Review: Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer

Ever since Dremel first introduced its Idea Builder 3D printer last year, I’ve been excited to get my hands on one. From everything I’ve seen and heard, it appears to be a very good value for an easy to use and versatile 3D printer. Fortunately, Dremel was kind enough to put one in my hands for review.

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Unlike some 3D printers, the Dremel Idea Builder is targeted at makers and hobbyists who don’t want to spend a ton of time tinkering with settings and calibration, and just want to get down to printing objects. In keeping with that goal, setting up the printer is nice and easy – no more complex than unpacking an inkjet or laser printer.

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Simply remove a couple of pieces of styrofoam, snap the removable printing bed out, set a spool of filament on the reel, thread it and power on. Then press the “load filament” button, and the heating element pulls in the filament. The final step is to snap the build platform back in place and level it. This process is very straightforward – just press the “level” button and follow the on-screen instructions while sliding the included leveling sheet under the extruder head. I took me less than 10 minutes from the time I opened the box until I had my first 3D print started. If at any point along the way, you don’t feel like reading the manual, Dremel provides a great series of “How-To” videos on their website.

The Idea Builder appears to be well built, and very substantial. It’s quieter than many of the 3D printers I’ve played with, and thanks to its ventilated enclosure, it doesn’t leave your workspace smelling like melted plastic. Interacting with the printer is done via a full color LCD touchscreen, and you can print models without a computer attached.

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The Idea Builder prints using PLA filament, which Dremel sells in a variety of colors. Reels sell for about $ 30 each, and the amount you can print depends on the size of your models. Dremel estimates that you can build 36 small models, 14 medium models, or 34 large models per reel. Build volume for the printer is 9” x 5.9” x 5.5” (230mm x 150mm x 140mm), and resolution can be specified at 100, 200 or 300 microns. At the lower resolutions, you’ll see thicker and more obvious layers, but your designs will print faster. Higher resolutions offer smoother models, but at the expense of time.

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3D files can be loaded onto the printer in a standalone mode using an SD card, or via the free Idea Builder software, available from the Dremel website for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu Linux systems. Files on SD card must be converted to Dremel’s proprietary .g3drem format, while the Idea Builder software can convert and print files in the much more common .STL format, as well as Dremel’s .3dremel model format.

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I found the Idea Builder software to be very easy to use. Under the hood, the software is based on a highly customized version of Slic3r, with special optimizations for Dremel’s hardware and filament. Since Dremel wanted the software to be as easy to use as possible, their app doesn’t offer all of the precision controls of Slic3r, but it’s also less likely to frustrate beginners. Simply open your 3D file, scale, rotate and position your object on the print bed, then hit the “Build” button to either print it via USB or to save it to an SD card. The only hiccup I encountered is that I didn’t realize I needed to select “connect” from the Build menu before printing via USB.

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I loaded up a number of different models, and found that the designs that Dremel provides on its website are the easiest to print without any tweaking. There are tons of free STL models out there in places like Thingiverse, but many of them are unvetted, and need to have supports added, or are too delicate to print on the Idea Builder. That said, I was able to output several of these STL models (including a tiny car and a TARDIS) without problems. An intricate Millennium Falcon model failed to convert to Dremel’s format properly, and an intricate open geometric mesh collapsed on itself. It’s possible that these models could be prepared with other software to add support structures. There are a couple of other applications which can also print to the Idea Builder including Autodesk’s free MeshMixer, and the pricey, but slick Simplify3D. Microsoft’s 3D Builder app can also generate .g3drem files.

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It’s critical with 3D printing that models adhere to the build platform or else they won’t form properly and you’ll end up with a messy blob of plastic. While the common solution is to stick blue painters tape on the build platform between builds, Dremel provides a couple of reusable build sheets which should last for up to 100 prints each. These can be reordered for $ 30 for a pack of three. I found that models adhered well to the sheets, and peeled off pretty easily once cooled. If you have any trouble removing the model, there’s an included spatula to help.

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Of the various prints I generated with the Idea Builder, they ranged in print time from as little as 30 minutes to about 2 hours, but print time is completely dependent on the complexity and size of your model. There are intricate models out there that can take 4 to 6 hours or more. In the realm of extruder-based 3D printers, the Idea Builder is reasonably fast.

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Priced at $ 999(USD), the Dremel 3D Idea Builder offers very good value for anyone who wants to get started in the realm of 3D printing without the challenges and complexities of many of the other models on the market. You can find the Idea Builder at Amazon, Home Depot and Lowe’s stores.




Hello Kitty Call of Duty Rifle: Killo Kitty

Hello Kitty is on all the things. I’ve seen the kitty on toilet seats, fire extinguisherscontact lenses, sex toys, Darth Vader, and just about everything in between. Now we have a Hello Kitty rifle – or at least a digital facsimile.

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Digital artist Reno Levi works at Infinity Ward. You know, the company that makes Call of Duty. He has worked on the CoD franchise and on games like Halo Anniversary and Hawken as well. On his ArtStation page, Levi has posted all sorts of digital renderings that look like they are ready to be placed into a high-end video game or action flick.

