Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Space Industry and Business News .




TECH SPACE
Scientists build a low-cost, open-source 3D metal printer
by Staff Writers
Houghton MI (SPX) Dec 08, 2013


This is Michigan Tech's open-source 3-D metal printer in action. Credit: Chenlong Zhang.

OK, so maybe you aren't interested in making your own toys, cellphone cases, or glow-in-the-dark Christmas decorations. How about a brake drum? Until now, 3D printing has been a polymer affair, with most people in the maker community using the machines to make all manner of plastic consumer goods, from tent stakes to chess sets. A new low-cost 3D printer developed by Michigan Technological University's Joshua Pearce and his team could add hammers to that list.

The detailed plans, software and firmware are all freely available and open-source, meaning anyone can use them to make their own metal 3D printer.

Pearce is the first to admit that his new printer is a work in progress. So far, the products he and his team have produced are no more intricate than a sprocket. But that's because the technology is so raw. "Similar to the incredible churn in innovation witnessed with open-sourcing of the first RepRap plastic 3D printers, I anticipate rapid progress when the maker community gets their hands on it," says Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering.

"Within a month, somebody will make one that's better than ours, I guarantee it."

Using under $1,500 worth of materials, including a small commercial MIG welder and an open-source microcontroller, Pearce's team built a 3D metal printer than can lay down thin layers of steel to form complex geometric objects. Commercial metal printers are available, but they cost over half a million dollars.

His make-it-yourself metal printer is less expensive than off-the-shelf commercial plastic 3D printers and is affordable enough for home use, he said.

However, because of safety concerns, Pearce suggests that for now it would be better off in the hands of a shop, garage or skilled DIYer, since it requires more safety gear and fire protection equipment than the typical plastic 3D printer.

While metal 3D printing opens new vistas, it also raises anew the specter of homemade firearms. Some people have already made guns with both commercial metal and plastic 3D printers, with mixed results. While Pearce admits to some sleepless nights as they developed the metal printer, he also believes that the good to come from all types of distributed manufacturing with 3D printing will far outweigh the dangers.

In previous work, his group has already shown that making products at home with a 3D printer is cheaper for the average American and that printing goods at home is greener than buying commercial goods.

In particular, expanded 3D printing would benefit people in the developing world, who have limited access to manufactured goods, and researchers, who can radically cut costs of scientific equipment to further their science, Pearce said. "Small and medium-sized enterprises would be able to build parts and equipment quickly and easily using downloadable, free and open-source designs, which could revolutionize the economy for the benefit of the many."

"I really don't know if we are mature enough to handle it," he added cautiously, "but I think that with open-source approach, we are within reach of a Star Trek-like, post-scarcity society, in which 'replicators' can create a vast array of objects on demand, resulting in wealth for everyone at very little cost. Pretty soon, we'll be able to make almost anything."

Explore further: 3-D printing: Making your own saves energy, scientist says

More information: The work is described in "A Low-Cost, Open-Source Metal 3-D Printer," to be published Nov. 25 in IEEE Access DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2013.2293018

.


Related Links
Michigan Technological University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TECH SPACE
3D printing 'will change the world'
Paris (AFP) Nov 16, 2013
From replacement kidneys to guns, cars, prosthetics and works of art, 3D printing is predicted to transform our lives in the coming decades as dramatically as the Internet did before it. "I have no doubt it is going to change the world," researcher James Craddock told AFP at the two-day 3D Printshow in Paris which wraps up later on Saturday. A member of the 3D Printing Research Group (3D ... read more


TECH SPACE
SST Australia: Signed, Sealed and Ready for Delivery

Scientists build a low-cost, open-source 3D metal printer

An ecosystem-based approach to protect the deep sea from mining

Study shows how water dissolves stone, molecule by molecule

TECH SPACE
US Navy Accepts MUOS-2 Satellite, Ground Stations After On-Orbit Testing

Boeing Tests Validate Performance of FAB-T Satellite Communications Program

Intelsat General To Provide Satellite Services To US Marines

Manpack Radios in Arctic Connect with MUOS Satellites Orbiting Equator

TECH SPACE
Russian Proton-M rocket launches Inmarsat-5F1 satellite

Basic build-up is being completed for Arianespace's Soyuz to launch Gaia

Third time a charm: SpaceX launches commercial satellite

Arianespace's role as a partner for the US satellite industry

TECH SPACE
'Smart' wig navigates by GPS, monitors brainwaves

CIA, Pentagon trying to hinder construction of GLONASS stations in US

GPS 3 Prototype Communicates With GPS Constellation

Russia to enforce GLONASS Over GPS

TECH SPACE
Northrop Grumman Team Demonstrates Virtual Air Refueling Across Distributed Simulator Locations for USAF

Purdue science balloon, thought lost, makes dramatic return to campus

German helicopter deal examined by federal auditors: report

US telling airlines to stay safe in East China Sea

TECH SPACE
A step closer to composite-based electronics

50 Meters of Optical Fiber Shrunk to the Size of Microchips

Chips meet Tubes: World's First Terahertz Vacuum Amplifier

NIST demonstrates how losing information can benefit quantum computing

TECH SPACE
China-Brazil satellite fails to enter orbit

Mysteries of Earth's radiation belts uncovered by NASA twin spacecraft

Mapping the world's largest coral reef

Indra To Manage And Operate The Main Sentinel-2

TECH SPACE
Air pollution in Europe kills even at guideline levels

Hong Kong announces new air pollution index

UCSB researcher shows microplastic transfers chemicals, impacting health

Madrid street-sweepers call off strike: union




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement