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  #1  
Old 11-24-2013, 12:35 AM
jjhoneck jjhoneck is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: PORT ARANSAS
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Default 3D Printer Applications

AOPA magazine this month shows a 3D printer-created throttle quadrant for an old Bonanza (?). Given the number of times I broke the throttle quadrant on my Cherokees, the thought of being able to simply print a new one is a good one!

Just wondering, now that I'm in this fabulous group of creative homebuilders -- are any of y'all making parts with these new machines? It seems like the possibilities for this new technology are endless!
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  #2  
Old 11-24-2013, 04:42 AM
flyvans.com flyvans.com is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Posts: 487
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following 3d printers for a while already... (caveat: haven't actually bought one yet due $$$ and have to find a problem for the solution first ;-))

i don't see that many applications in an rv, honestly.
certainly great to prototype/make good quality moulds for fiberglassing etc... but that won't actually fly on the aircraft and still is just another manufacturing step which takes time and doing it manually may be about the same effort.
also, possibly better cable brackets / non critical equipment holders could be another area of application.

i expect to see great improvement on the materials side in the next 10 years, which will eventually be perfect for e.g. ergonomic stick grips and throttle controls, landing light brackets and similar, possibly even complete fairings! the panel area to hold tablets, cables, avionics is another prime location.
obviously, one of the biggest advantages of 3d printers is consistent repeatability, ease of iterations, etc...

whereas as a homebuilder, you're mostly doing one-of's (obviously those could and should be shared in the community then).
but light weight, strength, wide temperature margin, minimum thickness/volume per strength are all not necessarily the primary objectives of 3d prints (at least today)
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  #3  
Old 11-24-2013, 04:58 AM
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plehrke plehrke is offline
 
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Location: Defiance, MO
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Still a ways off before 3D printers that make structural parts are affordable to the average homebuilder. Current machines coming to market are OK for stuff like tubes, ducts, non-structural fairings, cockpit/panel moldings, cup holders, etc. Parts are pretty brittle so anything with strength or vibration would not be possible.
That said there are plenty of technologies being worked for "additive manufacturing", term for structural 3D printing process that covers a whole range of materials and process. The day is here now when the big manufactures make large structural parts this way. Machines are still very big, pricey and require special environments.
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Last edited by plehrke : 11-24-2013 at 05:03 AM.
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  #4  
Old 11-24-2013, 06:59 AM
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rzbill rzbill is offline
 
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What Phillip said.

I use 3D printed parts as a normal business practice. The technology is great obviously, but the "quality" of the part remains directly related to the cost of the 3D printer with the good machines at more than 6 figure costs.

The better 3D printers will be capable of depositing a larger range of materials, at finer detail (this is important) and get better bonding between the layers. The better printers produce flexible parts with fine detail that allows thinner wall sections and ability to sand the surface to remove the evidence of 3D printer traces.

SO... yes you can directly make 3D plastic parts, but don't plan to buy a printer and do it. Those models will make a bizarro looking part that will break. Best used for visualization or proto moldmaking. Better to use a company or service that owns the way expensive machine
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  #5  
Old 11-24-2013, 07:51 AM
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Low Pass Low Pass is offline
 
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How about using 3d printers to make complex blanks or negatives for castings? Seems to be excellent for this. One of my personal items is to learn more about making metallic (or even non- metallic resin) castings at home...
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  #6  
Old 11-24-2013, 08:47 AM
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Dan Langhout Dan Langhout is offline
 
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Default 3D Printed Part




The bezel/mount for these annunciator lights on my panel was 3D printed in ABS. Had it made via eMachineShop.
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  #7  
Old 11-24-2013, 03:19 PM
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rocketbob rocketbob is offline
 
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A good friend of mine built a RepRap for me and I've had a lot of fun making parts for my airplanes, amongst other things. It paid for itself the first week I had it. One of the first parts I made was a new 8" diameter XL pulley for the Z-axis on my CNC mill. It would have cost upwards of $200 to buy a pulley that size, and I just modelled it in Solidworks and printed it, which took eight hours. Very amazing and practical tech, and its just a glorified CNC machine that spits ABS filament out of a heated nozzle onto a heated table.

It took a lot of time to tweak it and get it properly calibrated. It also took a lot of time playing around with settings in Slic3r and knowing how to set it up for a good print with a given part.

Recently I began working on a larger 3D printer of my own design based on the Aluminum Mendel. Print area is 12"x18"x12". I have a number of Rocket parts queued up for it: new more ergonomic footwells and a nice cover for the rear stick area.

Dan, if you can send me an .STL, .IGS, or even better a Solidworks part I can reprint that bezel for you. Looking at that pic the infill settings they used were not quite right and its possible to have a much better looking part.
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N9187P PA-24-260B Comanche, flying
N678X F1 Rocket, under const.
N244BJ RV-6 "victim of SNF tornado" 1200+ hrs, rebuilding
N8155F C150 flying
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  #8  
Old 11-24-2013, 03:30 PM
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rocketbob rocketbob is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Low Pass View Post
How about using 3d printers to make complex blanks or negatives for castings? Seems to be excellent for this. One of my personal items is to learn more about making metallic (or even non- metallic resin) castings at home...
Bryan, entirely possible... check this out:http://3dtopo.com/lostPLA/
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Bob Japundza CFI A&PIA
N9187P PA-24-260B Comanche, flying
N678X F1 Rocket, under const.
N244BJ RV-6 "victim of SNF tornado" 1200+ hrs, rebuilding
N8155F C150 flying
N7925P PA-24-250 Comanche, restoring
Not a thing I own is stock.
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  #9  
Old 11-24-2013, 07:51 PM
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Low Pass Low Pass is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketbob View Post
Bryan, entirely possible... check this out:http://3dtopo.com/lostPLA/
Excellent, Bob! Thanks.
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  #10  
Old 11-24-2013, 10:03 PM
CATPart CATPart is offline
 
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I have had some prototype parts flying around on some business jets for a couple years now. I had some of my parts printed, prepped, then chrome plated, some painted. You can really make them look good with filler, sanding, then paint. I used high end materiel called ultem, still fused deposition as bob described. There are methods used to toughen parts. One company will basically submerge the part in epoxy then pump out the air from the chamber, then let the air back in. This forces the epoxy into the voids in the part making it tougher and sealing it. Fused deposition, depending on the print quality, can have significant porosity.
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