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One of the coolest things he has is a skin for what appears to be a CoD weapon that is pink, white, and purple with Hello Kitty on the side. The only thing that might suck worse than getting fragged in a match is getting fragged by a guy wielding a pink weapon. This needs to be made into DLC for the next CoD game.


Accountable Care and the end of Fee-for-Service?

Link: Inside HealthPolicy: Family Medicine Initiative Releases Goals For Transforming Primary Care


Family Medicine for America’s Health (FMAHealth), an initiative sponsored by several primary care associations, released a set of six goals for transforming the U.S. primary care system that includes working with both private and public payers to ultimately end fee-for-service pay.

FMAHealth seeks to “adopt a uniform and simplified model of comprehensive payment that encourages front-end investment in expanded practice infrastructure and technology, rewards Triple Aim goals (better care, better health and lower costs) and supports broad, team-based care.”i

It is widely known that our country spends more on healthcare for less quality than other nations. The Commonwealth Fund sponsored an analysis of cross-national health systems based on Organization for Economic for Co-operative Development health data to place the performance of the U.S. health system in an international context.ii  It shows significant spending by the US in all three categories of 1) Out-of-pocket spending, 2) private spending and 3) public spending.


In the report The U.S. Health System in Perspective: A Comparison of Twelve Industrialized Nations, it reports “the U.S. has fewer hospital beds and physicians, and sees fewer hospital and physician visits, than in most other countries. Prescription drug utilization, prices, and spending all appear to be highest in the U.S., as does the supply, utilization, and price of diagnostic imaging. U.S. performance on a limited set of quality measures is variable, ranking highly on five-year cancer survival, middling on in-hospital case-specific mortality, and poorly on hospital admissions for chronic conditions and amputations due to diabetes.”ii  

If the U.S has fewer beds, sees fewer hospital and physician visits, what is the source of our per Capita spending? Findings indicate that although healthcare spending is significantly higher than other countries, we are not delivering quality results. We had the highest rates of hospital admissions for the five major chronic conditions and the greatest number of lower-extremity amputations due to diabetes. Is it possible that Accountable Care Organizations and the goals of the Triple Aim to provide better care at lower cost will shift the cost curve down?  CMS projects health spending to grow at an average rate of 5.8 percent from 2012-2022;iii however, in a press release dated 8/25/2015, CMS reported that “20 ACOs in the Pioneer ACO Model and 333 Medicare Shared Shavings Program ACOs generated more than $ 411 million in total savings in 2014, which includes all ACOs’ savings and losses. At the same time, 97 ACOs qualified for shared savings payments of more than $ 422 million by meeting quality standards and their savings threshold. The results also showed that ACOs with more experience in the program tended to perform better over time.”iv

“With chronic disease on the rise amidst an aging demographic and accounting for ever more health care spending, more effective treatment and management in primary care settings, and Accountable Care Organizations, may have the potential to simultaneously improve patient care while preventing the unnecessary use of scarce and expensive resources.v 


For more information on Accountable Care tools and regulations please visit the ACO Survival Guide Website or sign up for the FREE ACO Newsletter.


i H. J. Jiang, C. A. Russo, and M. L. Barrett, Nationwide Frequency and Costs of Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations, 2006, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief #72 (Rockville, Md.: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, April 2009).

ii Squires, David. “The U.S. Health System in Perspective: A Comparison of Twelve Industrialized Nations.” The Commonwealth Fund. 1 July 2011. Web. 11 Sept. 2015. http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Issue Brief/2011/Jul/1532_Squires_US_hlt_sys_comparison_12_nations_intl_brief_v2.pdf. 

iii  Ibid.

iv  “National Health Expenditure Projections 2012-2022 Forecast Summary.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group. Web. 11 Sept. 2015. https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/downloads/proj2012.pdf. 


Healthcare & Technology

Accountable Care Best Practices?

FolderFile_BlueLink: ACO Best Practices For Shared Savings can be downloaded from Caradigm’s website

In a recent article, Health Data Management provided insight into Accountable Care Organization best practices that are emerging, based on a white paper written by Caradigm. Caradigm is a population health company dedicated to helping organizations improve care, reduce costs and manage risk.

Some of the real-life examples of successful ACOs that were provided in this white paper include practices that:

  • Maintain full data transparency,
  • Provide strong care management,
  • Have the ability for aggregation of clinical and claims data,
  • Provide better managed care transitions,
  • Maintain a reporting repository with data collection from aggregate sources, and 
  • Proactive management of chronic conditions.



For more information on Accountable Care tools and regulations please visit the ACO Survival Guide Website or sign up for the FREE ACO Newsletter.


Healthcare & Technology


Batman Red Son Figure Has Fuzzy Russian Hat Ears

All I know about the Russian culture I learned watching TV and movies. What that in-depth study tells me is that they all eat caviar, drink copious amounts of vodka, and wear hats with furry parts on the forehead. With that in mind I will assume that this Batman Red Son premium format figure that is coming soon to Sideshowtoy has a different sort of utility belt.

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This Batman has that same fuzzy hat complete with pointy bat ears. That can only mean that on his utility belt he has a flask of vodka and some salty fish eggs.

We don’t know much about the figure as of now other than the teaser image you see here. Clearly, it’s some communist spinoff of the caped crusader judging by the hammer and sickle.