A Simple Vision
Imagine: a DIY 3D Metal Printer the size of a small washing machine. All you have to do is 1. feed it material (metal powder for example) 2. give it the 3D Model to print, and it will create any complex geometry that can fit inside the build space... with the strength of titanium. Costs to print the objects? a). the time to design a 3D Model b). the cost of materials and c). electricity.
Imagine: a factory in the near future running one hundered printers, making parts and tools from recycled metal and being powered by sustainable energies. This is our hope for the near future, and will give everyone the power to create high end parts for the price of metal powder. No more complex machining, no more casting - just printing! This will open up a revolution. Manufacture high technology in your garage.
This is too important, need more inspiration? Take a look at the printed parts examples page to see just what this technology is capable of!
3D Printing with Metal has traditionally been a closed source technology, which means that it is sometimes hard to get a clear understanding of the latest techniques and processes. We here at Metalbot are working to change that by writing extensive open documentation about the process.
For a complete newcomer the 3D Metal Printing universe can be quite daunting to try and comprehend. This page is designed to give you a quick introduction into the wonderful world of 3D Metal Printing!
So what is 3D Metal Printing?
Imagine being able to actually fabricate complex metal objects - such as rocket engines - from the comfort of your office chair... these are just some of the possibilities that 3D Metal Printing opens up.
'3D printing with metal' refers to any process that additively deposits layers of metal, one on top of the other, in a controlled way to produce three dimensional objects. There are many processes that can be used for 3D Metal Printing, using lasers, arc welders, chemical processes, electron beams.
What all of these processes have in common is the building up of objects layer by layer. Bonding one layer to the other to eventually produce a finished part is called 'additive manufacturing'. Take a look at the example video below from commercial 3D Metal Printer manufacturer EOS which shows the basic principle of building up metal objects layer by layer.
What can I do with it?
Current Open Source 3D Printing technology is limited to producing trinkets or prototype parts, this is because the power of 3D Printing being applied to the real world is limited to the strength of the printed plastic parts.
On the other hand the applications for 3D Metal Printing are literally limitless, allowing us to create fully functional, durable load-bearing objects ready for use.
We believe that it is time for a paradigm shift in how we use 3D Printing technology. Open Source 3D Metal Printing will be disruptive in a good way. Take a look below at some ways that 3D Metal Printing are already impacting the world around us (visit the inspiration page to see more examples).
Hyper Efficient Heat Exchangers
Micro jet engines
Custom Sports Equipment
Complex Internal Geometries
Granted this technology will probably not grace everyone's living room in the near future, however we want to create a tool that is accessible all. Something ideally the size of a small washing machine that costs no more than a cheap car.
Open Source 3D Metal Printing will be a 'Cornerstone' for a new generation of manufacturing and technology that is not restricted by modern machining techniques. Imagine printing complex components or being able to make aerospace quality components in pure titanium from your office.... that is the power of 3D Metal Printing.
What do I need to make one?
The challenge of making a 3D Metal Printer should not be underestimated. Currently we don't have a functional prototype that is ready to be release, therefore we can't provide you with a bill of materials and build instructions however we are all working overtime to define and develop the design.
Take a look at the Metalbot Project Page to see the latest project developments.
The Metalbot project is completely open source. Giving the core technology away for free will accelerate design and adoption of low cost 3D Metal Printing. We believe that this technology is far to valuable to be locked away in big industrial complexes.
Everything we do is protected under the creative commons license to foster an open environment of creativity and sharing. 3D Metal printing has the power to change almost every industry on earth - and we believe it should be open at the source.
As an open source project, Metalbot needs your help. If you find any of the above interesting then this is the community for you!
So what is Metalbot doing?
We are a community of thinkers and makers who want the next manufacturing revolution to be open. 3D printers have already made a remarkable impact on the maker world, giving millions of people the power to make their ideas a reality.
For durable real world applications however, the only solution is metals. Currently the only machines that can print in metal are extremely expensive commercial systems. Our mission is simple... we want to design a 3D Metal printer that is accessible to everyone. We are bringing together a global team of developers and enthusiasts to make this happen.
How do I get involved?
Every member of this project is highly valued and you will be able to connect with some of the greatest minds and foremost industry experts here at Metalbot! There are many ways that you can get involved... one of the first steps you can take is to have a look at the goals page to see exactly what needs development. Get started right away by introducing yourself on the forums.
This initiative is community driven and we are extremely open to all suggestions. In addition to development there are many ways which you can show support such as helping with editing documentation articles, becoming a forum moderator, telling others about the project, providing assitence to newcomers, giving a financial contribution and helping with project management. Contact us at info @ metalbot dot org and let us know if you would like to help.
About the community
Great ideas start with simple questions, for example... "why are there no open source 3D Metal printers? The Metalbot Community was founded in early 2013 after a heated discussion over on the RepRap forums about the sad state of open source 3D Metal printing. Metalbot was the worlds first community dedicated to creating open source 3D Metal Printers.
Since 2013 we have grown into a global community that includes laser gurus, mechanical engineers, code monkeys, enthusiasts and industry experts. Not a single member of MetalBot employed for their contributions. As an open source project, the information is given free and taken free!