3D Revolution?

I guess it's been Long enough to ask. For those with a full accompaniment of metalworking machines and tooling who have picked up, learned, and used a 3D printer, has any significant work load been transferred over from the metalworking machines to the printer?
It is understood that those parts would now be mostly plastic, but I was wonder how much of a factor both the cost of stock material and ease of use would be either way.
I didn't expect a big switch over, but experiences, observations, and opinions would be appreciated.
Darren Harris
Staten Island, New York.
Reply to
Darren Harris
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I guess it's been Long enough to ask. For those with a full accompaniment of metalworking machines and tooling who have picked up, learned, and used a 3D printer, has any significant work load been transferred over from the metalworking machines to the printer?
It is understood that those parts would now be mostly plastic, but I was wonder how much of a factor both the cost of stock material and ease of use would be either way.
I didn't expect a big switch over, but experiences, observations, and opinions would be appreciated.
Darren Harris Staten Island, New York.
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I keep looking at them, but for the mainly tools and machine parts I make their plastic can't replace metal.
A machine that makes durable rubber parts like seals might be more useful to me.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
My son has 3 (yes 3) 3D printers. Resin Printer, higher resolution resin printer, and filament printer. He primarily prints gaming miniatures. (He plays two regular D&D games a week (runs one). Once in a while he has somebody pay him to run a print, but its not common. Maybe half dozen times a year. He rather enjoys painting the miniatures, and he's getting good at it. He's won more than a couple painting contests. He claims being able to create and print his own fantasy pieces costs less than buying them. I've paid him (bought materials and made sure there was plenty left over) to run a few jobs for me. One was to run a filament print of a 1911 receiver. I didn't plan to use it. I wanted to test a file before using it to machine a receiver. I still do not know if the file is good or not. Between shrinkage and distortion it was not great. I know people actual print and use receivers, but I'll probably fall back on old school measure and index methods from a sample piece when I get around to that project.
On another project I had him print some master molds. Basically a mold box, master (1/2 master), sprue, vents, and alignment registers in a single print. This allowed me to make silicone molds in multiples for casting resin parts. This actually worked fairly well, but we ran through a few iterations, to get it right.
I do not know about cost effective, but it does not seem to be time effective. All of those prints I had him do for me took a while. It didn't cost ME much, but he spent some time getting them ready to print after I the CAD files in some cases.
I have one customer who makes accessories for gaming miniatures. I make injection molds for him. The cost of a mold is fairly high, but the cost per part is very low.
In conclusion I think:
1. If you are prototyping it "might" be useful by itself, but going from one process to another accounting for variations int he process like shrinkage and distortion it might take away from that.
2. It can be useful as part of another process as in my master molds to make molds to make parts.
3. To make a single part if you can do it within your allowable tolerances its cheaper than making a mold to make a part.
4. Its not fast, but if you can walk away and work on something else it might be ok.
5. Those are not the only types of 3D printing. There is a 3D printer on the International Space Station they use to print tools they didn't know they were going to need.
6. Like making a part on the lathe or mill to finish a project on Saturday, printing a part on the printer may allow you finish your project instead of waiting until Monday to order the part you need.
Overall I am not convinced I need one, but I am convinced that they can be useful in the broad scope of things.
Just My Not So Humble Opinion
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Reply to
Bob La Londe
I agree with most of what Bob La Londe said, but there will be no figurines printed on my 3D printer!
I'm not a metalworker, I use aluminum occasionally, but I have had a 3D printer for about one year. Love it!
Yes, it's not metal, it's plastic (many different types of plastic). The other drawback is that you must print from the ground up. Some say you can get around that, but I haven't tried. In other words, printing bridges is difficult because there is nothing to support the extruded plastic. Still, you can design around that limitation and print most things.
If you love science, a 3D printer is for you. There is a steep learning curve. Lots of trial and error.
When I need parts to fit, I just design and print those fitting parts of the part until they are correct. You can't get super precision, given the fact plastics shrink a tiny bit when cooling. Instead of trying to use the slicer to compensate for that shrinkage, I just add some to the design here and there.
I think "3D Fusion" is about the only way to go. It does all of the design and then sends the file to your slicer. You can find some help on YouTube, it's popular.
