Author Topic: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?  (Read 1870 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.

Regards,
Vitor

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.
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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.
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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?
 

Online xrunner

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2020, 12:25:12 am »
Yea that's really cool - but I was talking about pyramids ... I don't think they will tackle this is the near future -

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Online Cerebus

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2020, 01:16:52 am »
Yea that's really cool - but I was talking about pyramids ... I don't think they will tackle this is the near future -


Like I said, I think they (experimental archaeologists in general) would if they thought they could get away with it. "Excuse me Mr Mayor of Cairo, you're not actually using this bit of desert just in front of the Giza plateau are you?" You've seen the sorts that turn up on "Time Team"; chunky jumpers, pipes ("Are you sure that this is tobacco, sir?"), real ale, hats you could grow potatoes in... Mad as cheese, the lot of them.  :)
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 
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Online vk6zgo

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2020, 01:18:29 am »
One reason was that the existing methods were highly developed & efficient for mass production.

My Dad's old job of Engineering Patternmaker, which was a complex thing, combining the skills of a sculptor, woodworker, & machinist, along with good mathematical abilities was just about gone by then with the advent of CNC, where a machine could be used to produce a pattern quickly, without any  such skills required, where the pattern was used in the time-honoured way to produce a mould, & so on.

Or

To machine the mould directly, with the "inverse" shape of the ultimate product
The same could be done for the dies used in forging.

Or

To machine the complete product from a billet of solid metal

Most of the above applies to plastics, too.
Plastic stuff was cheap as dirt to mould or extrude, or whatever, so factories really didn't stand to benefit much from 3D printing.

3D printing doesn't really seem to offer much advantage to large scale manufacturers, even now, despite all the hype.
 

Offline beanflying

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2020, 01:40:45 am »
A good mate of mine still in the Patternmaking business uses a mix of CNC, handwork, resin and metal that is the nature of progress. Strict handwork only patternmaking is more or less gone.

Re 3D printing you need to get out and look more at what industry is actually doing be it Aerospace building rocket motors or limited run special body trim for Automotive or just pre production prototyping or limited run performance parts. This doesn't necessarily apply to FDM consumer printers which is what I guess this topic is about but more so SLS, Resin and some of the higher end industrial process machines.

https://metal3d.com.au/automotive-industry/

It won't ever be the Star Trek replicator or replace Diecasting or Injection molding but in some cases it now makes sense.

« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 01:42:21 am by beanflying »
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Online langwadt

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2020, 02:08:30 am »
A good mate of mine still in the Patternmaking business uses a mix of CNC, handwork, resin and metal that is the nature of progress. Strict handwork only patternmaking is more or less gone.

Re 3D printing you need to get out and look more at what industry is actually doing be it Aerospace building rocket motors or limited run special body trim for Automotive or just pre production prototyping or limited run performance parts. This doesn't necessarily apply to FDM consumer printers which is what I guess this topic is about but more so SLS, Resin and some of the higher end industrial process machines.

https://metal3d.com.au/automotive-industry/

It won't ever be the Star Trek replicator or replace Diecasting or Injection molding but in some cases it now makes sense.

https://youtu.be/nyYcomX7Lus
 

Offline c64

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #30 on: February 16, 2020, 07:40:15 am »
Simple 3d design software was already available in late 80s.

G-code for something simple like enclosure for your PCB or "simple tool stand" mentioned in this thread can be generated without any 3d editor. I myself tried to generate g-code manually and it's nothing complicated, just time consuming.

Simplest hobbyist 3d printer just requires few stepper motors and computer like c64 or ZX Spectrum. ZX Spectrum was around 100£, steppers can be controlled directly from it. No need for any microcontrollers. And if you make it yourself, you just don't care about patents.

It was probably no plastic on the spool available for sale, but it can be also done at home, there are stories of people recycling their plastic.

 

Offline beanflying

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2020, 08:02:10 am »
As I typed a few posts ago you don't need 3D software to generate Gcode we do it now because it is easy and it makes sense.

Do you actually have any idea how large the Gcode file is even for a simple shape? Anything relying on a Cassette Tape for storage isn't an option.

