3D Printer?

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by Chan Tran, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I heard on the radio that people are using relatively inexpensive 3D printer to make guns. Well I am not into making guns but can these be useful in making cameras and other photographic tools?
     
  2. nicholai

    nicholai Member

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    Most certainly. While you're not going to be printing german precision engineered cameras, you will be able to do a good deal of things with them. Are you thinking of getting one?
     
  3. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    I think the "gun making" has been blown out of proportion. As far as I know, you could use it for some photographic purposes provided no metal parts are involved as the current technology is limited to plastics. Can't have much of a gun without chamber, receiver or slide mechanisms.
     
  4. nicholai

    nicholai Member

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    I'm certain they can even print metal, but those machines are expensive; though you can make a mold to cast metal in!
     
  5. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    You know what would be *really* cool? A 3-D printer that could work in optical-quality glass. I'm gonna go code myself up a Noctilux! In Contax mount!

    ...OK, I suppose that's a little ways off still. But I can think of lots of things that should be easy enough to print up in plastics with reasonable levels of precision: film holders, lensboards, mounting flanges, adapters. They won't have the durability of metal, nor the precision of professional machine-shop products, but in many settings that would be fine; certainly better than having a camera go into forced retirement because of an irreplaceable part.

    -NT
     
  6. segedi

    segedi Member

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  7. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Any kind of guns you could make with a 3-D printer would basically be "zip guns." (Improvised firearms.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Improvised_firearm

    If one took parts fashioned on a 3-D printer and cast them in metal then machined them and assembled them, he could make a more traditional firearm but, I think that would defeat the purpose of making a quick, cheap gun at home. The only parts made on a 3-D printer that would stand up to the wear of use in a real firearm would be non-structural parts like stocks and handgrips, etc.

    Even on an AR-15, the upper and lower receivers are made from cast or machined aluminum. In some places, only a few millimeters thick. All of the explosive force of the cartridge and bullet is contained by the barrel, chamber and locking bolt mechanism. The entire rest of the rifle could be made from plastic or boron/composite materials. Some versions of the AR-15 have been made from alternative materials but the chamber, barrel and bolt still have to be made from steel.

    Consider that internal, chamber pressures inside a "civilian" spec. AR-15 can reach 50-60,000 PSI and go as high as 80,000 PSI in a military spec. M-16. (The "civilian" AR-15 and the "military" M-16 are similar weapons except the AR is not capable of fully-automatic fire where the M-16 is.)

    Bottom line: I would not want to be anywhere near an all-plastic gun, made at home on a 3-D printer when it is fired! It would be just as dangerous, if not MORE dangerous to the person standing behind the gun than the one standing in front!

    Let's stick to making cameras! I think it would be more fun, anyway. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2013
  8. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    The whole 3d printer craze is interesting, and I wouldn't say no to one in my house or garage by any means if someone else were paying for it.

    Lets see if I can express my metaphor right. 3d printing is to machine shop as photoshop/epson inkjet is to darkroom.

    If you're willing to learn some practical skills and have some old heavy equipment take up space, you can do better than the bleeding edge equivalent, and for less $. You can make real camera, real guns, real lenses. All with junk you bought on craigslist/ebay that was taking up someone's garage space. Just like darkroom equipment.

    The end result product will be one of a kind quality craftsmanship rather than 1-100 copies of the same thing just like the computer said.
     
  9. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Don't believe what you hear on the radio. It's getting as bad as TV.
    3-D printers are in their infancy, and while interesting are so far limited to materials which can flow through a nozzle. I've thought of them as being possibly useful for making something like replacement aperture blades and other non-stressed parts.(Shutter blades need to be made of metal.)

    But making guns? That's laughable. Real guns are made of wood and steel, which do not flow well through a nozzle. Jp498 has it about right.
     
  11. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    There are no irreplaceable parts, just irreplaceable craftsmanship.:wink:

    Some parts would be extremely impractical/expensive to replace by fabrication, like the circuitry in a Canon A-1, but as long as you are talking metal parts, just about anything can be fabricated if you are willing to pay.

