Like you I've developed an interest in these machines but have yet to secure the funds and honestly I'm in need of other tools. So I've been collecting stuff to eventually just make one of my own design. Well one built out of the collection of parts I'm building up. Mechanically the machines are very simple so with access to machine shop equipment you can easily build something out of your imagination.
Originally Posted by Tin Falcon
There have been a fair amount of 3-d printers at some of the ME shows. And I have a friend that has done some amazing things w 3d printer. . He is a retired college instructor. I need to stop in I drive by his house daily. I probably need to ask more questions.
A 3-D printer is a tool. what you can do with it is only limited by imagination and the time and effort used to learn how to use it. what is the use of a mill or lathe in a hobby shop??
Actually that is mentioned in the context of anything CNC related. People just don't understand the flexibility of CNC in general. More interesting is the fact that 3D printing via methods other than extrusion are becoming very affordable and accessible. Patents running out help this by making these machines more widely available.
IMHO 3-D printing is in the toddler stage. Past infancy but still in development.
At our end of the market that is certainly the case. At the other end of the market you have NASA printing rocket parts in metals. There is an incredible range of capabilities here.
Apparently these things will make toys candy chocolate wax patterns etc.
If a 3-D printer can make parts to build a 3-d printer there is potential.
A lathe is touted for self replicating.
I am trying to decide if a 3-D printer is right for me. And which one .
Well honestly you probably won't know until you have had the machine for awhile. I've had a strong desire for a CNC router for some time too, it can be frustrating because you can't have both. Well at least not without blowing your budget.
As far as which one, the one you design and build yourself will likely be the most cost effective. It isn't impossible and can allow you to leverage stuff laying around. One thing to keep in mind is that you are not building a machine to cut anything (metal, plastic wood) thus there is no need for lots of mass. The axis also move relatively fast so mass control is important in that regard. This is also why uncommon building materials can often be used in the machines, Baltic birch ply for example is plenty stiff enough for a cheap 3D printer. Further the Reprap folks use plastic where no self respecting machine tool builder would have ten years ago. Keep in mind the application and alternatives begin to look far more feasible.
There is a lot of appeal to kits but for most people in these forums they are awfully expensive considering we already have most of the machining capability required. You look at many of the kits and it is like what is here that cost so much. So maybe a look at your scrap heap might inspire you to see some of that stuff as a printer. Most(many) of these machines are belt driven so a good portion of your linear motion hardware is pretty simple. In the end there are so many designs out there already that you have plenty of ideas to draw from.
Just an idea here, I just hate spending lots of money for very little. If DIY machine tools isn't your thing I can understand, but it is worth a thought. You might be surprised to find what you already have laying around that could go to a 3D printer.
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