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3D printing for all

If you are depressed about the economic state of the world, one way to cheer yourself up is to google things like “fracking” or “natural gas”. Another is to try “3D printing”. That was how I found my way to this piece, about a company which has started selling 3D printers to … people. From what I can make out, each printer now costs something like two thousand dollars, more or less, depending on whether you want it ready to roll or are willing to assemble it yourself.

I can think of three things, right away, that are bound to be true about such “printers”. They will get cleverer. They will get cheaper. They will get smaller.

Currently, these gizmos seem to resemble those very early personal computers, circa 1975 (as I remember it). There are no very obvious things you can do with them, but despite that, they just reek of the future. Learn about them, and the next four decades of world technological history will be yours to surf at will, in ways that are impossible to know the details of but which are bound to be huge.

In due course, 3D printers may become no rarer than the 2D printers like the one I have on my desk are now. The first laser printer I blagged may way to using cost (someone else) around two thousand quid. My current one cost (me) about eighty quid, and is much better, not least because it is so much smaller. Presumably similar progress will occur with 3D printers.

I wonder what such machines will do to the world?

54 comments to 3D printing for all

  • Frank

    I wonder if they could have a big impact on things like marketing and retail. Buying a 3D postscipt equivalent file directly from the designer via the network and then printing the gadget at home would seem to cut out the middlemen rather a bit.

  • Dale Amon

    There are already open source communities built around the idea of sharing the design info for ‘things’ in the sameway that open source has worked miracles in the computer world. So instead of going to the store, you go to an open source web site and download the thing… and just make it.

    Also, think of the creativity it lets loose. Budding design engineers can make samples, test them, improve them and do multiple cycles in a day that would have cost many thousands of dollars and taken months not very long ago.

    And as to the direction… they will indeed get fast, cheaper, better and smaller… and will one day be your home Drexlerian assembler, able to build anything you can imagine that can be built from bits that fit inside the thing.

    I’ll not even begin to pass on the ideas that pop into my head just as I type… it is going to be a wild ride. But especially think how useful this is to a Martain colony…

  • Two things:
    1. Firearm parts and,
    2. Porn Spam.

    Boggles the mind, no?

  • chuck

    early personal computers, circa 1975

    I recall seeing an early inkjet printer at a show in NYC in 1969. It produced readable letters, sort of, but the dots were scattered and the lines staggered drunkenly. Things have improved much in the interim.

  • Charles Pooter

    Hopefully they will enable decentralisation of production, but “intellectual property” may prevent you “printing” everything you might want to. Another realm for the lords of (artificial) scarcity to make a buck (their lawyers too, of course).

  • I saw a plastic component consisting of ball bearings in a race (the whole thing turned) which had been printed on a 3D printer. It was only a demo and a little rough, but it was fascinating nonetheless. Once they get the material properties of the components right, the sky’s the limit.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    These things pique my curiosity, but… As a sideline from the 9-5, I make things. Jewellery. Tools for jewellers. Oddball gadgets for my own use. I can fabricate, forge, cast, braze, weld, machine, scrape, file, polish and generally lose track of time immersed in this sort of thing. What will these gadgets offer me? I’ve got the skills & tools to make the objects (and one of these machines, incidentally) from scratch – and the results are (usually!) more robust than anything I’ve seen out of a plastic-based rapid prototyping machine.

    So what do other people *really* see these things doing for them? An endless supply of plastic coat pegs?

  • jamess

    Not sure I can imagine everyone having one (though wouldn’t be too surprised if in 10 -20 years I’d been proved completely wrong). Though I can imagine them being about as common as photography shops are now.

    Once the costs of buying a printer and printing the object gets less than centrally producing an item and paying for someone to transport it to your house – things will get very exciting!

    I should be able to order by phone any toy that has been made, and collect it in 10 minutes time, or any body panel of a car.

    The biggest change could come from making so many intellectual property laws obselete because there’s no way of enforcing them

  • ThePresentOccupier

    Yes, you can have it fabbed locally and collect it; but you lose any of the economies of scale that mass production gives you – running these things is significantly more expensive, even with factoring in transport costs.

  • Bod

    I’m watching this kind of techology very closely too, but as commented upthread, I don’t have much need to design and build coatpegs, no matter how colorful, out of squeeze-tube vinyl.

