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Old 03-22-2014, 09:40 PM   #21
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I have thought about building a 3D printer. I have been playing around with a 10kw Ytterbium fiber laser cutting small steel parts and am curious if it could be used for selective laser sintering.

The smallest I have been able to cut is a gear about 0.03 " diameter but my cnc mill has 0.001" backlash in the x-axis ballscrew which ruins the quality. The laser I can focus to about 0.00015"
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Old 03-22-2014, 11:54 PM   #22
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The smallest I have been able to cut is a gear about 0.03 " diameter but my cnc mill has 0.001" backlash in the x-axis ballscrew which ruins the quality. The laser I can focus to about 0.00015"
How are you controlling where the laser goes?

The size to which you can focus your laser spot is analogous to how sharp you can make the tip of the cutting tool on your mill. How accurately you can cut the gear depends on how precisely you can position this laser spot. If you just have a fixed optical system and are moving the work around on a milling table I'd have thought your accuracy would be the same whether cutting with laser or ordinary tool steel.

While there are optical means of scanning the beam around quite accurately, I would have thought that such systems that work with 10kw beams would be kind of expensive for a home shop - likely lots more expensive than just upgrading your CNC system. We recently bought a small benchtop CNC mill at work that routinely gets about 5 um accuracy (for about 10x the cost of the 3D printers quoted in this thread).

Regardless, I'm envious of your CNC set up and Yb:fiber laser system. One of my planned projects after FIRE next year is to upgrade from manual machining to CNC.
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Old 03-23-2014, 12:22 AM   #23
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The work piece moves and the laser is held stationary. The problem is in the ballscrew on the cnc mill...it is a large industrial mill probably with a lot of use on that axis.

The laser is only 20 watt average power but produces 1mJ in 100nS pulses (up to 100khz rep rate) so 10kW peak power in each pulse which is what blasts through the steel. It is about the size of a small box of cereal and runs on 24V DC at about 7 amps. I love ebay and defunct solar cell companies!

I am making a 1um accuracy xyz cnc mill using some NSK linear robot modules with brushless motors/ground ballscrews. Just haven't had the time to finish it.

I think the extruded plastic 3D printers are very cool though...they can do a lot that you can't do with a mill or laser cutter.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:04 AM   #24
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I am making a 1um accuracy xyz cnc mill using some NSK linear robot modules with brushless motors/ground ballscrews. Just haven't had the time to finish it.
I built a table last year. I was quite proud of it.
But now I think I'll go crawl under a rock somewhere and hide.
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:12 AM   #25
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Prices have come down so much that this will become a household item in the not too distant future. I work with a lot of MEs so have been exposed to 3D printers for a long while.

From the charity side of things a friend was an early starter of the Robo-Hand concept & now continues that work through E-Nable (they have a facebook page if you are interested). They open sourced plans for how to make hand prosthetics for children & encourage anyone with a 3D printer to participate. That is one very cool application of 3D printing that has life changing implications for kids.
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:32 AM   #26
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I'd like to see local places have these available to rent time on. Maybe the local HW stores or craft/hobby/woodworking shops?

Even though I'm interested, I just don't have enough projects to justify >$1000, but it would be great to have access to one and pay to have custom parts built from a SketchUp model that I made. Email the drawing, pick up the part the next day, or while you shop if it is a simple one.

I would think it would bring a lot of traffic into the store just to see it in operation. If they had some specific models that could be customized on-the-fly, casual lookers could order those, like a key-chain tag with your name on it, etc. Probably get some ROI pretty quickly with some clever marketing.

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Old 03-23-2014, 10:42 AM   #27
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I would think that this would lend itself to a "mail order" business. You could send in the CAD file via the internet and receive the model via USPS given that the parts are small and light.

3d printing at The Village Workshop - The Village Workshop- Get in here and make something!
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:21 AM   #28
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I would think that this would lend itself to a "mail order" business. You could send in the CAD file via the internet and receive the model via USPS given that the parts are small and light.

