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3-D Printing with Molten Steel (Video)

Roblimo posted about 3 months ago | from the let's-get-together-this-weekend-and-melt-some-steel dept.

Technology 104

Steve Delaire is making a 3-D printer that uses steel instead of plastic. Specifically, he's using TIG welding to build up layers of steel, just as most 3-D printers build up layers of plastic. He says he's "still working it out," but eventually hopes to use 3-D welding to make larger than life art pieces that are strong enough to be placed safely in public areas such as parks, where children are likely to climb on them. Steve's blog is called Molten3D, and it's a diary of his work, including the problems he encounters and how he overcomes them. He's not the only one doing metal 3-D printing; a Texas company has even made a printed metal gun. So there's plenty of people working in the field of what we really should call "additive manufacturing" instead of "3-D printing." But whatever you call it, every year we see this kind of process being used to make stronger and more complicated shapes, using an ever-increased variety of materials in ways that have been developed since this seminal paper, Liquid Metal Jetting for Printing Metal Parts, was written in 1997. (Alternate Video Link)

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Some meta (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265513)

Some Meta

The good:
This isn't some naval gazing blog post by someone whos opinion we don't care about babbling about how 3D printing will change everything. In fact, I didn't see anything about future implications of this technology. This is just a blog by a guy building something really cool in his garage, and I like this.

Maybe it won't pan out. Maybe it will be impractical. Maybe he'll hit some insurmountable wall. It doesn't matter, he's actually doing something! He has actually got a physical thing in his garage that he's tinkering with, and that's cool in my books.

The bad:
Bold comic-sans esq font. I'm not usually a font snob, but this is really hard to read. I actually copy+pasted the contents into a text editor to read it.

Re:Some meta (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#47265697)

In fact, if you're working with molten steel, you're already into a level of industrial effort where casting is almost certainly a cheaper and faster choice.

Re:Some meta (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 3 months ago | (#47265763)

It means materials in the device need to be resistant to temperatures exceeding 1370 celcius... probably exceeding somewhere between 1500-1700 celcius to be on the safe side.

Re:Some meta (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#47266063)

Among other things. Safety, cost, energy requirements. Other things that basically say "Yeah, this requires substantial industrial planning and equipment"

Re:Some meta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47267059)

This is not fundamentally different to welding. The only refractory materials needed are in the "print head'; at most you'd want some UV-opaque plastic around the production area and maybe an asbestos pad or similar underneath the workpiece.

Re:Some meta (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47266725)

In fact, if you're working with molten steel, you're already into a level of industrial effort where casting is almost certainly a cheaper and faster choice.

Yeah but...to do sand-tray casting of complex shapes, you need expert casters and pattern makers. They are very hard to find these days. (In the U.K. when they recently built a replica of a 1940's steam locomotive, originally built in Doncaster, they had to hire a German company to cast the cylinders.) It would be much easier to find somebody who could set up a 3D printer.

Re:Some meta (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47266825)

So 3D print the casts?

Re:Some meta (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 3 months ago | (#47267099)

I've always been a little surprised there isn't more talk about "lost wax" style casting with PLA prints. Does it fundamentally not work, or are most 3D printer people just generally not involved with metal casting (which would be understandable, it's a whole extra level of dangerous and prep-work to do at home)?

Re:Some meta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47269907)

I've tried sand casting. But the precision of what I could print, minus the precision of the casting process, minus the relatively small print size means you can only make fairly small, fairly imprecise things. But I'm no expert, it was more a proof of concept.

Re:Some meta (1)

laird (2705) | about 3 months ago | (#47304677)

There are lots of people doing casting from 3D prints. You can 3D print the master in PLA, then make a plaster cast, burn out the PLA, and pour in metal. For example, http://3dtopo.com/lostPLA/ [3dtopo.com] . It works, it's just more dangerous and complex than most people want to deal with.

Re:Some meta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47268187)

This isn't necessarily true. I remember reading a book some time ago about amateur telescope making that was written (I think) around the fifties. it had a couple of chapters on creating sand casts and melting and pouring steel and brass for telescope tubes and mounts with very basic back-yard technology. I've seen videos on youtube of people casting their own parts for reproduction triple-expansion steam engines.

