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Thread: The Metalbot Project: an open source initiative...

  1. #1 The Metalbot Project: an open source initiative... 
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    Hi everyone!

    I would like to discuss the pros/cons and engineering challenges one would face in order to create a 3D printer capable of printing in metal.

    I have started an open source community project (linked to below) that deals with this subject, there is quite a bit of information that has been amassed on the subject, so it is worth checking out...

    metalbot.org

    I am sure most people here have heard of 3D Printers/printing, perhaps some of you've had the opportunity to use them.

    From what I have learned, the two limiting factors with 3D printing have always been a - strength of the printed parts and b - part resolution. Hopefully it is possible to solve both of these problems by designing printer that works through a process called 'laser sintering' (although a few other avenues are being pursued).

    I would be more than happy to answer any questions to the best of my knowledge!

    Best regards,

    Jethro.


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  3. #2  
    has lost interest seagypsy's Avatar
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    If you can come up with one that will print in metal, the likelihood of you putting a lot of people out of work would be pretty high. wouldn't it eventually be able to replace human workers in manufacturing? I am not against the idea of creating this thing, I think it would be amazing. But also extremely expensive and only wealthy manufacturing companies would be able to afford it. but that means they would likely end up letting go of all their workers who smelt and mold metal into machine parts.

    If I am way off the mark let me know, but I can see where the average machinists would feel very threatened by the invention of a machine that can shape metal into parts without many workers to oversee the production of it. I am guessing as it is, most parts are actually machined by other machines, but humans are operating and maintaining them.

    Keep in mind, I only recently looked into what 3D printing actually was. And the first thing that came into mind was the current antipiracy movement and how piracy would then have the tools needed to reproduce what looks like genuine products.

    I can see someone putting all the information in to recreate a star wars action figure and putting it together to reproduce a perfect copy of a mattel toy. right now its only hollywood freaking out, if every company that produces plastic products starts suffering loss of sales because some smart people out there are sending out the specs on how to print exact copies of copyrighted plastic parts, then .... forgive me I haven't been awake long, didn't sleep well and haven't eaten.... I don't know if I just typed out crap or not so will post it as is.

    All I ask, is be gentle with me.


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  4. #3  
    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    I want a 3D printer so badly for my 3ds max models. Definitely a great inventions I can't wait to see become more affordable.

    As for metal printing, I don't know the mechanics behind it or how it is made affordable, but if you can make it happen go for it. Cutting complex metal car parts has been limited to 2D designs for me. I wouldn't mind being able to fab a new bracket without needing to cut, weld, and bend. Just slapping the model in the program and hitting print would be nice.

    As for losing jobs to computers, it's really the way everything is going anyways. Personally, I don't use self-checkout at the store because I believe it takes jobs from cashiers and I am willing to pay a little more for groceries to keep someone in work. That having been said, we're moving into an intellectual culture and menial labor tasks are fading fast. I don't know if it is possible or wise to fight such a thing.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  5. #4  
    has lost interest seagypsy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I want a 3D printer so badly for my 3ds max models. Definitely a great inventions I can't wait to see become more affordable.

    As for metal printing, I don't know the mechanics behind it or how it is made affordable, but if you can make it happen go for it. Cutting complex metal car parts has been limited to 2D designs for me. I wouldn't mind being able to fab a new bracket without needing to cut, weld, and bend. Just slapping the model in the program and hitting print would be nice.
    I don't disagree here. I also wouldn't mind if they had a 3d printer that worked with proteins. If I could put turkey paste into the machine and a 3d model of what a perfectly roasted turkey looked like and have it "print" that out for me along with proper food coloring and temp, I'd never have to cook again. but I doubt I should hold my breath for that one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    As for losing jobs to computers, it's really the way everything is going anyways. Personally, I don't use self-checkout at the store because I believe it takes jobs from cashiers and I am willing to pay a little more for groceries to keep someone in work. That having been said, we're moving into an intellectual culture and menial labor tasks are fading fast. I don't know if it is possible or wise to fight such a thing.
    You are probably right, and you make a good point. People are going to have to start applying themselves and simply learn to do more cerebral work than just manual labor or they will fall away through social evolution. Keep up or be left behind. I also avoid self check out at the grocery store as well. But we can't cater to the lowest demonator forever. We eventually will have to raise the bar and people will have to make the effort to keep up.

    No one in my family graduated high school. And I am the only one with a GED and soon a college degree. My mom and step dad are able to keep their middle class jobs because of all the years of experience they have under their belts. But you can't get their jobs anymore without a minimum of 60 college credits for my mom's job, with a preference to a degree of some kind in business management and my dad's job now requires a minimum bachelors degree in electrical engineering. My step dad, did go to Purdue university but never finished because he received draft papers to go to Vietnam and chose to enlist without finishing school. I don't know what year of college he was in when that happened.