    I think a huge leap (well, step) forward will be when these kinds of devices can spray sintered materials. On a basic level, you’ll be able to fabricate anything currently made in ‘pot metal’, and no doubt there weill be a flurry of metallurgical innovation to give you the ability to make small components of sintered brasses, bronzes and magnesium alloys.

    Sure, printing such items is only the first part of a two part process – you still have to shove the resulting assembly in a kiln, but you’d be able to fabricate small-run and proof-of-concept devices that will behave almost exactly like the final product.

    Exciting times indeed.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    The sintered prototypers are already in use – the one I’ve seen used a steady stream of metal dust onto a rotating platform target, with a laser to sinter. Even then though, these are not necessarily finished items; structurally, they’re much weaker than a cast or fabricated item. SO you wouldn’t be making parts for an engine, for example.

    I have the same blind spot with precious metal clay – why do I need to squidge my object into shape & fire it as sintered silver when I can carve it directly from solid metal (or in wax and then cast it).

  • ThePresentOccupier: because it is much less wasteful.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    What is this “waste” of which you speak?
    Any precious metal I carve off is saved and either goes into the casting pile or into the recycling pot. PM clays are very expensive by comparison with solid metal – about 3 times by weight from memory (comparing the pure silver in clay against sterling sheet).

    Actually, that’s not just limited to the precious metals – I save back scrappy bits of copper, brass et al for later use.

  • Bod

    Well, that’s the point I tried (ineptly) to make – I forsee metallurgical developments that make small-run fabriactions of real, usable components as a future event.

    I don’t see laser-fusing being the best solution overall anyway – a more traditional sintered assembly (or as you note, sintered ceramics) that gets fired as a completed component. Indeed, I think that the 3D printer itself is ultimately a commodity item (even if it’s expensive for a while) – the interesting thing is the materials it spits out to actually fabricate the item.

    Maybe the next 20 years will see developments in powder metallurgy that leave current techniques and materials in the dust.

  • Paul Marks

    Technology (i.e. the USE of technology, not just some genius inventing something, people saying “that is really impressive” and then ignoring it and carrying on whipping their slaves – as with the Classical World) is the “Wild Card”.

    It really is the wild card. Someone like me looking at the growth of government (in both new welfare schemes and massive new regulatory interventions – such as the 1906 Union Act) might well have said “oh my God – we will be eating each other in a few decades” even a CENTURY ago.

    What prevented that (time and time again) was people inventing new ways of doing things and then other people (evil “capitalists”) using them.

    This meant that living standards could be maintained (indeed improved) even whilst government policy was utterly demented and doing everything possible (well not “everything” but a lot) to cause economic and social breakdown.

    I firmly believe that “dodging the bullet” has run its course now (basically the government got a machine gun out – in fact two machine guns, the Welfare State and the credit bubble monetary system, and it was just impossible for civil society to dodge all the bullets), but the human spirit could still prove me wrong.

    For all I know someone is working in their garden shed on how to get “zero point energy” or some such – and then intends to spread their discovery via the internet all over the world, so that people can just download the machine and create it with a “3D Printer” or………

    Not likely – but a nice thought.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    I may be coming across as overly negative on these things – it’s not really my intention, I just want a practical use for them in their current incarnation.

    I’m an engineer, I like tech that has the cute factor, but it has to be useful to me. 15-20 years down the line they will doubtless do far, far more than they can achieve at the moment – but that is a wee while off yet. The example in the linked article of fixing a towel rail I can think of several different ways of solving with equipment and materials I already have, so a gadget that can do the same but worse has little value to me.

    It probably also has to be mentioned that as well as being an engineer I’m a tool junky who likes traditional craft techniques…

  • Dave Walker

    I saw a report on 3D printing the other day from CES, and another very good piece of news is that there’s already competition in the space; MakerBot isn’t the first or only vendor going after the small-scale / hobbyist 3D printing market, so capabilities are going to go up and prices are going to come down :-). Also, there’s open source 3D printers that are very close to being able to self-replicate on demand, with one printer being able to produce a kit of parts (minus 2 or 3) for another.

