The Ultimate PC Accessory

Friday, May 14th, 2004
I recently had the opportunity to meet with Bill Griffin, of Grifftek to discuss my CNC machining projects. After a tour of his new shop, Bill invited me over to his office, where he makes rapid prototypes in the model shop - he wanted to show me his latest toy: a Stratasys Fused Deposition Machining (FDM) system. What's FDM, you ask? Think of it as the ultimate 3D Printer for your computer. It can take a 3D Solid Model and print a usable part from it in ABS plastic, quickly and quietly, in the convenience of your office (or home).

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I want one of these machines!

How does it work? It's basically a computer-controlled hot-melt glue gun that can precisely deposit a thread-like bead of molten ABS plastic. By building up successive layers, parts of almost any complexity can be created. The parts are built-up on a tray, much like a cookie-sheet in an oven.

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Need a part? Need a tray full of parts? Just click Print.

Once the FDM process is complete, the parts can be removed from the oven, ready to clean and use.

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I have heard it said that you are only dollars away from anything you want. Well, there are only a few hundred thousand reasons why I do not yet own one of these cool PC accessories. I can't wait for the price to come down. (I remember when laser printers used to cost that much.)

Thanks Bill, for an educational evening, and a great dinner!

PS. Bill retrofitted my CNC Mill and Lathe and did a first-class job. If you are looking for a quality CNC system or retrofit, Bill's the guy to contact.

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