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What good is 3D printing?

What good is 3D printing?

Postby Mr Ron » Sat May 12, 2012 9:13 pm

I know what it does, but people have the impression, (I too) that 3D printing can reproduce objects that can be subsequently used in the same way as the original. I saw a demo of a 3D machine reproducing a "Crescent" wrench. The copy was plastic; the original was steel. The copy worked, but being plastic, useless as a tool; so why 3D printing? It appears to me to be a novelty; not a practical device. Please enlighten me.
Maybe making a copy of a rare old Lionel train, not requiring the strength of metal might be a use for 3D printing.
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Re: What good is 3D printing?

Postby Awesomeness » Sat May 12, 2012 10:26 pm

Well, 3D printing in plastic is mostly for prototyping use, such as testing form and function. The parts are mildly strong, and can be used for light duty, non-structural applications. For example, you can make a coat hook or a camera mount, to hold a couple pounds, but you wouldn't make an axle mount for your car.

Good quality 3D printed parts are within a few thousandths accuracy [and, DIY 3D printed parts may not qualify as "good quality"]. You can bolt them in place, and see if they fit and feel like you anticipate. Then, you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars making the real thing, out of expensive metals.

With Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), they can even 3D print parts out of real metal, that are completely functional. I've had to use SLS to have parts made that could not be made with any conventional machining methods (e.g. parts with lots of little oil passages).

For DIY'ers, it's almost entirely novelty. The DIY 3D printer don't have support materials [that I've seen yet], so you are limited in what you can print because of cavities and undercuts. They also don't produce as nice of results as commercial 3D printers. (There is a post around here where I display a picture of a part printed on a MakerBot and a $15k uPrint.)

My suspicion is that in a handful more years, commercial 3D printers will be about $1500, and easily available to the public. This is similar to how the price of laser printers has come down over the last decade. You'll start seeing lots of little cosmetic gadgets and trinkets (e.g. cell phone cases, cabinet knobs, decorative parts for your car, etc.) offered for sale as digital downloads, that you can print on your machine.
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Re: What good is 3D printing?

Postby Mr Ron » Sun May 13, 2012 4:38 pm

Thank you for an explanation of 3D printing. What I can't understand is; when I saw the video of the Crescent wrench being reproduced, the copy came out as an operating tool, including the worm gear and knurled adjuster? How is this possible?
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Re: What good is 3D printing?

Postby Awesomeness » Sun May 13, 2012 4:54 pm

It probably can not be done with a DIY 3D printer, because of the lack of good support material. For that same reason, it probably can't be done even on some of the commercial machines, specifically the ones that use "snap off" support structures (e.g. 3D Systems) instead of disolving support materials.

If I remember that video correctly, it was printed on one of the Stratasys machines. It prints a layer of disolvable support material in between the gear and the wrench jaw. After it's printed, it's just disolved out in an ultrasonic tank.
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Re: What good is 3D printing?

Postby cwaldo39 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:07 pm

3D printing is, in my opinion, ground breaking. There are over 100 materials out there, not just plastic. (plastic is a common medium for DIY'ers though) Mechanical materials like inconel, titanium, and stainless steel are available. Flame retardants like Primepart are available. Rubber like materials and various ABS plastics are available. Super high detail parts for casting are available. Even precious metals like platinum, gold, and silver are available.

If you have a need for your product or project, there is likely a material that fits. On top of that, 3D printing can make pretty much anything. There are some size & cost limitations, but if a product can be designed, it can likely be manufactured through 3D printing through support materials and "powder" printing. Unlike machining, 3D printing doesn't revolve around material removal, but through laying down material layer by layer - sometimes in layers smaller than a FOURTH of the DIAMETER of a human hair. Check out Bathsheba's website (http://www.bathsheba.com/sculpt/) almost all of her work is impossible to do through machining. Thanks "Awesomeness" for giving some explanation about support materials; not all printers offer supports. Most DIY printers don't offer this. Many commercial ones do.

If you have any questions about 3D printing, shoot me an email at waldo(at)kraftwurx.com, and I'd love to answer your questions.

In a nutshell - 3D printing allows for the manufacturing of virtually any design (with size limitations), out of pretty much any type of material you need. It may not be really inexpensive, but it is available.

