And so it begins

Need a dozen of a specific nut or bolt?

How about a 12-point 28MM socket?

No need to take a trip to the local hardware store because you went there a month ago and bought yourself a 3-D printer.

The latest item to hit the shelves of Home Depot has the potential to solve one of biggest annoyances of do-it-yourself home repair: having to go to the hardware store in the first place.

Earlier this month, the world’s largest home improvement chain announced the start of a pilot program to sell MakerBots, described by the manufacturer as a type of professional-grade 3-D printing machine, in a dozen stores following a three-month period of online-only sales. The MakerBot printers, which range from a compact $1,375 model to a high-end $2,899 version, went on sale July 14 in Chicago and New York City-area stores, as well as Home Depot locations throughout California.

Here is MakerBot’s website. Do try not to drool.

Depending on how idiot-proof the software is, I can see myself getting one of these in a year or so.

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3 Responses to And so it begins

  1. Merle says:

    I thought they could only make “plastic” parts, so how helpful would this be?


  2. Eric Wilner says:

    I bought a FlashForge Creator X a couple of months ago — an upgrade of a knockoff of an earlier-model MakerBot.
    Works pretty well for making medium-sized, non-critical plastic parts. With more tuning, it should do better. But: it only does thermoplastic (various materials possible these days; I’ve been working in ABS), the minimum useful feature size is a millimeter or so, and by the nature of the beast it doesn’t really do close tolerances.
    So, there are many useful things one can do with an FDM machine, but making fasteners and sturdy tools? Nope.
    For that socket, though, you might use a size-larger socket and line it with Shapelock/ Polymorph low-temperature thermoplastic. Cheap, somewhat sturdy, and, while soft, easily skooshed into the exact shape needed. I use the stuff occasionally for minor repairs, quick low-strength fixturing, and whatnot.

  3. ZZMike says:

    One of those printers showed up at my local computer store (Micro Center). List price is $2000. And yes, it “prints” in plastic.

    On the other hand, metal 3D printers are already in use – just very expensive. But then, so were the plastic-printing ones, not too long ago.

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