The weekend was a blast at the Kansas City Maker's Faire (http://www.makerfairekc.com/). There were presentations and fun from many groups and as expected 3D printers were everywhere. While 3D printing is nothing new, it is still a fledgling market for the DIY home crowd and there is a constant stream of new ideas.
For the uninitiated; 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) is any of various processes of making a three-dimensional object from a 3D model or other electronic data source primarily through additive processes in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing). What does that (usually) mean? It means you have a machine that melts some form of plastic and lays it out like ink in a plotter and layer by layer "prints" a 3-Dimensional object.
There were a plethora of offerings, some that originated years ago, from both printer manufacturers and supplemental items. The guys at KitBash were incredibly cool, offering 3D files for both objects and test kits for those who already have 3D printers.
There was a great display of unique printers from a group called "Concept Forge", an innovation incubator. Nicholas at Concept Forge was great, he had some very interesting items for show; The CoreXZ a very traditional looking printer cranking out an army of orange squirrels...
...an odd upside-down printer (picture is right-side up) made from PVC pipe, plywood and yellow 3D printed parts...
...a Z-lift printer with orange 3D printed parts named "Wally"...
...and an ingeniously designed gear system with yellow 3D printed parts on a printer named "Simpson".
Breaking away from the traditional inkjet plotter styles of 3D printers are the guys from MakerJuice Labs have an incredible liquid printing technique. The printing bed is on top again and as the object being printed is lifted from the petri dish of fluid a flash of light solidifies the next layer. it is both creepy and mesmerizing watching the newly made object slowly emerge from a puddle of goo. The finished objects are remarkably smooth.
While not a 3D printer perse' the guys at Smooth-On deserve mention here. Smooth-on provides a wide range of paintable/castable latex and rubber concoctions that allow you to make a flexible mold from virtually anything. It can take many hours to print an individual item from a 3D printer, but when you are done you can make a flexible mold with one of many Smooth-On products and replicate your item over and over. They offer many types of molding materials including high temperature products you can pour molten tin in and food-safe items for cool shaped lollipop forms.
A few other honorable mentions;
Oni Technology for fairly large (200mm cubed) print jobs
and the very cute and affordable OneUp
I personally am waiting for my pre-purchased Mod-T when the Indiegogo campaign completes.
It was a great show, thanks all.