Chevy Tri Five Forum banner
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,039 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Reading the paper this morning, I see that Stratasys just agreed to buy MakerBot. 3D Systems, Stratasys, and MakerBot are the names that keep coming up repeatedly. Are there any other makers worth watching?

I'd like to know what hands-on experience tri-fivers have with this technology. What have you personally seen as far as the actual capabilities, quality and reliability of the systems, cost of consumables, etc.? What materials are they good at working with, and what are they not?

My understanding is that they're pretty good with a variety of plastics, and some metals. However, my engineering background does not include metallurgy or any other branch of materials science. So, I don't have a good grasp of what they can do and what they can't, and what they may be able to do in a couple of years.

Putting this in tri-five terms:

I'm sure I could use a 3D printer to make the big plastic washer that goes behind the door handles and window cranks, or the plastic door lock buttons.

But - would it be possible to fabricate the door handles themselves? Would I be able to make just the handle, or would I be able to chrome it too?

What about if I was rebuilding an engine? Could I fabricate pistons and rings that would hold up as well as factory-made ones? (Those that follow this stuff know Egge is the only one who still makes 265 pistons, and they're pricey.)

Looking for insight and understanding....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,039 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Check this out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0nBzdhAV4w

From what I understand guys are making single shot firearms with them, kinda scary if you think about it..

Jim
Yes - and they had some guy on 60 Minutes the other week making usable AR-15 parts out of plastic with a 3D printer.

Ignoring the scary part of this technology for the moment - I'd like to know about real-life hands-on experience in a prototyping and manufacturing environment. I've heard the hype - I want to know the facts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
why is it scary that gun parts can be printed with a 3-D printer when they are banged out by the millions in factories every day? I don't understand that viewpoint. 3-D is invaluable for individual freedom and we need it.

3-D printing can and will be able to do anything - including printing human body parts. Go have a look.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
402 Posts
why is it scary that gun parts can be printed with a 3-D printer when they are banged out by the millions in factories every day? I don't understand that viewpoint. 3-D is invaluable for individual freedom and we need it.

3-D printing can and will be able to do anything - including printing human body parts. Go have a look.
the scary part would be a single shot firearm that would be undetectable by a metal detector. .
to many idiots out there.

just my 2 cents..

Jim
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,571 Posts
Consider that a similar concept, affordable CNC equipment, has been out there for a few decades and they have had a minor influence on the hobby - as you can make plastic and metal parts from them too. http://www.discountcampus.com/dpp.htm

NASA liked to show off their plastic printer 20 years ago. It was small bed attached to a huge computer located in their shuttle parts department. I got the feeling that it was a good show-off machine for tours but a white elephant - not that it mattered to NASA.

So, as far as an investment is concerned, keep your money, in my opinion. As far as a hobby is concerned it is a good hobby. But to have an impact you will have to budget alot of time or you're, again, throwing your money away.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38,740 Posts
We have a 3D printer at my workplace. It is probably far from cutting edge technology, but it's also probably representative of what many can do.

It makes plastic parts by deposting an .010" layer of the part at a time, using a cartridge of plastic rod. We typically use ABS plastic. Its limitations on part size are roughly 8" wide x 8" long x 8" tall.

It makes reasonable looking parts, but they lack in surface finish and dimensional accuracy. The surface finish and accuracy varies with direction. Typical surfaces that are vertical in the build process are a little better.

If you want round parts that fit together, you need to revise the model dimensions so that the clearances are larger. I.e., parts that would be machined for a 0.001"-.002" clearance need to be modeled to have .010" or larger gap.

A cartridge of model material costs about $400 is proabably only 4-5 pounds of material, maybe even less. So that's a pretty expensive plastic part. But you don't have the expense of making a mold and the time required for that. Most small parts that I make require 8-10 hours of machine time to make one part.

I think there are better machines out there, with better resolution which results in better surface finish and more accuracy. I'd think the run time for higher quality parts would increase a lot though.

I have no idea about metal parts, but the cost of the machinery has to be 10X or maybe far more of what the plastic stuff is, and I'd think that the strength would be quite low compared to other processes/methods.

We use our 3D printer mainly for concept demonstrations. It's a great tool for showing the big boss what something is going to look like, some more than others as some can't visualize from a drawing or computer screen.

