Update: lost PLA metal casting — The Movie

lost-pla-metal-casting-movie

Turning 3D printed plastic parts into metal objects is not a new concept. But we don’t see a lot of it and enjoyed watching the documentary version of [3DTOPO’s] lost PLA metal casting process so much we figured you’d want to see it too.

The thirty-five minute video walks through every part of the process which we originally learned about in September of last year. The process was developed as a way to fabricate parts that will be used in high-stress applications. For instance, the part seen above is a mounting bracket for the ball screws that moves the Z axis on a huge CNC build he’s been working on. A plastic part will break under the strain so he needed to make it out of aluminum alloy.

To start, the piece is modeled and printed in plastic to check the fit. Once it’s just right he scales it to 103% and prints it again to account for the shrinking of the metal as it cools. The next step is pictured above, adding paths using rigid foam insulation that allow for the metal pour and for air to escape. This is packed into a plaster and sand mold which dries before being cooked in a furnace to vaporize the foam and PLA. This leaves a perfect mold for the metal pour.

After the break you can see a 5-minute overview version of the project.

Continue reading “Update: lost PLA metal casting — The Movie”

Drilling perfectly centered holes

If you’ve ever been caught in the situation of needing to drill a clean straight hole down the center of a bolt or rod, you’ve probably tried and ended up with a broken bit or tilted hole, and a ton of cursing to boot.

[Vik] let us know about this nifty trick for drilling ‘down the middle’ using a simple hobby drill press and vice. He claims it’s ‘physics guiding the bit’ but in reality its just crafty use of a chuck. Either way the quick trick works, and will hopefully save a lot of hackers some headaches in the future.

Let us know in the comments if you have any simple quick tips that you use when you’re out in the shop.

Lumenlab’s new kit: Open source CNC


Imagine our surprise when we stumbled on the latest Lumenlab project: gantry style CNC. Until now the only time we ever invoked their name was for DIY projectors. The kit looks pretty interesting, and they’re taking pre-orders right now. It’s designed for a full sized router and you should be able to cut a 4′ by 8′ sheet with a feed roll. Even without, the cutting area is a large 26″ by 50″ and features 8″ of Z movement. Between their kit and an order from Online Metals, they’re projecting that you can build your own for around $1000. We’re definitely in when the final kit is released in June.