    The idea (and futility) of trying to limit what designs can be printed is also touched upon in Cory Doctorow’s 28C3 talk from last month. I can’t help but grin and think of two things: logistics savings as handling of so many different inventory items get reduced to handling of a much smaller list of bulk powders, and taking one significant step closer to the replicators from Neal Stephenson’s “Diamond Age”.

    Also, provided people stick to thermoplastics, there’ll be a market in domestic grinders, to turn waste fabricated items back into powders for re-use.

  • Russ

    Google “Cubify”

    It’s a very neat and very cool toy. But notice that home-made/”designer” shoes are a potential product here.

    I used to work in leather. It’s a very expensive medium, and I finally had to give it up due to tendonitis, and meandered into paper mache b/c it’s easier on my joints. I then discovered through trial and error that I could keep the design principles of leatherwork, while applique-building all the same stuff just from paste and newspaper. In other words, with almost zero in money plus some inexpensive waterproofing agents and paint, I can make my wife a fairly colorful blue belt which will perform just as well as the one I’d need to spend a lot of money to tool. And it just might last longer.

    ThePresentOccupier is exactly right: this is notably less efficient, and there are a LOT of problems for mass adoption. But for folks like me who are bitten by the “crafts bug,” and who want things that the mass-market doesn’t serve very well (say, items decorated in Hungarian motifs, about which the dominant culture is simply clueless for perfectly valid demographic/interest reasons), these will find a very valuable niche as the costs go down and the power ramps up.

  • Russ

    Argh, I haz been smited. Agree with PresentOccupier with a few huge caveats for folks bitten by the crafting bug.

  • Hmm

    3D printing is the next step towards a StarTrek like “Replicator” -i.e. a machine that can create a physical product by using stored data to reform matter from energy into a desired form. Until its possible to “print” items using energy without requiring a molecular based print medium the usage will be very limited, the costs and scale of providing the specific molecular medium will determine much of the usage.

    That said; although I, much like “the PresentOccupier” enjoy having the ability to make and use tools and therefore wouldn’t use the 3D copier to produce acrylic versions of such items, I do appreciate the technology and, would like to have innovators everywhere surprise me by doing more with it than I think they will be able to.

    I much enjoyed being surprised by the ability of the 3D printed violin to produce a half-decent sound. I also like the (Gyro-the-Cube) and I look forward to more little surprises like these as more people get to play with 3D printing.

  • It just occurred to me that architectural model making might get a lot better.

  • Laird

    Folks bitten by the crafting bug do it for the love of the project; they’re not going to have any use for a 3D printer (not for crafting purposes, anyway, although one might be useful for creating tools and jigs). As these things continue to come down in price and improve in functionality I think they’re going to have a major impact on our lives, in ways we can’t even conceive of today (much as did the microcomputer). I see that there’s even a “freeware” version which you can build yourself, at low cost. It’s a pretty exciting development.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    Architectural models hadn’t occurred to me – I can see that being viable (albeit still not quite into the domestic arena perhaps). Whether that would have aided Lord Foster in his bridge calculations is another matter!

    I am amused at my own twitching at the use of craft vs crafting – crafting puts me in mind of impermanent constructs using double-sided sticky tape and paper, while the crafts I have in mind are the more traditional ones that are getting slowly lost (blacksmithing, engraving, silversmithing – and yes, leatherwork). But that’s really starting to drift things…

  • ThePresentOccupier: I should have added ‘allegedly’. Still, and speaking purely intuitively, it sounds like it would be much less wasteful for a larger-scale operation.

  • Stonyground

    The question ‘Do we really need even more things made out of plastic?’ made me think about recycling straight away. As Dave Walker says, there maybe a market for some kind of shredder/grinder that you can put specific plastic items into to get your raw material. This seems to me much more satisfactory than putting plastic containers into a bin and then trusting that the contents of that bin will be recycled.

    At present plastic items are only cost effective because they are made in large quantities* due to the huge expense of moulds and injection or vacuum moulding equipment. The 3D printer could make one off or small production runs economical when they would not have been before.

    *Some plastics can be machined in the same way that metal can, so there are exceptions.

  • Midwesterner

    Architectural models hadn’t occurred to me – I can see that being viable (albeit still not quite into the domestic arena perhaps).

    You may find this clip interesting.

  • Mid: I actually played with one of those gear balls that a friend brought to some get together this last summer – only that one was all white. Amazing stuff.