Draw yourself a simple cube and then convert it into GCode and you are talking Mb file sizes. Simple 50x50x50mm cube with a 0.2mm layer is 275,000 lines of Gcode and over 8Mb off a modern slicer. Just ran a 20x20x20mm cube 640kB and over 20,000 lines of Gcode.

I don't have the time to look an more at it currently but even playing with it manually the file down in size I doubt you will get near a toy computer to process and keep up with a 3D printer from tape.

ABS and a lot of common plastics were available on rolls it they would work reliably or be consistent is a bit moot but if there was a market I am sure technically it could be done for a price.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 08:07:13 am by beanflying »
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Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #32 on: February 16, 2020, 08:48:57 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 was just watching The-8-bit-guy's latest video today where he cooks up a couple of key stands for the C64.

He pulled the file off the web and sent it to the printer and walla.
 

Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #33 on: February 16, 2020, 08:50:42 am »
Yea that's really cool - but I was talking about pyramids ... I don't think they will tackle this is the near future -



I have been to those there pyramids. I have only one word: Aliens.

 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #34 on: February 16, 2020, 01:16:04 pm »
Quote
3D printing has been around for about 30 years, which means that some of the earliest patents in this space are fond memories. From 2002 to 2014, about 225 early 3D printing patents expired. About 16 key patents relating to 3D printing processes called Material Extrusion, Powder Bed Fusion, and Vat Photopolymerization expired in 2013-14. This means that 3D printing technology that is at least 20 years old is now available for anyone to use.
In other words, an expired 3D printing patent gives only the right to use that specific 20-year-old technology.
https://www.finnegan.com/en/insights/how-patents-die-expiring-3d-printing-patents.html

Another link:
https://reprap.org/wiki/Patents
IP lawyer firm says you need an IP lawyer.  ::)
 

Online xrunner

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #35 on: February 16, 2020, 01:16:31 pm »
I have been to those there pyramids. I have only one word: Aliens.

Yea dude - they must have had help from ... aliens!



G-code for something simple like enclosure for your PCB or "simple tool stand" mentioned in this thread can be generated without any 3d editor. I myself tried to generate g-code manually and it's nothing complicated, just time consuming.

Right, right, and making a Giza pyramid is simple just tiime-consuming. In fact almost anything can be done, why it's just a simple matter of time right?

Even if you wanted to try and make a 3D printed object coding it by hand, you will make mistakes - so many mistakes. I make mistakes just using the tools we have now. Sometimes hours are lost due to these mistakes. LOL and where you see the mistake in the finished model how are you going to pinpoint the exact line of gcode that caused it?  :wtf:

And you are going to code up by hand over 82,000 lines of gcode to make an item like this blade holder I printed yesterday. And you are not going to make a mistake - you will make many, very many my friend, and have to trudge through 82,000 lines to find it and do it again and again. Make all the move, extrude, retract, etc. all those calculations by hand for files that can be up to hundreds of thousands of lines?

Oh, but it's simply a matter of time ...

Give me a break.  :palm:

« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 04:49:45 pm by xrunner »
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Online Mr. Scram

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #36 on: February 16, 2020, 01:17:21 pm »
I was just watching The-8-bit-guy's latest video today where he cooks up a couple of key stands for the C64.

He pulled the file off the web and sent it to the printer and walla.
Where's walla?
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2020, 03:50:42 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?
You're young, aren't you?


It's been covered above, but here's my 2 cents' worth:

Looking at someone having their own personal setup.......
Speed: If you just look at the trend expressed by Moore's Law, in 1980, you were getting around 50,000 transistors on a chip.  Today it's around 50,000,000,000.  That's a factor of 1,000,000.  Assuming this translates into an equivalent effect in processing speed, something that would take you 1 second today would take more than 11 days back then.  A single "oops" you would think nothing of today and undo in another second could set you back weeks.  Manual scrutiny of code and actions was much more necessary in those days.

(For reference - the IBM 370 mainframe I was working on in 1980 had 256KB of core memory, with an OS on one 70MB hard drive and the company files on another, with a third as a sort work area.  This was a company with branches all around Australia.)

