbonate sheet instead.
  • Do you want a 2×4 with holes in it?  You’d be better off with a drill press and a block of wood.

2. Which printing process is most suitable for your application? 

Each application has its own constraints and sometimes those constraints rule out certain means of manufacture:

  • Does it need to be securely watertight?  Don’t use ZCorps ceramic then, it will probably dissolve over time (I believe Shapeways lists this as natural or full color ‘sandstone’). You probably won’t want to use FDM/FFF processes (what we use) either, as some extra effort will probably be required to seal the bottom surface.
  • Does it need to withstand a certain temperature?  We are printing in thermoplastics which soften above 150C, so you’d better not want it to operate anywhere near there.
  • Does it need to be metal?  If so, hopefully you work for a major corporation, as the selective laser melting process (and other metals AM methods) are not currently priced for personal use like the polymer systems are.  That being said, there are reports of metal parts cast using a lost PLA method, so the crafty among us might use this method to bootstrap to metal parts.

3. Given an acceptable process, is your design optimized for that process? 

This is the hardest question to give a definitive answer to, and one which even educational institutions strain to incorporate into current curricula.  Design for manufacture has long been a topic of interest, but it was generally focused on other methods (like injection molding) and subtractive processes (e.g. How do you design for CNC milling?), and there’s no textbook for designing for AM that I can point you to, so it’s worth thinking about a few key things:

  • Overhang limitations vary from process to process and the precision and feature size limitations are important to consider as well.
  • Most printers are actually capable of positioning accuracies smaller than their minimum feature size.  For example, a RepRap can position to 0.1mm, but the nozzle is typically 0.35-0.5mm in diameter.  In practice, this means that subtle surface features on solid bodies less than the nozzle diameter are retained, but free standing features (like little pillars for example), should be some multiple of the nozzle width to have any strength.  Certain parts of artistic pieces may attempt to violate this rule, but their results will vary.

It is hoped that this post might help guide at least a few, as the general principles should still apply as Additive Manufacturing continues to grow and evolve.  Please post your comments, observations, and suggestions below!

Bitcoin without BitPay

Bitcoin without BitPay

CryptoPrinting (a.k.a. 3DP 4 BTC) is no longer accepting Bitcoin payments via BitPay.  We would like to take a minute to explain this change.

Let us start off by commending BitPay for the service they provide.  For those who want to accept bitcoin without having to hold bitcoin – or otherwise deal with the legal uncertainties associated with it – BitPay surely is a useful service.  We still support both BitPay and the brick and mortar services that use it.

That being said, CryptoPrinting was started with cryptocurrencies in mind – without any intention of accepting fiat at any point.  It was never intended to replace our day jobs, nor could it.  For a service like ours, BitPay lessens the impact of using Bitcoin as a payment solution by adding unneeded fees.

BitPay operates by taking a small fee from each transaction.  However, their payout process typically takes longer than it takes us to fulfill each order.  It also acts as a communication barrier between us and our customers since we need certain customization info like the type of NFC tags desired in order to fulfill orders.  Finally, BitPay does not provide escrow, so your trust in our service is still needed.

As we continue our search for alternative escrow solutions, we ask that you please contact us directly for negotiation and payment: [email protected]  Thanks!!

CryptoPrinting’s Positive BitMit Feedback

BitMit CryptoPrinting (1)

While CryptoPrinting has always been open to users submitting 3D printable designs, our NFC-enhanced simulacra have been useful for getting our name into the cryptocoin space.  Bitmit in particular has been a strong source of sales and feedback from our start in late February, 2013.

With Bitmit closing down, we thought it might be worth publicly posting our 100% positive feedback record for posterity, as what is currently publicly available information will soon be turned to digital dust.  Since BitPay has no escrow option, trust is needed more than ever for those ordering directly with us for the first time.  We’d like to point out that we’ve tried to make maintaining that trust a priority through our service record.

If you have any suggestions on how to keep improving our services, or have a suggested replacement venue with features comparable to Bitmit, please post your thoughts below.

Your feedback profile

Positive
Real neat! Thank you! BitcoinRecommended.com
3D printed BTC and LTC Simulacra pair/set (one of each)
moderats (+9 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-10-08

Positive
Excellent customer! GBTC (+478 | ↑)

Seller
2013-05-26

Positive
Great Seller! Fast communication, will buy again.
3D Printed Raspberry Pi Case
trendsetter37 (+15| ↑)

Buyer
2013-05-08

Positive
very fast shipping, fascinating product
3D printed BTC and LTC Simulacra pair/set (one of each)
swgutkind (+24 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-05-01

Positive
My order came in very quickly and was exactly as described. Excellent seller, would recommend!!
3D Printed NFC enabled Bitcoin Simulacra
halfprice06 (+1 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-04-23

Positive
Very smooth transaction. Seller had great communication and shipped quickly. Thanks!
3D Printed NFC enabled Bitcoin Simulacra
cheeser180 (+1 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-04-22

Positive
Great seller! Quick shipment. Excellent communication. A+
3D Printed NFC enabled Bitcoin Simulacra
Immuzikation (+6 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-04-22

Positive
Great seller!
3D Printed NFC enabled Bitcoin Simulacra
sims562 (+43 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-04-18

Positive
Very cool, got to me really quick also!
3D Printed NFC enabled Bitcoin Simulacra
opops (+1 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-04-17

Positive
Sorry, I forgot to check this out of escrow. Terrific product, excited to have them!
3D Printed NFC enabled Bitcoin Simulacra
gsukenik (+1 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-03-27

Positive
These came out great. Some of the best Bitcoin stuff I’ve received.
3D Printed NFC enabled Bitcoin Simulacra
weex (+7 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-03-26

Positive
Order arrived quickly and as described. This is truly a unique piece of history.
3D printed, NFC enabled, Bitcoin Simulacra (Mifare Classic 1k)
*** (+3 | ↑)

Buyer
2013-03-15

 

CryptoPrinting Summer Update

Hi there! We’ve been a bit busy lately, but wanted to remind everyone that we are still alive and printing!

So, in the spirit of 3D printing awesomeness, here are some awesome 3D printing events to grease your thought engines!

Future Possibilities (Patent expiration, Printing in Space, and Printing in Fashion):

This article essentially describes our NFC embedding process (something we were doing several months before Phys.org published the article):

Is UPS our new competition? (As though we needed more!):

Could we print graphene?  Perhaps:
http://www.3dprinter-world.com/article/3d-printing-with-graphene-horizon

It is important to consider the safety element, though we’ve not noticed any problems from breathing PLA fumes:

Not quite 3D printing, but fun:

A powerful new tool for design of ‘living’ sculptures:

Useful guide for those looking to build their own Prusa:

The latest (greatest?) RepRap iteration:

RepRap Morgan

CryptoJunky Review: 3D Printing For Bitcoin – Combining Disruptive Technologies

3D Printing For Bitcoin – Combining Disruptive TechnologiesWhat happens when you combine two of the world’s most disruptive technologies? That’s what the newly formed site 3DP4BTC is exploring as they offer custom 3D printing for Bitcoin. That’s right, you can now order anything a 3D printer can produce with a purely digital currency that you help run from the comfort of your home. Welcome to the future ladies and gentlemen. Also referred to simply as Crypto Printing, 3DP4BTC is the intersection of two burgeoning technologies, 3D printing and Bitcoin. 3D printing has been grabbing a lot of headlines as the technology is continually explored and expanded. For instance, Venture Beat recently reported about a project combining 3D printing and augmented reality. It’s not surprising that Bitcoin and 3D printing have been combined considering all the attention the two have garnered recently. In fact these two also happen to be the focus of Seed Fund Boost VC, who recently announced they’ll be focusing on Bitcoin for this summer’s incubator batch (Boost VC and Crypto Printing aren’t directly related). Boost is sector and stage agnostic but have current interests in consumer tech, 3D printing and Bitcoin related companies. How CryptoPrinting Works Crypto Printing showcases their NFC-enabled Bitcoin and Litecoin simulcra under their shop section. Purchasing these is pretty straightforward. Just add your choice to your shopping cart, enter your shipping information and checkout with BitPay (If you’re unfamiliar with BitPay it’s the same service I used in our recent NameCheap review). The simulcra are offered for $17 per Bitcoin/Litecoin or $30 for the pair. While these NFC-enabled simulcra are their flagship products, they’re not the only offerings from Crypto Printing. In fact they offer custom 3D printing. So with a few Bitcoin at your disposal you can now print pretty much anything that a 3D printer can produce. Just use their custom orders form to provide them with a STL file and your contact information. They’ll then get back to you with a price and any other pertinent information. My Experience I’ve been pretty intrigued by 3D printing after learning of the low cost of MakerBots as well as a slew of new models. Still I haven’t had the funds or the time to really try the process out yet. Crypto Printing offers a pretty simple way to get started with 3D printing without the overhead cost or time of buying and setting up your own printing. I decided to start out by ordering a few of their Bitcoin and Litecoin simulcra. To be exact I ordered one Bitcoin simulcra with a NTAG206 NFC tag, one Bitcoin simulcra with a Mifare 1k NFC tag, and one Litecoin simulcra with a NTAG206 NFC Tag. After printing the Crypto Printing staff informed me that one of the Bitcoins had a slight blemish on the edge which I opted to keep so I could tell the two different tag types apart. Once they’d finished printing Crypto Printing sent me a photo of the finished products. They gave me the choice to pay in Bitcoin or in Litecoin.

Embedly Powered

Our Crypto-Coins Are Waterproof & Buoyant!

For those of you holding our NFC-enabled 3D-printed cryptocoin simulacra ‘in the wild,’ we would like to give you a product update: your custom-printed coins are all WATERPROOF!*
Bitcoin Dunk - Top Down
We recently decided to test out our cryptocoin simulacra to see how waterproof they really were.  The results?  Not only are your coins waterproof, but they also FLOAT!!  The printing process traps small pockets of air into the coin, which allows it to float!  After giving it a short bath (with dunking), the NFC tag inside didn’t have any functional (read/write) problems at all.
For a while, we were confused why the NFC stickers we embed into your 3D prints were not considered ‘waterproof,’ while other NFC tags were.  What makes one of these tags waterproof?  It turns out that it’s all in the plastic coating around the tag.  This coating prevents the device antenna from becoming deformed or otherwise breaking when the tag gets soggy.  In that sense, embedding the tags into our 3D prints might be considered it’s own kind of waterproofing.
*We will be conducting a similar test of longer duration soon, but thought that this information was worth passing along.  That being said, anyone who has already written a private key to their tag should continue to exercise all due caution.  You wouldn’t dunk your laminated laptop into a bathtub, would you?

NFC Options Upgraded

For some time now, we have been offering our 3D printed coin simulacra with Mifare Classic 1k (716 Bytes writable) NFC tags embedded in them.  We can also embed these tags in 3D printed objects for super secret key storage, but I digress…  Mifare Classic 1k tags are compatible with most Android devices – except Nexus 4 & 10.  In general, BlackBerry and Windows 8 are not compatible with Mifare 1k, so – for some users – these tags were unusable.

We are now offering the option to embed NTGAG203 NFC tags into 3D prints.  NTAG203 tags are compatible with all NFC-enabled devices, including BlackBerry and Windows 8.  The addressable memory of these tags is only 137 Bytes – approximately the size of a tweet – so we expect our new NFC option to still be suitable for the range of purposes we have previously suggested (storing private keys, public addresses, web addresses, etc).

NFC Options Upgraded

Brick-and-Mortar merchants take note:  Our tags make a nice display of your acceptance of bitcoins and can facilitate payment in BTC!  Please contact [email protected] to discuss potential orders. 🙂