Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

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I Palindroem I
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Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby I Palindroem I » 21 May 2010, 17:05

Hi all.

So, I found a thing today that I personally thought was quite interesting - a new string of technologies labeled as "Additive Technologies". This essentially means that instead of starting off with a finished block of material and slowly machining it into parts (Subtractive Technologies), you start with just the raw base materials, and essentially "grow" the parts using a large printer-like device. These parts are fully functional after the removal of the support material, and can be used to make incredibly complicated and intricate parts in a short amount of time and of little expense.

Technology 1: Polyjet 3-Dimensional Printer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4Yq3glEyec&feature=player_embedded#!

Technology 2: Direct Metal Laser Sintering Device
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88BPmL8cGAo&feature=related

So what do you guys think? Is this the beginning of a new inexpensive and green way to mass produce parts and materials, or is this just some gimmick that will never take off?
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby theDreamer » 21 May 2010, 17:10

...Inexpensive?

Inexpensive?!?

I know I'm lucky and all that I get access to one for free for the next month, but it is NOT CHEAP.

For 15,000$ you get a bottom of the line model, that takes 6 or 7 HOURS to print an 8" cube's worth of stuff.

At least ABS plastic is fairly cheap.

I'm pretty sure CNC machines are much faster and cheaper.

I like the idea, but it'll take some time before it's cheap and effective.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby I Palindroem I » 21 May 2010, 17:25

theDreamer wrote:...Inexpensive?

Inexpensive?!?

I know I'm lucky and all that I get access to one for free for the next month, but it is NOT CHEAP.

For 15,000$ you get a bottom of the line model, that takes 6 or 7 HOURS to print an 8" cube's worth of stuff.

At least ABS plastic is fairly cheap.

I'm pretty sure CNC machines are much faster and cheaper.

I like the idea, but it'll take some time before it's cheap and effective.
I meant inexpensive by mass production standards. That cost is very small compared to what you need to make a factory capable of making the same part in that amount of time. I think that it is a massive step forward, both in cost and effectiveness of mass production.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby GreigKM » 21 May 2010, 17:28

3D printers are boss. As a student of CAD I love them with a passion.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby theDreamer » 21 May 2010, 17:37

I Palindroem I wrote:I meant inexpensive by mass production standards. That cost is very small compared to what you need to make a factory capable of making the same part in that amount of time. I think that it is a massive step forward, both in cost and effectiveness of mass production.


The issue is it takes hours to produce.

Time _is_ money, and anything that takes 6 hours to make versus 20 minutes is not really that cost effective.

(this is based on my old school's CNC machine. It was like...10 years old, and while it took up 4 times as much space as my new school's 3d printer, could cut out more, faster. Yes, we're comparing MDF to ABS, but you can't exactly 3d print wood, can you?)
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby I Palindroem I » 21 May 2010, 17:42

theDreamer wrote:The issue is it takes hours to produce.

Time _is_ money, and anything that takes 6 hours to make versus 20 minutes is not really that cost effective.

(this is based on my old school's CNC machine. It was like...10 years old, and while it took up 4 times as much space as my new school's 3d printer, could cut out more, faster. Yes, we're comparing MDF to ABS, but you can't exactly 3d print wood, can you?)

Right now it does have a bit of a time issue, as it takes on average 4 to 18 hours to grow a part, depending on the size and intricacy of the part.

I'm confident that the time issue won't be much of an issue much longer, as they are constantly improving on it, as you've seen in the videos.

