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I Witnessed 3D Printing in Real Life! It Was Awesome!

3D printing is to production and distribution what the internet is to information and knowledge.

I witnessed real 3D printing in real life two days ago while visiting with a product engineer about a new product idea my bro and I are working on.

The printer was pretty freaking awesome. The part the engineer was working on will make the inventor millions! It was so sweet, and my mind hasn't stopped imagining the possibilities since I was introduced to 3D printing several months ago.

So instead of ink running through the printer, there are very tiny diametered plastic fibers on a spool...kind of like a welding wire through a MIG welder, but on a smaller scale. With any 3D file from Solidworks or any 3D modeling program, the 3D printer can print it out, just as it looks up to a size that fills a 6" cube. Other more expensive printers can print larger objects.

I'm going to buy one as soon as I can afford it to prototype all my inventions...and yours too if they're good enough! ;)

Does anyone have any experience with Solidworks or any other 3D modeling programs?

Most people around here are already familiar with 3D printing and the work being done by Defense Distributed out of Austin, TX, but I just thought I'd share this and see if any folks here at the DP know much about 3D modeling. Any resources you could offer would really be appreciated. I have an extensive background in marketing, packaging, design and graphics, but I've never worked in 3D.

I've posted about creating an Industrial Incubator before, but I'm starting to think why invest in all that machinery I can't afford if it already exists nearby. I just have to build a network of libertarian inventors, investors, vendors, designers, and manufacturers. It's an ambitious goal, but there seems to be no shortage of creativity around here!

Once I figure out and perfect a system for bringing our ideas from concept to customer, which theoretically could help create more libertarian millionaires, I'll be looking for other entrepreneurs who want to get started on making their ideas become a reality.


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I've got one. I'm actually

I've got one.

I'm actually building parts of a drone with it now.

I made a video of the build and put it on YouTube. Here was the last video showing the completed product:


How do you model stuff for this purpose?

Does it use standard 3d files or is there something specific to do? What kinds of textures are you able to do?

I use Google Sketchup to

I use Google Sketchup to create models and then there is a plugin that you can install which will export the model to the required .stl format.

You can head over to several of the 3D printing sites and look at models available for download.

Thingiverse: www.thingiverse.com
Printable AR-15's: http://www.cncguns.com/downloads.html
More Guns: http://defcad.org/

+1 for Sketchup

Addicting, isn't it?

A signature used to be here!

That's really cool! Surprised

That's really cool! Surprised the people that know how to make these guns and such wouldn't sell them at fairly high prices. Anyone who can afford a 3d printer could afford the models :p


You built that?! Is it a kit?

I had no idea you can build your own!

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


Now that I'm home.. I'd make

Now that I'm home.. I'd make you a video of it in action if you like....

I'd like!

If it's no trouble, go for it!

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


** I'd probably be lying if I

** I'd probably be lying if I said I wasn't actually a little excited to do it **

Give me just a little bit...

Check out the first few

Check out the first few videos in the series to see how many parts I received with the kit. It was very over-whelming at first.

Yeah it is the original

Yeah it is the original Makerbot Cupcake. Now Makerbot sells the Replicator (about $2000) and it comes pre-assembled.

I went to a 3D printing expo last week and demoed my printer. There are tons of bots available.

Here is the Lulzbot: http://www.lulzbot.com/
And Makerbot: http://www.makerbot.com/
And the UP 3D printer: http://www.up3dusa.com/

There are tons of them available and most of the consumer products are around 1000-2000 bucks

The Makerbot that I have can now be picked up on Ebay for around $600.. but I would recommend others over the one I have.

The Lulzbot has the largest platform I have seen, measuring 1ft, by 1ft, by 1ft.

My print platform is 100mm squared.

And regarding the build.. I put every single screw together, soldered many of the boards, came up with some of my own hacks and spent several hundred dollars on upgraded parts -- after I had built the original components. Even today, the bot looks different than the video that I posted above. I've got about 2 years and about 300 hours into it.

Best part of the story....

I got the $1200 bot, plus $400 in upgrades, plus a paycheck of $1200... and the guy who bought it and paid me to build it for him decided he didn't want it and I've had it ever since.