You might learn some more about 3D printing at http://www.kraftwurx.com. We're here to answer questions if you'd like, and we offer good prices for 3D printing.
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Re: What good is 3D printing?

Postby ram41662 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:12 pm

Just a quick FYI for Awesomeness…. There are options for a good support system for 3D printing available at the hobbyist level, but it takes a bit more work to get there.

One of which I’ve seen used, and a type of system I am currently working on one of my own application, is one that uses dual extruders loaded with two different materials, so that one extruder can produce the part and the other produces the support structure. The setup I’ve seen used employed PLA as the support and ABS as the finished good. Once the component was finished printing, it was placed in an ultrasonic bath that dissolved the PLA, leaving just the ABS.

I’m not saying this system is “ready for primetime” or a perfect solution, yet, but it does exist and can be employed right now to produce parts with geometry that would not be possible otherwise.
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Re: What good is 3D printing?

Postby Awesomeness » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:10 pm

Yeah, I'm aware of that, and some of the others like "snap off" supports. Neither is really a good solution - they are at best compromise solutions because they can't use the good support materials found in commercial machines (or can't afford them).

There are other "compromise" support materials out there too, like wax that you melt away.

I've experimented with lots of brands of machines, both commercial and DIY, and so far only the commercial support materials seem to do a good job. The commercial 3D Systems printers use the "snap off" support method, and it results in poorly shaped holes and things - fine if you just want to see if a mouse fits in your hand, terrible if you want to bolt a couple parts together to test fit.
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Re: What good is 3D printing?

Postby drayegon » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:20 am

Sorry I am not going to do your home work for you Mr. Ron but did you or do you KNOW that there is 3D printing in metal and ceramics and glass. Stop and give it just one minute of thought. Take metal that can be sinterd. then use your 3D printer to print it out and if it has a slight bit of cohesion due to static. Then it will hold together. right? with me so far? then move it over to a good high temp metal oven and bake said item at 3500 F for one hour. It will become fused. One of the guys down the hall said they did it and found they could apply over 300 lbs /ft torque on a 12inch crescent wrench. I sheared off a 1/2in or was it 12mm bolt grade five I don't think they invested any more time in testing it. They were from JPL and do not care to do things twice.

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Re: What good is 3D printing?

Postby barry99705 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:53 am

drayegon wrote:Sorry I am not going to do your home work for you Mr. Ron but did you or do you KNOW that there is 3D printing in metal and ceramics and glass. Stop and give it just one minute of thought. Take metal that can be sinterd. then use your 3D printer to print it out and if it has a slight bit of cohesion due to static. Then it will hold together. right? with me so far? then move it over to a good high temp metal oven and bake said item at 3500 F for one hour. It will become fused. One of the guys down the hall said they did it and found they could apply over 300 lbs /ft torque on a 12inch crescent wrench. I sheared off a 1/2in or was it 12mm bolt grade five I don't think they invested any more time in testing it. They were from JPL and do not care to do things twice.

dray


That's not even close to how SLS works.
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Spur your inner brainstorm. What is your idea?

Postby servant74 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 3:18 am

IMHO, 3d printing is still in the end user infancy. In the long term we still may get a cup of tea by saying "Computer, Tea, Earl Grey, hot." but that is beyond speculation. In the short term, think of the trinkets we purchase for art and decorative purposes, toys, and useful pieces for 'real world use' as well as tinkering (or more formally, prototyping).

The 'download, modify, and print' paradigm is what we are seeing today with the various download sites. Before it is truly 'retail level', we need to get it to an 'appliance' not much more complicated than a bread machine with an associated notepad computer. It also has to be shown as useful to more than just the geeks and gadget freaks.

I read an old sci fi book called 'Roll Town'. One item I remember is they had flatware like used for camping, but it was hard and solid, for about 2 or 3 hours, then it melted into a eco friendly liquid that just went down the drain. If we could find a way to print in that kind of a substance that we could print with a nice finish, and just let it go as a single use item, if it could be printed cheaply and cleanly! Is that ready even on the drawing table now? I have not heard of it. We need to work out the economics, materials, sanitary issues, green-ness of the use, etc. But this is just one day-dreaming example.

What can you dream up?
If at first you don't succeed, think about scratching parachute jumping off your bucket list.
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