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The 3D print wish list features we want are largely different than the 3D print wish list that YouMagine put out. Looking at some “complaints” a little more in-depth on supposed issues such as filament, build plate size, lack of models, and other 3D print concerns. Our 3D print wish list focuses on the 3D print industry as a whole and issues that need to be addressed to push it further.
Listen to the podcast here:
Top 3D Print Wish List Features
We saw YouMagine put out a 3D print wish list in response to the question or survey, “What is the one thing that needs to be improved to make 3D printing easier for you?” We broadened that to say, “More marketable or make 3D printing as an industry tip?” We were looking at it from a bigger, holistic framework when we answered it. Theirs was really interesting, they ran a check against how it is in reality.
Number one thing that they said that needs to be improved is reliability. I don’t disagree with that. I don’t know it’s my number one, but I don’t disagree with that. When you’re talking about 3D printing and more on the machine side of it, I would agree with that.
Number two, they said speed. I don’t know if speed is high up there on my list. I think when you want to talk about manufacturing and other things, but I don’t think we’re really there yet. May not be number two, but I could see why people are anxious to get it going and want it done and out of the printer.
The other day, I was printing out that minion chess set for my nephew for his birthday, I was wishing it was going a lot faster, honestly. We weren’t wishing that it was coming out of the machine faster, we were wishing it was coming out of the machine clean, completely ready to go, which it was not. The cleanup of it was just excruciating.
Honestly, it was both. It still took a long time to print each of those chess pieces and the whole two full sets to make a whole chess board worth and then the cleanup time of all the support afterwards. It drove me nuts. That’s why I don’t design things that need that much support because it drives me nuts. It drives me crazy. If it weren’t my nephew, I wouldn’t be cleaning up those minions myself, I’ll tell you. But it’s for my nephew and I love him so here you go. Tyler’s such a lucky boy.
The third one they have is a larger build volume. There are plenty out there that have a larger build volume. I think it exists, if you need it then it’s there. I don’t know that that needs to be improved. I think it exists and I think there’s some good ones out there.
Ease of use of the 3D printer, I don’t disagree that some of them can use some significant improvement, but there are some pretty push button easy ones out there. We’ve tried them. There are some push buttons easy ones. Although some of the ones that seem to be the easiest and push button we found weren’t really producing the best quality, which is weird. The next part of it, it’s not about easier to use but it would be better quality.
They have their number five on their 3D print wish list as more model files. More model files? How about just better quality model files? There’s plenty of model files out there. No, no more junk. Please, good quality files. Good design, please.
Number six was easy to use 3D modeling. I think there’s some easy to use. We’ve been reviewing a lot of them. We get asked a lot, “What is the easiest one?” That’s a very hard question to answer because they all have different intents and purposes and levels of users. If they’re easy to use, they’re very primitive and they can only do so much. I don’t know if I can answer that question, that’s a hard one. I think everyone is expecting a quick answer, “Oh, this one,” but I don’t know that I can do that.
I think in some ways, certainly your 123D is a pretty easy program to pick up and use and things like that. In other ways, you’re very limited in what you can do. Of the very complex programs, probably one of the easiest ones to use, I think if it’s parametric, I think Onshape is pretty darn easy to use. I like that one, I’m a big fan of that one. It’s very similar to other programs, like Solidworks, which we also reviewed recently. There’s some comfort in that similarity, which makes it easier to learn and do. Maybe so.
I’ll tell you, as much as I love ZBrush as a program and what it’s capable of, that is a monster of a program to get to learn. There’s so much to it. It would take you 10,000 hours to really master that program. Now, do you need to master it in order to use it then do certain things? No, you don’t. I’m not trying to scare people away from it because it’s a very good program and I like it a lot. But it’s like Photoshop, it’s the same type of thing. Just layers and layers of complexity. So much.
I think maybe the real thing here is it’s not easy to use 3D modeling, it’s classes to learn how to design. Because if you knew how to design, if you knew how to do the geometry behind these things, if you knew what you were doing in them, you’ll actually find learning the command structure and then the menu items that you need to use.
