Author Topic: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review  (Read 53436 times)

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Offline T4P

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #50 on: July 23, 2012, 02:42:19 pm »
Uhoh ... Dave's not having a good week
The PSU broke and now the makerbot's ...
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #51 on: July 23, 2012, 04:49:17 pm »
Dave, when I watched the video, I reacted to two things.
1) You took the platform adjustment process too lightly in my opinion. As far as I understand it, the purpose of the adjustment is that the distance between the platform and the head should be smaller than the height of filament track, so you get enough pressure for the first layer to stick to the platform. And then see what happened to your first print.

Yep, great with hindsight.

Quote
2) Then there's the rubber feet that you just threw to the said and said "who cares" when they didn't stick. They were likely there for a reason, obviously to absorb shocks. My guess is that's what killed it, maybe because all three platforms took a sharp turn at the same time and that created a shock which killed a stepper motor or made a dent in one of the gears or what have you.

Nope, the rubber feet were on the unit when it failed.

Dave.
 

Offline EEMarc

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #52 on: July 23, 2012, 05:06:51 pm »
[t's hard to understand how a commercial product can have so many problems, for the problems it should still be in indoors development/testing, the thing is that the image of the company is on stake  :o
I just had a sort look at software and it really screams a bunch of software hacked together with some weak duct tape, fine the a home thing not for a commercial product.
They really need to use some of that 10M and invest in people to take care of the big problems and also the details...

I agree.
But I don't know how far they are ahead or behind the commercial competition, it could be that with all it's issues, the Makerbot is ahead.
But in either case they'd better be careful.
I've only had a brief play with a competing one and it seemed better on the software side, and on the hardware results side too, but that was only brief.
I've lost count of the number of people who've commented "what did you get a Makerbot for, they are crap, get XXXXXXXX" etc. So it seems they have to be careful about their rep. My failed example isn't helping with that I suspect.
If I paid $1800 for it, I'd be pretty pissed at this failure.
If I did something stupid to break it, then fine (although the software shouldn't let me), but running an example on the supplied SD card is inexcusable.

Dave.

MakerBot is far ahead in terms of marketing. Often, that is the deciding factor on who wins. You are dead on with their reputation. If their failure rate is say 5% then that is just a case of bad luck. If their failure rate is closer to 25% or even higher, then they have a serious problem to address. I claim without proof that it is the latter case. Each unhappy customer will do so much long term damage to their reputation that it will take a a number of happy customers to offset.

So far, I've been disappointed with the quality of their product's output. On the other hand, that is probably just me wanting it to act like a $50k 3D printer.
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #53 on: July 23, 2012, 05:16:46 pm »
The spool in the back is inconvenient.  It would be nice to see if you are about to run out before starting a big print.

The display and buttons are at an inconvenient spot.  I would have placed it up high so its closer to eye level.  Maybe even angled.

I don't understand why the platform has to be adjusted.  Is it because the X and Y rods could be guaranteed perpendicular to the Z rods at assembly?  I don't think it will move THAT MUCH during shipping that you got to have four knobs that move pretty far.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #54 on: July 23, 2012, 05:58:47 pm »
I don't understand why the platform has to be adjusted.  Is it because the X and Y rods could be guaranteed perpendicular to the Z rods at assembly?  I don't think it will move THAT MUCH during shipping that you got to have four knobs that move pretty far.
The thing is made of wood, not the most stable of materials....
Re. the breakage - could it just be that one of the belts has slipped a notch?
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Offline firewalker

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #55 on: July 23, 2012, 07:10:14 pm »
How much does a Z/3D printer that just works out of the box. "Like a normal printer. Hit print and wait for your piece". I guess that there are such machines. Not quite on the professional side for mass production.

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Offline Sylvain

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #56 on: July 23, 2012, 09:07:01 pm »
I think we should find a new motto for Dave, something like : "Don't [just] turn it on, make it faiiiiiil !!!"

kidding appart,  I'm really surprised at how such expensive things can be so "unfinished" and encounter such problems.
Entry level 3D printers have now been on the market for several years and several tens of thousands may have been sold by the different makers ... We shouldn't still see nearly prototype / home made things entering the market for more than 1.5 k$ ...

