Metal 3D printers are, by and large, many times more expensive than their FDM and resin-based brethren. It’s a shame, because there’s plenty of projects that would benefit from being able to produce more heat-resistant metal parts with additive fabrication methods. [Integza]’s rocketry projects are one such example, so he decided to explore turning a MIG welder into a 3D printer for his own nefarious purposes. (Video, embedded below.)
The build is as simple as you could possibly imagine. A plastic adapter was printed to affix a MIG welding nozzle to an existing Elegoo Neptune 2 3D printer. Unfortunately, early attempts failed quickly as the heat from the welding nozzle melted the adapter. However, with a new design that held the nozzle handle far from the hot end, the ersatz metal 3D printer was able to run for much longer.
Useful parts weren’t on the cards, however, with [Integza] facing repeated issues with the steel bed warping from the heat of the welding process. While a thicker steel base plate would help, it’s likely that warping could still happen with enough heat input so more engineering may be needed. It’s not a new concept by any means, and results are typically rough, but it’s one we’d like to see developed further regardless.
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Older industrial equipment is often a great option if you’re on a budget, and you might even be able to add some premium features yourself. [Brett] from [Theoretically Practical] has done with his old MIG welder, adding premium control features with the help of an Arduino.
The main features [Brett] were after is pre-flow, post-flow, and a spot welding timer. Pre-flow starts the flow of shielding gas a moment before energizing the filler wire, while post-flow keeps the gas going after the weld is complete. This reduces the chances of oxygen contaminating the welds. A spot welding timer automatically limits welding time, enabling consistent and repeatable spot welds.
The Miller S-22A wire feeder can have these features, but it requires an expensive and difficult to find control unit. All it does is time the activation of the relays that control the gas flow, power, and wire feeder, so [Brett] decided to use an Arduino instead. The welders control circuit runs at 24V, so an optoisolator receives the trigger signal, and relays are used for outputs. Potentiometers were added to the original control panel, and all the wiring was neatly fitted behind it. The upgrade worked perfectly and allowed [Brett] to increase the quality of his welds. See the video after the break for the full details.
Inverter welders can be picked up for ridiculously cheap prices, if you’re willing to live with the trade-offs. We’ve also seen some other DIY welder upgrades, on small and large machines.