You’re going to use, like I always say, 10% of the thing and you’ll be fine doing that again and again and again. But you got to know what you need to make and you have to understand that structure ahead of time. Maybe more accessibility to classes, to learn how to product design would be a better option there, 3D print design. To design and/or engineer, we’re designers, there’s nothing wrong with engineering and doing parts too. I think that until you know what you want to model, then it’s impossible to figure out what program you want to use and how to go about doing it. It seems more complex because of it, I think. It needs to start with the what, which again is why we named this podcast What The FFF.
Cost of the material, I think that’s the biggest, dumbest bogus one ever out there. The material’s nothing, stop complaining about the material. It’s just not a factor in the whole scope of things. Although, if I’m a high school kid and I’m trying to come up with 50 or 60 bucks for a spool of filament my mom and dad won’t buy me, that’s a lot of money, but there’s all these places that sell small quantities of them for testing. You can get a small one yard piece, whatever it is. I think it’s more like ten meters.
They have those, and they have those places where you can buy packets of different types of material and try them out. There’s really not much excuse to say that you don’t have access to lower cost materials. You do have access to that. A lot of them, like Algix, they’re making smaller rolls. More accessible because people are wasting them and they know that.
I think that that’s just really not, to me, as valid a number one. It’s number seven in the scope of things. In the big picture, the cost of material is insignificant when you get down to the print level. Before I got experience with this type of 3D printing, I thought it was a big deal. I think most people who really then get into it later come to find, it’s really not a big deal.
Quick customization of models is number eight on their list. I think that may just be in this community that they were surveying from. That Digital Forming stuff we saw on the Lowe’s Innovation, the Bespoke Design, that’s really cool stuff that they have. But they have some cool, easy to use ways to customize, to integrate into your website, which is going to make it easier. Clearly, it makes it easier for the consumer who’s checking it out to then manipulate to a degree within limitations, the model, or customize it for them. That’s a huge step forward.
Number nine is easier slicing and fixing. I don’t disagree. That should be a no brainer. It should just automatically happen. You shouldn’t have to be thinking about slicing anymore. I agree with that one.
Hazzard’s Top 3D Print Wish List Features
I put together our list. We brainstormed our own 3D print wish list of what we would say. It’s for a different purpose, let’s restate that, its more general. We’re not talking about our wish list for improving 3D printing machines as much as we are, our 3D print wish list is perfect for 3D printing as a whole, 3D printing as an industry.
Number one, good design. No more crap. Stop doing dumb models. Let’s get good stuff out there. There’s nothing wrong with learning and a lot of trial and error as you’re learning how to create good designs for 3D printing. But, yes, strive for excellence in this regard. Yes, please.
Investment in design, as an industry, it needs to do it. Because you need some flagship things that really show off what you could do well, what the industry could do well, what 3D printing can contribute to the future. Another way to say it, or an additional way, when we can create a design that’s a 3D printed design that consumers will value and pay money for, pay good money for, that also has something to do with it. You’ve got to put out good quality product that people value and want to pay money for.
Right, which goes to a few other things on our 3D print wish list here because that’s all related to it. Number two, reliability. At the end of the day if I can’t run it on a machine, day in and day out, and if that machine’s not reliable, I do agree. I think that comes up at the top of the list. We talked about that in our interview that’s coming up with David from Formlabs.
It’s not just FFF. It’s SLA, it’s all of them. The reliability has to be there. Every time you print it, it needs to come out the same way. I think that when you start talking about this transition from being able to make a product that consumers value, we really have to transition from this prototype mentality that is 3D printing today, into digital manufacturing. The two things have to correlate between each other. There has to be a match in it.
What I print now, if I’m only making a few dozen units, a hundred pieces and I’m trying it out on the market. Maybe I’m selling on Etsy or on Amazon or wherever I’m doing it. Then I want to go into bigger production but I still need it to be 3D printed because it’s an additive manufactured design in its structure, so I can’t make it in traditional methods. Then I need that manufacturing to match the quality of what I’ve already been selling and I need it to match the quality expectations of the consumers out there.