Here is the Mars rover I

Here is the Mars rover I built not too long ago.


You can build your own for

You can build your own for about $1000 and even less. Why wait?

Researching this option now! Thanks!

If you have any info to help, please do post it!

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


Rapid Prototyping

I have been using 3D printers for 6-7 years now regularly for my job. You can make larger parts by breaking up your design and then printing it in segments that can be bonded together later. Right now it is pretty expensive to rapid manufacture parts, but the technology is useful for making prototypes to test the fit and finish before investing in hard tooling. The last part I had printed was a housing for an air pump. It was approx 4" x 6" x 9" and cost around $800 to print...

That's awesome Happy!

Do you do the 3D modeling too?

I don't intend to mass produce products with a 3D printer, but rather, as you pointed out, make some prototypes to iron out all the issues before spending money on tooling.

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!



I have been using Solidworks for years, but just found a new product called FreeForm that works much better for the organically shaped objects that I deal with. Freeform works like a virtual block of clay that can be sculpted using a variety of tools and a haptic feedback device.

Solidworks is nice

We've been using solidworks for a while now too but we're having some problems with simulations on the modeling so I thought maybe you might have some answers.

My son and I are trying to do a number of simulations that all interact with each other. We can do the heat transfer one - awesome! Then we want to import that info into a pressure / flow simulation and finally import that into a mechanical / motion simulation. The problem is that our design is based on a closed volume system which has no 'input' or 'output' to set up a flow rate on. We're just simulating what some might label as a cavitation effect. Unfortunately, even the SW reps don't have an answer and we are only using a student version so we can't register for the forums.

Any thoughts?

Defense Distributed Accepts Bitcoin


Accepting a form of payment that gov't can't stop for production of a device that gov't can't stop.

That is elegant symmetry.

Joη's picture

see shapeways.com


"You underestimate the character of man." | "So be off now, and set about it." | Up for a game?

Darn it Jon!

Now, I have to reschedule my evening. I'll be on that site for several hours tonight doing a little research!

Thanks bud!

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


Believe it or not, I've

Believe it or not, I've actually heard of the aircraft companies prototyping components (huge ones) using so-called "3-D printers". And you may also be familiar with several concepts currently being tested for "printing out" houses! Just search on YouTube.

Ramping up!

Here's my favorite one at this point. Very awesome stuff.


They're doing multiple materials on multiple print heads at the same time plus they have the accuracy down pat. Now if they could just get rid of those pesky refill cartridges. I'm betting those are more expensive per usability than ink cartridges.

And... who DOESN'T love solidworks!?

I have used objet

The printers are in the neighborhood of $50k+ and I'm not sure what the cartridges cost, but they aren't even in the same ballpark as an ink cartridge!

Thanks for the link!

I'll check them out!

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


I have experience with

I have experience with Solidworks as well as Autodesk Inventor and Rhinoceros 3D. I'm an engineering design technology major working on becoming a CAD techncian. At school we have a pair of 3D printers that we use.

How would you like to put your skills to the test?!

If you're interested in gaining some real life experience, working on a cool product, helping a fellow lover of liberty realize his dreams, and maybe even make some real money if the project is successful, shoot me a private message, and we can chat a bit.


I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


I don't have one...YET

I do a bit of 3D modeling, and being able to actually print my creations would be a dream come true for me.

I could also make models of things I see in movies/games, and start modeling my own little "prop" collection. It's like discovering Legos all over again! ;)

Not sure what size printer I could afford, but I plan on buying or building one by the summer.

A signature used to be here!

I feel you!

I spend hours upon hours dreaming up inventions, but they never go anywhere...but something clicked inside of me several months back, and I decided to start acting on my ideas to really bring them to the market. So far so good!

Now I have a little seed money to move on to the next idea! I think that's the key. Pick a simple design and product to start with to learn the process and to generate revenue to fund the next, slightly more complex project.

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


Thats pretty cool

Are those injection molded? If so did you have to decorate them using a secondary operation, or is it a 2-shot mold? 3vol the design!