Author Topic: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?  (Read 1871 times)

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Offline c64

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Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« on: February 15, 2020, 08:00:36 am »
There is nothing complicated in the construction of a cheap 3d printer. Electronics is simple as well. We could already make them easily in the late 80s. Why?
 
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Offline Domagoj T

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2020, 08:11:06 am »
I would guess that's because industry doesn't need machines to be cheap. Making cheap machines is interesting if your target market are individuals who have a bit of extra cash and are willing to spend some on a toy and not a tool intended to make money.
Furthermore, 3D printing requires a computer model and 3D softwares were not very common back then, especially in home computers that would struggle to handle any sort of 3D objects anyway, let alone high polygon ones you need in the end.
It could also be down to CNC tech being patented in late 50's, so there was additional cost until the patents expired.
 

Offline beanflying

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2020, 08:25:25 am »
Some of it has to do with patents and enforcement/threats from Stratasys and others along the way with FDM in particular limiting options to manufacturers to make printers. Some of these patents I think are still current but most should have now expired.

There is also some other more recent roadblocks along the way with Makerbot didn't help https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MakerBot#Controversies Makerbot are now owned by Stratasys  :palm:

This is in part why none of my designs go on thingiverse who is owned by Makerbot :horse:
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Offline Cyberdragon

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2020, 08:29:54 am »
3D printing was invented in 1983.

https://3dinsider.com/3d-printing-history/
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Offline donotdespisethesnake

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2020, 08:54:25 am »
There is nothing complicated in the construction of a cheap 3d printer. Electronics is simple as well. We could already make them easily in the late 80s. Why?

I remember the 80s, I was there :) Contrary to what you say, back then the "electronics" was either not cheap or not powerful enough. Cheap MCUs like AVR and PIC didn't appear until about 1996.

More important though, was implementing idea of cheap "self replicating" 3d printers, which was really the brainchild of Adrian Bowyer.  Simply put, no one had the idea before then and was able to put it into practice.
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Offline Bicurico

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2020, 09:04:30 am »
Patents and especially  lack os accessible 3D CAD software.

What would you print in the 80ies without 3D CAD?

How would you model a 3D shape?

What about the STL format - there was not enough computing power to generate STL meshes. Note that the best computers for CAD in the 90ies were Silicon Graphics. The cheapest Indy was hardly affordable for hobby use.

Much of the math used in current kernals like Parasolid are fairly recent developments.

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Offline beanflying

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2020, 09:17:18 am »
The Early low tech CNC solutions were more PC based with a micro or dedicated electronics to talk to the steppers. Rather than where what we now think simple. This board is a CNC Hotwire foam cutting controller and is just over 20 years old in tech, Parallel Port and capable of driving four independent steppers.

I still remember programming Motorola 6800's in Hex via a keypad. Life is easy now  ;)
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Offline JamesPatterson

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2020, 12:30:08 pm »
The software needed for 3D printing when it comes to the computer didn't exist back then, so it's not really about people not wanting us to have 3D printers earlier, just technology evolving in more branches is what kept it on hold.
 

Offline Domagoj T

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2020, 12:54:07 pm »
This board is a CNC Hotwire foam cutting controller and is just over 20 years old in tech, Parallel Port and capable of driving four independent steppers.

I still remember programming Motorola 6800's in Hex via a keypad. Life is easy now  ;)
Which is still 20 years younger than 80's.
I slapped together a small CNC hot wire foam cutter about 6 months ago (one small project required it), and all in all (physical construction, electrical and software) it took me literally less than a week to do it (most of which was physical construction). Stepper drivers are off the shelf parts, I used an Arduino for brains (along with g code software that somebody else wrote), and repurposed an open source windows software somebody else wrote for laser cutters. Modifications required on either one of them boiled down to setting the machine parameters.
This all illustrates just how much more effort it used to be to make the same thing a few decades ago.
 

Online xrunner

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2020, 01:02:35 pm »
There is nothing complicated in the construction of a cheap 3d printer. Electronics is simple as well. We could already make them easily in the late 80s. Why?

