Just curious if anyone has used a 3D printer before? I am a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology and have access to one. I want to test how much pressure a block of text can withhold after being printed using a 3D printer. This will be tested using a Washington Handpress we have in our lab.
Old Technology meets New Technology?
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The subject was brought up on the Letpress list, and one member shared his experience with an inexpensive 3D setup:
I very much look forward to what you will do at RIT. My printerly hope for these machines is that they will be able to make parts for our aging presses. I can’t see why they won’t be able to produce type, too. They’re precise to 0.1mm. For those who are not familiar with the technology, here’s a video that’s hard to believe:
Thank you for the helpful links. My concern is the pressure from the handpress cracking and breaking the 3D printed type. We will see…
Please follow through with this and document the process! I would love to see how it unfolds!
You may be interested to see the post Nick Sherman did about his Intercut type project. This was a subtractive rather than an additive process, but it did start with 3D rendered models.
The Arm Letterpress
dhorowitz, for the life of me I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around “3D printing” Who are your instructors? Is this the age where we make up words
about words that already exist? I’m flabergasted.
Dan- thanks for that link about Nick’s experiments. What most excited me though was an idea he mentions at the end, an electromagnetic bed. After spending time printing with a bunting base and having trouble making small/subtle adjustments, I thought of something similar for that context. Place your metal-backed plates on a base, move them around, flip a switch to turn on the magnet and it’s locked down!
Test text block printing as we speak…takes about 1:45 to create at 1”x1” at type high. Will be out rest of day, results forthcoming.
dhorowitz, An offset press,a letterpress is a 3D printer.
I can’t imagine the work and genius it woruld take to create
a machine that replicates something in 3D and then to have such a loose grip of the english language to call it a
3D printer. What is it printing? So you use rocket science to reinvent wood type? The inventor should have called it a 3D doughnut, because it has nothing to do with doughnuts, as this machine has nothing to do with print or printing. best james
Watched the videos Barbara’s link, i can not believe what i’m seeing, i expected to see David Copperfield there somewhere. Dick G.
James, it is called a 3D printer because it lays down a powder substance much like how an ink-jet lays down ink droplets. Watch the video Barbara posted.
Here is the test text block (without reverse text).
can’t wait to see it in action - please keep us all posted!
dhorowitz, look up the word print or printing in the dictionary.Its a replicator period and has nothing at all to do with print or printing. When I make a peanutbutter and jelly sanwhich and I spread the peanutbutter I am therefore printing the peanutbutter? I am going to invent a machine that makes these PB&Js and call it a PB&J sandwich printer.The inventor at best has a poor understanding of the word print,printer, and printing.
dhorowitz is not making any of this up, the technical term for the process is stereolithography (aka 3d printing by just about everyone that’s ever run one):
the latest machines can actually direct print in metal (this process is called Selective Laser Sintering, for those who are curious) rather than just ABS plastic, for those thinking press parts…
dhorowitz, you are doing interesting research. Please keep us informed with your progress.
My humble suggestion would be to use a shim plate behind the pieces you make so you do not have to print them to type high. I think this would help you save some time in the machine.
James, why bring down the conversation with gripe about the term “3d printer”? dhorowitz neither invented or propagated the term but it is the industry standard name for this technology.
I am rather hungry. Can you email me your .pbj file so I can print it out here?
I’m very interested in this as well. I’m taking classes at a school that has similar 3D printing equipment as well and will be taking their fabrication course in the fall. Then I can use the 3D scanners and modelers. I’ve been toying with the idea for making plates for my wife this way for a while.
I’ve handled items made by these printers before and as long as you don’t apply an excessive amount of force for the impression they will probably hold up fine. That is my untested opinion of course. The machines I have seen running are very sssslllloooowww but I’m sure newer ones are better. Shimming the bottom may save on both machine time and material costs. Good luck with that though, I’ve had a difficult time finding a place that will precision mill metal plates or hardwood for me for a reasonable price.