  • Maybe the next 20 years will see developments in powder metallurgy that leave current techniques and materials in the dust.

    Smacks Bod for his terrible pun….

  • Russ

    Occupier: another thing it might be good for is mold positives. Not as useful for woodwork and blacksmithing, but potentially QUITE useful for casting, etcetera.

  • lucklucky

    There are already enormous number of things already made by 3D printers, from mockups to the real thing.
    Medical, Toys, etc
    A violin 🙂 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBMhpF4NQms&feature=autoplay&list=UUYR8gvUGJGvRUuplOxfzpQw&lf=plcp&playnext=1

    Guitar amplifiers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kqEmhO6nTo

    Important firms are Stratasys, Z-Corp, Object.

  • newrouter

    molds for casting metal?

  • MajikMonkee

    I think Architectural models are pretty much only made using a technology called stereo lithography nowadays, I’d be shocked to learn that people still made them by hand but I work in 3D printing not architecture!

  • lucklucky

    “More than 750,000 items were 3D printed by a user community of more than 100,000.

    The consumer-based 3D printing revolution received a lot of press in 2011, with a variety of companies enjoying rapid growth. One of them, Brooklyn-based Shapeways, has published an infograph to show just how strong the growth actually was.”


  • llamas

    We have 3 of these things in our engineering office, two of the big buggers and one table-top unit.

    They are absolutely invaluable in our work – they have dramatically shortened development times and reduced design risk, especially in the fuzzy areas of ‘look-and-feel’ and styling, where development schedules can get ruined by weeks of indecision. We also make tooling, vacuum-form and drape-molding tooling, machining fixtures and limited-release production parts with them. They’re great!

    That being said – beyond the very-limited uber-geek market of the ‘maker faires’, most of which is absolutely Sheldon-and-Leonard/anorak useless in the real world, I see very little application for these devices among the general public. Very few people have any realistic or regular need to make 3D things, and it’s certainly not in any way comparable to having a page printer on your desk. And indeed, after 30-odd responses, there hasn’t been a single suggestion as to a mass-market use for such a machine. And bear in mind that the Samizdata audience is very definitely out of the main stream. I’m an absolute nut for making all sorts of things, and I freely admit that I have abused the machines I have available to me for my own purposes, but even I cannot see buying or building one for my own use. We have a 5-axis CNC milling machine too, and I use that for my own purposes sometimes, but I wouldn’t want one of those at home either.

    There might, however, be a very good case for a 3D printing service, which is how many engineering groups that can’t justify their own machines tap into 3D printing for rapid prototyping. Virtually nobody buys their own private concrete mixer – they rent one when they need one.



  • lucklucky

    Doing things is great. I don’t know when they stop being relatively expensive why people wouldn’t want to build things. Making a chair, a plate, furniture a cd case – i know Cd’s are going out but just gives an idea and many other things.


  • Richard Thomas

    Where this will be useful at first is in small one-off runs of common items. Coat hooks indeed but there are several times where small but essential and hard-to replace plastic items have broken and I have tried a variety of methods to fix or replace them Gluing is often a failure, epoxy putty has mixed success, bracing with metal etc also mixed (and usually ugly), taking a mold and casting a new part – good result but costly in time and materials…

    Then there are custom items that no one makes. Coat hook with USB port (for a off-the-wall example?) no problem.

    TPO, you say you can make things with your own tools and skills but those both represent a considerable investment of time and effort on your part. How much is your time worth? I don’t have those tools or skills, how much would I have to pay you to do that work for me? (Not to disparage what you do, of course).

    Personally I think it’s quite exciting. I managed to get my hands on a (professionally) printed bearing race this week. Pretty impressive. I’m thinking of getting one of the amateur machines for myself just to play with.

  • Laird

    “I see very little application for these devices among the general public.” — llamas

    That reminds me of the (perhaps apocryphal) quote attributed to Thomas Watson, Sr. of IBM: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Or the one from Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment: “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Or how about: “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” (Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office.) Let’s revisit this topic in another 5 or 10 years and see who’s right. My bet is that llamas is wrong, and 3D printing will find widespread acceptance and applications now undreamed of once the price comes down.