With that comes my fourth item on our 3D print wish list, materials. You got to have good materials. It’s just not going to go anywhere without that. I think there’s a lot of work in there. There’s a lot of good material development going on. I don’t think that that’s necessarily the problem. Actually, it’s sort of a foreshadowing of that episode with Formlabs.
I think though that there is still too much of a disconnect in general between the material manufacturers and the machine manufacturers, in that if they work together more closely, I think the more advancements that will have good practical application would be better.
Sometimes I don’t think that it’s a problem between machine and material manufacturing. I think that the material guys get it, that if they don’t run on the printer, they’re not going to get sold. I think that there’s a connect there. There’s companies like Formlabs who have guys there, who are working on the material science right. There is an example of a 3D printing manufacturer that is developing their material.
My point is, is that I think the disconnect is that neither one of them have ever checked to see if consumer thinks it’s good enough. That’s the problem, is that at the end of the day, if it doesn’t feel like it supposed to feel, if it doesn’t feel like ceramic, if it doesn’t feel like metal, if it doesn’t look like metal, if it doesn’t meet up to my expectations as a consumer, then it’s suspect. I think that’s a problem.
I’m talking about a level of improving how those materials are developed or what the material manufacturers are considering when they develop the materials. Which goes to things like color, obviously. You need to have realistic real colors, not primary. You need to have finishing. It needs to have a quality of finishing we expect. It also needs to be easy to finish.
If at the end of the day, if I’ve got to have some kind of toxic finish treatment on my product to get it out the door and get it going to consumer, then it’s not really reasonable. It should’ve come off the machine be relatively easy to clean up, get finished and go out the door and be ready to go. Because that’s what a consumer expectations, that’s what a digital on demand printing should be.
In my mind, all of those thing go hand in hand. Material, color and finishing, and in that order. I also think we need safe, quality consistent output. If we’re always on guard that there might’ve been a little bubble or a defect in the machine or it didn’t run properly. We have to have some way of choosing the machine.
We do this in textiles all the time. We watch the loom, you’re always looking for a missed thread. One missing tiny thread makes the whole thing unravel. It’s not like it’s impossible to happen, but it’s got to now happen at the machine production level.
There are some machines that do address that. They have filament error detection or filament feed error detection and things like that, or it’ll stop the print if it senses a problem. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s almost too late by the time it senses that to save a print. It’s a tough thing.
The nature of FFF 3D printing is, you get this incredibly long string of code, 16,000 pages worth of code in one print, for example. There’s a lot of things that have to go right in that entire print to have the best possible quality print. A lot of printers do it. We’ve done a hundred hour print, it’s been fine. But still, it’s not an easy thing to do.
There are machines out there that do that, x-ray for defects. It just needs to happen along the process so that it stops the print before you’ve gone twenty to a hundred hours printing the darn thing and find out you had a problem at hour ten. It needs to happen on going in it so that you produce the safest consistent quality possible. That’s what I think it’s going to take to really make it viable for digital manufacturing and for it to move forward.
We put on the 3D print wish list, software and hardware for the reality of color. That’s my thing. This is a little bit more on a, it’s on a machine and a prep of a print for machine perspective here. That’s one thing that’s frustrated me. There’s a lot of really good machines that have a lot capability in terms of color, in that they’re feeding multiple colors into one nozzle so they’ve addressed issues.
I’ve always had issues with more than one nozzle on the machine, getting them calibrated right. Even when I did, they would interfere with parts of the print, depending on what print you’re doing. There was just a host of problems trying to get more than one color or material go in there. There’s a lot of good machines now that are feeding, like I said, multiple filaments into one nozzle. That’s a big step in the right direction.
The Diamond Hotend is one of the pieces that a lot of people are using, and there are others. Even though the machines are capable of multiple materials and multiple colors of material, I’ve found that the slicing software is lacking. I’m sure it’s a very hard thing to do and the programmers are doing their best and it’ll only get better.