Crazy side note, there are a couple interns from RIT at the software company I work for this summer. Small world.
joelanich, its not a gripe it is an affront. Just because you can invent a machine that electronically/digitally ejaculates
a polymer and you excite those polymers with light,sound
or electricity and replicate an object does not constitute printing. Sure you can call it printing but it isn’t.We live in a country that guarantees freedom of speech but not necessarly freedom from ignorance. Evidently a guy named Chuck Hull coined the term stereolithography, without any explanation at all. The word he coined translates to three dimensional stone writing?, and that corelates to replicating something out of plastic?. Without a doubt Chuck Hull is a smart man,clearly he has no sense of etymology. It does matter what we call/name things otherwise I could call you a bad word and you wouldn’t mind. dhorowitz asked for thoughts on this subject and I have a few more. In the youtube video this company shows all this plactic stuff on the table,does any of it do anything other that sit on the table. I also did not see this company make a 22oz framing hammer and drive a 16 p nail into a 2x4. I don’t understand why you would invent a maching that makes stuff thats already invented. When Megenthaler invented the linotype he invented something new, he didn’t reinvent
the hand mold out of plastic.We have tons of floating plastic in our oceans why don’t we invent a machine
reduces it, and then hire an english major to help us come up with a name. best james
It probably is a mistake to let a linguistic issue overtake this thread, when its real direction is a very interesting application of a new technology, but…
If one does in fact consult a dictionary, as suggested, one discovers that the origins of the word “print” go back to Greek and Roman antiquity (with the first attested use in English in 1300, well before Gutenberg). The word means, at its heart, an impression with a stamp or punch - as in an impression into wax for a seal or an impression into metal in coining. It signifies, in its linguistic roots, a three-dimensional process.
From these origins of course such a basic and useful word spread to metaphorical and suggestive uses (e.g., an imprint of an image in the mind, first attested in English in 1315, or indeed “an image or likeness of anything” (OED, 2b), with an example in this sense from 1388). Many of these senses remain today; a footprint in the sand is a good example of this original, three-dimensional sense of the word.
The use of “print” in the sense in which it is generally used on Briar Press is actually a significant change from the basic sense of the word as three-dimensional object or process, as it reduces it (more or less, depending on depth of impression of course) to two dimensions. It is not attested in English until 1482, nearly two centuries after its first appearance in this language.
Someone (else!) probably ought to investigate the history of both the terms “stereolithography” and “3-D printing,” but I would guess that each probably came about by direct analog to earlier technologies: lithography from chip fabrication and printing with reference to the motions of many computer printers.
Regardless of the origins, though, the term “3-D printer” is beautifully appropriate for this type of machine because it returns, after a lapse of some centuries, to the origins of “print” as a process of creating three-dimensional items. It is a far smaller jump than the that done in the 15th century when the word “print” was borrowed from three dimensional processes and applied to two-dimensional work on paper. It is one of the better modern coinages I’ve seen: both suggestive of the processes and respectful of the language and its deep roots.
As to the novelty of the products of 3-D printing… I’ve seen examples of complex three-dimensional castings with voids, investment-cast from models made by 3-D printing. I’ve done casting and machining, and can assure you that the making of these would have been somewhere between prohibitively expensive and impossible using previous technologies. This is indeed innovative technology that is going to start changing the world rather soon. (What is even more exciting is that it is a technology which has been embraced by the new “maker” community. There are both home-brew 3-D printers, and public-access 3-D printers. This is the home shop / tinkerer’s ethic at its best.)
My thanks to dhorowitz and the others exploring this. Metaphors be with you :-)
Dr. David M. MacMillan
Oh, and a tiny item for the overly picky:
The root “stereo-” means “solid, ” not “3-D.” The term “stereotype” signifies a single (therefore solid) plate as opposed to the form of type from which it was made. The printing surfaces of the form of type and of the stereotype have the same dimensionality.
Who cares what you call it. If you want to get picky, who was the idiot that named the tooth brush, i brush my teeth, shouldn’t it be called a teeth brush??? I wonder if you could make a sigwalt with this machine?? Dick G.
We have to smile at the discussion …!
I’m amazed at the technology, really wonderful, such incredible potential.
The use the letterpress printer person will want it for is to produce printing plates. That’s all for the good, after all we started with wood cuts from the ancients, then moveable type, cast lines of type, then wood cuts again for “pictures”, then various printing blocks in metal and plastics, even vegetable matter, wooden type then film and photographic processes, then digital and so we continue to innovate for pre-press including this 3D method of making plates..
My only concern is the possibility of a push to make another Discussion Category on Briar Press called 3DPrinting Letterpress, like Digital Letterpress, when it, along with Digital Letterpress should come under the Discussion of Pre-Press. [That’s another discussion.]
Back to the 3D under discussion, if its not a “con”, any “limitations” being experienced now will eventually be overcome.
Finally, This “modern” letterpress some are involved with on this website will go the same way as letterpress of my generation, which is, people will innovate and look for better technology; who knows someone will discovernew Lithography and heavens something Digital, which will yet again mean the demise of letterpress, again!!!
That’s human nature, and long live innovation, I wouldn’t be on my computer if some one hadn’t given up on the tom toms and smoke pyres. [Who just said “what a pity”?]
William Amer, Rockley NSW
PS And the cast iron and type will still be here.
Finally got a test text block made up using a sans-serif typeface instead of a serifed one. Did this to ensure minimal cracking on the surface, if any at all.
Printed the block using a Vandercook model press and a rubber based black ink. The surface of the 3D block was rough but still held a decent print.
For future reference, sanding the surface of the block may improve the quality, but evenness throughout may be sacrificed.
Pictures to come soon.
Can you change the resolution of the passes to make the last few passes of greater fineness to provide a more uniform printing surface?
How accurate is the height of the block? Does if vary from side to side?
This is certainly a fine experiment with some potential uses in letterpress to eliminate the negative in the plate processing, and potentially lower costs for the user in the long run.
Do you think you could keep a plate as thin as .064” flat enough to print from if held on a base with adhesive?
We will look forward to seeing your photos.
Cedar Creek Press
-Unfortunately we cannot change the resolution, it is the same powder-like substance that is laid down.
-The block is fairly accurate, actually. The middle seems to be more accurate than the sides.
-Not quite sure about how thin we can get it, but it is pretty expensive, so maybe a Boxcar plate is still the way to go for that purpose.
A few others have mentioned this, but I also would be much more excited at the prospect of being able to cheaply replicate single parts without having to go through the inefficient process of recasting something.
The thing that I’ve heard other industries get excited over is the ability to make a single prototype much easier and less cost prohibitive. Eventually the technology may catch up to make it useful in full scale production, but it’s use for prototypes makes it a win no matter what.
The thought of using this to create something more shallow and shimming it doesn’t have me sold—it doesn’t seem to really improve much on subtractive photo processes available (time & resolution for starters). I’d think that this sort of technology would be more suited for creating new movable type and blocks than replacing photopolymer plates. The one advantage being able to go straight from the computer to a finished product without needing to create film.
To take the discussion in a slightly different direction, is there any existing way/idea/attempt to go directly from a computer file to a finished photopolymer plate? I’m thinking along the lines of a transparent LCD screen that creates a negative of the input digital image via polarization to block the exposing light. The reverse could be used to do photo etching instead as well. Just a thought…
Seems like a likely method for direct-to-plate for photopolymer would be to draw the image with a high-res laser or other point light generator directly on the polymer and then develop it. The biggest problem would be maintaining a decent shoulder.
The laser technology in filmsetters works with light sensitive paper as well as film, used to print high-res artwork on Lino 330s. Maybe someone just needs to convert filmsetters to be able to handle the ticker media. Expose the polymer plate directly with the laser, then wash out.
Widmark, that exists already- It’s called direct laser engraving.
Stork is the brand, Anderson and Vreeland distribute them in the US. They’re really for flexo and the like, not letterpress, but as I understand it you can put plates on them.
“Agrios is the fastest laser engraver of flexo printing forms on the market. Specially suited for engraving flexo material like rubber and polymer, this unit makes no compromise in delivering top engraving quality.”
