"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Plastic Rut

Man Sitting In deep rut.

Gosh! Haven’t posted here in a while. Got derailed and off track by playing with the demon of three-dimensional printing. You know, push a button and out pops a three-dimensional PLASTIC component.

Pretty much a sit back and watch effort. Similar but different than CNC machining. No chips flying around, or mist cooling required. Additive rather than subtractive manufacturing. It has its place but IMHO not for durable goods. Great for prototyping and making plastic models.

It is not the printing that is the most value. The printer is just another tool. The most value for me is the amount of CAD drawing (and mastering) acquired in designing parts for printing. The same skills that instantly transfer to good old fashion CNC machining.

The point is Plastic 3D printing is here. I have learned how to use it at a hobbyist level. But for making real, functional items, subtractive machining is still holding its own.

This previous post, https://thmsblog.com/?p=3632, shows where 3D printing is used to produce a prototype model of the mandrel, later turned on a metal lathe. Perhaps an unnecessary step, but this demonstrates one of the real applications for 3D printing.

The plastic version would never hold up for actual production, but was installed on the 4th axis of my mill to see if all clearances were adequate before cutting metal.

Having pushed the plastic extrusion process (3D printing) to a level of high quality, I still consider much of what has been made, Junque plastic items. Now ready to return to making truly functional items out of durable materials.

Often stated is my love of machining wax for lost wax casting. Also, the love of machining wood and metal. I can (subtractive) machine plastic if needed or want to. The world is not (yet) made from extruded hot plastic in 0.15MM layers. Ha!

This post is another self-commitment statement toward returning to real machine shop type projects. I have been writing about this, but time passes so quickly. I do have increasing remorse about my lack of initiative. The workshop and tools are here. Just need to put them to work…

Must get out of my Junque plastic rut.

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