3 Tips and Tricks to get more than Prints.
Give a person a hammer and everything becomes a job for a hammer. This is happening more often what happens with 3d printers. As printers become cheaper and more accessible More makers are relying on them to do all of the work. For the most part, this is fine. It builds a vast community of model makers and huge libraries of STLs for the beginner makers to get things made. Download, print, paint and bam your very own McGuffin/Precious. Let’s build a workshop.
The problem is we are starting to see makers that think printing is the best/only way to make a prop or part. This will become more of an issue in the future as these become home fixtures like the microwave. If it is going to be the corner piece to your maker studio or home shop then let’s make it really work for us to build more tools.
This is a no-brainer and will get you a long way in a very short amount of time. I made a much more detailed article on this a while ago. If you are interested, check out my article on Smooth-sill.It has a lot of very good info on mold making. The great thing about Printing objects for molds or printing molds for objects is that you can make more of that item very quickly and from potentially stronger or more versatile materials. Let’s use the benchy as a metric. Print one benchy on average settings.
10% infill 2 layer shell, .2 layer height and you can expect somewhere in the area of a 15min print +- 5 min (so many benchies……). About 4 an hour. Now make a mold. You can get Resins that are ready to de-mold in half that time on a small piece like that. Chocolate can be even faster if you are making candy benchies. If you make 4 molds you can really crank out edible Benchies.
You could argue that this is mold making and you would be right but you would also be wrong. It’s very easy to take a print and use that to Vacuum form a much more refined part if you are looking to use it as an outer shell. Making a vacuum former that would support prints from your average 3d printer is easy and cheap. From there you can print out parts and then vacuum form them from tougher materials like Kydex or other thermal plastic sheets. This leads to the 1 makes 2 idea again anything you can print you can vacuum form. From there you can quickly make spares of something.
Make your own Tools
Plastic is limited but you can get away with a lot if you understand those limitations. I have made a few articles about tools that can be printed and work as well as metal counterparts. Check them out. The thing is if you are printing an object that needs finishing then print out some tools to make that job easier like mini sanding blocks or paint brush holders. This way you can build up your shop and pay less at the same time. The key to tool making is working just up to the plastics failure point.
Build a workshop
A hobby can make you money. It can be a job or just something to fund the hobby farther. If you own a 3d printer Use it to build the next tool as well as print out ideas. 3d printers are wonderful machines but they are not efficient. Nore are they practical for every task. The key is realizing now that you have this tool it isn’t the only one in the bag.