Also, they could grow wooden parts using sawdust, making a sort of particle board material.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby GreigKM » 21 May 2010, 17:48

I've always thought 3D printers had a place in prototyping a product, not having to wait for milling, just creating the part off of a CAD drawing. I never thought it could be used for mass production, and once a design is finalized what is the need for 3D printing? Small amounts of material loss is nothing compared to the time, and as for growing wood with sawdust, the reason wood is used is because of it's beauty and strength, that would take away both aspects (well, at least one) Not to mention, getting sawdust requires cutting lumber, why not just cut it to shape? Like I said 3D printers rock, just because they can be used for quick prototyping and give the designer a new perspective on a product before finalization.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby I Palindroem I » 21 May 2010, 17:56

GreigKM wrote:I've always thought 3D printers had a place in prototyping a product, not having to wait for milling, just crating the part off of a CAD drawing. I never thought it could be used for mass production, and once a design is finalized what is the need for 3D printing? Small amounts of material loss is nothing compared to the time, and as for growing wood with sawdust, the reason wood is used is because of it's beauty and strength, that would take away both aspects (well, at least one) Not to mention, getting sawdust requires cutting lumber, why not just cut it to shape? Like I said 3D printers rock, just because they can be used for quick prototyping and give the designer a new perspective on a product before finalization.

They are indeed the greatest of all prototyping tools that exist today (as far as I know, anyway), however, they also have a great use for mass production. As soon as it is possible to synthesize parts in a speedy manner, say about the time it takes to print out a 3 or 4 page Word document, then it will replace most, if not all factory machinery that exists today.

About the wood thing, although it would sacrifice the beauty, the strength would actually be improved given a certain additive they use in the making of it, which adds a rubber-like quality to it, making it very strong, but slightly flexible. As well, I know it wouldn't work to have all wood products grown. Tables and such would have to be machined the old fashioned way, while particle board, plywood, and other building materials and the like would be fashioned from the sawdust that comes from the other woodworking facilities, where that sawdust would otherwise just be thrown out.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby Metcarfre » 21 May 2010, 19:33

I Palindroem I wrote:As soon as it is possible to synthesize parts in a speedy manner, say about the time it takes to print out a 3 or 4 page Word document, then it will replace most, if not all factory machinery that exists today.


Uh... no. Admittedly I am not a systems engineer, but until it is producing hundreds of copies every second, it won't replace current techniques. Retooling is less of a hassle than you think.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby Sable » 21 May 2010, 23:14

The MakerBot, from MakerBot Industries, is about a thousand dollars. It is a complete 3D printing device that can make very complicated things.

It works with a great open-source modeling program, and you can download things to print from a site called Thingiverse. It makes them out of ABS plastic.

It is the darling of Make Magazine.

The RepRap is a larger 3D printer, designed (in part) to be able to make copies of itself. In other words, a RepRap can make almost all of its own structural components, and once you add in electronics and a few hours, you have another RepRap.

An additive metal-forming process is used to make Bathsheba Grossman's incredible sculptures.

I'm really tired, look the links up in Google. I'm just shocked that in a thread about 3D printing, the MakerBot and Reprap weren't mentioned.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby TheRocket » 21 May 2010, 23:42

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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby Dutch guy » 22 May 2010, 03:37

It's actually called Rapid Manufacturing (RM) in the industry. (Or Rapid Prototyping, RP in the case of making prototypes).

The techniques are getting better, faster and more affordable BUT they will never be as cheap as other production methods when it comes to mass production.

There are some applications where RM excels. It can build products that can't be formed in any other way (Hollow single piece objects with features on the inside for instance). For those applications RM has been making a massive rise the last few years. A huge boost has been the developments of more materials for RM applications. Just ABS is not the most useful of materials when it comes to strength, flexibility or aesthetics. Modern machines can use several materials within the same products and can also print rubbery and flexible materials. All with different colors. This means that it is possible to build products with exactly the wanted properties. It has also become possible to build products from metal through Laser Sintering.


When calculating costs an engineer first and foremost looks at one thing. How many products does he have to make. Tooling and machinecosts are always the main costs of a product. Making more products mean one can use more expensive tools and machines. Rapic Manufacturing is mostly applicable with series between 1 and 500 products. Anything over that and we start getting into vacuumforming and injection moulding territory.

