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  • 3D plastic printers? Anyone use them?

    I see a lot of talk (hype??) with the newish plastic printers. Maker bot and the likes. I see some metal sintered processes being used. But I see so much more adverts going towards the hobby or in our case, HSM environment.

    I just dont see it?? I dont see any end product that servers as anything useful. Granted, its a fun process, so were laser printers that made copies in color VS black and white. Now color printing at home is common.

    My Q?? Is anyone of our members using the "new aged" 3d printing machines that are now common place?

    I almost jumped on that band wagon when they were new, along with the 3d scanners coming out. I have to say thank God I didnt. I wanted to, but the money was too much. Now you can get (or make) a good printer and good scanner for 10% of the money or better these days.

    Any 3d printer folks here having fun with the printer or even making something they use from the printer??

    I love the advancement of technology. For me though a plastic item just isn't very durable and not useful, fun no doubt.

    Id rather spend the time muddling through some software that I still don't understand to feed my CNC lathe or mill which I also don't understand and try to make a part in metal that can be used Haha. Im NOT proficient with my machines.

    Clue me in on the usefulness of these plastic 3d printers guys, Im at a loss as to why they are so popular with HSM'S... JR
    My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

  • #2
    They're really good for making guns for people that want to get a Darwin award.

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    • #3
      Kevin Caron does.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4XfbEFOkcw

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      • #4
        Some of the new printers use PLA plastic. PLA plastic will burn out in investment casting application very similar to wax. That'll give us the ability to generate patterns for complex castings.

        paul
        paul
        ARS W9PCS

        Esto Vigilans

        Remember, just because you can doesn't mean you should...
        but you may have to

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        • #5
          i didn't buy one, but I did build one. That makes it a machining project !!. It cost me about $300 in parts but provided a ton of hours of hobby tinkering, which continues today. The electronics I got were much more expensive at the time I bought them than they are today, so I think that would knock nearly $100 off the price of the parts.

          I did buy the extruder, but that ended up being such junk (do NOT buy the QU-BD extruders) that I ended up building my own from scratch. Full disclosure: I knew up front the QU-BD extruder was low-quality and cheap so I got it more for a conceptual model I could hold in my hand as an aid for designing my own anyway. But it works worse that I even thought it would thus the advise against buying one. The one I built works like a charm.

          So anyway, I like having mine. I kind of just barely got it going and I still have some tweaking to get it printing reliably. It is a project so that was totally expected. Having said that, a friend bought one from a guy with a reputation for having a lot of knowledge in the 3D printing circles just so it wouldn't require all that R&D and tweaking. Well it turns out to still be a learning adventure so I'm not so sure you can just buy one and get to printing stuff. It will reach that point someday, but it's not there yet.

          I have built some interesting things on my printer even though it's not quite working like I'd like it to.
          First of all, it handles complex shapes with ease. Things that you can print in a half hour might take a couple days (or more) to machine the same shape. Sometimes you run into a shape you can easily print which is nearly or wholly impossible to machine without really special tooling.

          No, it doesn't make things to "machinist" tolerances. However, you can machine features from the plastic after it's printed and that works well. So what you do is print extra material where you need to do follow-up machining afterward. No big deal. In this respect, it's kind of a simple way to quickly make plastic casting-like shapes with which you can further process it into neat parts of all sorts.

          FDM printers (the standard consumer printer type available today) fuses layers of plastic on top of each other and this layering creates a necessary stratified finish when it's done. If that finish bothers you then there's nothing you can do but get into some other kind of printer for thousands of dollars more which creates a better surface finish. Personally, I don't mind the finish depending on what I'm making with the thing. I can make little widgets of all kinds for myself that look OK and function well, so I'm happy with it. Hell, it will make gears that mesh pretty well. There is a complete set of files you can download to make an entire wall clock if you want. No, it's not a fine specimen of the horologist's craft, but it does work and it's pretty interesting.

          It is slow. I don't thing there's any way you could use them to make parts to sell and make any money. However, there are a few people out there doing just that, and I personally know a guy in town who regularly sells parts he prints. It's a pretty niche thing, plus I'm not interested in selling printed parts, so I don't really look that direction at all. It's all just for myself and probably friends & family.

          If you have kids, not only is the printer itself kind of an educational thing you can share with them, but kids are susceptible to liking the kinds of toys and trinkets you can make on a printer. Really it's great fun for kids once they get past the staring at the thing while it's laying down' layers for hours making LEGO bricks.

