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jpnorair

I want to buy an awesome 3D Printer

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Basically, I'm looking at the FormLabs Form 1+.

http://formlabs.com/products/form-1-plus/

 

Anything under about $4000 is being considered.  One of the main things I need to do is print elastomers (rubbery compounds).  The other main thing I need to do is print small parts with a variety of plastics, as part of antenna prototyping.  Obviously, the antennas will be metal, but I can print plastic spacers, jigs, cores, etc, using all kinds of different plastics with different dielectric properties.  This excites me :).  I'm just fishing to see if anyone has good recommendations.

 

Thanks!

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SLA printers definitely have the edge on quality, but you're obviously restricted by the curable resins (which are expensive). I didn't know they did a flexible resin but it seems they do. I've got a standard FDM printer and whilst it's useful to some degree, I definitely use my CNC mill more. A mill gives you a much wider range of materials. Would one suit what you need to do better than a printer?

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I definitely use my CNC mill more. A mill gives you a much wider range of materials. Would one suit what you need to do better than a printer?

Can it mill elastomers?

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Can it mill elastomers?

Depends on the elastomers. Some machine nicely, some will make you throw them across the shop. You have to learn the material and the tooling to cut that material. A few of the elastomers I have cut razor sharp polished HHS tooling had worked well, minimizing dwell time and making sure travel speeds are high enough that material is removed and heating minimized. I have done more on a manual mill than a CNC, with elastomers my Bridgeport only goes 2700 rpm and I wanted faster still. I need to get my VMC in one piece and going.

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@Jake @Fred 

 

Another option is to get a lower-end printer for the elastomeric stuff (this doesn't need so much precision) and some sort of micro CNC mill for the rigid parts.  This might actually make the most sense, because:

 

A: I can use basically any kind of plastic

B: I should also be able to machine antennas from sheets of metal.

 

I searched google for "desktop cnc" but nothing really jumped-out at me.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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I have a friend with an Emco concept 55, it's pretty slick for a little machine. On the desktop machines other than that. I don't know....You may be able to find some of those emco (not enco) used, there was one of the manual models on craigslist here that can be easily converted to CNC as they are the same machine as the CNC less the servos and controls. my Bridgeport is the smallest in the shop. My VMC has a 15hp spindle on it.

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EMCO concept 55 is a really serious machine -- way beyond what I need, but still cool to think about.

 

The "othermill" or "nomad 883" are more along the lines of what I'm looking-for.  I am not a machinist, and what I need to do is really quite simple.  If I pair it with a simple, <$1500 3D printer, then I have everything I need.

https://othermachine.co/store/

http://carbide3d.com

 

What I really think would be great is a "MicroFactory," but this product may or may not ever see the light of day.  I hope it does.  I contacted the company, we shall see.

http://www.mebotics.com

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I had almost bought that Emco that was on Craig's list and do I Linux CNC retrofit on it. But I decided I would hold onto the money and get my VMC in one piece and running. It was like $1800 and I figured I could do the Linux CNC retrofit for about a grand using servo motors on three axis.

 

 

http://www.okuma.com/genos-m560-v

 

This is what I really want! Just gotta come up with $160k for it!

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I had almost bought that Emco that was on Craig's list and do I Linux CNC retrofit on it. But I decided I would hold onto the money and get my VMC in one piece and running. It was like $1800 and I figured I could do the Linux CNC retrofit for about a grand using servo motors on three axis.

If I had any clue what I was doing, this would not be a bad option.

 

 

This looks pretty neat too. Not much Z travel though.

 

https://www.inventables.com/technologies/carvey

Z-travel is not an issue for me.  Resolution, however, is an issue.  All my parts are really small.

 

 

 

One more question: Is it possible (and frequently practiced) to manually rotate the part between milling stages so that all the sides of the part can be worked-on?

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3" of z travel in a small machine is probably all you want as the further you get out the more flex you will have.

 

There are tons of CNC retrofit groups out there. Check out Linuxcnc.com one of the reasons I found this place is I was thinking about using some of the TI chips to make the driver boards for the servo motors and wound up discovering this place. My code wiring skills suck and need serious improvement.....

 

As for working all sides of a piece it's no problem, it's just a matter of flipping it where you want it in the vice or fixture, finding your edge or edges and back at it again. There is a bedding block/ bottom metal/ trigger guard that I make that takes machining every side and I have two of the sides I'm on twice. I just have the vice setup with stops to hit the same spot, but I usually edge find off of it just to make sure. I don't want to risk being a few thou off and ruin a piece over short cutting.

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My current mill is a *tiny* home converted Proxxon MF70. https://0xfred.wordpress.com/category/cnc/mf70/

 

I'm just setting up a large workshop so am going to get something bigger. Whilst I was initially thinking about converting a bigger real mill like the Sieg X3 , I realised that something more of a CNC router would really cover what I need. I'll probably go for a CNC 6040 from eBay, but the smaller 3040 is probably even better value for money. The electronics are notoriously rubbish but other than that they're very reasonable.

 

Beware though - CNC stuff is one of those hobbies that sucks you in and makes you spend more money.

 

With regards to milling elastomers, you could probably mill fairly firm rubber if it's a sturdy sort of shape. Something intricate in more of a gummy substance - no.

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.

 

Beware though - CNC stuff is one of those hobbies that sucks you in and makes you spend more money.

 

 

Yeah that's a no kidding......

 

As there is a Monarch 17x48, Bridgeport series 1, the Mori VMC, and a Mori turning center in my shop now. Both the Mori s need work and currently are not running. I have made money with my other machines but have still spent much more.... Tooling and metrology will eat you up way more than the machines.

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My take: none of the 3D printers currently available (in "consumer" price range) are "awesome". Some of them can produce  very good results, but all of them require that you invest lots of time in calibrating, tuning and working with your printer. An "awesome" 3D printer would be one which would give you great results every time.

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My take: none of the 3D printers currently available (in "consumer" price range) are "awesome". Some of them can produce  very good results, but all of them require that you invest lots of time in calibrating, tuning and working with your printer. An "awesome" 3D printer would be one which would give you great results every time.

 

This is a helpful comment, but it misses some things: you do not define what is consumer price range and you do not give an example of an "awesome" printer by your definition.  I am very curious about your opinions on those two things.

 

Beware though - CNC stuff is one of those hobbies that sucks you in and makes you spend more money.

 

With regards to milling elastomers, you could probably mill fairly firm rubber if it's a sturdy sort of shape. Something intricate in more of a gummy substance - no.

 

Most good hobbies are this way.  But, this is not really a hobby purchase.  I want to use it for business, but my business isn't machining per se, so my requirements aren't tremendously impressive.  But I do like to buy quality tools.  In my experience, a good quality tool may cost more but it usually saves money.

 

Another possibility is to create molds with the mill and pour-in the elastomeric compound, but really what I want to prove (or disprove) is on-demand generation of variant elastomeric pieces with minimal labor cost.

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