CLUTTER OF IDEAS — Need to get the ball rolling and get some of these ideas out of my head, so here is a start to the ‘Clutter of Ideas’ to look at and organize later. Once again, if you have stumbled upon this blog, it isn’t secret, but it is written to myself. Therefore, it will be disorganized and cluttered with random thoughts and ideas so I can get them out of my head and relax knowing I can review them later. It’s my backup memory.
Brainstorming Thoughts — 3D-Printing & Plastic Part Molds
The 3D-Printed Micro-Crawlers were fun to work on with Jim to get a better understanding of 3D-Printing, but I see a need for making faster parts using 3D-Printing as a ‘Mold Making’ tool instead of a tool that makes the actual parts.
Currently ABS plastic 3D-Printed has only about 30% to 40% the strength of normal injection molded ABS plastic; thus, the finished 3D-Printed parts on small items like these Micro-Crawlers are fine but other larger parts are just too brittle and weak. Yes, more and more 3D-Printing materials are being developed every month ( See http://www.materialise.com/press/launch-of-the-first-fully-functional-flexible-material-in-3d-printing ), but at-this-time I see a need to create a new type of ‘Mold Making’ process whereby the mold shapes are created with CAD software, then a mold shape is 3D-Printed, then this shape or puck is then used to create a Food Grade Silicone Rubber Mold (http://www.makeyourownmolds.com) that is either used to create the parts and/or used to create a new mold that is made from chemically hardening metal (Think – JB Weld type material)
Then once you have a Chemically Hardened Mold that can handle the heat & pressure of plastic injection molding process then have a Generic Mold enclosure that will hold these chemically hardened molds created from a 3D-Printed shape. Thus, the time and cost of creating Plastic Injection Molds can be greatly reduced and can be used my many more individuals and businesses because INSTEAD of having to CNC machine metal molds taking many hours and possibly thousands of dollars $$ … Instead, the same process can be completed using this 3D-Printed mold shape process for far less expense to create a mold that can make between 20 -500 plastic parts at a time. Instead of hundreds or thousands of dollars per mold, we are talking $20 – $50 per mold and that also includes the cost of the material to create the 20-500 plastic parts.
What this accomplishes is the ability to make fewer parts for as little or less many than it currently takes because you have to make thousands of parts to make up for the ‘CNC Machining’ expense.
In addition, changes are not an issue any more with this new process, because if a change needs to be made to a part mold then all one has to do is make the changes in the CAD software, press a button and start the 3D-Printing, then go to bed… then Wake up in the morning and use the 3D-Printed shape to create a Food Grade Silicone Rubber Mold that can be used to re-make the part if made out of Resin ( http://makezine.com/2013/05/02/resin-casting-going-from-cad-to-engineering-grade-plastic-parts/ )
…or… the Food Grade Silicone Rubber Mold can be used to make a new ‘Chemically Hardening’ metal mold to be used in the injection molding machine.
In Short — 3D-Printing is currently too slow & too weak for normal production of plastic parts. Also, current plastic injection molds are very expensive to create due to the CNC machining cost; therefore, making it too expensive to make update changes overnight and/or make smaller runs of plastic parts in the numbers of 20 – 500 parts. YET, this new Concept Solution for make Plastic Part Molds would allow more people and/or smaller businesses to create plastic parts at a very inexpensive price per part when making only a few parts at a time and/or making custom or prototype parts and/or making parts for one’s self in your home workshop, etc.
… Next Phase will be to refine 3D-Printing and/or Molds made from 3D-Printing for the creation of Spare Parts on Space Travel. Use parts made out of materials that can be crushed and ground up to be re-used in the 3D-Printing process and/or can be re-chemically hardened into a shape to provide spare parts. Thus, instead of having to bring spare parts that take up space just use re-use material to create a new spare part when needed. Use ‘Repair Bots’ to install parts and service equipment ( That’s a Brainstorming Concept all on it’s own to be added to this blog later )
Jim used his fancy 3D-Printer to make some examples for me of the 3D-Printed shapes or ‘pucks’ to create the ‘Food Grade’ Silicon molds … the printing resolution on Jim’s 3D printer is quite good!!
… Next step is to make the Flexible Silicon Molds for Candy Chocolates …