    But my siblings and I have not been as lucky as my mom. My sister finally took some vocational training in massage therapy and is now self employed but my brother who technically got a high school diploma ( but it isn't usually recognized by employers as a real diploma because he was home schooled for high school for being a delinquent who was permanently expelled). I got my GED years ago but even that didn't help me any in getting a job and I mostly have been waiting tables or some other menial job my entire adult life. I decided to catch up though, and will have my AAS in web development and programming this summer. YAY ME!!! But I know in order to not be at the trailing end , I will likely have to stay in school for the rest of my life just to stay up to date. I can live with that. And it may well just be the norm for everyone in the future.
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    Quote Originally Posted by seagypsy View Post
    But my siblings and I have not been as lucky as my mom. My sister finally took some vocational training in massage therapy and is now self employed but my brother who technically got a high school diploma ( but it isn't usually recognized by employers as a real diploma because he was home schooled for high school for being a delinquent who was permanently expelled). I got my GED years ago but even that didn't help me any in getting a job and I mostly have been waiting tables or some other menial job my entire adult life. I decided to catch up though, and will have my AAS in web development and programming this summer. YAY ME!!! But I know in order to not be at the trailing end , I will likely have to stay in school for the rest of my life just to stay up to date. I can live with that. And it may well just be the norm for everyone in the future.
    Heh heh, and then there are those of us that are flatly turned down for jobs we want to do because.... we're over qualified. And the half-wit doing the recruiting is scared for his own job.

    OTOH, on topic, I've promised myself that a 3D printer is on my list of "things to get at the first opportunity".
    What I could do with one of those...
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  7. #6  
    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seagypsy View Post
    You are probably right, and you make a good point. People are going to have to start applying themselves and simply learn to do more cerebral work than just manual labor or they will fall away through social evolution. Keep up or be left behind. I also avoid self check out at the grocery store as well. But we can't cater to the lowest demonator forever. We eventually will have to raise the bar and people will have to make the effort to keep up.
    While I agree that it should not be an imperative to keep societal standards at the level which the majority are performing (if people can't keep up, we don't lower the bar to help them), we still have to keep in mind that it IS an imperative that as many citizens as possible live in acceptable conditions. As the manufacturing industry dies out or gets shipped overseas (hit us really hard here in Indy) we will see a shift toward degree-required jobs in the sciences, research and development, etc. We should be determined that people in those areas are not simply left out to dry.

    That having been said, it is possible that certain "at-home" techs like 3D printing could create jobs elsewhere. Yeah, a fab shop might lose business, but now a materials manufacturer gains business. I don't think we should stop the conversation at job-killing when there is also potential for job-creation. It's really just societal evolution.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    What I could do with one of those...
    Almost sounds ominous.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  8. #7  
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    When flat printers, DVD recorders and burning hardware and the like entered the market- the market adapted to meet consumer demand.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    What I could do with one of those...
    Almost sounds ominous.
    I'm good at ominosity.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  10. #9  
    has lost interest seagypsy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    What I could do with one of those...
    Almost sounds ominous.
    I'm good at ominosity.
    Ominomnomnom nom....
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  11. #10  
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    seagypsy - I understand your concerns. It is funny but there is currently work being done on the legalities surrounding copying a real world object without permissions. This website may surprise you >> shapeways . If you have access to a 3D CAD program you can materialize it. And that website is one of a number so this is definitely a concern.

    Automated manufacture has been going for ages, but this has not been accessible to hobbyists. So has 3D Metal printing (30 years plus) and it too is not for the hobbyist at the moment. That is our challenge, to bring this tech to normal people who want to have access to it.

    The expense of these machine (current commercial machines start at $680,000) is one of the main things we want to change. Our long term goal is to provide a machine that will empower people to manufacture in the home.

    Your comment and questions was perfectly reasonable, thank you!

    Flick Montana - we are working on it .

    I don't know if you guys have heard, but there is a 3rd industrial revolution going on... google it!

    One thing that has stood out to me while going through my learning curve is that high technology, expensive high tech stuff (as long as it does not require uranium), can generally be in made in the garage. Now with the unlimited knowledge that the internet provides and access to just about any machine shop or manufacturer (alibaba for instance) there is no real barrier preventing home manufacture, you just have to take the initiative and do it!

    Jethro.
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    Just a quick update for the interested... there are some top notch ideas going around!

    We have decided, for now at least, to put a "laser scanner" on the back burner and go with a Gantry. So some form of CNC software in combination with a slicer will be used.

    Check out some preliminary designs for the Metalbot printer here... [www.metalbot.org]

    If you have google sketchup you can download the model here... [sketchup.google.com]

    Best!

    Jethro.
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  13. #12  
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    Hi everyone!

    It has been a few months and the Metalbot project is slowly coming together!

    Check out what is going on: http://www.metalbot.org/

    We have had loads of great ideas and there are quite a few very interesting projects unfolding at the moment (take a look at the projects section).

    We are slowly working towards a preliminary design and there are a lot of options now so if you guys have any ideas, please send them our way!

    All the best,

    Jethro.
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