Re: [rp-ml] Fab@Home

From: Ian Gibson (
Date: Wed Jan 17 2007 - 12:28:02 EET

Wow, that's amazing. Epson are still selling 240 dpi b/w dot
printers? To who? At $189+ as well.

You're right about the cash register thing though, I'd not thought of
that. Although I've just fished out 2 receipts and 2 ATM slips. One
is clearly dot matrix, whilst the other one and the two ATM slips are
both inkjet - albeit in black and white. But then again, what more do
I need from these?

Interesting comments about the time frame. Really my point was that I
don't think extrusion will make it in the long term and I'm surprised
that people are focusing their efforts on this horse when we already
have quite good droplet deposition systems.


At 13:15 17/01/2007, you wrote:
>Ian Gibson wrote:
>>I don't really think dot matrix printers were extensively used in
>>the home by anyone other than the hobbyist/enthusiast. In the UK, I
>>think it was Canon with their bubblejet printers that really
>>exploded the market, and their output was much better than the
>>average book printing because of the ability to integrate graphics
>>with text. Dot matrix did perhaps contribute in terms of
>>demonstrating there was a potential market (see my previous rp-ml
>>comment about the power of toys). However, the technology no longer
>>exists (see my previous comment about waiting for the big boys),
>>need I say more?
>Excuse me?!? Take a look at any cash register or ATM...there are
>vastly more dot matrix printers in the world than inkjets or laser
>Epson still make a huge range of dot-matrix printers.
>It's a bit hard to say whether dot matrix printers were used in the
>home beyond just by enthusiasts because it's really hard to say
>at what time home computers themselves passed into the mainstream.
>The first Mac had a dot matrix printer for example - the printer
>that Clive Sinclair sold with the ZX81 and Spectrum was a dot-matrix
>unit. I guess you'd have to say that the Mac and the Spectrum were
>good examples of computers that non-enthusiasts used.
>But none the less the point is that big industrial-sized
>drum and chain printers were out there long before dot-matrix
>printers - and they cost a small fortune. Even when dot-matrix
>devices appeared and were cheap enough for anyone to own one,
>they were too slow and crappy for most 'serious' uses...but
>gradually, the 'home' printers got to the point where many
>offices use them - because they are cheap. But there are still
>big commercial printers - such as used by magazines and
>other high quality print applications.
>I think that's a fair analogy for what's going to happen
>with 3D printing. We're still at the "drum/chain printer"
>stage with machines costing a small fortune. We've just
>maybe seen the first ever "dot matrix printer" in the
>form of Fab@Home - and once we hit whatever the equivelent
>of the Epson LQ series is, we'll start to think about seeing
>them in the home, owned by non-enthusiasts.
>I'd guess it took about 14 years (1970 - when the first
>"affordable" Centronix dot matrix printer appeared until
>1984 or so when dot matrix printers were everywhere and
>the Epson FX-80 was the 'standard' home printer)
>which time bar/chain printers were pretty much dead.
>The first sub-$1000 inkjet printer came out in 1988,
>the first affordable colour inkjet was around in 1991.
>So - if history repeats itself, we've got maybe 10 to 15
>years until these things are everywhere - but somewhat
>limited in scope - maybe 20 years until they are actually
>what we really wanted them to be.

Dr. Ian Gibson
Associate Prof.
Dept. Mechanical Engineering
National University of Singapore

tel: +65 9277 7343

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