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    Re: 3D printing & sextants - a few surprises
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2014 Jan 09, 10:42 -0800

    I read this with interest.  

    While 3D printing for the masses today must be on easily melted plastics, I was aware of 3D printing of metals, so Surprises 1 and 2 were reasonable.   But just as I exclaimed to myself "yeah, but the cost was astronomical as compared to ordinary machining," you offered Surprise 3.    That's amazing!

    In the past few weeks there was a filler on one of the US TV news broadcasts about 3D printing's move into real-world manufacturing.   But that news piece, after touting all the benefits of 3D printing of, say, stamping molds for forming car bodies said that costs still far exceeded the costs of traditional alternatives.

    There has been discussion on another list that I'm on where some of the advocates of 3D printing claim that it will form the basis of a second Industrial Revolution.    The first give us mass-produced goods at very low prices; this second one will potentially give us custom goods at equally low prices.

    I live in the Silicon Valley area.  Not only have we seen the first retail shop open where one can get a 3D design printed at a reasonable cost on a quality printer, but libraries in two of our communities have installed 3D printers for the masses to use!


    On 1/9/2014 10:03 AM, Eric van der Veen wrote:


    A word on 3D printing following recent posts.

    It is a misconception that 3D printing is limited to floppy plastics.

    Today in the office I had the opportunity to inspect a titanium(!) 3D-printed part.

    This was piece approx. 3 cm in diameter, approx. 7 mm thick. It was designed for a miniature satellite rocket nozzle, and manufactured for us by a Belgian company.

    Surprise 1. This was not done by sintering, as is usual in 3D printing of metals. This was more like a cast on micro-scale with a 3D printer with a very hot printhead and printbed. Thus the result has the same properties (strength!) as if it was machined titanium. Very light, very strong. Incredible.

    Surprise 2. This unit featured approx 10 holes through the full thickness. Holes were diameter 0.3 mm (!!!!). Try that with a drill. You won't succeed, as all but the most expensive drills will break.

    Surprise 3. A machined equivalent (if the drills work out) would be 1-2 days labour, totalling approx. $1200. This 3D piece..... approx $300.

    So, for all you people doing sextant repair, restoration or manufacture...I suggest you keep a close look on how 3D printing technology evolves. It will open possibilities beyond what we can imagine today.

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