|Die Cast or 3D Print? [message #24462] Fri, 04 March 2011 21:32 UTC
A question about a possible application for 3D printing:
Basically I want to make customized "speed buckles" or "hook buckles"; you would find these on backpacks, crashpads and other gear commonly designed/manufactured in the outdoor equipment industry. Below are some picture examples.
Ideally I would combine the basic function of these friction devices with a more pleasing design, such as a desert scarab beetle shape or other fun shapes. These would then be used for the normal purpose of tightening/loosening webbing straps without the hassle of pinching tiny plastic buckles, which break and are generally annoying to many people. The desert beetle design would be paired with equipment designed to be used in arid climates so it would be purely aesthetic. That being said, I am confident I can design (using normal 3D computer aided techniques) a buckle that will be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, that is, the "beetleness" will not interfere with the buckle's function.
What I am not confident in is the viability of using 3D printing for this task. While it is clearly a new and exciting service that is offered here, I am curious about a few factors.
In order for the buckles to be durable enough to actually be used as buckles, they will have to be made of a suitable material, which will most likely be more expensive. For example, stainless steel printing is $10.00 per cm3. A single buckle would be about 2.5'' x 2'' with a thickness based on strength of the material. In cm thats about 6.25cm x 5cm for the basic dimensions. Still relatively small, but that sounds expensive! Considering I would need multiple buckles I am beginning to wonder if 3D printing is appropriate for this idea.
Any thoughts? All comments appreciated!