We've also used it for one time deals like fixtures. We've even built some crude molds for rubber parts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
549 Posts
Again not really what you are talking about, but in my work we are using 3D printing to try to make new organs for transplant. It is disappointing that someone who uses the technology to make a weapon gets so much more press then someone who uses it to make treatments to save peoples lives. This is a news clip about my work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO5LtyfifAc
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
Again not really what you are talking about, but in my work we are using 3D printing to try to make new organs for transplant. It is disappointing that someone who uses the technology to make a weapon gets so much more press then someone who uses it to make treatments to save peoples lives. This is a news clip about my work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO5LtyfifAc
There are those that would be opposed to that too for various reasons. I say default to maximum freedom because control is out of the question now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,784 Posts
We have several machines at work that are called SLS machines.
Selective Laser Sintering.
We use them (SS and plastic) to make some orthopedic implants and instruments.
Basically, they do the same thing as a 3-D printer.
These machines use a plastic or metal powder, depending on the part requirements. (Separate machines for plastic and metal)
The machine spreads a thin layer of powder over a steel or titanium plate.
A laser then "draws" across the surface melting the powder in a pre designed shape. Building up in layers until the part(s) are finished.
Not sure about the big ones but the small metal SLS was over a quarter million US dollars.
I had a piece made by a friend running the metal machine a few years ago.
It turned out pretty good but it doesn't leave a perfect surface.
There were small holes here and there that wouldn't polish out.
So something like a door handle would not be feasible.
Not to mention the powder costs.
One day though...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,039 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Rick and Jeff, this is EXACTLY the type of information I'm looking for. And, I'm eager to hear more specifics if anyone has some to share.

Numbers and facts are what I'm looking for. Here's some interesting ones already:

1. Parts look good, but are not finished products.
2. Additional machining or other finishing is required.
3. Raw material for plastic parts is $100 a pound.
4. 0.010 tolerances are possible in plastic; 0.001 is not.
5. A small laser driven sintering printer costs a quarter million dollars.
6. As mentioned above, the sintering process requires additional machining before the part is ready for use.

This information is the perfect counterbalance to http://news.yahoo.com/3-d-printing-goes-sci-fi-fantasy-reality-133123371.html .

When I read this article, I didn't have to wonder IF the guy was off in the weeds - the only question was HOW FAR off in the weeds. For any of you who have a background in engineering, manufacturing, the military, or aviation, and you need a good chuckle today, I recommend you read this article.

Yet, from what I've seen, this article is hardly alone. I can't help but wonder how many people are taking this stuff at face value.

Any more information? I'd love to hear more facts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38,740 Posts
I don't remember exactly how much was paid for the machine I use, but I think it was in the $30k range. I think it's about 3 years old. And it's more like a small refrigerator in size than a microwave.

I see stuff on the internet that's multicolored - that's going to cost you. All the really neat stuff from the internet and magazine articles is going to cost you.

On the other hand, a co-worker brought me a part the other day that was made on a $700 machine. It was small, but it had the same quality as one from the $30000 machine. There is a mostly hobby deal out there with inexpensive machines. You have to build them yourself. Kind of like the old "Heathkit" stuff from Radio Shack. Many of the parts are made with 3D printing. Google "reprap" for more info.

In the last few months our department has gotten a lot of requests for 3D printing from other departments. It costs us for the materials and time. Part of the time is to remove the "support material" which is necessary but I haven't mentioned it. There is a cost and time for that too. We've been discussing getting a better machine and letting the others have our old one. What to do is not an easy choice. And of course there's always the difficulty in convincing the boss that he gets something from spending another $50k or more. (And I can't blame him.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,039 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thanks -this is a very helpful "reality check".

In the article mentioned above http://news.yahoo.com/3-d-printing-g...133123371.html , he states:

"But the military, D'Aveni said, is likely to be among the first major users of 3-D printers, because of the urgency of warfare."

"Imagine a soldier on a firebase in the mountains of Afghanistan. A squad is attacked by insurgents. The ammunition starts to run out. Is it worth waiting hours and risking the lives of helicopter pilots to drop it near you, or is it worth a more expensive system that can manufacture weapons and ammunition on the spot?" he said."


Okay, is it just me? I'm having just a LITTLE difficulty visualizing combat in Afghanistan, with some guy in one corner, printing out fresh bullets. Oh, by the way - bullets aren't much good without gunpowder to put in them. Or, are you planning to 3D print that as well?

Then, there's the Motley Fool "special report" that talks about how 3D printers are going to put 100 million Chinese manufacturing employees out of work: http://www.fool.com/shop/newsletter...95c-c92c257526cb.aspx?source=isaspodft0000132 . I don't know where to start with a commentary on that.

And, Motley Fool, we're going to do this with the $700 printers consuming the $100/pound plastic Rick mentioned? Uh huh....

