3D Printing At Maker Faire

The current trend of cheap, desktop, consumer 3D printers arguably began at the World Maker Faire in New York several years ago. What began with just a single printer exploded into a mindless proliferation of extrusion boxes, and by 2012, every single booth had to have a 3D printer on display no matter how applicable a CNC machine was to what they were actually selling.

Now we’re in the doldrums of the hype cycle and 3D printers just aren’t cool anymore. This year at the World Maker Faire, 3D printers were relegated to a tiny corner of the faire, right next to the portajohns. It’s the smallest showing of 3D printing I’ve ever seen at the New York Maker Faire.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the state of 3D printing isn’t constantly improving. 3D printers have never been cheaper, more capable, or more popular. This is how technology works, really: it doesn’t get good until it gets boring. Still, there were some impressive displays of the current state of 3D printing at the World Maker Faire this weekend. You can check that out below.

Prusa’s I3 Mk. 3

One of the perennial favorite 3D printers is the Prusa I3, In the last year, Prusa has been knocking everything out of the park with actual innovation like a slicer for beginners, a dead-simple implementation of variable layer thickness printing, and of course multi-material extrusion.

Now the I3 is getting an upgrade, announced today at the World Maker Faire. The I3 MK 3 is an incremental upgrade, but still has some awesome, very desirable features. The stepper drivers have been upgraded to Trinamic drivers, and the fan is now a PC Master Race-approved Noctua unit. The print bed has been upgraded to a removable, magnetic piece of spring steel coated with PEI, and there’s now a touch sensor to turn the printer on. Also on the upgrade list is a Bondtech drive gear, an optical filament encoder, and the ability to recover prints after a power failure and to recover shifted layers.

There are a few pics of the prints coming off the multi-extrusion Prusa below. These are really some of the finest prints I’ve ever seen coming off a 3D printer. Of course, most of this is due to the incredible operator skill demonstrated by the Prusa team, but these results show the Prusa is capable of just about anything.

Let’s Turn Smartphones Into 3D Printers!

Stereolithography, resin printers, or whatever else you want to call them are the future. The future isn’t here quite yet, but a lot of people are trying. FormLabs is kicking ass with their Form2 resin printer, but not everyone wants to drop thousands of dollars on a printer. There’s a market for a cheap resin printer, which leads to a few observations and engineering decisions. Everyone has a smartphone with a bright, high-DPI display, for instance, so why not build a printer around a smartphone.

The first ‘resin printer built around a smartphone’ is the ONO printer. This was a Kickstarter that raked in $2 Million a few years ago, and these guys have been showing up at the World Maker Faire for the past few years. Does the printer work? I can tell you, for certain, the ONO printer didn’t work last year. I checked it out in their booth last year, and even though the team said the parts were produced on the ONO printer, they were not.

This year is different. I don’t know if this printer works. They had a few units on display that looked like they were doing something. That’s technically progress. ONO was showing off their fantastic packaging, and they say they’ll be shipping in mid-October. The year was not specified.

If one idea can rake in two million from Kickstarter, somebody else is going to try it again. Another printer, T3D, just launched on Kickstarter and made an appearance at this year’s World Maker Faire. This is basically the same idea as the ONO printer — take a smartphone, put it underneath some resin, and display slices of a 3D print on the screen. Add a stepper, and something might happen.

That, unfortunately, is just about all there is when it comes to 3D printers at Maker Faire. There are incremental advances to great printers and slightly outlandish ideas that probably won’t pan out. This is okay, really. 3D printers are now what they should have been all along: not incredible hype machines, but just tools to build stuff.

24 thoughts on “3D Printing At Maker Faire

    1. Its almost certainly an optical mouse sensor. They describe it as being able to detect presence/absence of filament as well as its movement. A standard laser curtain would only detect whether or not something is blocking the beam, so there has to be some kind of optical flow to also detect if the filament is moving.

  1. I think you’re reading a little much into ‘the year was not specified.’ I spoke to somebody at the ONO booth today and was told specifically October ’17, it’s quite reasonable to assume that whoever spoke to you simply thought it was obvious they meant this October. I also very much doubt that they would’ve somehow displayed something that ‘looked like they were doing something’ when it was really all a scam – that’s taking it a little far. However, I do agree that the T3D looks like an attempt to follow the (fundraising) success of the ONO, which raises some questions about its chances of success as a second entrant in the smartphone-resin-printer market.

