This is a discussion on Three-D Printing? within the Gunsmithing forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; Can't find a good forum for this question:
Is anyone using 3-D printing for duplicating small parts?
some companies can make parts in metal now; ...
They even printed the lands and grooves inside the barrel.
3D printing has matured, with quality and durability well proven in the Aerospace industry.
I have been nagging Frank at M14.CA that he needs a small 3D printer for our rapid prototyping R&D projects.
We have a fantastic CNC dedicated shop for production, but our rapid prototyping is not so rapid because the CNC machines are so busy with production runs. We have literally a dozen great M14 upgrades waiting in line for more R&D.
If only the price of a table top 3D printer for METAL came down to realistic numbers, this would be the way to go for many prototype parts. Possibly not as cost efficient as CNC milling for large run production??
PS: Some weird and wonderful parts are so complex that they simply can not be made by the MATERIAL REMOVAL process, but they CAN be made, building from the inside out, using 3D printing.
Maybe someone else heard the same news piece I did a couple days ago, one of the major builders of commercial jetliners is now in the process of having the FAA approve a major structural component being 3D printed, they claimed it would save millions of dollars per aircraft.
Then I got to thinking : How many people will this put out of a job? Robotics seem to be the next crisis coming for the dwindling workforce...
Agree 100%. Jobs going overseas is NOT the threat to our workforce, jobs getting replaced by automation is. And I'm all for it. Automation is faster, better, cheaper than a human being.
However the question was about 3D.
Technology is still limited. There are some things it can do well, there are some things that are doable but very expensive, there are things it cannot do.
Lazerous, if you want 3D parts made for prototyping, there are a bunch of places on the web that will accept your CAD file and print a part in any metal you want. This is way better than bringing the capability in-house.
For detailed small parts with things like threads, the printing is not there yet. You might 3D print, then do finish machining.
In my OP what I was thinking about was replicating small parts to complete or repair some esoteric piece. Another project might be a muzzle break or flash suppressor design that cannot be easily created using traditional machining methods.
Doesn't now make economic sense for production runs, but as a one-off for a speciasl purpose it could.
Might also be a way to involve a grand child in our area of interest through the ir involvement in the CAD aspects of creating a digital file and then involving them in its application (range time!).
I've wished for a long time that someone would come up with 3D print plans for a selector cut filler. It's the perfect size and could easily be touched up for final fitting after printing. Something like the Sage filler for the EBR stock, but generic enough I could fit it to a wood stock.