It can all be done, you just need to be intelligent about how you approach it, plan it carefully and be extremely careful.

Re:Some meta (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 3 months ago | (#47271965)

In fact, if you're working with molten steel, you're already into a level of industrial effort where casting is almost certainly a cheaper and faster choice.

If you're mass-producing the same part, undoubtedly. But casting means you have to have a mold, which means a considerable overhead if you switch parts. At the limit, if you only produce a given part once, it makes much more sense to 3D print it.

Laser Sintering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265537)

Quick heads up: Not everything is new. Additive manufacturing with metals is an established technique. It's usually done in the form of laser sintering [wikipedia.org] , which limits the size of the created objects, though.

Re:Laser Sintering (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47265847)

Why would there be any size limitations to laser sintering? I don't see any reason why it can't be scaled to any size required. SpaceX is building rocket engines using the process, for example. The rocket engines in question aren't exactly huge, but they still put out more than 16 thousand pounds of thrust.

Re:Laser Sintering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47266049)

Technically you can of course build it as big as you like, but it's much easier to move a print head than it is to make a huge container for the entire thing your printing, gradually filling it with powdered metal and enclosing the entire apparatus in order to safely use a laser that can melt metal.

Re:Laser Sintering (1)

spacefight (577141) | about 3 months ago | (#47266363)

SpaceX is using laser melting, also called selective laser melting, explained: https://www.additively.com/en/... [additively.com]

Laser sintering is commonly used the term when plastic parts are produced: https://www.additively.com/en/... [additively.com]

Re:Laser Sintering (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47266863)

Laser sintering is commonly used the term when plastic parts are produced: https://www.additively.com/en/... [additively.com]

I'm not sure what you're saying here. If you mean that the word "sintering" is used mainly when plastics are involved then I'm afraid you're mistaken. It's used when referring to sintering as opposed to melting; melting and sintering are quite different and produce very different finished parts. The question of whether plastics or metals are normally sintered or melted is unrelated.

Re:Laser Sintering (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47266969)

The company that makes the 3D printers SpaceX use call it Direct Metal Laser Sintering. Not selective laser melting.
http://www.eos.info/04ea46b971... [eos.info]

Re:Laser Sintering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47267073)

DMLS and SLM are the same.

Re:Laser Sintering (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47268273)

Except the metal is not actually melted, it's sintered.

If the metal is melted it's either going to bead up or flow across the surface it's sitting on due to surface tension.

Re:Laser Sintering (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47266843)

Why would there be any size limitations to laser sintering?

Because the bed holding the part and the powder that's going to be sintered needs to be moved with very good precision. It also needs to be at least as deep as the part you're making. It's generally very difficult to get large things to move small distances.

Re:Laser Sintering (1)

cerberusti (239266) | about 3 months ago | (#47269569)

If it is large enough, why not move the laser instead?

You may even be able to do this by reflection without moving more than a very small surface which reflects the correct wavelength. This does not seem like an problem which cannot be solved.

My first thought as to what would stop it is the amount of energy required, as lasers are not very efficient, and melting (or sintering) large objects may take enough energy that the losses involved in transferring energy through a laser may make it inefficient compared to direct heating.

Re:Laser Sintering (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47272627)

If it is large enough, why not move the laser instead?

In an SLM machine you have a cavity that is filled with a fine metal powder, the laser selectively melts/sinters parts of that, the base of the cavity moves down slightly and more powder is added to the top. Rinse and repeat until you have a solid part in the cavity surrounded by the powder that wasn't touched by the laser. I'm not going to cop-out and give a link to wikipedia, but if you go there and only look at the block diagram you'll see why the bed needs to be moved with precision at least equal to the minimum feature size that you're aiming for.

What this project aims to achieve is akin to 3D printed plastics where the raw material is deposited right where it needs to be instead of selectively converting parts of a much larger amount of feedstock. I suppose you could move the laser if you want, but it on the face of it I think it would be simpler to just use a few mirrors attached to servos to direct the beam where it needs to go.

Re:Laser Sintering (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 3 months ago | (#47268031)

"Why would there be any size limitations to laser sintering? "

Exactly. And the 'small' ones to print guns, cost less than 2D Laser Printers 30 years ago, dollar for dollar, even without considering inflation.

