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  1. #1
    I'm toying with the idea of buying a 3D printer. I have a particular job - motor fan cowl - which a printer should handle well, but while I can see it might come in handy from time to time, I'm struggling to think of other jobs. Looking at Youtube it seems that the major use is for producing useless ugly sh*t for the sake of it. What do the serious people on this forum use their printers for?

  2. #2
    Funnily enough, when I told a friend I had bought a 3D printer, his first reaction was "What the hell are you going to use that for". Before I left his shop he had asked me if I could print a cup to fit in the drinks holder of his Jag, to keep coins in and a bracket for his powered wheelchair.

    I have used the printer for all sorts, from cases for equipment to an alien plaque for a sculpture. I have printed a lithophane of my son and his new-born daughter.

    What you can do with a 3D printer is limited by the build envelope of your machine and your imagination.

  3. #3
    Mmm... I think my imagination may be the problem.

    I get the impression from Youtube that there are very severe limitations to how useful a 3DP might be. Fine if you want to be "creative", but it's not my kind of creativity. Most people's imaginations, including my own, should be kept in check - I produce enough valueless junk as it is!!!

    Despite searching extensively, the nearest I can find to something really useful was a printed gear for an Atlas lathe. That was intersting, but if I need a gear I'd just make it out of steel. I can see it might be useful for the ocassional item - bracket for this or that, but I'm really intersted in useful items for other machine builds and engineering projects, tools etc.

    3DPs look great for designers and prototypers, but I'm struggling to justify one for an engineering workshop.

    BTW I think I posted this in the wrong place - sorry about that.

  4. #4
    I build all sorts of things for all sorts of things.!!
    I use them to make covers, limit switch brackets, terminal boxes, Motor covers, etc and even Motor mounts on some machines I've built. They are great for proto typing parts for checking fit and looks etc.

    I build jigs using them and all sorts of things little things that you wouldn't other wise bother making because not simple. Provided your handy with Cad then it's simple with 3D printer, just hit the go button and walk away, several hours later you have ready made parts.
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

  5. #5
    Thanks Jazz, you're warming me to the idea!

  6. #6
    I am currently refitting my workspace, but when the 3D printer is back up and working, I have control enclosures to print and like Jazz, I have printed limit switch mounts covers etc...
    A lot of my CNC hold-down clamps and jigs are 3D printed - It is just much easier than farting about with bits of wood and metal.

    I have even printed a prototype dog clutch for threading on my mini lathe, including a drive gear. It all worked, but the project got shelved (basically 'cos I couldn't be arsed).

    I find it a great tool and I usually use Sketchup for quick and narsty items, but when I have managed to fight Fusion360 (and sometimes won) the results are superb.

    If you are going to get a printer, get a good quality one as the cheaper plastic ones are not worth the plastic they are printed with.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by cropwell View Post
    I am currently refitting my workspace, but when the 3D printer is back up and working, I have control enclosures to print and like Jazz, I have printed limit switch mounts covers etc...
    A lot of my CNC hold-down clamps and jigs are 3D printed - It is just much easier than farting about with bits of wood and metal.

    I have even printed a prototype dog clutch for threading on my mini lathe, including a drive gear. It all worked, but the project got shelved (basically 'cos I couldn't be arsed).

    I find it a great tool and I usually use Sketchup for quick and narsty items, but when I have managed to fight Fusion360 (and sometimes won) the results are superb.

    If you are going to get a printer, get a good quality one as the cheaper plastic ones are not worth the plastic they are printed with.
    Thanks for the reply. I was think of the Creality Ender-3 - https://ebay.us/tgCJ89 - as this seems to be quite highly regarded. I'd like a 300mm cube workspace, but I'm not willing to spend £500 until I've dipped my toe in the water.

  8. #8
    They are useful to get a protatype piece to check fit, size whatever before actually making out of metal, they also give you a view from any direction you like rather than spining a flat 3d cad model about, you can make your modifications and reprint only wasting a bit of plastic instead of more expensive materials.
    I have also printed a few parts that were originally plastic that broke making the thing unusable, a meat slicer for example stripped 2 teeth of a cog that drives the blade, not purchasable without buying the full blade, for a few cents its working after a bit of trial and error rather than trashing the machine. many older obselete apliances missing a small part can be brought back to life. You can even print a pair of shoes with flexable plastic if you desire. or even screwboxes to keep your bits and bobs tin in some sort of order.
    Then of course if you have kids you can save a lot of money printing those spiderman, hulk, batman figures that they all want and charge a fortune for.
    Go to thingivers.com and look through the tool section, some amazing ideas, thats just 1 of the many online free repositories to download .stl files from. I always try there first to see if anyone else has already modeled what I'm looking for before trying to draw it myself as my cad design/modeling sucks

    Derek

  9. #9
    Thingiverse is useful if you want to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

  10. #10
    Thanks for the replies. I certainly think there are possibly more possible application than I had at first thought.

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