My 2013 Open Source 3D Printer Predictions • Print quality and speed will improve

My 2013 Open Source 3D Printer Predictions

• Print quality and speed will improve dramatically. Most of this will come from software developments, including improvements in slicing software, host-control software, and the firmware driving the printers themselves.
• MakerBot will further distance themselves from their Open Source roots and former community. Many will consider this a natural part of their evolution.
• One or two (but no more) companies will become very popular, challenging MakerBot with high quality and mass-market capable open source 3D printers, and further push 3DP into the mainstream consciousness. Many companies and individuals will try to be one of these, but will fail. Most will fail due to lack of understanding of the technology, the market, and mass manufacturing.
• There will be the first legal maneuvering between two or more companies about their fused filament devices, and it will set the tone and pace of the market for years to come. The I.P.-based companies (3DS, Dimension, etc) will not directly be a part of these legal actions.
• New uses (“killer apps”) for in-home or small business 3DP will be what truly makes it a success, but we will only see seeds of those this year.

Might want to clarify #1 to include printer firmware as well as host-side software (which includes slicers).

@Whosa_whatsis , I edited to reflect that. I forgot that some people don’t consider the firmware on the devices as software. :slight_smile:

I hope we are the ones challenging Makerbot…hehe

@Diego_Porqueras_Deez I would like to see that. It’s not going to be easy, though.

I think print quality AND print time will go up. I think we’re going to finally get a second material support solution and that is just going to make print times worse. Maybe the old timers will continue to state bogus print speed claims, but the end user needs reliability. You choose a model (any model) hit print and it prints. As you increase speed you make reliability a more difficult problem. Save that for 2014.

@Billy I agree that quality and speed are often mutually exclusive. However, some of the solutions I’ve seen for print quality issues will inherently allow higher quality prints too.

I suspect alternate-plastic support will arrive this year too. It’s going to require some of the higher degrees of filament control, though. Hardware support is just now arriving on the scene, and the firmware is starting to think about it, so there’s hope.

I think smarter software for support creation will minimize some of this. Why build a full support when all you need is scaffolding? The scaffolding can also be sloppy most of the way – it just needs to be accurately placed for adhesion below and positioning above. The fills can also be more dynamically adjusted – being denser closer to the surface and sparser at the core.

Something I’m partly expecting & partly hoping is that more open-source “parts and subsystems that can be used for 3DP” start appearing from the likes of @Adafruit_Industries and @SparkFun_Electronics . It’s sort of how MakerBot started with the Cupcake (as RepStrap), using @Zach_Smith 's RepRap board designs, but their (corporate) focus changed to become 3D Printers that have open source parts (when they get around to that part).

My predictions for 3d printing in 2013 is that the filabot will ship and people will start making their own filament and experimenting with disposable items.