    The trouble with 3-D printers is they don't use appropriate materials, and do not hold close tolerances. Yet.
     
  12. nicholai

    nicholai Member

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    I thought that a good use would be replacement parts! Now we won't run dry of those AE-1 battery lids! :wink:
     
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Actually that's a good example of the sort of thing printers may be great for. I could mill you a lid out of aluminium, though.:wink:
    Probably cost about as much as a nice clean Leicaflex SL.:laugh:
     
  14. pekelnik

    pekelnik Member

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    I actually have access to one but I never tried it out. I was thinking it should be easy to print out things like lens caps, hoods, filter holders...
     
  15. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Could it make a plastic Leica II? But not sure that I would want one.
     
  16. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    The gun-making thing is - while "true" - a misdirection; it's not a whole gun but the lower receiver for an AR-15, which would normally be a folded/stamped U-shaped piece of steel. You can also make such a receiver by beating a shovel flat, bending it up and doing a little cutting and the shovel is much more durable. The plastic printed receiver lasted for 6 rounds before breaking and it requires a proper bolt, barrel, etc in order to make an actual gun. Printing receivers is a weird oddity of US gun laws where the registration (such as it is(n't)) of a firearm somehow attaches to the receiver rather than the barrel or breech or anything actually functional, whereas barrels etc are freely available and uncontrolled.

    And of course if you have machine tools, you can make a real gun. Apparently quite legal in the USA somehow.

    As to cameras, for sure. You can already download plans to print out a holga-like camera that just needs a lens added. I fully intend to use the 3D printers at my local library to make repairs to my Jobo should that ever become necessary. I'm considering printing a 6x12 back...

    Certainly you can print in metal; it works by laser-sintering layers of metal powder. I've seen a regeneratively cooled liquid rocket combustion chamber printed that way, with a design significantly more-complex (the internal cooling channels) than could be traditionally manufactured by casting or machining. And the Chinese have recently printed a 3m titanium wing spar. 3D printing of metals is serious business because you can make structures with internal voids while retaining strength; if you get it right then the result is lighter and stronger than any other manufacturing process.
     
  17. gleaf

    gleaf Subscriber

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    3 D printing

    Accuracies to 2 - 4/1000's of an inch. Thin sections, I've seen wine glass on stem demonstrations. Prices coming down. Materials = plastics that can be melted and extruded one small dot at a time. As to making a gun.. not really. They managed to make a magazine.. equal to cheap stamped metal accuracies. Not equal to gun pressures and or gun fit.
     
  18. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I cant wait for the 3d printer revolution. There are a number of techs co-developing right now, some using simple plastic extruders, others using lasers for curing plastics, and even others using projectors as a light source to cure the plastic as it forms in a bath. The last two I hear are the most precise and require the least amount of manual finishing and offer the greatest range of detail and design freedom when creating objects.

    This would be awesome to make simple pinhole cameras with, or your own bulk loader, or custom camera grips even. It would be even more awesome if they could be used to form softer materials like silicone, or maybe use the 3d printer to make a simple mold and use that mold for the silicone, and bam you got custom fit eyecups, and soft grips for cameras, in any color your would like. Soft release buttons galore, film holders, etc etc.
     
  19. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    I have one of these hoods for my CV 35/1.4 Nokton. It is a bit of a tight fit, but it is so much cheaper than a metal one of the same rectangular shape. I'm quite happy with it.

    :smile:

    m
     
  20. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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  21. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    As Polyglot said you can print a "gun" in the US without needing to make a barrel or other metal parts. So if you are banned from buying a gun, it's still possible to buy all the firing parts and just make the receiver by way of a 3D printer or hammering some sheet metal.

    I have seen articles on 3D printers that can print metal parts. I think they are stronger than the plastic parts, but not as strong as cast or forged. But I imagine they would be adequate for many camera related tasks. Basically metal power is applied in layers and a laser fuses powder where the part should be built up. A new layer is added and the process repeats. Very cool stuff.
     
  22. rwhawkins

    rwhawkins Member

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