3D Printing Our New Skis

ozskiozski Posts: 1,630
edited December 2013 in Skis Fins Bindings
I caught a special on TV the other night where they 3D printed a whole car just to prove it could be done, then drove it... Its not a big stretch to think we will be downloading our skis in the future, tweaking the design and printing them out in the office. Talk about the next big thing...
Manufacturing is undergoing a shift as 3D printing reaches the British high street and can produce anything from guns to cars, metal or even food.

Some key recent developments have furthered the "second industrial revolution", making 3D printing more useful, expanding its possibilities way beyond simple plastic trinkets and putting it within the grasp of anyone with an interest.

Metal 3D printing at home a reality

Contrary to common perception, 3D printing using metal has been possible for some time - but the price has limited its availability to industry rather than hobbyists.

One of the techniques, direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), fuses metal powder into a solid part by melting it with a powerful focused laser beam. It is an expensive industrial 3D printing process often used to make prototype metal parts for the aerospace industry, but was recently used to produce a 3D printed metal gun capable of firing 50 shots.

Now an affordable, open-source metal 3D printer costing less than $1,500 in parts is in the works at Michigan Technological University. The printer, which has successfully printed steel objects including sprockets, uses a gas-metal arc welder to lay down thin layers of steel which can be built up into complex geometric objects.

The project, led by Joshua Pearce, is still in the prototype stage but rapid progress is expected now that the details of the machine have been publicly released as open-source to the 3D printing community. “Within a month, somebody will make one that’s better than ours, I guarantee it,” said Pearce.

3D printed gun ban reinforced

One of the more disturbing proof of concept developments of 3D printing has been the rise of 3D printed guns like the Liberator plastic handgun.

Now the Home Office has updated the rules around 1968 Firearms Act, which already bans the weapons themselves, to prohibit the manufacture, sale, purchase and possession of complete guns or components unless licensed.

“There is no evidence that they are in widespread circulation, but the coalition government has reviewed existing firearms legislation and made it absolutely clear that it is an offence to own or manufacture a 3D printed gun without a license,” said crime prevention minister Norman Baker talking to Reuters.

A 3D printer that builds itself

3D printers can make almost anything, including themselves. The RepRap project is “humanity’s first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine”, which can print the components needed to build a fully-fledged 3D printer.

The initial printing machine can be made from commonly-available components, building a basic machine capable of printing the more complex parts needed to build the full 3D printer.

A few bespoke components, mainly the sensors and chips required to make the printer work, still need to be bought separately but the end goal is to produce an open design that can replicate itself at low cost.

3D printed pizza

Producing objects is just one of the possibilities opened up by 3D printing. Nasa is currently exploring options for producing food using a 3D printer.

A $125,000 grant has been issued to Texas-based Systems and Materials Research develop a 3D printer design capable of creating "nutritious and flavourful" food for astronauts.

The printers will combine powders to produce food that has the structure and texture of normal food, including smell, using "digital recipes", sounding like something straight out of Star Trek.

A pizza was chosen as one of the project’s first goals, demonstrating the printer’s ability to mix nutrients, flavours and textures.

'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.'' Boat 2005 Nautique 196 6L ZO - Ski: KD Platinum


  • Ed_ObermeierEd_Obermeier Posts: 1,339 Crazy Baller
    Machines can create more and better machines without human input. Star Trek Replicators to create our food. Hmmm... Can the world of SkyNet be far behind??
    Ed Obermeier - owner, EZ-Slalom Course Systems
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,337 Mega Baller
    This whole 3d printer thing seems somewhat laughable to me. You've been able to buy computer operated mini mills for years - cheaply. For 2000 you can have a Bridgeport, tooling and a DRO and make anything your little heart desires. My 17 year old comment about the whole 3d gun thing really amused me. He told me he could make one in metal using the high school machines and have something that won't blow up in your hands.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • HortonHorton Posts: 26,728 Administrator
    you'll be able to print beer before you be able to print a ski

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  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 5,999
    With 3d printing only printing successive layer upon layer, I can't see a ski being viable for printing as you'd lose the carbon weave's strength. Now, what I can see right now is the ability to 3d print molds(which is getting fairly common) which would speed up R&D time.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,322 Mega Baller
    without the carbon fiber the skis would be hard to do but it would be great for things like inserts, screws, and fins which would be nice. Might be hard for some of the complex stuff in the near future but some of the simpler replacement parts would be nice to have available at our fingertips.
  • ozskiozski Posts: 1,630
    @ShaneH Good point about the molds although I'm not sure that one day we won't be downloading our ski gear and printing it out. You have to wonder what this technology might do to manufacturing.. And then think about the legal issues if you share a design etc...
    'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.'' Boat 2005 Nautique 196 6L ZO - Ski: KD Platinum

  • HortonHorton Posts: 26,728 Administrator
    Molds are all built in CAD and cut with CNC. It is sort of what you are talking about.

