3D printers? Is anyone using them? What are your experiences with them?

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  • 3D printers? Is anyone using them? What are your experiences with them?

    Hi All,

    Firstly, the question is not about creating firearms themselves ( eg, Printable gun project that caused so much controversy ) but in more practical applications - parts, tools and prototyping -

    I've been using one for about a year now, and find it really quite handy - While plastic isn't strong enough for some tools, it's been indispensable for creating ring-spanners and wrenches for optical use ( eg, assembly, disassembly ) and for making jigs to assembly hard-to-reach places. Though I note that recent 3D printers will print metal with fairly high strength, which is more than suitable for specialist tools and components.

    I've also been making attachments with it for a while now.

    eg;
    Ring wrench for installing retaining nuts. ( there are two stainless pins that provide bearing surfaces )


    Ring spanner for adjusting lock rings. ( again with metal inserts )


    Pocket sized head mount ( I use it for NV, would take a torch just as easily ) -


    And wearing it ( yeah, that's me... I realize what it looks like )


    Battery holder and switch ( three position with mechanical lock - quite precise )

    ( Mine's the smaller one on the left... Conventional one on the right )

    Boresightable torch mount.


    The files are all autocad format, created in CorelCAD, which isn't as good as Solidworks ( I am told ) but it's a heck of a lot cheaper. I find it gets used around the home a bit also -eg, this shower-head extension ( damn thing just kept hitting the wall out of the box, extension has a 45 degree angle on it ) -
    http://aunv.blackice.com.au/userfiles/david-IMG_0730_Custom.JPG

    More than strong enough to take the load, even when pulling on it.

    Even sometimes, just jigs to hold things. I looked around for 3 days to find some useful pieces of rail just to hold a scope in place while I took some measurements, then I realized I could just print some MilStd rail out and screw it to a piece of wood. Worked perfectly.

    And of course, there's the full Night Vision housings I produce - eg;

    ( The housing on the left is my design - very compact ).

    I print mostly in plastic, primarily due to most of my designs being deemed "controlled items" by defence, but I doubt it will be long before the 3D metal printing services will be available in Australia - places like Shapeways already offer that service in the US and Europe. Also, it's possible to buy wax that can be used to create metal moulds - it's mostly used for jewelry, but would be easy enough

    So, I know the conversation usually only comes up with mention of printing magazines ( which I imagine would actually be quite practical ) and printed guns ( very impractical and laughable ) but there are far more applications that make sense, so I was wondering who else is moving in that direction for either testing and prototyping, or for actual practical use?

    Regards
    David

  • #2
    Mate that is very interesting

    Its a pity some idiot had to go out and prove a point with these machines which what they are machines!!

    I think this technology should be embraced by all as its a way for people to express their creative side and maybe make new products that no one else has made or could be bothered to make.

    Kudos to you dude I find these things so interesting maybe one day I will invest in one. Whats the going price for one of these??

    Kind Regards

    Dan

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      Originally posted by Dan R" post=24233
      Mate that is very interesting

      Its a pity some idiot had to go out and prove a point with these machines which what they are machines!!

      I think this technology should be embraced by all as its a way for people to express their creative side and maybe make new products that no one else has made or could be bothered to make.

      Kudos to you dude I find these things so interesting maybe one day I will invest in one. Whats the going price for one of these??

      Kind Regards

      Dan
      I saw these first at CES 2012 and the again at SHOT show 2012 in Las Vegas. Some great stuff was coming out the printers and I realized they were stronger than they looked. So I asked some questions, got some samples and started looking.

      I bought the cheapest model I could find in the end - the "PP3DP Mini" - mainly because it's the size of a Minitower PC and fits on my desk, and it's fully enclosed, so all the junk I pile up around it doesn't fall onto it while it's running ( I had a stack of papers fall onto the side of it while printing a moment ago ) Costs around $1000.

      This was my first print... I was pretty nervous about it. Came out fine.


      I get around 90 to 95% success rate with models, so only a few reprints. Precision is about 0.2mm vertically and 0.1mm horizontally. There is usually some warping in larger prints, but there are ways around it. It's great for knobs and stuff. Battery boxes, compartments etc.

      The maximum size I can print is about 120mm x 120mm x 120mm. Small, but I only print small stuff. They are slow, but you basically set them off and walk away and a few hours later, the part is ready... My biggest prints ( eg, the new Gen2+ DIY monocular project ) is about 8 hours.

      They are not great for mass production, but are perfect for one-off's. It's ABS plastic ( same stuff as Lego ) and estimates are from 50% to 90% the strength of injection moulding, which is acceptable to make stuff with. ( load bearing parts can be made with more plastic ).

      It has it's limits, but a little creativity usually works to get around those problems.

