One of the chief limitations of hobby scale 3D printing is its inability to print metal. Yes, there are commercial 3D printers that can print metal, even exotic metals like Inconel. But the cost of such 3D printers is prohibitive for all but the most high end applications.
What’s a poor 3D printing hobbyist to do about metal?
One great answer is to use their 3D Printer to create the models that are to be used to cast the part from metal using the lost wax casting technique (known more formally as investment casting). With lost wax, one makes a full size replica of the desired part. That replica is then embedded in a material capable of withstanding the high temperatures of the molten metal to be used for the part. That result is then placed in a kiln where the model (normally wax, but in this case 3D printed plastic) is “burned out” of the mold. It is literally burnt away leaving behind a void shaped exactly like the desired part. Next, molten metal is poured into this new mold to case the part. The material is chipped or washed away and Voila! A new part is born.
We’re close to the half way point on the year and as always, I like to pass along which blog posts and articles (articles being those pages outside the CNCCookbook blog proper) have been the most popular. We have several thousand CNC articles on the site, and there are a lot of undiscovered treasures. Hopefully these 20 leads will help you to find something new and interesting here.
Let’s start with the 10 most popular blog posts so far this year:
1. 10 Tips for CNC Router Aluminum Cutting Success
This one has been on the top for quite a while. Welcome to all the CNC Routers users who are looking to make cutting aluminum easier. It’s very doable, you just need to know a few of the tips.
2. 10 Things Beginning CNC Milling Machine Users Need to Succeed
Intro articles have always been a strong suite for CNCCookbook so I was pleased to see this article for CNC beginners did well.
3. Motion Control Boards Take Mach3 From Hobby Class to Industrial Grade
We cater to professionals as well as DIY CNC’ers. The latter tend to be from the more advanced end of the DIY spectrum,…
One Wheeled Scooters: they’re not as good as flying cars, but they are pretty cool!
I try to balance the editorial content here at CNCCookbook between learning the art of CNC Manufacturing (you never stop learning, experts and beginners alike) and showing off inspirational articles about CNC Projects you could build or that others have built. It can seem a bit eclectic, but the formula works as our readership has grown to circa 2 million visitors a year and continues to grow like gangbusters. Thanks to all of you readers for that!
And while I’m at it, let me put in a plug for our email newsletter. Click here to subscribe and we’ll add you to the list. In exchange, you’ll receive a digest once a week of the articles published in the last week. A lot of people like to save up several articles and not have to keep checking back. The email newsletter makes that easy.
Now what’s all this about One Wheeled Electric Scooters?
I have been impressed by the efforts to build electric bicycles I’ve seen and have written about them in the past. I aim to build one myself at some point, perhaps even a…
I really love the idea of Food- and Drink-Making CNC Projects, being an amateur chef who has been a guest chef a number of times at our local restaurants. This is the most complete project I’ve come across yet for building your own barbot–a robotic bartender that mixes drinks. It’s called “BarMixvah” and was created by Apple Engineer Yu Jiang Tham. Here is what the machine looks like:
BarMixvah: Your Robotic Bartender…
BarMixvah uses an Arduino (a very popular inexpensive single board computer for projects like these) to control four peristaltic pumps. This is similar to Bartendro, a Kickstarter barbot we’ve written about before. These little pumps are ideal for this application because they simply move rollers over plastic tubing. They’re easy to clean, easy to make food safe, and capable of metering ingredients precisely. Even better, they’re pretty cheap. BarMixvah’s pumps run on 12V DC and cost just $14 apiece on Amazon.
The project includes all the information needed to build your own BarMixvah including the stl files for 3D printing and the code for the software on github. Once complete, BarMixvah is run from a web server, which makes it easy to control from your iPad or other…
Remember those MIT students that had the crazy handheld “CNC” router? That was one of the all-time popular articles for CNCCookbook back in the day. Well, it seems they’ve started a company they call Tactia to build these routers and a lot more. It’s not quite full CNC, but much more than ordinary hand tools. Here it is in their own words:
CNC enables complex shapes to be economically produced and shared across the world. However, the process of using CNC is still complex, and somehow doesn’t feel human. That is where we come in. We have figured out how to blend the power of computer control with the flexibility, simplicity, and pleasure of using a hand tool. Whether you are a traditional craftsperson or a CNC guru, our tools will change the way you work.
Here are some projects done by a novice woodworker freehand using one of their routers:
I don’t know about you, but that looks to me like extremely nice work from a novice woodworker.
