More Software

I recently came across another free software tool for CAD/3d design. The software is called CoCreate by PTC, which offers both a commercial and a free personal version. The interface looks pretty straight forward and the software on the whole reminds me of another tool in this category called Alibre Design. Both tools seems to take a similar approach, offering a free application to attract people into the 3d market, while maintaining a more traditional CAD-like approach. I find this approach to be less intuitive than other tools that do not follow so closely to the CAD tradition, such as Rhino, Form Z, and Google’s SketchUp, which is, technically, more of a visualization tool than a true modeling program.

In any case, both CoCreate and Alibre Design Xpress have the potential to be good, free tools, attracting new comers to the 3d fabrication arena.

Great Potential

This past week I ran across a site for a new 3d printer that uses standard office paper as its consumable media. How cool is that? The resolution looks pretty good, and given that they are advertising the cost of consumables (paper, cutting blades) at 40 times less expensive than other 3d printers, this could be revolutionary. The basic premise is simple. Like other fabrication technologies, the MCOR Matrix software slices the model into layers which, in this case, are the thickness of 20lb. office paper. It then cuts the profile of each layer out of the paper and uses a PVA-based adhesive to bond the layers together. From reading the FAQ, it sounds like the adhesive is applied much like an inkjet printer.

While this printer is still in development, it appears that it is close to coming to the market, unlike some other alternative fabricating technologies.

We have tried to break the current trend of system manufactures that follow the 2D printer market who on the one hand offer machines with ever reducing capital cost while on the other making 40-50% revenue on materials. The core material for the Mcor Matrix is paper (which is purchased by the end user) with the blade and adhesive supplied by Mcor Technologies at a volume discounted prices. The total cost of ownership, factoring in the consumables makes our system the best value for money in real costs.

MCOR Matrix

14 3-d Printers

RP object

I ran across a post this morning at MAKE Magazine (which is a great mag, by the way) that explains different 3-d printers that are currently available, including both commercial and open source projects.

In the last few years Rapid Prototyping(RP) has become more automated and much cheaper. Machines suitable for offices and academic environments have appeared on the market and have been christened 3D Printers. A range of different RP technologies exist and two companies have come to dominate the market, Stratasys & ZCorp. A quality 3D printer from either of these two will cost in the order of £30,000.

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Each has its advantages but to me the color capabilities of the ZCorp 510 makes this easily the most desirable machine. It is the machine currently used by the majority of the top UK 3D print bureaus. Also Bristol Fine Print Research have a couple of ZCorp machines. If you had a larger budget (£100,000+) then you could look to go to the high end Rapid Prototyping machines again from Stratasys which can build to a much larger size and precision and also use a bigger variety of build mediums. There are also some cheap and cheerful approaches you could take with a budget of a few thousand pounds.

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14 3-d Printers [via Fabbaloo and MAKE]

Moment of Inspiration (software)

There is another software package I just thought of this morning that might be useful. It is called Moment of Inspiration (MOI) (I am not so hot on the name) but it is good software in any case. The interface is very intuitive and in many ways it is a nice blend of the features found in Rhino and Sketchup. I find it really easy to work with and much more powerful than Sketchup or CB Model Pro. It also reads and writes the proprietary Rhino file format, making it very useful as a supplement to Rhino. The reason I have not bought it is that it is the same price as the educational cost of Rhino ($195). But compared to the full cost of Rhino ($995), it is a great deal. It is a PC-only application, though. In any case, it may be worth a look and a means to get things rolling quickly. There is a demo you can download at the above link.

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