Re:Laser Sintering (1)

fuzzywig (208937) | about 3 months ago | (#47270389)

We should start worrying about 3D printed guns when it becomes easier/cheaper to print a gun than it does to build one out of scrap in a basic machine shop. That day is a ways off yet.

The Hardest Part (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265563)

Twenty five tons of hardened steel deliver the big money deal. -- Blondie

Wow (0)

rolfwind (528248) | about 3 months ago | (#47265573)

This will suck. Some blotchy metal will come out. This will just be a welder with a robotic arm.

Why not a real printing process, like powdered metal layed down and lasers? Or something.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265623)

This guy wanted to be able to weld cool stuff without having to sit there holding a welder for hours at a time, plus he wants to have the welds be of uniform quality. What makes this a "3D printer" is that it uses an X-Y drive rather than an arm with elbow/wrist joints like most robotic welding machines.

dom

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47265793)

This guy wanted to be able to weld cool stuff without having to sit there holding a welder for hours at a time, plus he wants to have the welds be of uniform quality. What makes this a "3D printer" is that it uses an X-Y drive rather than an arm with elbow/wrist joints like most robotic welding machines.

dom

But that's the thing. If the environment isn't also controlled, the weld will not be of uniform quality. Welding is an art. You have to pay close attention to ambient conditions, the material being used and the settings on your welder. You need more or less Gas pressure, to adjust the gas mix, higher or lower welding speed, and need to change the voltage. You can also reverse the polarity of the weld depending on if you want the puddle to push or pull based on the direction you're welding. When I welded for a living, storms coming would mean I had to re-setup my machine if I was on a big job. I don't know if it was the barometric pressure, temperature or humidity that did it, but it was definitely something we had to deal with. As soon as I'd lift my helmet to make the change (back then there were no auto-dimming helmets) I'd see everyone else in the shop doing the same thing. Moving to someone elses welder meant re-setting it up to, so personal style must have had an effect as well.

On assembly lines they do just that... they control the environment. It's at a relatively constant temperature, humidity and the welding arm is doing the same exact weld over and over again so they operator can program exactly what it's supposed to do. But it's by no means as simple as feeding in a cad file and pressing "weld" You can do that for sure... crappy welds are good for several metric tonnes of force and can hold on a bumper as well as a good weld... but you're not going to get consistent quality or a "Pretty weld"

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

jasno (124830) | about 3 months ago | (#47266229)

Cool, sounds like a job for sensors and algorithms.

"Anything you can do I can do better..." sung the old computer...

Re:Wow (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47266907)

Welding identical parts with predictable properties in the same places is one thing, and robots are ideal for it*. So long as there's a need for custom fabrication and patching damaged parts there will be work for human welders.

*Probably why many earlier robots were used for just that, although spot-welding rather than arc.

Re:Wow (1)

jasno (124830) | about 3 months ago | (#47268007)

If you think you can't train a computer vision system to do it... Sure, maybe it's 20 years before it's cost effective(although for underwater welding...), but it's coming.

If you can boil it down to an algorithm, however complicated, you can get a computer to do it.

Eventually the computer does it better, because it has more sensors than you, thinks faster, has finer muscle movements, and can execute more complex algorithms than you can.

We're about to see this with driving.

Re:Wow (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 months ago | (#47267041)

But that's the thing. If the environment isn't also controlled, the weld will not be of uniform quality.

Depends - I recall welding kits a couple decades ago that used preheat torches and submerged the arc under a pile of powdered flux, which made the environment pretty uniform and automated (at least good enough for x-ray inspection - the parts being welded were steel bridge-beams). The welding kit was a 1/4-ton monster that ran along sections of track, which in turn attached to the steel by way of strong-assed magnets. The operator only had to set the machine up for proper amperage, make sure the flux hopper stayed full, that there was always enough wire on the spools, that the preheat torches had enough gas, knock off the semi-hardened flux once it cooled down, and stop the thing before it reached the end of the track. Mind you, the bead was about an inch thick and two inches wide, but it was incredibly uniform, and you could do multiple passes over the same seam without any grinding in the interim.

The only real hard part was setting up the right amperage and prepping/grinding the seam surfaces properly before a run.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47269855)

But that's the thing. If the environment isn't also controlled, the weld will not be of uniform quality.

