How to get a Stainless Steel 3D Printer (and why it matters)
With 3D printing already becoming mainstream, there’s a new craze brewing.
The idea of 3D printed parts is to make them more durable, flexible and more affordable.
But some makers say they’re not seeing any benefit in the current market.
We asked some experts about the pros and cons of using 3D printers in the production of stainless steel, and we asked some manufacturers to give their take.
Is it safe?
“If it is a safe product and you can do what you want with it, yes, it’s a good idea,” said Brian E. McInerney, president and CEO of the MakerBot Corporation.
“But it’s not a 100 percent safe product.
There are certain things that you want to keep in mind: 1.
The amount of metal and the material, the weight and the size of the parts, all those things are important.
You want to avoid breaking the parts if you’re using it.”
He also emphasized the need to make sure the parts are “as safe as possible.”
Is the product robust?
“There are certain parts that are more robust than others, but it is very, very important that the parts that you’re printing are as robust as possible,” said McIneric.
Will the parts be recycled?
“Yes, it will be recycled.
There’s no way you can put this material in an industrial setting and not have it be recycled.”
A spokeswoman for MakerBot Corp. told us the company is “committed to supporting the use of 3-D printing and will be working closely with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to further the development of a safe, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional manufacturing.”
Is there a price?
MakerBot’s McInnerney said “the cost of stainless is probably $2 to $3 per ounce, but there are a lot of parts that we’re not producing.”
Is this safe for my children?
“It’s certainly not safe for them, but for the general consumer it should be,” said John K. Jones, executive director of the American Institute of Plastic Engineering.
“The manufacturing process involves welding and the plastic is usually made with steel or a plastic resin that has been heated to be a solid metal.”
Is your product recyclable?
“No, it is not recyclables.
It’s made from recycled materials,” said Jones.
Will my company be able to use the parts for other products?
“I don’t think it will.
It would take years to develop the parts and manufacture them,” said M.T. Cramer, president of the 3D Design Institute, a maker of parts for the 3-axis printer.
“You’re going to have to have a very strong manufacturing process to make the parts.”
He added, “They are not cheap.”
Is my company going to pay for them?
“Absolutely,” said K.A. Tamblyn, president, MakerBot Technologies.
“We want to support this and help this movement of people who are making their own things, using these materials.
But the money is going to be very small compared to the cost of the materials.”
What about the environment?
“For most of the manufacturers we talked to, we didn’t see a negative environmental impact of using the 3Ds.
We were not worried about the environmental impact because we were manufacturing them with stainless steel.
But there are certain components that have to be coated in a specific material that we didn`t know about,” said Tambly.
“So if it’s stainless steel and it’s coated in an oil, that oil could come in contact with the stainless steel part.
That’s where we are.”
How does the 3d printing process affect the environment, and how much do we know about the impact?
MakerBots are being used in factories and industrial settings to create parts for printers and other devices.
Some parts, such as the parts of the propeller used to lift the robot, may end up in the ocean.
Other parts, like the filament used to print the motors, could end up as a pollutant.
“In general, the impact is a small one,” said Mark E. Luebbers, director of research for the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
“Most of the impacts are small because they are relatively easy to mitigate.”
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has reported that “The majority of the chemicals used in manufacturing of plastics are considered nontoxic.”
But some chemicals are more toxic, Lueber said.
“There’s no doubt that we have to take some precautionary measures, because the plastics we’re using are very different from what we’re used to,” he said.
Can I use the 3ds to build my own house?
“We’re still figuring out the best way to