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 Post subject: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:50 am 
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I suppose it could make individual action figure parts, too!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... astic.html

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:26 am 
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It actually claims it can make "detailed action figures" right in the write up about the Thing-O-Matic (althoguh with a name like that I suspect this is all some sort of fanzine hoax).

These types of 3D "copiers" have been around for a few decades now, but never in anything resembling an affordable home unit.

I'll be very interested to see if customizers take to this and how the "limited edition"/urban vinyl/artist toy market changes with this machine.

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:48 pm 
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790.00 GBP = 1,244.25 USD

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:11 pm 
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By the time I have kids or grand kids, we'll probably just pay DC for a Batman download, color it ourselves on our computer and then print our action figure.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:19 pm 
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Well I like the concept, but I have yet to see a practical demonstration. I followed a link once but it never worked right.

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:11 am 
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Being in Rochester means that in school you get to see the inner workings of Kodak and Xerox as almost a weekly occurance for school field trips.

I've seen machines of this nature at work (even got to bring in a matchbox car from home that was "scanned and copied" once).
Its ... interesting.

There were 2 basic types if I recall right: a lathe that shaved down a block of plastic until you had a solid replica and a more "intelligent" machine that would lay out some plastic dust, spray some glue, more dust, more glue, etc., building up the layers until you had a replica that was solid enough to be handled but accurately allowed for cut-aways, hollowness, and the thickness of the original models walls. They didn't work quite as well off of a computer rendered original but you could still get a nice piece if you were patient enough.

At the time (back in the 80's) the had problems with things like dust in the scanner creating odd spurs on the final model, the lathe tip misreading a guide or cutting too deep, or just a general glitch in the alignment.

Mostly the were used for in-house protos in the early development stages and rarely had any functionality in what was released or shown to the public, including even the test groups.

Its been quite sometime since I've seen one in action and can't imagine how refined the process has become at the higher end, corporate manufacturing level.

I would love a demo of a "home unit". As an artist and Art Teacher I can think of a billion lessons utilizing this new tool and about a dozen students that would love this opportunity. As a Toy nut, I can think of no better way to get the figures I WANT without having to wait on a company to make them or to rely on my fledgling modifier skills.

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:28 am 
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The whole idea just sounds amazing. Could you imagine if all we had to do to get a JLU Volcana for example was to pay Mattel 10 bucks for the digital download and then print the figure? That would be amazing!

In fact, I could totally envision a program like iTunes where every toy company submitted their lines and their characters and you could go on at any time and download your choice and print your figure. For example, you would launch the program, go to the Mattel section, choose between JLU, DCUC, MOTU or whatever, pick which character you wanted and then download and print. Not only would this save toy companies millions in production and shipping costs, but they could also rid themselves of complaints about paint and warped limbs. If they gave us the right options, they could even eliminate incorrect costumes and scale issues. The whole thing is mind boggling to think about.

The only thing that I can't picture working very well is articulation. I'm not sure if that could be accomplished with a 3d printer or not.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:56 am 
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Achieving articulation would mean making each piece seperately. With lines like Secret Wars or JLU this would not be a problem. You have a basic set of pieces that are interchangeable with the occasional odd piece, like Dr Doom or Etrigan's head with character specific details, you code in which pieces you want and snap them together when they are done. Waiting for each piece would be the time consuming part. Eliminating paint app errors means making sure the template is accurate to begin with. This means eliminating human error, which will likely not happen due to the nature of the industry. The alternative is a blank white figure you paint yourself.
I am surprised nobody has ever marketed a blank fully poseable action figure. I have seen blank resin cast figures for modeling, but with no joints, not poseable. I have seen it argued that this would not be a profitable venture, but that depends on how you market it. I would see it succeeding as an educational toy. As such it would not need to meet any quotas to be classified a success and could have a long run with low production numbers.
It sounds like this machine will allow you to do that, but again, I have not seen a practical demonstration or an example of the end result.

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:23 am 
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Isaac with Makerbot Ind posted this reply on their website to a Q about help for educators.

If you are an instructor or educational purchaser, you can contact us directly, it's possible we can help you out!

Jan-03 2011 12:26.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:42 am 
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Joel, amazing idea. In 10-20 years when this actually happens you'll be kicking yourself because you "thought of it first" (quick, go run and get the process patents now!)

Mudd, the "urban vinyl" crowd produces and sells "blanks" all the time. They are very successful, but also very expensive (in most cases, but not always). The limited production run of items of this nature are necessary to feed a very limited audience, but wen they do connect with that audience, the results can be amazing.

And .. thanks for the link about educator support. Now I just need to convince the Board why this is a necessary expense ...

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:53 am 
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You're probably right haha. Maybe I should patent this idea and start designing the store.


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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:02 am 
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If I knew anything about web design I would already be on it ... :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:05 am 
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They sell 1 and 5 pound rolls of plain white, fluorescent red and glow in the dark abs plastic, 1 lb $15, 5 I believe was $65. Depends on how much plastic it takes to make your figure. Seems a bit pricey for the casual collector who just wants to make his own figures. If I had that much disposeable cash I would. Now for people wanting to make and sell generic playsets this looks great, and looks easier and cheaper than a laser cutter.

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:12 am 
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bnjmnrlyr wrote:
Joel, amazing idea. In 10-20 years when this actually happens you'll be kicking yourself because you "thought of it first" (quick, go run and get the process patents now!)

Mudd, the "urban vinyl" crowd produces and sells "blanks" all the time. They are very successful, but also very expensive (in most cases, but not always). The limited production run of items of this nature are necessary to feed a very limited audience, but wen they do connect with that audience, the results can be amazing.

And .. thanks for the link about educator support. Now I just need to convince the Board why this is a necessary expense ...


It seems to me that the ideal scale for a fully poseable blank would be JLU/4 to 6 inch. I would prefer 1/18-3.75 inch. I have never seen a "fully poseable" blank, and definitely not in that scale. The Blank figures I have seen advertised in vynyl/resin model mags typically were 6 to 8 inches and up, and single or multi part kits that made a static figure.

(on a side note, does anyone know what the largest fully poseable action figure in the world is?)

CCC.

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 Post subject: Re: Portable Plastic Factory?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:13 am 
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I guess that cost depends on how far the plastic "stretches". Is 1lb. of ABS only going to get you 1 or 2 figures or will it get you 10-15? This is intended for those people who need a quick replacement part (like the Dishwasher knob in the press release example) so it would need to be cost efficient in terms of material costs or the whole thing is a moot point.

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