Further more, except -maybe- the nozzle there's nothing really new in that king of machines. Much of the technical (mechanic, electronic, programming ...) are perfectly mastered in other fields of the industry.

I of course don't ask these things to have a perfect and nice encluser or to be light fast and perfectly reliable for a 24/7 work but for more 1.5 k$ I think we can ask :
- Something working "out of the box" (even if one need to remove some pieces of tape and wait for an autocalibrating process like on any ink-printer...)
- A well made and simple to install/use software. Multiplatform / Opensource / Openstandard ... could of course be a plus.
- Something reliable and as idiot proof as possible for a normal amateur use.
- A predictable and repeatable precision

Are my wishes so unrealistic ?

Sylvain.

PS : Sorry for my English !
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 09:26:13 pm by Sylvain »
 

Offline HackedFridgeMagnet

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #57 on: July 23, 2012, 10:09:02 pm »
Your English is good Sylvain, your joke is even funny, maybe Dave can do this at the start of one of his Videos, ... or at the end would be better.

Quote
I imagine they swapped to the external PSU so they don't have to go through all the certification for a mains power supply and can get a decently high voltage for their heaters etc. Why muck around with a crappy ATX PSU?

Maybe they could've provided mounts somewhere for the PSU, just to keep it out of the way.

That's not a crappy ATX PSU. Meanwell are quite a good brand, it was 24v from memory. I have one of their open chassis higher end supplies and the build quality is really nice. It always runs cool, not that I really run it hard though.
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #58 on: July 23, 2012, 10:58:43 pm »
Quote
I imagine they swapped to the external PSU so they don't have to go through all the certification for a mains power supply and can get a decently high voltage for their heaters etc. Why muck around with a crappy ATX PSU?

Maybe they could've provided mounts somewhere for the PSU, just to keep it out of the way.

That's not a crappy ATX PSU. Meanwell are quite a good brand, it was 24v from memory. I have one of their open chassis higher end supplies and the build quality is really nice. It always runs cool, not that I really run it hard though.

I know it's not an ATX PSU. The Thing-O-Matic used an ATX PSU, which is what I was referring to. As I said, they're probably using that Meanwell to get away from cheap ATX PSUs and supply a higher voltage (yes, it is 24V).
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #59 on: July 24, 2012, 01:35:09 am »
I think the superglue was to stick the feet on ( probably in the online manual somewhere, but was lost in translation.......) and definitely the adjustment of the platform is critical. I do think that a set of optoswitches for each axis would be good, and then you can align during construction, and only have a check during setup, along with a go-nogo block sent with each machine for adjustment of the platform. Then the platform can be made much more rigid, with no springs, instead a top and bottom nut ( and a pressed steel spanner to loosen if needed) to make a fixed platform.
 

Offline FJV

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #60 on: July 24, 2012, 03:01:40 am »
kidding appart,  I'm really surprised at how such expensive things can be so "unfinished" and encounter such problems.
Entry level 3D printers have now been on the market for several years and several tens of thousands may have been sold by the different makers ... We shouldn't still see nearly prototype / home made things entering the market for more than 1.5 k$ ...

I'm not suprised to be honest, when you compare the price against a more professional machine, then 1500$ is at least a factor 10 cheaper.

 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #61 on: July 24, 2012, 03:15:58 am »
and why is it a factor 10 cheaper ? because you can't make a reliable machine that cheap. not yet.
take the 15k dollar machine - write off development , and assembly cost, profit and look purely at the material costs you can shave off maybe 2/3 so you end up with a 5000$ invoice just for the bits and pieces... tack on back assembly cost, modest profit for makerbot and you end up with a 7K$ machine.

as for development of the control software... apparently they didn't write much. it's a collection of miscellaneous assorted bits slapped together ( and incomplete as during install you have to do some legwork as well ) so they shouldn't charge for that . it was all free as in 'free beer' to begin with.

