3D Printed Carbon
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  1. #1
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    3D Printed Carbon

    I hadn't thought much of 3D printing until Science Daily published an article where entrepreneurs discovered that old milk jugs can be used to for the plastic filaments used in this process. Then it made me wonder if we could drive down the cost of carbon frames by 3D printing them with carbon filaments. I'm not sure where to begin, though. Does anybody have ideas if this might or might not work?

  2. #2
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    From my understanding of the process, 3D printing is not cheap on a mass scale.

    Aside from that, aren't the strengths and benefits of carbon fiber achieved by laying the "grain" in certain ways? Unless theres a liquid carbon injection molding process that's just as strong as laying up sheets of carbon fiber?

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    Correct on both fronts. Far, far too expensive, and you cannot, at the current state of the art, print carbon fibers. For a 3D-printed frame to have the strength that is required, it would have to weigh a ton and a half...

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    I cannot believe the stupid stuff that gets written about 3D printing lately. According to the media everyone's going to be illegally downloading everyday objects and even printing plastic guns.

    Engineers have had this technology for quite a while. We call it "rapid prototyping", ie it's not used for making production parts. If you've ever held one of the parts made by any of these processes you'd know why. They're much heavier and weaker than a standard injection-molded plastic part. You may use 3D printing to make a blank from which you make a mold from which you then make your part, but that's about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by enzo24 View Post
    I cannot believe the stupid stuff that gets written about 3D printing lately. According to the media everyone's going to be illegally downloading everyday objects and even printing plastic guns.

    Engineers have had this technology for quite a while. We call it "rapid prototyping", ie it's not used for making production parts. If you've ever held one of the parts made by any of these processes you'd know why. They're much heavier and weaker than a standard injection-molded plastic part. You may use 3D printing to make a blank from which you make a mold from which you then make your part, but that's about it.
    Plastic printed parts are generally imprecise and weak, it's true, but they don't have to be like that; there are 3D printers that use much stronger materials, such as sintered titanium. These printers are very expensive to purchase and operate, but the technology will improve and eventually be cheap enough for ordinary people to own, and it will be a change as radical as the industrial revolution was.

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    ^ I wouldn't hold my breath.
    Last edited by Cinelli 82220; 03-02-2013 at 04:36 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SauronHimself View Post
    3D printing them with carbon filaments. I'm not sure where to begin, though. Does anybody have ideas if this might or might not work?
    The strength of CF comes from the fibers.
    3D printers are using powder.
    Metal printers use lasers to bond/weld the particles. That can't be done with carbon fibre.
    Metal object=block of ice, carbon object=snowball

  8. #8
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    I bought one of these mounts made using this tech, it's just fine...Home - RaceWare Direct

  9. #9
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    I was at BFGoodrich Research in the late '70's when 3-D printing for prototypes was being done. Practical uses, other than product visualization, are few.
    I got six Cadillacs, five Lincolns, four Fords, six Mercuries, three T-Birds, and a Mustang.

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    I don't know where 3D printing is going to go, I am not directly involved with it. I did work with it about 20 years ago. We used a company to build mock ups of the cordless phones we were developing. It was an interesting technology at the time, and I am sre it has evolved quite a bit at the time. I only have to compare the electronics, what took several ICs and a bunch on descrete components can now be done easily with a single IC.

    I remember when digital cameras were on the horizon, and people saing that they could never replace film, I think there are 6 digital cameras in our house now.

    Look at the computing power we now have available, and compare it to what was expected. Or the data bandwidth that we now have available at our homes.

    Sure 3D printing might be a media darling at the moment and don't put a lot of faith in their ability to predict the future of technology. But if the economics support it, it could be a very useful and I the resting manufacturing method, probably not how we expect to see it though.

    I for one would like to see it progress, I would love to get my hands on a printer and start fabricating stuff.

  11. #11
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    Enzo and Pirx are right on the mark.
    We use a 3D printer to print our CAD file into a resin mold for jewelry, and then have to cast that in precious metal. But the resin mold is brittle and weak.
    The technology is available to print right to metal (in my case, gold, platinum, silver), but the piece comes out much heavier than printing a mold and then casting from that.
    With precious metal prices so high, you can't have the thing weigh twice what it should.
    With bike weight being so important, if you're able to print your own frame, but it weighs 2500 grams...

    Not useful in this context, but check out this cool new 3D pen:

    3Doodler: The World's First 3D Printing Pen by WobbleWorks LLC. — Kickstarter

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by enzo24 View Post
    I cannot believe the stupid stuff that gets written about 3D printing lately. According to the media everyone's going to be illegally downloading everyday objects and even printing plastic guns.
    I printed my own nuclear detonator just the other day!

    Quote Originally Posted by enzo24 View Post
    Engineers have had this technology for quite a while. We call it "rapid prototyping", ie it's not used for making production parts. If you've ever held one of the parts made by any of these processes you'd know why. They're much heavier and weaker than a standard injection-molded plastic part.
    That's what I am used to as well, but it is no longer correct. The technology has improved. I've seen some 3d printed parts that are as strong and flexible as injection molded. I have one, a Garmin mount. I was able to bend it quite a ways (to get the bar clamp open) and it handled it fine. This part is lighter than other Garmin mounts, quite sturdy and made precisely (to hold the Garmin with the proper amount of friction). If it wasn't for the finish not being smooth you would not be able to tell it from a high quality injection molded part.

    Edit: it's linked to above.


    What will make carbon fiber parts much cheaper and better is automated layup machines. Right now the layup can be designed on a computer but has to be performend by an experienced person. That's expensive and slow. Once computerized layup is perfected we'll see a plethora of inexpensive carbon fiber.

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