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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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Not long after we bought our 1978 Islander 32 (in May), the plastic bracket that held the stay arm on the hatch broke. I was able to draw it up in Sketchup and have it 3D printed at an online service, although it was trickier than I thought it would be.

It took two attempts, since the first time I made a drawing error - what looks solid on screen may not be actually solid at the joints. But the mistake wasn't too costly, the first try was about $15 with shipping, while the working version (from Shapeways.com) was about $10.

I tried to post pictures, but I don't have enough posts, sorry. :)

The part is working fine, and I'd certainly do it again if we needed to.

Mary
 

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David,
It would depend on cost and on whether you could get the part printed in UV resistant plastic.

I think we're going to see some real leaps in 3D printing in the next few years.

NASA Prints 3D wrench in space

It's pretty cool to be able to email someone a ratchet :D

Jim
 

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I found I was spending a lot of time on lathe and mill making small plastic components for assorted projects and given that most of my projects start their lives on Solidworks (full-on 3D draughting software), the design was already 3D-printer compatible.

So I bought a small 3D printer for my workshop. I'm not sure where the size of the printer allows one to print in different materials - my printer prints in ABS plastic (the stuff that Lego is made of, so the ad says) - I have heard people talk about printers that work with nylon. I'm not sure what the quality difference is but . . . . .

My little printer does a great job of creating the product with a print box of 120x120x120mm and a resolution on 0.2mm, So when you take the article out of the printer it looks great, fits well, tolerances are good and to all intents and purposes it is the answer. And the process is certainly painless.

But the printer obviously prints in layers and the bond between the layers is really not that good so the strength integrity of the product is not great. So unless the printer has better adhesion between layers than mine, the products that come out of it will not really be usable in an application that requires strength. Probably the "professional" printers that work in nylon and other plastics are better but I'm a little disappointed at the results I'm getting.

Also, the concept of 3D printing generally produces a hollow product that is supported internally by a web matrix and whilst I have the ability to make the web quite dense and can play around with wall thickness, I can't make the product solid.

I now pretty much only use my printer for prototyping, making sure the concept works and then I still make the articles on the lathe/mill. Articles like bushes are OK but then it's easier to spin bushes on the lathe.

I still make thinks like knobs, spacers and slide inserts and the bracket that Mary speaks of would probably be OK depending on the design but I wouldn't contemplate anything that needs a great deal of strength. It will probably break at some point.

I am busy designing a small reduction "gearbox" and will in a week or so be printing the gears - will be interesting to see how they work.
 

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Sls machines have the ability to print at around 99.9% the density of a milled metal product. While I doubt it will happen any time soon it is technologically possible for a marina to instal a machine now and start printing usable metal products.

The problem of course is cost. The machines to do this are running $100,000 or more, for relatively small slow platforms. My guess is in 5-10 years we will start seeing this, with the local West Marine having the capability to print off a lot of parts in the store. Hopefully at a substantially increased manufacturi rate.
 

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the local West Marine having the capability to print off a lot of parts in the store. Hopefully at a substantially increased manufacturi rate.
Yeah but they will charge 50% more then anyone else for the same thing :p
Seriously I doubt the ability of west marine to stay in business for more then 10 years at this rate.
 

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I think the real breakthrough will come when the machines can print stainless fasteners with enough resolution to replace inventory. Right now they take some post fabrication. As soon as this happens West gets to dump millions in inventory and transport costs. Then they just have to license the designs for parts instead of holding millions of parts in stock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The link in my original post talks about 3d printing in stainless and they claim it is strong.
I wonder if it is for real or not?
 

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3D metal printing is stronger than cast and almost as strong as milled, so they say. Adding new metals everyday. Not sure they have all types of stainless yet. I know a guy in the business. Currently, it would take hours to make one washer. Not viable for mass production yet.
 

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The company I used to work for made 3d printed titanium parts. Post fabrication HIPPING lead to measured strength at least equal to machined parts. Depending on the design pre hipped parts were in the 95% range, certainly close enough that the differences could be designed around.

The real problem at this point is print speed. They just aren't fast enough to be economical for many applications. But it's coming. I have already seen specs for machines twice as fast as what's on the market, some using higher strength lasers, multiple print head lasers, different processes, it all adds up.
 

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David-
A lot of 3d "metal" printing is done using a laser to sinter the metal dust/powder. So effectively, you've got a batch of "welded" metal powder, and since welding gives you the same strength as the original cast, rolled, etc. metal? It ought to be fairly strong. I'm sure you could get specifics about physical properties from any of the companies that make those printers though. Wouldn't be surprised if some were better than others, and the ones GE is using to make pieces for damned expensive machinery probably would set the high end of the bar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
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We have been using a company that is printing precious alloys and titanium for us. Conventional casting would take a week to finish. Now we scan, design, send the file and 2 days later we have the finished product. It is revolutionizing our company.
Jim
 

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What is hipping, Google failed me.

Oops I think I found it.
HIPing Process | HIP Processing | HIP Furnace - PTI
That's it in a nut shell. Basically you take a cast or sintered part and place it under really high heat and preassure to drive out any voids. And for powdered sintered parts it also help fuse any remaining powder anomalies. The end result is a part that is as close to theoretical design specs as is possible to make.

Luckily hipping parts is a pretty common commercial process (Tylaska HIPs all their parts). So it doesn't add much to the manufacturing process.

The biggest issue right now I see with adoption is that most machines can't print threading that is tight enough to be used in fasteners. But once that happens it will revolutionize the supply lines.
 

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West,

If I was taking a cast part to sls it should actually be stronger. If it was machined, or wrought the printed part is likely a little weaker. On the other hand there are a lot of good reasons once you switch to printing to dump stainless and go with G5 titanium. The major cost difference normally is in the machining not the material, and by printing it you have already eliminated the machinist time.

It takes the same amount of time on a sls machine to work Ti or stainless, so no price difference there.

The parts I quoted normally came in around 5% more for Ti due to material cost. For a part half the weight, completely non-corrosive, and four times stronger.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
They say mechanical properties of wrought, what ever that means . What did you have in mind to make ?
Nothing specific it is just that sourcing a lot of parts for older boats takes a long time and 3D Printing is getting a lot of press lately.
 

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E-mailing a wrench to outer space!

Star Trek replicator or what?

How William Shatner Changed the World. :D
 
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