 
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Offline Sylvain

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #62 on: July 24, 2012, 04:09:49 am »
I'm not suprised to be honest, when you compare the price against a more professional machine, then 1500$ is at least a factor 10 cheaper.

Of course but...

For example professional grade color laser printers are also maybe ten times more expensive than S.O.H.O. printers **but** that do not mean that if you buy a printer for your home, you will have to mount it by yourself, spend hours installing/calibrating it, may encouter fail after 3 pages printed ...

You can find this 1 to 10 (or more) factor in many fields (tools, computers, appliances ...) but it does not mean that if you buy non "professional" goods you can only expect to have "crap"/unfinished things.

Differences between "professional" grade goods and non professional can be found in many things : warranty, capacity of working hard 24/7, compliance with certain standards, size, speed, return on investment ...

If I apply this to my printer example a professional printer would accept A3 instead of A4, be able to print 100000/month, 20 pages/min, have a low price/page, can handle several ream in its charger, have a next day on site warranty and so on **but** -one more time- if you buy a 10 time less expensive personal printer, much of the time it will simply do what it is meant to with good results, decent speed and reliability ...

If the Makerbot would have cost says ... 200$ I could have been underding, at 1500$ sorry but no ...

One more thing, on this link : http://www.cnc-shop.ch/cnc3020.html you can see a product with nearly the same kind of problematics, same kind of precision and same range of price. I have never used it but just seeing it, I thing you can grant me that we are here in a other league of product.

Sylvain.
 

Offline Zad

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #63 on: July 24, 2012, 04:45:59 am »
To be honest, I agree. In terms of speed and quality, this is very much in the "before Epson MX80 9-pin dot matrix printer" stage. Even the good stuff is just a load of wiggly lines with poor detail and limitations on shape. Even for $500/£300 I have better things to spend my money on. When was the last time you saw a printer that needed assembly and calibration? For all the $10M investment, it still has the feel of something made in a bloke's shed. The hipsters will love that kinda thing, but not the 99.999% of the remaining populus.

I think Makerbot has to make a quantum leap with their next product, and abandon their traditional architecture. It shouldn't need expensive steppers that big, or have plywood panels with burnt wood that comes off over your hands. As Dave notes, it really needs positional feedback - it really isn't that expensive. Optical discs and IR sensing would maybe cost $1 in quantity.

Offline FJV

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #64 on: July 24, 2012, 05:20:04 am »
To be honest $10 million does not have to be all that much money, when you wanna design cutting edge stuff, but that's just my 2 cents.

What interests me is that if I were to have 2 Makerbots, I couldn't resist using one for making custom modifications. 8)

 

Offline tesla500

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #65 on: July 24, 2012, 06:02:19 am »
From my experience after we got a Fortus 400mc (about $100k) in at work, "professional" products aren't really any better. It's so bad that Fortus flies in a tech for all new system startups.

When we were setting it up, first the machine decides to slam the print head into the side of the machine during XY zeroing. After reseating some cards in the embedded Linux PC, it started working. However a few days later, it stopped again. After rebooting it a few times, it would no longer boot. They instructed us to restore the software using a supplied USB stick, but no luck, "Installation aborted" is reported on the screen and it reboots.

I connected a monitor to the Linux box, and actually got some useful feedback! The disk was corrupted and needed a FSCK run. But of course, I don't have the root password so I couldn't do anything. Tried the USB a few more times, and it randomly decided to work and restored the default image. That got the Linux box running again, but the Z axis auto zero now doesn't work, and the Y axis won't move when trying to print. We're currently waiting for a new Linux box to be shipped in from the manufacturer. If that doesn't solve it, the tech is coming back.

The manufacturer is also getting greedy like inkjet printer manufacturers, the 1.5kg material cartridges sell for $480 each for ABS and soluble support material, when the actual material cost is probably about 10% of that. The cartridges apparently contain about 20-30% extra material, but the onboard chip cuts you off at the stated capacity, and prevents you from refilling them. Looking at some blog posts, it's apparently not too hard to hack the security and refill them with your own material.

