Hawaiʻi's Technology and New Media Community
A gathering place for those interested in desktop manufacturing.
Latest Activity: May 28, 2014
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Aloha, don't see a whole lot of activity here, just a word that a lot of people are interested. Rapid protoyping used to require a fair sized workshop with several people with specialized training and rapid usually meant at least 8 to 10 weeks under crunch schedule. Now, it can be done in the garage, at least scale modeling, by one person that has no other life than video games. That is progress!
Today's lesson in 3D printing involves dirt - the less the better. When dealing with extruders that have .4mm aperture's it is critical that when not in use that all equipment be very well dust covered because a weeks worth of dust drifting in via the air does not mix well with molten plastic. I have also learned it's best not to operate these devices when the sun is rising or setting in a non-airconditioned environment. The ambient temperature change occurring at these times affects the printing quality.
What is the true cost of learning to both 3d print, and use a cnc mill? That is the question. I can't yet say I know the correct answer but I do know that the initial investment is quite a bit more costly than simply the prices of the machines. In my case I've both both additive and subtractive technologies and the 'setup' cost in equipment, tools, spare parts, and materials can approach $6000, plus, I've spent 4 months learning to use the software tools. The time spent probably comes to around $20k. So, when looking at the prices you can expect to spend quite a bit more in practice.
Both the desktop cnc mill and 3d printer are rated to around .1mm of tolerance. In practical terms this means the (physical) business end of the machine must be aligned within that tolerance too. The problem with this is that at these tolerances the ambient temperature affects the precision. Thus the manual alignment, cleanliness and temperature of the machines must all be tuned (I mean it, I'm talking about musician-level tuning here) in order to achieve the 'best practical' tolerance. My feeling is that the machines are far more precise than I am by hand thus I'm not going to quibble about tolerances in the microns. Instead, I'll tune the machines then test and measure what their limits are and then stay within the 'zone'. Within that zone is a huge range of things that can be built. And those that are outside the limits will have to stay there. Meanwhile I'll be making things don't push the tolerances too hard.
I've recently setup a 'Kitchen Counter Factory' which includes a Shapeoko desktop cnc mill, and a Makerbot Replicator2 3D printer. There is a substantial learning curve involved in using the machines properly. I'll share what I'm learning here and I hope those of you who are either learning yourself, or have been doing this awhile will contribute also. This technology can empower Hawaii even more than the other 49 states in that if we can make products here some of our shipping charges can be reduced.
I want to create products of my own, but when the machines are idle they're not helping anybody so if you need the customization or precision that either of these machines can provide then I'd be happy to assist.
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