Patents and especially  lack os accessible 3D CAD software.

What would you print in the 80ies without 3D CAD?

How would you model a 3D shape?

What about the STL format - there was not enough computing power to generate STL meshes. Note that the best computers for CAD in the 90ies were Silicon Graphics. The cheapest Indy was hardly affordable for hobby use.

Much of the math used in current kernals like Parasolid are fairly recent developments.

Regards,
Vitor

Right.

Even with the mechanicals and supply chain for the materials solved, how are you going to design the thing, or modify it in the '80's? The simple tool stand shown requires to be generated generated over 275,000 lines of G code for the machine just to make it. What computer is going to do the calculations in a reasonable time back then even if you had all the software solved? My platform I run my software on is a Ryzen 7 and it generates the G code in mere seconds for very complex models. In the 1980's? Who knows how many hours or days (or weeks) it would take (even if the software existed).

It's funny, I was asking a similar question to some friends just a while back. I asked them if I could transport back in time my 3D printer --> WITHOUT ANY SOFTWARE <-- could any group on engineers in the 1960's make any use of it at all? Without the software development and the hardware to run the CAD and slicer, I am not so sure. In the 1980's? Probably not much use either for any but the very simplest items.

Like "Oh wow after much research look! We have made use of the machine sent via time-travel to make a square on the print bed! We are geniuses!"  :)

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Offline beanflying

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2020, 04:30:51 pm »
Interesting that people see writing Gcode or an alternate machine instruction set as being the limiter it has been around in NC machines well before the 80's and well before 3D CAD let alone the Slicers we now have.

Programming it in hard code from calculation and number crunching or changing the code manually was common back when I first saw it being used on a machine so it could be done in the 80's but the cost in time would be horrid and very limited but it could be done 'technically' but maybe not 'practically'.

We are now just spoiled by the ease we can avoid even seeing the code in most cases let alone knowing what the instruction set is or how it works.
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Offline Domagoj T

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2020, 04:51:43 pm »
it could be done in the 80's but the cost in time would be horrid and very limited but it could be done 'technically' but maybe not 'practically'.
The topic of the thread is not why there were no 3D printers. It's why there were no cheap 3D printers.
 
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Online langwadt

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2020, 05:05:03 pm »
There is nothing complicated in the construction of a cheap 3d printer. Electronics is simple as well. We could already make them easily in the late 80s. Why?

I remember the 80s, I was there :) Contrary to what you say, back then the "electronics" was either not cheap or not powerful enough. Cheap MCUs like AVR and PIC didn't appear until about 1996.

could easily have been run from the parallelport on the pc you needed anyway
 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2020, 05:07:10 pm »
There is nothing complicated in the construction of a cheap 3d printer. Electronics is simple as well. We could already make them easily in the late 80s. Why?
Patents. It's as simple as that.
 

Online xrunner

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2020, 05:08:54 pm »
Interesting that people see writing Gcode or an alternate machine instruction set as being the limiter it has been around in NC machines well before the 80's and well before 3D CAD let alone the Slicers we now have.

Programming it in hard code from calculation and number crunching or changing the code manually was common back when I first saw it being used on a machine so it could be done in the 80's but the cost in time would be horrid and very limited but it could be done 'technically' but maybe not 'practically'.

We are now just spoiled by the ease we can avoid even seeing the code in most cases let alone knowing what the instruction set is or how it works.

That's exactly what I mean. The amount of time it would have taken 40 or more years ago to calculate and write out hundreds of thousands of G Code instructions would have been impractical for the modern objects we are making with little effort now. Look at what ancient people did with their limited technology, but with the will power to do so (pyramids, et. al.). No one in their right mind would gather together a group of people with ancient technology to build another pyramid to match the ones in Egypt. Could they do it today? With the will power - sure, but it won't happen because we are spoiled now.  ;)
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Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2020, 05:18:00 pm »
Time to do a Kickstarter on a pyramid of Geezer. Twice as big as the Giza one!
 