When the file is sent to your slicer program, one settings difference is "retraction" that depends on whether you have a "Bowden" or a "direct drive" 3D printer. There is very little instruction about that on the Internet, but if your printer is direct drive, it requires very little retraction compared to a Bowden printer.
Apparently... The benefit of a Bowden printer is that the printhead machinery is light so it can be slung around easily and quickly. The benefit of direct drive is that you can print better, a wider selection of plastic filament, at slower speeds.
My old plastic shower knob just broke where it keys onto the valve shaft. Printed a replacement shower knob. Probably the most useful thing so far. It also excels at printing washers, spacers, rod spinners (I don't have a lathe), and lots of other little parts usable for making low stress things.
My print area is only 6" x 6", but that's fine here so far.
Make sure it's easy to return. As I'm sure everybody here knows, the shaft tolerances that guide the printhead, the rails, must be precise in order for the printing to be precise. It must be of decent quality.
Reply to
John Doe
*Fusion 360 not "3D Fusion"
You must reregister once per year (so I have been at it for over a year), but that program is free for casual use. They make sure you are not using it as a professional. Of course I don't know how that applies to anybody else.
Reply to
John Doe
Company I work for has metal and plastic 3d printers. The plastic one is used strictly for prototyping and occupies a desk in engineering. The metal printer has increased the workload of the machine tools since there is always secondary machining to be done on the parts. Most of the metal that gets printed is titanium, stainless steel, and some aluminum with internal passages. Parts that if they were to be mass produced even at low quantities, would be much less costly to produce as castings and have the same amount of machining needed.
Resin for plastic printers is cheap. The aforementioned metal powders are quite the opposite to the extreme.
3d printing close tolerances aren't yet achievable in metal or plastic. Since this technology has been through several decades of evolution and refinement, since the creation of stereolithography in the 1980's to be specific, I think is is very unlikely it will be in the the foreseeable future. Therefore machining is going to continue, for the time being, to supplement 3d printing, not be marginalized by it.
Reply to
fos
last year I received some 3d printed parts like trim caps for assemblies made of unistrut. Yeah, not as pretty as the real parts, but included with the parts was a note from the manufacturer blaming supply chain issues and even apologizing if the colors of the caps were not black as expected. Mine were black so maybe times were real tough at the plant with getting "nuts and bolts" type components to complete orders.
I're sure if I was a real whiner I could probably still request the correct plastic caps, so in this case, I guess a 3D printer kept the plant running and orders shipping.
Reply to
Cydrome Leader
I have two filament printers and an (as-yet unused) resin printer and curing setup. I've almost entirely printed PLA, with a tiny bit of ABS. PLA filament is cheap.
Found lots of uses for the printers in making fixtures and jigs for PCBs and prototype setups. Some things I could make on a mill with DRO and they'd be much prettier but wouldn't work much better and it would take much more time (iterations are very costly on a manual mill). Different uses than I expected.
Occasionally small housings for internal use. A solder fume extractor made from a salvaged fan and Aliexpress filter material- total cost a few dollars. Needed a special pin spanner wrench that was infinite lead time so I prototyped it in PLA, tweaked it and made it (once) of aluminum and steel. Have made spare parts for a few things where the part got broken or lost. When the part was lost it really helps to be able to iterate since the first part you come up with may not be ideal.
You can insert metal threaded inserts, bearings, nuts etc. to make the material characteristics less limiting (and, make no mistake, PLA FDM prints are nasty and crude - think 0.5mm tolerance- and weak- and generally lack electrical specifications). PLA is also limited in temperature range. You can apparently make lost-whatever castings of metal. There are YT videos showing the process.
I almost invariably do a CAD model first so the 3D print 'cost' is mostly just filament (cheap) and (clock, not human) time. The prints are usually just as good printed with low infill (honeycomb interior, not solid) so they are much lighter than they look.
I would say though that if you don't speak parametric 3D CAD fluently then a 3D printer would not be so useful.
Reply to
Spehro Pefhany
I'm just now seeing and reading your last post and wanted to clarify my reason for asking my question.
There are many small parts I have to make and I'm sure there will be a lot of trial and error either way since these parts/components don't yet exist in the market place.
Metal will be the preferred material in most cases, but I'm hoping that plastic prototypes would hold up long enough to bear out the plausibility of the designs.
I know nothing yet about 3D CAD, but metal stock machined on my lathe and mill will in many cases need to have a great deal of material removed to create the desired parts. Perhaps from 50 to 80 percent, so there would be a lot of waste involved.
