Cool. I can't wait until I'm 3D printing parts. The future is here!
I must admit, it's a blast. Here's a non-boating item I printed...
... for the challenge, of course.
As for printing marine items? I've been pondering various possibilities. There are some considerations, however. For example, PLA is biodegradable, since it's pretty much made from vegetable oil extracts. So, it would not handle the weather. ABS, isn't. In fact, Legos are made from an injection molded ABS process. Otoh, FDM printing is much more rough than high-end 3D printing, as the melted plastic is laid down in layers. That, and the tensile strength is not that great for anything that depends on serious force (as most marine items, do
). I have been experimenting t-glase, which can allegedly withstand a sledge hammer. The printed item's strength, however, depends upon two factors: tensile strength and layer adhesion. A too-hot t-glase print generates a fused mess. While too-cool prints result in parts that break apart at the layers.
So, the abbrev of the above tl;dr?
Printing things like screen brackets, curtain mounting blocks... basically things that can deal with odd-boat shapes, and even a few of those plastic pieces you find at hardware stores (i.e., spacers, etc
), is great. Printing things that can withstand forces and weather? Not so much.
I'm holding out for one that prints stainless steel parts.
Yeah, that would be really nice. One guy is working on designing a metal extruder
, though he's using solder for his filament. Would be interesting to see how far he gets. In the meantime, printing services, such as shapeways, who offer metal prints, use the lost wax process. Primarily bc, the challenge with metal printing is similar to that of t-glase: layer adhesion. Lost wax removes that from the equation.