What I really think is interesting about the application of 3-d printing, or stereo-lithography, is the use of the medium to make forms for typecasting.
For example, with relatively little effort, we can almost completely remove the human hand from the process of building forms to print from- and several steps between the ink getting on paper, which usually result in image degredation. IE: Normal procedure is Image in computer>output to film>expose to plate>image washout/etch?>put in press and ink>offset to paper.
With RTP, it is Image in computer>output to plate>offset onto paper.
Or, even further, the use of this tech to make parts to be cast as sorts to be made into handset type, whether larger display type or smaller book and page type…. Well, if it were high res enough, this would be a really great function within the production chain if someone wanted to TOTALLY modernize, digitize, and make typecasting efficient again, and had both the funding and technological wherewithal to make it happen.
Today at Huffingtonpost on the tech page
Some genius has printed a semiautomatic
AR-15 assault rifle. What a brilliant use of time,
brave new world.
To clarify, my understanding is that he did not print a complete assault rifle as the headlines and hype suggests. He printed a single component, the lower receiver. The reason why that is so significant is because it is the only piece with a serial number on it—everything else being much easier to acquire without trace.
While we’re on the subject again, I ran across another video that shows the 3D printing process using metal instead of plastic. It’s more complex, as you might assume:
This is awesome and cant wait to see how everything turns out!
Laser sintering is a really really interesting thing as well. (that video wasn’t laser sintering though)..
Speaking of laser sintering, check out this solar powered sinter.
Wow, bw, thanks for posting! Can’t wait to order my first set of wine glasses, straight from the Sahara. :-)
I haven’t read through all the posts but from what I gather from the discussion there is a great deal of interest in this process.
I recently had a part made for an old Wharfdeale stop cylinder press - some of you may have followed my thread relating to “baby Wharfedale” elsewhere on Briarpress.
My press was missing a couple of crucial parts, related to the paper return apparatus.
So far I have had a standard made that holds up the near side end of the small roller. It fits and works well. I am now waiting on a quote for the manufacture of two geared wheels that drive the top roller. Although the University I go to has a 3D printer I was told it would be unsuitable for my needs as the plastic parts it produced were acrylic and would be too brittle for the work they would be expected to perform.
I decided to go to a commercial 3D printer for the parts and have been supplied with a nylon based part for the standard and will be getting a high temp nylon for the gears.
The parts are made from a 3D model file I was able to supply (Solidworks 2007) via email, which they then posted to me.
I have attached a photo of the standard fitted to my press.
I’m quite pleased with the whole excercise and am planning to use these parts as patterns for future casting in iron - I want to see that they perform as required before committing to the metal casting.
I think, if you can find your way around 3D software then this process is the way to go in restoring old presses with missing or broken parts. It is relatively cheap if you don’t have access to a machine shop or foundry.
sorry, here’s the image
near side standard-from computer model.jpg
Barbara-thanks for link to amazing “metal printing” process, and nylon one too is incredible, but how to allow for shrinkage in casting iron from this………….hhmm
Wow, thanks, Ron. This is exactly how I imagined press parts could be made. Did you have an old part to work from? Please keep us posted on your progress as you move on to metal parts.
For the rest of us, it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone who can do the modeling. Our son learned Solidworks for a class at his design school and was able to work his way around the program pretty quickly. He was able to churn out about 60 parts for an RC car in a couple of weeks. I would think you could go to a design or engineering school and find a student who could make the drawings for you. It would be especially easy if you had a borrowed or even broken part to work from.
Speaking of ambitious 3D printing projects…here is one attempting to print houses (or any other structure for that matter) in concrete.
Ambitious and interesting at the same time. Mars?!
“Printed Beef” rumors that one of the paypal
guys is going to print BEEF, where is the beef?
Again what is it printing? Where have all the
English majors gone?
