Every now and then we’ll see a 3D printer that can print an entire house out of concrete or print an entire rocket out of metal. But usually, for our budget-friendly hobbyist needs, most of our 3D printers will be printing small plastic parts. If you have patience and a little bit of salt water, though, take a look at this 3D printer which has been modified to cut parts out of any type of metal, built by [Morlock] who has turned a printer into a 5-axis CNC machine.
Of course, this modification isn’t 3D printing metal. It convers a 3D printer’s CNC capabilities to turn it into a machining tool that uses electrochemical machining (ECM). This process removes metal from a work piece by passing an electrode over the metal in the presence of salt water to corrode the metal away rapidly. This is a remarkably precise way to cut metal without needing expensive or heavy machining tools which uses parts that can easily be 3D printed or are otherwise easy to obtain. By using the 3D printer axes and modifying the print bed to be saltwater-resistant, metal parts of up to 3 mm can be cut, regardless of the type of metal used. [Morlock] also added two extra axes to the cutting tool, allowing it to make cuts in the metal at odd angles.
Using a 3D printer to perform CNC machining like this is an excellent way to get the performance of a machine tool without needing to incur the expense of one. Of course, it takes some significant modification of a 3D printer but it doesn’t need the strength and ridigity that you would otherwise need for a standard CNC machine in order to get parts out of it with acceptable tolerances. If you’re interested in bootstraping one like that using more traditional means, though, we recently featured a CNC machine that can be made from common materials and put together for a minimum of cost.
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They always told you not to mix water and electricity. And while yes, that is good general advice regarding the two, you won’t rip a hole in the fabric of space-time should you go about it responsibly. Water will conduct electricity, so why not use it to switch on a lamp?
[Manvith Subraya]’s Hydro Lamp is, among other things, a reminder not to let Big Switch dim your idea of what’s possible with simple components. Switches don’t have to be complex, and some of the most reliable switches are pretty simple — the reed switch and the mercury tilt switch are good examples. By salinating the water at a ratio of 1:1, [Manvith] ensures power will flow through the acrylic tank, completing the circuit and lighting the 20W LEDs in both ends.
The brief demo video after the break sheds light on an interesting aspect of using water as a tilt switch — it’s not instantaneous. As he slowly moves the lamp from vertical to horizontal and back again, the light brightens and dims with the tide of electrons. We think it would be interesting to build a motorized frame that takes advantage of this for mood lighting purposes, especially if there were a few LEDs positioned behind the water.
Water is often used to explain the basic principle of current flow and the relationship dynamics of voltage, current, and resistance. As we saw in this water computer, the concept flows all the way into logic gates.
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[Jeff Rodriguez] has been busy testing a feasible DIY method for rifling a barrel and has found some success using salt water, a power supply, wire, and 3D printed parts to create the grooves of rifling without the need for any moving parts or cutting tools. Salt water flows between the barrel’s inside surface and a 3D-printed piece that holds wires in a precise pattern. A current flows between the barrel and the wires (which do not actually touch the inside of the barrel) and material is eroded away as a result. 10-15 minutes later there are some promising looking grooves in the test piece thanks to his DIY process.
Rifled barrels have been common since at least the 19th century (although it was certainly an intensive process) and it still remains a job best left to industrial settings; anyone who needs a barrel today normally just purchases a rifled barrel blank from a manufacturer. No one makes their own unless they want to for some reason, but that’s exactly where [Jeff] is coming from. The process looks messy, but [Jeff] has had a lot of space to experiment with a variety of different methods to get different results.
Continue reading “DIY Barrel Rifling With 3D Printed Help”