3d printing at The Village Workshop - The Village Workshop- Get in here and make something!
That does not work............ for me.

a) No instant gratification (Worth the initial expense alone)
b) Back and forth back and forth with the tweaking process.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:23 AM   #29
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My son told us yesterday about visiting a place that has 3D printers, lots of woodworking equipment, and many other devices. You pay $40 a month membership to use the equipment and the owner can get materials in his daily order for you at a discount. So things must really be up to date in Kansas City!
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:54 AM   #30
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I'm still old fashioned enough to be into subtractive rather than additive part fabrication (in other words I start with big chunks of metal or wood and machine them down into something useful). I think 3D printing is a cool technology and we'll all have one eventually, but I feel little compulsion to be an early adopter - particularly when the printer would have to compete for space in the aforementioned metal shop.
Can the 3d computer mate to an aluminum milling machine? Steel?Those would be very fine pieces of equipment. These things sound astonishingly cheap relative to what you get.

Ha
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Old 03-23-2014, 12:07 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Fermion View Post
I have thought about building a 3D printer. I have been playing around with a 10kw Ytterbium fiber laser cutting small steel parts and am curious if it could be used for selective laser sintering.

The smallest I have been able to cut is a gear about 0.03 " diameter but my cnc mill has 0.001" backlash in the x-axis ballscrew which ruins the quality. The laser I can focus to about 0.00015"
Wow! The little resistor included in the photo for a scale looks like an 0805 size. I am impressed.
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Old 03-23-2014, 12:17 PM   #32
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I'd like to get DW one of the new candy/chocolate 3D printers. Now that would be useful. Nothing near reasonable cost yet, but I'll keep my eye out.
I wouldn't dare have one of those in the house. We'd both have to buy new clothes in a month or two.

Chocolate has a shelf life measured in days if not hours around here.
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Old 03-23-2014, 01:56 PM   #33
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Wow! The little resistor included in the photo for a scale looks like an 0805 size. I am impressed.
Yes it is, good eye...you must also be a EE
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:39 PM   #34
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I think ShokWave is spoofing us on the RC stuff, and he actually plans to make AR15s

Nevertheless, this sounds very cool to me.
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:16 PM   #35
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Personal 3D printer - Cool! If have time you may want to see if there is a Makers program in your area. I'm sure the local Makers group would benefit from your recent purchase.

I'm still holding out for a 3D-Systems stereo lithography printer. 3D-Systems was an early pioneer in the industry and really brought 3D printing techniques into its prime. Their stereo lithography machines are one of the best. Looking at the 3D-Systems web page I see they are offering low cost models starting at $1299 - I think those are extruded deposition machines similar to yours.

The post above showing pictures of the laser cut parts is very interesting. More pictures please.
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Old 03-23-2014, 10:38 PM   #36
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Can the 3d computer mate to an aluminum milling machine? Steel?Those would be very fine pieces of equipment. These things sound astonishingly cheap relative to what you get.

Ha
There are metal 3D machines. They use a laser to melt and sinter metal powder, building the part up in many layers. So instead of feeding out a jet of liquid plastic, they melt the metal using a laser. Similar principle though in they build the part up form the bottom using multiple layers.

Metal machines are much more expensive than the plastic machines.

My work uses the plastic a lot for making models for show and tell. The metal machines are capable of making real parts that can be used for real testing, since they can be strength of a comparable metal machined part.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:11 PM   #37
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Thinking some more about the tiny gears that were made with laser machines, it occurred to me that craftsmen have been making watches for a couple of centuries. How did they do it, and for the money that they were paid? Recall that not all mechanical watches of yesteryear commanded the price of fancy Swiss watches.

How did they do it? I am reminded of how little I know of the world and the skills and knowledge of different trades. It's humbling.
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Old 03-24-2014, 11:49 PM   #38
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There are 3d printers under $800. Wow! It's like having your crude replicator a la Star Trek. I feel so old.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:47 AM   #39
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Can the 3d computer mate to an aluminum milling machine? Steel?Those would be very fine pieces of equipment. These things sound astonishingly cheap relative to what you get.

Ha
For all practical purposes, that is how everything that is machined today is processed. It is independent from 3D printing though, as each is a different computer controlled process.
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Old 03-28-2014, 10:12 AM   #40
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A woman recently got a skull implant thanks to 3D printing:

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For the past few years 3D printing has been making news in the world of medicine. From bioprinting sample organs for drug testing to creating custom prosthetics, additive manufacturing and 3D scanning are revolutionizing medicine. While those achievements are remarkable, a recent surgical procedure shows just how much AM can benefit medical science and patient outcomes.
Woman Receives 3D Printed Cranial Implant > ENGINEERING.com
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