Cost:  All this is assuming you had the supporting resources such as memory (which was measured in KB) and storage (a 5MB HDD cost thousands of 1980 dollar$)

Awareness:  Back in those days, you did not have the instant communication channels you have today.  It was magazines and who you knew - and those circles were usually very geographically limited.  You could have someone 20 miles away who had a great idea, but you would never hear of it unless it made publication somewhere - and you got to see that.  Today, someone could have an idea (good, bad or indifferent) and the whole world could know about it within minutes.  In 1980, 3D printing as a concept would not have had the exposure, so there would not have been the interest and, thus, development by interested hobbyists - and even if there was, it would more likely be by individuals working in isolation or, at best, in a very small group.  This sort of tech in schools was unheard of.

These factors were less of an issue for industrial and commercial organisations because of their very nature.


To put it another way ... Could a single human being build one of the pyramids?  Given the knowledge of how, the physical stamina and living longer than Methuselah - yes.  So grab your chisel and get started....  You can do it!!
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 03:52:49 pm by Brumby »
 
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Offline Brumby

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2020, 03:56:28 pm »
Oh - and I haven't even touched on the cost of the parts to even build a 3D printer back then.
 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #39 on: February 16, 2020, 04:17:21 pm »
Because CNC controllers from 1980 could hardly do circular interpolation. CNC from 1985-1995 could do 2-1/2D, but got really slow doing real 3d contouring with fine step sizes.

Furthermore apart from expensive sintered metal printers, there isn't a good use for 3D printers in industry.
Need 1 to a few parts, manually turn/mill it, maybe use a CNC if conventional machining isn't possible.
Need 10 to maybe 1000 parts, set up a production CNC with barstock feeder/toolchanger/pallet changer to do it automatically.
Need 100000 parts, set up an plastic/zink/aluminium injection molding machine or use pressed metal powder stuff.
 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #40 on: February 16, 2020, 04:33:13 pm »
Funny how the Pyramids were listed as an early example of additive manufacturing. That was featured in a video that just came up about the history of consumer 3D printing.

But weren't the Pyramids built by carving stones and then assembling them? I would say an early example of purely additive manufacturing would be adobe buildings.
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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #41 on: February 16, 2020, 04:39:19 pm »
Because CNC controllers from 1980 could hardly do circular interpolation. CNC from 1985-1995 could do 2-1/2D, but got really slow doing real 3d contouring with fine step sizes.

doesn't most 3d printers do everything in layers so it only needs 2.5D?

 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #42 on: February 16, 2020, 04:43:36 pm »
With buildings, about everything apart from digging tunnels uses additive manufacturing techniques. But additive manufacturing technique != 3d printing. Otherwise you could consider welding, casting, pouring concrete, assembling a device and whatnot as 3d printing, since material is added in some way.

3D printing: Work head that moves and dispenses a liquid that solidifies and forms the final object. Maybe antique pottery with sausage laying method is closest to that:
 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #43 on: February 16, 2020, 04:46:10 pm »
doesn't most 3d printers do everything in layers so it only needs 2.5D?
If enough layers are used, probably yes. Leaves steps though. No steps, 3d toolpath.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2020, 04:48:15 pm »
1) Processing power was expensive
2) Open Source wasn't a thing, so what 3D software there was, was expensive
3) Mechanical parts like stepper motors were expensive
4) The electronics were expensive, both for production and development
5) Patents
6) no internet so no community wanting 3D printing, sharing models etc.
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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #45 on: February 16, 2020, 05:23:23 pm »
One reason was that the existing methods were highly developed & efficient for mass production.

My Dad's old job of Engineering Patternmaker, which was a complex thing, combining the skills of a sculptor, woodworker, & machinist, along with good mathematical abilities was just about gone by then with the advent of CNC, where a machine could be used to produce a pattern quickly, without any  such skills required, where the pattern was used in the time-honoured way to produce a mould, & so on.

Or

To machine the mould directly, with the "inverse" shape of the ultimate product
The same could be done for the dies used in forging.

Or

To machine the complete product from a billet of solid metal

Most of the above applies to plastics, too.
Plastic stuff was cheap as dirt to mould or extrude, or whatever, so factories really didn't stand to benefit much from 3D printing.