      Regards
      David

  • #3
    That's good work David

    I like the idea of being able to make a virtual model of your own design, and then turning that into a physical object. Seems to be the way of the future. When the tech reaches a point where things like SLS Printers become cheap enough for the average punter to purchase, that's going to be a real game changer. Looking forward to see how the whole thing evolves.

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    • #4
      Thanks for the reply David

      You have triggered my creative side lol

      Kind regards

      Dan

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      • #5
        $1K seems pretty reasonable. I imagine it wouldn't take too long to feel like you've had your money's worth out of it.

        David, have you had to fiddle around with it much to keep it running properly? I've heard that was a bit of an issue with earlier consumer grade printers, but it was around 18 months ago that I was hearing that. I'm guessing things have improved since then.

        What has been your experience in that regard?

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          Originally posted by overkill" post=24245
          $1K seems pretty reasonable. I imagine it wouldn't take too long to feel like you've had your money's worth out of it.

          David, have you had to fiddle around with it much to keep it running properly? I've heard that was a bit of an issue with earlier consumer grade printers, but it was around 18 months ago that I was hearing that. I'm guessing things have improved since then.

          What has been your experience in that regard?
          I usually just hit "print". There's a little setup when you first run it up, and that's about it. It's pretty easy to use - about as complicated as using a normal laser printer to print documents. There are settings and such, and when you get familiar with it, sometimes it's worth changing them, but generally I just keep things simple.

          It has a kilo of plastic in at a time. Changing filament is slightly easier than changing toner cartridge on a laser printer... It's all mostly automated. I've had to unclog a nozzle once ( they get clogged if you have too much dust where you're printing ) but they are cheap and I'd just buy another - which reminds me I need a spare.

          Plastic costs around $50 a kilogram, so it's fairly economical, and it uses a laptop type PSU so not a lot of power cost either. I hear from others that some modern printers are fairly high maintenance, but the Mini really is a home-model.

          The most complicated thing with a small printer like the mini is that it prints solid support material - this scaffolding has to be physically removed ( cut/pulled away ) from the final model. It's not difficult if the right plastic is used but it does involve sharp tools.

          I think the latest generation are pretty good though - certainly better than what I saw at SHOT 2012 - so they have come a long way. Even over just the past two years.

          David.

      • #6
        While I don't own one I do use them all the time. I design and manufacture components for the motor racing industry. As a result, I often need to rapid prototype components for proof of concept and interference checking. Just recently I had some oil lines for a sequential gearbox done in nylon. These oil lines will be used in the finished product and have a tighter bend radius than what can be done in steel tube.

        Couple of years back I had an entire 6 speed sequential gearbox rapid prototyped, all done to full size, So, for me, rapid prototyping is a very valuable and cost effective tool that I use quite often.

        I have also rapid prototyped a kit for the Tikka mag to convert it to a single shot style. The kit has a nylon ramp that slips into the mag, it also has a base plate that replaces the bottom section of the mag so it sits flush with the stock.

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        • #7
          last time i made a thread about this it got shutdown and locked.
          Polish Mosin Nagant M44 7.62x54r Radom 1952 manufacture
          Brno model 2 1974 manufacture

          One word 'Timshel'.

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          • #8
            as long as this thread doesn't go down the silly route of you know what then I don't see any problem with it, owning a 3d printer is not illegal but im sure there are things that can be done with them that are illegal... Kind of like a car.. There legal when driven appropriately but hey you put your foot down and go over that speed limit or drink and drive ooops there you go you broke the law and can be held accountable for your actions!!

            Common sense and a dose of maturity is all that is needed to keep this thread informative

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              Originally posted by Dan R" post=24267
              as long as this thread doesn't go down the silly route of you know what then I don't see any problem with it, owning a 3d printer is not illegal but im sure there are things that can be done with them that are illegal... Kind of like a car.. There legal when driven appropriately but hey you put your foot down and go over that speed limit or drink and drive ooops there you go you broke the law and can be held accountable for your actions!!

              Common sense and a dose of maturity is all that is needed to keep this thread informative
              This is very much true - Keep the discussions on topic, polite and with due consideration to leaving out content that may be seen in a poor light by the non-shooting community and there won't be any problems. Also, topic content needs to be legal. The forum rules aren't that onerous and it's nice to have a forum that my kids could use without being exposed to bad language or ideas.

              3D printers are simple devices that make stuff out of plastic. They lend themselves to development and simple tool work - and by adding other parts, complete solutions can be found - from coupling torches together to assembling an iPhone holder so you can use an iPhone attached to your dayscope to take "Through the scope pictures" to get some nice images to post.

              Many uses.

