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Printing on top of metal plates .. . .

Printing on top of metal plates .. . .

Postby Blademaker » Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:06 am

Hi there. . .

I'm looking into buying a cheap 3d printer to get me started. . .then eventually building my own. I have a machine shop and i'm looking forward to making prototypes using a 3d printer. I'm really hoping to be able to start a print, stop and insert a flat metal piece, then continue printing on top of the metal. This will allow me to have a stronger part, and be able to have strong threads.

Is this possible? Is anyone doing this? And how hard would it be to make modifications to the slicer software to do such a thing?

Thank you
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Re: Printing on top of metal plates .. . .

Postby Awesomeness » Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:40 am

Yes, it's possible, and regularly done. You don't make any modifications at all to the slicer, you just leave a void for the insert when you design the model. For example, if you're using a 1/4"-20TPI threaded insert that fits in a 3/8" hole, then when you model the part you just leave the 3/8" hole there and put your insert in (instead of modeling a 1/4" hole).

When you say you "have a machine shop", what do you mean? Machine shops, injection molders, etc. do this kind of stuff regularly.

Keep in mind though that 3D printed models are just prototypes. They are not fully-structural components in most cases, and they are not usually "pretty" either. It sounds like you're wanting to put inserts in them to make them into production parts, like an injection molder would do, but you would need a lot of finishing work (e.g. sanding, priming, filling, painting) to make the parts look smooth and good, while remaining dimensionally accurate.
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
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Re: Printing on top of metal plates .. . .

Postby Blademaker » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:47 am

Hey Awesomeness. . .thank you for your quick reply!

I'm a knife maker. I make and design knives for various companies, as well as making high end versions of my knives that I sell to collectors. My main focus point in the knife industry is coming up with unique mechanisms.

I have a pretty complete shop including a Haas cnc, and just about every manual machine there is. Even have a small bench top injection mold machine. The main reason I would like to be able to add in metal inserts is so that I can make a quick prototype knife that includes a hidden titanium/aluminum frame covered in plastic. So that I can add bearings, thread the plate and to just make the plastic part stronger. I would probably build several iterations of a prototype, and then in the end I would use the a combination of metal parts and plastic parts to make the best representation of the final product I could. One that not only would be a representation of what it would look like, but how it would work. Not only for the purpose of proving to myself, but also to a company that I'm interested in licensing the design to.

On a broader scale I'm an inventor at heart. And I am continuously coming up with ideas, and I can see how having the ability to make a hybrid of metal and plastic parts would be an advantage. So it's good to hear that this is going to be an easy thing to do.

I'm having a really hard time deciding which machine is right for me. There are so many options it's a bit overwhelming. And really non of them have all of the options that I like in one package. So my plan, as of now, is to buy a cheaper (maybe even an import), so that I can get hands on experience with how every thing works. Do some testing on upgrade options, then build my own. . .
Blademaker
 
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Re: Printing on top of metal plates .. . .

Postby Awesomeness » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:43 am

With all that, you shouldn't have any problems. You could even do things like 3D print the part in halves, and mill the cavities (for more precision).
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
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