A Personal 3D Metal Printer: In Progress

By on December 11th, 2013 in printer

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We’re checking out a project that’s listed on the RepRap Wiki: MetalicaRap. The goal is to produce a:
Open 3D metal & home solar cell printer, based on the principles of electron beam welding and vapor deposition.
No, it isn’t ready yet – the project is still in the planning stages. While the primary objective of the project is to enable the inexpensive production of home solar cells, we’re particularly interested in the ability to 3D print metal objects. 
The process to be used involves a powerful 300W electron gun firing into a vacuum chamber to melt metal powder. By repeatedly applying layers of metal powder and solidifying portions, metal objects are gradually built. 
The project’s specifications are modest, considering the technological challenges it faces. In addition, this machine will be able to “largely” replicate itself, including the electron gun.  
This manufacturing process is unlike others attempted in the personal 3D printer space, generating unique challenges. For example, the 0.01mm metal powder is so small it can be affected by minor magnetic disturbances. Vacuum chambers are not required on typical personal 3D printers, but they will be required here. 
It’s expected the MetalicaRap, when built, would cost thousands of dollars just for the components. 
The project has been open for over a year, but it appears they have lots yet to do. When MetalicaRap is finished it will be interesting to see how it changes the 3D printing community. Will we have 2.4m tall metal printers in our workshops? 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!