Similar to Agilent with licensed memory "upgrades", they charge $20k to enable use of the full build envelope, it's just a license key you install. Same for adding support for different materials, $15k each, and then you just need to change the $100 extruder tip. I can somewhat understand licensing the material support, as it probably takes a lot of effort to determine the exact head movements and extruder speeds required for each, but the build envelope is just like scope RAM, you already paid for the extra silicon, or in this case steel!
 

Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #66 on: July 24, 2012, 02:46:11 pm »
Hmmh.. I think the only way for hobbyist is to get into 3D printing is to get fully open source thingies.. That way if there is faulty part (design or manufacture) there is at least chance you'll get some fix someday from the users. And if the machine body is made of off the shelf metal threads+nuts with printed plastic parts (like Reprap), it's open for hacks and evolution.

Of course there can/will be some imperfections and prototype issues due ongoing development and not all user-innovated variants are worth the plastic used to print. But I do hope these hobby.machines do get better in time.

And yes.. the material prising is really important argument. I can only hope this does not become like those Inkjet-printers, with those the ink price is astronomical.

 

Offline poorchava

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #67 on: July 24, 2012, 07:15:04 pm »
As for position feedback, i might be able to add something: stepper motors are actualy very rarely used with absolute position feedback. This is because stepper movement is practically quantified and it's a very fair assumption that if you send a pulse to the driver, and driver makes a transition to the next step in sequence, than the motor WILL move by one unit of distance. If a stepper motor loses steps then you need to either increase drive voltage (faster current rise in coils), increase motor size (more torque), align your mechanics better (less friction and drag), increase speed and frequency stability of your control system (tighter position control), decrease speed, decrease acceleration or upgrade motor drivers to ones with higher microstepping ratio possible (smaller steps at one time). That's why many commercially sold CNC milling/turning/cutting/plotting machines don't have position feedback. More expensive ones use servomotors, which need encoders because of principle of operation, so in that case encoders are an extra (and the price for single decent servomotor + controller can be easily 2/3 of this replicator's price)

A standard precision stepper has 200 steps per revolution. Typical division ratio for microstepping driver is from 1/8 to 1/32. that gives anywhere from 1600 to 6400 steps per revolution. I think an encoder with sufficient resolution will cost ALOT ($30-50 for incremental type and like 3-4 times that much for absolute type).

Bottom line: if a machine loses steps it is poorly designed or parameters are poorly adjusted.

As for printers I've ditched the ink printers loong time ago. Dunno how in other countries, but in Poland entry level, quite functional dual-carriage ink printer with two full cartridges costs like 10% more than the set or cartridges alone. Why buy a cartridge. Buy a 10% more expensive cartridge and get a printer extra :D. I've purchased a used LaserJet 4000 for $60 3 years ago and haven't refilled it yet (cartridge for 12k pages). And a refill costs like ~$15 tops even if you don't know proper people :D. If you do, then it is usually for free.

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Online ejeffrey

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #68 on: July 24, 2012, 08:11:43 pm »
As for position feedback, i might be able to add something: stepper motors are actualy very rarely used with absolute position feedback. This is because stepper movement is practically quantified and it's a very fair assumption that if you send a pulse to the driver, and driver makes a transition to the next step in sequence, than the motor WILL move by one unit of distance.

Plenty of systems use stepper motors with position feedback as part of a larger system.  With a stepper you should never lose steps: i.e., every pulse should move the shaft one step.  Often the link from the shaft to the load is not perfect due to backlash, slip, non-linear mapping between the shaft position and load (imagine a tape spool winding up where the diameter changes as you fill up the spool) or inter-dependence of multiple control axes.