3D printing doesn't really seem to offer much advantage to large scale manufacturers, even now, despite all the hype.
Thinking 3D printing is supposed to replace large scale manufacturing is a classic mistake. Instead it offers flexible and fast manufacturing which means quick design iterations and cheap small scale or custom products. It can also be used to speed up traditional processes in the shape of providing molds. Especially hybrid processes tend to be both practical and allowing for much more flexibility. We need to get rid of the notion of 3D printing as a magic product making solution and start thinking of it as another useful tool in the box which interacts with existing tools.
 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #46 on: February 16, 2020, 05:55:35 pm »
One reason was that the existing methods were highly developed & efficient for mass production.

My Dad's old job of Engineering Patternmaker, which was a complex thing, combining the skills of a sculptor, woodworker, & machinist, along with good mathematical abilities was just about gone by then with the advent of CNC, where a machine could be used to produce a pattern quickly, without any  such skills required, where the pattern was used in the time-honoured way to produce a mould, & so on.

Or

To machine the mould directly, with the "inverse" shape of the ultimate product
The same could be done for the dies used in forging.

Or

To machine the complete product from a billet of solid metal

Most of the above applies to plastics, too.
Plastic stuff was cheap as dirt to mould or extrude, or whatever, so factories really didn't stand to benefit much from 3D printing.

3D printing doesn't really seem to offer much advantage to large scale manufacturers, even now, despite all the hype.
Thinking 3D printing is supposed to replace large scale manufacturing is a classic mistake. Instead it offers flexible and fast manufacturing which means quick design iterations and cheap small scale or custom products. It can also be used to speed up traditional processes in the shape of providing molds. Especially hybrid processes tend to be both practical and allowing for much more flexibility. We need to get rid of the notion of 3D printing as a magic product making solution and start thinking of it as another useful tool in the box which interacts with existing tools.

yeh, the only thing "magic" about 3d printing is the can make part that are impossible to make with any other method

 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #47 on: February 16, 2020, 06:57:50 pm »
...
2) Open Source wasn't a thing, ...

Oh it very much was, various user's groups such as DECUS, IBM User Group and others circulated open source software back as far as the 60s. It just didn't get called "open source" until later.
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Offline David Hess

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #48 on: February 16, 2020, 07:17:33 pm »
The primary reason consumer grade 3D printers were not available earlier is the patents.  Immediately after they ran out, desktop 3D printers became available.

And with no printers, there was no reason to develop the CAD and CAM software for them.  Computer performance was more than enough with early 16 and 32 bit processors.  There was plenty of CAD and CAM software on the 8086 and 68000.

Speed: If you just look at the trend expressed by Moore's Law, in 1980, you were getting around 50,000 transistors on a chip.  Today it's around 50,000,000,000.  That's a factor of 1,000,000.  Assuming this translates into an equivalent effect in processing speed, something that would take you 1 second today would take more than 11 days back then.  A single "oops" you would think nothing of today and undo in another second could set you back weeks.  Manual scrutiny of code and actions was much more necessary in those days.

Having used CAD/CAM back then and now, most of the increase in processing power has been wasted.  The biggest difference is the much better visualization which is available now.  Preprocessing would have taken longer, like generating Gerber files, but that would be insignificant compared to printing time.
 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #49 on: February 17, 2020, 03:52:32 am »
I was just watching The-8-bit-guy's lateswayt video today where he cooks up a couple of key stands for the C64.

He pulled the file off the web and sent it to the printer and walla.
Where's walla?

It's probably what people in "Walla Walla Washington" call their hometown, in the same  way  that the inhabitants of "Wagga Wagga" often call their town just "Wagga".

All you need to do is mentally add the other "Walla" & "voila!"------you have it. ;D
 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #50 on: February 17, 2020, 04:23:42 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?
You're young, aren't you?


It's been covered above, but here's my 2 cents' worth:

Looking at someone having their own personal setup.......
Speed: If you just look at the trend expressed by Moore's Law, in 1980, you were getting around 50,000 transistors on a chip.  Today it's around 50,000,000,000.  That's a factor of 1,000,000.  Assuming this translates into an equivalent effect in processing speed, something that would take you 1 second today would take more than 11 days back then.  A single "oops" you would think nothing of today and undo in another second could set you back weeks.  Manual scrutiny of code and actions was much more necessary in those days.

(For reference - the IBM 370 mainframe I was working on in 1980 had 256KB of core memory, with an OS on one 70MB hard drive and the company files on another, with a third as a sort work area.  This was a company with branches all around Australia.)

