3 d printer

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Forum topic by oldreddog posted 01-22-2015 09:15 PM 1078 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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164 posts in 2334 days

01-22-2015 09:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

has anyone used a 3d printer for making small scale project before building actual project to show client possible design options etc..

-- oldreddog

8 replies so far

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1337 days

#1 posted 01-24-2015 01:35 AM

No clue. Never even seen a 3d printer although I’ve been seeing some stuff on eBay for sale done with 3d printers like throat inserts for a band saw. Making a mini mockup of a project sounds cool. Sure would like to see if it is feasible. Tom

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View KevinL's profile


33 posts in 1351 days

#2 posted 01-24-2015 02:01 AM

I have many times but I have one at work and use it for both students and for design work for local companies. One of the perks of teaching Tool & Die. Many times companies use the model to get bank financing before going into production as well. It’s a great tool. The price sure has dropped on these machines. I only wish that the machine that I use was a water soluble support machine. I have to remove all the support material by hand, and it can be painful when you are trying to remove the support.

Make the drawing, save as a STL file, import the file, set the orientation, set the resolution of the layers – our machine is either .010” or .013” and decide if you want the part and support to be solid or honey combed and then hit print.

-- KevinL

View descolada's profile


54 posts in 1798 days

#3 posted 01-24-2015 02:06 AM

I’ve used a 3d printer at work for non-woodworking related reasons and i don’t think they will be super useful for what you’re describing. They are especially bad at printing surfaces with empty space beneath them, and this is obviously very common in our craft (for example: a table). Some of the fancier ones will print a lattice in the empty spaces to hold up the higher flat surfaces, but you’ll need to cut and sand those off and still won’t get quite the result you’re looking for. There are very high end ones that can print with two materials and will use a water soluble one for the empty spaces to allow you to just dunk the prints in warm water and wait, but I doubt that will be cost effective for you.

For woodworking, i think the best application of these printers will be for creating templates and guides for various routing scenarios. Corners, curves, inlays, and even for mortices these printers would be useful. CNCs can do similar things but are usually not as good at the sharp corners. However, i don’t think the technology is really there yet to make this more efficient than building those templates other ways. After a week of using one at work i bought some new spokeshaves and a compass plane to help make the curved templates i was planning for my shop. I learned a lot more and i think i had more fun going the old school route.

The printer (a replicator 2, if you’re curious) took a looong time to calibrate before we got good prints and still had about a ~50% failure rate. Sometimes changing some of the print parameters (speed, internal structure, ...) made a difference and sometimes you just needed to try again with the same setting. They are fun to play with, but i decided to wait a few years before considering adding one to my shop.


View oldreddog's profile


164 posts in 2334 days

#4 posted 01-24-2015 01:08 PM

i am learning something from your input already, thank you all.
I saw a brief video on 3d printers and thought if it was cost effective to take a print someplace that has one if it would work. Its a fun topic still even if not feasible yet. The idea of router patterns is cool.
I still am old school also, but you know as well as I its just a matter of time before it is going to be possible and reasonable for small shop applications.

-- oldreddog

View smittybuilt's profile


3 posts in 1219 days

#5 posted 01-24-2015 01:21 PM

I use 3D printer on a regular basis at my day job, but I am a mechanical designer, not a woodsmith. I have found them an invaluable tool, especially for testing out complex mechanisms. There are some tricks to using them though. As descolada said in his post above, depending on what 3D printing technology you are using, they do not like “overhangs” as we call them. Think of it as it has to build from the very bottom of the part upwards, so if there is no material below to print on, it will just splooge out a nest of plastic thread. This applies to FDM (fused deposition) type printers. To solve Descolada’s issue, for instance, you would just flip the table upside down in the print program so that the legs are facing up, and BAM, problem solved. It will print just fine. Also sometimes I have to design things that may differ slightly from there final design to make 3D printing them easier and cheaper. I have just barely scratched the surface here, but these are a few things to keep in mind. Also if you are not familiar with 3D modeling programs, you will have to create your pieces in this environment, then print them. I use a program called Solidworks, and have used it for 15 years or so. This is a relatively expensive program )$3500-$4000), but there are other options. Google Sketchup is free to use, but I have not used it so cannot offer any advice as to whether it is good or not.

-- Smittybuilt

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Dan'um Style

14172 posts in 3983 days

#6 posted 03-21-2015 01:23 AM

fun topic… I’m tempted to buy a 3d printer and figuring out how to mix it with wood working… Maybe invent something like a new Lego but use wood and plastic.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View DanielS's profile


123 posts in 1937 days

#7 posted 03-21-2015 03:20 AM

I don’t have very much experience using a 3d printer personally. However, my company’s engineering department has one that has been a constant headache. When it was working they got a lot of use out of it. They used it, much as your initial post, to do mockups and oneoffs.

Like the others described, they had to design to the machine’s method of output. After talking with them about it the other day, they felt like they should have gone another direction. Make sure you do a lot of research on whichever model you are thinking about getting. There is definitely a getting what you pay for element to them.

If you are doing small scale, there is also there is also the mini cnc mill option. The same people have a Sherline cnc mill that they really like. It is definitely a small scale machine, but it hasn’t broken down yet.

-- Daniel S

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1521 days

#8 posted 03-21-2015 04:07 AM

Is this the kind of small scale project you’re thinking of ?

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