When working with series of millions of products (Like the simple plastic buttertubs) it will never be cost effective to use RM. Due to the nature of the process it will simply take more time to build up the form than to injectionmould it. (Injectionmoulding buttertubs is done at a rate of one shot every 0.75 seconds, 4 to 8 at a time. Thats FAST)

If you have any more questions feel free to ask them. As a Mechanical Engineer I've had a lot to do with cost calculations and such on any production method.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby Wraith » 22 May 2010, 03:53

I don't remember where I saw it, but there is an open-source fabrication machine along these lines, but small and meant for home use. The specs and directions for making one is available on its home page, and it is capable of making, amongst other things, more of itself.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby Dutch guy » 22 May 2010, 05:24

Wraith wrote:I don't remember where I saw it, but there is an open-source fabrication machine along these lines, but small and meant for home use. The specs and directions for making one is available on its home page, and it is capable of making, amongst other things, more of itself.


You are thinking of the RepRap Machine
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby epocalypse » 22 May 2010, 05:45

Honestly, I won't be satisfied until I can order an iPhone in my own home and immediately print it fully assembled and functioning at home. That is the official line of living in science fiction.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby I Palindroem I » 22 May 2010, 07:55

Sable wrote:The RepRap is a larger 3D printer, designed (in part) to be able to make copies of itself. In other words, a RepRap can make almost all of its own structural components, and once you add in electronics and a few hours, you have another RepRap.

Oh my God, WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE?! In all seriousness though, a self replicating device sounds really, really terrifying.

epocalypse wrote:Honestly, I won't be satisfied until I can order an iPhone in my own home and immediately print it fully assembled and functioning at home. That is the official line of living in science fiction.

Perhaps one day this will be possible. I certainly hope so, anyway - how awesome would it be to get up and say "Hmm, I want a new plasma screen. Time to print out a new one.", then walk over to the machine and PRESTO! A new TV.

Dutch guy wrote:-Snip-

I actually do have some questions for you about it. I see your point that traditional mass production is more efficient for smaller and simpler items, like buttertubs, but couldn't a system work where there are equal parts traditional factories and factories outfitted with Additive Technologies? That way, the waste generated by the traditional factories is utilized and made useful again. Since traditional recycling doesn't really make use of the very fine saw and metal dust that is left over from the traditional machining processes. Would a system like this be feasible with current technology, or would the printing machines need to run much faster? I'm genuinely curious about this.
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Re: Additive Technologies - Synthesized Parts

Postby Dutch guy » 22 May 2010, 11:04

I Palindroem I wrote:
Dutch guy wrote:-Snip-

I actually do have some questions for you about it. I see your point that traditional mass production is more efficient for smaller and simpler items, like buttertubs, but couldn't a system work where there are equal parts traditional factories and factories outfitted with Additive Technologies? That way, the waste generated by the traditional factories is utilized and made useful again. Since traditional recycling doesn't really make use of the very fine saw and metal dust that is left over from the traditional machining processes. Would a system like this be feasible with current technology, or would the printing machines need to run much faster? I'm genuinely curious about this.


Traditional production materials are even more effective for complex products (as long as they can be produced by that method :) )

Waste materials are already recycled in the current system. When were talking about metal it is simply resmelted and turned into new blank material. Plastic wastes are reground and reused in the production process. Also the materials for RM need different properties from those used in injection moulding or CNC machining. A lot of RM materials need to be purpose made and can't be used in a different process.

There are a lot of different requirements and variables when it comes to selecting the proper method of production for something. A large part of that is part complexity and production numbers (How many things do I want and how many do I want at a time) Because RM is a very slow production process it is not suitable if you want a lot of parts. It would just take too long. Also, material costs for RM products are currently still pretty high due to the need for specialized materials. Plain ABS is still pretty affordable but as soon as you get to the more fancy rubberized materials and such the prices skyrocket.
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