Saturday, 14 September 2013

How It's Made - Live!


... in quiet contemplation...

... is often the reaction to seeing a 3D printer operating for the first time.

Recently, seeing a video of a Mold-A-Rama machine in action, I immediately recognised the same fascination that a 3D printer induces in the onlooker. Is this an instinctive human reaction to seeing machines making artifacts? Is this what humans do when they see new tools?  

The Mold-A-Rama, for those that do not know it is "miniaturized injection plastic factory" apparently often housed in tourist attractions. It basically blows some molten plastic into a mould. The mould releases the part and it is swept into the vending trap for collection by the customer.

Moulds of US presidents, dinosaurs, zoo and aquatic animals are available themed to the venue, though each machine makes only one object, depending on the mould that is fitted. Oh and you can still buy reconditioned Mold-A-Ramas!

So the question is what made this an attractive proposition? Why not just sell shoddily moulded toys from a factory at the other end of the earth that can produce 10,000 parts in a day - at a very small fraction of the cost.

While there are certainly some similarities between the Mold-A-Rama and the 3D printer there are also some differences. The Mold-A-Rama makes collectible items, strange but true. 

There are limited molds available and they are available at different geographical locations. So to get all of the pieces you need to go to each machine. A 3D printer on the other hand may make plastic toys but every machine with access to the files can produce them. 

The Mold-A-Rama is also able to deliver a result in about a minute, where as a 3D printer is very likely to take an hour or more for the same sized product.

For more information on Mold-A-Rama visit
For more informatino on the Cube 3D printer visit
For more information on Lee 3D colour 3D printing visit

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