It's pretty clear most people here don't really get how a lot of these 3D printing systems work. A lot of them don't use any sort of catridges. They use a plastic (or metal on the newest ones) powder. The machine deposites a very thin layer of powder and then that layer is either melted with a laser (as in the metal parts one) or it is "glued" together with a binder in the shape of that particular cross section of the part. Then another layer is spread over the first, and the next cross section is binded together. It does this until the part is completly built up. At the end you have to unbury the part and chip off any extra powder that remains. So you would have an adhesive cartridge and bags of powder to put in the machine, or just powder and electricty for lasers.
I can see this technology not quite making it into the home. I don't think there would be that big of a market. I mean how many times have you actually needed to print something? I think it would be used in a manner where you could easily have a company print something for you. Today, if I want a metal part machined, I have to pay a machine shop a **** load of money to have someone either hand make the part, or they have to someone program a $250,000 CNC machine to do the job. With this technology, it would almost be completely unsupervised. No labor needed. Simply pick the correct orientation to print the part in, and let the machine do it. I bet you could order custom parts and have them in your hand in 2 days depending on complexity. No labor would cut out almost all of the cost of machining. You would be surprised at how hard it is to properly machine something even using a CNC machine. By hand is mind blowingly difficult. Well, not difficult, but you have to be perfect, no mistakes.
Last edited by WDE46; 12-07-2012 at 01:50 PM.