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  • 3D printer uses

    I have been pondering buying a 3d printer but I can't decide if I have enough need for one. Most people seem to print out figurines, toys etc. as their main use but that isn't anything I would do. Is there a valid shop use for one. I have a few ideas but not enough to warrant one.
    The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

    Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

    Southwestern Ontario. Canada

  • #2
    I've had an Ender3 V2 for over a year and I have made a few things for the shop, but nothing that couldn't be machined. What kind of things would you use it for? There is a bit of a learning curve to using them and do you have any 3d modelling experience? Stu

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    • #3
      Timing belt pulleys, spur gears, electronic enclosures, belt guards, linear rail bellows and other guards, dial indicator holders, cell phone holders, peg board holders, knobs and handles, weather station anerometer cups, tool bit sharpening jigs, knife sharpener, microscope, lens adaptors, lens hoods, camera mounts, cable guides for cnc router, covid masks, etc..

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      • #4
        I've had a 3d printer for about a year. I've used it a bit for some woodworking jigs where precision isn't so much of an issue. 3d printed gears work ok for low torque. I've been toying with the idea of printing some metric thread cutting gears for my machine (which has imperial ones fitted and metric are hard to come by), but don't know if they'd be strong enough. If I get back to some green sand casting I'll be quite tempted to 3d print some patterns - should make it relatively easy to get draft and parting line correct - but will wait to play with molten aluminium until I don't have a 3 year old running around!

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        • #5
          The combination of a 3D printer, and Fusion 360 has really made a big impact on my life. Looking at my desk here I see a 3D printed SD card holder, a 3D printed bird feeder outside the window, a 3D printed case for the Raspberry Pi controlling a project I made, some 3D printed light holders for photography, etc... Outside of this room we have a holder for brushes in the shower, a holder for a rubber-ducky soap dispenser in the kitchen, a stand for the tablet, a gizmo to turn on/off the shower without getting sprayed, a specialized cable tray for some funky cables... I have made a repair part for the plastic trim on my wife's car, a bee feeder for one of my hives, a holder for the hand sanitizer in my car, etc... I made a set of screens for bread crumbs... Dry the old bread in the oven, break it up, and I get croutons in one screen, coarse panko in the next, and fine panko in the last screen.

          Out in the shop I have a number of proof of concept models. I sometimes will print the thing before I commit to making it in metal. I can just set it up, walk away, and in a few hours I have a pretty good model of what the part will look like. I made a model of a specialized camera stand before I made it out of aluminum, and I found a couple of good design mods to make before making chips. I 3D printed some accessories such as indicator holders for odd situations, spot-light holders for my mill, trays to keep my reamers in order and from clanging into each other, etc...

          Plus I can always get a brownie point or two by printing off some silly thing for my wife... A heart, her initials intertwined with mine, or a highly detailed model of the Viking Mars Lander (she worked on that project long long ago).

          I'm enjoying the heck out of my 3D printer.

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          • #6
            Things we use ours for. Low use fixturing and softjaws, prototype or mockup type builds of potential projects and of course lots of toys, gadgets and figurines. If you cant 3d model and arent willing to put in the time to figure out how then they are only good for printing things that other people have designed and uploaded to the net for free or a price. Hobby priced 3d printers can also be finicky creatures, you will have plenty of failed prints for no apparent reason, but when you get them dialed in and they work right, they can be a lot of fun.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by hollo View Post
              I've had a 3d printer for about a year. I've used it a bit for some woodworking jigs where precision isn't so much of an issue. 3d printed gears work ok for low torque. I've been toying with the idea of printing some metric thread cutting gears for my machine (which has imperial ones fitted and metric are hard to come by), but don't know if they'd be strong enough. If I get back to some green sand casting I'll be quite tempted to 3d print some patterns - should make it relatively easy to get draft and parting line correct - but will wait to play with molten aluminium until I don't have a 3 year old running around!
              Two related thoughts about making the change gears. 1. Unless you are planning to make deep cuts on low thread pitches the plastic gear will probably do just fine. The possible failure would be the keyway to lock two gears together for compound gears. Make a metal bushing for the part with the keyway and that probably goes away. 2. How much would it cost you to make a gear to try out? PLA is fairly strong and quite cheap. Why not give it a try.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RMinMN View Post

                Two related thoughts about making the change gears. 1. Unless you are planning to make deep cuts on low thread pitches the plastic gear will probably do just fine. The possible failure would be the keyway to lock two gears together for compound gears. Make a metal bushing for the part with the keyway and that probably goes away. 2. How much would it cost you to make a gear to try out? PLA is fairly strong and quite cheap. Why not give it a try.
                Both good points. Hadn't thought of using a metal bushing. I might even make a really big one with a smallish rim of 3d printed teeth that would be quick to change when they wear out. The cost in money is pretty minimal, but it will take some time, so on the list of planned projects to look forwards to for now...

