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Thread: 3D printing... yea or nay?

  1. #1
    ken
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    3D printing... yea or nay?

    Hello all,

    I'm thinking about buying a 3D printer for making pickup bobbins. How many of you have had any experience with these, and what did you think?
    Do you think any advances in technology since they came out would make it worth spending the money on one?

    Thank you,
    Ken
    Last edited by ken; 05-17-2016 at 03:55 AM.

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    Ken,
    There are some reasonable questions to ask regarding cost of consumables, other operating costs, time to completion in a production situation, stability and reliability of the finished item, dimensional tolerance, how much cleanup you'll need to invest before you can use a part, etc.

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    ken
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    The company I work for uses them to make fixturing for electronic products, so I see a lot of these parts. IMO at the moment there is not enough resolution in the tech to bother with, not to mention David's speed of parts creation issue. I just asked because I get a lot of emails from printer makers touting 3D printer/scanners, and I was hoping there was a better one out there I haven't seen yet.

    Ken

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    My sense is that at the high end you'll have additive manufacturing combined with CNC machining in the same machine. Squirt on some goop and then mill it to perfection. Until the $600 DIY machines can get to .002" resolution I don't see what use they are to us. A $50,000 3D printer probably isn't going to be your best answer. In 2-3 years everything could change.

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    Senior Member salvarsan's Avatar
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    It isn't necessary to purchase a 3D printer since there are already 3D printing services out there. Learning some 3D CAD skills is mandatory but any good service can take what you say and draft it.
    UPS has in-store printing for plastic bits. https://www.theupsstore.com/print/3d-printing
    A search on "online 3D printing service" usually brings up 3Dhub.com, a perusal of which is instructive about costs, materials, and finish quality.
    https://www.3dhubs.com/
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    I have looked at that and seen parts made with them- at this point it looks like they would be ok for making an occasional prototype but for production you are better off with a lazer cutter.
    Cut your top and bottom out, cut your core material, make a jig to align the parts and glue together. Very accurate and clean if you do it right. We make all of our P-90 bobbins that way which are in many ways superior to an injection moulded part- it takes a couple of minutes to glue, drill and tap each one.
    Also you dont have to buy a 3D cad program and learn to use it- its all done with a cheap 2D cad software. I have been using Deltacad since the mid 90s and have generated thousands of drawings including 3 views for many of the metal parts being made available to everyone- Wide range, gibson sized filtertron, thunderbird, open tele neck cover, gold foils etc. All done with 2D delta cad.
    Materials cost and maintenence cost is low and you can make all your fender type bobbins with it in addition to built up parts.
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    ken
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    I like Jason's idea for a laser cutter. Just think... make 7 or 8 string pickup bobbins just by changing the program. Cool!
    I wonder what a laser capable of cutting through .075 stainless or .100 Forbon would cost me?

    Looks like there's some research time in my future

    Ken

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    Cost is all about power and speed. Cutting .100 Forbon is easy but cutting any metals is a giant leap in power required, probably an order of magnitude higher and accompanying cost. For thin metals you either try waterjet or EDM. I see old EDMs going used for as little as $1200.

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    ken
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    I saw a YouTube video once of a kid who was popping balloons with a 75 watt laser gun he made himself.
    How much power would you say is necessary for cutting out say a steel Tele baseplate?

    Ken

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    Looking at the info on this link: Laser cutting vs. water jet cutting - standard metal cutting processes
    It looks like a metal cutting laser is between 1500 and 2600W. A laser for cutting Forbon might be in the 30-75W range. Their lasers start at around $300,000 vs $8000-20,000 for a Forbon cutting laser.

