Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Bead&Button Show recap #3

This is the third in a series of my Bead&Button Show recap posts.  If you're just coming in, you might want to catch up by reading my pre-show post, recap #1, and recap #2.

I've mentioned my friend Michelle before (hi, Michelle!) in at least one of the recaps.  We've gone around the Show together the last few years.  We do completely different types of jewelry - I primarily do bead stitching but dabble in other techniques, and Michelle does mostly metal and wire.  It's interesting hanging out at the Show with her because I end up at a bunch of booths I'd likely skip if I were there on my own or with my husband.

One such booth is Beadalon.  It's not that I don't like Beadalon.  I like them just fine.  They came to a Loose Bead Society program a few years ago and showed us a bunch of their products.  I use their beading wire on the rare occasions that I have bead stringing projects (I bought a big spool about 4 years ago that will likely last me another 4 years or more).  I'm interested in the products that they come out with, but right now the only thing I need is a needle, Fireline, and some beads (preferably SuperDuos).

Michelle does use their tools, so off we went to bother Wyatt:

While Michelle was talking to him about the tassel maker you can see on the right side of the picture, I noticed something off to the left and literally squealed, interrupting both their trains of thought:

It's a 3D printer!  I have been intrigued by them since they first came out, but this was the first time I saw one in person and in action.  Here's a close-up picture of the bracelets right in front of it:

From what I understand (which is very little), the printer melts plastic (called "filament") in particular patterns based on whatever program is loaded.  The platform lowers as the piece grows, so you can make items of various heights.

The printer at the Beadalon booth is an "Ultimaker 2".  I looked at their website and found a neat video.  I highly recommend you check it out.  It's short but shows enough so you can get an idea of how it works.

The brown bracelet in the above picture (second one in) was surprisingly light.  It's a thin piece that's kind of corrugated.  It stretches a bit and looks really delicate.

Being short, I couldn't really see what was going on, so Wyatt suggested that I take a picture from the top:

It's a very slow process.  This bracelet had been going for about eight hours and still had a few to go.  I checked back about two hours later, and it was done!

Now, you may be wondering what a 3D printer was doing at the Beadalon booth.  Wyatt said that they make the filament!  You can learn more about the filaments at the Filament Express website.

While this is a really neat machine with unlimited possibilities, it is quite an investment.  Based on the Ultimaker store page, the smallest Ultimaker 2 is €1.195,00.  According to Google, that converts to almost $1333.  Each color of the filament comes on its own spool and is $42.99.  I have no idea how much of a spool is used for a project like that red bracelet.  You'd probably want a few colors to play with (they have 10 to choose from).  Then there's the software used to make the designs.  I don't know if that's included or would need to be purchased separately.

Even so, this is definitely a technology to keep an eye on!

No comments:

Post a Comment