Functionality is what will ultimately make 3D printers a product that everyone wants to have in their homes. It won’t be until individuals can download and “easily” 3D print products that they will use in their everyday lives that it will become commonplace for you to see a desktop 3D printer in all of your friends’ homes. Perhaps we are still decades away from reaching this point, or perhaps it will only be 5-10 years from now, but undoubtedly the technology continues to improve, and more intuitive, unique, and functional 3D printed designs are released on a daily basis.
While many 3D printer manufacturers focus solely on improving hardware in hopes of printing faster, more reliably, and with higher resolutions, MakerBot realizes that it’s more than just about hardware. We’ve seen this in their latest releases of new composite 3D printing materials, as well as their Smart Extruders, and various apps and software packages which are all part of what they refer to as the “MakerBot Ecosystem.” They realize that in order to sell 3D printers to people who aren’t exactly tech savvy individuals, they need to attract these people via alternative means.
One such way is through the release of fun and functional 3D printable designs. Today, MakerBot has unveiled a 3D printed “Balance Bike,” which is currently available for all to download, free of charge from Thingiverse.
Designed by MakerBot Europe’s Director of Product Management, Manuel Leute, the Balance Bike was 3D printed in 120 hours on all three of the MakerBot Replicator 3D printers. It consists of 26 pieces which must be assembled once printing is complete. The model pictured in this article was printed using MakerBot PLA filaments including True Black, True White, True Red, and Cool Gray colors. Printed with an infill setting of 40%, MakerBot actually recommends using a higher setting (over 50%) in order to provide for the ability to hold a decent amount of weight. MakerBot recommends printing it with a layer height of 0.2mm with 2 shells to provide for a decent outer hardness.
Once the individual pieces are printed out, you will need to sand them down so that they fit together. Depending on the amount of shells you print it with (2 recommended), the amount of sanding will vary. Some of the parts will require the use of a hammer or similar tool to fit them together, as they can be quite snug.
This is certainly one cool 3D printable product. What do you think of its design? Have you 3D printed and assembled one yourself? Discuss in the 3D Printed Balance Bike forum thread on 3DPB.com.