We need to decide what International Tolerance Grade we are aiming for.
There are no real cost guidelines at the moment. This is simply because designs and peoples abilities vary greatly. However, we can assume the following...
The main expense when designing a 3D Metal Printer will always be the Laser. This is because the materials used to make lasers are very expensive. Even a simple laser system, for example a Nd:Yag laser, uses ruby which is expensive to fabricate. Another reason is that lasers technology is very complex and requires very precise instruments during manufacture. Everything about them is expensive, therefore they are expensive! The higher power a laser is, the more expensive. Other parts of the laser system such as the laser scanner and laser power supply are also unfortunately expensive.
Apart from the Laser System, main expenses for the metal bot will be the metal work! That includes the following parts:
- Welding the Frame
- Machining the Printing Bed and Z-Axis
- Cladding and Gas Proofing the Entire Assembly with Sheet Metal
- Making a Gas Tight Seal on the Door
- Machining the Powder Containers and Powder Roller
- Making a Rack Type Assembly for the Laser Power Supply and Electronics
One cost to factor in will be the precision machining that will be required to make the powder roller system. This is because we are dealing with extremely thin layers of powder. Evenness of the powder layers will be crucial to the printing quality.
There are also consumables that are required for a functioning Metalbot, these run as follows:
- Argon/Nitrogen Gas
Not forgetting time! A major project in progress like this one requires time and dedication!
All efforts should be made to keep this project affordable and accessible to everyone. Everything that current commercial systems are not!
- Laser Module
- Laser Power Supply
- Laser Scanner
- Powder Input
- Powder Roller
- Powder Recycler
- Argon Tank
- Metal Racks
- Gas Proofing
- Valve, Roller and Gas control (with arduino)
- User Interface
- Interface Between Scanner Software and Slicer Software
As the project develops the individual parts and subsystems will become more 'part specific'.