Cost:  All this is assuming you had the supporting resources such as memory (which was measured in KB) and storage (a 5MB HDD cost thousands of 1980 dollar$)

Awareness:  Back in those days, you did not have the instant communication channels you have today.  It was magazines and who you knew - and those circles were usually very geographically limited.  You could have someone 20 miles away who had a great idea, but you would never hear of it unless it made publication somewhere - and you got to see that.  Today, someone could have an idea (good, bad or indifferent) and the whole world could know about it within minutes.  In 1980, 3D printing as a concept would not have had the exposure, so there would not have been the interest and, thus, development by interested hobbyists - and even if there was, it would more likely be by individuals working in isolation or, at best, in a very small group.  This sort of tech in schools was unheard of.

These factors were less of an issue for industrial and commercial organisations because of their very nature.


To put it another way ... Could a single human being build one of the pyramids?  Given the knowledge of how, the physical stamina and living longer than Methuselah - yes.  So grab your chisel and get started....  You can do it!!

The pyramids are many orders of magnitude beyond the toys most people bulid with 3D printing, so I can't really see any connection between them.

As I tried to point out earlier, 3D printing  was a "solution in  search of a problem" back in the '80s.

No doubt, if the USA or USSR had a requirement which was "vital to their national defence", & which could only be addressed by 3D printing, they would have "moved heaven & earth" to do it.
It wouldn't have looked pretty, & would have cost the equivalent of the GDP of a small country, but it would have happened.

There was no such requirement, & industry was happy with their existing, very efficient, methods, so it had to wait till it was cheap enough

Answering  another Poster's not very serious comment, re aliens, I always wondered,why, if Von Daniken's mates were advanced enough for interstellar travel, why the pyramids aren't made of titanium or carbon fibre, rather,than plain old rock.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2020, 08:35:38 am by vk6zgo »
 

Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #51 on: February 17, 2020, 04:30:09 am »
I was just watching The-8-bit-guy's lateswayt video today where he cooks up a couple of key stands for the C64.

He pulled the file off the web and sent it to the printer and walla.
Where's walla?

It's probably what people in "Walla Walla Washington" call their hometown, in the same  way  that the inhabitants of "Wagga Wagga" often call their town just "Wagga".

All you need to do is mentally add the other "Walla" & "voila!"------you have it. ;D

It's correct because I can cite a source on the internet.

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Walla!
 

Offline c64

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #52 on: February 17, 2020, 06:44:12 am »
Do you actually have any idea how large the Gcode file is even for a simple shape? Anything relying on a Cassette Tape for storage isn't an option.
I was talking about late 80s, most computers already had FDD. But yes, it's probably still not enough, unless g-code is sent directly to the printer, without generating the file.
 

Offline c64

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #53 on: February 17, 2020, 06:46:39 am »
OK, let's forget about 1980s. What about late 1990s? Most people have internet, computers are very powerful. 3d software very advanced.
 

Offline beanflying

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #54 on: February 17, 2020, 06:53:00 am »
OK, let's forget about 1980s. What about late 1990s? Most people have internet, computers are very powerful. 3d software very advanced.

And the Patents are still enforceable through the 90's limiting commercial development  :-- Makerbot was one of the first to market with a Plywood based frame that sort of worked in 2009 after they started to run out.

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #55 on: February 17, 2020, 07:01:16 am »
What about late 1990s? Most people have internet, computers are very powerful. 3d software very advanced.
Not so much:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_users_per_100_inhabitants_ITU.svg
Solid modelling just started coming down to desktop computers and "affordable" (read, unaffordable for individuals) software in the mid-late 90's:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_CAD_software
 

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #56 on: February 18, 2020, 10:39:43 pm »
It seems to me that people are getting hung up on what it takes to print the kind of models we work with today using gcode.

I think in an alternate history, people might have instead used iterative mathematical formulas to make simpler, geometric shapes. Perhaps infill would have been baked into the software instead of being part of a build file. Maybe there would have been a limited Z height and we would have glued sections together to make simple objects with very geometrically simple pieces.

 

Offline rrinker

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Re: Why we didn't have 3d printers before?
« Reply #57 on: February 19, 2020, 04:53:49 pm »
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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Vitor

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