3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the process of transforming a digital 3D model into an actual 3D object. By laying down layer upon layer of ABS (the plastic found in Legos) or PLA (an eco friendly plastic) filament, Bukobot translates the 3D model, from digital files available on the web or created with 3D software, into a tangible, 3D object.
Additive manufacturing has been around since the 1980s, but, in the past, was used mostly by engineers and designers for prototyping purposes, before relying on traditional manufacturing techniques, such as injection molding, for the mass production of their designs. Recently, however, 3D printers have become more affordable for small businesses and consumers thanks to independent hobbyists. The community behind the RepRap open source 3D printer, in particular, fueled this growing trend by allowing the designs of the RepRap to be available online for free, promoting shared innovation and improvement of printer designs.
As the technology progresses, the possibilities of what will be printable are infinite. Most desktop 3D printers like Bukobot are used to print prototypes, highly customized parts, toys, jewelry, art pieces, and accessories; however, there are advanced 3D printer users who have hacked their printers to print wood filament, metal, candy, electronics, ibuprofen, and even human tissue. While Bukobot is not built principally for these purposes, if you are a brave and knowledgeable hacker, you can modify your Bukobot in any way you’d like and post your experiments on the Buko forum.
Toybuilder Labs - Great-looking filament that offers the most problem-free printing we've seen (particularly the PLA).
Printbl.com - High quality, very clear PLA filament, but has a tendency to jam in all-metal extruders.
For a big international list of suppliers, go to: Reprap Printing Supplies
Since the Bukobot is a Reprap style 3D printer, you can use almost any Reprap compatible software to run the printer. For controlling the printer, we recommend using Repetier Host (Mac, Win, Linux) but another alternative is Pronterface (Mac, Win, Linux). Repetier Host has Slic3r included to create the tool path for 3D objects but Skeinforge can be used as an alternative. See also software-to-install.