These routers work by letting the human hand guide the gross positioning while watching a screen and having the machine adjust the micro-position to be faithful to the design. That’s why…
With one more session of fiddling, the CNCCookbook Rostock MAX v2 was mechanically and electronically complete and it was time for the next stage: calibration followed by printing the first part. We got through the fiddling, calibration, and first part in one long afternoon–about 4 hours.
The calibration took the longest, and we encountered some problems. The main problem was with the “PID Autotune” process. The bed and hot end (extruder) have not only resistive heating but thermistors to measure the temperatures reached. Printing is a bit finicky about temps and wants them to be precise. The PID is sort of the equivalent of a servo for a mechanical CNC axis–it provides feedback that drives the temperature controls. The Rostock’s controller has an “autotune” process for getting the PID dialed in, but we couldn’t get it to work on the hot end. It would zoom the temp up too high and complain things had gotten too hot and then bail out. Eventually I found a reference suggesting I turn down the max PID value from 255 to 128. I did so and Autotune then worked. The claim was it would work properly once the PEEK fan was installed. This was…
Many believe that Apple’s incredible success is due to its Vertical Integration Strategy. The idea behind Vertical Integration is that by owning more of parts needed to create a complete solution its possible to make a much better solution. Apple makes the hardware, the operating system, and many of the critical productivity apps in its products. By contrast, Microsoft, Intel, PC Manufacturers, and Windows Software Makers all have to work together by loose (and sometimes factious) collaboration to produce an end result. The latter situation is where we find CNC today. It’s actually not a bad thing at all for industrial users. They’re power users who want to be able to mix and match a solution to fit their needs. Apple is not very strong in the equivalent PC Server market, despite having tried several times to gain penetration. Where Vertical Integration matters is where maximum ease of use is needed, not where maximum power is needed, and Desktop CNC is exactly where such a difference will matter.
We’ve seen an increasing number of machines appear on Kickstarter and elsewhere as the market struggles to crack open the Desktop CNC Market. There are some great solutions out there, with Tormach…
I was recently contacted by the West Coast Office of Datron Dynamics. It seems they were interested in getting G-Wizard Calculator into the hands of their customers. Their machines are, to use their word, Unconventional. For one thing, they all have very high speed spindles, which makes Feeds and Speeds problematic. Even if you’re an old hand running the usual VMC’s found in manufacturers, very few will have had experience above, say, 15000 rpm. This is the realm of High Speed Machining. Suffice it to say that G-Wizard worked great for their customer. They were able to get good results easily and with little to no training. Never being one to miss an opportunity, I stepped up and asked if I could come visit and see the Datron’s in action. Here I have a confession to make–I’ve been drooling over their videos of high speed machining for some time and was very excited to make the field trip and see them first hand.
Let’s get back to our Porsche analogy. If Porsche were to build machining centers, what would they be like? For starters, they’d be German Engineered, just like Datron. Natch. But I think they’d also adhere to Datron’s…
Start with Autodesk’s 123D Catch software that converts photos to 3D models. Add a CNC Router with high speed spindle that’s in a chamber chilled to -7 degrees C. Take a block of ice made from the finest pure spring water and slice a smaller blank from it. Place the ice onto the the CNC Router, cue the jazz music and make your ice cube:
When the cube is ready, put it in your finest crystal tumbler and add a splash of Suntory whiskey. Relax in your favorite chair and enjoy. They may not make the whiskey taste better, but they sure do look cool.
These ice cubes were made in many inspiring shapes. Here are just a few:
Maybe this is how the very wealthy enjoy their whiskey. It makes me think I’m going to need to add a special “Ice Cube Art” module to the Barbot when I finally get around to building it.…
Long time CNCCookbook readers will have come across my project-in-planning Astronomical Clock. It’s one of those projects I promise myself I will be devoted to when my life is a little less busy (does that time ever come?). Meanwhile, with a new 3D Printer on its way to CNCCookbook (just got the tracking notice yesterday, very excited!), I started wondering about making a clock with the 3D Printer. Who knows, maybe this would be a good way to prototype some of the gear trains for my Astro Clock? This also goes under the category of wanting to do something with CNC that my (nearly all) non-CNC friends would find interesting. I make a lot of tooling and parts for other projects (spares for some of my cars, for example), but it isn’t very often that I get to make something they really think is cool. The biggest hit to date had been a Turner’s Cube, but I digress.
This post is a survey of some 3D Printed Clockwork projects I found interesting.
Plotclock: An Open Source 3D Printed Clock that Writes the Time
This first one has little to do with clockwork and everything to do with clocks and just…
3D printing is great stuff, but the reaction of many is that it is either a toy or at best only suited to prototype work. Most 3D printing processes are too slow and too inaccurate to be used for full-scale manufacturing. Until now.
