This week’s selection is an unnamed bottle opener made by Velo3D.
The up-and-coming metal 3D printer manufacturer exhibited at last week’s RAPID + TCT show in Detroit, and we happened to drop by to visit them. We learned a great deal about their history and strategy, and we’ll report about that later. However, they did show us several incredibly fascinating metal 3D prints produced by their equipment.
One of them was this fascinating 76mm 3D printed titanium bottle opener. Yes, I know, a bottle opener is one of those “frequently printed items” that probably shouldn’t garner any notoriety. But when you look more closely, this bottle opener has some very unusual characteristics.
First, the overall design is interesting. It seems to be a kind of snake, with the head being the business end of the opener, and the tail being the spiky other end. I should point out that the tail of this opener is actually quite sharp, and could injure someone if not careful.
I should also point out that this 3D print has not been finished in any way; it is precisely as it emerged from Velo3D’s metal 3D printer. It does not have any marks from where the support structures were removed — because there were no support structures! It was 3D printed “loose” in the powder bed.
The inside of the opener is more interesting. As you can see, it includes an extremely fine mesh of metal, which comprises most of the body. This structure is what takes the brunt of the force when the opener is used.
But can it work with such a thin structure? It does indeed work, as the mesh is designed to provide the necessary strength with only a minimum of material being used. The weight of the opener is minimal, and almost all of that is in the “head” of the opener; the “body” is near weightless.
I’ve measured the strands in the body at only 0.55mm, which is ridiculously thin for a metal 3D print. It’s quite amazing how Velo3D was able to accomplish this print.
3D print technology allows a far wider degree of design creativity, and ingenious designers will try to occupy as much of the design space as the equipment’s envelope of probabilities allows. This humble bottle opener illustrates well how that can be done.