Too bad no-one with garage have access to a controlled environment.

Re:Wow (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 3 months ago | (#47270967)

Welding is an art.

True, but that's because humans do it by hand, and are not necessarily aware of all the changing variables, let alone be in a position to do anything about them. In theory a machine that does have the appropriate sensors would always do a better job as a result.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47266107)

At least he's doing something, and not just sitting on Slashdot posting "this sucks".. "that sucks"...

Re:Wow (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47267077)

Everyone makes awful, sputtered welds on their first few tries. Being able to lay down a good bead is not a skill that comes easily, not least of all when you're trying to build a machine that can do it from scratch.

Lower costs of production (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265577)

Great to hear that we as consumers can look forward to lower prices as manufacturers pass these cost savings on to us. I wait with baited breath.

captcha: lunatic

Re:Lower costs of production (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47265627)

Has anyone seriously suggested that 3D printing will lower the cost of mass production? The cost of prototyping and small runs maybe, but for anything where even a few tens of thousands of units are produced, modern manufacturing techniques promise to be cheaper while delivering a superior product for the foreseeable future.

Re:Lower costs of production (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265669)

Just the video on this page...

Re:Lower costs of production (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265879)

Yes, there are people who really believe we're at the dawn of Star Trek because a hot glue gun on a stepper motor made a Yoda coffee cup.

Re:Lower costs of production (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47266921)

I really wish they'd stuck with calling it "rapid prototyping".

mostly, but not always (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 3 months ago | (#47267335)

Some really intricate parts are cheaper to 3D-print than to try and cast/forge/machine traditionally. Think hollow structures with stiffening ribs or cooling channels inside, or other similarly complicated shapes. The SuperDraco rocket engine falls into this category (though of course also is a small production run).

Re:Lower costs of production (2)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47265687)

Well take the bait out of your mouth and abate your breath, but please not for long. It's not that mass-produced things will be cheaper by the piece to the consumer - it's hard to compete with lost-wax, styro molding, sand casting, injection molding, etc and the cheap labor to do them. But if you need that first one made, you can get access to 100 micron precision on shoebox-sized builds for the cost of a week or two of a decent salary. Which can save you time and money compared subbing it out. And since time is money...

Good luck (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47265615)

Good luck.

I was a welder for quite a while. Molten steel behaves more like water than plastic. Steel "beads up" as you heat it. Being precise with welding is very hard. Plastic behaves more like frosting when molten so it's easier to use in a printer scenario.

I think his big mistake is taking the ID of 3D printing and applying it to a martial for which it wasn't intended. I'd think he'd have better luck if he instead looked at Powdered metals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

In industry, they design a part, make a mold for it, press a mixture of powdered metals into the mold and then sinter it (basically the same as firing ceramics)

ooo... hey look, I tried looking it up and that's exactly how they 3D print metal:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

anyways, yea, that's the direction he should go. I'd use electro static charge to hold the shape and then use something like an Xray laser to melt/fuse/sinter it.

Re:Good luck (4, Insightful)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 3 months ago | (#47265765)

I think his big mistake is taking the ID of 3D printing and applying it to a martial for which it wasn't intended

Maybe he just wasn't aware "they" have already chosen all of the materials which are allowed to be used in 3D printing and that no further attempts at innovation are necessary. He probably doesn't even know that no useful knowledge ever comes out of an experiment that fails at it's original intent.

Or maybe the opposite of all that....

Re:Good luck (2)

unrtst (777550) | about 3 months ago | (#47266073)

I think his big mistake is taking the ID of 3D printing and applying it to a martial for which it wasn't intended. I'd think he'd have better luck if he instead looked at Powdered metals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

...

anyways, yea, that's the direction he should go. I'd use electro static charge to hold the shape and then use something like an Xray laser to melt/fuse/sinter it.

There is room for more than one tech.

Sintering *may* make a more detailed final part, but this may make a stronger part.
This machine is very likely to be less expensive in all aspects:

* cheaper to build with more readily available parts (fairly standard welder rather than xray laser, for instance)
* cheaper and more readily available feedstock (simple spools of mig wire)
* much easier to work with on a large scale (filling a 10'x10'x10' box with powdered metal will be HEAVY, and clean up will be a bitch; this just keeps laying down wire right where it needs it)

All of that means that it fits the hobby/maker crowd better (one can do it in their garage).