I recently found out about an entirely new 3D Printing process invented by a Silicon Valley company called Atomic CNC. Atomic are being very secretive about what they’re doing until they have all their patent ducks in a row, but I was able to get a preview of the technology and a few details. Essentially, they have created a process that can 3D Print almost anything atom by atom (that pretty much guarantees any level of accuracy you might want) and at extremely high speeds. If their claims are true, and they seem almost too good to be true, their new process will revolutionize manufacturing. The founder, Gilbert Hughes, is a young Stanford physics student who dropped out to build his dream machine, the Atomic CNC 3D Printer. The company has a great deal of funding from some of Sand Hill Road’s (that’s where the VC’s hang out in Silicon Valley) most prestigious firms.
I met Gilbert…
Are you ready for this?
Foodini has launched a Kickstarter program to sell their 3D Printer for Food. The machine hails from Barcelona, Spain from a company called Natural Machines. The earliest “investors” on Kickstarter will be able to get a Foodini 3D Food Printer for $999. The Foodini retail price will be $1300.
The machine works by extruding food stuffs that are inserted in “food capsules” which are then placed in the machine. Here is a shot of the machine and an extruder capsule:
The Foodini 3D Food Printer: Very sleek design for your high tech kitchen…
Here’s the extruder capsule that it uses. Kind of like a really big syringe…
Why would you want extruded food? Well first of all, it’s just the coolest thing to show friends that you have a 3D Food Printer, but when that wears off you’ll still have the advantage of being able to make intricately designed food that would be too difficult or time consuming to do by hand. For example, these Christmas themed chocolate confections:
Foodini uses the example of handmade ravioli:
Take an example of ravioli. How often have you made homemade ravioli? Rolling out the dough to a thin…
The exciting thing about CNC is you can make almost anything you can imagine. For some, even more exciting is the prospect of owning their own business manufacturing products they have designed. In the Internet Age that’s a lot more possible than you might think given the leg up in marketing services like Kickstarter can provide. Kickstarter is a marketplace for not-yet-manufactured products. The idea is to provide seed money that can be used to launch a product by offering the initial units in the Kickstarter marketplace. Here’s a round up of 10 Cool Kickstarter Projects that are waiting for people to invest in their future as I write this. Any one of them would make an awesome CNC project. Think of it as inspiration for your own CNC Projects, or possibly as products you may not be able to live without that are worth investing in.
The Open Enigma Project
If you’re like me, you would be fascinated with an original German Enigma cryptography machine. I’ve seen them (rarely) in museums a time or two and wondered at their complexity. This Kickstarter project is all about duplicating the Enigma’s look and function using modern Arduino electronics.
A working albeit…
Gearotic is Art Fenerty’s specialized CADCAM program for gear design. Art is the man who wrote the original versions of Mach3, so he knows a thing or two about CNC. I have wanted a good video that will both teach you what Gearotic is capable of and also be related to a real project. Art’s video about designing and building a “Ticker” was a great example, so let me pass it along here:
What you’ll see is Art’s narrative and demonstration of how to use Gearotic to design what he calls “Tickers.” A Ticker is a sort of kinetic sculpture that uses escapements like you’d find in clocks to create some really interesting motions.
If you like clocks, gear design, or kinetic sculpture, Gearotic is a really neat piece of software to have on hand. Even better, you can purchase Gearotic from CNCCookbook. In fact, it’s even on sale for the next 2 weeks when you purchase it in conjunction with any other CNCCookbook software (the options are listed on that last purchase link) and use the President’s Day Sale “GEORGEWASHINGTON” coupon code at checkout. For example, Gearotic and a 1 year subscription to G-Wizard Calculator would be $126.65 with…
I hear you’re a machinist, you’ve got access to CNC machines, and you’re dying to do a cool project that your friends will love. Youo just need the right idea. How about this:
– Take an existing product.
– Discard, some all, or none of it.
– Create a new skin for it that radically changes the product to something MUCH better.
That’s a Reskinning Project. There’ll all over the web if you look carefully. Here’s some ideas to get you fired up to Reskin something:
PC and HiFi Case Mods
Reskinning PC’s and HiFi’s has been going on a long time and there are some very cool results out there. Heck, I’ve even fooled around with it myself. I remember my Dad reskinned his monaural HiFi system by mounting it in an antique Victrola cabinet.
Check out these reskinning projects:
Minimalist PC design, straightforward to do via CNC. See how it was made without CNC…
Art Deco style PC case…
Retro Philco TV PC is amazing, and ambitious. So far it’s just a 3D rendering…
Woo Audio headphone amp combines clean design with retro tubes. Must be nice to see those tubes light up the room at night. I’m…