          In the big picture, consumer-level 3D printing is still in its infancy. This means that it's pretty expensive for what you get and for what you can do with it. Though this is only true if you are looking at pre-built working printers. If you build your own, you can get one printing halfway decent for 1/10 the cost of commercial-made printers like Makerbot*, etc. I think in two or three years the quality will improve by a magnitude while the price gets quartered. So yea, with less poetry it will be 10 times better quality for about $500 or less I think. There are interesting technologies being applied to 3D printing in new ways and the future looks promising. Note that this still applies to plastics and the like. I don't think metal, medical tissues or high-tech things like that will ever be printed inexpensively. But as noted, even today it's possible to print a convincing pattern for a mold with which you could cast your own metal part if you took a notion. Plus, there are several new materials to pick from to be used in your run-of-the-mill FDM printer, such as rubber-like stuff, glass-clear stuff, wood-looking stuff and conductive stuff (yes, you can print primitive circuit board widgets).

          It will be interesting to watch. In the meantime, I'm liking what I can do today.

          *it is my opinion that the Makerbot line is overpriced, over-hyped and non-impressive. It looks pretty compared to some, but I think they are likely to drive themselves to extinction eventually. They had the potential early on to do great things but there have been a ton of changes there and most of them are not good in my opinion. Contrary to popular belief, they are NOT the "Apple" of the 3D printing world and Bre Pettis is most certainly NOT the Steve Jobs of that world either. He's got the Steve Jobs arrogant jerk attitude down, but otherwise just a slopehead sellout. My opinion, based on facts and backed up by everyone around him, but my opinion nonetheless. Do with that what you will.
          Last edited by tyrone shewlaces; 02-20-2015, 04:02 AM.

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          • #6
            Yes, and its a decision I don't regret once I did it, although I was later to the process than I should have been because I hated all the hype too.

            There are times when the process isnt right, and there are times when a piece of printed plastic is just the job. Can you think of any reason that a toolblock mounting system would need to be done in cast iron or steel to thousandths tolerance? Yes I could wire them out on the edm at $$ per item and post pictures that are metalworking compatible, or I could just run them off in pla for 50c apiece and get on with something else.

            And done.


            Brackets, wall collet storage holders, widgets for round the shop. Done masses of them.
            I've also taken to printing prototypes of parts out in plastic to catch any whoops moments before I commit to the final process.

            Rubber strap to hold the battery in place for my 1954 pony tractor. This was fdm printed in ninjaflex, which as tyrone mentioned is one of the new(ish) rubber like filaments. You can't buy these any more.


            It lives in the office, set up so I can change spool quickly and just wander off with everything guided by bearings. And its brilliant for teaching the kids things, and its relatively safe for them to use, unlike the cnc mill which will have their finger off or worse if they get it wrong. I have printed literally hundreds of useful things on mine.
            Here's the wheels (+ blower etc) on my 10 yo boy's rc jeep we're working on together. We have printed lots of parts and I've deliberately chosen a right mix of parts so he has to get involved in making things fit together that shouldn't. It's been bashed round the garden in anger and survived too.




            Also you can use the same software toolchain for both the 3d printer and other machines if you choose. Draw up your part in 3d program of choice, export it as a stl, and instead of running it through cambam or whatever, load it into repetier host, slice it (cam process it into gcode for each layer) and print it.

            You could always try it, unlike some of the above, you might find it a similar experience.

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            • #7
              I have no direct experience with printers but about (hell, I don't even remember) 15 ? years ago I was working on a prototype of a pipette for a medical company. My work was to build a device which would mimic the mechanical aspects of the unit. Another company in town was doing the electronics (it was to be preset digitally for the volume required). I toured a company with the head of New Product Development of the client I was working for. They showed us printing way back at that early date. They had some machines working and a big display of printed parts.

              Now, the whole point of my client wanting to see this stuff was that he had to present a working model of the finished pipette, as it would look when it was to be sold, to the company's board. To make plastic molds of the thing would require some expensive, single cavity, prototype molds which would be relatively expensive to make. He opted not to use the printing company because they were still a long way from being able to get the type of detailed quality he needed at THAT time. His solution was to take the 3D computerized rendering of the finished product, exactly as it would look when salable, complete with textured handle with raised company name embossed and logo, and send the Autocad generated information to a company in Chicago which made one copy of all the parts using stereolithography. He then sent the parts to another company in Denver which made silicon molds of all the parts. When he received the molds he was able to use them to cast about 6 of each part before the molds began to degrade. Total cost for 6 completed pipettes (plastic parts only) - about $5,000.

              He took a completed sample of a finished and working pipette to the board meeting. His budget for getting to this stage was 1 million $. He got it done for under $200k ... result: first, the president of the company was so happy that he got up on top of his desk and literally danced; second, he got audited for coming in TOO LOW *LOL* No one could believe this could be accomplished for $200k (this includes computer chips and the fact that this was the most accurate pipette on the planet at this time).

              OK .... MY WHOLE POINT IS .... if Paul had the printing capability we have today he could have just printed the plastic prototype parts in his own company without having to go through the stereolithography and the silicon molds or the wait each time and shipping all over the country.