To be honest, I'm quite curious about several aspects of it, like:

* why is it so difficult to issolate/insolate the controller?
* why tig instead of mig? (in my breif welding experience, mig seems like it'd be much easier to adapt to this)

I'd also be very interested in seeing a setup that uses actual molten metal exactly as plactic printers use (eg. steel or tungsten print heads; zinc or aluminum feed stock). If the stock was fine/thin enough, perhaps the head could be made small enough to get comparible resolution/detail (~0.3mm). Maybe an alloy feed stock would work better (feed in tin and copper -> have a second bronze age).

Re:Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47267109)

Steel i agree with, but tungsten? Any print head would melt, no?

Re:Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47267135)

Um, misread, good idea really :)

Re:Good luck (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47267129)

Copper and tin are expensive.

Tin: $22,500/tonne
Copper: $6,700/tonne
Steel: $385/tonne

Re:Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47271713)

You aren't going to get it the same way.

Heat transfer is why, metals are very good at it. Take a piece of solder and plastic, and say a temperature controlled soldering iron (about the same temp). Apply to each just above melting. There will be very little plastic and it won't spread quickly. The metal will rapidly bead as that heat transfer will melt Sections of the metal.

It might theoretically be possible. You would need very exacting control over everything, and you might be able to use something exacting like a laser to provide just the right number of watts, exactly wherr needed. Too few and it jams, too much and it beads. The amount between those is absolutely tiny, so it will have to be enclosed to prevent air from messing it up. At that point it's almost back to traditional laser sintering, only more difficult. (Trading pre-processing to powder for a lot more complexity.)

Re:Good luck (1)

hey! (33014) | about 3 months ago | (#47267731)

Molten steel behaves more like water than plastic. Steel "beads up" as you heat it.

I wonder if this isn't a function of the high temperature you use welding. At lower temperatures iron alloys can be extruded and of course shaped by forging, neither process which would work with water.

Most people don't realize, but the technology to melt iron didn't exist in most of the world until the early modern era. Only China had furnaces hot enough to reach the melting point of iron. European ironworkers used a "bloomery" furnace in which they roasted ore. Bits of solid but red hot iron would drop to the bottom of the furnace and stick to each other, forming a dirty ball of iron called a "bloom". An ironworker would then reheat the bloom and forge it into an iron billet, a process which also drives out a lot of the impurities in the iron.

The thing is, those little bits of of red hot iron were a lot more like plastic than they were water. I can easily imagine some kind of 3D printer which melts the end a very tin piece of steel wire, and deposits a tiny droplet that immediately cools to a plastic state because it has very little thermal masss. If you think about it, surface tension is actually your friend here. The thing is, I don't see what advantage this would have over laser sintering.

Titanium jet parts are built this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265625)

http://www.sciaky.com/additive_manufacturing.html
http://www.sciaky.com/documents/Sciaky_Direct_Manufacturing.pdf

K, so is there a vid to show us what it makes? (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47265631)

Well, besides confused microcontrollers? From his blog, he's using a 3D plastic printer to prototype the parts for this printer. Cool. Some test pieces in the blog photos, but let's see the sparkenmaken!

Wasted time is wasted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265647)

You can already build a sand mold sculpture with conventional 3d printers in metal - just as strong as this welded bullshit would be, if not more so.

Re:Wasted time is wasted. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 months ago | (#47265655)

You can already run your programs on a mainframe - just as fast as this microprocessor BS would be, if not more so.

Re:Wasted time is wasted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265995)

Yes, comparing information processing to non-scalable material objects makes complete sense. Thanks for clearing that up, Dr Shannon.

Interesting but not new (4, Interesting)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 3 months ago | (#47265673)

I saw a demo, around 2003, of a sintering machine the military used to build prepare parts in the field. Rather than shipping a part they could produce and machine it as needed remotely; all they needed was the appropriate instruction set and they were good to go. When I asked abut the strength and durability of the parts they said it was as good or better than normal spares.

Re:Interesting but not new (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 3 months ago | (#47265821)

It's as good or better than those other parts we're not using.

