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Anyone for a small 3d printer

I saw this story on MSNBC at

Here is the order page

Here is a secondary page that provides some scale and also mentions
burn out and casting.

At the top we see a cat framed in the opening and 1/2 way don we see
a picture combined with some people. In addition we next have a
little blurb ref burn out and casting.

Looks a bit rough but it’s a step towards affordability in small 3d

What do you all think?

I looked at Makerbot and was REALLY excited! Makerbot is essentially
like an open source project. Should you happen to be succesful in
printing and then burning out what you print, I THINK they encourage
you to share your knowledge with the community.

I was tempted because I love to tinker, however, I saw myself
tinkering and troubleshooting the process more than I saw myself
using it to make jewelry.

I did some research into what they print with. Essentially it is ABS
Plastic (Weedeater Line). Unfortunately that material would be a pain
to get a clean burnout with.

Perhaps that is why you only found a blurb.

Around $2000 for one of the machines completely assembled OR buy the
parts and build your own.



I think that you will find the Makerbot tool produces a very rough
surface. Even the best of the current 3D printers produce a pixelated
surface that is often too rough for fine work. This unit will have
nowhere near the resolution or accuracy of the commercial machines.
So unless you are willing to do lots of finish work in either the
plastic or cast metal or both this may be more a curiosity than a
viable tool for jewelry making.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Hi Kay,

I like the look of this one
It’s more robust and produces a better result.

Regards Charles A.
P.S. And “yes”, I want one… got to save my beans :wink:

Both myself and and another guy I’ve talked with have looked at the
MakerBot stuff and come to the conclusion that the accuracy and
surface finish displayed in the videos of it and stuff it’s made
don’t make it a viable option for jewelry. Everything I’ve seen made
with it has been very rough and would require a massive amount of
clean up.

I’ve never seen it in use in person, so I’m not to say I know for
sure that it’s not worth using in the jewelry industry. There could
be ways to get a better surface finish on it or make it more accurate
or or something. But I personally have crossed it off my list as a
possibility unless I was just printing stuff up for measurement

I like the look of this one It's more robust
and produces a better result. 

Again I would suggest you look carefully at the output of these
units. the resolution claims to be.2mm but the feature size it can
produce is more on the order of several millimeters. Fine as a toy or
in some prototype model situations but nowhere near the resolution
needed for fine jewelry.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Hi James,

It does produce a better result than the maker bot…

I wouldn’t be buying it for jewellery work, I’d leave that to the
professionals with the 16 micron wax printers.

Just an aside I saw something that other day that was pretty cool.
The guys that have those wonderful wax printers cast a piece of fine
lace for a friend, it was beautiful, and very delicate. When she
finishes the piece I’ll ask her for a photo.

Regards Charles A.

James B. is giving very good advice and is worth listening to on

I own a Dimension uPrint Plus. It is a $20,000.00 machine that has
very good resolution for a 3D printer. But there is no way you can
use it for jewelry. While in X and Y it like all other extruders has
great resolution, the issue is the layer thickness. My machine can
print .010" (.25mm) layers and that is where the degradation in
resolution comes in. If the side walls are straight up and down you
are fine as the XY resolution is more on the order of .002" (.05mm)
or so. But if there is any slope to the wall, it is created as a
stair step. This is because the machine can only either print a layer
or not print a layer at a given spot. It can’t print 1/2 a layer nor
can it blend layers together. As the slope become less vertical and
more horizontal the stair stepping becomes worse. You can quickly
visualize this by cutting out layers of thin material and stacking
them together. If you are trying to make a ball it will be very
grainy at the top and bottom and not as bad through the middle.

While this is fine for prototyping our machined products because
they are much bigger than jewelry pieces, it is useless for fine
detail and has a terrible surface finish on anything with sloping and
especially organic curve shapes. Even the surface finish on a flat or
vertical wall is not to good and would require some sort of filler to
smooth out. I love the machine and it is very useful for us, but any
of the 3D extrusion type printer are not suitable for jewelry.

