3D printer wows world's top high-tech fair

Mar 05, 2013

Of all the futuristic gadgets on show at CeBIT, the world's top high-tech fair, few drew bigger crowds Tuesday than a 3D printer creating solid objects in plastic from a computer display.

The machine, developed by German company "fabbster", melts plastic and then builds up incredibly fine "layers" just 88 microns (0.088 millimetres) thick, eventually producing a solid physical object with impressive detail.

The system is currently being used mainly by small businesses, architects, designers and engineers, explained Fabian Grupp, project manager.

In theory, there is no limit to the size of the object produced, but the machine displayed at has a maximum capacity of 22.5cm by 22.5cm by 21cm (8.8 inches by 8.8 inches by 8.3 inches), he explained.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"You can really make anything you can think of," he enthused. Coming soon is the ability to create multi-coloured objects and use different materials within the same "print-out".

The time varies from object to object, but the machine takes around one hour to "print out" a small plastic bottle.

This machine retails for 1,500 euros ($2,000), making it attractive only for "ambitious" hobbyists, he acknowledged, although he said the price would inevitably come down as the technology improves.

"The real fun comes from designing and building your own objects, although you can also download pre-set designs from the Internet," said Grupp.

The CeBIT, the world's biggest fair for the high-tech sector is taking place until March 9 in the northern German city of Hanover.

Some 4,100 from around 70 countries are expected to set up shop in the cavernous halls of the Hanover showgrounds.

Explore further: Printing the metals of the future

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World's top tech fair pins hopes on Asia, social media

Mar 03, 2013

The world's biggest high-tech fair, the CeBIT, kicks off Tuesday, pinning its hopes on growing tech regions Asia and Africa and the hot topic of social media to beat competition from other high-profile fairs.

China overtakes Japan on IT spending

Feb 27, 2013

China has overtaken Japan in terms of its share of global IT spending, German IT industry organisation BITKOM said Wednesday, ahead of the CeBIT, the world's biggest high-tech trade fair.

Recommended for you

Printing the metals of the future

6 hours ago

3-D printers can create all kinds of things, from eyeglasses to implantable medical devices, straight from a computer model and without the need for molds. But for making spacecraft, engineers sometimes need ...

3D printing helps designers build a better brick

9 hours ago

Using 3-D printing and advanced geometry, a team at Cornell has developed a new kind of building material – interlocking ceramic bricks that are lightweight, need no mortar and make efficient use of materials.

User comments : 31

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deisik
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2013
Ok, can it actually print something like a bearing?
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (9) Mar 05, 2013
If your bearing is made of plastic, yes.

If you want a metal bearing you need a different printer (e.g. a selective laser sintering printer).
(Google for "3d printer monkey wrench metal" to get a video of someone printing a fully functional and adjustable tool in one go
Google "twin rail Mobius pendant" for an awesome printed bearing with a twist)

Currently the precision of machining stuff like motor parts is still superior to 3D printer accuracy - but the gap isn't as big as one might think.

Something 3D printers can't do (yet) is create stuff made from prestressed materials (or any other kind of material which changes its properties due to some pre-processing step)

On a side note: We once had someone demo their 3D printer at the research lab I used to work at. He used sheets of paper as the 'layer' material. Very cheap and very fast. Printed that moebius cage/bearing for us from paper (including the balls!). Simply amazing.

RadiantThoughts
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2013
Just need to combine with a laser metal sintering head and ul be able to make things like pcbs and metal internal gears.
deisik
not rated yet Mar 05, 2013
If your bearing is made of plastic, yes.

If you want a metal bearing you need a different printer (e.g. a selective laser sintering printer).


Thanx, that's fantastic! I meant just moving inside parts like gears, balls, etc, not material they are made of
alq131
not rated yet Mar 05, 2013
Getting closer to a "universal fabricator" something that could be very useful for space activities or colonies.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2013
Getting closer to a "universal fabricator" something that could be very useful for space activities or colonies.


The "Laser Sintering Printer" A_P discussed is probably more than adequate for producing most robot skeleton components.
HTK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2013
this is a DIY revolution

also a anyone to be able to create a model. only down side maybe is to be able to use 3d max....
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2013
something that could be very useful for space activities or colonies.


First tests in low gravity have already been done. NASA is looking into sending a 3D printer to the international space station.
http://www.ibtime...n-819517

Getting closer to a "universal fabricator"

As soon as we can print on the atomic scale at home it'll be the end of economy as we know it (which won't be such a bad thing).

Personally I think 3D printing along with distributed/personal power production are the two technologies that will change the world on a fundamental level we can't even imagine right now.
Lurker2358
1.4 / 5 (8) Mar 05, 2013
As soon as we can print on the atomic scale at home it'll be the end of economy as we know it (which won't be such a bad thing).