Re:Interesting but not new (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47265893)

While 3d printers that use sintering have their uses, the huge cost/weight and low speed of the 3D printer mean that you can ship a traditionally manufactured cost to wherever it needs to go faster and more cheaply than printing it in the field.

Re:Interesting but not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47266183)

Only if there's a large market for that part. There's a high cost to tooling and all the other crap that's needed to churn out new parts that is completely absent with 3D printing.

3D printing doesn't [yet] make sense for suppling large numbers of parts. It's a tradeoff.

In the future, though, this might not be the case. There are innumerable examples where a product of lesser quality (i.e. 3D printed parts) wins the market. When 3D printers become more ubiquitous, cheaper, reliable, and with a more mature ecosystem, it might eventually make more sense for a factory to just buy more 3D printers rather than build-out the tooling for any particular part.

Never underestimate the value of time. A customer might need a million parts by yesterday, but then you'll see or hear from him again. Does it make sense to retool just for that one huge order, or just have several thousand industrial 3D printers ready to go for him and everyone else?

Re:Interesting but not new (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47268111)

I'm not necessarily debating the utility of using a 3D printer for small orders, I'm arguing that sending them out into the field for military use doesn't really make sense. The parts are probably already manufactured, so the time/cost difference is between simply shipping an already existing part, versus shipping a very large and heavy metal printer out to the front somewhere. Shipping doesn't take very long, so the low speed of 3D printing means you'd probably get the part faster by shipping it rather than printing it in the field. And you'd only save costs if you print a large number of things in the field to justify having shipped a huge printer.

And if the part doesn't exist, does it make sense to ship the printer to the field (again, those EOS printers are huge), or have the printer back home, where it can be printing other stuff than just what people nearby the deployed-to-field one would need?

Re:Interesting but not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47268313)

Surely it's a lot cheaper and easier to ship a large printer to a base in Afghanistan and be able to use it to make all kinds of parts than it is to fly an airplane to a different continent every time a replacement part is needed. Or imagine you're on a nuclear sub. It's ridiculously expensive (and risky -- potentially revealing your position) to deliver supplies at sea, as opposed to trivially easy to just "print" them yourself in your machine shop.

dom

Re:Interesting but not new (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47268435)

Submarines, and other naval use? Perhaps. But the aircraft flying to Afghanistan are already going to be flying there for all their other stuff, it's not like you're dedicating an entire aircraft for one item.

Re:Interesting but not new (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 3 months ago | (#47267633)

Define in the field. The GP stated for the military. putting a needed part on a special plane and flying it around the world is definitely more expensive and time consuming. If a part breaks at Sea for a Naval Vessel I would like to see Fedex get the part there faster. If the Part is in California, and you are in New York then yes you are correct.

Re:Interesting but not new (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47268137)

It's not like you're dispatching the part on a plane all by itself. The military has their own transportation network, moving all sorts of stuff, and unless you're on the front somewhere, shipping companies can do it too.

Naval use, though, that's a pretty good counter-example, particularly on submarines where resupply is less frequent. It's much easier to ship something to a base somewhere than it is to ship something to a moving target.

Hey Dice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265689)

"You need to have the Adobe Flash Player to view this content."

Dice, do you also own some shares of Adobe Sys Inc.?

Re:Hey Dice! (1)

Andreas Mayer (1486091) | about 3 months ago | (#47268753)

It works fine without Flash if your machine pretends to be an iPad.

Mostly a repeat. (1)

jcochran (309950) | about 3 months ago | (#47265691)

Interesting article, however, I suspect the editors are a bit mistaken. I strongly suspect that Mr Delaire is NOT using TIG welding in his machine, but instead is using MIG welding. Also I have to wonder if Mr Delaire is aware of http://hardware.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]
If not, he may be able to save a bit of effort and time by building upon the work someone else has already done.

Re:Mostly a repeat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47265833)

Top of his blog it says TIG.

Re:Mostly a repeat. (3, Informative)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47267011)

Top of his blog it says TIG.

The top of his blog post says "using ... a TIG machine". TIG welding is not the same as MIG welding: with MIG the wire is one of the electrodes and is fed using a variable speed motor through the torch, with TIG the wire is held separately in one hand in much the same way as it is with brazing and the torch is in the other hand. I think he's used parts of a TIG welding machine because that's what he happened to have. There's no reason I can think of why the same couldn't be accomplished using a MIG welder.

