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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 8:30 am    Post subject: 3-D Printing in Steel         Reply with quote

An article in the latest issue of Wired informed me that it's now possible to do 3-D printing in metal. It is, therefore, theoretically possible to create new hilt components in some plastic medium and scan them, create them digitally or scan original components and have them printed in steel. Unfortunately, I see it only in stainless at present.

I assume this process is not (yet) cost-effective for simple forms and large batches, but think what it could mean for complex/highly decorated hilts! If you can master wax, you can have steel components limited only by your imagination.

Does anybody here have experience with printing steel?

This place prints in stainless for $10 per cubic cm.

http://www.shapeways.com/themes/stainless_ste...ng_gallery

Sounds good until you consider the volume of many pommels. I think you'd definitely want to reserve this for elaborate forms/decoration that could otherwise be produced only by mastery of forge, files and chisels.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had the same conundrum for the past few years. I've been doing 3D designing for years with solidworks and mastercam and have never been able to find an easy, cost effective way to make metal parts without using casting. Shapeways and most other companies when they print in "stainless" , besides being prohibitively expensive, use a latten metal like brass (which is what actually melts) with steel particles making a steel colored mixture of metals. Due to this, a cross guard or such would be inherently weaker than a cast steel or machined guard. Also, the printing process makes a surprisingly rough part that would need a lot of polishing due to the the diameter of the nib used in the printing. The tech of 3d printing doesn't seem to be more cost effective or exact than casting at the current point. A few pommels and cross guards I've designed in solidworks have been quoted at about 400-500 per pair due to their mass. Even a conservative designs like a castillian sword are in this range.

As for making and scanning wax models, cutting out the middle man and designing the components in a 3d engineering program like solidworks is much more effective. A simple wheel pommel and crossguard takes me about 30 min at most to design in solidworks, where as even a sketch done by hand may take longer. I'm surprised more sword designers haven't started working in 3D like I assume Albion swords does.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wondered about that non-ferrous component. Oh, well. Not there yet, but still...

For now, I just wish I could find a foundry to do short run casts in mild steel. I can sculpt well enough (haven't tried wax) but can't find anybody to develop the sculpture from wax originals through steel casting. Albion and A&A don't advertise their foundries, but those would be ideal since they already know the application well.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Peter Lyon
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found a New Zealand company that can 3D print in stainless, mild or carbon steels, as well as other metals. Can't remember the details, but it was going to be about $900 to print something like a cross or pommel. Some mixes had the brass component in it, some I think was more solid. The final metal is weaker than a casting, more like sintered metal, so not so good for a working sword. Some porosity possible, similar to castings.
Still hammering away
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, Peter. Seems like this technology is not out of the question for this application. Just needs to mature a bit. The current hobbyist 3-D printers would be great fun for making toy swords, though.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Nils Anderssen




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 12:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have used Shapeways a couple of times for sword related projects with great success, but I have not yet used their stainless steel in that context. The price has been to high, the collour is not quiet right and i have been expecting it to be too brittle.

On the bright side they print in cheeper, more detailed materials that can be used as a master for casting. Here are some models I have sand casted based on printed 3d:

This one is based on a sword from Trondheim:


This one by a drawing by Matthew Paris:


It is worth noticing that you pay pr cubic cm of printed material. If you have a hollow model you will pay less.

My greatest challenge with these models where to make them look handmade. It is too easy to make them perfect, symmetrical and by doing so they will look "soulless". So I ended up doing a lot of re-search on the asymmetrical aspect of doing things by hand. This does not need to be apparent to the eye, but as long as there are some subtle elements it will be easier to look at.... more natural.
When I did the two castings above they where done in sand and since I am not the most experienced caster around there where some impurities. This helped the finished result look more real and not that synthetic and digital. You can also do some work with normal modeling tools on the models before casting, but that depends on which type of material you print in.

I have also been looking into using some of their materials directly in lost was (which I need someone else to do), and apparently their "Frost Ultra Detail" can be used like this. This is also suited for scraping/filing. I will use this for my next hilt project. A very complicated hollow pommel and crossguard Big Grin

When I am not making swords i work in a computer game company where I, among other things, do 3d modeling. A year ago I did a prank on one of my colleagues. There where one of the models in the game we where working on at that time that he did not fancy and he complained about this all the time. So, after a couple of months I took the model and got 20 copies of it, painted them and put it on his desk while he was out smoking. The look on his face when he realized that his desk was full of the EXACT same model that was running around in the game attacking you.. How could this have come into existence? HOW!

The fun of 3d printing... I so want a printer of my own...
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great info and beautiful work, Nils!

(nice prank, too Big Grin )

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Reece Nelson




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 3:47 pm    Post subject: 3d printing         Reply with quote

So what your saying is...soon I will be able to print everything I'v ever wanted!? Well...in that case I'll have 15 suits of armour please ;P

Seriously, I find this technology amazing and I hope it will get to that level (for the sake of cost), but I'm bit concerned with having that skill set ultimately disappearing :/ Forgetting/forgotten how they did it.
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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I havenít looked into costings, because I am so broke that anything over 10 bucks is over budget atm, but 5 axis cnc milling seems to also offer the possibility of creating steel components for short run projects. I was looking into using this milling proccess to grind a blade, but the length meant no local companies had the capacity, and shipping costs would have cancelled out any benifit from the approach (for now)

