3D Printing process

By September 25, 2012Letterpress

I got some images back yesterday of the new press part being built. It’s looking great in my opinion and with a little bit of tempering and some fine-tuned machining, the bracket will be ready to go back onto the press.

Printing took a couple of nights to do, which is a lot longer than I imagined, but it meant that there was time to gets some great photographs. As mentioned before, the part is built up by melting areas of a layer of powdered metal by a tiny but powerful lazer. It moves across each layer like an inkjet printer, before an additional layer of powder is added. The process then repeats again and again until the part is built up.

Following the print process, the bracket was put into a high-frequency vibrating machine to remove all unmelted metal powder (don’t want that stuff getting into the moving parts) and then is removed from the mounting plate, upon which it is printed. The final step is to machine the precision parts (ink disk hole, chase spring & bolt holes) and then get it back onto the machine. Really close to getting the press working again, I can almost smell the ink!

More Images after the jump

Sending the 3D data to the printer

Setting up to print

The beginning of the printing process. The slightly green looking material is the unprocessed metal powder. In the center of the window you can see a spark, which is the laser fusing the powder into a solid object. The outline of the bracket can just be made out, and the laser moves quickly throwing off loads of sparks. very exciting.

A couple of close-ups of the part being printed, with a more obvious laser spark and the shape of the part taking form.

The part being shaken down to remove all unused metal dust particles.

The print is finished, now all that needs to be done is to remove from the plate, treat the metal to improve the strength of the bracket and mill out the ink disk hole.


Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing – what a great technology. Out of interest, do you know what the going rate would be for producing a part this way?

  • Patrick Auer says:

    Wow… this is fantastic! Three years ago I went on a course on 3D printing at Cambridge University.

  • Hi Russel, Sorry it took me so long to see this – comments approvals weren’t sent to me! It is a truly great technology, but the process did take a couple of days and I was fortunate enough to have this done for me in return for some design work. For a figure, I’d guess something like this would be in the thousands of pounds, mainly for machine time rather than material cost. It’s an emerging technology though, and like regular 3D printing I can assume that the price will come down massively in the future.

    Did you have a plan for this sort of tech? I can send some emails for you if you want?


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