Personally I think 3D printing along with distributed/personal power production are the two technologies that will change the world on a fundamental level we can't even imagine right now.


Naive?

You don't actually expect the people who invent and patent such technologies to sell you the manufacturing kit?

What they will do is hide the technology, and sell only the products. Or else, because they own all the land and resources, they will have no further use for average people.

First the Morlocks enslave the people.
Second the Morlocks need no slaves, but they eat the people.
Finally, the Morlocks no longer eat people, so they just do away with them.

This is the more likely, course that will be followed.

A few percent of people (owners, CEO, top stock holders,) will access this technology directly. Everyone else will be screwed.
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 05, 2013
You don't actually expect the people who invent and patent such technologies to sell you the manufacturing kit?

Since 3D printers are already being sold - why not?

Energy production has become so cheap that it is already within the grasp of the individuals to generate their own power. You can even already print your own solar cells if you want to.

And in the end the market will defeat itself because several manufacturers will vie for customers - and at one point someone will be forced to offer the best product (i.e. a printer that can print virtually anything) - and then it's 'game over'. How will you stop that? Cartels? Monopolies? State regulated suppression of innovation? None of these seem very 'promising' long term solutions.
NikFromNYC
1.7 / 5 (11) Mar 05, 2013
The headline is simply a lie. No toy version of mid-1990s technology is wowing anybody. I have a real high speed CNC router in my art studio and can mail order ultra high quality 3D printed mold masters but as a Ph.D. chemist I honestly don't see atomic output 200 years from now as having anything to do with this year's glorified hot melt glue gun for making crappy hipster jewelry. And my word the bizarre comments about replicators and murderous robots that attach to this type of product placement article makes me happy I'm in Manhattan where we have a real world social network to engage in. I just wish I could keep up on science news minus hype and global warming tripe now that Science News magazine is cultish too.
sirchick
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2013
What real world applications does a plastic 3D printer help with ? Not including childrens toys :P

Curious what the implications are as i have no idea?
cantdrive85
2.1 / 5 (11) Mar 05, 2013
but the machine displayed at CeBIT has a maximum capacity of 22.5cm by 22.5cm by 21cm (8.8 inches by 8.8 inches by 8.3 inches), he explained.


Won't be able to print out an assault rifle, but I can get that Glock 19 (in plastic) I always wanted.
trekgeek1
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2013
... I have a real high speed CNC router in my art studio and can mail order ultra high quality 3D printed mold masters but as a Ph.D. chemist I honestly don't see atomic output 200 years from now as having anything to do with this year's glorified hot melt glue gun for making crappy hipster jewelry.


This is additive manufacturing, which is fundamentally different from your CNC machine. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, but neither is completely superior to the other.

...makes me happy I'm in Manhattan where we have a real world social network to engage in. I just wish I could keep up on science news minus hype and global warming tripe now that Science News magazine is cultish too.


It's comments like that which make me happy you're in New York too; far away from me. You sound like a textbook hipster...maybe you'd like some of that plastic jewelry. Scientific consensus is in agreement with global warming too.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Mar 06, 2013
but as a Ph.D. chemist I honestly don't see atomic output

I agree that there are some fundamental differences here. The approach to atomic printing will have to be different in some ways. But the principle of additive/layer-based manufacturing should hold even there.

The trick will be to present each unfinished molecule with an electromagnetic environment so that it doesn't connect where it shouldn't (e.g. to a neighboring, unfinished molecule) until the next atom is added.

And of course that will need to be MASSIVELY parallel.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 06, 2013
If the precision is enough (and it already is) then there's not much one can do to prevent someone from printing a weapon (at least all individual parts).

You can buy 3D scanners with 0.1-0.2 mm accuracy for under 1000 Euros already. Buy a gun and disassemble it. The scanner will produce meshes of the parts in STL format which is also the input format for most any 3D printer.
With a laser sinter printer you can create the parts out of metal.

It might not be the most perfect gun - and you won't get a rifled barrel without some additional, manual input on the file - but I'm quite sure it would work.

Guns aren't rocket-tech.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2013
Yes.

"Ok, can it actually print something like a bearing?" - deisik

You can see a 3d printer doing exactly that here...

http://www.youtub...09dTVkdw
event
not rated yet Mar 06, 2013
I can think of an application where a personal 3D printer could prove to be very useful and therefore popular. As I understand it, currently the feedstocks are various types of plastics, which has quality limitations.