Tim Goldstein
A2Z Corp

in some prototype model situations but nowhere near the resolution
needed for fine jewelry. 

I just glanced at this particular model, but I have a whole bunch of
bookmarks for such things, too. “Tinkering” isn’t the word - it’s a
huge effort to make such a thing with any sort of accuracy, even
from a kit. Electonics, mechanisms, square and plumb, rigid, just
plain straight. Tighten one screw too much or too little and .2
becomes 2. I know I gave up on the idea long ago…

I saw this story on MSNBC at

I saw several of these in use, and also visited the company’s booth
at Maker Faire when it came to my area last summer. They are aimed
mostly at the inventor who needs to produce a unique one-off part
for something s/he is creating. The pieces these things produce are
extremely rough-surfaced and would make for ugly jewelry. But the
devices themselves are totally cool, and are great fun to watch in
action. :slight_smile:

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry

That little bronze casting was mine, done just to see if I could.

And I’d agree, the low resolution of the current Makerbot makes it
pretty much useless for jewellery-scale objects. It also has
problems with unsupported spans, so (for example) you cannot easily
print a part with a horizontal hole, or any overhang that’s steeper
than about 45 degrees. There are tricks - printing extra snap-off
support material and so on - which get round this to some extent.

The pp3dp has better resolution, apparently, but still has the
overhang issue.

But, it is a technology that a lot of people are working on, so I
expect the printers will improve a lot over the next year or two.


Have a look at… They just finished a silver
prototyping run. They accept your CAD design for 3D printing. I have
seen a version of this in action using spun sugar as the medium.

Mary Barker

Have a look at They just finished a silver
prototyping run. They accept your CAD design for 3D printing. I
have seen a version of this in action using spun sugar as the

The output from Shapeways machines is still too course in pixelation
for fine jewelry, yes it is much better than the makerbot type
machines but the amount of filing required to finish one of these
pieces is ridiculous. Just look at the images on their website the
grow lines are huge. It makes precision work extremely difficult or
impossible depending on your skill with a file and sanding. These
tools are meant to provide quick visualization of 3D concepts or
limited use prototypes not fine jewelry.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Hi James,

I agree, but the good news is that it’s getting better (depending on
your point of view :wink: ).

At this stage if you want to go down the CAD path, have very fine
detail, then get a wax print, and have it cast. 16 micron precision
is very fine.

Now I’ve got a break from tech, I’m going to finish some overdue

Regards Charles A.

Does common opal have the same hydration issues as precious? I have a
kiloor so of the nice blue stuff that was coming out of Peru years
ago… Just have no time to cut it. I have not cut much opal… I do
know the diamond wheels on my Diamond Pacific Titan will eat a piece
up fast… Been there, done that :). It seems stable at the moment.

yes it is much better than the makerbot type machines 

In a very, very general posting - I know I considered making many
machines in my time, and I have yearned for some that were out of my
financial reach many times, too.

The #1 word in the machine tool business is “rigidity”. I have a
"cheap" milling machine and a cheap lathe, too. That’s in the world
of machinery - they are fine machines for my purposes. My miller
weighs 750 pounds and is cast iron throughout. Dovetail joints and
gibs as real machinery has. If you drove your car into it, the car
would get the worst of it. Most of the homemade equipment and kits
use some sort of structural members, which are bolted together. That
translates into the other, #2 word, which is “spaghetti”. All of
those joints and bolts make it (comparatively) rickety. Every time a
bolt hole is that much bigger than the bolt, you have play - every
time a screw comes loose, you have play. Plus the structures
themselves ~seem~ strong until you see a cast iron machine or even
cast aluminum, as some makers use. All of that erector set
constuction means that there’s an inherent lack of precision, and
that’s before you even look at the precision of the process itself -
CNC milling, 3D printing, RP or hand wheels and high speed steel
millers. Whatever… It’s not to say that they are useless - that’s
in the eyes of the beholder. But you DO get what you pay for, too.