This whole cad-cam industry is fascinating in the opportunities it opens up. I am just waiting to see what effect the introduction of nano- crystalline cellulose (which is a gel in its basic state, so presumably perfect for 3-d printing) is going to have. The future looks very interesting indeed
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep, 2012 4:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:
I havenít looked into costings, because I am so broke that anything over 10 bucks is over budget atm, but 5 axis cnc milling seems to also offer the possibility of creating steel components for short run projects. I was looking into using this milling proccess to grind a blade, but the length meant no local companies had the capacity, and shipping costs would have cancelled out any benifit from the approach (for now)

This whole cad-cam industry is fascinating in the opportunities it opens up. I am just waiting to see what effect the introduction of nano- crystalline cellulose (which is a gel in its basic state, so presumably perfect for 3-d printing) is going to have. The future looks very interesting indeed

As a machinist, the biggest problem with milling blades is the cost of the machinery. the machine shop has to either choose efficiency or cost effectiveness. A mill that can handle steel like it is wood (like the ones over at albion swords) are ungodly expensive, while lighter duty mills that can also handle steel take ungodly amounts of time (like 1/128th of an inch depth per pass) with ball end-mills small enough to give detail. Back in high school with our shops CNC machine, we were cutting aluminum at a depth of about 1/64th of an inch per pass with a 1/4 inch bit. Our instructor tried it at about a 1/16 depth (4/64) and almost destroyed one of the machines. That is why casting is still so prevalent in production of 3D parts (like hilt furniture.) Almost all blades are machined now a days, but buck and cold steel use giant high torque mill machines to put out hundreds of finished blades a day, which offsets the cost of the infrastructure.
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Sep, 2012 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I uploaded some models of a simple wheel pommel and cross guard to shapeways.com. Total cost $584 before shipping, so when paired with an Albion type x blade blank you come up to about $850, a whole $30 cheaper than an Albion Bayeux (not to mention the time and cost of gripping and peening the blade)

(the inset for the blade on the crossguard is on the other side of the model and the peen block was quoted at $18,000, so obviously an upload error considering that it is .5x.5x.5 at most.)



 Attachment: 69.13 KB
shapeways.png

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 26 Sep, 2012 9:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For comparison, I just got 10 1"x2" wheel pommel blanks from a local steel supply place for a total of $63.
All those need is drilling and whatever stock removal is desired to produce the desired Oakeshott Types G, H, I, J or K.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Sep, 2012 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is great that the technology is advancing to the consumer level. It was somewhere around 1998 that I was reading of some playing around with cellulose to begin making 3d models in this fashion. That is is now happening in other materials lends that just about anything might be made this way. Could Spacley Sprockets be just a few years away?

Cheers

GC
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Andre S.





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PostPosted: Wed 26 Sep, 2012 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

material strength is a question of time. search google for '3d titanium ball' and you will find what is already possible.

a video for example can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smv3xY1VeUU
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Nils Anderssen




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PostPosted: Thu 27 Sep, 2012 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is worth noticing that hollow pommels do exist on medieval swords. A very good example of this is the sword of Henry V which you can read about in the "Records of the Medieval Sword". I have also seen bronze pommels that have been cast hollow (but with parts of the casting form still i inside...)

By doing this you will greatly reduce the printing cost. For the stainless steel from Shapeways you have to have a minimum of 3 mm wall thickness.
If you need it to be heavier you can fill it with led until it has the right wight then use expanding glue to make sure that everything is stuck in place.

On a personal level i would say that the colour that they can print in will look wrong (it has a slight yellow hue to it) for something that should look historical. Also, they cannot guarantee a consistent colour for multiple objects. If this is not an issue for you it will let you do very cool things Happy
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Julien M




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Oct, 2012 1:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean we are definitely looking down the same avenues as I have been contemplating this for a while too.

Nils Anderssen wrote:
On the bright side they print in cheaper, more detailed materials that can be used as a master for casting. Here are some models I have sand casted based on printed 3d:


That's also exactly the conclusion I reached, however, and though I have also been working in the video game industry a decade ago doing low polygon modeling, investing the time to be comfortable with 3D again and achieve good results is not worth it for me. In short doing a master in balsa wood would be quicker in my case, or as far a simple guards are concerned, forging + belt grinder might also prove to be quicker and far more cost effective too.

I can imagine this might be worth to do the master of a highly decorated guard for instance...

J
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Oct, 2012 7:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nils Anderssen wrote:
It is worth noticing that hollow pommels do exist on medieval swords. A very good example of this is the sword of Henry V which you can read about in the "Records of the Medieval Sword". I have also seen bronze pommels that have been cast hollow (but with parts of the casting form still i inside...)

By doing this you will greatly reduce the printing cost. For the stainless steel from Shapeways you have to have a minimum of 3 mm wall thickness.
If you need it to be heavier you can fill it with led until it has the right wight then use expanding glue to make sure that everything is stuck in place.

On a personal level i would say that the colour that they can print in will look wrong (it has a slight yellow hue to it) for something that should look historical. Also, they cannot guarantee a consistent colour for multiple objects. If this is not an issue for you it will let you do very cool things Happy


rus and magyar sabres from around the viking era were users of hollow pommels just as one example.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Oct, 2012 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The hollow, ribbed, globular pommels of English basket hilt swords would be a good candidate for this process as the price falls. Creating those appears to involve so many steps and advanced skills--raising two hemispheres, raising the ribs evenly and brazing the pieces together. Printing could become cost effective when you factor-in the time required to master those skills and create a pommel.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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