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                • #9
                  Click image for larger version

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ID:	1946894 Do dumb cad of an idea, have part to fiddle with in hands in the morning. Rinse, repeat. It is very empowering to do tangible mockups daily for maybe a buck or two id you were to actually account for material and electricity.

                  I have made a multitude of parts which I was planning on machining, but not white sure about fit or assembly yet. It's easy enough to print a 40-60% stab at it, rinse and repeat.

                  I also do some functional stuff. Recent example was AXA holder mounts. ;
                  -paul

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                  • #10
                    Define "valid shop use", cause that means wildly different things to different shops

                    Ive had some form of 3d printer in my shop for a few years now, started out with a Monoprice Select Mini, currently have an Ender 5 and an Elegoo Mars. I use them for a little bit of everything, the Mars gets used for printed master models of toys and such that i cast silicone molds out of, as well as pretty much anything that i cant make with subtractive machining that i want to look really nice. Does a fantastic job of it, though there was a hell of a learning curve. The Ender i use to make more functional parts, things like corner brackets for aluminium extrusions, a Z axis for my cheapie CNC router, the occasional angle block for when i need to set something up close enough. My printers are actually idle 90% of the time, but they justify their existence in my shop by giving me the capability to make parts that i otherwise wouldnt, be it for complexity or just material cost. Wasting $0.30 worth of plastic hurts a lot less than $20 worth of metal making a prototype that ends up not working

                    If youre curious about 3d printing, the price on printers has come down so much that it doesnt take much of an investment to give it a shot. You can get a decent printer like an Ender 3 and a roll of filament for about $200. Not cheap, i know, but also not "break into the kids college fund" expensive either. Give it a shot, if nothing else the resale value of printers is halfway decent if you decide you just dont like it

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                    • #11
                      Loose nut - you might want to call around first. Two of our County libraries have nice 3D printers and will print things out for the cost of the materials. I've had a couple things done as I wouldn't use it anywhere near enough to justify buying one. Check community colleges also.

                      Steve

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SteveF View Post
                        Loose nut - you might want to call around first. Two of our County libraries have nice 3D printers and will print things out for the cost of the materials. I've had a couple things done as I wouldn't use it anywhere near enough to justify buying one. Check community colleges also.

                        Steve
                        Good point. Check for a Makerspace in your area, they may have a printer that they can print the part for you or let you use it to print your own. This can be especially nice if they have a really big printer for those really big prints you want. You may have to pay a membership fee but that can also get access to other tools that "would be nice to have but too expensive to buy for the little use I would have for it." The one I visited in another town had a fair size Shapeoko and a laser cutter as part of their tools.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SteveF View Post
                          Loose nut - you might want to call around first. Two of our County libraries have nice 3D printers and will print things out for the cost of the materials. I've had a couple things done as I wouldn't use it anywhere near enough to justify buying one. Check community colleges also.

                          Steve

                          No maker spaces around here.

                          Our library system has a few 3d printers but you are limited to 2 hr of print time so not much use other then familiarization.

                          Some good ideas that I didn't think of so a couple of question

                          1. can "soft" jaws be printed at 100% and then machined to a specific diam.to hold work.

                          2. would an "emergency" collet (5C) that can be installed and then bored to size be feasible?

                          My son bought an Ender 3 V2 an likes it, that's what I'm looking at too, so I do have support if I buy one.
                          The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                          Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

                          Southwestern Ontario. Canada

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by loose nut View Post


                            No maker spaces around here.

                            Our library system has a few 3d printers but you are limited to 2 hr of print time so not much use other then familiarization.

                            Some good ideas that I didn't think of so a couple of question

                            1. can "soft" jaws be printed at 100% and then machined to a specific diam.to hold work.

                            2. would an "emergency" collet (5C) that can be installed and then bored to size be feasible?

                            My son bought an Ender 3 V2 an likes it, that's what I'm looking at too, so I do have support if I buy one.
                            Sure you could but it might be faster to make several of the sizes you need and print to size with 10 to 20% infill. Printing them solid will take a long time.

                            Some slicer software will allow you to specify the wall thickness of the print. If you can print with thicker walls than normal it probably would work. No guarantee how well it would hold though.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by loose nut View Post


                              No maker spaces around here.

                              Our library system has a few 3d printers but you are limited to 2 hr of print time so not much use other then familiarization.

                              Some good ideas that I didn't think of so a couple of question

                              1. can "soft" jaws be printed at 100% and then machined to a specific diam.to hold work.

                              2. would an "emergency" collet (5C) that can be installed and then bored to size be feasible?

                              My son bought an Ender 3 V2 an likes it, that's what I'm looking at too, so I do have support if I buy one.
                              I would think a 5C collet would be out of the question, you might be able to print very fine threads for the closer, but they would have no strength. and probably pulI out when tightening it.

                              have an Ender3 V2 as well and while I like it a lot and it is a very good printer for the price, I had to put about $150 worth of upgrades to allow it to print consistently. If I were to buy another it would be something like a Prusa I3 mark3.
                              Last edited by Stu; 06-14-2021, 12:13 PM.

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