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Printer Open Source

Affordable 3D Metal Printer Developed Based on RepRap 199

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the reprap-to-take-over-world dept.
hypnosec writes "Researchers have developed and open-sourced a low-cost 3D metal printer capable of printing metal tools and objects that can be build for under £1,000. A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Joshua Pearce at the Michigan Technological University developed the firmware and the plans for the printer and have made it available freely. The open source 3D printer is definitely a huge leap forward as the starting price of commercial counterparts is around £300,000. Pearce claimed that their technology will not only allow smaller companies and start-ups to build inexpensive prototypes, but it will allow other scientists and researchers to build tools and objects required for their research without having to shell out thousands, and could be used to print parts for machines such as windmills." It's a modified RepRap; looks like we're getting closer to the RepRap being able to print all of its parts.
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Affordable 3D Metal Printer Developed Based on RepRap

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  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @05:00AM (#45648527)

    I first tried laser sintering 5 years ago - I got a few steel gun parts custom-made by a "printing" company, then mounted the parts in a real gun and got the proofhouse to shoot it until it died. I was working for a certain very well known luxury gunmaker at the time, and we were investigating new ways of producing parts in very small volume.

    The laser sintered parts were as good as, or better than the original parts! And the prices are great too: we paid per cm3 of material "printed", which worked at at just under $900 for a receiver, as opposed to $7500 for the equivalent part machined with conventional tools.

    I've known since then that this is the future of metalworking. As a result, I've been holding off upgrading the lathe and the milling machine in my workshop, because I've been waiting for a metal-building machine that doesn't cost a quarter million bucks.

    This $1000 thing probably won't be it, but the next generation machines, or the generations after them, will. At last!

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @07:00AM (#45648903)

    But does that mean that the sintered parts were good, or that the originals are shit? You haven't given us enough information (make, model, caliber, and year of firearm to start with, not to mention the actual parts) to make this determination ourselves.

    Well, I can't give you any specifics (make/model) or I'd reveal whom I worked for, and I'm under a non-disclosure agreement.

    But here's an example of what I experienced with the sintered metal:

    I took a test side-by-side 12 cal which had silver-brazed demi block barrels made of high-quality Bohler steel. I had a lock printed. All we did to the lock was polish it a bit to achieve perfect fit in the receiver, when we shot the gun repeatedly in double-shot with proofhouse loads (+30% powder). At some point, a rather massive 2-mm disjunction occured at the breech. We figured the lock's metal had given way. In fact it was the barrel's lugs that had flattened themselves onto the lock, and the lock itself was just fine. We were really amazed!

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @07:12AM (#45648941)

    If you knew anything about guns, you'd know it only takes a few basic tools and materials to make a functional gun that goes bang without killing its user. You don't need a 3D printer. There's no way to disarm anybody in any circumstances.

    I do know something about guns and about metal machining and fabrication work. Making a Sten is dead-simple. Heck, I've got the plans.

    You're correct that between the staggering number of guns that already exist in the US (and the majority of rifles & shotguns never having been registered) combined with the ease with which a gun that's at least good enough to get an enemy's gun is to make conventionally, it seems pretty impractical in the short term.

    However, there's "simple" for some people and then there's "simple" for everybody else. It's dead-simple *IF* you have a lathe, drill press, sheet metal brake, and maybe a mill depending, along with multiple other ancillary tools and pieces of equipment like an arbor press.

    *AND* you *also* have the requisite training, skills, & experience to operate that fabricating equipment well enough to produce more than a modern-art piece or a way to assure that you never need worry if you lose one of your mittens and/or your sunglasses. It's not a trivial skill set in the least.

    The difference here is that you basically only need the printer instead of a pole-barn full of expensive machine tools, plus you don't need any advanced machining & metal fabrication skills or training to fabricate high-quality components.

    The printer/software and the plan file supplies the majority of the training, experience, and skills otherwise necessary, while replacing multiple expensive pieces of metal working & fabrication equipment while also requiring less space. More like residential garage/shed/basement-size instead of pole-barn size.

    A metal printer would also be a much more practical solution in the city. The printer is also far more portable than a bunch of machine shop equipment. It can be relatively quickly moved between locations and concealed compared to normal tooling.

    Wishful thinking... It's not the lack of guns that keeps your tyrannical government in place, it's the lack of courage in a population that has turned bovine, uneducated, and more interested in shopping and watching reality shows on TV than in fighting for liberty and moral principles.

    I agree. However, I'm hopeful that people are beginning to wake the hell up. I haven't seen the current levels and breadth of dissatisfaction and anger with government since the '60s/'70s, nor anywhere near the current numbers of people who seriously think the government needs to spend less and have fewer powers, and are actively getting involved and doing something about it.

    When was the last time you remember *this* happening? []

    There may yet still be hope. Especially if you consider it was only about 10% of the colonists at the time who were actively for the US Revolutionary War and independence from England.

    Can we scrape up 10% with a brain and a spine these days? Who knows. We'll find out, I guess.

    Maybe the concept of free men governing themselves by common agreement dies here forever, technology guaranteeing the jackboot continues forever grinding the human face underfoot.

    Maybe humans need another few 10, 20, or 100s of thousands...maybe even millions...of years of evolutionary advancement before mankind is ready to leave kings, dictators, tyranny, and authoritarianism behind us.


  • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @08:09AM (#45649163)

    It's kind of funny that Americans with all their guns seems to have a more tyrannical government than countries with fewer guns but a lot more political engagement from the population.

    There are times when I think the whole 2nd Amendment thing may be doing us more harm than good. We don't take political action when we should because if things get too bad we can just haul out our guns.

    Except that by the time guns are the best or only solution, we've already lost pretty much everything anyhow. And who (aside from fantasists) really want a life that's basically nothing but guerilla warfare against tanks and drones?

Work is the crab grass in the lawn of life. -- Schulz