This is a photo of a 3d print that was created on a Printrbot Simple using Filamet Copper and then finished using methods similar to Precious Metal Clays or PMC. <--(Click for more info on PMC) There is a lot of information out on the net regarding this process. Filamet is the only product in existence that will work this way in a 3d printer. When complete, your 3d printed item is nearly 100% pure metal. We believe that this is all that most people will ever need as far as printing metal at home. Since it's inexpensive and accessible, it may also gain traction in the fabrication and machining world.
Each member of this team has committed their lives and livelihood to developing items with metal, and the techniques that make this process possible.
This passion has transferred to the world of 3D printing with little hesitation. We believe that the art world has much to learn from the engineering side of 3d printing development, and perhaps vice-versa. The products we are presenting here are our first foray into a commercial solution to an affordable method of creating metallic items from a desktop 3d printer. The final items obviously don't contain all of the properties of a pure cast metal sculpture, however, the most vital properties are successfully retained. Most important is the visual appearance, a solid feel in the hand and a nice cooling effect as it touches your skin. Since up to 85% of this product is pure metal, it faithfully retains the properties of that substance. This also provides an opportunity to employ finishing techniques that date back to the beginning of recorded history. Visualize Rodins' The Thinker, this rich deep bronze finish can now be faithfully replicated on your desktop. Our website will provide information on properly finishing your items. This list of possible techniques is limitless. We will provide training materials that will help you make the most of your items created with our products.
Pictured above are some of the ingots we developed while perfecting the recipes for our products.
It was when we saw the quality we were able to achieve here that we knew we were on to something significant. From here the only challenge that remained was to extrude this material into filament suitable for 3D printers. This is when we recruited Glenn to join the team. Glenn is a machinist with experience in extrusion and powder metallurgy.
This Kickstarter project is phase one for us. Being experts in smithing, machining and engineering in the computer world, we are constantly identifying techniques that cross over among these areas of discipline.
Currently in development are filaments that are magnetic, electrically conductive, (you could literally print a working electric motor). We are also working to adapt many of the tools used in jewelry to help in cleanup and repair of 3d prints. Today, even the smallest flaw in a 3d print means starting over. We have developed techniques that let you repair and improve your item without starting over. Sometimes yielding an even better final product. Our website will be a place to acquire knowledge and purchase every tool you could possibly need while working with our products (and of course, the products of others). We've also come a long way with recycled plastics and expect to launch a project in the future regarding this topic.
Much of our motivation places an emphasis on the word Affordable. By using common materials and bulk purchasing power we intend to make our metallic filaments available to even the lowest budget operators. As our business develops we intend to expand into precious metals and perhaps even some non-metals that would be desirable to the art community.
Here is our Certified Master Goldsmith and Master Jeweler, William Howard. If it can be done with metal, Bill knows how to do it. For decades people have traveled from all around the world to study under him at his school, The Howard Academy for the Metal Arts. Bill has been instrumental in testing and refining our recipes, getting them to behave as much like pure metal as possible. Bill is very well known in international jewelry circles and brings name recognition to our humble little project. We are grateful to have his wisdom on the project. Bill's eye for detail and exacting standards set a standard of unrivaled QA.
Next up is Glenn Prescott, a Master Machinist and blacksmith with a lifetime of engineering experience and a background in extrusion. All vital skills in this venture.
And the third member... Me, Brad Woods, your friendly inventor and narrator. You can learn more about me in the Bio section. But here's a quick overview. I've had a lifelong drive to create solutions to engineering problems. I've spent large parts of my life as a Software Architect, and Project Manager, most recently for American Family Insurance. My role has been the vision behind creating large systems for things like determining price competitiveness across geography, working with Actuaries as my primary client, translating their mathematical vision into something logically describable in computer code. I also designed and managed the development of the Miller Brewing Intranet, plus a half-dozen other websites for Miller Brewing. Basically, if it's a project, I can break it down into manageable pieces and keep teams of people working full speed, and land that project right on the proposed deadline.
Well that's our project, our team and the story of how we got here. If you have more questions please ask. We truly love talking about this.
The Anvil was downloaded from Thingiverse and is used with the permission of its creator, Bernie Solo http://www.solostudioworks.com It was printed on a Printrbot Simple.
We've been really well covered in the press.
Here are links to just a few of the articles. There are literally over 150 references to Filamet currently in the media.
Risks and challenges
Scaling up certainly won't be effortless. We are, however, 100% confident that we will accomplish this successfully. When it comes right down to it, a continuous cylindrical filament is about the simplest thing one could extrude. The difficulty comes in the high viscosity of the mixture to be extruded. We've done this successfully in testing and are ramping up production as we speak. We intend to market this product regardless of the outcome of this Kickstarter project. But, this Kickstart sure would make things easier!
The target dollar values we've chosen allow us to purchase large enough quantities of raw materials to bring our cost down substantially. Purchasing powdered metals is more costly than one might expect. Volume purchasing is vitally important. In testing we've developed our own powders using some creative (and really cool) chemistry and mechanics. However, these methods of producing powdered metal do not scale well and add a significant variable to the project. For that reason, for the first run of product we will simply purchase each of the raw materials in its completed form. In the future, it may be possible to drastically reduce costs by creating our own powdered materials. However, for this step, simplicity is a vital factor in our success.
Depending on interest, we may be offering stretch goals that will bring our acquisition costs down even more. But, the dollar values we have on the rewards now allow us plenty of breathing room plus room to further develop our product line.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)