              EDIT:
              So to answer the OP's question: In my opinion, the advantage of printing is most valuable in making a knock off of one, or a few parts that would be extremely hard and expensive to make any other way, especially in the area of new-product prototype development; or, imagine a printed copy of a hip joint replacement socket (they do this) for a perfect match to the manufactured parts.
              Last edited by DATo; 02-20-2015, 06:20 AM.

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              • #8
                I have a Velleman K8200 right next to me now on my desk at work. The last project was to mount a new LCD module into an old product. I spent the morning on the CAD model and had a first prototype at the end of the day.

                James Kilroy on Youtube started off by modeling some parts to fit a powerfeed to a knee mill. He then printed them to check the arrangement and ended up actually using it with the printed parts;
                http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...bt6zRx1dCi75aO
                Paul Compton
                www.morini-mania.co.uk
                http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

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                • #9
                  Yes, I read all the replies. Still not certain of the answer.

                  Could you use a 3-D printer to produce a pattern for sand casting? Or is the plastic too fragile to withstand the ramming up process? Do you think the plastic would/could survive reuse? Lots of machine parts, brackets and adapters that aren't made anymore. As an (poor?) example, don't need to "replicate" a Van Norman #12 mill overarm adapter down to a thou accuracy, it has to be machined after casting anyway.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rosco-P View Post
                    Could you use a 3-D printer to produce a pattern for sand casting?
                    The simple answer is yes.
                    Paul Compton
                    www.morini-mania.co.uk
                    http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have an extruder head for my home built CNC mill which actually makes it a a very large format printer. Haven't got it running yet as some hobbyist parts I bought bit the dust before I printed the first part! The quality of the stuff sold for building printers is truly appalling. Circuit boards with no way to mount them. Components and terminal strips designed to be extremely overloaded and ready to melt down, and on and on.

                      However take a look at the video out there of the five axis CNC machine with a laser sintering head attached that builds up material that is then machined to final shape in the same machine. My first thought when I saw this was "That's how we are going the visit the other planets!" Put a solar powered laser printer in orbit. Send it raw powder materials. With no atmosphere and no gravity and solar power you can print an entire space ship right in orbit, with complex walls, tanks, compartments etc. No support issues without gravity, and strong as hell.

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                      • #12
                        I run a prototyping shop and we use 3d printers all of the time. FDM printers like our Stratasys fortus 250 are great for making fast parts that would be hard to machine. One of the biggest uses for us is to 3d print parts before we do injection molding just to make sure there were no stupid mistakes. Basically doing a $20 sanity check before we spend $10k plus on a mold.

                        If anyone wants to try a few parts shoot me a PM, we run other peoples parts in our down time to cover the cost of the machine, so we have a really competitive rate for a professional machine

                        Thank You
                        C
                        dgftech.com

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                        • #13
                          Used them 25 years ago for prototyping (contracted for the service, then).

                          They are STILL good for that.

                          And, anything you can get a suitable plastic for that you don't want to pay for a mold to do, and that can deal with the tolerances.

                          Got an idea? Make it. Need an unavailable part? Make it. Nearly anything you can 3D CAD you can make.

                          I can see it being good enough usefulness-wise to put one together myself.
                          1601

                          Keep eye on ball.
                          Hashim Khan

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                          • #14
                            A previous employer paid me to babysit several, we used them for prototyping parts and sections for flow testing. That employer had been using them for a few decades by then for that exact purpose and updating with new machines every few years. In the half dozen or so years since theyve updated to more modern/fast methods and use 4+ axis VMCs to machine parts and/or sand for casting. JMO but time marches on and RP technology hasnt, luckily for hobbyists the prices have come down enough to make them affordable. Personally I find them just another means to the same end, another tool in the box and not really a "replacement" for anything. Being that I have professional experience with them and still occasionally have a supplier RP a part for me the local techies keep bugging me to design them a machine, if I ever get my VMC built I just might...
                            "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by garyhlucas View Post
                              I have an extruder head for my home built CNC mill which actually makes it a a very large format printer. Haven't got it running yet as some hobbyist parts I bought bit the dust before I printed the first part! The quality of the stuff sold for building printers is truly appalling. Circuit boards with no way to mount them. Components and terminal strips designed to be extremely overloaded and ready to melt down, and on and on.

                              However take a look at the video out there of the five axis CNC machine with a laser sintering head attached that builds up material that is then machined to final shape in the same machine. My first thought when I saw this was "That's how we are going the visit the other planets!" Put a solar powered laser printer in orbit. Send it raw powder materials. With no atmosphere and no gravity and solar power you can print an entire space ship right in orbit, with complex walls, tanks, compartments etc. No support issues without gravity, and strong as hell.
                              I've got a 3 axis CNC router table I'd like to set up as a 3D printer. Any chance your mill runs Mach3 for control software?

                              Chris

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