              There are also quite a few materials available. ABS is the main one I use, but my printer also handles PLA ( harder, but less warping and more brittle ) and recently even PET ( ground up coke bottles ) - Many things. I don't know if it handles nylon. Some people are experimenting by feeding whipper-snipper cord into the printer and from what I hear, it does work - though printhead temperature is important for good results.

              Regards
              David

          • #9
            Mate I have done abit of research into these things now thanks to you

            I downloaded a design program but damn its hard to use lol

            Whats a good program to start on??

            Kind Regards

            Dan

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              Originally posted by Dan R" post=25486
              Mate I have done abit of research into these things now thanks to you

              I downloaded a design program but damn its hard to use lol

              Whats a good program to start on??

              Kind Regards

              Dan
              That's a good question. I went with CorelCAD which is basically an autocad clone. I will say that it's s steep learning curve, and I failed to get anywhere for nearly three hours. Then I tried watching some online help videos on Youtube for about another hour. In what was left of the day, I designed my first project - a video monocular. It worked on the first go.

              Why CorelCAD? because it's cheap. You can often find low-cost versions on Amazon and it comes with a 30 day trial during which it has full function, which lets you try it out and reach the point that you can use it before you decide to buy it ( CorelCAD 2013 is the latest version ).

              Also, there's something called Graebert Ares Commander, which is THE SAME THING... Identical... They actually make CorelCAD too! And that's got a 30 day trial too, so basically you can use it for nearly 2 months without paying anything... And at worst, you decide you don't like it and you come away with some serious CAD skills.

              Both CorelCAD and ARES commander and Autocad clones. Dassault Systems ( who make solidworks ) even supply it for free as an autocad replacement for people upgrading to Solidworks ( anyone can use it though ) but that one only does 2D and we need 3D.

              Youtube channels:
              http://www.youtube.com/user/CorelCADchannel
              http://www.youtube.com/user/corelcadtips

              Watch a few while playing with the software. Watch and repeat what they do.

              Basically, you create shapes by drawing a basic shape ( circle, square ) and extruding them ( cylinder, box ) - Then you add them together or subtract one from another. It's all about adding and removing material. It's pretty quick to use once you get the hang of it.

              To download and try:
              http://www.corel.com/corelcad - Then click "Free Trial" - It's the full version and you can activate it for 30 days... Actually, you can get the basic hang of it ( making shapes, adding them, subtracting them ) without activating it, so you don't have to activate it until you're ready, then the trial begins.

              Ares Command ( Think of it as your "second" free trial period ).
              http://www.graebert.com/arescommanderedition/arescommander

              Great fun to play with Leave yourself a full day. The morning will be frustrating as you get your head around the weird user interface.. In the afternoon, you'll probably redesign the space shuttle or similar... The learning curve flattens out really quick after you make your first 3D shape from a 2D shape. Don't try to figure it out without viewing the online lessons. It's not possible. Trust me on that. Online lessens take about an hour and save you about 3 weeks of pain.

              CorelCAD is old-school autocad, so once you have the hang of it, you will be able to move to any 3D program.

              And it really is a 1-day startup experience. After that, it's easy.

              Regards
              David

          • #10
            i have one i build from the ground up it's a prusa mendal but i have pretty much given up on it as i can't stand playing around with the useless bloody software

            if anybody wants it send us a PM it works pretty well just needs a little fine tuning

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            • #11
              Thanks for posting this David!
              I've been half following the technology for awhile, in between real life and work, and really had the creative juices start flowing when I heard the story Hack on Triple J ran a couple of months ago.

              I love the idea of being able to rapid-prototype my own little bits, such as light mounts and other accessories that we can't get Down Under easily.

              It's something I'm going to be looking at further when I get more time and money.
              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              Forward!
              Where we are, where we belong, where we should be.

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              • #12
                I've purchased the makerbot 2 for a bunch of our local schools and use a 2x (dual extrusion) for demonstrations at career expos. bit more expensiveat $2500 but they can handle the volume better. The number of people that ask me if I've built a gun with it is nauseating. I have managed to create some pretty sturdy stuff with it though none hunting related. I've also seen some higher end machines at work and there is no doubt this is the future of manufacturing. I'm finding pla rather than abs is a more forgiving plastic but we'll have desktop metal printers soon enough.
                In terms of design autodesk is winning the software war for supremecy. To start out play with autodesk 123d its free and browser based and you can actually get pretty detailed with it. I'm getting my kids started with tinkercad but have actually produced reliable designs on it as well.

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                • #13
                  I've been thinking about getting the Ultimaker to make parts for my RC models, the resolution on them seems to be pretty awesome but just don't need it quite enough to spend the cash.
                  Always in need of just one more gun.

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                  • Snag
                    Snag commented
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                    3d printing and biological engineering. The mind boggles.
                    Soon we will see new, engineered life forms with this and other technology combined.

                    Wow!
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