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Online nctnico

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2020, 05:19:21 pm »
There is nothing complicated in the construction of a cheap 3d printer. Electronics is simple as well. We could already make them easily in the late 80s. Why?
Cost of hardware (both mechanical parts and electronics). I paid over 500 euro in today's money for the totally crap plotter shown in this video:

The one shown in the video works way better (less play in the pen moving head) compared to the one I had. Being able to buy cheap mechanical parts directly from China has lowered prices of components and materials considerably.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 
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Offline beanflying

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2020, 05:25:00 pm »
it could be done in the 80's but the cost in time would be horrid and very limited but it could be done 'technically' but maybe not 'practically'.
The topic of the thread is not why there were no 3D printers. It's why there were no cheap 3D printers.

If you want to play semantics then the OP asked about 'cheap printers' in the opening post he did not ask about software or costs in time to make that printer work.

The board I showed above was btw in response to a post about the advent of micros in the mid to late 90's and was just one I had in a box close at hand.
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Offline MyHeadHz

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2020, 05:26:44 pm »
There is nothing complicated in the construction of a cheap 3d printer. Electronics is simple as well. We could already make them easily in the late 80s. Why?
Patents. It's as simple as that.

Yep.  The patent holders refused to develop or license it (in any meaningful way), which is really unfortunate.  It was quite clear with the original makerbot that they were doing it simply because they would finally be allowed to legally, due to expiring patents.  The whole idea of buying or holding on to patents specifically to kill innovation needs to end.  There needs to be some exception to patent law to where a company must either use the technology the technology in a meaningful way (to a given market segment) or license it in a meaningful way, otherwise it causes some default codified licensing/royalty scheme- even if the patent-holder doesn't like it (license it, or we will for you).  There are some limited exceptions already, but they obviously fall short.  There must be some happy medium in there somewhere.
 

Offline Domagoj T

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2020, 07:15:06 pm »
If you want to play semantics then the OP asked about 'cheap printers' in the opening post he did not ask about software or costs in time to make that printer work.
Why would you separate the cost of the machine from the cost of developing and using the software necessary to run that machine? One is useless without the other.
 

Offline Alex Eisenhut

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2020, 07:30:11 pm »
We did. Just not at home.



Computer driven machinery has been around for a looooong time. But as others pointed out, home computers in the 1980s would have been barely adequate.
*Except AC/DC adapters on eBay. Avoid them all!
 
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Offline beanflying

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2020, 07:51:47 pm »
If you want to play semantics then the OP asked about 'cheap printers' in the opening post he did not ask about software or costs in time to make that printer work.
Why would you separate the cost of the machine from the cost of developing and using the software necessary to run that machine? One is useless without the other.

Because there is no point having any software without the hardware first to use it on.

In the case of NC or Gcode based machines they don't care about how good or bad the software or pretty 3D pictures on a screen they just need data they understand. There is in reality zero need for CAD in the modern sense or a Slicer. Autocad 2 I started with wasn't released until the mid 80's I think and would have been of little direct use to drive this sort of machine without major manual post processing.

Regardless of then or now a PC or Computer of some sort is needed in the chain and I could take an IBM XT of that era to calculate and write a Gcode instruction set, point it at an attached interface board to this mythical 3D printer and it would step around and spit plastic. This number crunching and text editing rather than 'software' was how it was done with little to no automation and has a time cost but without the hardware pointless. This same approach even now could be used to write Gcode but no one in their right mind would do it.

While this is away from the OP's initial post knowing the reality and limits of technology of the time is important. Time has a Cost.

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Offline Alex Eisenhut

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Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2020, 10:47:38 pm »
We did. Just not at home.



Computer driven machinery has been around for a looooong time. But as others pointed out, home computers in the 1980s would have been barely adequate.
CNC machining isn't printing.
 

Online Cerebus

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2020, 12:18:08 am »
... No one in their right mind would gather together a group of people with ancient technology to build another pyramid to match the ones in Egypt. ...

You haven't encountered experimental archaeologists have you?  :) If they thought they could get away with it they would!

A '13th century' castle, in construction since 1997 using authentic techniques and tools of the time:

Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 


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