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3d Printing Vaporware - BotObjects edition

It was just yesterday that TechCrunch posted an "exclusive look" at BotObjects' announced ProDesk3D printer.

Now if you're not familiar with BotObjects, let me explain a few things first. They advertise their printer with CG imagery of the printer itself, and what is even better, CG generated prints! Yes, you read that right.

Some of the "prints" on their webpage (the only ones they had online when they started accepting orders) are actually CG generated. I should know, I do that sort of stuff for a living, and you can't miss the telltale signs of a rendered image. Here's one directly from their website:

This is not a print. This is CG, no mistake about it. Ok you say, the printer was a prototype, or even a concept then, so isn't it okay to show what the prints could look like? Yeah. You know what's not okay, though? To write something like this above the image:

"Earlier images printed on the ProDesk3D, see the gorgeous colors you can create for your models."

Printed you say? Right. Ever since I saw that I knew there was something fishy about all of this.

And now after the TechCrunch video, all my doubts are confirmed. The ProDesk3d is a closed source machine. But if you take a good look at it, it uses an Ultimaker style gantry (open source), reprappro extruders(also open source), and their revolutionary "full color" technology is basically THIS. It was done by +Richard Horne  a year and a half ago. As people mentioned in a discussion about this on +Whosa whatsis' (Deezmaker) G+ profile, the whine of the stepper motors is a good indication it is also based on one of many classic reprap electronics(you guessed it - open source). BTW, follow these guys on G+ if you haven't already, lots of good stuff there!

Also worth mentioning is that the whole gantry is so bulky and heavy there's absolutely no doubt in my mind it will be very slow and\or imprecise. Nothing like the "first Full Color 3D Desktop Printer", "production-ready", " breakthrough innovation" and other similar fancy statements they post on their website. Notice that after the claim they can print at 175mm/s they print a very small vase which (what a surprise) has only a single wall and no sharp corners. Nice touch there.

To sum up what the ProDesk3d printer is: it's a bulky, slow reprap in a fancy case, based on various things people from the open source community made. Their revolutionary full color printing is actually the very same effect you would get when stuffing sticks of various colored filament into a bowden tube, with the only exception being you can choose more precisely where those colours will be.

All of this is exactly the kind of vaporware I was talking about in my previous post. A lot of hype, fancy case renderings, bold promises, and no real innovation behind it. Just a mashup of community made stuff. ("But it's in a fancy case, so we should patent it right?" Right...)

I feel really sorry for the people who gave them money. If I were them, I'd ask for my money back. This is not a revolution, it's a step backward in rethinking how the 3d printing industry should work, and a slap in the face to the open source movement and all the good stuff it has given us in the last few years.

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