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    I've been running several 3D printers for another business venture for almost a year now and it's fun, but not anything that would be viable for mass production of pickup parts. They're ultimately too slow for that and the cost/quality along with QC issues isn't going to compare to injection molding by a long shot. It's awesome for small runs, specialty items and prototypes and can be a fantastic time saver in prepping for proper molds..and it's great for quadcopters!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lollar Jason View Post
    I have looked at that and seen parts made with them- at this point it looks like they would be ok for making an occasional prototype but for production you are better off with a lazer cutter.
    Cut your top and bottom out, cut your core material, make a jig to align the parts and glue together. Very accurate and clean if you do it right. We make all of our P-90 bobbins that way which are in many ways superior to an injection moulded part- it takes a couple of minutes to glue, drill and tap each one.
    Also you dont have to buy a 3D cad program and learn to use it- its all done with a cheap 2D cad software. I have been using Deltacad since the mid 90s and have generated thousands of drawings including 3 views for many of the metal parts being made available to everyone- Wide range, gibson sized filtertron, thunderbird, open tele neck cover, gold foils etc. All done with 2D delta cad.
    Materials cost and maintenence cost is low and you can make all your fender type bobbins with it in addition to built up parts.
    I'll second Jason on using a laser cutter. We invested in one around Christmas last year, and find it the 'Swiss army knife' for pickup makers. We use a 50w CO2 gas laser and it zips through Forbon, cuts and engraves, slices up foam for packaging ... generally gets used all the time. Cheap 2D CAD software is simple to use, and the results show a consistency that makes our previous 'bought in' flatwork look poor by comparison.
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    Old thread but been planning to try it for a while. Designed up a humbucker set in 49.2 sizing and printed with what was loaded. PLA is too brittle but next set will be tweaked some and be done in PETG or ABS to avoid breakage.


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    ken
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    Cool it worked for you.

    Do you hear any tone differences between these bobbins and storebought bobbins?

    Ken

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    I haven't mounted it yet but I don't anticipate much difference in this one; it was designed to the same dimensions with the bobbins I currently use. When I split the bobbin and play with heights and core thickness I'm suspecting some tonal changes.

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    That bobbin fracturing has more to do with hole tolerance from the squish of extruded thread as is builds the part. Make the holes slightly larger to allow for the print. Basically running a caulk gun and anything that changes the gap between tip and plate will squeeze more material out the sides. Then pressure goes way up when the slug is forced in there. If all your cracks are on one side of the bobbins you might have the base plate slightly higher on that side, won't take much. Easiest solution is adjust the hole a little larger to compensate for the 'manufacturing' process. I have a small 3D printer and have had to adjust hole sizes this way.

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    Nah, it's best to keep tolerances at dimensional accuracy instead of tweaking here and there chasing print anomalies. I used PLA which isn't elastic in the slightest; plan is to use ABS or PETG which will keep tolerances tight but has a bit more give. This is my third year running these machines and they're tuned to perfection for the most part BUT there's always room for a hiccup once in a while!

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    Woodgrinder/Pickupwinder copperheadroads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CheopisIV View Post
    Old thread but been planning to try it for a while. Designed up a humbucker set in 49.2 sizing and printed with what was loaded. PLA is too brittle but next set will be tweaked some and be done in PETG or ABS to avoid breakage.

    Chewed out by a Squirrel ....lol ...Just kidding .they are still kind of rough but can work for r & d .
    This may save me some trial & error when I get one of these for oddball pickups so thanks . Great job
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    How much force to press in the slugs? That will tell you if you need to back off the sizing or not. You should keep your model at target size for injection molding but resize for 3D printing with PLA. Injection molding with standard materials will have some % shrinkage depending on the material that helps with this issue.

    Even simple things like room temperature you are printing in can effect your print size. Automotive supplier I worked with in the early 90's had problems with molding parts after environment changed from moving a machine from the center of a plant to the outside wall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by copperheadroads View Post
    Chewed out by a Squirrel
    Hahah! Absolutely These were taken straight from the machine with no cleanup just to see how they'd survive the rest of the process. Changing print orientation would tidy up the top and even an Acetone vapor bath on ABS would make them more presentable. Ultimately, a split design would give much nicer results and appearance but still nothing close to injection molding. Cost wise, you'd still be much better off buying the mass produced stuff but for those weird design ideas, 3D printing is a much more cost effective method for prototyping.

  21. #21
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    My friend, who has a very expensive 3D printer at his job printed out several PAF style pickups. Then I wound them for him.

    Even with the expensive printer, the surface texture on the parts isn't very good. But I've used it a few times to make bobbins.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img_7932.jpg   img_7931.jpg  
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