I’ve seen a video of the 3D scanning process where the user scans an object (someone’s head) which the computer translates into code and a modeled drawing. I would assume you could scan in a piece of wood type, make any surface corrections needed and create (or print) it in three dimensions. It sounds as if the raw material choices are expanding. One substance may work better than another. This technology will certainly change the way we experience the authenticity of things.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the part in my possesion because the owner of the press that had it wasn’t prepared to take it off his press.
Instead I photographed it and measured it up with a micrometer. From the info I got I was able to model it. As you say, parts like this should be relatively easy to model, and Solidworks is a great program for this kind of stuff.
Jonathan, I too wonder about shrinkage. One option would be to spray the part all over with a heavy coating or two of car body filler to add a mil or two all round.
I have been following this thread with interest since it started, but never thought I would actually have to use it to fix my press. Here’s my story…
A few weeks ago, whilst printing, the bracket that holds the ink disk to my Peerless No.2 platen press cracked, rendering the machine useless. Reassuringly, this part isn’t under a lot of pressure (aside from the rollers moving across the disk, and the weight of the materials) so I knew that it wasn’t something that I could have done to damage my most prized possession. Needless to say I was upset and shouted a few choice words at the press, which was being stored at my inlaws’ place due to lack of space in my flat. This was the best thing that could have happened, as Carl (my girlfriend’s father) works for a company here in the UK who make precision engineered metal parts from 3D models and use additive manufacturing (3D printing) to do this. He calmed me down and took the broken part from the press and told me not to worry.
Over a beer later that day he explained the 3D scanning process and the fact that they can actually print direct from a CAD scan to metal. The parts were scanned separately in a GOM scanner and then placed together in the 3D modelling program. This scan highlighted a large ‘inclusion’, a weak part in the original casting that had caused the breakage. This inclusion was then removed from the scan and a 3D model was complete. Must admit it was a much more technical explanation, but you get the idea!
This happened today and they will be printing the new bracket during the week. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. I’m very lucky to have found someone who can help me this way so I’ll share anything I find out with you all.
There is more information on the breakage and the progress on my blog: http://www.letterpresser.co.uk/broken-press-update/
I’m quite new to the printing world so please excuse any incorrect terminology! Images below of the two broken pieces and the 3D model…
All the best,
That is really cool! I’ve been playing with an app called 123d by AutoDesk to make 3d drawings of diffrent things. They are the same company that makes Autocad among other high end design apps. The cool thing is 123d is free and they just released an app that works on Apple iOS devices as well. http://www.123dapp.com/.
Basicly you take a lot of picures of your object from many diffrent angles and it creates a 3d drawing of it for you. Probably not as accurate as a commercial laser scanner but cool just the same.
Edit, clicked post twice.
might be worth adding a bit more to surfaces that fit onto others to allow for accurate machining??
Is there any “shrinkage” when converted to metal?
Hopefully not , then this process is fantastic.
Yeah, I agree. What they will do that then machine down to exact size. It’s a pretty basic part so not sure there will be too much finishing (aside from the ink disc hole & bolt threads). The key thing is that the angle and distance of the ink disk hole is exact, the rest is all cosmetic in my opinion and the part will be hidden behind the disk.
As for the shrinkage issue, the part will be made from a composite stainless steel that is used for jet turbines that run at high temperatures. It will be precise to about 0.2mm and won’t shrink (apparently) like cast iron would.
I’ll add more images soon.
Is the shrinkage concern only during creation? Didn’t know if using a different material would cause the piece to expand and contract too differently from what it is connected to, introducing enough stress to break another piece.
@bwletterpress - it’s something that might be found out the hard way I think, by trying it. The part I’ve had made is not under lots of stress (like a platen arm might be, for example) so I’m 99% confident this won’t pose a problem in my case.
And I’m assuming that if the temperature of the room in which the press is situated is regulated consistently there will be little expansion/contraction involved to see even a minute difference in behaviour. The big issue for me would be that it was the right size once the material had cooled from casting/manufacture and that it fit the press correctly.
Anyway, it’s an interesting point and something that would be interesting to investigate all the same.
