Author Topic: 3D printing on a Large Scale...pointless?  (Read 1386 times)

Dave Winfield

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3D printing on a Large Scale...pointless?
« on: August 05, 2013, 10:23:09 AM »
Like a lot of people I am impressed with many things I have seen being produced by 3D Printer technology.
The ability to produce small items consisting of many interlocking and sometimes mechanical parts (without
the need of separate part production and assembly) is nothing short of amazing.
I'm also impressed with how quickly smaller personal 3D Printers have become available and affordable to
the average consumer.

But to be honest, I really wonder what the average person would produce with a 3D printer. I think most
might knock out a few silly figures and toys, maybe a spare House Key...or get really serious and print out
a new Toothbrush Holder for the bathroom!

Lets face it...a project starts with design. And that means artistic and design skills, imagination and ideas,
and software knowledge (the ability to design in 3D on a computer).
Things a lot of "average" people don't have.
Not to mention the lack of time in peoples daily lives.
Hours, days and weeks of design might go into that next ...Ashtray or Coffee Mug.

And that brings me to this...

I am TOTALLY on board with the concept.
Copy and build a replica Aston Martin DB4...still haven't figured out if this will be a functioning automobile
or just a display "model", but either option is pretty cool to me.

But heres where I start to question "is this all just a pointless method of getting there?"

The 3D Printer used is a smaller "desktop" version.
From what I see, it prints out small sections (4"x 4"x 4"?) of a much larger object that have to be grafted
together (including puttying and sanding) to produce larger sections of the overall design.
Ignoring the time to design the object in 3D on the computer and then slice it into printable sections,
and ignoring the costs involved to print out the parts...
the amount of time and work to produce the Car body seems ridiculous.

And this is just to produce a "plug"?!
An internal framework of MDF support a replica Car body made from thousands of individually
printed sections, bonded, puttied and sanded smooth. A replica Car Body that is not structurally strong
enough to support its own shape and weight (especially not being all these separate sections)
...all to produce a plug for a mold.
Thats right...this is just to make the plug, which will then allow you to hand lay a fiberglass mold, from which
you can cast fiberglass, resin and/or carbon fibre parts for a car body.
(So the finished body will not be 3D printed plastic)

If you were using a Printer large enough to create full size, one piece Doors, Fenders, Hood and Boot lids, then
I might be impressed with the idea of a 3D printed car. I still wouldn't want one for the road, since it would be
ridiculously fragile and unsafe and impossible to repair in case of accident. But I would still be impressed by
the 3D technology and 3D printed aspect of the project.

But to produce a scratch built Aston, the 3D printer element seems like an expensive and unneccesary element
that just serves to extend the time needed to build the car.
Replica car bodies have been produced for decades by big companies and individual hobbyists.
there are a number of methods and proven practices to creating reproduction metal parts as well as resin, fiberglass
and now carbon-fibre components.
Mold producing is a low tech artform and the only thing holding you back is the "plug" for producing the mold.
In most cases, a plug is created from actual car parts.
A mold can be made from existing DB4 parts if you can get access to them.

I guess thats the problem here...access to an original DB4 for the purpose of casting a mold from it.
And I see that as the only reason to go to this much trouble...of using 3D printer technology.
But its still too much trouble.

I would love an Aston Martin DB4...even a replica...
but to be honest, I prefer the 1:1 scale printed Paper Ford Mustang project.

Totally on-topic, completely charge for the drivel.

Vermin King

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Re: 3D printing on a Large Scale...pointless?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2013, 02:05:18 PM »
I read an article on 3d printers a week or so ago. He mostly has done gaskets and things of that nature, but someone wanted to build a four-propeller drone thing to mount a camera on, so he found the plans and made the main armature and sold it to the guy for $80, making a nice profit on it (discounting the initial investment cost).  I don't think we are at the point where this really makes sense yet, but I think we will eventually get there.
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Re: 3D printing on a Large Scale...pointless?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 05:04:27 PM »
There is an ongoing dialog in my company's blog about 3D printing. There are lots of people who see this as the Nirvana of modeling. But I asked them... how many of you got a laser printer for home? How many of them are making high-end projects with the technology at hand (laser printers, diamond cutters, etc)? Not many, in fact a very low percentage of them.

So I asked them, then what do you think you are going to use a 3D printer for? Like Dave says, maybe to "print" a toothbrush holder.

So I guess the target, for now at least, is to mass produce things and sell them. Use it on a factory. And that is just as well under the convenience of price and materials available.

Just today I received my copy of Fine Scale Modeler (October 2013), and there is an interview (page 12) with a guy who already started a company that is producing scale model kits printed in 3D. His company, already has some kits. Pricy, BTW.

I don't think other scale modeling methods are going to die because of 3D printing technology anytime soon, just as the good old phone didn't die with the cell phone (yet).

Is good to have options, and from those options come variety, and from variety, art.

I for one won't hold my breath for it.
- Gerardo