I think also, they just don’t have a really realistic way of understanding it, because they don’t design in color. They aren’t making a lot of whats. You got to burn through a lot of color, testing ideas that run the gamut and don’t just make rainbows and ombres and things like that. You’re really trying all sorts of different type of challenging colored prints.
We really need to get designers in there who really are great at designing in color. I have to say that a lot of designers are not really good at designing in color. It’s one of the biggest complains that happen in the industrial design world. Because back early on it was like, boom model, everything in gray. It was so much easier back then.
Color, a lot of times, was an afterthought. It’s a fair criticism, but the reality is even the majority of designers can at least understand designing a product that’s a two, three or four colored product. At least color blocking different color in different areas of the print to achieve a certain look. At the most basic level, that would be a big step forward in this desktop 3D printing industry.
I think it could even push the envelope even more and really, really get at doing things that can’t be done in any other method for color application. I’m really excited about getting the opportunity to do that. If the software doesn’t keep up with it, there’s really no point. We can design all we want and it can’t be printed.
It’s difficult because most of the slicing softwares that do a better job at this are actually completely independent and are not developed by any of these companies that are producing these machines, that have the capability of multiple colors. Feeding into one nozzle. It’s tough. When I’ve used them, I find often that the slicing software, even it looks like right in the preview. This color is going to go in this area and this color’s going to go in this other part. I find that actually, they have not done a good job at that in actual print application where it mixes up. It didn’t purge all the color out before it went in print that other thing.
In actuality, it just doesn’t work like it supposed to. It just doesn’t work yet. I’m sure it’s improving all the time. The last time I did it was several months ago. Maybe even there’s been an update that’s improved it by now. I’m not so sure that it is. I think that people think that it’s a novelty in a niche. In a really small niche, in an already niched market. It’s just not going to be a priority for a company that’s, it’s not their entire business surrounding it. Because no one has shown them how good it can be yet, so it’s kind of a catch 22 for me. I think that one’s a big one.
I think the last one that I have on our 3D print wish list here is holistic product 3D print classes. You have to combine both. You can’t do it on isolation. It’s not just about using the CAD software. It’s not just about using the machines. It’s not just about slicing software. It’s not just about design. It’s got to be a combination of all of it. Marketing too and entrepreneurship and all of those things have to be combined.
Go back and listen to the episode with Brian Federal. That episode, we really touched on what that kind of comprehensive education program is, because it’s not just what we’re used to in our normal school systems. It’s not the kind of program that we’re used to. It’s really cross functional, really cross disciplinary. It really has a lot of filtering that has to happen as you go through this.
Little bits and pieces that you gain from all those areas are going to make you such a better designer, make your product so much better, make the industry go so much further. I think that those classes, those courses, those educators, that needs to happen. That would be so helpful overall. We’re not going to see it really, the immediate effect of it, once those things start to come available. It’s something that’s going to happen over a long period of time. It’s more people who get educated and produce better and better results. You got to teach the entire process, not just a piece of it.
Anyway, that’s our 3D print wish list. That rounds out our list. That’s fun. I like these kind of episodes and the thought process about what we think the industry needs and what is our top list. You know what? Maybe there’s one or two that we forgot about or we weren’t thinking about. If you have one that you’d like to serve up and potentially add to the wish list then please comment below. Let us know yours, and we’ll approve it and it’ll get added up there.
I think I missed one. I think I missed number eight on our 3D print wish list. Because it was only nine but it was out of order on my list. Speed plus quality. Everyone’s asking for them separately but I think we should ask for them together. I don’t want it be faster and sacrifice quality. I think they need to go hand in hand, dial up and ratchet up together. We just added one more to the list ourselves.
Still, please let us know what is on your 3D print wish list. We’d love to hear some of them. That’d be a great conversation. In addition to the website and the blog post, you can also reach out to us anywhere on social media @3DStartPoint and let us know there. We can kick it around through Facebook or Twitter and wherever you’d like to talk about it.
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