As Desktop Engineering’s Senior Editor Kenneth Wong illustrates in “A New Look at Subtractive Prototyping,” there is plenty of room in upfront design engineering for both additive and subtractive rapid prototyping technologies. To have a little fun pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of both technologies, we decided to pit Todd Grimm (representing additive) against Anthony Graves (representing subtractive) in this point-counterpoint arena. While both Grimm and Graves see the value in using both approaches, we asked them to pick a side and come out swinging.
I remember a time not all that long ago when the Maker community was pleased as punch just to work with additive manufacturing (AM). They produced Yoda busts, chess sets and kitchen gadgets in ABS or PLA and rushed to show the results to the internet. Now, a new type of manufacturing system has entered workshops. These all-in-one devices still offer AM, but add in subtractive methods as well.
First we saw the Mini Proto Lab at RAPID 2013. More recently was Mebotics Microfactory. Today adds another competitor to the rapidly growing lineup of multifunctional manufacturing devices with Italian FABtotum‘s Personal Fabricator. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) is an amazing technology, but it isn’t quite ready to replace every other form of manufacturing. For some pieces, particularly in wood or metal, it’s probably simpler, not to mention less expensive, to produce parts through more traditional manufacturing methods. That may eventually change, but for now the mill and the mold still find plenty of work.
Mebotics is a new start-up that arose out of the Boston Maker scene, and it has a developed a system that combines AM and milling into an all-in-one parts machine, which sounds similar to the Multi Proto Lab we told you about in June. Called the Microfactory, the system includes a dual-head material extrusion 3D printer, printing and etching heads, and a mill into the same, enclosed box. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) has plenty of advantages over more traditional prototyping methods. It can more readily build complex internal geometries, and can complete multi-part objects in a single pass. That said, not every prototype need be produced with AM. Subtractive rapid prototyping (SRP) still has plenty of advantages of its own.
Roland DGA recently showcased its most advanced SRP systems at SIGGRAPH 2013. SIGGRAPH brought together more than 17,000 attendees, including artists, filmmakers, students and academics from 77 countries to the Anaheim Convention Center. On display from Roland was its MDX line of benchtop milling machines.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is great for plenty of applications, but it does have some disadvantages when it comes to certain areas. Industrial 3D printers may be able to build enough parts in one batch, thanks to a large build envelope, to make mass manufacturing worthwhile, but desktop AM systems are less useful for such applications.
LNS Technologies is looking to fill the gap between AM and injection molding for small runs of plastic parts by offering a desktop plastic injection molding system. Already fully funded via Kickstarter, the company plans to sell its system for $1,500, which is cheap for nearly any injection system that isn’t fueled by Play-Doh.