Of course this would be easily settled if the video showed the machine in action or the blog had any sort of description or diagram of how the machine works on either of the two pages.

Re:Mostly a repeat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47277047)

No offense, but your knowledge of welding technology is out of date.

TIG Welders CAN use wire feeders. The difference between TIG and MIG processes is NOT simply distinguished by the presence of a wire feeder.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

As you can see from this photo on the OP's blog, his machine is clearly based on a TIG torch with an external cold wire feeder.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TCay... [blogspot.com]

Re:Mostly a repeat. (1)

rolias (2473422) | about 3 months ago | (#47267221)

Not a repeat, just another project, and it is TIG. Another project called Strongprint is using TIG because the mass of the print head can be quite low and move over a large, fixed print surface. The one you cited uses MIG and moves the print surface under the print head using a delta robot, while Strongprint mounts the print head on a delta robot, and Delaire's printer moves the TIG head on a gantry. http://reprap.org/wiki/StrongP... [reprap.org]

CNC (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 3 months ago | (#47265779)

Even with the "2.5D" limitations of a three-axes CNC machine, I still prefer subtractive manufacturing.

Re:CNC (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 3 months ago | (#47266147)

Nothing is as fun as plunging a 3/4" end mill 1" deep into some tooling aluminum and dialing up the feed rate to watch the chips fly.

Re:CNC (2)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about 3 months ago | (#47266165)

Subtractive manufacturing is fairly wasteful of primary material resources.

With that said, I snickered at his mention of how cheap steel would be. I would expect that the biggest expense of his rig isn't going to be the metal... it's going to be Argon. My last refill was $75 for a 45cu/ft tank. He's going to need to figure out how to enclose the entire rig in a sealed (positive pressure vented) box to help conserve gas. Just imagine... an enclosure big enough to do an 8' piece of art... 8^3=512cu/ft. It's a good idea, but there are still some hurdles before this is in the price range of the average Joe.

Re:CNC (2)

jasno (124830) | about 3 months ago | (#47266263)

Nah, you recycle the waste. It wastes energy, because you're casting more metal than you need only to spend the energy tearing it apart and recycling it, but the metal, minus some oxidation, should recycle fairly easily.

Yarrr! (2)

GrBear (63712) | about 3 months ago | (#47265817)

Does this mean I can finally download a car?

Re:Yarrr! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#47266213)

Yes, but the twist is that it won't be roadworthy, and will look like a mix of the Flinstone's car and one of Koopa's police transports [smbmovie.com] from that gawd-awful Super Mario Bros movie they made back in the 90's.

Re:Yarrr! (1)

wasteoid (1897370) | about 3 months ago | (#47269059)

Pirate! I bet you would also steal a hand-crafted song from the Internet.

A major liberator from opressive laws... (1)

mi (197448) | about 3 months ago | (#47266281)

When outlawing ownership is too difficult, oppressive lawmakers limit availability of certain items — like guns or drug paraphernalia or alcohol-making equipment — by banning their sales or transport (withing or across State-lines).

If the end-users are suddenly able to make them themselves, some of these laws would not apply making us the people a little bit more free.

Re:A major liberator from opressive laws... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47267385)

It's easier to make a gun with traditional subtractive methods than these new additive ones, so what's your point?

Re:A major liberator from opressive laws... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 3 months ago | (#47268611)

totally legal in the USA already to make your own gun out of metal by time tested methods, don't need this or any other "3D printing" equipment.

Re:A major liberator from opressive laws... (1)

mi (197448) | about 3 months ago | (#47275335)

totally legal in the USA already to make your own gun out of metal by time tested methods, don't need this or any other "3D printing" equipment.

Legal, but hard. 3D printing makes (or would make) it easy — extending the liberty to more people.

Re:A major liberator from opressive laws... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 3 months ago | (#47276305)

legal and inexpensive to do it old school. Making a shotgun wouldn't even be "hard" for moderate amount of skill, since it is rifling the barrel for rifle or pistol that is a bitch. The cost of 3D "printing" in metal is immense

Re:A major liberator from opressive laws... (1)

mi (197448) | about 3 months ago | (#47282315)

legal and inexpensive to do it old school.