When I first started reading about this technology, I said to myself, "this is a really big deal - as they say, a potential 'disruptive technology'. But, how fast (in terms of widgets per hour) is it compared to traditional manufacturing? And, I'm sure the raw materials are much more expensive than conventional ones".

Hmm....how close to the mark was I? :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,571 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,784 Posts
Well I'll tell ya. The soliders would get the ammo quicker by helicopter.
At least at this point in time.
It doesn't (at least our machines don't) make parts quickly.
A plate full of 9MM bullets might take overnight if not a couple days.
Here's another thing. IT'S A MACHINE.
Machines breakdown. Usually at the least opportune times.
Now what?
"Command, this is firebase Alfa.
Yeah we need a z1/283$2717/22 laser up here ASAP.
We're under heavy fire and we can't make ammo."

The machine reps are here at least once a month fiddling with the machines.
I'm not in that dept. but it's on the other side of the isle from where I work.
So I see them pretty often.

Rick, we also have one of those like you described.
About the size a d shape of a refrigerator.
It uses plastic string as a medium.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,039 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
56 2x4 and Jeff - you see the same issues I see. The guy who wrote that article is clearly off in the weeds somewhere.

Speed, weight, raw materials logistics, durability in harsh environments - no way can I see printing bullets in a combat zone.

This same article talks about an airline mechanic whipping out a replacement part while an airliner sits on the tarmac, soon to take off. Yeah, right - ever hear of FAA inspectors? I'm sure they'll sign off on that, no problem, huh?

Do read both the Yahoo and Motley Fool pieces. I think this represents the thinking that's going on in Wall Street. Scary, huh?

I do think this technology is "for real" - but not at the level they're describing! So, I'm trying to get my head around "what is the reality".

On the other hand, there's the work Stezza is doing. Once I can get my head around depositing live cells via a printer and having the end result be living tissue (easier said than done for a guy with zero "life sciences" background), I can see the logic behind it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38,740 Posts
Do read both the Yahoo and Motley Fool pieces. I think this represents the thinking that's going on in Wall Street. Scary, huh?
People have pumped this or that in trade media as well as mass media forever. Most of the stuff that's pumped either isn't practical or isn't mature enough to displace what's being used now. But over time something will.

You don't need to manufacture bullets in Afghanistan or any battlefield. You need to shoot them.

Traditional injection molding makes better parts and makes them hundreds of times faster than a 3D printer can. What you get from a 3D printer is verification of the part, and reduced risk.

On the other hand if you're making medical prostheses, one at a time, a 3D printer may be the only affordable way.

You just have to have perspective with this stuff. Or find it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,438 Posts
Reading the paper this morning, I see that Stratasys just agreed to buy MakerBot. 3D Systems, Stratasys, and MakerBot are the names that keep coming up repeatedly. Are there any other makers worth watching?

I'd like to know what hands-on experience tri-fivers have with this technology. What have you personally seen as far as the actual capabilities, quality and reliability of the systems, cost of consumables, etc.? What materials are they good at working with, and what are they not?

My understanding is that they're pretty good with a variety of plastics, and some metals. However, my engineering background does not include metallurgy or any other branch of materials science. So, I don't have a good grasp of what they can do and what they can't, and what they may be able to do in a couple of years.

Putting this in tri-five terms:

I'm sure I could use a 3D printer to make the big plastic washer that goes behind the door handles and window cranks, or the plastic door lock buttons.

But - would it be possible to fabricate the door handles themselves? Would I be able to make just the handle, or would I be able to chrome it too?

What about if I was rebuilding an engine? Could I fabricate pistons and rings that would hold up as well as factory-made ones? (Those that follow this stuff know Egge is the only one who still makes 265 pistons, and they're pricey.)

Looking for insight and understanding....
To simply answer your question yes you can pretty much make any "small part with in reason, as far as durability we had fixtures made for our HAAS cnc machines using a cintered aluminum powder mixed with something else which I can't recall right now for a bonding agent and it worked flawlessly and was just as durable as if we hogged it out of a solid block of aluminum.

The one I own personally is not as sophisticated but I have used it to make structures, billboards, fences etc. on my model railroad. I have purchased cnc laser cut wood and plastic kits so I figured hey why not rapid prototype printer and it worked flawlessly. So as long as it could be measured completely on a CMM and all then drawn up in a computer program such as Pro E or Solid Works the printer could make a door handle washers a radio knob etc. The list is pretty much endless and with that plastic chroming technology they have now by just looking at it you owuld not be able to tell the difference between the original and the one made on the printer.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top