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?
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?
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.
I'm certain they can even print metal, but those machines are expensive; though you can make a mold to cast metal in!
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.
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Someone's using the tech to make lens hoods:
Any kind of guns you could make with a 3-D printer would basically be "zip guns." (Improvised firearms.)
Originally Posted by Chan Tran
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.
Last edited by Worker 11811; 02-26-2013 at 03:33 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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.
There are other printers coming down the pike. There will be DNA printers where you can design living organisms.
Just think, homemade GMOs
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Originally Posted by Chan Tran
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.