Materials/Appropriate Machines

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You might also want to look at Discussion of Advantages and Disadvantages of different Tool head processes.. Perhaps some or all of that page should be merged into this page. (Discuss)

Different processes are optimized for different materials. A carpenter, a machinist, and a bronze sculptor have different tooling and workflows.

Also, we need to distinguish between 2D, 2D+1, and 3D form factors for the end object.

  • flat sheets of wood into more-or-less 2D FlatPack parts: rotary tool, laser, hand tools
  • long chunks of lumber into grid beam: drill press
  • scrap wood, dead trees, etc. into lumber:
  • Metal: rotary tool, plasma, electro-chemical etching, non-ferrous metal casting
  • PCB: rotary tool, innumerable -- Automated Circuitry Making lists a few techniques
    • Soldering parts onto a PCB is much easier with a HotplateReflowTechnique -- rather than with any kind of toolhead-mounted soldering iron.
  • Plastic: reprap, rotary tool, laser,
    • Shape Deposition Manufacturing is much easier if you have 2 toolheads attached to a single machine so you can quickly alternate back and forth between them -- a milling head and a plastic extruder -- rather than 2 separate machines, a mill and a plastic extruder.
  • flat sheets of acrylic: Laser Cutter
  • Bronze, aluminum, silver, and similar metals: rotary tool (maybe), lost wax casting, High Temperature Metal Casting
  • Epoxy-Granite: cold casting
  • Glass: lost wax casting
  • Pewter: low temperature Casting
  • Wax/Plastic: RepRap, rotary tool, hand tools, casting.
  • liquid photopolymer can be converted into solid plastic using DLP or laser
  • thin sheets of paper, aluminum foil or other metal foil, plastic film, sliced-up recycled soda containers, etc. can be converted to arbitrary 3D shapes using laminated object manufacturing (LOM) ... Compliant Linear Motion Mechanism 1 and FlatPack mention such lamination ... other discussion of lamination on the RepRap forums ...


MaterialsScience discusses the various materials people have printed from a RepRap, or at least tried to print. Frame material discusses the various materials people have considered using to build a RepStrap.