I’ve had my part printed, image is below of it sat in the machine. Now it just needs to be precision milled and fitted back to the press. I think it’s a clever process, with my lack of knowledge of casting I’m pleased with how the production has gone. - more images here: http://www.letterpresser.co.uk/3d-printing-process/
That is very interesting. Thanks for posting your progress.
I came across this today - they are producing custom printing plates on a 3D printer.
‘We can take your letterpress design, and a few dimensions based on your setup, design a custom plate, and print it out in durable ABS capable of withstanding thousands of impressions (if used correctly). Prices start at $99 for single plates, and bulk order discounts are available. ‘
Has anyone tried their product?
You can buy a 3d printer that will print with nylon for about $600.00 to $900.00 if this can produce a print-able plate it could make a lot of things happen.
please keep us all informed of your results.
I’m sure there were nay-sayers when the first printer turned out a page of text after months were spent creating punches, counterpunches and matrices, and then weeks spent hand casting and hours spent hand setting type just to produce something that a scribe that was fast with a pen could turn out in 10 minutes. It would all seem very silly from the perspective of the person holding the pen.
Those low-end, “home” 3-D printers, while nifty, produce very rough output. Generally the plastic thread they extrude is about 1/16” thick. Plus they can’t make the threads seal against one another perfectly, leaving small gaps throughout the piece and very rough surfaces. High-end production printers like those used to remanufacture the part above have a tank of liquid with metal powder in solution that’s heated and fused together by a laser. A very thin layer is made at each pass. After the pass, the worktable lowers a tiny amount, letting the solution spread across the surface. The laser then does it’s work again and the process repeats. This produces metal parts very close to the same density as the same metal cast solid. The downside is that these machines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of around a thousand and the materials are similarly much more expensive. I’m sure there will come a day when these kinds of machines are available to the general public but that day is not here yet.
To to add a little trivia to the 3D Printing term: The first machines used re-purposed dot-matrix printer transport mechanisms (with a new head). So it looked more like the printers people were used to seeing. Today the X-Y stage mechanism of course looks more like a routers, with the Z dimension added.
keelan, 3d printing is so passé, We now call it the AM process, additive manufacturing. This kind of technology is working wonders in the medical world. You know when you go camping in your winnebago thats not really camping, just as we know the 3d printing wasn’t really printing it was replicating, really, sculpture. best james
“…hire an english major to help us come up with a name. best james”
I’m English, and it took me a moment to work out why an Army officer would be the person to do it. If you’d (correctly!) capitalised the English then it would have made it clearer.
(And yes, that peculiar combination of punctuation items is not a very elegant way of expressing myself, but it is widely used on the internet to mean “I’m only teasing, not trying to be rude.”)
I have been doing this for a while. I produce the graphic on the 3d printer 4mm high with a 1.5mm backing. I print with 100% infill and 1 she’ll. then I use carpet tape and tape the result to a wood block’ I’m using a very hard tropical species of wood. I then use a home version of a nail dremel, like they use in nail salons to smooth out any bumps. Then I screw the block into the back of an mdf jig and then turn the whole thing upside down and sand it smooth on sandpaper that is taped to a very heavy piece of glass…. Up to 1200 grit. I take a look at this under a jewellers loop to check for any messy fly aways. Of course I clean out the sanded plastic. Then I use a fine paint brush and paint it a bit with ordinary nail polish remover which sort of burnishes. I check for height etc and then lock into the chase and print. I’m using a c and p table top.
Lots of fun and immediate gratification with not waiting for polymer. For text I use lead font …. You can print text of course but the font size needs to be huge.
A bit more info and photos
I’m using a makerbot my husband gave me for christmas two years ago, so that technology is a bit old. The wood I use is paduc 3/4 inch. The size of the paper in the photos is 4.25 by 5.5 inch and the business card size….. I blocked out my personal info. I am not attempting to do this for profit, it a late life hobby. Hope this helps….btw way, there’s an instructible.com tutorial on retrofitting an old 3d printer into a laser cutter, which would be more accurate and open up the polymer plate option. I have only used ABS so far but will try PLA soon because printing the graphic directly to the platen would result in a better starting point.