  • Laird: your prediction is just as ignorant as the one by Llamas – ‘ignorant’ in the sense that neither of you really knows what the future will be. Just as the PC was predicted to be useless for the masses, there were other devices that were seen as the way of the future but no one remembers now what they were. Bottom line, we all will have to wait and see.

  • Laird

    Of course it is, Alisa; that’s why I recommended waiting a few years to see, and said “my bet” is that he’s wrong rather than flatly asserting that he is wrong. He may indeed be right. But I doubt it.

  • Stonyground

    I recall a panel show on the TV years ago which involved people evaluating new inventions and trying to judge which ones would catch on. I remember being amazed at the dismissal of a satelite navigation device on the grounds that, at £1,000 a pop it was too expensive. Firstly any idiot could have told them that the things would become cheaper in time. Secondly, even at that price it would be economically viable to fit them to luxury cars that cost upward of twenty grand.

    Yes it is impossible to predict the direction that 3D printers will take us, but it is fun to try, and then in ten or fifteen years look back and how right or wrong we were.

  • llamas

    But at least my ignorance is informed by over a decade of working with the developing RP technologies and day-to-day working with the latest and best systems.

    Most folks don’t realize that none of these technologies(for plastic) produce a homogenous and isotropic part, and the bulk strength of the parts is significantly less than the base material. The parts have a grain direction (like plywood) and are very weak in the build plane direction, and they are not air- or liquid-tight. Until those issues get addressed, the applications will remain limited.

    Other have suggested all sorts of one-of-a-kind applications for these machines, which is where they excel – but who buys a machine for a one-of-a-kind application? It’s like the concrete mixer – you don’t buy one, you rent it.

    Yes, the GPS mount in my car was custom-made on a 3D printer – but that’s because I have the use of one, and the fancy CAD software required to do that sort of design. If I didn’t have the free use of those things – I would never buy them, just so I could do things like that. Wouldn’t make a lick of sense. And I’m a crazy-geek maker and tinkerer, ain’t but one in a hundred as nuts as I am. I once built a front-end loader from scratch – but I didn’t buy a blast furnace and rolling mill to do so.

    Go log on at “Maker” magazine and see what amateurs are making with home-built SL machines. Most of it is wierd, single-interest and one-off stuff – and if I call it wierd, that tells you it’s really wierd. 3D models of their Second Life avatars? Please. This is simply not (yet) a mass-market technology, and I’m betting it never will be in the sense of wide-spread ownership by individuals. The comparison with a paper printer, which can produce a wide range of useful items across a broad spectrum of everydays needs, simply doesn’t fly.



  • Ilamas, informed ignorance beats any other:-) I actually tend to agree with you that, at least at this point, I cannot foresee any application of these things that would justify the end consumer to own one in order to produce an end product for his own consumption. But then I blame not my lack of expertise, but my (and possibly your) limited imagination. If I were to try and stretch mine, I would tend to look for a disposable product that numerous private consumers use on a regular basis, and that for financial, political or cultural reasons would be preferably produced by the end consumers themselves. It either exists right now and simply eludes us, or it exists in the not-so-distant future.

  • Richard Thomas

    The thing to remember is that these are very much in the “early adopter” phase. Expensive, hard to use and nowhere near the potential they are capable of. I expect to see fairly capable sub $300 consumer units on the market within 5-10 years. That’ll be the tipping point.

    I remember when cd-writers were something only for professionals too. Now they’re all-but obsolete of course. Still, try finding a computer with a DVD drive that doesn’t have CD writing capabilities built in.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    I defer to Llamas’ greater experience of RP (in particular the structural strength of the printed objects) and, likewise my take on the “maker movement” is something of a joke. While there are some more technically advanced projects lurking in the Make archives, the majority are, from a technical perspective, little more than “stick an LED on it and call it tech”. Or “glue some gears on it and call it Steampunk”… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFCuE5rHbPA&sns=fb

    Last time I needed a GPS mount, I made up a former according to the unit’s measurements and drape moulded one out of Kydex… Plenty of ways to skin a cat, but this one had sufficient strength to do the job. And no gears.

    I still haven’t seen anything in these discussions that provides a current, useful, *domestic* application for these beasties. Other than the fact that they’re fun. But they aren’t going to herald a new paradigm for manufacturing for some considerable time and they certainly aren’t a significant step towards a universal constructor. They’re glorified glue guns.