Only if you know, what you are doing. I, for one, am a software guy and would not know arse from snout of most sorts of hardware problems.

The cost of 3D "printing" in metal is immense

That may not be a barrier to some people — it may be expensive, but it is still possible, whereas doing the "traditional" way is an outright non-starter for many.

Re:A major liberator from opressive laws... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 3 months ago | (#47284465)

plenty of videos on youtube by people with credibility to learn to use basic tools and to graduate to more advanced mechanical accomplishments, motivated person can go from zero to something these days...

fail (2)

Tom (822) | about 3 months ago | (#47266419)

Video about steel-welding-3D-printer without actually showing it in action. *facepalm*

Shaped Metal Deposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47266647)

So this is a fairly well researched area, with lots of progress and pitfalls. It falls under a class of additive manufacturing called shaped metal deposition. There are functioning production parts made with these techniques.

This has been done and it failed (2)

Slayer (6656) | about 3 months ago | (#47267201)

There was a project going on, first at Carnegie Mellon University and then at Stanford's Rapid Prototyping Laboratory, where a very similar but more sophisticated process (Shape Deposition Manufacturing) was investigated to make precise metal parts with full strength (unlike the sintering methods mentioned here and elsewhere). A number of methods were used or tried to melt the metal, including TIG welding, laser fusing and induction heating.

The biggest hurdle to success was the huge internal stress that built up in the process. Remember that one puts layer after layer of molten metal on top of the previous one. The new metal layer solidifies and shrinks, creating lots of compressive on the previous layer. Put down enough of these layers and the part will crack.

And no, doing this process with Invar won't help, because Invar doesn't have this beautiful near zero thermal expansion close to its melting point.

Lets hope the blogger reads what has been published about this process before he commits more effort and resources to his project ...

Re:This has been done and it failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47267965)

Have you seen this video, which was posted by pahles, above? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9IdZ2pI5dA

Looks like they got it working. That machine is amazing.

Re:This has been done and it failed (1)

Slayer (6656) | about 3 months ago | (#47274855)

The video shows a single layer ring welded onto a metal substrate, but nothing of substantional height or volume. Hearing the guy talk in this video tells me he had quite a few software and electronics issues to work out, and he did not show any large parts made my this process. His machine in the present configuration also doesn't provide a method for making overhanging features (a problem already solved by Shape Deposition Manufacturing), so I really wonder when we are going to see the first piece of art coming out of this machine ...

Re:This has been done and it failed (1)

Slayer (6656) | about 3 months ago | (#47275341)

And to the video that you linked to: that's a nice part they make with that laser machine, but it is thin walled. One wonders how accurate that part will be once it has gone through a few heat cycles.

Uh.... Metal 3D printing is new? (2)

hey! (33014) | about 3 months ago | (#47267493)

Seriously, it's like we we've been having a conversation about home-built plastic ultralight aircraft, and then somebody says, "Hey, there's this company out in Seattle that makes aircraft out of metal."

Doing it with molten metal is a new one on me, but people have been laser sintering metal powder for thirty years now, and I bet most of the dollar volume of 3D printers shipped today are of this type. They've been coming down in price too. I have a friend who's a research machinist who has one in his lab, and he tells me that the strength gap between cast metal parts and laser sintered parts has closed significantly over the years.

Um (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47268381)

Well, if you visit any of the big 3d-printing websites out there, you can already print & order your 3D model in a variety of metals including stainless steel, gold, silver, aluminum etc. 3d printing is not only in plastic anymore. They shoot lasers at metal powder to melt it (much like a laser printer).

This has nothing to do with guns. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47270091)

Always with the guns. What the hell is wrong with you people? /Rest of the world

Where's the video? (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 3 months ago | (#47272427)

So, there is a six-minute video of a guy talking about 3D printing. Am I out of line for expecting a video that shows the 3D printing? I'm not even interested in the first word the guy spoke much less six minutes of him talking. If you promise me "3D Printing with Molten Steel (Video)" is it unreasonable to assume that the Video is of 3D Printing with Molten Steel?

Water pump (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47272799)

Maybe someday I'll be able to 3D print a water pump for my car instead of forking over $180. I seriously asked them if it was made of gold. Sadly it wasn't.

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