Open-loop stepper motors and servos with shaft mounted encoders are cheap, easy to use, and good enough for simple or low precision applications.  Higher end systems or more complicated systems will generally use encoders (often linear encoders) to sense the actual position of the load regardless of whether the drive is a stepper or servo motor.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #69 on: July 24, 2012, 10:22:43 pm »
Stepper motors ... Tape drives
That's a good start for positional feedback by using a transparent rotary disk that has a LED on one side and a photodiode on the other side
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #70 on: July 25, 2012, 01:32:27 am »
Stepper motors with both home and end of carriage detection is good enough for most applications. High enough torque and right ramp profile means you should not lose steps.

As to printers, the Printer with the starter cart is often cheaper than the new cart, and I just phone my refiller to check they do that unit before I buy. Then buy a refilled cart and use the original then have it refilled. There are often starter cartridges that literally have a spacer moulded in to limit the fill volume, you have literally paid full price for empty air volume. I have a few laser cartridges that are now 6 years old and have been refilled dozens of times. I reckon I have saved around 1000 times the price of the original unit, just from that. Costs about 1/3 of the price of the unit wholesale, so both me and the refiller are doing well.
 

Offline amyk

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #71 on: August 05, 2012, 05:24:36 pm »
I haven't looked recently to see if they're going back, but the mention of printers and positioning made me remember that around the middle of the last decade printer manufacturers started using brushed DC motors and linear/rotary encoders for the platen and carriage instead of stepper motors. These can achieve accuracy in the <0.001" range so I don't think that's going to be an issue. Analog encoders are limited by ADC resolution, and using DC motors there is no defined step, so very fine adjustments can be made. At the expense of a bit more complexity in the software, they can get rid of the home switches and auto-calibrate a fixed platform by measuring the height of 3 of its corners, then storing the two slopes and using them when printing to compensate for any tilt.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #72 on: August 05, 2012, 06:17:11 pm »
Brushed motors have the advantage of a simple driver, but need the feedback. Now the cost of drivers has continued dropping to the point where the motor costs more with the feedback than the stepper motor does with the driver, so they moved to cheap pressed part stepper motors. The DC motor is still used where they need a high breakaway torque though.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #73 on: August 05, 2012, 06:44:07 pm »
To be honest, I agree. In terms of speed and quality, this is very much in the "before Epson MX80 9-pin dot matrix printer" stage.

I think the entire entry level 3D printing industry is still in this category, it's not just the Makerbot.
They all have no position feedback, they all (apparently) have grub on round shafts, they all have limited speed and performance, and they all (apparently) require tweaking in some way.

Quote
I think Makerbot has to make a quantum leap with their next product, and abandon their traditional architecture. It shouldn't need expensive steppers that big, or have plywood panels with burnt wood that comes off over your hands. As Dave notes, it really needs positional feedback - it really isn't that expensive. Optical discs and IR sensing would maybe cost $1 in quantity.

I agree they need to make a quantum leap in the next product and abandon their home-made roots.
The low cost $1K UP! printer for example looks the business, but has a small build platform and no dual extruder support. And that's the only two things keeping the Makerbot competitive at the moment.

I think it's the small things in the design that will make the big differences in the winning product.
The market will very likely slip into the traditional market share ratios within in the next few years. i.e. one company will have the majority of the market and become the defacto standard, with another major player (or two) the next biggest, and then dregs who will ultimately disappear. Where Makerbot will be in that crowd depends on their next product I think.
I expect dual extruder with water soluble support material to become the defacto standard platform.

Dave.
 

Offline djsb

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Re: EEVblog #318 - Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer Unboxing & Review
« Reply #74 on: August 06, 2012, 04:14:08 am »
When you can buy this in Staples or Rymans I will buy one

http://www.objet.com/3d-printers/desktop/objet30-pro

There is a definite future for the 3d printer and I'm hoping in another 5 years they are as affordable as a laser colour printer is today.
I get all my 3d printing done at shapeways for now and even they have problems with their equipment.

I'd like to get something printed in rubber for my motorcycle but it seems noone does FLEXIBLE black rubber just yet (and rubber that is fuel,heat and crack resistant).


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David
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