It is almost hard to believe when you hear about a new 3D printer or scanner costing a fraction of what most consumers are used to. Yet, it is marveling how often we are now hearing about them, and each one seems to emphasize its own different feature. Announcements just last week of the Rubicon and Structure Sensor as two brand new, and very different, affordable 3D scanners was sure exciting. And after even more 3D machinery news today, there is no denying the technology is not just popular, it’s coming down in price. The Peachy Printer is yet another over successful campaign on Kickstarter, this one being a cheap, photolithographic-based printer, collecting over $140,000 in a mere 48 hours. Now, before you utter the discerning words in your head you must hear just how this bad boy works.
Successful trial runs have already proved that 28 year old creator, Rylan Grayston from Canada, truly has something here. Pun intended, his life could soon be more than peachy keen when the printers go out July 2014. One of the most attractive aspects of the Peachy Printer, besides the method which I will quickly get to, is it’s open-source hardware and software. Nothing better than an already super affordable machine being open-sourced, it is like getting an extra present! One could argue, however, the biggest perk is the price. With affordability comes accessibility, which means enthusiasts of all sorts may begin experimenting; from students teaching their students to that mad scientist friend of yours in his basement. Also with the introduction of more inexpensive choices come the competition, always a good thing in the ever-growing and advancing world of 3D printing.
Onto the method. The process. The magnificent manner in which the final object is created. It is so unique I haven’t found an article able to explain this without multiple paragraphs. Hence, I will do my best with the shortened and understandable version. Grayston truly rethought how a 3D printer could be made. Not only does it look different, it works with a combination of photolithographic printing- which basically means a process of salt-based water and a powerful laser beam acting to create a mold of an object. First a 3D model must be designed via (free) Blender software, then Peachy’s plugin assesses the model and converts it into audio waveform. With just a standard stereo audio cable, the headphone port on your computer will transfer the signal to Peachy. Words from Kickstarter explain the next step best:
“ This waveform drives a pair of electro magnetic mirrors. The higher the volume, the higher the voltage, the more the mirrors move.”
Basically the reflection that occurs manipulates the path of the laser. That audio waveform you have converted will then drive these mirrors, allowing the laser beam to ultimately draw out the shape of the object. Additionally, the entire method relies on your computer microphone port to listen for and count each and every drip- that way it will stop the process as soon as the model is complete. Sounding like science fiction? I don’t blame you. Lastly, plugging a digital camera into Peachy can also let it perform as a 3D scanner! After that initial scan via Blender, the laser illuminates the object as it rotates in front of the printer, scans it and then meshes it into a model file. Whew! If that didn’t “Wow” you a little bit I don’t know what could. With all being said, the prototype is exactly that, and is very much in its early stage. With room to go before next year’s debut, Peachy Printer should go through some serious refinement, as the finished molds do appear a bit messy. Not to worry, a lot can happen in an entire year, and those 2,295 backers sure don’t seem too skeptical.
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