Skip to comments.17-Year-Old Creates Affordable 3D Metal Printer – Hopes to Launch Kickstarter Campaign
Posted on 06/11/2014 9:09:28 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Materials, materials, materials. When it comes to 3D printing, the biggest improvement that most in the industry wish to see, is the ability to print in more materials. Currently, most consumer level 3D printers are restricted to printing primarily in plastics, however, one 17-year-old from Virginia, named Sagar Govani, is well on his way to changing this. He is in the process of creating a 3D printer, more specifically a 3D printer extruder, that is capable of printing using metal filament.
Weve seen attempts at this before. For example, others have creating 3D printers that are basically robotic welding machines, but these are far from being able to be operated safely in the comfort of your own garage, let alone inside a home. Most industrial level 3D metal printers utilize a selective laser sintering technology, where a metal power is melted layer-by-layer, using a specialized laser. These are both dangerous and extremely expensive.
Sagar Govani, however, takes a totally different approach. He based his idea on that of traditional FDM 3D printers the ones that print in plastics, by melting and extruding molten PLA or ABS. He simply replaced the plastic with a metal alloy (solder), which consists mainly of tin (95.8% tin, 4% copper, and 0.2% silver). It uses an electronically heated coil to melt the metal, and another nozzle that deposits flux after each layer.
Its currently a solder which is a blend of antimony tin and selenium, Govani tells 3DPrint.com. The melting point is 274°. Im still researching how I would make it stronger, as it has to melt at low temperatures.
Of course there will be many limitations for the type of metals and metal alloys that could be used with this printer, due to their melting points. Govani, however, plans to continue his research and development of more material options. In the two test prints that he has created, he printed 5 layers. The objects hold up about as good as their plastic counterparts do, with the exception of increased dentability, which can be expected.
Once he has completed the design and perfected it, Govani hopes to launch a Kickstarter project. It wont be for an entire 3D metal printer, as his printer is basically a modified RepRap. Instead it will be a campaign to raise funds for the production of a 3D metal printing extruder. This extruder will be able to be added to already built 3D printers, thus allowing current 3D printer owners to print using metal. This extruder will also be based on a RepRap version, but it will require metal parts that can hold up to extruding metal filament. I will soon begin the process of CAD designing each part and getting them CNCed out of stainless steel, explained Govani. I am trying to make a metal extruder that would work as a drop-in part for any plastic printer.
This seems to be the main task remaining for Govani, as figuring out a formula for creating an extruder that is capable of handing the wear and tear of metal filament will be key.
The most difficult part is making sure the molten metal doesnt erode the nozzle, as my first nozzle went from .5mm to over 2mm due to some sort of chemical reaction between the 2 materials, Govani tells 3DPrint.com. Also the next problem is getting the solder filament to actually flow, it cools around the nozzle and forms a cap so I need to find a way to heat the whole nozzle better.
You would think that the costs to create a 3D printer or extruder which is capable of printing in metal would be exceptionally high. However, Govani tells us that he is able to do so for under $100.
So how much can we expect Govani to sell these for, if and when he launches a Kickstarter campaign?
I believe that after I can get a production version made I can sell it for around $150 and produce it for around $75, he explains.
What do you think? Will this extraordinary idea work out? Would you be interested in printing objects using the 95.8% tin, 4% copper, and 0.2% silver blend? Discuss this idea in the Affordable Metal 3D Printer thread on 3DPB.com
Pretty sharp kid. Don’t know how useful parts made of solder would be though.
I think it would be interesting to use WOOD’S METAL instead of solder.
The stuff melts in boiling water, and when cool, is harder than solder.
Write to the kid and state that you want to partner up with him. Conspire with others and make millions then boot the kid off the board and take over the company then create an IPO. Make billions then sell your stock and retire very happy. : )
Hehe...stick to plastics and chocolate figurines with 3-D printers. I am still waiting for the flying car I was promised.
By the way Computer numerical control (CNC) machining goes back to the 1980’s if not the 1970’s. I spent a career in using those machines making parts of alloy steel material (very hard, very tough, very high strength and very tough to machine) used in making cold extrusion metal forming machines. CNC machines can basically cut any 3-D shape desired.
I hate when urinalists try to write about real stuff. [facepalm]
Maybe use them for mold dummies. Be interesting to try it in lead or high-lead alloy. Not only would you get more strength, the greenies would piss themselves.
New job, new digs, limited internet access.
Well, I used to run CNC's around 1980. They can't do "additive manufacturing" which is quite different. They're significantly more accurate in lathe / milling functions than 3D printers, and they have great dexterity, but they can't build layer upon layer - they do the opposite. So, you can't create the intricate internal structures like 3D printing. Also, 3D printing can combine multiple materials within a layer.
On youtube - TED (a channel) has some really good videos that show the difference between milling and additive manufacturing.
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