However, if they could use a transparent glass or cermaic material as a feedstock (might need to up the temps), you would be able to design and print your own corckery and glassware for that special cocktail party.
deisik
not rated yet Mar 07, 2013
You can see a 3d printer doing exactly that here...
http://www.youtub...09dTVkdw


It seems I've got the whole idea behind this kind of 3d printing, though it still requires some effort to get accustomed to the terminology. 3D... yes, for sure, but printing... hmmm
keith_kofoed
not rated yet Mar 08, 2013
Once these printers are capable of using multiple materials and printing on a larger scale you will be able to print your own 3d printer, computer components, musical instruments, smart phones etc. Get ready for the decentralization of production. Even if it isn't practical for every person to have their own imagine local stores that print bicycles, cars, furniture. This is THE solution to the massive transportation costs involved in our centralized production economy.
DonGateley
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 09, 2013

You can buy 3D scanners with 0.1-0.2 mm accuracy for under 1000 Euros already. Buy a gun and disassemble it. The scanner will produce meshes of the parts in STL format which is also the input format for most any 3D printer.


Must not the object being scanned have no surface regions a beam couldn't reach? (Is there a topologcal category for that?) That is a pretty limiting restriction.

How, for example, would I scan the entirety of my ear's surface; drum, canal, and outer ear included? I've seen some quantum interference approaches to this but that's hardly at the consumer or even commercial level of application.
nonspecialist
not rated yet Mar 09, 2013
The entire CAD-CAM toolchain has become Free/Open Source in the last 10 years.Subtractive end effectors are DIY common place.[Laser,Plasma,Mill cutting].I suspect Laser additive with it`s Hi-Res is not far off for the DIY 3D tool builder.This is for enthusiasts who are not content to model on a site like 123D and have parts delivered by mail.What seems laboratory exotic today is seen in industrial scrap on eBay next year.San Jose has a molecular chemistry hacker dojo equipped with scrapped test and measure tools.
210
1 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2013
... I have a real high speed CNC router in my art studio and can mail order ultra high quality 3D printed mold masters but as a Ph.D. chemist I honestly don't see atomic output 200 years from now as having anything to do with this year's glorified hot melt glue gun for making crappy hipster jewelry.


This is additive manufacturing, which is fundamentally different from your CNC machine. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, but neither is completely superior to the other.

...makes me happy I'm in Manhattan where we have a real world social network to engage in. I just wish I could keep up on science news minus hype and global warming tripe now that Science News magazine is cultish too.


It's comments like that which make me happy you're in New York too; far away from me. You sound like a textbook hipster...maybe you'd like some of that plastic jewelry. Scientific consensus is in agreement with global warming too.

Oops, meant to give a 5 not a 1 !
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
but the machine displayed at CeBIT has a maximum capacity of 22.5cm by 22.5cm by 21cm (8.8 inches by 8.8 inches by 8.3 inches), he explained.


Won't be able to print out an assault rifle, but I can get that Glock 19 (in plastic) I always wanted.
Put a real bullet in it and you can have the new face you always wanted-
but as a Ph.D. chemist I honestly don't see atomic output
-This reminds me of the incredulous response I got on self-driving cars from some savant a few years ago. Tech is advancing far faster than you think.
Oxensraiser?
5 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2013
People seem to be asking various forms of the question, "Yes, but what good is it?". To which one can only reply, "What good is a baby?"
DonGateley
2.1 / 5 (7) Mar 10, 2013

It's comments like that which make me happy you're in New York too; far away from me. You sound like a textbook hipster...maybe you'd like some of that plastic jewelry. Scientific consensus is in agreement with global warming too.


While I entirely agree with your sentiment about our New York snark I have to point out there is a long and distinguished history of scientific consensus being dead wrong.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2013
I have to point out there is a long and distinguished history of scientific consensus being dead wrong.
So how do you explain nuclear reactors, antibiotics, space travel, etc? Science makes progress by learning from its mistakes. It has been wildly successful as a result.
DonGateley
3 / 5 (6) Mar 11, 2013
I have to point out there is a long and distinguished history of scientific consensus being dead wrong.
So how do you explain nuclear reactors, antibiotics, space travel, etc? Science makes progress by learning from its mistakes. It has been wildly successful as a result.


Are you really that stupid?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2013
Donny,
I have to point out there is a long and distinguished history of scientific consensus being dead wrong.
Obviously they have gotten far more right then they have gotten wrong. Are you too stupid to acknowledge this?
DonGateley
3 / 5 (6) Mar 11, 2013
Donny,
I have to point out there is a long and distinguished history of scientific consensus being dead wrong.
Obviously they have gotten far more right then they have gotten wrong. Are you too stupid to acknowledge this?


Wow. Everything he says pins another stupid medal on him. To be fair, maybe it's just profound ignorance.
FastEddy
1 / 5 (3) Mar 12, 2013
this is a DIY revolution
also a anyone to be able to create a model. only down side maybe is to be able to use 3d max....


See: http://www.youtub...JshR6nvg