  • LLamas-

    10 years ago, it was difficult to articulate why ftp, telnet, and email were important to the consumer.

    5 years ago, it was difficult to make the case for the user interface that wasnt a keyboard on a phone.

    Even with the machines in your office, you dont get it. Thats ok… you dont have to get it, someone will.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    Darryl – 10 years ago those things weren’t particularly important to the consumer. Those of us using them had a need, most people didn’t (although I think I’d go back further than 10 – I started purchasing online in 1995). 5 years ago the power available in a phone handset wasn’t adequate for what is now being done with them. Tech moves on and perceived needs move with it. That doesn’t mean that all tech will find a use a short way in the future.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    As for future predictions, how about the paperless office before the millenium?
    And what happened to the Segway? Was it blown over in a strong wind?
    As a wanna-be inventor, I am not worried by the 3D printer, because my invention, even though it can be made completely from plastic, has a number of parts that must be assembled. One is a hinge, and one is a nut that needs to rise and fall on a bolt. Can 3D printers build things that are assembled with moving parts?

  • Laird

    Yes, they can Nuke. See this.

  • llamas

    ‘Nuke’ Gray wrote:

    ‘Can 3D printers build things that are assembled with moving parts?’

    Yes, they can – within limitations. The Crescent wrench that Laird linked is a popular ‘show-and-tell’ piece used by several machine manufacturers. It really is built all-in-one (no assembly and it cannot be disassembled) and it really does work. I have one on my desk as I write.

    However, it is only a ‘show-and-tell’ piece. The best layer resolution currently available is about 0.007″ or 0.2 mm, and so the design of working items like this are ‘tweaked’ to take that into account. You would not want to use a Crescent wrench that’s as sloppy as this one is, for example, but that’s the best the machines can do right now. Threads finer than about 0.32 (8mm) are really not feasible, because the build layers are coarser than the threads.

    The machines cannot make smooth surfaces, accurate/consistent angles or cylinders, small clearances, sharp corners or thin walls.



  • Laird

    The cannot make them yet. Dot matrix printers were crap, too.

  • 3D Printing (its other name is Additive Manufacturing) is currently expanding in two directions – within industry and towards the mass consumer.

    The ultimate vision is that 3D printers will be as common in the home as 2D printers are today, making the things we want & need, when we want & need them. There is much debate about how, when and indeed, if, this will happen. It probably will. There’s a long way to go, not least, IMHO, the need for a much broader scope of materials. I think this will come from developments in nano materials – the R&D is well underway. Our grandchildren will laugh at our 3D printers (and us!). Education is also key – kids that grow up designing & making in 3D at school will be more familiar, comfortable and knowledgeable about the technologies and having it at home will not be such a huge leap for them. It will also go someway to aid national skills shortages in STEM subjects.

    In the shorter term, what 3D printing offers consumers now is the ability to quickly, easily and (relatively) cheaply design and/or customise one-off products in line with their personal tastes. There is a mass market for this, and companies are springing up to meet this demand, supplying the 3D print capability together with libraries of original and customisable products, and doing very well. I believe this sector will grow in the medium term.

    With regards to industrial additive manufacturing, the applications tend to be more sensitive, and much less open source. But they are all over the place. I do just want to contest one comment, by ThePresentOccupier, who said that metal sintered parts are “much weaker than a cast or fabricated item. SO you wouldn’t be making parts for an engine, for example.”

    In fact, many parts produced additively, using laser sintering techniques can actually be designed to be lighter & stronger than their traditionally manufactured predecessors. Airbus & Rolls-Royce are just two among many aerospace companies that are investing in this technology (heavily) for that very reason. There are additive parts flying on Airbus planes. There are also additive parts racing on the F1 circuit.

    The medical and dental sectors are two other industries that are benefitting from additive manufacturing techniques in many ways.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    I sit corrected! In this case, are you referring to an application where the part is stronger than a cast or fabricated part made of the same material, or is the strength peculier to the material being used? The sintered steel, bronze and aluminium parts I’ve messed with in the past haven’t demonstrated much strength (nor does the sintered silver in precious metal clay, but that’s a different process), so I’m intrigued.