Metalworking might conjure images of large furnaces powered by coal, wood, or electricity, with molten metal sloshing around and visible in its crucible. But metalworking from home doesn’t need to use anything more fancy than a microwave, at least according to [Denny] a.k.a. [Shake the Future]. He has a number of metalworking tools designed to melt metal using a microwave, and in this video he uses them to make a usable aluminum pencil with a graphite core.
Before getting to the microwave kiln, the pencil mold needs to be prepared. A 3D-printed pencil is first created with the graphite core, and then [Denny] uses a plaster of Paris mixture to create the mold for the pencil. The 3D printed plastic is left inside the mold and placed in the first microwave kiln, which is turned on just enough to melt the plastic out of the mold, leaving behind the graphite core. From there a second kiln goes into the microwave to melt the aluminum.
Once the molten aluminum is ready, it is removed from the kiln and poured in the still-warm pencil mold. This is where [Denny] has another trick up his sleeve. He’s using a household vacuum cleaner to suck the metal into place before it cools, creating a rudimentary but effective vacuum forming machine. The result is a working pencil, at least after he wears down a few razor blades attempting to sharpen the metal pencil. For more information about how [Denny] makes these microwave kilns, take a look at some of his earlier projects.
Continue reading “Casting Metal With A Microwave And Vacuum Cleaner” →
Our canine partners are fortunately not affected by the current global pandemic, but it turns out there are other dangers that might necessitate them to wearing masks: Foxtail seeds. After getting a $400 vet bill for extracting a foxtail from his dog, [Hildeguard]’s ear, [Amos Dudley] decided to take the threat seriously and made her a form-fitting 3D printed mask.
The only commercial solution [Amos] could find was the “OutFox Field Guard”, which is a $50 vinyl-coated mesh bag that covers the dog’s entire head. It had the unfortunate side effects of causing some other dogs to try and rip it off and does not allow easy access to the mouth for treats or balls. [Hilde]’s custom mask was designed in CAD after creating a rough 3D scan of her head with an iPhone app. The bottom is open to allow [Hilde] to freely use her mouth, while the nose and ears holes are covered with mesh. Custom heat-formed polycarbonate lenses cover the eye holes. The mask itself was printed using Draft resin, and the inside was padded with a thin layer of foam. It might also be possible to create a silicone version using a 3D-printed mold. The top features an integrated GoPro mount, and we can’t help but wonder what other electronic upgrades could be fitted to this sci-fi-looking mask.
In the field, the mask worked well and did not seem to bother [Hilde]. Unfortunately, it did not solve the problem of other dogs trying to rip it off at the park, so for the moment [Amos] is only using it for more solitary activities like hiking.
It doesn’t look like [Amos] is struggling in that department, but if you need some help burning of your dog’s energy, you can always built them a 3D printed automatic ball launcher.
It may seem overwrought, but The Drama of Metal Forming actually is pretty dramatic.
This film is another classic of mid-century corporate communications that was typically shown in schools, which the sponsor — in this case Shell Oil — seeks to make a point about the inevitable march of progress, and succeeds mainly in showing children and young adults what lay in store for them as they entered a working world that needed strong backs more than anything.
Despite the narrator’s accent, the factories shown appear to be in England, and the work performed therein is a brutal yet beautiful ballet of carefully coordinated moves. The sheer power of the slabbing mills at the start of the film is staggering, especially when we’re told that the ingots the mill is slinging about effortlessly weigh in at 14 tons apiece. Seeing metal from the same ingots shooting through the last section of a roller mill at high speed before being rolled into coils gives one pause, too; the catastrophe that would result if that razor-sharp and red-hot metal somehow escaped the mill doesn’t bear imagining. Similarly, the wire drawing process that’s shown later even sounds dangerous, with the sound increasing in pitch to a malignant whine as the die diameter steps down and the velocity of the wire increases.
There are the usual charming anachronisms, such as the complete lack of safety gear and the wanton disregard for any of a hundred things that could instantly kill you. One thing that impressed us was the lack of hearing protection, which no doubt led to widespread hearing damage. Those were simpler times, though, and the march of progress couldn’t stop for safety gear. Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: The Drama Of Metal Forming” →
Press-forming is a versatile metal forming technique that can quickly and easily turn sheet metal into finished parts. But there’s a lot of time and money tied up in the tooling needed, which can make it hard for the home-gamer to get into. Unless you 3D-print your press-form tooling, of course.
Observant readers will no doubt recall our previous coverage of press-forming attempts with plastic tooling, which were met with varying degrees of success. But [Dave]’s effort stands apart for a number of reasons, not least of which is his relative newbishness when it comes to hot-squirt manufacturing. Even so, he still came up with an interesting gradient infill technique that put most of the plastic at the working face of the dies. That kept print times in the reasonable range, at least compared to the days of printing that would have been needed for 100% infill through the whole tool profile.
The other innovation that we liked was the idea to use epoxy resin to reinforce the tools. Filling the infill spaces on the tools’ undersides with resin resulted in a solid, strong block that was better able to withstand pressing forces. [Dave] didn’t fully account for the exothermic natures of the polymerization reaction, though, and slightly warped the tools. But as the video below shows, even suboptimal tools can perform, bending everything he threw at them, including the hydraulic press to some extent.
It sure seems like this is one technique to keep in mind for a rainy day. And hats off to [Dave] for sharing what didn’t work, since it points the way to improvements.
Continue reading “3D-Printed Press-Forming Tools Dos And Don’ts” →
When you think of machine tooling, what comes to mind might be an endmill made of tungsten carbide or a punch and die made of high-speed steel. But surely there’s no room in the machine tool world for 3D-printed plastic tools, especially for the demanding needs of punching parts from sheet metal.
As it turns out, it is possible to make a 3D-printed punch and die set that will stand up to repeated use in a press brake. [Phil Vickery] decided to push the tooling envelope to test this, and came away pleasantly surprised by the results. In fairness, the die he used ended up being more of a composite between the carbon-fiber nylon filament and some embedded metal to reinforce stress points in the die block. It looks like the punch is just plastic, though, and both were printed on a Markforged Mark 2, a printer specifically designed for high-strength parts. The punch and die set were strong enough to form 14-gauge sheet steel in a press brake, which is pretty impressive. The tool wasn’t used to cut the metal; the blanks were precut with a laser before heading to the press. But still, having any 3D-printed tool stand up to metal opens up possibilities for rapid prototyping and short production runs.
No matter what material you make your tooling out of, there’s a lot to know about bending metal. Check out the basics in our guide to the art and science of bending metal.
Continue reading “3D-Printed Punch And Die Stand Up To Steel” →
A little dumpster-diving let [Nick Skvarla] build his vacuum form machine for around $5. He pulled a vacuum cleaner out of the trash, which was tossed away because of a broken power plug. He put it into a box which had been sealed with spray foam and used a piece of pegboard for the top side of the enclosure. He takes a piece of 40 mil PETG plastic from the hobby shop and mounts it in a wooden frame. That goes into the oven on broil until the entire sheet is sagging, then onto the vacuum former. Above he’s making forms out of some figurines which he’ll walk you through in the video after the break.
There’s a whole world of manufacturing processes that use these forms as a starting point. What would you use this for?
Continue reading “Vacuum Forming At Home” →