I work in an aluminum foundry, I'm curious how well you guys think aluminum reprap parts would work. Obviously I'm not printing aluminum, but making sand castings instead of waiting for printed parts or restraping.
I might just buy the bits from bytes version 3 if I can't get parts this way.
I doubt the extruder head parts would be a good idea the added weight can't be a good thing. But for the rest of the parts maybe. I'd have to drill them all. I would need 1 pattern for each part needed. The patterns would need to be 102% original size, to end up with the same size parts. And 3 degrees of draft on the outside edges.
I would be happy to send some aluminum parts to the person that prints the patterns for me.
I believe that various pictures of Dawin's you see here with smooth green parts are actually cast plastics parts that were replicated from orginal FDM parts.
For a lot of people starting out it's a basically a which came first the chicken or the egg, once you have access to a running machine it's easier to make another one or just print out variations in the parts that you need.
I'd certainly be interested in trading parts for aluminum castings in the not so distant future; perhaps in 3 months time or so. I'm not sure building all 100 parts for a Darwin would be cost effective, but there might be a few parts that would be useful. Each one would have to be re-designed for sand casting, and there will probably be issues with the rough surface finish of the RepRapped parts, but it might be doable.
I can't promise any parts any time soon as I'm overseas at the moment, but send me an email at wbortz at gmail dot com if you're interested.
I am a part owner of the company, so doing the castngs is cheaper and easier than waiting for printed parts.
The cost is not an issue, I can attach them one at a time(as small as they are maybe 5) to other stuff we're making, that makes the parts free for me(the cost of a few pounds of metal about 3 dollars, is negligible)
I think I can make/moddify the print files, to what I would need. I have autocad and have worked with 3d files, and I made an stl for printing on a plaster printer.
shows some detail on the surface finish of my RepRapped parts - it's pretty rough compared to a plaster print. They are relatively strong though, compared to plaster. Would you be able to cast something like that? For reference, that's a corner tie, and the holes are 8 mm diamter. The RepRapped parts at the moment are not as dimensionally accurate as a plaster printer.
I would imagine that the roughness would mean we'd need more that 3 deg of draft to remove the part from the sand casting, but I'm not sure on that, as I've never done it.
Look at the STL or STEP file of the corner blocks, and see if you can come up with a castable design of it. Zach's new threaded rod idea may make the corner blocks obsolete, but right now they're the largest and one of the most difficult parts to print. The files are on the sourceforge page, link here:
You want the cartesian bot 1.06 package - the corner bracket stl (and everything else except the extruder) is there.