1. in this example you could just rotate the model so the printer can print it as a column instead, no problem.
2. the software for these allows you to generate support structures to hold up any overhangs. These are structures of the same material but they're thinner and barely attached. They snap off leaving you with the desired structure. Here's an example of what that looks like.
Max - I'm very anxious to hear about your experiences with the 3D printer. I suspect that the biggest problem with 3D printers today is simply that much of the hype surrounding them is overblown. That can lead to disappointment after a purchase.
I think you have a realistic view, but some people talk of essentially replacing the need to buy just about anything ever again. If we were to take a personal dot matrix printer from the 1980's and judge it by today's standards, or judge it by commercial printer standards of the day, we'd all be sorely disappointed. But, looking at it for what it was, personal printers were almost unimaginably revolutionary.
The personal 3D printers of today are in a similar spot. Of course they aren't going to replace injection molded plastic parts any time soon, but they are an incredible revolution. If I had one, I wouldn't use my time to fix a $10.00 toy, but I'd use it to build things that can't be purchased at stores - art, funny masks, robot parts...
Adding CNC, as this machine has is another pretty big step. Myself, I would need one that can mill aluminum, but I'll have to wait a while for that. I hope your printer does arrive today so we can read about it next week.
@wilber_xbox: I love the term "subtractive printing" for milling -- never heard tha tbefore.
I just purchased a 3D printer for $499 (plus I took the $99 upgrade for a heated bed so I can print 6 x 6 x 6" (though I probably won't get anywhere near that). All I can say is that I'm really looking forward to experienting with it.
@docdivakar: Sorry if I came across as raining on your parade!
Not at all -- I was only joking -- I understand what you are saying -- I wish I could have afforded a machine that supported multiple materials, including one that woudl disolve in hot water ... but I'm limited to only one material...
...on the other hand, coming up with "engineering workarounds" to thsi sort of thing is what we do :-)
@Max; all I am saying is don't set your expectations too high! Sorry if I came across as raining on your parade!
Imagine a cross section resembling "I" which is a common shape used in bridge / beam girders, etc. To print a small version of it in ABS plastic, say 1-inch high, 1-inch long and 1-inch wide with web and flange thicknesses 0.1-inch. The printer has no problem printing layer by layer the bottom flange and the web. When it comes to the top flange, it has to support it as the material dispenses and sets. So there is a supporting material/structure which can be the soluble type or of the same ABS plastic which needs to be broken off. The soluble type needs a higher temperature bath (I think a few degC below water boiling temp) to remove it. I imagine many average consumers will not be aware this!
@docdivakar: The hype machine is in full gear as far 3D printing is concerned from the perspective of an average consumer who is not all that tech savvy.
Don't say that -- you'll make me sad -- just a couple of minutes ago I received an email saying that the small 3D printer I ordered a week or so ago has been shipped ... it woulld be great if it gets here tomorrow so I can play with it over the weekend...
$1000 is not too amazingly high price for a small cnc mill(I've never heard that called subtractive printing before). It also isn't out of line for a 3d printer in this case. To get both plus a 3d scanner is a great deal.