Here is my start in testing out if parts produced through rapid prototyping methods will work out well for armatures. Right now it is just the start but I will be trying new and different techniques, equipment, and designs on a regular basis and will try to keep everyone up to date. The metal parts are done in a 420 stainless steel powder that is then infused with bronze through its many steps. These pieces were designed with the known typical tolerances of the equipent it would be produced on just to get a baseline. I have other parts on their way that go beyond these to scale even smaller closer to the target designs. Right now it is hinges but everything is on the table here in the near future.

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Dave thanks for sharing knowledge, experience, and pictures! The designs can very easily be changed for washers (as previously mentioned as a path), especially the larger scale ones. The smaller ones might be tricky since I am already going below the recomended scale of the machine. I could push it to the absolute low end limits and gain maybe 1.5mm of combined wiggle room. I might have to look at pocket knife suppliers to get phosphor bronze washers in the ID/OD/Thickness I may need.

Hey Greyguy thanks for stopping by. I am looking forward to the tests too but I am taking it slow to document and check everything I am doing along the way so I can sucessfuly repeat things if it works out. I really miss your discussion and pictures of the mechanized head you were working on (i wish I saved the pictures). Thats another future goal of mine as well.

So as part of my experiments with just the material itself I have started getting additional equipment to make things cleaner and nicer. Next on my list is a vibratory tumbler. Also there will be more parts on their way. I am going to be making a different joint type as well for testing getting the spacing right for washers (it is a pain when you have +/- variances). I will also be designing new pieces purely just for strength and wear testing.

Well I started putting the blasting cabinet together this afternoon... and I still am putting this together. This thing must have a million bolts and gasket seals. It is one of those items were you need a second person to help you hold on parts while you bolt it from the inside. Problem is I do not have anyone able to help me yet so I am stuck engineering new ways and contorting myself to get this thing together. All of this just to have a nice enclosed and sealed cabinet to torture metal parts. But I did go ahead and get that vibratory tumbler and the different mediums earlier today. I also converted back my steel frames, that I had setup to use for the base structure of an animation stage, back into two tables with shelving. As I step back and look at the space now I think I just inadvertently turned my workshop into a production line.

Well the vibratory tumbler is up an running and the first couple of sets and in with a green resin medium. What is sad is that not until I read the fine print does it say this model can not run wet or use the medium I really wanted to used. I think I will stick with this device anyway and just return the medium I can not used and get some others. To run wet and use the mediums I really want I will have to spend almost 4 timse more on a different machine and I am not ready for that expense yet. This will still do a good job, just not everything.


Shea,

I don't know if you have a specific reason for using a vibratory tumbler rather than a revolving tumbler, but if the latter would work for you, I can give you some advice about how to build one which is commercial quality for MUCH less than it would take to purchase one commercially. I used to be partners in a trophy buckle manufacturing company and we had all sorts of tricks for cutting costs to the bone while still maintaining high quality (and that business is competitive in the extreme!).
Shea Street said:

Well the vibratory tumbler is up an running and the first couple of sets and in with a green resin medium. What is sad is that not until I read the fine print does it say this model can not run wet or use the medium I really wanted to used. I think I will stick with this device anyway and just return the medium I can not used and get some others. To run wet and use the mediums I really want I will have to spend almost 4 timse more on a different machine and I am not ready for that expense yet. This will still do a good job, just not everything.

MartindeMadrid I always welcome any knowledge and ideas so feel free to share (you can message me if need be). But yes I have other reasons for a this type of tumbler. I have other personal projects outside of this topic that I am just trying to kill two birds with one stone. But if what you can share can make the difference I am willing to look it over.

Right now my near goal is to do almost anything to these parts, not just to test the parts, but to see what this composite metal (and the process of how these parts are 3d printed) can really stand up to. And from what I have done to them this far I can say any part, if designed right in the first place, will hold up to some crazy things. I have had the large onee in a vice and beat the hell out of the thin and narrow areas with a 5 pound metal sledge hammer with very little (if none in some cases) deflection. I finally got it worked down were the parts fit and have worked on getting everything balanced. The motion is great for the state it is at but I still want to do more. Most of this work can easily be removed by sorting it out in the designs themselves for later. Going the washer route is going to be most likely the best route (for these parts so far). So there might be a new design in the pipe that is somewhere between the large and small prototype pieces. Even though I have it working wihout the washers it took a good deal of labor to get there.

So even after torturing these pieces and banging them to hell they just keep showing they can stand up to some serious pain. Even after all that they still clean up nice. I did not put a large amount of effort in surface conditioning or polishing but they came out nice. Like it maters for something that will never really be seen. I have got them fitted and worked them for smooth enough motion for now as well. They are snug but do just fine. You can also see how they are metal through and through the more you work with it. I can see if done nicely all the print lines and striped coloring can be fully worked away and have its true stainless steel look show through.

So all this is interesting, but at what volume would it become cost effective?  I presume the facility that does this is fairly specialized. I don't think there's a place near here that could do it, but you're close to Gary where there's still a fair amount of infrastructure for dealing with metals.

Well it depends on what cost point you are talking about. There is always the balance of price, time, and quality. It is not like we could get it down to pennies on the dollar. Right now the larger prototype two part piece is right around $18 to produce (excluding additional shop worker handling fees and delivery methods). The pricing is a flat calculation based on the volume of material used. So the pieces can come down in price with better designs that strategically uses material smarter. So just by rounding off the current piece design and changing angles a bit the price can come closer to $10 easily. The smaller hinges are at around $5. Of course this is not including my time and equipment but I am not looking at that really right now since I will be using it for may things.

I should have added those prices are in USD.

So these are what have been sent for production now. These are not joints (or any usable part for that matter) but size testing. I have different pieces setup with different gap and prong sizes in increments of -0.1mm per edge. I am trying to get an idea of what combo of different pairs will give me different options from snug fit to enough room for washers. I am trying to figure out what the actual variances that happen with this process. From these I will be able to better ready the other designs (and changes) to cut down on the post process tooling.

Just in case people here have not checked my photo gallery here are some progress pictures.

The larger hinge joint set has been going through some testing and it is working out nice but I can already tell, mostly due to a slight chattering, that there is spot where it wants to pop a little at shorter leverage points. I do believe adding washers will help this out greatly. This one will be tapped on one side but the hardware I had on hand is a bit smaller than I need so I am just using a nut for right now. The smaller ones have been cleaned up and fitted but have been mostly sitting off to the side while I play with the larger ones.

The size testing pieces have also been in now and have quickly shown what works to get better fits right off the bat by changing the design to compensate for tolerances. But these are going to be measured, over and over again to make sure, so I can come up with general formulas to know what areas grow (or shrink) in the parts for different design conditions.

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