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  • rockdogrockdog Posts: 533 Crazy Baller
    I should be able to get the software from my local market for about $20 soon I reckon. Under the table of course.
  • mwetskiermwetskier Posts: 1,329 Mega Baller
    theres probably 600 to 1000 bucks in the aluminum blocks used for a ski mold i doubt if you could get the kind of performance necessary out of a sprayed molten plastic mold.
  • WayneWayne Posts: 449 Baller
    What if they did a 3d image of your foot and printed the perfect fitting hardshell binding?
  • DCinVADCinVA Posts: 8 Baller
    "What if they did a 3d image of your foot and printed the perfect fitting hardshell binding?"

    Now that is an excellent idea!
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 2,568 Mega Baller
    @DCinVA I am one that would really benefit
    Could probably do it with something like this:
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • liquid dliquid d Posts: 1,061 Mega Baller
    Will it make skins for 2007 196?
  • ntxntx Posts: 823 Crazy Baller
    @Jody_Seal what they have on e-bay, would allow you to take a existing ski and scan it (measure) and produce a 3D CAD model viewable with a CAD software application. It will not give you something you can hold. The CAD model would allow you to make changes to the ski and reproduce with a 3d printer. There are limitaions to size of the part that can be produced. Most of the mid range priced units are limited to 12 inch x 12 inch x 18 inch work area. There are limitations in the type of material that can be used to reproduce the ski.

    A good application for this type of 3D printer would have been the "micro binding adjuster" You can create a CAD model in a application like solidwork or pro E of the part. Output a secondary file that the 3d printer reads and "prints" a part that can be tested as a prototype. Again, the material would be something like a hard plastic. This would allow you to test it and see if the concept works without actaully machining it. The cost for a single "printed part" would be in the 200/300 dollar range and could be produced in a few hours.

    This type of stuff has been around for years and the advancements in material options are expanding everyday. If you do a google search for selective laser sintering (SLS) or 3D systems you can find some pretty cool stuff and see what is possable.
  • MattPMattP Posts: 5,969 Mega Baller
    @ntx it's how I created and tested my design of the binding adjuster.
  • JordanJordan Posts: 1,113 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    3D printing is good for prototyping and design...almost useless for production.
  • mwetskiermwetskier Posts: 1,329 Mega Baller
    edited December 2013
    @Jody_Seal -any local prosthesis maker will prolly have a 3 d camera system that can scan your foot and the file can be used to computer machine a dense foam model of your foot. The boot maker can start from there and prolly make a perfect fit. u need to talk to brewski bout that.
  • Steven_HainesSteven_Haines Posts: 1,003 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @ liquid d, what kind of skins are you looking for? Upholstery? I think that Nautique still offers that service. The reason why I ask is that I'm having new skins made for my Malibu right now. Malibu doesn't offer that service for older boats any longer but I was able to get in touch with the guy who does Malibu's upholstery work. I'm pretty stoked to be getting "factory" quality upholstery work done rather than some rinky dink local job! The price is incredible also! I'd check with Nautique!
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,789 Mega Baller
    Will we see new plasti-fins in the future? Powder metal fins? Screws, plates, inserts? The possibilities are endless. As someone else said though - great for prototyping but not production.
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    We have a few 3D printed aircraft parts floating around my office that were made years ago. It was really a proof of concept more than anything and a selling point to show that custom fit parts can be made quickly and cheaply but ultimately it wasn't a viable solution due to the unique way the government spends money. However, considering the final product still has to be programmed such that a CNC machine can read and manufacture it, it doesn't make much sense to train and have someone dedicated to program things into a 3D printer and get a plastic product first and then have another dedicated person do the same work for a CNC machine for a metal part. Might as well make it out of nylon or some other cheap material that's easy to work with, modify the program as required, and when it finally fits properly, put the correct material in.

    On the flip side though, if you're looking to start a new company because you have the next best product, you can get your part made for you fairly easily. There is a lot of talk about using this stuff in space to print food, tools, etc. but I couldn't help notice that these parts are made with powder. Can you just imagine how big of a mess you'd make pulling your freshly made part out of a big pile of ultra fine powder in zero gravity?
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