    1. There is no way they’ll begin shipping in October… they just announced on Kickstarter that they’re going back to the drawing boards for the electronics due to differences in the way different phones produce sounds.

      1. Which is sad, because after a year of people saying “You should use bluetooth” and delays, they’re just now switching to bluetooth and are somehow confident enough that they’ll ship in October.

        1. It’s a scam. They know their printer will not work they go to shows to get pre orders. Every show they have done they said it will be shipping in a few weeks. They are getting what little money they can before they cut and run

    2. This is a running joke. I can’t believe you people are so gullible. See my tirade at https://hackaday.com/2016/04/01/a-99-smartphone-powered-3d-printer/ . OLO has been running this scam for years. Yes Andrew, it actually is possible this is a scam. No it’s not taking it too far. These guys at OLO / ONO are shysters. Kudos to Brian for calling them out. I wish he would have sunk the knife in to the hilt. ONO is a total scam. These guys are stealing money and are abusing crowd funding. This hurts hard working entrepreneurs that must rely on such funding in the future. I too was at their booth on Saturday. I asked them if any of the 6 or so printers was actually doing anything. “No. The one in the back here is printing, but we can show it to you, because, you know, it has to remain closed for printing.” Me: “You should put a camera in it!” “Well, there’s not a lot of room in there.” “You couldn’t make up one special box with low light and a camera, so people can see one work.” Attendant move away to next impressed customer. Brian, please do all of us a favor. Give us an in depth report on these guys. ———- Hey big boy piecutter, how’s it going? (inside joke)

      1. I don’t consider myself a gullible person at all, and my comment is not based on that – I was skeptical at first, but I have been legitimately convinced that there is a fairly good chance the ONO will ship at some point. What I mean by “taking it too far” is that I doubt that someone would spend the money for a big stand at Maker Faire and hire numerous attendants/salespeople along with bringing several “prototypes” if the entire thing was really a scam. Keeping a ruse like that going for a year and a half, complete with slick fake videos, graphic designers and video production crews, etc, would quite possibly cost more than just making a working product. I also doubt that Maker Faire would give a company a booth if it was obviously a scam, so there must have been some demo or convincing proof-of-concept at some point (unless you’re saying that they also tricked the Maker Faire people, which also seems unlikely to me). Nothing about the core concept of the ONO seems incorrect – it’s just that a lot of the decisions made along the way weren’t the best for on-time delivery. Also, I was very disappointed about the lockpicking station too, that was a shame.

      1. I kind of admire that; it shows that 3D printing is actually useful beyond making trinkets. The fact that one of the best performing 3D printers on the market is made from a substantial portion of 3D printed parts is super cool.

        1. Are you guys implying he want to use his 3D printers for production? … Please provide supporting info. That is highly unlikely, unless his goal is to waste a lot of time! I think you’re interpreting his comments improperly. Although, it would explain the price. Insisting on making parts on a 3D printer for production is not cool. It’s a gimmick. He may be impressing those unfamiliar with machining. Or, it’s along the lines of ” if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” However, I promise you, no 3D printed part of his or anyone else’s, comes close to the accuracy, or cost efficiency of a conventionally machined part. Using a 3D printer to make some of the parts may seem cool, but honestly, I would gladly pay a couple extra dollars for parts that should be CNC machined from aluminum. I’ve had too many poorly fitting, yielding, and breaking 3d printed printer parts.

          When you buy a lawnmower, its usually not made of grass, right?!

  2. Make: / Maker Faire needs to clean up this crap (ONO). Other note: What’s going on anyway. This years’ Maker Faire NY show was likely 2/3 as big as last years’. The always packed attended lock-picking station got cut? Seriously! There seemed to be little drive in bringing in much new. Believe it or not, some of my favorite attractions in years past, are the small things. The winged bicycles, sand writer, … After attending annually the last four years, I think I’m skipping next ones’. I hope this isn’t the beginning of the end …

  3. A Smart phone resin printer would need a good projection lense to refocus the wide angle emissions of the phone screen into small spots. Even then, prints would be slow. Don’t see that in these printers, resolution will suck if they can do anything.

    1. Do you not realize that a phone screen is exactly how the Wanhao D7 works (and has been doing so quite successfully for years)? They just replaced the backlight with a bright UV led matrix.

      The change needed to use a smartphone is daylight sensitive resin (which also already exists). It’s just a stupid idea because most people have better uses for their phone.

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