Darren Harris Staten Island, New York.
Reply to
Darren Harris
I'm just now seeing and reading your last post and wanted to clarify my reason for asking my question.
There are many small parts I have to make and I'm sure there will be a lot of trial and error either way since these parts/components don't yet exist in the market place.
Metal will be the preferred material in most cases, but I'm hoping that plastic prototypes would hold up long enough to bear out the plausibility of the designs.
I know nothing yet about 3D CAD, but metal stock machined on my lathe and mill will in many cases need to have a great deal of material removed to create the desired parts. Perhaps from 50 to 80 percent, so there would be a lot of waste involved.
Darren Harris Staten Island, New York.
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Welding and brazing are useful additive methods to build up complex metal shapes from simple stock. They aren't reliably accurate due to shrinkage and distortion but they can save you a lot of stock removal.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Not for me. My parts require high tolerances.
Thanks.
Darren Harris Staten Island, New York.
Reply to
Darren Harris
You build it up and then machine it.
Reply to
Bob La Londe
Well, I don't have welding or brazing equipment, let alone a place to do that kind of work. And the extra tools, jigs, and time for parts with tiny weld surfaces thanks to the high tolerances I need, and therefore not as reliable as single piece alternatives, make 3D printing look more promising. The real question involves material suitability. (Sometimes there is no substitute for a *metal* part).
Darren Harris Staten Island, New York.
Reply to
Darren Harris
Well, I don't have welding or brazing equipment, let alone a place to do that kind of work. And the extra tools, jigs, and time for parts with tiny weld surfaces thanks to the high tolerances I need, and therefore not as reliable as single piece alternatives, make 3D printing look more promising. The real question involves material suitability. (Sometimes there is no substitute for a *metal* part).
Darren Harris Staten Island, New York.
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You know your situation better than we do.
For others, brazing requires only a propane torch and maybe a fire brick. I've used it to build up worn car starter solenoid contacts, then filed the lump of added brass to shape. Brass isn't as good as copper for high current contacts but it lasted 40,000 miles and then I repeated it.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Building up a part by (various means) and then machining it does give you the option for fine tolerances. That's the whole point. Whether or not you can do it is neither here nor there. Its is a real everyday solution used in industry. Casting and then machining is the same thing. Make a near (or not so near) net shape and then remove everything that is not your final part.
Think engine blocks. They are cast near net shape and then all critical dimensions are machined to net shape. You might argue there are a handful of "special" people who actually machine an engine block from a lump of generic billet, but I would counter with this. There are other people who are "special" in their own way who weld up bits and pieces to make an engine, and then machine all critical dimensions after the fact.
As far as 3D printing. I suggest some things to consider. Sometimes 3D printed parts are printed to near net shape and machined to finish dimensions. Sometimes 3D parts are printed, and machined metal parts are added. Sometimes parts are 3D printed out of metal. Some plastics/resins can be 3D printed that are "almost as good" as metal parts or good enough for short term use.
Reply to
Bob La Londe
Think engine blocks. They are cast near net shape and then all critical dimensions are machined to net shape. You might argue there are a handful of "special" people who actually machine an engine block from a lump of generic billet, but I would counter with this. There are other people who are "special" in their own way who weld up bits and pieces to make an engine, and then machine all critical dimensions after the fact.
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They weld up -big- bits and pieces to fabricate large marine Diesels.
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"The 16-184’s crankcase was constructed of steel plates welded together to form a single structure."
"Four 16-338 engines were installed in the Tench- and Tang-class submarines, and two were installed in the USS Albacore—the Navy’s first “teardrop” hull submarine, which paved the way for modern sub design."
When I toured the Albacore the retired head of the Portsmouth naval shipyard told me they were built too lightly for satisfactory rigidity and weren't reliable enough for military service. The Albacore didn't stay at sea for long or unaccompanied so they were less of a problem in it, but it had to be retired after burning through the remaining stock of them.
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He was there waiting for the film crew that was to take pix for the self-guided tour.
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awkward angles of the photos reveal how cramped the interior is. You can't back up far enough to get a good view.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
More recently some home shop guys have been building welded up flat head engines. I didn't say they were good or bad. Just that it has been done.
Reply to
Bob La Londe

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