By this point, prototyping machines like 3-D printers have taken their place alongside hammers, sewing machines and screwdrivers on the DIYer’s tool bench. Melted plastic and burning wood are as common a workshop smell as that of sawdust, grease, and metal.
But despite their mainstream adoption and the promises of how they’ll transform manufacturing, there’s one thing that these new machines still suck at.
“3-D printers and CNC [lathes] are well suited for volumes, while laser cutters are all suited for planes,” says Marco Perry, Partner and Engineering Director at design consultancy Pensa. “However, when you only want to print lines, they are inefficient, slow, weak and expensive.”