"Printing" our own parts!



Thank you all for replies. My etchings are very small and detailed and I don't own a laser printer. So, that method is not really for me. And as I already have all the photo-based etchign chemicals, I don't think I'll invest more funds in a new way of etching.
The darkroom part is not all that bad as the photoresist is not all that sensitive to indoor lights. But the process as a whole is a bit painful. And since I also do relief (2-sided etching), that complicates things a bit.
I used to send my drawings to a printing service which would print them out for me on a photo typesetter. That produces a 3600dpi black on clear photomask.
I have recently been successful in directly printing my photomasks using my Alps printer. I use laser transparency and I run 2 passes of black ink (one relabeled as magenta to overlap any seams in the bands). I get pretty good results on most of my masks. They are quite fragile (as the wax ink can be easily damaged) but it works and in most cases as I only have to make one set of etchings. And I no longer have to wait for the printouts.
Ideally I would love to just send my drawings to some outfit and few weeks later receive the reasonably priced etched parts.
Peteski
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I've used printapart to make some very small scale figures. They're nice folks and very helpful. The process is still very expensive, though, and making the 3D originals in software is not easy. The devil is in the details, and not only do you have to create a 3D design, you have to make sure that it's printable, which means making sure that there are no holes in the resulting STL file, for example.
Here are my test figures:
http://149.142.139.138/web/pub/Figures/350-2500figures.jpg
The largest ones are in 1/350 scale, followed by 1/700, 1/1000 and just barely visible, 1/2500 scale. The markings on the left side of the screen are mm.
The plastic is very brittle. This was only a test, so the figure design and choice of a base are not ideal for casting, but I was able to make a mold.
As can be seen on the figures, there's some grain to the plastic (basically, it's the 3D printer's resolution). I cut down the number of polygons on the original 3D file, and even though you can't see it well on these figures, some facial detail was duplicated.
Another company to consider is: http://www.best-cast.com/
They also make RTV molds of the printed parts. I haven't tried them because their new customer sign-up doesn't work at all for me.
Frank
--
Frank Henriquez Programmer/Analyst Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA
snipped-for-privacy@ucla.edu http://frank.bol.ucla.edu/index.htm
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